We're going to Disneyland!

This is my gift to my family this Christmas. I'll be back when we have had every fun experience possible.

And not before.



Levi (turning 7 next month): Mac just hit me in the nuts with his paw!

Me: Nuts, huh? When did you start using that word?

Levi: Everybody says nuts.

Me: Oh. OK. We've always called them testicles in this house.

Levi: Well, all the guys call testicles nuts. Or balls. Cause they kinda look like them. Have you ever seen them?



Since I have a core belief that food preparation and consumption are the Earthly expressions of love, I paid Nob Hill Foods to do my loving for me this holiday season. Not the consumption. Just the prep.

They baked my holiday cookies for me. I paid them $15. And it was SO worth it.

And tonight the kids and I decorated cookies in our messy and crazy way.

And I feel good.

I'm wondering what else I can outsource...


After lengthy conversations about what we want to give to all of the cousins in the family for Christmas, my son and I had a chat about what he might want from Santa.

Levi: I want a big Infernape(tm). And I want Pokemon(tm) cards.

Me: What in the world is an Infernape(tm)?

Levi: It's a big ape, and he's on fire and he can.... insert endless Pokemon(tm) words here ... and I really really want one. A big one that I can sleep with.

Me: Wow! That sounds great. I wonder, however, if they even make that. Hmmm...

Levi (shooting me a chilly glance): It's OK, Mom. Santa MAKES all his toys.

Oh, OK. That should work out just great, then.



Charlie is my husband's very best friend in the world since high school. Ruben loves him like a brother. Maybe more, actually. Rube tries to get a hold of him a couple of times a year, usually around Charlie's birthday and the Holidays. Charlie sometimes calls on Rube's birthday. I haven't seen him since their 20th reunion when I was pregnant with Levi, who is now nearly 7.

Rube has always wanted Charlie to be a bigger part of our lives. To know our kids and celebrate and hang out with us. I understand Charlie's resistance, though. We are a non-partying family. We play board and card games and make delicious meals and go to bed at a respectable hour. This is not now, and has never really been, Charlie's speed.

Rube and Charlie's history has all those crazy stories that best friends just have from those wild years. There is a hitchhiking (in the wrong direction) story where Charlie came to rescue Rube. There is the "bug rolling" story. Tales of eating fast food meals and double-dip ice cream cones over the very windy Highway 17, all while driving a stick shift. A lifetime of memories, really.

At nearly 11:00 PM on Tuesday the phone rang. It was Charlie's brother, Robby. My heart sank. I was instantly hoping he was in jail or rehab.

He wasn't.

Charlie died in his sleep on Friday. He just didn't get up that day.

We don't have any details about the circumstances. Ruben didn't ask. Robby didn't offer. Doesn't really matter.

Ruben is wrecked. Ruined. So desperately sad. The reconciliation process hasn't begun. What does his life look like without Charlie in the world? I'm not sure Rube knows. I'm not sure he will any time soon. Despair is hanging around him like a cloud. He physically hurts from the loss.

And I can't do a fucking thing.

Today I will love my husband. Today I will love all of you stupid, crazy, irritating people. Today is all that I've got.



It has lights on it.

And all is right with my world again.

I don't know why a cut tree inside my house makes my heart soar. Cause, really, Christmas is just another day. Just another day with an ungodly amount of expectation. And greed. And disappointment. And tragedy.

And when I take a moment to let it sink in I just want to weep.

Which must be why there is so much momentum. And buying. And eating. And laughing. If I am doing all of these things I can't be devastated.

And so today I will be deluded. And will sweetly drift off to sleep with visions of sugarplums and happy children and perfect trees with perfect presents below.

And I will weep when we take the tree down.



Wondering where I went?

I went here:

Tonight is opening night. I'm wishing my daughter well. Hoping she doesn't really break a leg.

Cause after this week (Tech week, called "heck week" by the kids. Cute, huh?) with my child up past 10 PM most nights, we all need a break.

But too bad, cause it's the holidays now!

I'm not as peppy as I was last week. I don't know if you noticed.



I'm trying to come up with some delicious and yet pretty simple appetizers to serve at a dinner party we've been invited to with some new friends. We've met them through the new school. They are foodies and sporties and the lovely wife of the host family is up to her eyeballs in volunteer efforts at the school. Putting me to shame, really.

So, here is what I am thinking for 4 couples:

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Cheese Puffs (Gougeres)

Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Cream Cheese Bites (Made with Rube's homemade Smoked Salmon)

And lastly, this Crudite Platter with the "Really" Onion Dip. A much smaller version, mind you. I'm not spending the day prepping all those veggies. I mean, gimme a break - it's a veggie plate.

What do you think? Anything you would change? Any smashing holiday appetizers you'd like to share! Cause I would love, love, love that!



I know I said I was going to slow down with the posting. And I just might. But today I am feeling so very merry. And I had to change my banners and I was thinking about this month and how much fun it is. And how much work that is. And how much better it all is with Christmas music and a hot beverage (perhaps served with a cookie).

So I may be sharing some recipes or some favorite songs. I may be around here quite a bit. Or I might disappear. But you know when you know you are slipping day by day into a sad place? Each day a little darker and sadder than the day before and there is nothing you can do to stop it?

I am doing the OPPOSITE of that. Day by day I am getting happier and happier. And mania like this needs an outlet. Believe me!

So, for starters let's have a cookie, shall we?

Here is a cookie that takes me back to my childhood in an instant. We called them Vienna Dream Bars. Because I think that is what Betty Crocker called them. Whatever you call them, here they are. (Thanks, Razzle Dazzle Recipes for posting the perfect recipe so I don't have to work so hard!)

Date Crumb Bars

1 lb Whole pitted dates
2/3 cup Golden brown sugar; packed
2/3 cup Orange juice
1 tbsp Vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups Old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 cup Golden brown sugar; packed
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 pinch Salt
1 cup Unsalted butter; chilled, cut into pieces
3/4 cup Walnuts; coarsely chopped

Stir dates, brown sugar, and orange juice in medium saucepan over med. heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until dates are tender and syrup is thick, about 3 minutes. Cool; mix in vanilla. Puree filling in processor until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal and forms most clumps.

Firmly press half of crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Spread filling over crust. Add walnuts to remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle over filling.

Bake until topping is golden brown; about 40 minutes. Cool in pan. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature) Cut into squares, serve.



This is my last post for the month of November. It was certainly a lovely experience. As we head into the thick of the holiday season I will not continue at this pace.

Here, have a song from me. I'm gonna sway off into the ether.



I got a promotion at work.


Also, I have had great success with this thing over here. But, shhhh. Don't talk about it. Don't you dare.

And then there is this:

That's right. I'm a big fat fucking winner.

Thank you, thank you. Especially you, Secret Agent Mama for awarding me the coolest gun award ever for being a secret agent. And I am. Secret. And secretive. And I'm glad you can all see that.

And I want to thank Becky (who happens to be a mom of 4 kids, and really, that deserves an award right there) for tagging me for the 7 things meme. As I just did it a few days ago I will say "Thanks!" and let you check it at your leisure.



Here are a few things that I love:

I love Sarah Vowell. Every god-damned thing about her up to and including her amazing voice.

I love Christmas music. And I love the cheesy easy-listening station that plays it round the clock from Thanksgiving until New Years Day. Feel free to listen online if you are in need of some insta-spirit!

I love dead people. But you may already know that.

I love Life. And Damian Lewis in particular.

I love my Kiddos.

I love my husband. (You can look but don't touch, ladies. He's taken.)

I love it that Ruben took the kids to the "fireside" Family Reading Night at the kids school tonight - without me! (Is that so wrong?)

That about covers it for today.



Me: Hey, pal! Watcha wearing?

Levi (looking down at his capri pants): Clean underwear!

It's progress, people. Not perfection.



School conferences were today.

The kids are doing GREAT at the new school. Levi's teacher told us that he is a joy to have in class. Totally participates and grasps concepts. She showed us a sample of his writing from October and it's like an alien wrote that stuff because it is so different from the writing he does now.

She did say he is relentless wiggle-worm. And he is. And it made me feel like she really knows him. And she still likes him. So I like her.

Madigan's teacher presented us with her report card (A's and 2 B+'s) and proceeded to tell us how she can bring this B+'s up. If she participates in class discussions a little more and steps up the self guided math program, she could have those B's up to A's in no time.


I'm terribly happy with the report card. This is Madigan's first trimester in a new school, with new ways of doing things, play practices every day and holidays every other week. I'm not going back to her to tell her how she can take those awesome grades and make 'em just a little better.

And I told her teacher that.



I found a scan of this picture! (We don't have digital pics of our wedding.)

Who's that pretty girl standing there with that handsome guy?



Today is the day MY family gets together to consume the meal that I wait for all year. And I freakin' stoked!

The other Thanksgiving went well. We were all exhausted after the Turkey Trot and could have slept the day away, but we enjoyed ourselves and ate some good food and seem to be pretty rested now.

Also, Levi ran his first 5k that day. He's 6. And, apparently, a showoff. Whatever.

Seriously, though. He ran the whole way with his dad and my brother. And I am amazed.

Happy Thanksgiving Day Again to you all!



Ring. Ring. (totally not the sound his cell phone makes, but you get the picture)

Husband (from the golf course this morning): Hello.

Me: Hi babe. We need a couple of things from the store. Can you stop on your way home?

Husband: Sure, what do we need?

Me: Sweet potatoes and I need tampons.

Husband: Jam pots? Why do we need jam pots? Like, jelly jars or something?

Me: TAMPONS. Not jam pots.

Husband: Oh, yeah sure. OK. Sweet potatoes and your thing. Gotcha.

He arrived home and plunked the Safeway bag on the counter and returned to the car to unload his golf clubs. I looked in the bag and found only sweet potatoes. I followed him to the car.

Me: Did you leave the tampons in the car?

Husband: Ham hocks? Did you ask for ham hocks?

Me: TAMPONS. Not ham hocks.

Husband: Oh... man. I forgot.

Forgot, or living in complete and utter denial?

You decide.



Have a lovely holiday. And, if you're lucky, a bacon wrapped turkey.

Oh, hell yeah!



OK. Tomorrow is the day. I'm planning on having a relaxing evening tonight prepping the brussel sprouts and salad that I'm taking to my mother in law's house tomorrow while my husband smokes meat. Maybe even a romantic dinner as my children will be at my folks house overnight. Shut up! It could happen!

Tomorrow we will kick off our day with the traditional Turkey Trot in downtown San Jose. OK, so it is a brand new tradition for us, but perhaps a lasting one. Ruben and Madigan will be running, Levi and I will be walking with my folks and my brother and a big bunch of people from my work. I'm excited to have this fun and healthy social thing to kick off the day. I hope we don't freeze. (the California version of freeze, I mean. Which consists of feeling a bit chilly and having a pink nose and complaining about it endlessly while wearing our Old Navy performance fleece pullovers and stomping our feet.)

This means, however, that I will have to Tivo the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. So I'm wondering how it will play on the day after the holiday, without any turkey in the oven or children that I have to rush around. I might even like it better! Yeah!

For my friend Tammy in Arizona:
The Wonder Emporium was delightful! Really sweet and thoughtful. It is the most celebratory movie about death that I have ever seen. Did I mention it was about death? Cause no one else did either so I was more than a little worried when I put it together in the theater, but was so pleasantly surprised. Both my kids left the theater believing that we made a good choice when we decided on this one over Bee Movie. So, there you have it! Go and have fun.

But really, Enchanted opens today. So maybe you should go to that one, and then you could send me a review! Whadda ya think?

By the way, I LOVE this recipe for 18 can stuffing. OK, it's not really a recipe, but a look into the mind of a woman whose writing I dig. And 18 cans of stuff. Which becomes a "Black Hole of moist." Really, check it.



Me: Did you put on clean underwear?

Levi (now wearing a very exasperated look): Why don't you tell me that before I get dressed? Every day I have to go back and put on clean undies!


Apparently it's time to learn how to extrapolate.



That's what we've been up to at the Casa Cupcake.

It's a short week which means all of my work needs to get done in less time. Super cool!

Levi is a big reading guy and so he shows off his amazing talent on a nightly basis. Two shows every evening, 6:00 and 7:45. Shower in between. Don't be late. You snooze you loose.

I've been making new recipes. Modified to be healthier (I know - ugh!). But it's good for my whole family. And since I can't live with the crap that passes for "low cal" recipes I'm making my own. I'll post the finalized goodness.

This week was low fat brownies with Scharffenberger dark chocolate. Fudgy and delicious. Also a spinach, mushroom and onion quiche with a little emmentaler. It has barely enough egg beaters to bind all the goodness together. Crazy tasty.

This week will bring smoked turkey and salmon, roasted brussel sprouts, salad and soup.

And as to the loving, I'm going to let you guess...



The kids and I are going to Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium today. I'm ready for magical.

And also, I've been drinking this miracle drink for the last 4 days. Ridiculously perfect energy drink. If you can tolerate the sludgyness. I don't use parsley but I do use a lot more ginger than the recipe calls for and I add lemon zest and a little Splenda.

Have a lovely Sunday.



My sweet girl popped up this morning (I mean I dragged her out of my bed) and decided to create some adventurous seasonal pancakes (meaning I said, "How do pumpkin pancakes sound?" and she said, "If they're gross can I make some plain ones?").

They were delectable. She's a breakfast rock star.

Check it out:


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup pure pumpkin


Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Combine egg, oil, milk and pumpkin in a small bowl. Stir pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients. Leave to stand for five minutes.

For each pancake, scoop 1/4 cup of batter on to a hot griddle or nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are cooked, after about 2 minutes. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes on second side.

Makes 8-10 pancakes.



Fewsh - I'm going to make it before midnight.

As I sit here watching "The Soup" on E, I am delighted to see a commercial for the "Total Gym" featuring Chuck Norris and Christy Brinkley. Which brings up the obvious topic of bad plastic surgery.

Kanye West's mother's death makes me think about it. Plastic surgery is a choice commonly made by women of all ages. I know dozens of women from all different areas of my life who have told me that they have had work done. Smart women do it, beautiful women do it, kind and generous and well-grounded put-together women do it. And it makes me wonder.


I'm not picking a fight. I'm not standing on a soap box. I'm seriously wondering. What is it? Why do we do this? Put ourselves at risk. Literally risking life an limb.

I want good things for myself. I want better things for my daughter. I want to support her and help her to achieve what ever her dreams are. What if these beautiful (though distorted) images she has seen every day of her life affect the way she sees herself? What if she wants to change her body? Make it bigger, make it smaller. Make it different from the one I grew in my belly. Hugged with my arms.

What will I do?

I honestly have no idea. I will, of course, talk with her as honestly as I am able. I will encourage her to educate herself. But I am flummoxed by so much of the topic how could I be helpful? The one thing I am clear about is that my decisions will shape her opinions about acceptable behavior more than most others. In good ways and bad. If I smoke, she is much more likely to smoke. (I do, by the way. Secretly and ashamedly - Ugh!) If I volunteer she may be more inclined to spare her time for people in need (I do this one, too). I hold this belief to be true about plastic surgery.

And so I abstain. I do not participate in any way.

Do you? Let me know...

(PS - these are my exhausted ramblings. Ignore them if they enrage you. Or drop me a line. Cause I could use a little drama...)



Is hurling her guts out today. Once at school (cause, yes, I did send her), once in the parking lot on the way to the car, and now at home with her dad.

Here is a picture of her on Thanksgiving 2 years ago. When she was happier. And feeling better.

I'm off to a WW meeting and my women's group. Catcha later, gators.



The turkey. And a bunch of salmon. Maybe a chicken .

What did you think I meant?

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. I like this holiday for a bunch of reasons. First for the most delicious single meal of the year. Oh, I will have other wonderful meals in the weeks and months to come, but none that are as anticipated and deliver so consistently on my high expectations.

Second, I like the name. I think that a national holiday intended to promote thankfulness is just so folksy and American. The French are not doing this. Brazilians are to busy shaking it in thongs on their beautiful beaches. But us, we're giving thanks for our ridiculously wonderful lives. Even when life is awful, it is still full of wonder and I'm really giving thanks for being able to see that. I know people who don't.

Third, I usually like the people I spend the day with. So there is that.

There is one really terrible Thanksgiving that stays in my mind. A fiasco that started when my maternal grandmother had a stroke in early November. My mom and her 4 sisters (Sherry, Sally, Sonia and Sandi - my mom is Susie) decided to go ahead and have a gathering but determined that it should be close to the hospital in case they needed to get there quickly. So my mom offered to do the turkey.

I should really just stop here. ANYONE who knows my mother knows that my mother doesn't cook. The tell-tale sign that my mother was clinically depressed was when she started baking. I'm not joking. She's better now. She has resumed her "Don't ask, don't tell" attitude toward the magic that turns ingredients into food. We are all happier.

Anyway, that fateful year my Aunt Sonia showed up with Jello that she just couldn't get to gel (she was also not much of a cook) and my father's hair and eyebrows burst into flame while he assisted my mother in basting the turkey and we all laughed that giddy/hysterical laugh of people who can't get a line on how they should feel or act. All except my mother because she was sobbing after nearly burning my father's face off. So, overall - not the best Thanksgiving on record.

This year should be better than that one. So I guess that would be my fourth reason.



Everyone does that when they like a new song, right?

Thanks to CityMama this song is my new obsession. It gets better every time you play it. (The video keeps disappearing, so you can check it out here as well.)

Which reminds me of this one that I love. (Forgive the crappy video quality. Use your ears.)

My gift to you.


For the lovely TXPoppet. Though it will not bring back her herb garden, hopefully it will sooth her spirit and fill her belly.

This is a great recipe for holiday mornings. It doubles nicely. The trick is using the correct size baking dish for the amount of bread you have. This can be made lighter with Egg Beaters, lowfat milk, low or non fat cream cheese, and greasing the pan rather than buttering each slice.

1/2 loaf of French bread cut into 3/4 inch slices and buttered on both sides
(older is better - this is how I use up my 3 day old bread)
1/4 a brick of cream cheese, cubed or broken into bits by hand
1/2 cup of berries (frozen work fine)
3 eggs
1 to 2 cups milk (or milk and half and half combo)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

I layer the bread in a small casserole, 2 slices high. Make sure the casserole is small or the liquid won't cover it all and the top will turn out dry. Sprinkle berries and bits of cream cheese over the bread. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the cinnamon and vanilla and stir to incorporate. Add the milk. Whisk to combine. Pour mixture over the bread/berries/cream cheese combo until it just covers the bread (not too soupy). Cover with parchment and set a Tupperware container of leftovers from your fridge directly on top to press down the bread (this assists the bread with soaking up the liquid, rather than floating). If you need to you can fill a Tupperware 1/2 way with water and pop it on top.

Leave overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pop the covered casserole in for 45 minutes to an hour. I like mine good and set, but you may like it a little softer. Use your judgement but there should be no runny egg parts visible.

Serve hot, cut into squares, with powdered sugar and syrup. Or plain as it is a little sweet. My family said it was yummy. I hope yours does, too.



Whatever was I thinking? NaBloPoMo is kicking my ass. Every day, people? I have to think of something every day? Goodness graciousness. This may be beyond my capabilities.

Alright, well yesterday I cooked up a storm. I made split pea soup, beef stew, cookies and French toast casserole for this morning. Sometimes I cook in flurries. I didn't eat any of it while I was cooking, though. Just 'cause I'm quirky.

That's not very interesting, is it? Hmmm...

Oh, here's something! Today I returned some perfume. Clinique Happy. Cause it smelled like shit. Seriously, bad. And the lovely lady behind the counter wanted to argue with me as to the shittiness of the smell. Which I appreciated. Obviously.

"That's what it is supposed to smell like." she said. "Have you smelled it before?"

I grabbed a couple of those little paper tabs, sprayed the sample bottle on to one and said, "Smell this. This is what it is supposed to smell like." Then I grabbed my shitty smelling one and sprayed it on to the other paper tab and said, "Now smell this one. It's not good. It's bad. It shouldn't smell bad. I paid for the good smell. Not the bad one."

"I don't know..." she said.

My look convinced her to give me a fresh bottle. I immediately opened it. She balked.

"You can't open them all!"

I actually had to say the words, "I'm not leaving here with a perfume that smells bad. I'm going to open it and check it before I leave." She was not pleased with me. Apparently I should take my perfume home and smell it there and if it smells bad at that point I should learn to live with smelling like shit. As if I need her perfume for that...

Luckily for her, it smelled good. And I didn't call her the "c" word. Even if I thought about it.

But now I'm not sure if I ever want to wear it again, as it no longer has Happy memories for me. We shall see.



I made my first real fire of the season in the wood stove tonight (not the fireplace though, too much work for too little payoff).

Expert level fire-building is a talent I never expected to acquire in my lifetime. Like parallel parking and plumbing, I just thought I'd never be good at it and that I would turn on a heater or ask someone else to make a fire. And then, 9 years ago, we moved to the mountains.

Living in a tiny little cabin in the mountains with one below-average wall heater meant that we relied heavily (exclusively, really) on our little wood burning stove. And if I wanted to have a warm house in the morning before the kids went off to school and I to work, I had to make a fire. Every cold day. For months. (I exaggerate. Sometimes Rube would make it. And often he would do his best to load the stove before we went to bed so there were coals in the morning. But I was loading wood every day. And I cut my own kindling with a hatchet - so that's impressive!)

I prefer fire heat to forced-air heat. When sleeping away from home I am often awakened all sweaty and dry-mouthed when the heater kicks on in the morning. Yuck. This never happens in fire heated homes. The gentle warm air tends to stay in the same room with the fire, which allows some of the rooms in the house to stay nice and cold, in the event that you want to visit some of that. And sometimes, when I really get the fire cranking and the sun comes up and warms the house a little, I do get too hot. Time to open windows and hang out in the room furthest from the fire. Like AC. But only in the dead of winter.

This season is my favorite. Cozy is my natural state. Curled up with a warm mug of something and a pile of laundry to fold while watching a movie. Wind whistling through the trees and the seams in the door. Sweatpants and fuzzy socks in ugg slippers and long pilly sweaters. This is my nirvana.

Happy first fire to you. Happy cold. Happy beginning of the holidays with all of their stress and expectations and people we love and people we wish we didn't. How blessed are we to have so much thanks to give.



My son. His soccer season ended today. It was a dreary and wet day wherein they lost, as they have every week. But in these photos, taken last week, you can see none of that. All momentum and limbs and hair and tongue. He is perfection in thigh high socks.

Having him made me complete in a way that I didn't even know I needed. Which is why I can sometimes consider the divine.



I have a cold. Hopefully not the flu, but I'm getting that bleary head woozy feeling with the tingly feverish skin. So I'm going to deliver these kid to Rube so they can all go to a football game and I'm going to come home to spend an evening alone drowning my sorrows in hot tea. And maybe a hot tub. But maybe that's too much work.

Are you wondering if you have the flu? Here is where you can find out for sure.

In the event that you do, I've found this self care guide to help get through it.

That's all I got.



Have you never tried to find a comfort from inside you?
Have you never been happy just to hear your song?
Have you never let someone else be strong?

No pressure, I was just curious. Don't go getting all mellow on my account.

Anyhoo - I found this lady. Well, I guess "found her" is a little strong. I think she existed before I came upon her page. But, again, I digress. I like her. So I thought I'd share. She does some good things with F-words. And kids. Together. Good times. Seriously.

As the month goes on I may be doing more "sharing." Can't say I didn't warn you.



A meme. From the lovely Schmutzie. (I'm more than a little embarrassed to say how flattered I was that she picked me. I'm sure it doesn't mean what I think it means. What I hope it means. She, like a lot of innocent victims, was probably wooed by my incredibly sexy avatar. Which can be seen here.)

Anyway, the rules of the game are:
- Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
- Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Let's hit it!

1. My best friend has been my best friend since we were both 12. Which she likes to say has been 15 years. I like to say, "How old do you think you are?" It's been 24 years.

2. My idea of the worst job in the world would be working in one of those tiny box perfume shops. The only thing worse than a rotten smell surrounding my head is a cloud of various perfume smells. I've been known to get nauseous and head achy from strongly scented candles.

3. I was vegetarian for a stretch. I resolved to eat meat again on New Years Day, 1995. I have successfully kept that resolution ever since. The hardest part of going veg for me was not having gravy. There is no good veggie substitute for sausage gravy. On biscuits. With Bacon.

4. My first baby came via c-section. The next one was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I had epidurals with both. I waited to go into labor on my own with the first (11 days late) and induced with the second (10 days early). And also, when my daughter (the first one) was born she weighed 11 lbs., 1 oz. **I share this fact with anyone who stands still long enough for me to get the words out. Cause eleven pounds is a fucking lot when it is trapped inside your belly skin.**

5. The summer I was 8, when I lived in Glen Burnie, Maryland, a group of churchy teenagers drove through our neighborhood dressed as Star Wars characters in a big churchy bus. Luke and Leia and Chewie and Darth hopped out and gave us fliers for the vacation bible school at their church. So I went.

6. I worry about books that aren't being read. I believe that a book only has a life if it is being read. Library books are the luckiest of all the books. And I don't just say that because I am married to a sexy librarian.

7. My favorite thing in the whole, entire world is the silky end of of the blanket. Which makes me borderline mental.

When I asked Rube, "What's weird about me?" he said, "You watch dead people." But I already told you guys that. Geeze, hate it when I piss away the good stuff the day before Schmutzie tags me for a cool little meme.

And now a word from...

Mominitup (who has the same MIL as I do, though we've never met)
Badger, famous for her wit and culinary delights
Slurping Life's Melody
Rose at Kikarose, also a Californian
A lovely woman known only to me as Dapoppins
And representing the Testosterone Tribe:
My new friend Chuck
And my longtime friend and former coworker Adam

Thanks to you all!


You know what I think? Any god who gives a shit about whether or not I go see this movie needs to get a fucking hobby.

But what do I know? Perhaps omnipotence isn't interesting enough. Maybe becoming overbearing and controlling about the entertainment choices of billions of creatures will help fill the meaningless days and oh, so lonely nights. It seems to work for humans.

BJ, if this is the case, forgive me. And also, if you're feeling lonely and you see me awake late at night, feel free to stop by for a game of scrabble and a cup of tea.



I am that mom.

My son, three and a half years younger than his sister, is such a sweet and lovely child. I love him more than life and would do anything for him or his big sister, however I can't seem to get my shit together where his schooling is concerned. I'm one of those bare minimum parents.

Part of his homework is to read and be read to. We do that. But I don't get the books all written on the "Daily Book Log." I didn't get any candy/crap to his classroom before the big Halloween party. I often forget to sign his daily behavior sheet. He can't find his library book and so he can't check out a new one. And I honestly don't know what he did with it. And he is super bummed about it.

This sucks for him. Because he needs parents who don't do a half-ass job of supporting him in his first grade journey. Sadly, that's not what he's got in me.

The first time we did first grade (with the first child - so bright and studious) we were rapt with the excitement of what she was learning - the adventure of reading and writing and her love of learning! This time around it seems so tedious.

And also, reading doesn't come as easily to Levi. Nor does regular homework. He's a bit of a whiner. It takes a lot of work for the whole family just to get the homework and reading done.

He's getting the shaft. And I know it. Ugg.

So - that's where I'm at. I'm wanting to do right by him. Today, after he got his regular homework done I logged a bunch of the books for the "Daily Book Log" and we played sight word memory. Also, I successfully signed the behavior sheet and we are going to cook dinner tonight before we pick Maddy up from play practice.

I'm trying here, folks.



I just spent most of last night and another hour this morning reading this blog. I read (or at least scanned) every post.

Perfect in every way. Especially this one.

Love at first word? Or blog envy run rampant? Whichever it is, I am smitten.



I LOVE true crime stories. Any way I can get them. I don't discriminate. Give me a true crime and I'm all over that shit like flies. I endlessly watch stuff like Court TV Crime Stories, A&E's City Confidential, and Snapped on Oxygen (this one is narrated by Laura San Giacomo, whom I adore!).

The sound of the TV represents safety and companionship to me. Often I'm not even watching these shows but I need to hear the sound in the background to feel relaxed, which makes my programming choices even more strange.

HBO: Autopsy is the exception to the rule. I don't play this one in the background. I watch every second. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Michael Baden, board-certified forensic pathologist and medical doctor(thank you wikipedia). I see him on a bunch of the other shows, too. But really, this is his best work. His explanations of the condition of the corpses, the positions in which they were found, the degree of decay, and his general demeanor are so warm and soothing. He's way better than Dr. G. She's just so cold. I don't like that. Don't get me wrong, I watch her. I just don't like her as much as Dr. Baden.

I know what I like.

I read the books, too. One of my favorite true crime authors is Ann Rule. In fact I don't think I know another true crime author by name. She is the master and she came by it totally by accident. She had a job with Ted Bundy. So she wrote a book. And then she wrote a bunch more.

My favorite is Bitter Harvest about a doctor who poisoned her husband with a strange poison (ricin from castor beans, usually used to make castor oil) and her attention-seeking fire setting that ultimately resulted in the death of two of her three children. Holy shit. This chick was whacked.

I also highly recommend Every Breath You Take. Total nut jobs abound. Good times.

So , now you know a little more about me. Which might explain why I think the crazy whack-job mom from my kids old school murdered the mom with the heart condition who died suddenly at the end of my daughter's kindergarten year.


I think she did it.

The crazy whack-job thought the younger (and much prettier) woman was sleeping with her husband (which may or may not be true). The crazy whack-job threatened the life of the younger mom. The younger mom got a restraining order against the crazy lady. And then the younger woman died suddenly.

Hmmmm. Really?

I'm sayin'. I'm actually sayin'.



Because of this I am going to be posting every day for the month of November. Now, don't get your hopes up. This means I'll be reaching into the deep dark recesses of my mind. And we all know that no good can come of that.

It turns out that this thing, this committing to write something (anything) every day for a month, is a big undertaking for lots of people. Don't take my word for it. Check out this site and this one and this one and also this one.

My point is that I may be boring and a little bit lame, but I'm in really good company.



11/1/07 - Cancer

Emotions are so tangible that you could build scaffolding with your feelings now. Avoiding serious commitments will allow you to let your imagination meander on its own. Keep in mind that even the most impractical thoughts can have very practical consequences. Exploration of your inner worlds will lead to outer rewards.

So says Rick Levine.

Well, whadda ya know? Maybe my tenuous emotional state isn't due to parting with my habit of using food as an emotional crutch. Perhaps it is all because I was born in late June! FEWSH!


I've been pretty quiet for a couple of weeks. And here is why. I'm dieting.

Not crash dieting where I drop a ton of weight and start "fake and bake" tanning and wearing slutty clothes and forget who I am and start having an affair with the single dad who hangs around the park with his hyperactive kid. Not that kind.

I joined Weight Watchers. I'm changing the way I eat. I'm getting healthier and at 3 weeks in I feel pretty darn good. Physically. But I'm feeling a little off as well. Vulnerable and wonky and unsure. Like I'm a kid going to a new school. And I don't feel confident and self-assured. More awkward and clumsy and nervous.

For me that means that I don't have a lot of words. I've been watching TV rather than reading. I've been staying up late and going to bed exhausted rather than early and drifting off at a respectable time. Except for the night I went to bed at 8:00. Maybe I'm a little psycho. Who knows.

Anyway - that's where I've been. I'll keep you posted at to my mental well being, however I suspect this will be my only mention of weight loss. It is so deeply personal that I don't quite know how to express it with myself, much less publicly.

But if you want to hear about my vagina or my last therapy session, stick around. I'm all about sharing the easy stuff.



Do you know TX Poppett? Well, she's the bomb dot com, baby. Smart and funny and a Texan. What's not to love? And if you aren't following her on Twitter then you are quite possibly a daft fool. I laugh out loud daily at her adventures.

So, this lady that I am speaking of, she tagged me for a meme. Me! I know, huh? How sweet is she?

Here goes:

Four First Names of (unrequited) Crushes I’ve Had:
1. James (a warm friend at a critical point in my life)
2. Dawn (yes, girl. my first and only real girl crush. she was great)
3. Brett (every girl's junior high dream boat)
4. Phil (dorky loser artist that I got lost in for a semester)

Four Pieces of Clothing I wish I still owned:
1. Tan and teal cozy cardigan
2. Blue and white satin robe
3. My brown leather jacket - that was STOLEN!
4. Oh, the shoes that I have parted with. Too many to count.

Names I’ve been called at one time or another:
1. Terra (short for Erra Terra Cota - the lovely name my cousins gave me)
2. Ladybug (my mom's name for me)
3. Ernestine (my dad's name for me)
4. Bitch, Jack Ass, Moron, and a bunch of other one-offs...

Four Professions I Secretly Want to Try:
1. Novelist
2. Artist
3. Stewardess (mostly for the sex play - Naughty!)
4. Nun (also for the sex play)

Four Musicians I’d most want to go on a date with:
1. Sting
2. Elvis Costello
3. Amos Lee
4. Tori Amos

Four Foods I’d Rather Throw than Eat:
1. Calf's liver
2. Sea Urchin
3. Tomatoes (I know - how can that be?)
4. Chocolate Pudding (retch!)

Four Things I Like to Sniff:
1. Salt Air
2. Wind through trees
3. Magie Noir by Lancome
4. My babies' skin

Four People to Tag:
1. Momo Fali - funny, sweet and back in the workforce! Hang in there, baby!
2. Known to me as Silent Beautie, she actually has one of my dream jobs. Lucky!
3. Lis, my friend with the green purse.
4. And lastly, my neighbor VDogBlog, who I want to go party like a rock star with (in a totally dignified mom kind of way! of course!)

Have a good time, ladies. Pass on the love and the fun!



My retreat was quite lovely. I laughed a lot. Not a lot of crying this time. We played Catch Phrase (also known as the funnest way to spend time with your clothes on!). Don't start this game unless you have a bunch of great people and 48 hours to commit to it. So freaking fun.

We ate wonderful food, slept well and even did an art project:

I'm happy to be back and my husband is feeling a lot better. He missed me. Which is nice.

Now we are full steam ahead into the Halloween flurry of fun. I'll wish you luck if you wish the same to me. Oy vey.



I must sound like the whiningest, complainingist, pain in the ass on god's green Earth. Well, you know what? Too bad. My blog, my rules.

This week was - how shall I put this? Ummm, let's see. Oh! I know! Shitty.

Husband took a fall and totally f-ed his hand up and threw his back out. Which sounds like he should be the one who gets to have the shitty week, right? Uh - NO!

Husband is flat on his back for days. So you know what that means? I get to do his stuff and my stuff. And I get to go fetch him stuff. And I get to hear him detail the levels and duration of his pain in every position he is able to exist in. Which, thankfully, is not a long list. No really, thank god it is not a long list. The short list is so much more than enough.

I'm going away with my girlfriends. He's getting better at hobbling around. In the event of a fire Maddy knows to roll him out the house like a log. I'll not be back until I have been nurtured and fed and loved back from the emotional brink. If that doesn't happen for six months, so be it. I'm aiming for three days. I'll let you know.



I'm gonna hold on to what I been given lately. Which, since you ask, is a husband with a stitched hand and a back that is thrown out. LAWDY.



My business is words. Words are like labels,
or coins, or better, like swarming bees.
I confess I am only broken by the sources of things;
as if words were counted like dead bees in the attic,
unbuckled from their yellow eyes and their dry wings.
I must always forget who one words is able to pick
out another, to manner another, until I have got
something I might have said...
but did not.
Your business is watching my words. But I
admit nothing. I worth with my best, for instances,
when I can write my praise for a nickel machine,
that one night in Nevada: telling how the magic jackpot
came clacking three bells out, over the lucky screen.
But if you should say this is something it is not,
then I grow weak, remembering how my hands felt funny
and ridiculous and crowded with all
the believing money.

A poem by Anne Sexton



Which is why I couldn't post. I'll write more when I gotten a lick of sleep. Which doesn't look like it will be any time soon.

OK - I'm off to shake it but not to break it this time. Wish me luck!



Years ago my father and I took a few cooking classes together. He and I are the cooks in the family and it was a nice way to have some time for ourselves to spend together, away form all the people we take care of. So, when I was picking classes I chose fancy classes with elaborate ingredients. All About Duck and posh stuff like that. What did my dad choose? He chose a salads class.

I'm going to be honest, I was a little disappointed with his choices. What the hell. I'm getting a sitter and taking time away from the kids so I can go to a salads class. Whatever. It was fine.

So now, a little time has passed. Guess how much I use the techniques I learned in the duck class? Yeah, not so often. Now, guess how often I use the insights I learned about salads? That's right! Every single week of my life. When I'm wrong I admit it. So here goes: I'm sorry I judged you harshly for your cooking class choice, Daddy-O. You clearly know more than I do and you probably always will. How's that?

OK, so getting back to salads. I love them. My whole family loves them. My kids too. They are long time salad eaters. (Which calls to mind the saying that my girlfriends and I had when we were in high school to judge the perfect tiny little girls who hardly ate anything and wore size 2 jeans [now called size zero] and had tanning booths installed IN THEIR HOMES - they were the "Salad Eating Bitches." And we were not like them in any way and would never think to order a salad as an entree on a fancy date. But I digress, as usual.)

Salads have become a respectable meal choice. My kids are accustomed to salads with meats, fruits, nuts, cheeses, crispy and crunchy things, and dressings as diverse as the ingredients. And I'm not sure if they have ever had Good Seasons Italian dressing. Which is the only dressing I ever had until I was in my teens. (OK, Pops, that was another dig and I'm sorry. But really - come on! Day after day. Year after year. I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.)

So here are some of the things I learned:

Salad can have any ingredient. There are no limits.
Good salads tend to have 3 or 4 of the following flavors: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, pungent
Good salads often have a balance of textures: crisp, crunchy, creamy, chewy, smooth, meaty (which does not have to come from meat, see tofu and mushrooms)
Good salads have a point of focus: If your salad has duck confit, it should not also have seared tuna
Good salads sometimes have a regional theme: Asian with soy and sesame, Greek with feta and cukes, Mexican with beans and corn, you get the gist
Good salads do not have to have greens: Don't forget pasta salads, grain salads, fruit salads and the undeniably delicious bread salad
Good salads can be adventurous or simple. The fresher the better.

Here are a couple of my favorites. Please enjoy.

The Salad That Was a Hit With the Neighbors:
2 avocados
2 baskets blackberries
sprinkling of thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup crumbled chevre
1/4 cup spicy pecans, chopped
Toss salad with dressing, below:

Champagne vinaigrette with shallots and chevre
1 cup mild olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup champagne
2 Tbsp. chopped shallots
salt and fresh ground black pepper
pinch sugar, to taste

This salad is such a great fall salad. The toasted hazelnuts make this dish.

My Favorite Side Salad (from a restaurant I worked at 14 years ago):
mixed greens
red onions, thinly sliced
crumbled Gorgonzola
toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped

Cider Tarragon Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon (or 2 tsp. chopped fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together and slowly drizzle in:
1/4 cup olive oil

This salad is big and meaty and very Italian. Perfect for a crowd or as a main dish for your family.

Italian Salumi Chef Salad
Lots of crisp Romaine lettuce, torn (at least 2 heads)
1 head radicchio, torn small
2 ribs celery, thin sliced
2 carrots, sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup Sopressata, chopped
1/4 cup Italian Ham, chopped
1/4 cup Smoked Turkey, chopped
1/4 cup Fontina cheese, in small cubes
1/4 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano (shaved with a vegetable peeler)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
1/2 cup Italian olives - your preference
1/2 cup Sweet Cherry Peppers, drained and rough chopped
Toss together. Dress with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette.

Serve with crusty bread.

So many choices! And God knows we don't have shortage of meals to think about.

Other salad recipe resources:



How do I have a child big enough to successfully pull off the smoochy-face self-photo? Wonders, apparently, never cease.



When I say this post comes to you by popular demand, I don't want you to think I'm being full of myself or having delusions of grandeur or anything. Have a look for yourself at some comments from a few of my cre8buzz friends:

Any good kitchen tips for me? (Shauna)

So, if you are a wonder in the kitchen, does that mean you will be posting recipes for all of us to drool over? (heffalump)

Share some of your wonders with us! (novembrance)

What's your favorite thing to cook? (wornoutwoman)

Yes, yes, share your culinary wonders! (lis)

I'm a wonder in the kitchen too--but more of the "I wonder what mom will make us eat tonight." (kilpack)

Are you reading what I am reading? That these here women, they want some ideas. Some inspiration. Some new goodness for themselves and their families from the kitchen.

This is probably the most common struggle I find with all of the women I meet (in my highly scientific estimation). More common than husband complaints or bragging on their children. More common than the myriad details of our lives is the commonality that if we care for any human beings (ourselves included) we have to feed them multiple times a day. Every. Single. Day. In my 36 years I have made a lot of meals.

If you are just overwhelmed every damn time you have to come up with another f-ing meal, here is my big fat plan for solution.

Make A Weekly Meal Plan. (Thank you to Helen Jane.) When making the plan, come up with a pattern that works for your family. Perhaps it will consist of one beef dinner, one chicken, one pasta, one fish, one ethnic meal, one leftovers night and one night out. Ta da! Done. Then fill out the formula with sides and supporting players like one carbohydrate, two veggies and one salad. Or on pasta night create a bigger and more elaborate salad. And try making a homemade vinaigrette. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Does that make sense?

The real trick is to do what works for your family. If you know you have to serve chicken at least 2 nights, then by all means do! If a soup night makes your life easy - fabulous! Breakfast for dinner, recipes from grandma, brand new - something you've never tried before, no matter what you like it can work in this formula.

And when the detailed plan is written down then even our beloved husbands can help out in a pinch (like when my ob/gyn appt goes 1 hour late because some dumb baby is being born. Whatever). The hardest part of managing my husband in the kitchen is coming up with the ideas for him. I regularly get calls at 4:30 (he often gets off work before me) asking "What were you thinking we could do for dinner?" Honestly, I was thinking you could handle it. Weekly meal plan - problem solved!

Try it. I promise, it helps a busy family. Working outside the home or not.

Here is a sample week for my family -

MONDAY (chicken meal)
Chicken Adobo
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Pan Sauteed String Beans
Decaf Iced Tea with lemon

TUESDAY (pasta meal)
Sausage Tortellini
Red Sauce
Big Italian Salad
Crusty Bread
Milk or water

WEDNESDAY (ethnic meal)
Taco Night!
Taco Meat
Refried Beans
Taco Fixins (Kids helping with most of this)
Big Taco Salad (Avo, tomato, corn, salsa ranch dressing)
Lemonade or water

THURSDAY (leftovers night)
Leftovers - first come first choice
Possible breakfast for dinner if there aren't enough leftovers
(sometimes my husband and I take leftovers for lunches)
Milk or water

FRIDAY (take out night)
Pizza or Chinese takeout
Family Movie night at home
Diet soda or decaf iced tea

SATURDAY (fish meal)
Panko Coated Baked Fish
Lemon Vegetable Risotto (homemade or from box mix)
Steamed Broccoli and Asparagus
Mineral water with lime

SUNDAY (beef meal)
Pot Roast
Carrots and Potatoes
Green Salad
Milk or water

In the event that you need specific recipes, here are a few of my favorite sites:

The Joy Kitchen (This is The Joy of Cooking online. Heaven.)
All Recipes (They have an excellent ingredient search.)
Recipe Source (Great resource for ethnic menus.)

Saveur Magazine
Tastespotting (Links to beautiful food.)

OK, ladies. Let me know if this helps at all.



Is this post right here. I spit my water all over my computer screen.

You can do nothing but visualize that scenario. And it can not be pretty.


Woke up with a headache.

Levi woke up and went to get dressed.

I gently woke Madigan to remind her that she had to shower this morning as she skipped it last night (we're an every-other-day-kid-bathing family). She gifted me with massive attitude and bitchiness - until the moment she came to me with her pink and white polka-dot dress and sweetly asked me to iron it. So I did. And let her know that I am nice to her EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even when I don't feel good. And when she treats me badly I don't feel like doing nice things for her like feeding her or allowing her to breathe, so next time the answer will be no. And since she loves being lectured in the morning she became jolly and delightful to be around.

Next I went to help Levi help him collect his things for the day and we realized that he left his backpack in dad's car last night. The car that is already at work with dad. And he's been forgetting every single thing in the world including his name and where his head is the last couple of weeks, so he got a lecture too. The permission slip for the train ride - in the backpack. If that doesn't get turned in he will be left at the school on field trip day to hang out with the office secretary. For the whole day. FUN. Also, his homework packet hasn't made it home in 2 days. So, there is that. Tonight there will be no fun at all as he has to do a week's worth of homework.

Suddenly I hear wailing from the bathroom. I run to see which limb is missing and what I find is Madigan standing in a torn dress. Seems the gauzy polka dot dress I ironed got caught in the zipper of her cute little hoodie and disintegrated when she tried to pull it out. Oh, Christ.

New outfit selection was, as I'm sure you know, a joy.

Meanwhile Levi decided to start throwing his suction cup ball at every single flat surface in our house. When he finally knocked the kitchen light cover down I yelled. He cried.

You'd think that was enough, right? Oh no. I'm just getting started.

Soon after Levi stopped crying, Madigan demanded to know where the folded piece of paper was. You know, the paper. The folded piece of paper. She had left it laying around some time last week. The FOLDED PIECE OF PAPER.

Needless to say, I didn't have said piece of paper. I could not locate the specific piece she was looking for. I folded and offered a variety of papers. They were not OK. This piece of paper was the cover for the report she's been working on for weeks. Stomp, stomp, stomp, grumble, stomp, stomp, slam.

Levi took this as his cue to wander outside on the deck. Ten seconds later I hear screaming. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. Are you fucking kidding me?

He'd decided to step on the business end of the push broom. And the handle flew up and whacked him on the chin. Hard. First grade physics lessons are not as fun as they sound.

Ice the chin. Nag the kids to brush teeth and hair. Nag the kids to get their lunches. Nag the children to get in the car. Drive in silence to school. Tell them in a sing-song voice to have a great day!

Breakfast you ask? I think I threw a corner of an old moldy piece of bread at them on the way to the car. And they were grateful for it.



OK, it wasn't really a party. It was just a gathering of men (and 2 wives and 2 kids) watching rugby. Cause it's the rugby world cup, you know.

So Madigan had play practice until 6:00. And the guests were set to arrive between 6:00 and 6:30. And she had a ton of regular homework. And she has a report due on Thursday. Which is not yet complete. And she is running for student council vice president and the campaign speeches are Thursday so she has to practice that.

So she had to sit at the table doing homework all evening. She stopped to eat dinner with us all. But other than that she was doing homework until bedtime.

And I am mourning my little girl. The sweet baby whose head I had to smell whenever she was near. The toddler with the round face and the chubby little block feet. The preschooler who learned EVERYTHING and sang songs endlessly. The kindergartner watching the big kids with awe and fear. The elementary kid with some new interests and a little bit of cinchy homework.

It didn't last long enough. Those days went by too fast. I'm not ready for all this. I am ill prepared to have an independent young lady taking risks and sometimes getting hurt. My heart doesn't know she is older and has some life experience and has lots more to acquire before her days here come to an end. My heart thinks she just arrived on this planet brand new in need of constant supervision and direction. And regular kisses and snuggles. And the occasional hair stroking.

I wish I could be more excited and hopeful. Today I feel sad and overwhelmed. She apparently has a lot to teach me yet.



In our family there are a hand full of kids CDs that stand the test of time. They are sweet but not silly, they are smart and educational and fun!!

Have a gander!

Will You Be My Friend? by The Roaches.

Who knew you would love songs about laundry, mean kids and new bicycles? This sister group can harmonize with the best. Beautiful and thoughtful.

You Are My Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell
Classics like Little Liza Jane and Down in the Valley. Also sweet songs in English and Spanish and Japanese. But the very best of all is the most lovely version of "Three Little Birds" of Bob Marley fame. Sung by kids. Angelic.

The Anaconda la Bamba! by Lucas Miller

Saving turtles, eagles, cleaning up our waters and fire ants in our pants. Environmental and educational is oh, so catchy!

Laurie Berkner is great (and you may already know her from her features on kid TV).

And the eternal children's classic, Raffi will brighten any day. And he'll teach us a thing or two while he's at it.



I have been blogging about Levi a lot lately. I haven't been sharing about Madigan so much.

This is not because I've stopped loving her and have decided to express this to her through my lack of blog posts in her name.

For starters - she's not even allowed to read my blog. She's my kid. I cuss and joke and write disparaging things about people that she may know.

Secondly - she is not 6. She is not in that funny, sweet, do goofy things that make me grab for a pen to jot down those sweet words place. She is 10. Her words are not as silly and her life is not as simple. She is changing and growing and becoming a pre-teen.

And I am cautiously watching.

I want to honor her with discretion and respect. So I am being a little more selective in the tales that I tell. (Maybe I should just issue her a Blog code name, so I can detail every awkward and uncomfortable detail of her life in full view of anyone who happens upon this little blog of mine! Or, maybe not.)

So stay tuned and bear with me while I bear with her.

I'll write the funny stuff, though. I promise.



My husband came home tonight and asked us if we wanted to go out to dinner. And you know what? WE DID!

So we went out. On a school night. And still everyone got their homework done. And everyone got a shower. And we laughed our heads off while reading books tonight. In part because of the angel butt (long story) and in part because Levi is learning to read and he often just makes stuff up. Sometimes the book will read "Blue cup, blue cup" and he'll say "Long car, long car" just because that is what he does.

Holy crap it makes us laugh.

I will be the tiniest bit sad when he reads so well that it is not a total surprise every time he opens his mouth to try.



The fall season is beginning! I really love new shows. That said, here are a few new ones I'm looking forward to:

The Big Bang Theory The only sit-com on my list. I adore Johnny Galecki (Sarah Gilbert's boyfriend from Rosanne). Sweet and geeky - and we all know that geek is the new stud! Premieres Monday, September 24, 8:30pm

Another pick from the "Geek is Fabulous!" file, Chuck looks fun. Nerds in dangerous situations. How bad can it be? On NBC. Premieres Monday, September 24, 8:00pm. Conflicts with Big Bang, but I'll Tivo or catch one of them online.

dirty sexy money is about an attorney (Nick) for the ridiculously wealthy Darling family from the Upper East Side of NYC with troubles ranging from the oldest son's transgendered girlfriend, to the minister with a secret love child to hide. And that's just the beginning. I'm checking it out. Also, the title is salacious and I look for that in a useless distraction! Premieres Wednesday, September 26, 10:00pm. On ABC.

Life - I CANNOT WAIT. I adore Damian Lewis. Did you see Steven King's Dream Catcher? Probably not, cause nobody did. But if you did you'd know why Damian Lewis is so great. And Duddits was great as well, but I digress... This is Zen and the Art of the Falsely Convicted Cop Returning to the Outside World While Searching for the Person Who Framed Him. With a sexy young partner. And craploads of money won in a lawsuit. And a rapier wit. I"M DYING OVER HERE! Premieres Wednesday, September 26, 10:00pm. On NBC. Conflicts with the one above, but I'm all over this one.

Pushing Daisies - When Ned touches dead things they come back to life. But only until the next time he touches them. Because they die again. Which turns into a lucrative career for him. He wakes up murder victims with a touch, asks hem who killed them, puts them "back to sleep" with another touch and solves the crime. Perfect! Until he brings the love of his life back and wants her to stay alive. Which, simply put, means he can never touch her. Looks cute. ABC Wednesdays at 8:00. Premieres October 3rd.

And My Returning Favorites:

Dexter - Sundays at 9:00 but also check the schedule. It is playing all the time! Yeah!

Grey's Anatomy - Thursday, September 27th at 9:00. On ABC.

Heroes - Starts again on Monday, September 24th at 9:00. On NBC.

Ugly Betty - Thursday, September 27th at 8:00. On ABC. Just before Grey's.

If I don't pick up the phone when you call it's not because I don't love you. It's just that I don't love you enough to interrupt the AWESOME show that I'm watching.

You see the difference, right?



Today was a long week.

I am bone tired and my head is hurting.

I have a normal busy life. I am terrifically blessed to have it. I don't want it to change. But I want there to be more rest in here somewhere.

Seriously, my ears ache. My day:

Up at 7:00.

Reading in bed with my daughter until 8:00

Coffee, laundry, cleaning, shower, make-up, get dressed until 9:00

Driving to my folks until 10:00

Shopping with my mother and my daughter for a baby shower gift until 11:30

Photo uploading, lunch and visiting with my brother until 12:45

Baby shower for my cousin's unborn baby boy until 2:30

Reprimanding my parent's neighbor girl for hurting my son, asking her to leave, telling everyone in the family that Levi can't be unsupervised when she is around, loading up the new television into the back of my car, reprimanding my tantrum throwing son who would rather stay at my folks than do anything else in the world because he loves my brother so much and in particular loves to follow him around in his old wheelchair until 3:00

Driving to the kids school until 4:00

Parents meeting and cast list posting until 5:30

Driving home and consoling my daughter about her 2 roles (butterfly and official) until 5:45

Straightening house, making dinner, doing laundry, sending fussy children to their rooms, setting up new TV, removing and storing leaf from dining room table and setting with new plates and place mats, serving dinner to my peeps until 7:30

Sitting my ass and my throbbing headache on the sofa to blog and coming up with NOTHING AT ALL until 10:24.

I know that this is totally normal. I just wanted to share.



Levi: Mom, I can't find my homework!

Me: OK, buddy, we'll find it. Don't worry. Is it still in your backpack?

Levi: No, I took it out and was going to bring it to the table.

Me: OK, so is it on the table?

Levi: No, 'cause when I was walking to the table I was looking down and I found the chocolate covered sunflower seed that I lost yesterday when I was carrying it around between my toes. So I picked it up with my toes again and I was walking around with it and now I can't find my homework!

Seems reasonable.

PS - It was upstairs in my room.



"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."
Tenneva Jordan

Oh, please!

We have a lovely apple tree. I made a French apple pie with some of our bounty. French apple because I didn't want to deal with a top crust.

I always do a rustic edge on the crust. Those perfect edges just look to me like they are trying too hard and in the event that the apples need to cook a little longer and the crust gets a little overdone I hate to resent the apples for ruining all of my hard work. Anyway, that's how I see it.

Here are the recipes I used:

Single Crust

1 3/8 cups all-purpose flour
3/8 cups oil (6 Tablespoons)
3 Tablespoons cold milk
3/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients with a fork or spoon until the mixture becomes thick and forms a ball. Divide in half for a double crust. Pat into a thick pancake shape. Sprinkle some water on a board and place a piece of wax paper large enough for the pie crust on the board. (The sprinkle of water keeps the wax paper from slipping.) Place the dough in the center of the wax paper and then place a second piece of wax paper over the dough. Roll the dough into a circle large enough for the pie pan. Without removing the wax paper, drape, centering, the dough over the rolling pin. Carefully peel off the top piece of wax paper. Carefully place (roll) the dough into the pie pan, centering it (exposed dough side is down, wax paper side is up). The dough is fragile so be careful. Shape the dough to the pan. Carefully remove the remaining wax paper. If the dough is torn, simply press it together with your fingers.

7 c. sliced, peeled McIntosh or good cooking apples (about 7)
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
1 tbsp. lemon juice or 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. cornstarch or flour
4 vanilla wafers, crushed, or 3 tbsp. finely ground nuts (optional)
1 (9 inch) unbaked pastry shell

1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch (or flour). Mix together with apples, brown sugar, spices, and lemon juice. Sprinkle wafers or nuts on bottom of pie shell. (This keeps crust from becoming soggy.) Spoon apple mixture into pie shell.

Make French Crumb Topping by mixing 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar together. Cut in 3/4 cup flour. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle topping over apples in pie plate. Bake for 50 minutes or until topping is golden and apples are tender.

TIP: For a lovely taste thrill, mix 3 or 4 teaspoons of cinnamon into 1 quart softened vanilla ice cream. Refreeze. Serve a scoop of the cinnamon ice cream on warm apple-pie slices.




You know how it is waking
from a dream certain you can fly
and that someone, long gone, returned

and you are filled with longing,
for a brief moment, to drive off
the road and feel nothing

or to see the loved one and feel
everything. Perhaps one morning,
taking brush to hair you'll wonder

how much of your life you've spent
at this task or signing your name
or rising in fog in near darkness

to ready for work. Day begins
with other people's needs first
and your thoughts disperse like breath.

In the in-between hour, the solitary hour,
before day begins all the world
gradually reappears car by car.

A poem by Deborah Ager



So, I was at the dentist's yesterday. I don't know about you, but I loathe dentistry and I am not super fond of the masochists working in this field. So I am high strung (to say the least) when I arrive. I'm getting some very old fillings replaced. Which is super sucky because this is clearly OPTIONAL. I don't have new cavities, these are the same cavities that I had to suffer through having filled as a child. Which is clearly the root of all of my unreasonable hatred for dentistry. I guarantee you that bastard dentist of my childhood didn't mention that I would have to REDO the fillings he was putting into my head. Fucking asshole.

So, I want nitrous oxide. That way, I won't want to die and take others with me in a blaze of semi-automatic glory. Not that I brought the semi, I'm just saying. Anyway, I request the pig nose. So the assistant fidgets around (obviously irritated) and gets it strapped to my head. Only after I have been breathing this joyous cocktail of loveliness for about 5 minutes does the receptionist come in and let me know that my insurance does not cover the nitrous, so I'll have to pay $35 dollars for the first hour, but the doctor assures her that it won't take longer than an hour.

Did you notice what I noticed? That she asked me while I was high. Like I could give legal consent at that point. WTF?

So, I inform her that the insurance won't be paying one red cent if I haul my ass out of the chair that very minute and go to my car. We agree to continue the conversation later.

Shortly thereafter the doctor leans me back in the chair pumps me full of novocain and he and the assistant come at me with the dental dam. Now, I've never seen a dental dam at the dentist's office. I've seen it at health fairs in SF and on websites for adult toys. And the suggested use had nothing to do with what I was about to experience. And strangely, I am not excited by either use.

While attaching this bright purple dental dam to my head, the assistant decides to chat me up. Luckily she wasn't starting a conversation about my favorite author or the celebrity sighting she had with that gorgeous actor that will be starring in the new show on NBC this season.

Nope, nothing like that.

Here is how our chat went:

Her: You have a lot of saliva.

Me: Uhhh.

Her: Boy do you have a lot of saliva.

Me: Uhh rhh.

Her: You sure do have a lot of saliva.

Me: Ohh ruhh.

Her: I'll have to leave the suction in your mouth because you have so much saliva.

Me: Uhhh!

Her: Wow. You're still drooling a lot. I don't think I've ever seen this much.

This is the cliff notes version. Cause that lady can talk a blue streak when she finds a subject that interests her, let me tell you. I heard more about my own slobber and my hyperactive saliva glands in that hour than I will hear about ALL OTHER SPIT ON THE PLANET for the entirety of the rest of my life. Including every mention of dribble before this day. I surpassed my lifetime maximum for spittle chatting. So there's that.

During all of this she was shoving her hands in and out of the accessible half of my mouth (remember the dam?). At one point she came at me with a gun kind of thingie and pointed it at my teeth and pulled the trigger.

Me: Uhhs haa?

Her: What?


Her: Oh, this? This is the UV light gun.

Me: Uhh hho?

Her: What for? Oh, to set the composite. So your teeth will be pretty. Wow, listen to that suction. That is so loud. You sure have a lot of saliva.

Composite? What is that? Um, OK. Whatever. I'm still high and I want to go back to breathing in my champagne.

FINALLY they finish. Actually I figured it out a few minutes before that cause she had reached over me to turn down the nitrous. Bitch.

So, after she pulls out the dam, wipes off my face ("My goodness, you have a lot-" "YES, I know. I understand. I have more spit than anyone you have ever seen before, lady. I get it." Except I don't say it that clearly because only 1/4 of my muscles in my mouth work so my droopy lips attempt to put her in her place, but do not succeed) she says to me, "So, you new filling is composite and this may make your teeth really sensitive so you should avoid hot and cold foods."

"For how long? Today? A week?" again, not very clearly. Novocain and drool mopping and all.

"Oh, no. Forever. Some peoples' teeth are very sensitive forever after getting composite fillings. Hot and cold foods can cause them a great deal of pain."

Oh no. She did not. Did she just say that I can't eat hot OR cold food forever? Because of this stupid fucking OPTIONAL filling? Cause if that really is what she said, I'm officially going to lose my shit. All those fantasies about choking the crap out of some useless human being are going to be realised in this exam room, here and now.

I suspect my dentist saw the massacre unfolding in my eyes because Dr. Quiet finally spoke up.

"Actually, you shouldn't have any problems. Your fillings are very shallow. The dentist who filled them the first time did a great job of not drilling too deep and there was minimal decay so the composite isn't anywhere near the nerve. I think you'll be very happy with the look of the composite rather than the metal and you needn't worry about sensitivity to temperature unless you already have that issue."

Thank god for the voice of reason in the midst of buckets of my drool and my murderous intentions.

And really, the teeth look and feel great now. And my lips are moving where I want them to. And my drooling has returned to a manageable level.