Monday, December 28, 2009

Three Little Chicks, Not a Goose

Mistress Marge, so in charge.
How do you make it so?
With lots to say, you go all day,
For you it's all part of the show.

Mistress Mona, how you groan.  A
Full sentence do we desire.
Find a word, that can be heard,
And we'll give you just what you require.

Minnie, Minnie, what's the skinny?
Your blue eyes are always aglow.
They push you down, and boss you around,
But a smiling face you always show.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Excercise Carol

The thought was...I'll escape from my routine for just a little while today and give myslef some time to take care of ME.  Get in a workout!  Seemed like a good idea at the time but barely 45 seconds into my punishment at the hands of an old Tae-Bo dvd all I could think about was one of my favorite Christmas carols...

Said the night wind to the little lamb...

   I'm not in my normal excercise space today.  This one has beautiful sunlight streaming in from all directions and it makes a wonderful reflective surface of the large TV I'm jumping, kicking and punching in front of.  What I see is inspiring.  I am getting a rather self-centerd kick out of looking at my nicely toned arms pumping and driving those teeny hand weights towards the ceiling.  Michele Obama eat your heart out!!!  Do you see what I see?  When reality hits, that large reflective surface I was SO loving 3 minutes ago begins to reflect things like the skin from 3 pregnancies hanging over my waistband and a face so red from huffing and puffing my way to Christmas bliss that Santa may forgo Rudolph this year and let "Nancy the red faced mommy" lead the troops! 

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy...

   There's a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in my excercise space today.  One adorned with large jingly things that sparkle with the festive air they lend to the tree.  Do you hear what I hear?  That soft jingle each time I jump and let fly my round house kick makes me feel a bit like a Christmas ninja. 

Said the sheperd boy to the mighty king...

   There's a lot less of me than there has been in Christmases past.  Over the last year I have reinvented my body and for the first time in my whole life feel like my outside truly matches my inside.  Five clothing sizes and more than 40 pounds later I am less of a woman than I used to be.  Do you know what I know?  Here is what I is particularly unnerving how my activity on this day makes this gorgeous Christmas tree shake and shudder like a Southern California spruce during the big quake of 1994.
Said the king to the people everywhere...

   In this season of crazy, busy, errands, get ready for company, clean up from company, pack, un-pack, shop, hide, wrap, unwrap, list, bake, burn, re-bake, slice bread, slice finger, drop bread butter side down, pour milk, clean up spilled milk, get directions, get lost, get there late, pick up, drop off, have yourself a merry little Christmas you must know this.  Find yourself some time to move your body.  We spend alot of time sweating the small stuff during the holidaze.  Listen to what I say!!!  Its nice to have a good reason to sweat!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fairer Still the Moonlight...

"Fair is the sunlight, fairer still the moonlight."

Sunshine is amazing, but moonlight is a gift of special light.  The glow of something that has no actual light of its own seems like an impossibility.  On this longest night of the year, the illuminating moon can be a lesson for when we feel like our own light is dimmed.  Or for when we feel like our own light has gone out.  We can still give light even as we reflect the light of others.  In the darkness, the moon is not just a frozen rock circling the Earth.  It gives light.  The challenge for us is to look for a light source in the dark space and reflect it back like the moon does.  The moon will always have the sun.  The moon does not just wait for the night to be over so the sun can come up again.  It gives us light in the dark.  Turn into yourself tonight as you turn in to your bed and decide if you're just waiting.  What can you be doing while you wait?  What light can you reflect?

Solstice 2009, sunset at 4:34pm here in the Middle

Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Sleep

Wither and weep, I've lost so much sleep,
And have not one clue where to find it;
Leave me alone, I'll lay here and moan,
And take all the rest I can get.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jingle This!

I have been called a Christmas Freak and a compulsive decorator.  Not untrue.  I have been told I am obsessed with trees that have lots of tiny white lights.  Guilty.  I currently have 18 of said trees in my home.  I have been on the receiving end of many rolled eyes and sighs of disgust when upon the packaging up of the leftover turkey on Thanksgiving day I bust out my CDs of Christmas music.  "Can't we just wait until tomorrow at least?" they ask.  No.  We can't.

But yesterday I received a first.  Yesterday was the first time anybody ever told me I was like a Christmas squirt gun.  The blank look on my face must have pushed this Scrooge to elaborate because she went on to say I was like a Christmas squirt gun because nobody sees me coming.  I walk up to a crowd of people just standing there doing their thing and unload my sparkle, sprinkle, tunes for humming, have a tree shaped cookie, hold this Christmas pillow while I take your picture because it looks so cute with your sweater attitude.  Um.  Ok.  That's me.  But is that so wrong?  I come by it honestly.  My mother has actually been known to decorate people if they sit still for long enough on her couch during a holiday gathering and they had the audacity to show up without enough sparkle.

Fine, Scrooge.  If I'm the squirt gun.  What are you?   The sponge?  If you are, then look out, because I have an endless supply of warm holiday cheer that will flow out all over your little parched self and fill you up allowing you to achieve the life dream of any sponge (to be hot and full)!  I can decorate, frost, bedeck, sprinkle, sparkle, string up,light up, wrap up, and sing out until you are begging to be rung out because you simply cannot wipe up any more celebratory juice!

So, Scrooge, I'll take your compliment!  I'll be the Christmas squirt gun, but look out because I'm not just your ordinary squirt gun.  I'm a holiday Super Soaker!  Jingle That!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fits Me to a Tea

Why is it that when you tell someone you drink a pot and a half of coffee everyday before noon they gasp and judge?  Why do they roll their eyes and make some sort of comment about your need for caffeine? 

I'm basically a good person.  I eat whole grains whenever possible.  I check my smoke detectors twice a year, wear my seat-belt and compost my kitchen scraps.  Good yeah?  What right does somebody with fewer children than me, or more hours to sleep, or less responsibility, or more 80 degree weather have to judge my caffeine consumption?

They give you crap about your coffee habit, those nay-sayers out there...shame on them.  But when you off handedly mention that you drink cup after cup after cup of Chai black tea with just a touch of sweet all seriously all day, my hot water kettle is fulfilling its life dream of always being hot and full, which is basically a good life dream for everyone but I get all of these welcoming supportive statements like "Ooo, which one do you buy?" and "Oh I am SO a tea drinker too!" or "It's so calming isn't it?"

Not fair.  People have never judged my preference for chocolate over vanilla, geometry over algebra, blue-eyed boys over brown-eyed ones or Manolos over Louboutins.  What's the deal with coffee versus tea. 

Love, love, LOVE my Chai.  But my pot and a half of Costco light roast fits me to a "T"!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I Want for Christmas Is...

What I really want for Christmas cannot be purchased in a store.  Cue the sappy instrumental background music.  It doesn't come in a box and wouldn't even hold a bow.   

No.  What I really want for Christmas is one whole day.  One.  Whole.  Day.  Where someone else makes all the decisions.  Every single decision.  I don't want to be shielded from my life or to have someone take care of me for the whole day...that's not realistic right now.  I'm all for pitching in.  I can make lunch.  I just don't want to have to decide what's being served.  I'll change a diaper.  Just don't ask me to decide whether or not the baby needs to be changed.

I'm giddy with the thought of it.  To go one whole day and not have a single interrogative sentence aimed in my direction.  Not a single; Should we?  Which one?  Can they?  What will they?  When will?  What time will we?  How many?  Are we?  What's for?  Etc.

And if I can't have that, maybe someone could get a small buzzer for my stocking that I can zap at people when they ask me things like, "Should I make hot dogs or Pb&j for the girls?"  I don't care.  They are equally good and bad, satisfying and uninteresting.  I don't care, someone else decide.  "Do you want coffee?"  I don't care.  Would it taste good.  Yes.  Could I live without it.  Yes.  Bring it or don't bring it.  Someone else decide?  "Should we take the stroller?"  "Should they get water or milk?"  "What channel should we watch?"  "Jeans or khakis?"  I don't care.  I don't care.  I don't care.  I really don't care.  For this one whole day.  I don't care.

To the potential giver of this gift I will make this pledge.  I promise that I will, with a smile, choke down something I don't want to eat, participate in an activity that I would have passed on, watch a TV show I hate and wear clothes that don't match if someone else would just make the decision and leave me out of it.

That, is what I really want for Christmas.  Please Santa.  I've been such a good girl this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If You're Happy and You Know It...

Ok.  So I wasn't going to do this.  But it's my blog and I can write whatever makes me feel good.  AND THIS MAKES ME FEEL SOOOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!  Whew!  Breath.


As of the middle of last week, when you type "The Middle Bit" in the Google search bar, my blog is the first hit!  WooHoo!   I keep searching it again and again because selfishly I love to see that my bit is now the first bit and secretly I'm afraid somehow it will stop working.

For the past few months I have been carving out a very selfish 30 minutes every few days to compose my thoughts.   That time is my time and I'm owed it for all the time I spend on everyone else.  That time is spent collecting my thoughts and ideas, my musings, rantings and witty attempts at poetry and putting them out there because I feel they are mostly worthy of your time.  Sounds very self-centered.  Noted.

I have come to realize that the only way to have a centered self, to feel good about what's left of my core after I take care of everyone else, is to be a bit self-centered once in awhile.  My self has weight that tips the scale back to level when I start leaning so far over with everyone else's needs that I'm feeling out of balance.  My selfless acts pile up on me sometimes and I begin to see less and less of my self.  The Middle Bit is the self-centered bulls eye right in the midst of it all that reminds me that I'm still here.

Who claps for me?  Today?  Some of you.  Thanks. apparently and  WooHoo!  And me.  I'm happy and I know it!  The best things happen in the middle.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Minnie's Beans

Minnie, my small black bean eater,
Off her high chair she did teeter;
When eating too much did discover,
Her bloats of gas, they made her hover.

Minnie, my small black bean eater,
Found another legume sweeter;
She switched her beans from black to jelly,
And found her toots were not so smelly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Diamonds Aren't the Only Gem a Mother Can Use

Are you in need of some "bling" this holiday season?  Here a couple of pearls of wisdom no mother should live without.

If you ever discover that your child has inserted a small object (marble, pea, raisin, Polly Pocket purse, pebble, etc.) into any part of their body that you are brave enough to attempt retrieval from...check every orifice on that child and every orifice in the room on any other child.

If you ever find yourself some time to take a hot bath (forget the candles and the book, that won't be happening any time soon) and you think you're saving yourself time by leaving the rubber ducks and the naked Barbies in the tub...take them out!  It doesn't take that much time to put them away and I guarantee you will be bothered by the bobbing quackers and the plastic women whose thighs are smaller than yours.

Bring it!  Even if you're sure you won't need it!  When that little voice inside your head suggests something...listen to it!  Bring the extra diaper, the granola bar, the stroller, the extra undies (for everyone), the Bed Bath and Beyond coupon, the kotex, the umbrella, the plastic potty, the quarters for goat food at the zoo.  Just bring it and roll your eyes when someone has the audacity to tell you that you've brought too much stuff.

If you ever get the notion to clean the glass on the sliding door...clean the outside first.  If you don't, and you think you're saving time by starting on the inside, then by the time you get to the outside, your squeaking and rubbing will likely have attracted enough attention from little people who will want to press their jelly coated fingers and snotty noses against the newly cleaned glass to see what you're doing outside and all of your initial efforts will have been literally wiped away and you'll have to do it over anyway.  Start outside.

When the toy catalogs begin coming in the mail or the weekly flyers fall out of the Sunday newspaper resist the temptation to hand them over to your children.  Yes, it will buy you a few minutes of peace.  Yes, they will beg you for the chance to look through them and tell you what they really want.  Resist.  Even in the name of literacy.  The ToyRUs flyer is not a book.  The American Girl catalog is not a book.  Resist.  Then recycle.

If you want to like what you see when you look at your children...then watch yourself.  Your children will do what you do and they will say what you say.  But they will never.  Never.  Do what you say.  If you are how you want them to be, then you will like what you see.

Some gems of motherhood are like heirlooms that get passed down to you, others have always truly been owned by you, a few are borrowed from friends when you really need them.  Have you got another gem to add to my treasure?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On a Goose Chase or a Quest

Young Mommy Me, when
She wanted to rest,
Would dash off to yoga
In her fine Nissan Quest.

A gander too messy, in
A life filled with poo,
From the tips of her nails,
To the sole of her shoe.

The Quest is much better,
Like a symbol each day,
Of the journey of Motherhood,
Now, up and away!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Big O

Sometimes they last longer than you expected.  Sometimes they become such a part of your routine that you hardly notice them.  Oprah?  Hardly.  Nope.  It's not that other thing either!  Shame on you, this is a respectable blog.  I had a Big O today and the thing about it was, it started out as one kind of O and ended up as quite another.

I'm talking about obligations.  The O that rears its ugly head at this time of year and makes me do things like cry out in pain, cook overly large poultry and take multiple tuxedos to the cleaners.  What is difficult to remember when I'm standing in the kitchen for 4 hours making a Norwegian holiday treat that only I know how to make, or when I'm standing in line at Kohl's because they're having the Biggest Sale of the Season, or when I'm readying our home for yet another round of company, is that it's all about perspective.  When all I see looming over me are obligations that big O can be obnoxious.  Overwhelming.  But when my super powers are serving me well, I can see those obligations as opportunities.  And that's what happened yesterday.        

I had the opportunity to have 4 hours to myself yesterday morning while I mixed, rolled, grilled and assembled the obligatory Scandinavian treat.  I played holiday music too loud and did some shamelessly bad, braless dancing while I waved my lefse sticks in the air.  My obligations last week had me standing in line at Kohl's?  Opportunity?  One word.  Kegels.  No thirtysomething women ever wants to miss that opportunity.  Tonight after my children go to bed I'll be vacuuming again in preparation for the cocktail party we're having.  I'm actually looking forward to taking the time to enjoy how beautiful my home looks when its decorated for the holidays and will remember that it is nice to have people who want to be in my home with me.
Event + Response = Outcome

Math is not my gift, but this equation has the perfect solution.  I can't change the event, but I can alter my response.  Seeing obligations as opportunities.  Shifting my response so I can change the outcome.  That's a Big O I'll grab hold of every time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Super Powers

"You're amazing!" he said to me.  "Moms must have super powers!"  Yes.  Thank you.  Moms DO have super powers, just not the ones he was thinking of. 

Super Power #1- The ability to NOT hear
The thumping tells you they're jumping on the bed, which they are NOT supposed to do, but they have been happily playing together for more than 20 minutes so you don't hear it.

Super Power #2- The ability to NOT see
Standing just around the corner you witness the little one standing up to the big one and belting her in the stomach after a toy is ripped from her grasp.  Nobody screams.  Nobody cries.  The big one gets what's coming and the little one gets her toy back.  You didn't see it.

Super Power #3- The ability to NOT feel
You don't feel the elbow in you neck when they come in at full speed for a crushing toddler hug.  You take the hug.  That tiny pause in the go go go lifestyle of a toddler.  They're wonderful.  You don't feel the gross wet spot leftover from open mouth baby kisses.  That little face coming in for love.  It's wonderful.  You don't feel it.  

Super Power #4- The ability to move VERY slow
In a classic foot race between you and the three year old who is running her little heart out, you convincingly run so slow that she is able to beat you over and over and over again.  The giggles of glee are too good to be missed and you can't outrun her.  You are too slow.

Super Power #5- The ability to remove stains, smudges and crust with only the power of your spit.
The cleansing powers of "Mom Spit" are truly miraculous.  Enough said.

Super Power #6- The ability to NOT remember
No matter what happened before the nap, or yesterday, or 5 minutes ago, moms have the amazing ability to forget about all of it and begin again.

All that being said, Mom Kryptonite can take many forms; exhaustion, being "on hold" with the cable company, puking kids, traveling spouses, in-laws, PMS, and several others.  Mom Kryptonite takes different forms and can weaken all powers instantly causing pain and suffering to all.

Yes, moms DO have super powers.  But I think I'll skip the skimpy outfit and just wear the cape!  Thank you very much!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Father Goosed.

There was an old geezer
Who went to the freezer
     To get some ice cream for a treat;
But when he got there,
The carton was bare,
And he stumbled away in defeat.

  ......sorry Dad.  I know you're not a geezer, but I needed a rhyme.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday is Like Ice Fishing

People go out on Black Friday for lots of reasons: to stand in line at the electronics store, $100 coupon in hand; to peer shivering with a face pressed up against the automatic doors of the toy store, fastest route to "the hottest toy of the year" mapped out at the store days earlier; to nab the best price of the season in an attempt to make the holiday more merry, more cheerful, more economical, more More.

But for me it's not really about any of these things.  And although I have never been ice fishing, I can imagine for those die hards sitting out there on the frozen pond, sticks clenched in gortex covered hands, it's not about catching dinner.  I'm going to haul myself out of my warm bed, grab my pre-sorted stack of holiday flyers and coupons, pull my pre-wrapped piece of pumpkin pie out of the fridge, fill my travel mug and head out the door with my mom tomorrow for the tradition of it.  For the bond that is strengthened by the fact that Black Friday shopping is not for the weak.  Sure we could bond over pedicures and warm tea at 10am on a Tuesday, but that's easy.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that there is the allure of the bargain, that deal you can't pass up...  It's like the idea that this year you might land the big one while you sit out there on the ice and freeze your ass off.  It's dark and cold.  The wilderness is filled with wild animals and dizzying scents.  They go through the motions: bait the hook, wait, wait, wait, wait, land the fish and start all over again.  We'll go through the motions: locate our merchandise, wait, wait, wait, wait in line, land our bargains and start all over again.  But we'll chat and laugh and mock the crazed shoppers and eat pie and hug over a great deal and find something just too cool to pass up and shiver...together.  Because that's my idea of a holiday that's more

See you at 5am Mom.

I'm Full

"To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.  But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses-that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things."
                                                Pablo Neruda

I am fueled by all of you who follow and read and comment and think and respond and take to heart and laugh out loud and share with others.  Thank you for widening my boundaries to include the Middle.  The middle bit is the best bit!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Gooses Makes it a Turkey

There was a young woman, I think you know who.
She had so many house guests, she knew not what to do.
She served organic broth, and homemade french bread,
Had a glass of red wine and went straight to bed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The View from the Verge

I find myself living on the verge lately.  Which is not unlike living on the edge; radical, dangerous, unpredictable, prone to slipping into the abyss, requiring multiple layers of protective clothing and expensive gear, often resulting in fame and sponsorship.   Basically we're talking about modern parenting here, a.k.a. orphans as accessories and the Plus 8 crowd...but I digress.

Back to living on the verge.  The verge of what, you ask?  The verge of tears.  The verge of losing it, my mind, my patience, my self.  The verge of screaming.  The verge.  Period.

The safe thing about the verge is that it is much like the middle bit.  From the middle you can see all sides of something. What brought you there and where you'd like to go. 

That's the verge.  Its that last little bit of space you have to stand on.  You're not actually falling/jumping/hurling yourself over the edge but you are precipitously aware of how close you are to all of it.  Its another one of those choices, like happiness, where the awareness of how close you are to change makes your position safer, more manageable, more urgent.

Karen (whose blog I follow religiously, and who eloquently expands on this idea more here) says,  "Exhalation is the jump.  Inhalation is the parachute."  The jump.  From the verge.  Sometimes, as I stand here on the verge, my exhalation bursts out in the form of a scream.  Sometimes I exhale with a quiet sigh.  Sometimes it feels like there is no air, only tears that come out.  But that is the jump.  The step from the verge into some other place, if only just for a moment.  That moment that you choose to let go for as long as you can stand it before you inhale and release your parachute.  Inhale and quiet your voice or catch your breath or wipe your tears.  Because that too, is a choice.  To let it out but then to reach out, breath in, and save yourself from a hard landing.

About that view...from the verge.  Some people live in the city all their lives and only see dirty concrete.   They never look up to see the beauty in the static fingers of steel scraping the sky.  Some people live on the beach all their lives and see only the damage done by the surge of the tide.   They never look up and see the instant that sliver of orange slips like a blink into the deep water.  While I'm here on the verge, I will endure dirt and I will see damage.  I will fall or be pushed or jump with an exhale from the edge as I go down.

But I will climb right back up to the verge again because the view from up here is amazing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Table Talk

Dinner is ready.  Come to the table.  Did you wash your hands?  Go wash your hands.  What are you doing in there?  Did you wash your hands?  Come to the table.  Why are you dripping?  Go back and dry your hands.  What are you doing in there?  Come to the table.  Sit down.

Get your head above the table.  Take a bite.  Get your chin off the table.  Take another bite.  Watch out for your drink.  Sit down.  Use your fork.  Yes, the tooth fairy came to see your sister.  Yes, the tooth fairy likes cauliflower.  Stop making that buzzing sound.  Take a bite.

Would you like more milk?  Take a bite while I'm getting your milk.  Sit down or you're not getting your milk.  Watch out or you'll spill your milk.  Take a bite.  Sit down.  Yes, those are garbanzo beans.  No, that's not lint in your couscous.  Stop pounding on the chair.  Sit down.  Take a bite.  If you can't scoop it up just use your hands.  Yes, you have to use a fork.  Watch out for your milk.  Why don't you just move your milk.  Take a bite.  No, I promise that's not lint in your couscous.  Please move your milk.  Yes, Christmas is coming up.  Please stop making that buzzing sound.  Sit down.  How about three more bites?  You want to take five more?  Perfect.  Take a bite.  Watch out for your milk.  Just use your fork to get the "lint" out of your couscous.  Take a bite.  Sit down.  Today is Tuesday.  Thanksgiving is on a Thursday.  No, tomorrow is not Tuesday. 

Yes, this is dinner.  Take two more bites.  Good job on your bites.  I'm glad you didn't spill your milk.  Yes, couscous is good.  Don't forget to clear your plate.  Get out from under the table.  Thank you for grabbing that spoon we dropped under the table.  Thank you for clearing your plate.  Stop.  Don't move until I wipe your hands.  Your face.  Why is the dog licking your leg?  Your rear end has couscous on it.  Stand still while I wipe you.  Yes, we're finished. 

Let's go read a book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Goosed. Again.

Someone that I love built a big wall.
Then down from this wall things started to fall.
Much faster than horses and having no end
Love makes the broken things whole once again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


"To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness."  Bertrand Russell

I came across this quote months ago and have only just begun to understand what it means.  My first thought was how sad, that people resign themselves to living without things and just try to be happy with some sort of absence makes the heart grow fonder garbage about how missing a thing makes you so much more grateful when it returns.  That sentiment screams lies to me during these long days when my husband is traveling, or busy with work, or running to rehearsals or meetings that someone else feels are essential to their happiness.  One of the things I want is a partner in all of this and being without his help does not make me happy.  That isn't what this quote means and that's not what this message is saying to me at all today.

I do believe that happiness is, in part, a decision.  That with a healthy mind, it is possible wake up everyday and not give happiness a second thought...but give it your first thought.  Before you think through your agenda, before you process your to-do list, before you consider the ones who need breakfast or to be let out, or to be let in or all the other thoughts.  Making a mindful choice to embrace Happy is possible and that's where the being without part comes least for me.

I have decided that for me, some of those things I'm going to be without, in order to come closer to the happiness of right now, are those things that I demand of myself.   I have considered lowering my standards, more on that later, I'm not sure I want to do that.  But that's just it.  If I was less capable, I wouldn't have so much do do everyday because I wouldn't demand it of myself.   If I was less organized my do-to list wouldn't be so long.    If I cared less, I wouldn't have nearly as much to do.  That quote says to me that its important to want things.  But happiness comes when the things you want get resolved by priority.  I want wonderfully prepared meals made from sustainable ingredients, and an organized home, and folded laundry, and to be able to find my sunglasses, to keep my children from wiping snot on the couch, and to watch my favorite TV shows, and a home filled with guests that are enjoying themselves, and a pair of really hot jeans, and to feel valued as a thinker, and lots of other things.   If I could be happy getting less done then I would have more time for myself.  And right now what I think I need most is some time for myself.  To be without some of those things I want is going to be an indispensable part my happiness.

Simple.  Yes.  Easy.  Certainly not.  But I have already decided what my first thought will be tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

There Goes Trouble

All anybody ever wants is to leave their troubles behind.  I've got lots more to say about the departure of my troubles, but today must simply be marked by the departure of one small Trouble.  Your snaggle toothed, radar eared, death breathed, whimpering face gave us a lot of joy over the years.  Here's to hoping there's a highchair out there some where that you can wait under for flying food for the rest of eternity.  We'll miss you old girl.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Duck" Tape

Duck tape, as it's referred to in our house, is apparantly also an excellent way to strap down "Silly Gooses"!  It didn't last long, and turned out to not be a very effective restraint (so if you're about to give me crap about how inappropriate it is to tape down my child...just don't) but it was a very cathartic way for the mother to redirect the 3 year old having a screaming, kicking, flailing fit on the front sidewalk.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mother. Goosed.

     High Monday Monday,
     My children don't obey,
To the dead fish we must say farewell;
     The little dog puked 
     On the fine Persian rug,
And the dish broke my toe when it fell.'s been a long day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Vacuum Sucks!

I was explaining to someone the other day how I was changing the bag in my large vacuum cleaner, which I love very much for it's superior sucking ability, and was compelled to use my handheld Dirt Devil to suck out all the dust and dog hair that was left over in the belly of the vacuum after I removed the bag.  Yes, I used a vacuum to clean my vacuum.  But as I explained my rationale that it seemed to be a better idea than using a paper towel sprayed with cleanser because I would have to throw away the paper towel when I was finished and that would be wasteful, and I considered using my microfiber cloth but then I realized I was planning to do the mirrors with it later and if I used it on the vacuum I would have to wash it first and that wasn't going to happen, and then I thought about how I should just bite the bullet and buy a few more of those microfiber cloths because they are so handy so I ran up the kitchen to add them to the Costco list and as I was doing that I decided the small amount of electricity it would take to turn on the handheld plus the excercise I would get running down the stairs and out to the garage seemed like a much greener choice!

When I saw the look on her face as I explained all of this it occurred to me that her tip about using a sponge next time might not have really been a suggestion of how to get the job done better.  I think she might have been mocking me a bit.  Not nice!  She's probably one of those nasty people with a dirty vacuum cleaner!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Here. After.

I'm thinking about a friend of mine today.  I'm thinking about the contradiction that you feel when you lose something you never had, didn't ask for and weren't sure you wanted.  The hollow, unsatisfying relief that comes when something ends that never had a chance at a beginning.

She's in the middle bit right now.  The middle that's the pits.  The middle that comes between the blissfully ignorant part before and the resolved to heal part that envelopes the after.   

I'm sure I don't know what happens to those little ones we lose.  Some are comforted by the knowledge that they journey to the Hereafter.  All I know is that we mother's that lose...we have to be here.  After.  Here without something we never had in the first place.  Here in this place.  Here in this day.  Here in this life.  After.   

She'll be the one to decide how long this middle bit goes on.  She'll have some help, but it will truly be up to her to decide.  That's when the middle bit that is so difficult comes to an end and becomes a beginning.  A beginning where you can look around at the Here.  And after everything.  Be happy you've arrived.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Family Portrait

This is Marge's latest portrait of our family.  Some key details of note:

Accessories are important!  Even family members of the canine variety are captured here with this season's hottest trend: Costume Jewelry!

Daddy apparently has a big head.  The rest of us appear to have an accurate self image but the Father, complete with accurately depicted facial hair, is well, large.  It's revealing to see her draw him in this way. When I saw it I started reading all sorts of meanings into this: she sees him as the head of the family and so he is the biggest, somehow her little mind infers size related to importance, blah, blah, blah.  I asked her why his head was so much bigger than the rest of us and she replied with a sigh of disgust and a roll of her eyes, "Mom. He's just the biggest."  Yes Marge, he is the biggest.

I'm next in line with a smile on my face.  I'm glad that's the face she sees when she imagines how I look.  I have lots of other faces, not all of which I'd like drawn by the 5 year old. 

She and sister Mona follow with lots of expression.  Little Minnie has wacked out hair and tears streaming down on this day.  Its important to remember that the day she drew this picture, Minnie was working on 4 molars at once.  How's that for efficiency!

Love this drawing!  Thanks Marge!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Port a Potty

There is a toilet in the neighbor's front yard today.  We don't know these folks that well and are thus not privy to the inner workings of their household.  One can only guess what would make a man put his john on the lawn.

Maybe he is trying to send a message to the sweet lady on the hill who lets her dog loose in the neighborhood pooping in everyone's yard but hers.  "Hey Lady!  If you're going to let that mutt roam, the least you could do is teach him to use the loo!"

Like the Springtime banner that heralds the coming of new life or the front porch Jack-o-lantern that sets the mood for the season, does this monument announce the coming of a crappy day?  It is on a dolly which indicates that this potty is on the move.  With a hope of change he is prepared for his situation to improve.  Today might be bad, but tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In The Event of an Emergency

"In the event of an emergency, a mask will drop from the ceiling in front of you. If you are traveling with a child (or a person acting like a child) please place the mask over your own nose and mouth first and breathe deeply.  Then give aid to your companion."

They tell you that explicitly because they know that your first reaction as a mother will be to help your child but the message here is: Take care of yourself first or you'll be no good to anyone who might need you.

The answer is always available you just have to ask the right question.  Help is always there you just have to know where to look for it.  Sometimes its right in front of you, dropping into your lap in the event of a crisis.  You just have to be willing to take it, use it and BREATHE.  Then breathe again.

In the event of an emergency, or a crisis, or a time of stress, or a Wednesday afternoon when you feel taken advantage of and under appreciated, or a Saturday morning when all you really want to do is spend 10 more minutes under the covers before facing the onslaught of the breakfast routine, or on your birthday, or on their birthday or any time you need to catch your breath place that oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth first and then assist your companion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Sweet but It's Not the Same

So it's a cold gray day here in the Middle. Not the kind of Autumn cold that is invigorating, but the kind of damp chill that is demoralizing. "What should we do today Mommy?" says 5 year old Marge. "Can we make something?" Bless her heart for asking that question instead of "Can we watch television?" Score one for the mother!!

"Yes, we can make something. How about cookies?" I replied with trepidation as I began to dig in the baking cabinet looking for ingredients. I was not about to take 3 children to the store, in the rain, to buy a missing ingredient. So it was with a bit of luck and a little Googling that I was able to come up with a recipe for cookies that matched the 5 bags of leftover chocolate morsels and rock of brown sugar that I had on hand. WooHoo! Score two for the mother!!

We got all the ingredients out and lined them up on the counter so they could help me dump them into the bowl one at a time. They wanted to sample each ingredient before it went in and since this activity was intended to be a time killer and not just a baking project, I agreed. They sampled everything and had some fabulous responses:

After the flour Mona said, "Mom this tastes like paper." And when I asked her how she knew what paper tasted like she responded, "Because yesterday I was being a recycle bin and I ate my tiny art project." I'm not happy about the consumption of non-edibles. But hey! My three year old knows what a recycle bin is! WooHoo! Score three!

The salt produced puckered faces and cries for beverages. Not unexpected.

When we got to the baking soda, Marge said "Mom, if I eat this will I rise?" Where does she learn this stuff?

I sliced off a tiny sliver of butter for each girl and placed it in the palm of their hand. The little one licked and licked and licked and then finally put her whole fist in her mouth. The butter was a hit with Minnie.

It was when we got to the sugar that this little culinary adventure became a opportunity for true learning. I got out the brown sugar and we sampled and measured. Smiles all around, no big surprise there. Then I got out the white sugar AND the Splenda. My thinking was I would let them sample both and give them the choice about which to put into the recipe. (Here is where I'll get some comments about feeding my children chemicals and sucralose. About how I'm stunting their growth. About how children don't need to eat that stuff and I should be reported for crimes against nutrition. To that I have only one thing to say...COKE IN A BABY BOTTLE! So either get over the choice I offered them and keep reading while I get to the point of this whole fable or stop reading. Your choice.)

Back to the sugar and the Splenda. I gave them each a pinch of sugar in their palm and told them to taste. I explained that we were going to try the next ingredient and decide which one we should put in the recipe. I told them that both ingredients would do the same job for the cookies, and that they were a lot alike but just a little different. Not unlike the brown sugar sampling, the white sugar was a hit. Then I gave them each a pinch of Splenda.

Minnie breathed into her palm too hard and her first pinch blew away in an instant.

Mona observed "It's so 'airy'. It doesn't feel like anything."

Marge peered at it dubiously and upon sampling it declared, "It's sweet, but it's not the same."

So we made the cookies with the sugar. We spent nearly an hour on a cold rainy day combining things that by themselves, weren't all that great but together turned out spectacularly. We laughed and counted and measured and mixed and spooned and made a huge mess. Then we had chocolate chip cookies for lunch.

Which proves two things:

1. Always use the real sugar, whether you're baking or saying something to someone you love. The fake stuff is sweet but it disappears if you don't hold onto it carefully, it doesn't really feel like anything AND it's just not the same as the real thing.

2. She who can see the wisdom and good fortune in the batter is truly a smart cookie.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Turns Out My Center Is Not in the Middle

I returned to yoga this week after a too long hiatus. I had forgotten how much I loved yoga. The time to think, or not think, to be still, to have someone else guiding my actions. Yes G, everything is better after yoga, but after falling out of a down dog, breaking wind in a dancer's pose and looking more like a dead duck than a half pigeon I have come to an important conclusion...

My center isn't where I left it (which was in the middle of my being) but it's now "on the side." Like seasonal vegetables. So nice to enjoy once in awhile but not always available. Finding myself, at least for the near future, is going to have to happen "on the side."

I haven't lost me, but my center is filled up with so many other things these days and they kept pushing their way into my mind. It was knocking me off balance, and literally onto my knees. Ouch! After class, the instructor welcomed me back to my practice of yoga and told me the more I came the easier it would get. That the weeks when I have no time to think and certainly no time for yoga are the weeks when I belong there the most.

So that's the plan. I'm going to begin the process of returning my center to its rightful place. I've got a lot on my plate these days and none of its going anywhere. The good news is, yoga is in season and I'll take my daily bread with a side of chakra please.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beans! Beans! The Musical Fruit!

Mona gives us a musical tribute to garbanzo beans!

Friday, October 9, 2009

If You Fight It, It Takes Longer

My little one HATES having her diaper changed. At first it's a game. She runs over to me and motions with a flapping hand towards her diaper region that she is in need of a refresher. Sometimes she even grabs my hand and leads me away from whatever I'm doing. She knows she is not happy sitting in poo. (Who would be?) We'll get all the way into her room and then she gets this twinkle in her eye and runs the other direction, laughing wildly as the chase begins. This is the game. Sometimes, I have time to play and I'll let her run away a few times before she "lets" me catch her. Other times, a diaper change is just one more thing on the list of tasks keeping me from getting out the door and I'll grab her wriggling little self and put her (gently of course, with all the love in my heart) on the changing table so we can clear the air and remove the offending garment.

This is when the real fun begins. The writhing, leg kicking, arm scrapping, twisting, bumping, head banging movement that begins as soon as this mini person approaches the table is something that, once I've completed my task, I could describe as having survived. She HATES it. She hates her tiny body hanging out of warm fleece. She hates the cold wet wipes. She hates having to leave whatever she was doing. She hates missing out on the action in the rest of the house. She hates it and though she may not have words to express it, her actions speak louder than words. So she struggles and I pin her down with one arm while removing clothing with the other. She kicks and I lean back so her foot does not connect with my face. She flips over and I flip her back. She screeches like an alien having its toenails removed with a spoon, and I yell back things like,

"If you fight, this will take longer!" and,

"If you didn't struggle, we could be finished by now!"

Good advice, but this doesn't make her feel any better in the heat of the moment. So we battle on. Her thumping eventually subsides long enough for me to unclothe, unstrap, wipe, replace and fasten, re-dress and place her little body, fists still swinging, back on the floor so it can speedily depart the scene. Eventually she'll learn that if she would just be still, the whole thing would be easier and that by fighting, she prolongs the very thing she hates the most. But we're all guilty of that sometimes. Whatever that thing is that we hate to do. If we didn't struggle, we could be finished by now.

This is where Motherhood leads you sometimes. Seeing wisdom in the poop.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who Claps For You?

Why does the singer go on tour? Why does the comedienne do stand-up? Why does the poet give a reading? Why does the survivor get up and speak?

Simple, right? The applause. That's part of it, but it's not that simple. Not all clapping sounds the same and the trick is to teach yourself how to listen. When to listen. And when not to.

My life is my concert tour and my stand-up routine all at once, people keep showing up for my appearances. My words are my poetry reading. My children are a reflection of how I'm surviving Motherhood, and sometimes they speak louder than words. And yes, I do it all publicly because I get something from the applause. That's how I do things. But part of knowing which applause to listen to is feeling good about the song you're singing or the job you're doing and being comfortable with who your biggest fan is.

I clap for me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Fix

I've been at this for a month now and I've come to the point where I'm asking myself Why am I doing this? What is the goal? Why a blog? Because I have bad handwriting and a journal is too cumbersome? Because I don't speak to empty rooms? Because I'm vain enough to think people want to hear what I have to say? That's getting closer, but I still don't really know to whom I'm even speaking. It was a quiet thrill at the very start. I was putting it out there, but nobody knew, so it was still hidden. Like streaking through a completely dark room full of people. Exposed but covered. But now there is a tiny light on in the corner and someone is watching. It's a different kind of thrill. I like it.

I shot off a post last week after being away from it for a few days. My heart wasn't in it. I was ticked about the towels but not really mad enough for my thoughts to have meaning. I did have to use the nail brush 4 times in one day to recover from changing diapers, but that's just what moms do, and there is no complaining about it because the alternative is too disgusting to even consider.

But I hadn't posted in 4 days and I felt this need. It was crazy really. So I tried to find some thoughts that went together and put up something worth my time, and yours, but when I go back and read it now it just feels false. It wasn't my voice and I think I almost knew it as the words were coming out of my fingers. Like when you construct something appropriate to say to the proud new mommy with the funny looking baby. You talk all around what you feel because you can't just say nothing. Or maybe you can just say can smile or nod or run the other direction...which is maybe what I should have done last week...said nothing.

But then I needed my fix. I needed to put something out there and I should have just forced out the thoughts about why in the hell I needed to post in the first place. That would have been more work, but considerably more satisfying. A month ago there was no blog. There was no collection of words and thoughts. How do you so quickly come to need something that was never there before? And why do I need it? I think I needed to be heard by a new audience so I created a blank space and am now charged with the task of filling it with something. That's a bold action though. Or at least it was bold when I told the world I was doing it. If a landscaper started digging holes in his front yard for the sole purpose of filling them back up with dirt, you'd think he was nuts. He ought to fill those holes up with something better, like a seed that will become something else when it's nurtured or a full grown tree that's showy and gorgeous and that everyone wants to gather around to enjoy the colors when it changes and the shade when the sun makes it hard to think. Last week, I filled up my space with dirt.

I could just delete it. I have that power. But that's not the point. I'm going to build around it and if you're watching you'll have to endure the construction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How Many Times?

will I run through the house looking for "the other shoe?"

will I pour another cup of milk after the first/second/third one spilled?

will I have to use a nail scrubber to get the baby poop out from under my fingernails?

will I have to watch the same episode of Max and Ruby?

will I have to answer the question, "Why Mommy?"

will I have to go back into the house because somebody forgot something?

will I step on a Barbie shoe on my way to the bathroom at 3am?

will I have to do a load of laundry at 8:30pm because the blue shirt is dirty and tomorrow is "Blue Day?"

will I have to run to the grocery store to get the missing ingredient?

will I have to pick the towels up off the bathroom floor?

will I have to pick up the socks from the floor?

will I have to buy wrapping paper from the neighbor's kid so one day his mom will buy salted peanuts from my kid?

will I have to stop what I'm doing because my little one says "I show sompin to you Momma?"

will I have to change my shirt before I run out the door because the little one hugging me had sticky fingers?

will I have to yell out "STOP AND LOOK!" before my child runs across the street?

The answer to every single question, every single time it happens...

Just one more time. Because I love them. Just one more time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Note To Self: Do the Delicates

I'm wearing them. That last pair of underwear in the drawer. And they're making me angry. The ones we keep even though we know they are uncomfortable or stained or ripped or have no elastic in one leg. I know you have that last pair too. Well, I'm wearing mine today and it's affecting my mood. I have a lovely collection of lingerie, none of it was available this morning. I'm not sure why I'm writing publicly about my undergarments. I was going to post about something else today but after I had to get out of my chair 3 times to readjust my intimates I became fixated on panties. There you have it folks! My unmentionables are no longer a secret.

And while I'm on the subject, what the hell is Victoria's secret anyway? I'll tell you what I think it is...I think she too is a 30-something mother whose underwear needs to be a high leg brief to cover up the sagging skin and stretch marks, whose panties had to be engineered to show no lines because her backside is regularly hanging out the car door while she endlessly buckles and unbuckles car seats and whose bra required bio-technology to form her empty, shapeless post-breast feeding boobs into something that from the exterior resembled femininity! That's OK Sweetie! Your secret is safe with me.

I could just stop what I'm doing and go change them right now. It might improve my mood and allow me to focus, but it might also go something like this...

I step away from the computer and run upstairs to my dresser. Drop my pants and with much relief remove the offending skivvies and open the drawer only to be reminded of the reason I put these offending unders on in the first other clean ones in the drawer. So I grab my pants and make a dash back downstairs to the laundry room only to be greeted by the UPS guy at the the window next to the front door who shields his eyes and leaves the package on the step. I continue towards the basket of clean laundry that I know is awaiting me and dash past the computer to see the baby has pressed the space bar for so long my post has become 9 pages of empty space. I pluck her mini screeching self off the chair as the 5 year old comes around the corner and informs me that it is "not appropriate for a grown-up lady to have no pants on in the living room." The 3 year old sees that I have begun to undress and takes that as permission to disrobe (she'd rather be naked than dressed, always) and promptly strips to her undies. Throwing my hands up in disgust that a simple attempt to relieve myself of discomfort has resulted in a crying baby, a naked toddler, a holier-than-thou 5 year old, and an embarrassed UPS man, I realize that I should just put my painful panties back on, so I run upstairs, past the front door and wave to the neighbor boy who is now pressing his face against the window looking for a playmate (and now at my naked cheeks), grab the instrument of torture from the floor, put them back on, pull my pants on and begin to dig out the wedgie that has been formed almost immediately.

But I didn't do that because I've been down that road before. Better just to suffer in silence and humiliate myself by posting about underwear on what was (previous to this moment) a perfectly respectable blog.

The moral of this story:

If painful undies you possess,
then take your time before you dress.
Throw out the ones that dig and ride,
The ones with holes be cast aside.
Be it boy short, thong or brief,
Buy some that will give relief.
And noticing that last pair, say,
"Tomorrow will be laundry day!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"You Can Still See the Crumbles"

What did you learn in school today?

It's a simple question asked by thousands of mothers everyday. Sometimes we ask because its part of the coming home ritual. Other times we force ourselves to ask even though we are anticipating rolled eyes and sighs of disgust. We know when they respond with "Oh, nothing," that it wasn't that they learned nothing, its just that we're not going to hear about it, but we ask anyway. I have asked it hundreds of times myself. My friend asked it to her little boy last week when he got off the bus from kindergarten and luckily she was really listening because she got more of an answer than she expected.

What did you learn in school today? "Mommy, we learned that if you say bad things to someone it crumbles their heart and the teacher crumbled up a paper heart and even if you say you are sorry it's like when you try to flatten out the paper again...the crumbles are still there."

Take a minute to let that one sink in.

Even after everyone calms down and is given a hug. Even after the punishment is over and you're snuggling on the couch. Even the next day when the PMS has subsided and you've got a whole lot more patience. Even when you're able to be clear about your error and apologize for raising your voice. The crumbles are still there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We Don't Have Time to Miss It

Last week I had the rare treat of taking just one of my three girls out to lunch by herself. As we sat there in the large, blue, Swedish furniture store enjoying our hot dogs and lingonberry juice some upbeat music began to play through the bistro speakers and my tiny lunch companion started to wiggle her shoulders a bit. She munched and shimmied her little self along to the music while I sat there mesmerized by this precious creature and her need to boogie. After a few seconds she paused and looked up to see me watching her and her face exploded into a huge grin. She said, with a furrowed brow and a great deal of urgency, "Mom! We should dance while we eat! We don't have time to miss it!"

In hindsight, what she probably meant was that the song would soon be over and I was going to miss my chance, but the wisdom of the mixed up words she did choose will never be forgotten by this mother.

"We should dance while we eat! We don't have time to miss it!"

Spoken like a true multi-tasker! Time is a funny thing for me these days. I'm never doing just one thing. Most days I've hardly begun a task before I'm thinking about how I can quickly move on to the next thing. That's Motherhood, but you knew that. That's the ridiculous thing about Motherhood. You are expected to do more than any one person could possibly do. There's always one more thing, one more task, one more tear, one more errand, one more load, one more need. But...

You can dance while you eat. You can sing while you drive. You can hug while you're on the phone. You can smell their precious heads while you put on their shoes. That's the amazing thing about Motherhood. You are granted the privilege of doing more than any one person ever gets to do. I just forget about that sometimes, while I'm in the middle of everything else. Thank you Mona. For reminding me with your tiny, wonderful, quiet, spontaneous dance.

The price of hot dogs and frozen yogurt. $5.00
The cost of music over a loudspeaker. $0.00
The value of a 3 year old's wisdom. PRICELESS

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Princess and the Peas

The following will definitely fall into the category of RANT!

I cannot tolerate anymore complaining from people about what their kids will and will not eat! Don't tell me your children will only eat macaroni and cheese or hot dogs! Do you ever give them anything else? I was in the grocery store this morning and I saw an infant with some kind of soda in his baby bottle! I had to stop myself from crying out in pain and I watched THIS INFANT SUCK SODA WHILE HIS PARENT SHOVELED PROCESSED GARBAGE INTO HER CART!!! She looked over at me, rolled her eyes and actually defended her beverage selection by saying, "Giving him Coke is the only way I can get through the grocery store." I bit my tongue and did NOT say YOU'RE ABUSING YOUR CHILD AND IF YOU CAN AFFORD A BOTTLE OF SODA YOU CAN AFFORD TO PAY A TEENAGER $4 TO WATCH YOUR LITTLE BEAST WHILE YOU GO TO THE GROCERY STORE!!!!!!!! And yes!!! Using extra exclamation points makes me feel better!!!!!

Whew. Ok. Rant over. Now I get to the part where I compliment myself and the Father for doing a good job exposing our girls to lots of wonderful things. (Hey, it's my blog, I can write whatever I want!) Is dinnertime at our house an idyllic journey from plates full of tofu and soba noodles to full bellies and children calling out for more rice milk? No!!! We have three children under the age of 6, dinnertime at our house is a three ring circus. But sometimes we feed the monkeys peas. Frozen. Right out of the bag. The game at our house is to see if you can eat them all before they thaw. And I thought, in the middle of your day, you might get a kick out of seeing my Middle Bit in action.

What is critical to note about the following video is although it may seem that the speed of this video has been enhanced as you watch Mona's hand flick back and forth to the plate of frozen peas with lightening speed, NO SPECIAL EFFECTS WERE HARNESSED IN THE MAKING OF THIS FILM!

No Wings but Plenty of Magic

I became the Tooth Fairy yesterday. It was quite simply, amazing. My oldest lost her first tooth and thus a new Tooth Fairy was made. It didn't come with wings or pixie dust, but it was quite magical.

It came out last night just before bedtime and in her most "Marge in Charge" tone of voice my daughter explained to us that the first time you lose a tooth, the Tooth Fairy brings you a whistle. The Father and I looked at each other and without speaking a word aloud I knew we were thinking exactly the same thing. I REALLY HOPE TARGET SELLS WHISTLES AND I HOPE I CAN GET THERE BEFORE IT CLOSES!!! We asked her where she heard this deal about the whistle and she just looked at us like we were complete idiots, rolled her eyes, and replied "Mom. Everyone knows that's just what happens. You can't whistle with missing teeth so you have to wear one around your neck." Duh! How could I have been so unenlightened?

She arrived during the most secret part of the night, or in my case around 9:30pm because I had to get up early today, and took away the tiny pearl. In its place our rookie Tooth Fairy left a whistle. (Yes, you can buy whistles at Target. They're in the sporting goods section!) With careful steps I snuck out of the room, gripping that tiny tooth. I closed the door silently behind me and breathed a sigh of relief. I had done it! Completed my job as the Tooth Fairy and not been discovered. I couldn't believe how fast my heart was beating. It was a simple thrill to participate in this kind of magic, but as I stood there in the quiet hallway and opened my hand to see what I grasped I thought to myself WHAT THE HECK DO I DO WITH THIS GROSS TOOTH? It used to be part of my kid. Do I just throw it away? I looked at the Father, who just shrugged his shoulders as if to imply that I was the mother and I was supposed to know what to do in these situations.

So that's how I began my adventures as the Tooth Fairy. There will be many more visits but there will never be another first time.

And yes, I threw it away.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Season of Change

Fall brings the changes we need at the end of a bountiful Summer.

The sturdy petals of August become the trembling foliage of September. The bounty of produce gives way to hearty soups and homemade bread. The frosty blades of grass invite warm sweaters and hot tea. The crisp wind closes the windows of my house so the neighbors won't hear me when I scream at my children.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Home Grown and All Natural

The five year old took a whole Roma tomato to school as her snack today. My kid has always been a unique snacker but this tomato, picked from the neighbor's garden, represents a highpoint in her culinary requests. Last week, when she took an apple (having only recently been deemed worthy of selecting a Honeycrisp) she wanted it sliced into perfect wedges and placed in her snack box. "The slices will get a little brown" I explained in an attempt to avoid potential rejection of this snack while she was at school and there was nothing I could do to fix the problem. "That's OK Mom, the brown parts just make it taste sweeter." Profound wisdom coming from the lips of my 5 year old.

The brown parts make it sweeter. Yes. In fruit. In motherhood. In life. The brown parts are there because you have exposed yourself. Opened yourself up. Cut away part of what protects you to get ready to become something new. Nearly 6 years ago when I became this child's mother part of me was exposed and dealing with the personality of this little princess has turned some of those edges a little brown. But the brown parts make it sweeter, right? Right. "She's just like you." the father says to me. Regularly. Sometimes that comment is thrown at me in disgust. Part blame, part excuse, part "You realize you did this to yourself don't you?" Sometimes he honors me with that comment as we beam at each other in awe of what a little lady she's becoming. The fact that she is just like me is my achievement and my burden. She is pink with sparkles and grasshoppers in mud. She is intelligent and passionate but she is quick-tempered and furious. She is curious and verbal but she is flip and calculating. She is amazing. Grown at home, like that whole tomato, from a tiny seed. Made into what she is by her mother, or her parents, or her sisters, or God, or her own spirit or all of the above. All of us taking turns owning the larger share of that growth.

She took a tomato as her snack today. Unsliced. The middle bit, filled with juice and seeds, will probably run down her arm and most likely will make a small mess. She's a planner though, like her mother. She packed a paper towel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They're Broccoli Burritos Baby!

I'm not an overly innovative cook. I am in awe of people who can open up the fridge, see leftover chicken, some hoisin sauce and half a head of lettuce and through the magic of culinary wizardry create something that not just edible, but fabulous. I'm a recipe girl. It is not like me to add things, substitute ingredients, or stray from the letter of the recipe even one tiny bit. I don't trust myself to make good decisions.

That said. On rare occasions. With a recipe I've made many times in the past. When I'm feeling wild and crazy. I make small changes. And last week my broccoli burritos were a major hit. Major. Originally adapted from a Cooking Light recipe entitled Baked Burritos, here's my lightened up, fiber-riffic version that pleased even the littlest food critics in my house.

Broccoli Burritos (I do not recommend calling them this if you picky eaters in your house)

1 Cup packaged broccoli slaw
1 Cup pre-shredded fat free cheddar cheese
1 Cup bottled salsa
1/2 Cup chopped red onion
1 Cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 Cup minced fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 (16 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced black olives
8 (8 inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Cooking Spray

1. Preheat oven to 425*
2. Combine broccoli slaw and next 8 ingredients (through olives) in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Spread 2/3 cup of mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Place the burritos on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes until heated through.
Note* I have made the mixture ahead of time so all I had to do was fill the burritos and bake on a busy week night. The filling is also great over a bed of romaine with a few chips as a taco salad.

In case you were wondering. Made exactly like this, the filling has less than 3 Points for 2/3 Cup. Your choice of tortilla will determine the final Points total for each serving.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Apple Made Me Do It

Apples have been making people do shameful things for thousands of years and yesterday was no exception. Its Fall in the Midwest and the Honey Crisp apples are back in the stores again. Oh sweet fruit of the tree that makes my knees weak and edges out every other treat I crave for most of the Fall. Oh crispy orb of perfect goodness that has never failed me once. Oh ready sphere that commands my attention in the aisle and causes me to forget about price. Have I gone on too long? If you think so, then you have clearly never had a Honey Crisp apple. There are lots of good apples out there but this variety is as close to perfection as engineered produce can be.

The backstory is, my littlest one is not a huge fan of apples. Yes, I cut them into appropriately sized nibbles. Yes, I offer different varieties. And yes, I've done baked, dried, nuked and sauced. She is not a fan. She licks them, touches them all over, drops them on the dog-haired kitchen floor and ultimately ends up wasting them. WASTING THEM.

So here's how the fruit iniquity was committed by the mother. In the middle of the afternoon yesterday, I sat down with my Honey Crisp. Sliced and cored with precision so as not to waste one tiny portion, I bit into my first section. Over toddles the little one, mouth popping open and closed like a malnourished trout voicing her "ngh, ngh" which means "Give me some of whatever you have or I will screech." Ordinarily I would accommodate a request for a bite of my snack. But not today. Not this snack. Not my Honey Crisp. The unholy sounds that came out of this child were almost enough to make me forget what I knew about her licking apples and tossing them to the dogs or taking tiny bites and spitting the chunky mess into the palm of my hand. I offered her another snack: a peach, grapes, Goldfish, dried bananas? This didn't help the screeching and pushed her to the next level of distress which included great , big, rolling crocodile tears. Pathetic. The whole thing was pathetic. But I was not swayed.

Give her the apple because she is my baby, and I love her, and she's screaming? That's just ridiculous! Would you a kid Godiva chocolate for dessert when they are thrilled to get one M&M? You wouldn't! Or, at least, I wouldn't, and there you have it. I deny my children some of the good stuff because I know they won't appreciate it. It's not that I think they're not worthy, of course they are, they are my flesh and blood. I just think if you make a kids wait for some things until they can appreciate how great they are, or how funny they are, or how delicious they are, you are teaching a big lesson.

So back to the crocodile tears. I'm not proud of my behavior, but I'm also not ashamed. This time it was an apple, but next time it might be an amusement park ride or a PG movie. Its ok to make them wait for things. They'll get there and I'll be there riding the rides, enjoying the movies and yes, serving the Honey Crisp apples.