Archive for January, 2009

A perfect end to the day

The girls have been getting along famously lately, aside from an occasional competitive rift that comes from time to time.

Today was one of those days where by the end, they were bickering about who danced the best in their dance class that afternoon or who can brush their teeth the fastest or, gasp, who eats more vegetables!

I’d had it and separated them at  bathtime. This is considered a punishment because they love taking a bath together. They play games with a tea set we keep there. They write on the walls with soap crayons. They make the typical beards from bubbles. They see who can hold their breath the longest under water.

So, I separated them and they were still mad at each other. I put Red in the bath by herself while I helped Blue finish her homework. Then Red got out of the bath and Blue gave her a nasty look and a puff and huff and walked past her to get in the tub.

After a short while, I hear a scream.


I run in and Blue is standing in the bathtub, her hands splayed, her eyes wide, looking between me and the bath water.

I look.

“Oh, it’s just a little lint from your socks,” I assure her.

She shakes her head. “NOOOOO! THOSE ARE BIG DUST BUNNIES!”

And then she points. “There’s something brown right there!”

And then a screech. “WHAT’S THAT!”

She pointed to something white and transparent. And I knew what it was. 

Red appeared, freshly bathed, holding her book. “Oh that? Is it white and kind of floaty?”

We stare at her.

“Well, I sneezed a big one in the bath and alot of snot came out!”

Blue jumped out of the bath so fast and refused to rinse the rest of the soap off until I changed the water.

Later, after her SECOND bath, I was crouched down, we were face to face. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Mommy, to be a family, do people always have to have the same last name?”

I shook my head, assuming she was thinking about my last name being different from hers, since I was divorced from her dad and I go by a different last name now. (I dropped both my married and maiden name and use my middle name)

“No honey, you can be family and not have the same last name. I’m still your mommy and we have different last names. Auntie A has a different last name and she’s my sister, she’s our family. Poppy and Nanny have a different last name than we do and they are still family.”

Blue was quiet for a minute. “Well, is J a part of our family?”

That was when I explained quite simply, that whoever we love and choose to be with, who chooses us and loves us just the same, is family. 


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F’n Snowday

I’ve been waiting for a snow day. Yes, since both girls are in school every day this year, all day, there are days I just want to have them home in the snow and be cozy. Being the end of January, still, no luck for a day off school.

On Tuesday, they woke up kind of snuffly like me, tired and not wanting to go to school. I knew they were okay for the most part but was like, “Cool, let’s all just stay home!” They were psyched except later I had to talk Blue into being okay with it when she realized she might miss some good art projects at school. (Kindergarten is fun!)


But when I told her we’d be making their Valentine cards for their friends at school (yeah, I think ahead, huh?) she ended up conceding. (a kid conceding to staying home from school. who knew?)

So, we started the Valentines.

I roasted a chicken and made cornbread. Their grandma came over for lunch and played dolls with them.


We played Bingo.

We watched television.

We talked to J on Skype.

The girls found my camera and took some photos of themselves, and ahem, of their mother.




It was great fun.

I’m thinking, “That was great, how great to have them home, now tomorrow, they can go back and I’ll get back to my work here and get tons done!”

The list I was generating in my head was enormous.

But alas, shortly before their bedtime, my original dreams from a few days ago, came true.

The phone rang and it was the automated school principal’s voice letting us know that the storm was going to hit and they were officially calling off school for the following day. Which was today.

So today, we had a snow day.

Two days in a row. Like a weekend.

The girls were brilliant. They had a ball. We made stuff. We drove to Blockbuster in the snow and got movies and candy. 

We ate snacks for dinner.

Now, they are in bed and I am done for the day. Tomorrow they go back to school, for two days. And then we have the weekend together again. This pleases me because pretty soon I will be out of town to see J, they will be on a ski trip with their dad, and I’ll go ten days without seeing them.

But for now, I sit here and sigh with the sense of tomorrow, having time to get things in order and finish some work that has been put on hold. Of course, it got pushed aside. I mean, it was a snow day!  And of course, tomorrow, I will eventually wander through their room and look at the clock, and wait for their return at 3.

As I do every day.

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I lifted this idea from here at A MAUNDERER’S WANDERS blog.  This is not a complete list, considering my very tired state, with two kids home sick today, a potential snow day tomorrow (which means two kids home again) and a stuffy nose with sneezing.

Some of the best places I’ve been.

  • at 1am, down the road at the cove, at full moon and extra high tide in the summer with J after work.
  • Lanai, Hawaii. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
  • Chartreuse Monastery Museum in the French Alps.  I took a photo of a statue over the side door of a small chapel and months later painted it in my home studio. (see illustration at top. I did that.)
  • Malibu at sunset, the first 18 years of my life.
  • Fenway Park
  • On top of Long’s Peak, after climbing it
  • On top of the Fourteeners in the Sawatch Range in Colorado, after climbing them. All but two.
  • The island where I visited J last month (and I know I will add the next island to the list after being there)
  • Time’s Square at night in the winter
  • At a bar with J watching live music. Since he usually IS the live music and I’m alone watching him. It’s nice to be able to sit with him and have a drink and watch someone else perform while we’re next to each other.
  • Spring on the Mississippi River, painting
  • Lancaster, PA, staying on a Mennonite Farm and eating in Amish restaurants
  • Snowboarding at Jay Peak, Vermont
  • Camping in Yosemite
  • Hiking in Mammoth
  • St. Johns, USVI
  • French Riviera 
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • The movie theatre. Any movie theatre.
  • Charlotte airport is one of the best airports I have ever been to, with the nicest people, ever.  Even when going through customs.
  • Rodeos in Colorado
  • Grand Canyon
  • Brandywine Museum, Chadds Ford, PA (Wyeth Museum)
  • Great Woods Amphitheater, (now called The Comcast Center). Seeing James Taylor. Sting. Neil Young. (not all at once although Neil Young played with Beck of all people at the H.O.R.D.E. Festival one year)

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Alternative to Kleenex

Generally, I have little Kleenex boxes everywhere in the winter. In my handbag, in the car, the glove box, the console, the girls’ bags. But this morning we were driving and Blue sneezed and really needed a Kleenex, which I didn’t have, anywhere in the car.

I didn’t even have coffee shop napkins, which is rare.

So, I root around in the console of the car hoping I’d come up with an alternative and I find these:


And nonchalantly, pull one out, in a little square, that LOOKS like a Kleenex. It’s somewhat soft, more like tissue paper than a Kleenex tissue. 

So, I hand it back to her and say casually, “here, use this and then ball it up and hand it back to me.”

“It’s just a different kind…” I explain, praying she wouldn’t open it up all the way.

I discreetly watch her in the rear view mirror.

Her face as she studied it was priceless and I started to laugh silently, moving my face away  from the mirror so she couldn’t see me.

The next time I looked, she was slowly opening it up, a puzzled look on her face.

Even more puzzled, when she held it up and looked through the hole at me.

disposable_toilet_seat_coverBut gosh darnit, she put it up to her nose and blew into it, crumpled it into a ball, and handed it back.

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The other day, I cried


Note to self: check mascara before leaving house, after crying.


I cried a bit the other day and then left to get the girls from school without looking in the mirror. I was doing the “goth” look and fortunately ran into a good friend who warned me about my makeup running down my face before anyone else saw me.

J got his dates for his Spring European gig. Turns out it is for 8 weeks.

It piggy backs his two week yacht gig at the end of March.

Ten weeks. And I won’t have the time to get away and see him during that time.

He’s playing on a fancy boat over there. And then two different clubs.

After our conversation about it, when he sadly broke the news, I was trying hard not to show him I was upset. I’m baffled because we knew he’d be gone in the Spring, but were aware there was a possiblility we’d have a little time in April before he left.

We will. But it will be just 24 hours.

Apparently, I was not so transparent because shortly after signing off Skype, I got an email from him saying he could see I was upset and he was sorry and he was depressed about the schedule and disappointed we didn’t have more time in between.

I could see it in him too.

Heavy for both of us.

There are some magic dates.

February 14th I fly to see him for a week on another island.

March 1st, he is home for two weeks.

March 30th he is home at midnight. Flies to Europe on April 1st.

June 1st, he is home for good.

We didn’t talk again that day, but wrote some emails back and forth that were sad, sweet and then uplifting as we both worked it out inside ourselves so we weren’t so “it’s the end of the world” and  we could carry on.

When I woke up the next morning, an email was waiting for me that told me why he loved me. Which was a reminder to me of why he is coming back.

What’s another ten weeks, huh? It’s definitely worth the wait.

I’ll end with a story that makes me choke up just thinking about it.

Red was counting on the calendar the weeks until J gets home. It seemed the appropriate time to explain that he would be home for a few weeks and then be heading back out for work for another ten weeks. I broke it up, telling the girls that first he’d be on a yacht in the tropics and then fly to Europe to work on a bigger boat. And then he’d be on land there working in a few clubs. Red sat there, her face turned red and her eyes teared up and she just stopped and stared at me. 

Startled, I said, “Oh honey, he’ll be home before school is out!” thinking she was upset he’d be gone again for so long.

Her response? “Mommy, I don’t want anything to happen to him while he is on the boats like those fishermen who died!”

I’ve mentioned before, I live in a fishing town. A few weeks ago, two of our local and well known fishermen were killed at sea in the middle of a frigid night.

My brilliant ex-husband apparently was reading the newspaper and shared the information with my 6 and 8 year old little girls.

They came home last week and Red said, “Mommy, Daddy said some fishermen from here died at sea?”

And I explained that it was a freak horrible accident, and yes, it did happen.

Her fear that the same thing would happen to J was touching, emotional and scary.

Of course, I am aware that on any boat, there are risks. There are risks in anything we do and anywhere we go. I don’t think J will be in danger. I explained the difference between the boats he’d be on compared to the small fishing boat that sunk and then she was okay.

As I mentioned before, she has been writing little emails to J and he responds to her. Pretty short but sweet stuff. That night she sent him an email and today I went into my sent box to save it and saw what she wrote.

It said, “It’s pretty lonely without you here. We miss you.”

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A Letter to Obama


January 20, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Today I saw the Inauguration on the TV at school. I liked the speech you gave. Here are some ideas I have for you as President.

1. Not let any wars come to America because I heard there was a war in Iraq. It sounded very scary.

2. Maybe make a law that there are no guns allowed except for policemen, because Abe Lincoln got shot by someone.

3. Maybe make a law that there is no smoking aloud because people are dieing from it.

Have fun in the White House.



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What I did on Inauguration Day


Back during the election, J was up north at his mom’s house and I was here at home and we signed into ichat on our Macs and watched Obama be elected our 44th president. We were “together” in a way for that and it was really cool to share the moment. Around midnight that night, J and I listened to his acceptance speech to an emotional crowd. We cheered too. 

Today, from the island, he Skyped me (that has become a verb in our world) right as Aretha Franklin was rocking my world with “America” (My Country Tis of Thee). Together, we spent two and a half hours with our televisions on, riveted to the moments in history that showed the end of a very difficult time and the beginning of an era with alot of hope…we don’t know what will happen in the next four years (or eight?). But change is good. No matter what. Especially now, when there is nowhere else to go.

When George and Laura Bush get into the helicopter to fly off, J looked at me. I looked at him. And I waved to the tv and went, “Buh Bye.”  

We watched our new President and Vice President and their wives standing on the steps there, watching the former president fly away. I felt energy and strength in that moment (GREAT camera work to the camera man and the helicopter wind definitely added the dramatic emotional feel to the moment…skirts flying…).  

I am sure that strength is partly due to the fact that they have yet to try and conquer the world.  They have not yet been beaten down by world issues, difficult decisions and things that happen out of their control…and bad press. 

But as many do, I have confidence and hope for all good things. I hope for a love of our country, countrymen (women and children too), and for our President.

By the way, this is totally random, but have you ever noticed how quickly our presidents age? I guarantee that by the time Obama is 4 years into this, he’ll be gray and that complexion won’t be quite so smooth. I also wonder if he’ll be the type of Prez who might possibly, gulp, use hair dye? If so, then, well, we’ll never know about the gray hair.

Red came home from school today and asked me what I did all day, as she usually does. Just recently she started emailing J and he’s emailing her back. It’s mostly alot of math problems (he quizzes them over dinner and they think it’s FUN). She wanted to write him today and tell him she watched the “Inaug…a…what?” in school (she has a hard time pronouncing it) and that she wrote a letter to Obama and her teacher told them they needed to be really neat so the President can read it.  Unfortunately, she spends about thirty minutes typing just two lines, so her email merely said, “I love our new President. How about you?”

Anyway, in response to her question about what I did all day, I actually had to make some things up, like folded laundry, cleaned up the house, ran a few errands. It would have been hard to explain that I spent most of the day sitting on my ass in front of the television, watching MSNBC coverage, browsing CNN.com, eating cheese toast and drinking a pot of coffee. I couldn’t tell her that I was logged into Skype with J for nearly three hours, watching the festivities and making eyes at each other.

And I certainly couldn’t tell her that before we signed off our laptops, before J stuck his lips up to the camera on his laptop to make “kissing-horse-lips” , and before we said “miss you, love you ,want you” (War of the Roses in case you’re wondering) I pulled up my shirt and flashed him.  

I know, not completely appropriate considering this was a seriously fabulous momentous day.

But I will always remember that I spent it with J, virtually via Skype. Skype, our very best friend.

I’ll remember that my kids were old enough to talk to about our new President and that they shared their own excitement with an enormous population in this country, who feels the same.

And I will always remember his laugh when I showed him my boobs on Inauguration Day.

Note: I am not sure who the photographer is, someone sent me an email back at election time of a ton of great photos of Obama on his campaign and this was one of them.

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I think Ann Coulter is an asshole.

Who needs illustration for that?

I love this single mama and what she has to say about it.  

You can read her blog here at Ms. Single Mama.

Something I appreciate about blogging is connecting with other single mothers. Some of us have dated a bit. Some don’t want to. Some are remarried now. Some have new loves like mine.  

Having literally picked my town out on the map on a whim, because it was on the coast and I liked how it felt, I moved here alone, with my 2 and 4 year old a few years ago. Now, they are 6 and 8 and we’ve become accustomed to the community, we have friends, my work is here now, my mom moved nearby to be involved in the kids’ lives. 

What I do lack is single mother friends here. I mean, I met my first one this year. We’re friendly but we aren’t hanging out or anything.

The few close friends that I do have are supportive. Either because they’ve been there or close to it.  I have a friend across the country who recently became a single mom. Her recent email to me said, “You have no idea what it’s like to be a single mom until you are one.” And then she apologized for not being more in tune with what was going on with me, while I was being introduced to the world of “being completely alone.”

Honestly, for me, being a single mother is so much easier than being in the marriage I was in. The few dating experiences I had after that ended up adding similar chaos and trouble to my mothering as my marriage did. Which is why I left it. The example my husband at the time and I were setting for the kids, was not a good one. And it wasn’t until a therapy session together  (our first and last) that I realized it would never be different. I still mourned it. I still mourned the fact that we didn’t have “that”. That we couldn’t make it work the way we all want it to work. It’s still sad, no matter who the jerk is, or what happens.

I feel a lack of connection with many mothers because I feel they see me as a disappointment or a threat to what they consider “family”. This is just my experience here, where I am, with certain individuals. I am not saying it is the norm. But it is what I feel from some who I interact with. Obviously, people feel that way, but really, what options do we have? Stay in a marriage that’s unhealthy not only for us but for the kids too? Staying is not going to keep that “family” feeling necessarily, nor will it keep all parties feeling safe and secure in their lives.

At the end of the day, I am grateful for the moms I am close with. We manage to go out, walk, have coffee, and connect.  As women. As moms. As human beings.  I don’t feel like such a single mom on those days.

I ran into a woman I know from the school. She had her two young sons with her who were sick, at the market, coughing and weezing and miserable. Her husband was working that night, filling oil for people who let their furnaces die on one of the biggest snow storm nights ever, and she needed food and drink and popsicles for the kids.

In my head, I suddenly relived moments in my life where I have felt most alone with my girls. Times  like when we’re all three throwing up with some sort of stomach thing, I am also changing sheets and airing out rooms and running to the market with sick kids in tow and gallon sized ziplock baggies in my pocket in case one of us can’t keep it down in the deli aisle…because really, in the end, I am alone.

Being a mom is hard, no matter who you are. I think being a married mom can be super hard, as it was for me. Folks are also maintaining a relationship, a marriage, with expectations and disappointments and hurrahs and triumphs. Regardless of good or bad, it is work. Some of the lucky ones are in marriages where there is extreme mutual respect, support and love and I truly celebrate that two people can find each other and have that. If you are one of them, don’t ever take it for granted.

It hasn’t been until my meeting J, that I actually feel true acceptance of my being accompanied by the preciousness of Red and Blue. Or felt any sort of support.  I’ve heard so many times, “if they don’t love your children, they can’t love you.” But I never really knew what that meant until it happened.  And I truly believe that my experience with J is blessed with an ease and collaboration that makes my life easier as a mom, even if he isn’t here with us every day. 

Recently, I shared with him that I have learned alot from him concerning “attitude” in parenting.  He’s not a father, but when he is with us, he exudes patience and creativity, along with firmness and authority, lovingly. (where when I am at my wits end on a Thursday at 7pm, I don’t come across as “loving” when I’m untying one child from the toilet tank and the other is dancing circles and pointing and laughing because she put her sister there)  

I watch J and in simple ways, managed difficult situations, break up fights, reason with the girls when they’re being unreasonable, with ease. More often now, after I take a breath, I find that place in myself and can handle conflict as a parent, differently than I used to.

I call it “what I’m learning about parenting from my childless boyfriend.”

When I mentioned this to him, he said, “yeah, but it’s easy for me. YOU’RE with them 24-7, so of course your patience will wane. Most mothers have their husbands to step in at the end of the day or get up with them in the middle of the night. YOU do not.”

And then he said, “When I get home and we’re together, I can take some of that off you, you know. I can help you with that.”


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You’d think I would have a category titled “boobs” on my site, here, you know, for easy browsing.

But I don’t.


Anyway, I was conversing with someone recently about flat ones. Flat boobs, that is.

I was always flat chested, and self conscious of it. I think I wore my first bra when I went to college, merely because it was cold in the midwest and I didn’t want to nip out…I was from Southern California and the warmer weather didn’t really cause that.

My mom always had awesome boobs. I remember when I was out of college, I finally gathered the nerve to ask her, after she made mention about how flat chested she was when she was a teenager, HOW ON EARTH DID YOU END UP WITH THOSE?

Turns out, she got big ones after having babies.

Now, listen here. My mother didn’t breast feed my sister or me, and we turned out pretty normal I think. And I have this theory that it is because of that, my mother has great boobs.

So I gave birth to Red. I HATED breast feeding. It hurt for the first six weeks, all fifty-four times a day I had to feed the  little sucker.  At five months, I had to leave her behind when there was a family emergency, and thankfully she would take a bottle. On the plane on a midnight flight, I was sitting there with this horrible pump up under my shirt, pumping away. Every few hours I had to “pump and dump”, since there was no way I was carrying the milk around in a cooler, in another time zone, and then back across the country on the plane home, days later.

I will backtrack to say that when I first had Red, I found myself in the hospital bed with a wailing redhead beside me, dying for milk. Seven nurses were grabbing my breasts and giving me advice on how to get her little mouth around my nipple properly. My co-workers who had come to visit and bring presents, were waiting in the hall for me. (because you just can’t let your Vice President Boss from a very corporate world, see you breast feed). I decided right there I was not going to breast feed.

Then in came the forces. THE MOTHER IN LAW gave me a lecture. As did the four sisters-in-law. As did my-husband-at-the-time. Lectures about a breast fed kid’s IQ compared to a non-breast fed kid’s IQ were thrown out. And statistics on MCAS scores, and reading comprehension. I do believe at some point, I heard “if she isn’t breast fed, she’ll get DIVORCED.”

So, I kept at it. I kept breast feeding until the pain finally went away. Until I stopped sweating and crying, every time she latched on.

But then, that trip, the trip where I was pumping and dumping. Well, I got home from that trip and she just felt she liked the bottle better than breast feeding.

So I gave it up.

And things were happy.

When Blue came along, I did start breast feeding her. Figuring that out was much easier, seeing that I had done it with Red for six months. The problem was that she never seemed to get enough, so I was feeding her every 45 minutes or so….but the bigger problem was that she had a very jealous-not-quite-two-year-old-redheaded-sister, who would stalk right up to us, coo and sigh and whisper sweet love in our ears and then reel back and wack her with all her might on the face.


That was the end of that.

And then we went right to the bottle with formula. I mean, I didn’t even stop at pumping. I was done with my breasts. Done, I say.

Even to this day, I can’t help but notice that every woman I know who has breast fed the hell out of their boobs, are sagging down to their crotch. If I see a saggy droopy out of shape-boobs woman, I bet I could ask her, “how many years did you breast feed?” And they would probably say they breast fed every one of their four children for two years…which means, they had a babe sucking on them for a cumulative of EIGHT YEARS.

That’s cause for some serious damage.

I’m not saying that breast feeding is the only cause for saggy boobs. But I am saying, if you breast fed, your boobs are likely to sag, say, more than someone who didn’t. Or someone who tried and didn’t do it for too long.  And perhaps, more than someone who started out flat in the first place. 

Thankfully, what rang true for my mom, rang true for me, despite my short bout with nursing my girls. When I’m eighty, I likely will not be gathering ’em up in a bra like a hammock before I start my day.

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If you click on the “my favorite things” category,

you will come across others I have posted.

I should also title these “things that make me really really happy”.

p1030236A trip to the art store to buy paper and canvas. 



the sewing machine I have had since I was 13.

I love it because I can make things with it



the beginnings of the quilt top for J’s birthday in March.

I finished it over the weekend during the snowstorm but didn’t take a picture of it.

It’s much larger than this.



Need I say more?


my small cake stand.

I use it for cookies and brownies because I usually make BIG cakes.

(who makes small cakes?)



I bought this from Holli Bobolli before the holidays. I also bought a set for a gift.

This was a gift to myself and it sits on my window sill and I put my rings in it when I make bread.

I love seeing it every day.

Sometimes I even use it!


Bolthouse Farms drinks.

For $2.50 a piece, it had better be a favorite thing!

(just my luck, I got two for $4.00 the other day!…I know, still wicked expensive)


Panera’s House Latte.

It has some sweet spice in it that’s to die for.

It only comes in one size. I wish it came in extra extra large.


Hand painted dollhouse.

It was mine when I was 4. And it is filled with all non-plastic furniture and porcelain dolls.

My kids play with it all the time.



It’s hard to see in the picture but I love my frothing wand.

Hot milk on the stove. Froth it. Pour in coffee.

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