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First day of school photo fail.

25 Aug

Today in our school district, thousands of kids are going back to school. My own two are starting preschool – Seabass in his second year, and Sweet Chuck her first – and we’ve all looked forward to a fresh start.

But while so many kids posed with a sign announcing their first day of ____grade, mine were doing this.


Hard to tell what’s going on there? Allow me to explain.

I was rushing off to work at 7am (my new start time, which gets me enough hours to pay for their rather expensive preschool, which is held only from 9-noon) and Jake was handling breakfast. Sweet Chuck had a leak in her overnight diaper so I made the split decision to change her into her first-day-of-school clothes and take a picture for posterity. You know, on the front porch, all Americana-like.

As anyone with two small children knows, however, whatever you do for one, you must also do for the other. So I tiptoed on eggshells to convince Seabass to change into school clothes in preparation for a photo. I tell ya: the amount of energy I spend on selecting the right words to a) not upset him and b) get what I want out of him could power an offshore oil rig.

It was all downhill from there.

“Pick out some shoes, please.”

“I DON’T WANT SHOES!” Weeping, moaning.

“You can wear whatever kind you want except flip-flops.”

“I WANT FLIP-FLOPS!” Gnashing of teeth. Flailing.

And that’s how this photo came to be. I told him I just wanted a picture to document his first day of the last year of preschool, and he threw himself on the threshold of our house, crying for who-knows-what reason. In a flash of inspiration, I took the shot anyway because, if we’re documenting reality, this more than captures life around our home at the moment.

Meanwhile, you’ll notice Sweet Chuck decked out in puffy piggies, jeggings, and pink cowboy boots. That girl was ready for action.

The moral of this story is three-fold:

1. Life ain’t clean. I’d love to have a cute chalkboard or sign announcing my kids’ first day of school for a picture in a scrapbook I actually end up making for them. And, by the by, I’d love it if they were smiling in that picture. But this is what’s up right now: crying, shoeless kids.

2. Smiles come and go. Look at this picture of Seabass from last year’s first day of school:

Maybe next year he’ll be smiling again. And who knows? Maybe Sweet Chuck will be a wreck.

3. There’s nothing wrong with walking away. For the first time since Seabass was born, thanks to preschool, I am now working three mornings a week. To some moms this might seem like a piddly-diddly amount of time away from kids, but for me it’s an awful lot. I’ve spent years nursing, wiping butts, and catering to the demands of young kids at home, but today is the first day that I’ll be doing less of it, three days a week. And THAT is why I gave up on a perfect first-day-of-school shot, grabbed my purse, kissed the kids’ crying heads (and Jake’s – yes, he was crying, too), and walked out the door.

Here’s to change, messy and complicated as it may be.

A quiet night at home, just us girls.

23 Jul

Jake took Seabass to the state fair tonight to ride the Ferris wheel, eat a corn dog, and watch the mutton bustin’. Sweet Chuck isn’t quite ready to stay up that late, so I kept her occupied at home with cooking dinner, picking blackberries in the yard, and reading some books before bedtime. We were just a couple of girls, enjoying one another’s company.

In the middle of our dinner preparations, Elliott Smith came on the stereo and everything suddenly became perfect – the music, the weather, the occasion – so I decided to document it. The results can be found here: Hopefully YouTube doesn’t put the kibosh on it because of our dearly departed friend who supplied the music.

I once heard that a man who endured horrible, terrible hardship in his life, when asked what he missed most from before tragedy struck, answered, “A quiet night at home.”

Spending the evening with Sweet Chuck may not have been the most obvious or monumental subject for a video, but there might come a day when I long for these wonderstruck July evenings when the kids are small and our biggest problem is getting them into bed by 8pm. This little movie will help me to remember.

Quick endorsement: I’m not usually one to pitch products, but I really like the results I’ve been getting from the Cinamatic app. It’s sort of like Instagram, only it helps users to create beautiful, meaningful videos quickly and share them via social channels like a Facebook, YouTube, etc. They didn’t pay me to say that, by the way. It’s really true.


The annual birthday film tradition.

29 May

0115041534aOh man, I feel sorry for you. You are about to be accosted by birthday videos for Seabass. I’m so, so sorry.

Having celebrated Seabass’ fourth birthday recently, I was reminded that we have made a little film to honor him every year for four years, including the year he was born. As I looked back over each of them, I was struck by just how much LIFE is packed into the years when children are small. For every smile captured in these slideshows, there was at least one grimace that went unphotographed, a downturned mouth and probably a skin-crawling whine. This is life: joy, sorrow, anger, and laughter all bottled up together, ready to fizz out and splash all over us.

Happy birthday, dear beautiful Seabass. We are stoked to do LIFE with you.





Dear Hormones.

11 Apr

Dear Hormones,

I first heard about you in 5th grade Sex Ed. The school nurse came in with something that resembled a tackle box full of pamphlets and giveaway maxi pads, ready to reference heady Latin-derived words like cervix, vulva and urethra. (Et tu, Uterus?) The girls were separated from the boys for the first hour, while we gawked at charts and graphs that told us, in a roundabout way, that we would bleed for one week each month, starting soon, and that this was somehow normal and okay. We were ten.

When the boys and girls reunited for Q & A afterward – a horrible idea, in hindsight – the school nurse used your name to explain why our bodies acted the way they did. Jimmy King, who had older brothers, snorted and guffawed at the word. Hormones. Everyone else did too, because he did. That’s when I suspected our relationship would be complex.

As of today, I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for nearly five years straight. While I’ve never enjoyed a calm, predictable relationship with you since our introduction, the past five years have taught me the true definition of volatility. It’s one thing when you’re talking about the stock market or real estate. It’s another thing entirely when it best describes your own insides.

Being hormones yourselves, you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be affected by you. Demonic possession comes to mind. Hiroshima. The last Challenger mission. Being trapped in an elevator with a swarm of bees. Later, a gaping, yawning sadness. A black hole that steals light, even light from billions of miles of way. And then, just when everyone is ready to buy a neck brace to wear around you, enters a euphoric, creepy happiness. Oh, and you get fat and then skinny again.

Here’s what I want to say, on this, the last day of nursing my precious baby Sweet Chuck: IT’S BEEN REAL. You’ve made it possible for me to conceive and bring two children to term, and then you’ve made it possible for me to feed them from my own body, prevent illness, and bond with them in a way nothing else could have done. For that, thank you. Thank you.

But you’ve also made me hell to live with – hell to live inside of! – when I really needed stability and strength. For that, good riddance.

Until retirement,


Sweet Chuck Salad

19 Mar

sweet chuck saladSweet Chuck Salad


  • One Sweet Chuck (the sweeter the better)


Place Sweet Chuck in salad bowl. Toss to combine.

Epilogue: I discovered soon after taking this video that Sweet Chuck had a turd in her drawers. I always wash the bowls she plays with, but this one got an extra vigorous scrubbing.

Hope for the PPD mom.

24 Feb

There isn’t time for this, or any blogging lately. Work, kids, fun, rinse, repeat. Or, more accurately, deadlines, dirty diapers, dinner, and dancing in the living room. This is what days look like around here lately.


Eating God-knows-what and being adorable.

Seabass on his new pedal bike!

Seabass on his new pedal bike!

But a friend of a friend recently wrote me because she’s struggling with the reality of postpartum depression and news that she’s pregnant with her second child. Deadlines and dinner can wait; there’s urgent, and then there’s URGENT.

As I wrote her back, I could sense that something incredible was happening: I was happy, hopeful, and even helpful, able to pass my peace along to someone in need.

First off, congrats on your pregnancy! Really. Congratulations. My daughter, Sweet Chuck, is the light of my life. I can’t imagine life without her, though I cried and cried when I found out I was pregnant with #2. I completely understand. The first trimester was so so challenging, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc etc. I couldn’t fathom having another crying mouth to feed and butt to wipe. I don’t know how I kept Seabass alive those first several months, but I must have somehow because he’s a thriving kid today. God knows I didn’t do much more than cry and stare out the window for a while there. It is a miracle and a mystery of the universe that we mothers are able to contend with so much on so little, if any. It pushes us down – it pulverizes us – and yet, somehow, we make it to the other side and are (I think?) better for it. This is my experience, strength and hope to give to you. Today, despite being literally suicidal after the birth of my first child, I have two kids who are healthy and happy, a loving marriage, and a sense of peace in my heart, most days. This isn’t luck. You too will feel this. Just be kind to yourself and give it time. A mantra that worked for me was “CHANGE HAPPENS.” I said it over and over to myself, and it helped me.
Change happens. Change happens. Change happens.

The little house that could.

6 Jan

This isn’t a home blog, but I’ve mentioned many times that we work on our house regularly, and that home improvement has an effect (ahem) upon our parenting and on our marriage. In fact, you may recall a good deal of pissing and moaning from me this past summer as we remodeled our kitchen. I’m weird about my space; even though I *do* want it fixed up and cute, I become a raging word-that-rhymes-with-teeotch throughout the cute-ification process. It’s how I roll.

Well, here we are in January, and the kitchen is finally done. (Clarification: a kitchen remodel, or any remodel for that matter, is never truly “done.” I’d say we’re about 97% there, and that’s good enough for me.) Walls have been knocked out and reframed. Cabinets, countertops, and appliances have been purchased and installed. Bills have been rung up and tears have been shed over them. But, best of all, meals have been prepared and enjoyed.

I hadn’t planned on writing a post on our kitchen until today, when I was happily – peacefully! – making a pot of soup for dinner and was stopped in my tracks by how beautiful our home is right now. It is the little house that could, all 850 square feet of it, all thanks to my incredible husband, who has done every bit himself. Thank you, amazing, loving, smokin-hot-in-a-toolbelt Jake.

Of course, I wouldn’t mind a few extra feet of house, and perhaps someday we’ll manage to add those. But when it comes to home, bigger isn’t always better. I’ve been in plenty of large houses that were decked out tastefully…but they weren’t home. My mom, when she was visiting last year, said that when she drove down our street at twilight, the coziest house – the house she most wanted to be inside – was ours. Coming from her, that’s a big compliment.

Here’s to making a weird, 1953 college student rental house – complete with a blood-red “accent” wall, microscopic kitchen with three drawers, and stained carpet – into a home.

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