Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Do-Over

The mystery of my daughter's favorite song is now over. We can all sleep again. You may remember (THOUGH I DOUBT IT) that on my birthday my daughter had a near seizure in the car on our way home from San Francisco because I changed the radio station and she wanted her favorite song which was not on any station at all and anyway it was before she had tubes and could hear in the first place so I was at a loss. But she wailed her head off about it for a good fifteen minutes which feels a lot like seventeen hours when you're stuck in a car with someone doing that. But then today, as I was driving them to preschool, we heard the interlude song that follows the California Report by Rachael Myrow on NPR and this, ladies and gentlemen, appears to be my daughter's favorite song.

Her (with glee): Mommy this song is my favorite!
Me: This one?
Her: Ya! My song my favorite!
Him (passionately): Mommy, this song is my favorite song too that I never heard before. I never heard it a lot of times and now it's my favorite. It used to be on a lot on the radio but then we never heard it for a long time ago. I LOVE this song.

Really, that's verbatim. I don't know what the hell my son was trying to say. Sometimes he sounds like Yoda.

Which brings me back to my birthday. With your encouragement I decided that today I would reenact my birthday, at least for a little while, and enjoy the crap out of it. So I dropped off the kids at 9:00 and then drove to where the Anthropologie is in Palo Alto. They don't open until 10:00 but knowing this I brought along my laptop and went to Coupa Cafe, the very cafe where on my 35th birthday I sat sobbing about how nothing was as it should be and I made the famous list of things to do to achieve happiness. These included finding a loving, nurturing preschool with a low teacher/child ratio, a Jewish family learning component and an Israeli style play-based environment AND starting my business 15 hours a week while my kids are in this magical school. Check and check. Turns out there were no available outlets so I could not write this blog there which was my original intention and instead enjoyed my croissant and latte without bothering to multitask. This felt odd at first, doing just one thing, but then I let myself sink into it and for the next half hour enjoyed watching people in the crowded cafe while I reflected on my transformational year.

Soon it was 10:00 and I was off to Anthropologie where I used my birthday discount to buy two blouses and a tablecloth that were already half off so the bill came to under $100.

And so concludes this year's birthday saga. Thirty-six is looking up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I just discovered a really cool website that posts an illustration challenge every Friday and is applicably called Illustration Friday. This week's topic was PATTERN and this is my first submission. The night before I had just started working on this piece - the Seven Species Hamsa - highlighting the seven species of the bible and native to Israel: wheat, barley, olives, grapes, dates, pomegranates and figs. And though the tiling/mosaic areas don't follow a specific pattern in that neither the colors nor the shapes repeat in a predicatble manner (though wouldn't it be cool if I told you that the design did follow some crazy mathematical algorithm that I made up?), for me the piece as a whole brings into focus the harvest cycle that is repeated every year. And it's during this time of year, the fall harvest, that we eat these amazing fruits and reflect on the past year and put out to the universe our hopes for the year to come. I'm still formulating those. But that's part of my own pattern - procrastination...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The art of being home

I am getting used to this new schedule. First it was getting used to working three days a week and having the kids two days a week during the summer. But that was all about going somewhere - a museum, the aquarium, the pool, a lake. And I didn't worry about naps because they happened in the car on the way home usually. And I was getting much of my work done in the three full days that I did have.

But now I only work mornings. And I'm realizing that it's only really enough time to send some emails, straighten the house, fill some orders, read some blogs, eat breakfast and maybe go to the post office if that's necessary. It's just not a lot of time. So I'm not painting. I'm not even sketching! I have some ideas rumbling around in my head but getting them out between 9am and 1pm on a weekday is not happening. So we're reinstating weeknight art mania - that is, I sequester myself in the studio to paint for the whole evening uninterrupted. Could be a challenge. Last time I did this it only worked because I told the kids I was leaving and then drove my car around the corner and sneaked back in the side door incognito.

Anyway the point is that I am feeling better about the schedule. The first week or so after school started I was not happy. I was fighting with my son constantly because I think I was probably resenting him for keeping me from my work. That is FUCKED UP. He's my work, really. He's my focus. And his sister. Although, shit, she's raising herself better than I ever could. And that's with being close to deaf. Imagine what she'll be like tomorrow when she can finally hear?! She'll be running for public office by age three. On a strawberry yogurt for all platform...

So at 12:45 I shut the door to the studio and I don't go in there again until my husband comes home. Except for when I cheat which with time will be less and less frequently I hope. And we're starting to develop a rhythm. I get the baby to nap and then my son and I get some dinner going. Or if I've saved a print or a framing job that we can do together I give him the ATG gun to have at it. I don't count that as cheating. And then we have a snack and then play a round of memory game with a deck of cards (boy do I suck at that game). Then a puzzle. Sometimes an art project if I am especially organized. Did I mention that my son won't watch videos or television? I'm not joking. Because I would so love if he did.

But before we know it the two hour nap has passed and we can all go to the park together. I've even started enlisting friends and neighbors to help engage my son for this stretch of time. In fact yesterday he went over to our neighbor's house, who we only just met, and played with her five year old for a half hour without me even being there. This was a first.

And when things go like this, we don't fight. We enjoy our time together. Which was the whole point of this new schedule in the first place. Enjoyable time together and more of it. We're getting there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pillow Talk

Well yesterday was day two of my sewing class. I decided I will use the blog to chronicle my progress. This time I brought in Grammy's old sewing machine and of course my teacher started every sentence with usually sewing machines do this but yours is different...but we figured out how to thread the thing and it does have a few attachments and a booklet that's sixty years old so there's hope. Incidentally, I posted a picture of last week's project here. Notice the precision stitching...

This week I came in with some fabric I bought at IKEA, a little stuffed tomato to hold my pins and a pair of scissors. And I lugged in my eighty pound sewing machine on a dolly. It should really come with wheels if it's going to be that heavy. I started out thinking I would make another knapsack since the pattern is very cute and easy and I could work on my stitching (I tend to forget that the thingy is up after I place the fabric and then I press the pedal and the stitches get loopy. Working on that.) But I wanted it lined. You know, like a nice bag. Because I am a master tailor after all. Of course I should be lining all of my pieces. I mean I have had ONE class already.

I cut two rectangular pieces and sew three sides, flip it inside out and then surge the fourth side (the surger is probably man's greatest invention next to Nutella). And then I was like, OK, what in the world should I do with this thing? I tried to think of how it would work as the knapsack and in fact it would not be lined at all or reversible (reversible? I mean, can someone remind this girl that she doesn't actually know how to sew?). It would just be like the one from last week but thicker because it's made of two pieces of fabric now. I started getting annoyed because actually this isn't even a class. It's just me and twenty retired people using the outlets at a community center and asking our teacher Sharon for some tips. TIPS! I need step by step tutoring not tips!

Anyway, I decide to cut the thing in half and make two pillow cases instead. I learned how to sew a zipper last week so I felt like sewing three sides and a zipper was within the realm of my limited abilities. I even thought I could do it twice and complete my pillow set. But the zipper tripped me up and ended up taking the whole class so by the end I had only one pillow. And it was totally lopsided. Note to self: bring measuring tape for next class. I left feeling like a total loser. I couldn't even sew a damn four sided pillow.

But then I got home and shoved one of our throw pillows inside and it actually fit and now you can't actually tell that it's lopsided. It kind of looks great! Which of course has very little to do with me and everything to do with the rad fabrics that IKEA carries. Next week I aim to finish the other pillow and master the zipper. Then, maybe, PAJAMA PANTS.

Birds on the Wires

I came across this extraordinary little video on Superhero Journal, an inspiring blog that I frequent. It's been published all over the place at this point but I wanted it chronicled here too. The story behind it, from creator Jarbas Agnelli, goes like this:

"Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating."

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Sometimes people absolutely astound me and I can believe even more deeply in our connection to nature, each other and the universe.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Down the tubes

Well four weeks after the start of my daughter's ear infection it appears she needs tubes. After we returned from Santa Fe and it was clear that her ear drum had burst and she was leaking brains onto her pillow at night, we brought her back to see her doctor who peeked in her ears and said, hmmm, pretty soupy. So she prescribed a different antibiotic and some ear drops too which we dutifully administered.

Meanwhile my husband, who is a medical device engineer and builds hearing aids for a living, suddenly remembered that he knows several otologists. So he asked his buddy Dr. Murray, who I met at the holiday party once and found to be very amusing while intoxicated, about it. He was suspicious since this had been going on for already a very long time. So he said I should bring her to see him. Which I did. And he looked in there with his big microscope this time and mopped up a lot of gunky, smelly brains with teeny tiny cotton balls. It appears the perforation in her ear drum was neither big enough to let out all the gunk nor let in the antibiotics. Inner ear infection. And we're pretending the big chair she's in ts a rocket ship and she's having the time of her life and my son is a little jealous but in no way wants to switch places because you even come close to his ears and he has a total come apart not unlike the retarded bother in There's Something About Mary. Dr. Murray says to come back Monday (today) to see if the antibiotics have done anything. They have not. She is underwater. She's drowning in her own ear fluids. She's basically hearing as though she had her two fingers in her ears. And this is likely why she talked so late and why her pronunciation is so funny. She can't hear.

So she's getting tubes. On Thursday. At 7am. I don't know why on earth anyone would want to schedule surgery this early in the morning but she has to be there at 6am for pre-op and that is why my husband is taking her so that he can hang out with Dr. Murray and potentially watch the surgery. And maybe think of a new medical device that he will prototype and sell and we'll be rich. Or not. This is the man who passed out at his nephew's bris.

And the funny thing is that one of my earliest memories of all time is getting tubes in my ears. I was three and back then you went to the hospital. And I remember wearing a hospital gown that was open in the back and being worried that the doctor who transferred me to the gurney would touch my tushy. So I held the gown together in the back. Why I needed to be naked for ear surgery is cause for pause.


And while this is wonderful that our daughter will finally be able to hear and at least some of her cranial plumbing issues will be solved (Dr. Murray thinks her tonsils will need out soon too), we will miss some of the words she says. Like cwakwain which is a cracker. And what she calls her brother. Trust me, it's not even close. But hopefully now she'll be able to hear when I tell her to stop hitting her brother. Maybe he needs tubes too. Wouldn't that be the best thing ever if getting tubes made you listen to your parents? My mom will confirm it did not work in my case.

and what a lovely ear it is...

Saturday, September 19, 2009


For the last year my son has been kind of learning how to read. Meaning he won't ever read a word when you ask him. And after a particularly annoying session reading Hop on Pop I decided to stop asking him. In school they taught his some "site" words. So he can read yes and no and his name and my name and a handful of other very important things. Although he claims to not be able to read the sign on my door that says GO AWAY. Just kidding. About the sign. No sign.

For several months he wanted to spell everything. And at first we had to do each letter at a time but soon he could spell whole words after me. And then he'd ask how to spell sentences. Mommy how do you spell, can we go to Starbucks and get a morning bun?

But until now he has not really been interested in reading. In fact his latest interest is in words that rhyme.

Him: Mommy, what rhymes with purple?
Me: Nothing.
Him: It has to have a rhyme.
Me: Murple.
Him: Is murple a word?
Me: No.
Him: So what's the rhyme?
Me: Nothing.
Him: It has to have a rhyme.
Me: Gurple.
Him: Is gurple a word...?

And then this morning, out of the clear blue, while I was sending an email and he was playing with my dad's old ukulele I overheard this:

Ef A Fa
Vee Eye Vi
Fa Vi
El A La

And so it goes the first word he ever read was the brand of my dad's old ukulele. Favilla. Owned and operated in New York by the Favilla Family (pictured above) from 1890 to 1986.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A sweet new year...

...begins with chocolate chip banana bread. I know that apples and honey are usually what's on the menu for the Jewish new year but I couldn't resist sharing this wonderfully easy recipe from my Aunt Anita (chef and artisan extraordinaire - wait til you see the poncho she knit my daughter) that, among other things, occupied me and my son for a solid 40 minutes which is great when you have two hours while your daughter naps and no crafts lined up and two rotting bananas and an antsy almost five year old. Those are the ingredients for certain disaster or a great cooking project.

And here are the ingredients for the actual banana bread:

6 TBSP butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp each salt and vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips

Mix wet into dry ingredients. Fold in bananas and nuts/chips. Bake 350 for 50 minutes.

May you be written in the cookbook of life. xo

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A visit to Artsyville

When I was in high school I loved my chemistry teacher. His name was JP. We knew his last name was Pfitzner but it was never clear what his first name was. He was probably in his seventies. Maybe he was in his fifties and I just thought he was in his seventies because I was sixteen and totally out of touch with reality. He was kind of a little guy and had a thick German accent and anyone who had him over the forty some odd years that he taught at Foothill High School can tell you that a MOLE is the molecular weight expressed in grams. And that MOLARITY is moles over liters and that stoichiometry is both impossible to do and impossible to spell. He used to start class by saying YOU MAY REMEMBER...and the class would chime in, THOUGH I DOUBT IT. We loved him. And he loved someone he called FP. That was his wife. No one knew her name except that it was FP though we certainly enjoyed guessing. And then finally one day and told us what the letters stood for.

Favorite Person.

BFF was before his time I guess. And while I admire JP's devotion to FP, one FP does not work for me at all. One husband works great but I need a whole army of FPs. Because the alternative is being surrounded by a mess of annoying, uninspiring people. No thanks. So whenever a new FP comes into my life I have to just thank my lucky stars. And this new FP is the Mayor of Artsyville. Her name is Aimee and she is a gifted artist and writer and we've been bonding over what we go through balancing creativity and parenting and sometimes merging the two. She has two little ones also. And her work, no matter what your day has been like, gets you out of yourself for a moment and gives you a lift. This one especially resonated this morning:

And I'm an especially lucky girl because I recently received a bundle of happy from Artsyville. I took some pictures but since Aimee's are so much better than mine I'll just post hers. I mean just image my delight when my set of groovy doodle goods arrived...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Carpet Cleaners

Today I had the carpets cleaned. We have carpet in the two bedrooms and in the studio/office/garage/guest room. It needs to be done more often but I just never get around to it because it's a pain in the butt to schedule, get all the crap off the floor, keep everyone off of it til it dries and anyway I'm always a little nervous about letting strangers in the house. And for good reason. The first time I had the carpets cleaned, like an idiot I went to the corner store to buy some stuff while the men where doing their work and two days later I realized our camera and charger were missing (if it had just been the camera than it's possible I could have lost it, but also the charger?) Oops. And then there's my friend Dianna who the last time I was trying to schedule a clean happened to mention that she knew someone who knew someone who was assaulted (or worse, I don't remember) by a couple of carpet cleaners she let in her house. Great.

So instead of more often I do this once a year on average and by then the carpet is gnarly having just been through a recent potty training season and such. Then last week I get one of these robo-calls and it's a cleaning service and they're having a special in my area - four rooms for $99 etc. so I beep myself through to an operator and get set up to clean our three rooms for $69. A steal. Except I know well that after all is said and done this will be more like $200 because they come with their hoses and their steamers and their special fluids and they tell you that $69 only covers steaming and odor removal. But stains are more and deep cleaning is more and scotch guard is more and you can't really get anything clean unless you deep clean and is that a pet stain over there? No, a daughter stain. Hmmm....

But we set up a time and today at 10:30 I hear a knock at the door. It's the carpet cleaners. Two guys. A tall skinny white guy and tall skinny black guy. The black guy introduces himself and his partner. His name is Daniel and I detect a slight accent. Maybe Jamaican? Hard to say. The white guy doesn't say anything but his name is Joe and he shakes my hand. I'm already on my guard and let them enter the house while I stand behind them close to the door (for my speedy getaway). They ask where the rooms are and instead of leading them there I point around the corner. They go look and come back and then they go look at the garage room. And then Daniel asks if I want to have the deep clean which is an extra $1 per square foot blah blah blah. Exactly what I expected. So I ask him how much it will be and he starts measuring the rooms with his actual feet. 6x8 is....(long pause)...I chime in with 48. He does this a few times and more than once takes out his phone to do the calculation. Yikes. Finally I decide, you know what? Clean the whole place; it's a cesspool. Have at it.

So they go get their equipment and I stay in the office as long as I can before Joe comes in to clean it. I leave through the back door and come back in the house through the front door to make myself a cup of coffee. I'm feeling more relaxed around these young men now. They appear to be doing a nice job and they ask me for towels to wipe up where some water has spilled so I stop planning my getaway strategies and enjoy my coffee.

When all is done, Daniel and I figure out the the total is $278 and I'm feeling like that is actually FOUR TIMES the price I was quoted. So I say how about if I give you $250? Then Daniel says, well....OK. But first I have to tell you one thing and he motions me to come over to the front door.

Your mezuzah* is on the wrong side of the door.

This is what he tells me. The skinny black kid. Huh?

Your mezuzah should be on the right side of the door, the visitor's right, because your right hand is connected to your heart and God.

And I think, son of a bitch, he's right. We've lived here six years and hundreds of Israelis and Jews have walked in and out of our house, rabbis even, and the first I hear of this mezuzah misplacement is from the carpet cleaner? So of course, I ask him how he knows this. Turns out he's Israeli, of Ethiopian decent. And so is his buddy Joe whose real name is Yossie. Well Yossie's not of Ethiopian decent obviously - he's the white guy. Though that reminds me of a funny story when I was in college. I worked as a waitress at the Blue Nile Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley and we had to wear these traditional dresses which would have been beautiful if they did not smell like turmeric. And one day as I was taking an order my customer asks me if I'm from Ethiopia. And thankfully I had on my polite waitress filter so I just said no and smiled. But I'm thinking, really? Because I am as pale as a ghost. And not albino African pale. I look Irish. With freckles and fine, wavy reddish hair. Just call me Shannon. And there were travel posters all over the walls with gorgeous Ethiopian men and women and I resemble none of them except maybe the dress. But I digress...

So we chatted in Hebrew about how hard it is to find work in Israel now and how Joe just got here a week ago because a friend of his used to work for the company (which is owned and operated entirely by Israelis). Apparently carpet cleaning is a quick study...and Daniel has been doing this for eleven months and he's not sure if he'll stay longer or go traveling or take his money back to Israel to start his own business...and now I love these two boys. And I'm happy for the reminder that most people are good and are just trying to get by.

And tomorrow the mezuzah gets switched.

* A mezuzah fulfills the commandment in Judaism to put the words of the Shema (central prayer declaring there is only one God) on the doorposts of your house.


OK. Here's what's going on. I just sent out the Mishmish Studio newsletter volume 3 which you can see here if you don't currently subscribe. If you'd like to subscribe (I send them out every few months) then go here.

My daughter's ear infection has returned. Her doctor said her ear looked like pea soup. Never good. So now she has another course of antibiotics which she can't stand and most of it ends up in her hair plus her ear is draining, the eardrum having likely burst during the flight home from New Mexico (I was like what on earth is all of the brown crap on her sheets if it's not actually brown crap). And that pea soup gunk, well it doesn't exactly smell like pea soup. It's putrid. And that's in her hair too. So she's really got a lot going for her right now.

And she's back to creeping under her bed. And calling for me at 2am because she's stuck under there. Her bed is maybe eight inches off the ground! How she can get her big head through? I need a web cam.

Oh, and I started a sewing class! I have my grandmother's old Singer and even though my husband has tried to teach me many times how to sew I still kind of suck at it. So I joined this class with about 16 other old ladies. It's a hoot. Yesterday I made a little wallet and a purple Knapsack. The craftsmanship is hideous but on the outside they look cute! Now I need cool fabrics. Knapsacks for everyone who comes to my surprise birthday party next year!

Notice the fine stitching detail. Is there an opposite to craftsmanship? Like slobmanship?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mountain Time

I am loving Mountain Time. Ever since we went to Santa Fe and the kids got used to going to sleep an hour earlier - even two - I have had entire evenings to do with what I please. It's amazing the difference between putting them to bed at 9:30 and putting them to bed at 8:30. It's the best freaking hour ever. I'm delirious about this hour. And it just worked out that now sunset is happening earlier anyway so the kids don't question the shift. They don't even know! And this whole week they've been falling asleep without the usual hassles. I don't have to repeat the sleep tricks for the hundred millionth time. And they don't call me back to sing one more song or one more kiss or I have to pee or go get Aba or I want to sleep with your crocs (this was a real request). And here's the kicker: they don't wake up any earlier! They wake up at 7:00 am! So they're sleeping an extra hour! Providence! Today, in fact, they fell asleep in the car at 6:00 on our way home from a friend and slept for a solid hour. Any parent will tell you this is kiss of death. A nap at 6:00?! Forget it. You're screwed for the next two days. But they woke up as we were pulling in and I told them to get ready for a bath. We had the bath and I got them in the jammies, made them their snack , read them two stories, brushed their teeth and they were in bed by 7:50 and asleep by 8:15 which is my personal best. If my competitive side takes over the kids will be asleep by 6:30 come November.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Restroom Stall

Tonight we took the kids out for dinner to one of these all you can eat salad and extras places. They like going there. It's sort of cheap and no one cares when you spill. Or shout. Halfway through dinner my son turns to tell me he has to go poop. This is a rare occasion. This is a child who does not poop outside of his home. He NEVER poops at school. Or anywhere besides our toilet. So anyway we head over to the ladies' room and one of the toilets is overflowing so we go into the other one. There are only two. And after some minor insecurity about this whole toilet seat cover business (how will the pee get through? the poo poo is not going in the water!) he settles into his usual twenty minute transaction.

Meanwhile women are starting to line up because there's no other toilet and so I mention to my son that if he's done we need to leave quickly so that someone else can use the toilet. He's not done. Another five minutes passes as he's pushing and groaning and now I overhear women saying can we just use the men's room? And I'm starting to want to hurry him because I've been on their side and I know that time in a restroom is relative to which side of the stall you're on but I look down at this little boy hunched over this toilet while his face turns red and his eyeballs bug out during each push and I take a deep breathe (not too deep. It's a public restroom after all) and we wait. And I chuckle to myself having discovered that restroom stall is both a noun and a verb.

Back to Better

Today I'm back to my life. I found out yesterday that I can leave my daughter at school until 1:00 instead of picking her up at 11:30 (which is what I did yesterday). They had said the specialty class thingy wouldn't start til next week so I just figured that meant I needed to pick her up early. Not true. She could still stay and eat lunch and play until 1:00. None of this means anything to you but yesterday sucked having to get her and get home and eat lunch and go back to get her brother and then fall asleep in the car and cry and want to push the elevator button and I'm like is this really my life?

No. That is not my life. My life goes like this: I bring two delightfully cheery kids to the Jewish Community Center and no one cries and everyone hugs their teachers (whom they've known for two days) and I leave via the coffee cart that's free this first week and get myself a latte. I drive home stress free enjoying my latte, get into my studio and do my WORK. For FOUR UNINTERRUPTED HOURS. That's a lot of CAPS. And soon I will pick them up in time for my daughter's nap and my son and I will print out the orders that have piled up over vacation since that's his favorite activity.

And today I realized something very interesting that I will share with you. My son apparently needs a change of venue to have a change of attitude. Like many of us. He had been at his old school for THREE years and almost everyday he was clingy to one degree or another. He loved his school and his teachers. But he developed this habit of behaving a certain way at drop off that he just couldn't shake no matter how comfortable he was or how excited he was to see his friend and teachers. Habits are tough that way. I suspected something was up when we came back from Santa Fe and he turned back into his usual self after an amazing week as a confident, helpful and happy little boy but my theory has been confirmed by his recent behavior at school. He's thrilled to be there. Doesn't know a soul and doesn't care. It's so refreshing.

And that makes me think we have to move so that we can break him of all of the habits he's developed over the last five years. And he may also needs new parents to fully execute on this social experiment. Just a thought. But maybe just a new house would do the trick.

My son showing some JCC pride.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thirty Six looks like this

I don't know what it is about birthdays but mine always suck. The last great birthday I can remember was when I turned 14. My friend Andrea and I planned my own surprise party and no one figured it out. Ever. All our friends came over right before school started and we swam and played silly games in the backyard and danced around. There was a big cake and singing and music and it was a FRIGGIN BIRTHDAY PARTY. The kind that celebrates your BIRTH. Best day that ever was. Since then, it's been hit or miss and mostly miss. Last year my plan to spend the day with my husband was quashed when my son started begging me not to leave him at preschool and I had a total come apart in a lovely cafe. Although I did make a list of everything I wanted to change in my life and short of a four bedroom house, I pretty much did everything else (note to self: must make new list for this year).

So this was my day yesterday. I wake up and the house is having post vacation stress syndrome. Everything is everywhere. I have the kids for the the last day of summer before they start their new school (which was today and went fairly smoothly). We have to be at the new school by 9:00 for some meet and greets with kids and teachers. I hustle the kids into the car and we're off. Instead of playing with the other kids and exploring their new surroundings my kids play with each other and even that is a lie because that mostly fight over who gets to put the doll in the oven over at the play kitchen. No big deal. I hadn't expected much more than that. Then we go over to the JCC membership office and I have to fill out some paperwork. Meanwhile my kids are running up and down the stairs throwing my daughter's rat Julio at each other. I call them to go and my son hucks Julio way up and he gets stuck on a beam that crosses the window about 14 feet off the ground. Fabulous. So I climb the stairs and hoist my 36-year old ass up on top of this beam and walk across to get the goddamn rat. I can't even describe what I'm talking about because it is so ridiculous. But instead of just laughing it off, which would have been fine, I get annoyed with my son and tell him as much. Now he's unhappy. We leave and they fight over who gets to push the elevator button and I let both of them have it in the car. So it's only 10:30 and I've already lost my temper twice today. Nice.

Now we go to Starbucks because at the very least I deserve to have some coffee. We run into two of my kids' teachers from the old school who they were thrilled to see but instead of being cute and charming they start acting squirrely and whining (chanting actually) about wanting vanilla milk and a morning bun, which Starbucks has run out of. We finally leave and head north because I have a rush order to drop off at a shop in San Francisco. Both kids sleep on the way which affords me 50 minutes of much-needed quiet after essentially three weeks straight with my kids. And I have the pen in my eye to prove it.

We arrive and deliver the goods. I have a second cousin who works there so we meet her for a few minutes. After about ten minutes my daughter wants to leave so we say our goodbyes and in the elevator on the way down they have another fight about the button so I lose my temper AGAIN. At this point my threshold for ridiculous behavior is at an all time low. And even though I've promised to take them to the big carousel by Yerba Buena Gardens I tell them we're going straight home. So they wail for about five minutes and then stop crying long enough for me to reconsider. We find a place to park and even though I have $39 in change, that only buys me twenty minutes of parking so we run as fast as we can up three flights of stairs and across the park to the carousel. They ride twice and I get some more change so we can book it back down to the car and feed the meter another $47 so that I can have thirty more minutes for my kids at the park.

On the way back up the three flights of stairs my daughter tells me that she has to pee and since it's been about six hours since she peed last I waste no time lifting her dress and pulling down her undies as I scoop her up and over a bush in a secluded corner of the park. She pees and pees and pees for a very long time and what ever doesn't land on the bush has landed on my shoe. Not a problem. I wipe my foot on the grass and roll my eyes. I've reached that point in motherhood that piss on my shoe is totally unremarkable. I'm not even sure why I mentioned it.

We finally head back to the car and I drive home with kids but midway through the journey my daughter tells me that she wants to hear her favorite song on the radio. She doesn't understand that I don't control the radio. And who can blame her since it's true that I control everything else in the universe. Just not the radio. I frankly don't even know what her favorite song is though I have a feeling that it is Happy Birthday since she makes me sing that every day to everyone we know while I'm putting her hair in a ponytail. It's the only way she'll let me touch her hair. And since Happy Birthday was not on any station, I just left Lady Gaga on the dial to which my daughter made clear this was NOT her favorite song and for the next 15 minutes, no matter what I did - open the windows, blare the music, explain patiently about this whole radio concept, she shrieked over and over again: MY WANT MY FAVORITE SONG!

We finally get home and no one wants to nap. I feed them and then try to get some work done while they're
fightingplaying. At 5:00 I take them to the car wash, an activity that is satisfying for all because the car gets clean, the kids get to ride the penny pony (a much better deal than metered parking in San Francisco) and everyone gets popcorn. It's really the best show in town.

We drive home around 6:00 and my husband is waiting for us. I give him the "take these kids before I kill myself" look and he asks how my day was. I tell him it was fine and burst into tears. Then I see the half dozen roses he bought me. Pretty. I leave and go to Target to buy my kids thermoses for their first day of school and some other stuff we need for the house. Then I get my eyebrows waxed so now my eyebrows are as red and puffy as my eyes and I'm looking my most gorgeous. By the time I get home it's time to sing my kids to sleep, which I do. And while I'm doing that my husband makes me an (amazing totally delicious) omelet. We spend some time with each other which helps to erase a lot of my crappy day and then we go to bed. And that's how I turned thirty-six.

Next year I'm throwing myself a surprise birthday party. Don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to You

It's my birthday today. I have a lot of things to write on the subject but right now I'm "watching" my kids since their preschool doesn't begin until tomorrow. But I did want to let you know that I'm having a 15% off sale for PapernStitch readers. This month I'm featured on PapernStitch which is a wonderful curated collection of handmade items. Art. Jewelry. Threads. Goodies of all shapes and sizes. There are 70 designers in the collection this month and I'm one of them! Woohoo.

And a week ago I had told Brittni, the woman behind PapernStitch, that I would be happy to run a sale through her on all prints for customers who write PAPERNSTITCH in the note to seller at checkout. I hadn't heard from her and almost wrote her yesterday to say, how bout be do it on my birthday! And she did, without my even writing. Because that's how the world works people. You have a thought and then the universe conspires to actualize it. Well, not always, but it's fun when it does happen.

So go to PapernStitch and have a look at all of the goodies. My stuff is here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Land of Enchantment

I don't even know where to begin. How can I describe what a fantastic week we spent with my husband's family in Santa Fe, indeed the land of enchantment. And as beautiful as it was there (breathtaking really. If my husband could find a job there we'd move tomorrow) and as wonderful as it was to spend time with our family (yes, I actually adore my in-laws. All of them. Lucky me, I know) and as relaxing as it was to have lots of extra coverage when it came to watching the kids, what with aunts and uncles and grandparents o'plenty, my favorite part of the trip was my son. From the minute we left our house last Saturday morning he was transformed. He put away all of his anxiety and his quirkiness and his obsessions but for one or two instances (when he got his sandals wet on one hike and then cried about it until we got home and when we went out for dinner and instead of enjoying coloring his place mat he only wanted to hoard crayons) he was completely charming and wonderful. In other words he was only the positive manifestations of all of his personality traits. He was enchanted.

And he wasn't exactly hanging out in his comfort zone. He did spend plenty of time just playing at my brother-in-law's house but we also went hiking and soaked in hot springs and went bike riding and swimming and horseback riding. My son learned how to jump on the porch swing simply by TRYING a hundred times til he got it. Imagine that. And he rode a horse for the first time. And he hiked all over the place and played beautifully with my fantastic niece and nephew. He just blossomed in every possible way. We even went out for dinner one night while my husband's parents babysat the kids. And no one cried or whined or even gave a rat's ass we were gone. They were so happy just playing together, they barely noticed we'd left.

And the minute we got home the spell was broken. Back to whining and crying. Hopefully it's nothing a full night's sleep can't correct. Because I really enjoyed my Santa Fe son. In any case we have our memories - a few of my favorites:

Horsing around in Taos. I searched high and low for Julia Roberts to give her my card so she could fall in love with my prints, but surprisingly she was not touring the pueblo, having ice-cream down at the plaza or hanging out naked in the hot springs with the other local we met.

Killing it on the porch swing. Sometimes the 103rd time is the charm.

Small discoveries.