Sunday, October 31, 2010


Here we are, an entire week has gone by with nary a shiny red peep.

I was not blogging because I was planning a surprise, a surprise which was both thrilling, exhausting, and time consuming.

My husband turned forty yesterday and I threw him a surprise party. This has been a tough year for many people. The economic uncertainty made for a real roller coaster of a year and I wanted to do something special for David for having weathered it and for our friends who have been in so many ways the backbone of our survival. Since money is tight I knew that this party would require some ninja party planning skills to create an event which was both thrifty and totally crazy fun.

First, I spent a lot of time worrying about where to have the party.

Once I was done worrying and decided to have it at our house, I got to do what I do best- find creative solutions to tricky problems.

Yesterday, Rebecca and I sent Lily and David out to the movies and dinner. We didn't tell Lily about the party because she has a poor record with secret keeping. Rebecca, you will not be surprised to know, is a champion secret keeper and I could not have thrown this party without her.

David and Lily left the house at about 4pm yesterday. As soon as they left I got out my screwdrivers.

We took apart the dining room table and then proceeded to move it and all of the rest of the dining room furniture into the backyard.

Once the room was cleared out...

We got busy with lighting!

We put up one of these...

And some of these...

Add some food...

 And you've got a dance party!

I dressed for dancing. Also David likes trashy women. Happy Birthday honey!
David did a great job of acting surprised, but mostly he was happy to have our friends together for some crazy dancing!

Lily and Rebecca hate to be left out of a party so we invited them downstairs for some dancing.

Why is Lily dancing with Incredible Hulk boxing gloves? I have no idea. She is a strange child.

I have never in my entire life been able to do a split and yet my child makes it look easy.

David and Lily brought down the house with a synchronized worm.

The craziest dancers of the night were David and Amy. Holy cow- those two danced for hours!

Happy 40th birthday honey!

Make sure you check in tomorrow to hear the story behind this gift...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What crazy looks like...

People, I am going to be upfront with you. I am struggling.

The reason for my struggle is this: next week we are going on a plane.

We will sit in a gigantic metal tube which will hurtle through the air and the only thing which will keep it from smacking into the ground will be the sheer force of my anxiety.

The other thing I must do to ensure that my family and I do not suffer a terrible fiery death is to stay very, very, very, busy this week and compulsively make lists.

Some lists will be related to the trip. Some lists will be related to Halloween. Some lists will be about homeschooling. Some lists will be about the holidays.

This list making prompted me to begin and nearly finish my holiday shopping. The busy behavior also led me to go to Ikea today and to then return home and completely empty my closet and reorganize it. It seems very obvious to me that my slipcovers need to be cleaned and redyed and my pantry needs an overhaul.

Please send valium and chocolate.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall redux...

I wrote this last year around this time. I hardly ever remember anything I have written, but this little bit stays with me all year around. Indulge me...

October is brash. He walks in full of swag and vigor, fresh from splitting logs. His muscles are barely contained by his white cotton t-shirt. His hair is full and wild and gleams with red and gold. His beard crowns his full toothed smile. He blows in, lifts you up and twirls you around the room. When you bury your face in his neck his smell is honest strength, wood smoke and spice. People stare at him without shame, their mouths agape. He is tall and strong and loud. His laugh booms through every room in the house, an explosion of good will and a teasing hint of mischief. He holds you until your ribs creak. You dance by the light of the harvest moon and in his arms and in that light you are the most beautiful that you will ever be. He is loved, adored, worshiped…and then he is gone.

The heartbreak is crippling.

You will never survive the loss of October.

And then you see him.

November lurks in the shadows. His hair is black and hangs over his eyes. He watches from the back of the bar. When Leonard Cohen comes over the speakers he looks at you, into you. He knows everything about you with that single look. His eyes are dark and filled with clouds. He is lanky and his fingers are long and troubled. He moves quietly, deliberately, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his battered leather jacket. He sips whiskey and keeps a notebook. Nothing but truth and shattered hearts are etched in it. He finally comes over to you, takes your hand and without a word pulls you outside into the dark smoky night. The wind blows dead leaves at your feet and you feel grief and lust and tragedy. The nights will grow longer and colder and you will deny, you will deny with every glance, with every kiss, until the last shriveled oak leaf falls, that November cannot stay.

One day the snow will fall and November will be gone. You will be left alone with December perched awkwardly on the sofa in his reindeer sweater, drinking eggnog. Your aunt set you up. "He's perfect!" she trills. You will try to love December, but he's too predictable. After a few rides in his fancy sleigh you'll be happy to see him gone and you'll bid your time, you'll try to breathe for ten more months until October and November return.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Conversation with Rebecca...

Rebecca and I have this conversation every single day.

She: "Hi Mommy."

Me: "Hi honey. Have you met my dog?"

She:"Yes, I have met him."

Me: "His name is Puglsey. You know what else?"

She:"He is the love of your life?"

Me: "Yes! And know what else?"

She: "He is the only one who understands you?"

Me: "Yes! And you know what else?"

She: "You are going to run away with him?"

Me: "Yes!"

Me: "I love you, Rebecca."

She: "I love you too, Mommy."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Conversation with Lily...

We've been spending a lot of time at the zoo this month since the kids are taking a homeschool class there. The class runs about two hours which gives me time to visit my favorite non-human primates- gorillas.

I watch the gorillas for the entire time I am there. I am like Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, and Donna Reed all rolled into one.

I watch the gorillas. They watch me. We study each other.

After their class I brought the girls over to watch the gorillas too.

"Look at them!" I marveled. "They look so human!"

The girls were enraptured, Lily particularly so.

"I want to be a gorilla and live in the zoo!" she announced.

As one of the gorillas lifted a tush cheek Rebecca asked, "Does that gorilla have gas?"

The answer, I am sad to say, was that no, the gorilla did not have gas.

That gorilla, had poop, which he then proceeded to eat.

We researched this strange behavior. It turns out that gorillas get extra vitamins from eating their poop.

"Still want to be a gorilla?" Rebecca asked Lily.

"Yes!" Lily shouted.

"But, you'd have to eat your own poop!" Rebecca exclaimed.

"Well, if I were a gorilla I would need the extra vitamins and I would like eating my own poop." Lily answered.

And people say that homeschool kids are weird.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New York City Part Two...

On Sunday afternoon we crawled through the congested streets of Little Italy on our way to the wedding of Jenny and Vinay. We were dressed in our wedding finery- all silky and starched. We sat poised through the long traffic so as not to wrinkle our loveliness.

There were people everywhere, limousines double parked, tourists in their jeans and sneakers, and I watched them all with disdain.

My baby had been dead in my dream and it was a chill I could not shake. The crowds of people, the cars jammed together- even the shops and their gaudy trappings were a cold reminder of my needlessness.

We finally arrived at the Angel Oresanz Center for the wedding.

It was gothic and mysterious, moody and magnificent. The light inside was purple and the shadows were dark.

My girls were beautiful.

I managed not to get outright weepy until I saw the beautiful bride.

She was Rebecca's age when I first met her and now she was to be married.

To see Jenny, a girl I watched grow up, fall in love and become a bride was like receiving a post card from my ghostly future self.

Your day will come too. Your babies will grow up and move away.

I cried through the ceremony.

I cried for the love between Vinay and Jenny. I cried for Jenny's mother on seeing her own baby become a wife. And I cried for myself, for the agony and ecstasy which loving a child entails.

The night went on and the music began to play.

It was during the dancing that I finally received the post script from my future self, as I watched Lily dance with a much younger cousin.

Your babies will grow, your love will expand, and your heart will heal in the joy of watching your babies create new love.

You'll be fine, the postcard read, Now go dance...

And so I did.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New York City Part One...

This is a story about New York City.

This is a story about Lily.

This is a story about Lily, New York City and a mother's heart.

This girl is my soul.

Friday night found us at Pepolino's for a rehearsal dinner for the wedding of David's cousin Jennifer to her bridegroom Vinay. It was an extraordinary meal- every morsel deliberate and delicious.

While there Lily decided to sit with my brother and sister in law and their daughter. It was so strange seeing her across the restaurant. She was laughing and eating and charming everyone.

Lily charms with every breath she takes.

I watched her go up to the bar and order herself an orange juice. She met new family members. She mingled and chatted and played and I just watched.

Little by little I felt myself choking and my throat going tight. I could see the future in bittersweet clarity. Lily grown and moving about the world, flying from continent to continent, gracing the world with her joy and laughter.

I could feel the first cracks in my heart begin to form and even now as I write this, I know that some day her leaving will destroy me.

That night I had a horrible dream.

Lily was gone. She was missing, dead, lost- she was gone permanently and there was no bringing her back.

In the dream I wept and cursed and railed. I tore my garments and cried out, "Tell me where she is! I have nothing anymore!"

When I woke from the nightmare, she was next to me sleeping and I thanked god that she was safe and alive and that I could touch her warm skin and hear her breathing.

It was a relief, though a shallow one, because my grief stayed with me, like a cold fist around my heart...

Part Two to be continued...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


You may not know this, but I do not like to travel.

Traveling means leaving my comfort zone.

Leaving my comfort zone triggers my crazy side.

My crazy side manifests itself as a main course of free floating anxiety with a side order of irritable.

Yesterday I started packing for our trip to New York City on Friday. Some trips are easy to pack for.

Going to the beach? Bathing suits and sunscreen. Easy

Going to an elegant wedding in New York City which will be preceded by a rehearsal dinner and followed by a brunch? Not so easy.

There is so much to remember.

In addition to needing to pack "nice" clothes, I have to remember all of the instruments of beauty- the curling irons, bobby pins, headbands, hair spray, steam rollers, jewelry, special cosmetics for nights out, Spanx, panty hose and a bunch of other stuff which I can't remember and won't bore you with.

We are also going to be doing some sightseeing so add comfortable shoes, jeans and sweatshirts to the suitcase.

Plus, my evening bag, bathing suits for the pool, ear plugs, my noise machine and special pillow.

What if I forget the girls flower girl dresses? Or my 7.99 thrifted Ralph Lauren gown? Or what if one of my dogs sneaks into the car when no one is looking and he comes to New York City with us?

I just know that I am forgetting something deeply critical which will cause the fall of civilization as we know it!

Usually I like to do a little junking to calm my nerves but I am too busy double checking my list and driving my children all over town to properly self medicate.

For now I am hiding under the covers and snuggling my dogs.

Feel free to send chocolate. Chocolate stuffed with xanax.

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Homeschool Cliches or Wave Your Freak Flag High...

Yesterday we spent the day at King Richards Faire which was full of everything you might imagine.

Fairies, knights, cleavage and ligers.

The festival was the culmination of a years worth of homeschool geekery for my kids. Lily dressed up as a knight complete with sword. Rebecca wore a princess dress, a long wool cape made for me by my mother about 25 years ago and my old Doc Marten combat boots. The freak does not fall far from the tree.

You already know that my kids love to pretend to inhabit the world of fairies and dragons. Being at the faire was like stepping into a fairy tale. A very expensive fairy tale filled with Renaissance fetishists, but clearly a fairy tale of sorts.

We watched the jousts and the mud men and the fire eater.

We rejoiced that there was no black plague to fell us; there were only the exorbitant fees for trinkets and rides to cause distress.

The girls both brought all of their money to the fair and were in search of the perfect something to bring home as a souvenir.

Lily decided early on that she wanted elf ears. She would not be dissuaded that perhaps $15 was too much money to spend on bits of latex that when glued to your ears clearly announce your status as a weirdo homeschooler.

She chose her ears and Jason, the fairy-fawn-steampunk-elf began the process of attaching them to Lily's ears. We got to chatting with Jason who mentioned that not only was he himself homeschooled as a boy (went to college at 16, earned 3 degrees, and is now a fairy-wing-making-elf-ear-adhering-nomad who travels the world with his family selling wings and ears at festivals), but his two children are homeschooled as well. He also told us about the shops he owns at various fairs. There's the giant mushroom "Fairy Haven" in Carver, MA and the tree trunk shop in North Carolina.

I was both impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit and dismayed that this is exactly the sort of career option which my children would adore.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone by her sister, Rebecca chose a raccoon tail which she has taken to wearing on her jeans as an actual tail.

Of course I have pictures, because honestly, did you think I wouldn't?

Lily is pretty elven even without ears, add the ears and whamo! Elf girl!

Rebecca would have been happiest if we gave her about $150 and let her wander the shire on her own so that she could fully immerse herself into a very well financed fantasy.

"Please leave me be! I must away to the apothecary to purchase a potion for my dragon who has taken ill with a terrible pox!"

My babies, my weirdos, my little homeschool freaks. God, I adore them!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Travel, Tourettes and BABY MONKEY!

Maybe you noticed that I forgot to blog this week.

It's true- I just kind of forgot, mostly because I was busy developing an obsessive compulsive disorder from watching a video which features a baby monkey riding backwards on the back of a small pig.

I have been watching this on a fairly constant loop for the past few days and it has caused me to break out in Baby Monkey Tourettes syndrome. I find myself suddenly yelling, "BABY MONKEY! THE WORLD HAS GONE INSANE!". There is no end to it. It's my new normal.

I have also begun to obsess about a trip which my family is going to take in about a month. We are going to Arizona to visit my mom and take in the sights. This trip gives me so many things to worry about.

1. Planes: Flying makes me very twitchy. Seriously, we are crammed in a metal box and we go hurtling through the sky and somehow do not fall down. shiver. Plus, I haven't flown since 2005. Back then you only had to take off your shoes to fly. Now you have to get naked and not carry toiletries. I don't like public nudity and what if they take away my saline solution? THE WORLD HAS GONE INSANE!

2. Footwear: We are going to be visiting a few national parks were I will need to be doing a lot of walking. I probably will not be able to rely solely on flip-flops. I do not wear sneakers unless I am exercising because, well, cute footwear is important to me and sneakers with jeans are a crime which I am just unwilling to commit. GRAB ON YOUR PIG AND RIDE!

3. Luggage: Well, not really luggage as much as what purse I should carry. I like to have a large slouchy handbag, but this seems impractical for such a trip. I do not want to be one of those industrial backpack toting, Merrell wearing, cargo short clad tourists with a fanny pack and a sturdy hat, yet I suspect that some sort of backpack will be the best option. RIDING BACKWARDS ON A PIG!

I need your help. We will be going to the Grand Canyon, Tuzigoot, Montezuma's Castle and Out of Africa. We are staying in Prescott Valley. What should I pack to be both cute and comfortable?