Not Yet Dead

Hi there! Are you still reading this blog? Thanks for that! I know it's been a while, but I have an excuse. Not a good excuse, of course. And not really an excuse, either. More of an explanation. Although it's not a good one, really. Mostly school. And work. And life. And some sort of vague depression-like thing that I am pretty sure is related to taking antihistamines non-stop since last August. Or something. Anyway.


an exceedingly rare picture of all of us.

While I was busy trying to remember what it was I was supposed to be doing this week, we found time to take in a Phillies game. A kind of combination gift for our anniversary (which was last week, even though I didn't write about it at the time, because of something) and my birthday (which is Friday, the Quatro de Mayo, so go on ahead and have a margarita or five, because some weirdo on the Internet told you it's okay). In what I imagine was a sign from the gods, it turned out to be the Phillie Phanatic's birthday celebration, although there was no cake, which is BULLSHIT.

fancy new hat in honor of the phanatic's birthday. (already busted, btw.)

SPOILER ALERT: The Phillies lost, because it's April, and they ALWAYS suck in April, no matter what the dodoheads I work with want to insist. Go ahead, read over the statistics. The Phillies are rarely, if ever, at .500 before May 1. I blame global warming, the Republican party, Hitler, polydactyl cats, and the fact that basically half the team always gets banged up during Spring Training. (I said BANGED UP, you guys, minds out of the gutter, okay?)


Anyway. Having a five-year-old at a baseball game is a lot different than having a 1½-year-old because toddlers understand the word "No." They don't like it, of course, but they understand it. And certainly they're not quite savvy (or TALL) enough to ferret out that if you wave your hat around and yell "OVER HERE!" at the cotton candy vendor then they'll stop and your parents will have no choice but to buy you some, just to avoid an Embarrassing Situation.


(I do not recommend buying cotton candy for a five-year-old at a Sunday afternoon game when the weather has been beautiful and you have been tailgating and she refused to eat anything except pickles and salsa and ice cubes. No good can come from that.)

And, I know I keep promising this, but I'm going to try to be more diligent about posting as we get closer to the summer and there are more pictures. Got a fancy new vibration reduction telephoto lens and a REALLY GOOD FEELING about the summer. Thanks for hanging in.


Lilac With Heart-Shaped Leaves

This Mother's Day, I'm working with Clever Girls in support of Macy's Heart of Haiti to shine a light on the "trade, not aid" program, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans struggling to rebuild their lives and support their families after the 2010 earthquake.

What is Macy’s Heart of Haiti? Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.

Heart of Haiti products are available online at Macy’s.com.


Like the story of Creation, it all begins in the garden.

almost ...

We didn’t have pets when I was a kid. What we had were gardens – flower beds and rose bushes and hydrangeas and vegetables. I learned how to take care of small defenseless things and feel unconditional love by helping my mother tend to the gardens.

Clematises and strawberries are a lot like kittens, if you think about it in a certain way. In the beginning, they need the right kind of food and water and bedding or they aren’t going to make it. They need sun and rain and fresh air to grow up tall and strong. They need the right kind of nutrients and an endless stream of careful, loving attention or they aren’t going to behave the way they’re supposed to. They need to be protected from creatures that would devour them while they’re young and sweet and tender. They need to be trained, so they don’t get all leggy, their runners headed off in a hundred directions, leaves everywhere, but never flowering, never bearing fruit.

Same with kids, really. They need to be trained.

the lilacs are being coy ...

My mother trained us in her garden. Everything I know about how to be a good wife and how to be a good mother and how to be a good person – how to BE – I learned from my mother, in her garden.

All those garden-related adages you might have heard? They’re not just true about gardens; they’re true about everything, metaphorically speaking, if you think about it in a certain way. You have to know how long to keep your precious little sprouts safe and sheltered before they can be transplanted. Sometimes you have to keep their petals covered to protect them from the big cold world. If they don’t grow in one spot, maybe they need to be moved. Give them time to put down roots. A skinny little stick with just a couple of buds can grow into something huge and beautiful, if you give it space to spread and thrive. Love it, enjoy it, not for what it is now, but for the gorgeous thing it will become, when the time is right.

And remember: one man’s weed is another man’s wildflower. A rose by any other name still smells as sweet.

My mother is like an accidental Zen master who’s been showing me the path to true enlightenment for the last 38 years. I just needed to practice my active meditation, to pour forth all the necessary blood and sweat and tears, to dig deep enough into the soil to find the truth that my Mom’s been teaching me all this time. And now the student has become the master, for I am sharing the wisdom with my daughter that I learned from my mother, and that she learned from her mother, and so on.

She probably doesn’t know it, but when I am working in my own yard, digging in my own dirt, I take some words I’ve heard before, and I change them up a little bit, and just like a seed becomes a sunflower through light and love and magic, so too does this poem become a mantra, a prayer:

“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
I am closer to Mom in the garden
Than anywhere else on earth.”

i can't believe that 3 years ago my neighbors wanted to throw this lilac bush out because it was a "dud."

It all comes back to the garden.


Thank you to Macy's Heart of Haiti for sponsoring my participation in this “Share Your Heart" promotion. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.


Building The Perfect Beast

Do you realize how difficult it can be to get the "perfect" (HAHAHAHA) Easter portrait of your kid? Completely disregarding all the general tomfoolery associated with "staged" photo shoots, like having props and bribes and actual kid at the ready? And never mind the fact that you have to get the kid to even agree to cooperate in the first place, which is as probable as winning the lottery while being struck by lightning at the same time?


First attempt: too squinty. Also, the shadows are falling across her neck weird. Let's try this again.


Second attempt: more weird shadows. And for some reason now her skin looks a different color than it did before. I blame jellybean consumption.


Third attempt: wrong angle, and that POSE. I thought it would be cute, in theory, kind of like a faux-school-picture kind of thing, but obviously something went wrong here in the execution. (Plus, that isn't quite how I wanted her to pose, but it was the best I could do at the time.)


Fourth attempt: almost great, except for the shadows again. And I swear, I had her turning and spinning and moving all over the yard to try to get the right light angle. I think we had trouble because it was right at mid-day in the early spring and the sun was in Aquarius and Mercury was in retrograde. It's kind of obvious, really.


Fifth attempt: Almost perfect, except THERE IS A STICK GROWING OUT OF HER HEAD NOW. How long have we been outside at this point? (No more than 15 minutes.) And it looks like something might be missing, now, but I can't quite put my finger on it.


Sixth and final attempt: THERE WE GO. Thanks, kiddo, you're done here. Now why don't you run off and change into your play clothes, but not before stopping in the kitchen for 2½ seconds? That's plenty of time to get hot bacon dressing on your sweater. (That totally happened.)


What Part Of "Party" Don't You Understand?

G and I took about eleventy bajillion pictures yesterday (okay, maybe closer to 400, but STILL) but we got home so late that we didn't have time to offload them. So in the meantime, I hope that these cellphone videos will amuse you until tomorrow.

First up, Shae singing "Raise Your Glass." You can LITERALLY see the point at which the jellybean sugar high wears off and she gets distracted by domestic waterfowl.

And also: "Dog Days Are Over." I assure you, she is usually much more energetic and dancy when she sings this, but at this point in the day she's a wee bit tired, so let's give her a pass.

I promise that by the end of the summer, I will have incriminating video of her rocking out to Lady Gaga (or worse, Ke$ha) and then my husband will get his wish and she will have no choice but to join a convent to save herself a lifetime of embarrassment, courtesy of her blogger mother.


Slippery When Wet

This post is almost as much a love letter to my iPhone as it is to my daughter.


Last year, when she had her swimming lessons on Saturday mornings, I'd be out there every week with my giant camera, trying to capture all her "big moments."

Mer Girl

This time around, her classes are on Thursday night, at 7:00, and I'm pretty much all, "Just don't drown yourself or anybody else."


It seems to be working out fine, because ... well, she's pretty much completely off floats, and she hasn't drowned herself or anybody else in at least a week.


I've noticed one huge advantage to the late-night lessons, too, which is that there are only like four kids in her class, so I can tell that she's actually working and paying attention in class.


And now I can just kick off my Crocs and roll up my pants and wade in with her, taking pictures with my cell phone, which is so small and light that it fits in my pocket, and I don't need to lug around that giant heavy bag to get grainy bad-light photos of her acting like a dork with complete abandon in her natural element.


Although those pictures I take with the big camera sure are pretty, sometimes.



Someone went and turned five without my permission. I am not ready to be the parent of a school-age child. It makes me feel so old.


She's kind of smug about it, actually, but I'll forgive her this ONE TIME because she's so cute.


She wanted to start kindergarten yesterday morning. Because when you're five, you get to go to kindergarten. Could you just die?


We had a piñata at the party but we didn't get very good pictures, but we did get a great shot of the Oogie's Ice Cream truck, which judging from the response of the crowd is maybe the single greatest thing that ever existed in the entire history of the whole wide world.


I'm kind of inclined to agree, myself. Who doesn't love an ice cream truck? Nobody I want to know.


The only bummer about her party was that it was cold, maybe 40°F. But nobody minded, really, because there was an ice cream truck.


At least sometimes she's still my little girl.