Wednesday, December 26, 2007

to Z on her fourth birthday

originally uploaded by urban mama.
My memories of you. Falling asleep on my chest after nursing in the waning hours of the night. Your tentative delight of being in a warm bath. Your exertions and accompanying vocal effects when you were trying to lift your head for the first time. The grin when you took your first steps toward me. The refusals to nap. Eating lunch at Café Selmarie and then spending endless minutes in the toy shop up the street. Your curiosity and calm when your brother made his first appearance into the world.

The limitless love I have for you is tinged with exasperation at your burgeoning defiance, fear that you are prone to giving up too easily, concern that I’ve passed along my obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist, fear of failure tendencies to you. You exhaust me with your sheer joy and the ebb and flow of your energy. Yet, somehow, you’re able to step up to the challenge at precisely the right moments and wow me with your empathy, your innate understanding of the world, your capacity for deep wells of emotion.

You have already called me your best friend and that you always want to be with me. Although I make light of it, I am touched by the pureness of your love for me. I've done nothing but bring you into this world, and I'm not sure if I've fully equipped you just yet. I will try not to screw it up, though I’m afraid eventually I will disappoint you. It is inevitable. But, I will always be your mother and your safe haven.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

[almost] first snowfall of the season

Shuttling groceries and other sundry items between the garage and the house, I stopped for a minute and listened to the falling snow. You can hear the quiet it brings. It sounds like a whisper.

Something about snow dampens and softens the sounds of the city. Street noise is muted; it's almost as though the main drag near the house moved further away.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

the time sucker known as Facebook

So I've jumped the shark and started populating my Facebook profile, which was originally set up in 2005 - eons in the social networking world. I can't remember exactly why I started messing around with it, but, suffice to say, it's taken up precious minutes that should be spent filing the mound of never-diminishing paperwork on my desk here at home, sorting the laundry, preventing the kids from making new holes in the drywall, and other important activities.

The thing that takes up a vast amount of time is navigating the add-ons for Facebook. I still haven't figured out the Flickr app and have taken more movie compatibility quizzes than I care to admit. The most time-sucking of these apps is Scrabulous, an online Scrabble game which is terribly, terribly addicting. Particularly when good friends beat the pants off you and you desperately need to save face. But immediately.

Monday, October 01, 2007

happy birthday, little man.

happy birthday, little man.
happy birthday, little man.,
originally uploaded by urban mama.
I’m gonna tell my son to grow up pretty as the grass is green
And whip-smart as the English Channel’s wide...

Liz Phair, “Whip-Smart”

Mr. Guy,

I cried when the nurses put you on my chest for the first time. Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting you for another two weeks. Maybe it was because your sister - all 21 months of her - was present for your birth since the sitter came down with strep and was sitting in an emergency room waiting for treatment. And maybe it was because it was the start of an incredibly complex relationship between me and you, mother and son. You were born when a show called “The Sopranos” was big and that deals with the ramifications of a twisted mother/son relationship, among other things. You’re not allowed to watch it until you’re at least 18, by the way. I don't need you going all AJ on me.

I promise you that I will never hold you back from what you want to do, unless I sense that what you’re about to do has nothing to do with what you feel in your heart but more about what other people are telling you to do. I had a friend once whose mother was slowly dying of cancer. He wanted to move across the country to live out a dream but didn’t want to leave her. She made him go, saying that it would be selfish of her to keep him tethered when he had an entire life to life. That’s how I feel about you and your sister. You have grand opportunities waiting to be seized. Don’t hold back.

For now, as you turn the Important Age of Two, I will delight in your open mouthed kisses, your tackle hugs, your fake whiny cry which sounds a little like a broken ambulance siren, your anger at being thwarted from causing yourself real bodily harm, your willingness to try anything on my plate - even the garnish, your persistence and patient determination in opening doors you’re not supposed to open, and your mischevious, grabbing life by the balls, joyful disposition. In the words of Marge Simpson, you’re my special little guy. And yes, you can watch “The Simpsons” before you’re 18. It’ll probably still be running.

Monday, September 24, 2007

it never fails.

You're dressed in a drop dead killer outfit, wearing heels that cause other women to stop you and ask you where you got them, walking in a full on confident stride that screams, "I am an independent, strong, self-assured woman and I kick major ass", and you trip on a flippin' sidewalk crack.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

eaten alive.

For the first time in years, I'm being attacked, gleefully, by mosquitoes and other blood-sucking critters. It may have something to do with the torrential rainfall we've experienced here in Chicago lately; them skeeters like humidity and pools of standing water. I've slaughtered three that I found in the house today. Hell, it's not enough that I'm feeding the little bastards - they want to hang out here rent-free? Forget it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

the eating habits of the very young homo sapiens

O has the palate of a burgeoning gourmand. He has sampled lobster and requested more after the first taste. He has been witnessed running around with a chicken and apple sausage clutched in a pudgy hand. He likes a bit of avocado with his soft tacos. He is not a fan of fast food, though like Jeffrey Steingarten and the late, great Julia Child, he loves McDonald's fries to the exclusion of any other offering from the golden arches. In fact, he prefers Boca burgers. There's nothing in the world that smells like a toddler who's had a load of garlic-infused soy.

Z, on the other hand, is a fan of processed foods. The faker, the better. She does love any sort of fruit - fresh, dried or hanging out in liquid, which offsets her love of the dinosaur-shaped mystery chicken nuggets. I considered it a major coup that she'll eat the chicken from the chicken chow fun we order from the local Chinese takeaway. It's difficult for me - someone who loves everything from four-star restaurant fare to $1.50 greasy cheese pizza slices - to accept this resistance to the myriad possibilities of food. As long as you need to eat, you may as well have some fun keeping yourself alive, right?

All this talk about food is making me hungry. Where are the wasabi peas?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

when the f*** did I get so old?

I dropped off a package at a client's office a few days ago and decided to walk most of the way there and back. This was probably about three miles in all. A leisurely stroll down Michigan Avenue and Upper Wacker Drive in high humidity. I wore some Diesel kicks. Not a strenuous walk, right?

Right, except that by the time I got to Washington and Wacker from Erie and Michigan, my left knee was feeling a little sketchy. Not that it was making noises but it felt sore. Tired. Unhappy with my walking. It was none too pleased that I was trying to live a sustainable lifestyle by not taking any form of transportation requiring fossil fuels.

The following day, I crashed into a doorframe while chasing the kids around. Now the right knee has a bruise.

I've also been extraordinarily tired for someone who doesn't do damn much during the day in terms of physical labor. I've taken to passing out on Z's floor when I'm putting her to bed; she likes me to stay for a while after kissing her goodnight. So I lay on her rug with a giant floor pillow under my head and one of her tiny blankets covering me, and I fall asleep before she does.

I'm used to being Indestructible, Resilient Amy. This slow falling apart is not cool. I was the one who could drink copiously without fear of hangovers. I could out-eat most men. I went to the gym regularly. Now red wine gives me a major headache, I get heartburn, and my body after two kids has gone to mush. Even thinking about joining a gym exhausts me.

And the checkout girl at Whole Foods didn't even card me when I bought the giant bottle of Belgian Trappist Monk ale yesterday.

Getting old sucks.

Monday, July 23, 2007

it is done.

I finished the last Harry Potter last night. I am sure I'm not saying anything new here when I say that it's a fitting finale to the series. Now I have an urge to reread all seven books to pick up on everything that I missed the first one or two times.

The best "children's" books - and I don't even want to call them that because it's a limiting label - are the ones you have on your bookshelves when you're well into adulthood. I for one have the "Wrinkle in Time" trilogy and the Narnia books from my youth and the "His Dark Material" trilogy [Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel - nice bit of casting in the upcoming movie version of "The Golden Compass"] and Harry Potter from the recent past. And as I'm typing, it hits me that these books deal with alternate worlds and realities inhabited by very human characters. All are variations on the classic hero's quest construct as popularized by Joseph Campbell.

Reading is an immersive experience. We expect to take something away, be it raw knowledge, escape or a different perspective. Phrases stay with you. Visuals inhabit your waking life. You reference the book in everyday conversation. I'm not expecting to call anyone a Muggle anytime soon, but I do love the "Voldemort Votes Republican" bumper sticker I saw on a beater of a car recently.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Like practically everyone else, I'm reading the new Harry Potter. I expect to finish it in a week. Smell ya later.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

sky blue sky

the view from the lawn
the view from the lawn,
originally uploaded by urban mama.
The best part about Ravinia: laying on the grass after a little vino and seeing this above your head.

Friday, July 13, 2007

cooking = love

I read an article on today, where the writer, Leslie Kaufman, discusses how to cook meals for entire family consumption with the understanding that certain younger members of the family will eat one thing out of the seven you bring to the table.

The one line that resonated with me was:

"I committed to cooking a family meal when my first son was born...not because of any psychology study about the well-being of children, but because it gave me comfort."

Cooking for la familia is a means by which I express my love. Even if we're having hot dogs, there will be fresh fruit and maybe a vegetable or legume snuck in there. I put a lot of thought into balancing flavors and food groups. By cooking, I feel as though I'm extending a part of myself to those who consume the meal. Through the meal, I'm saying, "I want you to enjoy this meal in the present, and it's okay if you don't remember it in the future. When you eat what I prepare, I want you to feel comforted, loved, relaxed."

I work full-time, so my time spent at work is vague and incomprehensible to the minis. It doesn't make an impact, yet, to discuss things like wages, inflation and the cost of living. But if I can manage to assemble dinner daily - okay, we get takeout every so often - I'm hoping that I'm establishing a ritual of sorts. Long after they've left for college or other pastures, they will retain some internal memory of mama providing something to eat almost every day. It'll be part of my legacy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

everything they say is true.

originally uploaded by urban mama.
1. They grow up so fast.

2. They're frickin' cute kids.

3. O looks like me, and Z looks like D.

4. Boys are from Mars, and girls are from Venus.

5. At least Z isn't wearing pink this year.

Monday, July 09, 2007

today's playlist: music for deadlines

Sound of Silver | LCD Soundsystem
Renegades | Rage Against the Machine
Is This It? | The Strokes
Decksanddrumsandrockandroll | Propellerheads
Paul's Boutique | Beastie Boys
Hot Fuss | The Killers
Beaucoup Fish | Underworld
Reggatta De Blanc | The Police
American Idiot | Green Day

set adrift on memory bliss

I've been the proud owner of a Mac Mini for more than a year, and I love that li'l white box. Its predecessor was a bondi blue G3 tower with a now laughable 6 gig hard drive. We had wonderful times, the G3 and I. That's a post for another day.

Last night I finally pulled my personal work off the G3 - portolio, tax returns, cover letters and resumes, and the piece de resistance: fiction and columns spanning nearly 20 years. Twenty! I reread the novel, a work in progress since I was 18. I looked at articles written for webzines and friends' websites. I found a chat transcript from 2002 where W. and I were attempting to resurrect our '90s webzine; five years later, we're still talking about it.

I came away with a single happy thought: I found my voice around 2000. The voice hasn't changed, but the writing, I'd like to think, has become more fully realized and complete. And the voice is one of wryness, honesty, rapidfire wit, passion, a "screw it, I'm going to say this, and people can take it in whatever way they want" mentality, a little precious, maybe too much in love with being clever.

I miss writing. Specifically, I miss the luxury of time + energy + inspiration that jumpstarted the flow. Looking over my past work last night has relit the fuse. I've a book in me yet. Or, I'll collect my various bits and bobs and label it a collection of my best of.

Friday, July 06, 2007

why I love the peeps at America's Test Kitchen

Today's e-mail newsletter had this wonderful, genius tidbit of advice:

KITCHEN ADVICE: Leak-Free Ice Cream Cones
The real tragedy of a dripping ice cream cone isn't the mess, but the loss of the last little bit of ice cream. One solution to a leak-free cone is to create a barrier between the melting ice cream and the cone tip. Two kid-friendly obstructions are an upside-down Hershey's Kiss and a mini marshmallow.

Brilliance, I tell you. Sheer brilliance!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

snapshot: today's iPod playlist of music for working girls

Feels Like Home | Norah Jones
Corinne Bailey Rae
Poses | Rufus Wainwright
Plans | Death Cab for Cutie
various NPR Fresh Air and Music podcasts
The Mix-Up | Beastie Boys

Monday, July 02, 2007

parlez-vous français?

I am pleased to report that one of Z's favorite songs right now is "Sympathique" by Pink Martini. Lyrically, I think it's about ennui; my French skillz are less than poor, so I'm not the most reliable translator. There is something about smoking: "Et puis je fume". But the tune is catchy so we sing the song phonetically in the car and call it a day.

In related news, O has a huge aversion to Prince in all of his incarnations. Any Prince or The Artist Formerly Known As Prince song elicits shrieks of dismay and protests. And a general, emphatic "no!"

Friday, June 29, 2007

to the left, to the left

I'm listening to Beyonce singing "Irreplaceable"*. It is a sterling example of a pop song done right. Catchy melody, girl power theme, kicking bad boyfriend to the curb - what else does one need?

The premise of the song is interesting. Seems that Beyonce's man has been misbehaving - "Because you was untrue/Rolling her around in the car that I bought you" - and he's a kept man to boot. She's kicking him out of her house, taking back all the gifts, telling him, "I can have another you in a minute/Matter fact, he'll be here any minute."


Despite all the tough chick posturing, she allows one moment of vulnerability: "So since I'm not your everything/How about I'll be nothing/Nothing at all to you?" That's why we fall in love; we want to be the center of the universe, the locus of our lover's life. And when we fall out of orbit, it's a disorienting feeling. We feel betrayed, unwanted, insecure. We reach the crossroads: do we continue with this person for whom we fell so deeply, or do we roll the dice and find another?

The trade-off for high passion and the rush of being with someone new is tending a slow burning and oftentimes unexciting flame. Let's be honest - relationships are hard work. Otherwise, you wouldn't see as many people giving up as you do. But there are times when something has run its course, and we need to be intuitive enough to recognize it.

Then we can step off to the left and move on.

* yeah, I know this song was released ages ago. And it's still damn good.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

J'aime voyager.

I've got it in my head that my next off-the-beaten-track excursion should be to Montreal and Quebec City. Many good reasons to travel there exist for these destinations:

1. I've never been to Canada.

2. Chicago is not far from these cities - a two+ hour flight.

3. I can pretend I'm in France.

4. The subway system in Montreal seems efficient and a good way to get around.

5. I need to get more stamps in my passport.

6. It's not terribly expensive overall. Unless I choose to make it so.

7. It would be a recon mission to explore the possibilities of dual citizenship in case I need to flee the US.

I should take a crash course in traveler's French just for fun. If nothing else, learning the correct pronunciation of various words will make it easier to order something with, say, beurre blanc sauce at a schmancy restaurant.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

today's car conver

Z: I'm the sun! Mommy, you're a cloud.

me: I'm a cloud?

Z: yeah, and O is a cloud too!

me: okay, so you're the sun, and O and I are clouds. Gotcha.

Z: and Daddy is the rain!*

No, I don't know what this all means either.

* D-Money's brilliant quote re: post: "Every Mommy has a silver lining and into every life a little Daddy must fall."


Z is now getting into the habit of saying "I love you" at spontaneous moments. I thoroughly encourage this. When she gets to be of a certain age, the ability to say "I love you" without reservation to the love[s] of her life will be crucial.

I didn't grow up in an emotionally open household; to this day I repress a lot of things that I shouldn't. It's plain unhealthy. This is one thing that I don't want to bequeath to my children. The repression, I think, keeps me from being completely emotionally involved in relationships. True intimacy is very scary. When I've tried to be more open with my feelings, I've been shot down, ridiculed, dismissed. And that makes me even more angry and withdrawn and disinclined to be deeply and truly involved.

But what I can do is not let this manifest in my kids. I've horrified myself by hearing the words "That's not a big deal, stop crying" come out of my mouth. Why not just say, "Whatever you're feeling is unimportant"? Same effect, no? I freely admit it's an ass pain to be endlessly patient, infinitely understanding, but I see in Z now that approaching problems with logic and compassion goes much further than saying "Because I said so." She's a fabulous little girl and goddamnit, I'm not going to hinder her emotional development in any way.

I don't let a day go by without saying "I love you" to each of them. Maybe I overcompensate by kissing and hugging them all too much. But I've never know a kid their ages to turn down a kiss and a hug. Somehow, I'm doing something right.

Monday, June 25, 2007

the happy prince

I've had a couple of days this past week with some heavy-duty mama and son time. I don't spend nearly as much time with O as I should because Z lays first claim to my free time constantly.

On one of the days, he had some 24-hour stomach bug that caused copious vomiting, and we spent the day at home recuperating. He wasn't that sick; he demanded a wagon ride around the block and enjoyed the sprinkler action on various lawns. I put him down for his nap and held his hand until he was nearly out. It's a special move that we have.

We had grandparents in town this weekend, and it was a whirlwind of food and activity. On Sunday, D-Money took Z down to Oak Park, where they were staying, so O and I trekked to the supermarket to get a few things. I broke one of my self-imposed cardinal rules and opened a bag of goldfish crackers so he could munch while we shopped. But he thoroughly enjoyed himself and was fascinated by the piles and stacks of seemingly endless food. Not once did he try to escape the cart - a new milestone.

The one thing I'm working on right now is weaning him from the milk bottle. He's ready. It's a bit of a wrench - though not as much as stopping breastfeeding - but he's been able to fall asleep without needing the bottle for the past several days. It's time.

So now I'm without a baby in the house. After three years, it's an odd feeling. Sad, but liberating. No more dragging of huge tote bags filled with baby paraphenalia - back to normal-sized, cute handbags for mom. No more double stroller - both kids demand to walk or run amok. No more special baby food - O will eat everything from gnocchi to lobster.

Back to my happy prince - he's a good egg. A destructive, highly energetic, mischievous, charming egg, but a good one.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

these peeps are funny.

truly. go laugh at them. points if you can guess my connection to one of the hosts.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

a surreal moment

I took Z to a somewhat chichi kids' haircut place today. If you've never been to one of these places, they're usually stocked with toys, books, tvs playing kids' shows and video game consoles for the older child. The decor is whimsical Alice in Wonderland/fairy tale. So, a big hit with the mini set.

Anyway, we were walk-ins and hung out for a bit. We ended up watching a Wiggles segment, a wacky live action show from our Aussie friends. A musical number came up involving pirates and dancing, and the first line of the song sounded familiar. Very familiar. As the song progressed, I realized that it was "Six Months in a Leaky Boat", an old Split Enz song...which was confirmed by the appearance of a bemused Tim Finn playing guitar with the lead Wiggles guy.

Z was slightly riveted by the dancing pirates before wandering off elsewhere. I was completely riveted.

I have to say, though, that my favorite Split Enz song of all time is "I Got You".* Early Neil Finn [of Crowded House] songwriting. It's much simpler lyrically than his later work, but the darker undertone set against a cheery pop melody is very much in evidence.

*so many links in this post! To paraphrase a friend, I'm always peddling music for the greater good.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

favorite words







Thursday, June 14, 2007

songs that moved me today

Hallelujah / Jeff Buckley

Accidental Babies / Damien Rice

Sunday, June 10, 2007

what summer feels like

Sunday in the park

Hanging out in the park, surreptitiously sipping alcohol in plastic Solo cups and being nonchalant in front of cruising cops, enjoying the warm weather, watching people going about their business on bikes, tennis courts and softball fields, laughing, eating whatever everyone brings to the potluck, and watching other people set up the net and play badminton.

Summer is all about the total chill time. Summer weekends? Leave the watch and the Blackberry at home. Never be on time. De-accessorize. Libertad!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

best. night. ever.

photo by joel didriksen for

The day started off with seeing friends, eating cinnamon rolls and general fun 'n' games. Now I'm sitting here listening to Rufus Wainwright live in concert at the Gramercy Theater in NYC courtesy of NPR and the lovely peeps at WNYC. I really should spring for computer speakers; the one on the Mac Mini does not cut it.

RW is a lyricist in the old-fashioned sense - words structured in such a way that he says things quite plainly, but it hits you a second or two after you hear the line. He is heavily influenced by all that opera to which he listened between the ages of 14 and 24 [I think that's right], and that was it. No rock, no jazz, no folk. Just opera. Not only can he write circles around most, he sings with a whole lot of moxie and grace.

I can die happy right now.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

why blog?

I've never kept a diary in my life, save the time when I was eight and wrote about a crush I had on some older guy [he probably was 12 or thereabouts] in Chinese class and my mom naturally read the entry and subsequently gave me a lecture on love crap that to this day makes me go red. Mortification, my soul is yours.

Anyway. Being publicly anonymous has its advantages. I'm speaking to an unseen audience and thusly can be freer in what I want to say. [note: what is the sound of one hand clapping?] I'm not interested in competing with everyone else on Blogger and elsewhere. This is a haven for me and random friends stopping along the way. Some inside jokes, some catching up with the news from my front, some thoughts that generally have no place in everyday conver.

It's also a good place to experiment with turns of phrase, such as "mortification, my soul is yours." My everyday speech is decidedly more pedestrian. Then again, I can't go around talking like a weird 19th century grunge refugee either.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

awakening, part II

I'm now getting the itch to be outdoors, rather than indoors in a climate-controlled environment. Spending warm weekend afternoons lounging around the porch and backyard is contributing to my increasing flakiness. My eastward view looking over the Chicago River with representative buildings from every era - from the Lyric Opera building to the Sears Tower to shiny stainless and glass modern fare - doesn't help either.

I've never been much for the outside life. I am not a happy camper, literally; I prefer my nature bug-free and amenity-rich. Now I can sit in a swarm of gnats and not become too grossed out. Fat earthworms creeping slowly toward me is another matter entirely.

I'm even thinking about getting a bike (and those of you know me really well are thinking, "holy f***stacks! pang wants to get a bike!"), and I want one from these guys. Tell me that is not the best looking bunch o' bicycles you've ever seen. Give me the Townie in turquoise floral fade. And dang it, I want a basket in front.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

omigod, omigod, OMIGOD!

In August I'm going to two cool concerts: Rufus Wainwright at Ravinia and Crowded House at the House of Blues. I've seen the latter maybe three or four times since the early '90s before they disbanded. Hot damn!

Now my project for the summer is to coerce someone(s) into going with me since I bought pairs o' tix and there's the looming chance that D-Money won't be interested in either. Campaign starting in three, two,

We're also getting a group of ex-co-workers-who-are-still-fast-friends together for Lyle Lovett and k.d. lang at Ravinia later this month. That'll be an interesting crowd, and we'll be part of it.

I am a music dork. I should wave the hipster card and go to Pitchfork like a proper indie Gen-Xer, but why be so predictable, right?

Monday, June 04, 2007


Since we moved to Chicago, I feel as though I'd been living in a period of dormancy insofar as writing and other creative pursuits go. Now that the kids are less dependent and I've found a cool, new group of friends who are invigorating and awesome in so many ways, the sleeper is awakening. For a month, I've been trying to write something, no matter how short, every day. The blog counts. I viewed my sad posting history; I'm going to surpass 2005 and 2006 with posts from 2007 alone! And it's neat to see the files piling up in their special folder on the hard drive.

I'm still working on the resolutions. Again, what is September going to bring? I need to get working on that time machine.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm getting good at this camera phone stuff.

Today was a washout of a day in terms of social activities, so Zee and I walked down to the DQ for some icy cold goodness. I started messing around with the camera phone and took this groovy shot. I'm damn proud of myself. I wish I could've gotten more of her face, and less of mine, but still, not bad!

The DQ cone I got her was about as big as her head. It was allegedly a "small". Ha.

Friday, June 01, 2007

random moment no. 912

The minis having a "laughing party" - Zee's words - in the back seat of the station wagon during a supercraptastic commute home. I don't know what inspired the party, but I can report that there was chuckling, chortling, giggling, guffawing and full-on belly laughing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Instructions for Life

I've been meaning to put this up for some time. It's all over the net but hell, I always need reminding. Incidentally, it's really not by the Dalai Lama, contrary to popular belief.

  • Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  • When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
  • Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions.
  • Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  • Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  • Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  • When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  • Spend some time alone every day.
  • Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  • A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  • In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
  • Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
  • Be gentle with the earth.
  • Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
  • Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  • Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  • Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. [this one is too near and dear to my heart.]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

my favorite new saying, no. 2

"Engage the filter."

Otherwise known as, "Self edit! Self edit!"

Monday, May 28, 2007

calling child services

We had a big Memorial Day bash at the house today that was designed to capture everyone who didn't already have plans.

Children ranged from non-walking babies to strapping preschoolers. Nearly full nudity abounded. Mud and water play was rampant. Curious sipping of alcoholic beverages by toddler was witnessed, as was sidewalk chalk chomping. Many a child was passed out as the day drew to an end. Someone had scrawled a big "Thank You" with baby-drool covered chalk on the concrete walk. The grass was littered with food that even the rogue squirrels terrorizing the 'hood won't touch.

So all in all...success!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

so effing good

If you people haven't gotten your hands on a copy of Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky" yet, what the hell are you waiting for? GO DO IT NOW. For God's sake.

Plus, Tweedy lives near me. Nyah nyah nyah!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

i'm married to whom?

from the files of D-Money:

office conversation turned to who would play whom in a movie. D-Money's list, as decided upon by his staff, was:

  • Keanu Reeves (assumption that this is shameless ass-kissing, but personally, I wouldn't mind having a Keanu lookalike around the house.)
  • Ethan Hawke (spot on. When we first started hanging out together, he reminded me of a young EH, especially in "Before Sunrise".)
  • Steve Carell (hopefully based on his character in "The Office" and NOT character in "Little Miss Sunshine" - not so much of the gay aspect but more that living with the world's foremost Proust scholar would be insufferable)

Monday, May 21, 2007

welcome, mid-life crisis

2007 has been turning into a year of deep thought and decision making. It may have something to do with the impending 20th high school reunion for the class of 1987. [yikes!] It's in October, and I don't know if I want to go. Not because I don't think I can hold my own against former classmates, but because I don't feel the need to revisit a really crap time in my life.

I think a lot about my younger years. I know that we'd all like to go back to our 20s armed with the knowledge we've amassed since then, and we all know it's a seriously flawed construct. I for one am very glad not to be in my 20s anymore. It was a decade of very bad behavior, deep insecurity and terrible decisions. We used to mock the people who whined, "I need to find myself." You're right there, buddy. But a lot of us were lost, trying to straddle the line between being a kid and suddenly being a grown-up with little guidance. I applaud the people who had goals early on and achieved them, but I couldn't (and still can't) think past next Thursday without getting hives. You are not going to ever find me on a 40 under 40 list. But maybe, just maybe, I'll be a wise old guru to whom people go for sage advice. Sitting in my cozy cave on the top of an easily scaleable mountain. The walk to get to me will be pretty and verdant. I'd serve high tea - earl grey, those tiny sandwiches, lemon curd, scones.

The 30s thus far have been awesome. I can always beat myself up for not achieving more, but given my propensity for being noncommital, I've done okay. I can't complain.

So, the 40s will most definitely kick ass! The kids will be older, and we'll do a lot more traveling. If we're lucky, we can take one trip a year, to cool places like London, Shanghai, Sydney. I suppose we should do the Mt. Rushmore road trip thing too. And the Grand Canyon.

It's all about not being static, but changing and going with the flow. I read somewhere that your destiny (if you believe in destiny) is always the same; the journey to get there is the process that's subject to change.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

the book pile

I have no business buying any more books because the current pile of unread, untouched goodness now includes:

Special Topics in Calamity Physics/Marisha Pessl
Cloud Atlas/David Mitchell
The Omnivores' Dilemna/Michael Pollan
Dreams from My Father/Barack Obama
Toast/Nigel Slater
What is the What/Dave Eggers
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle/Barbara Kingsolver
Arthur & George/Julian Barnes

And I just ordered a signed 1st of Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" (because I love him) and Haruki Murakami's "After Dark". I am going to become the crazy old woman who is crushed to death by piles of unread literature.

Let's not forget the last two Harry Potters AND the new one coming out in July that I've already pre-ordered. Come on, it's a landmark event! The kids will inherit those anyway (except for the special first edition Bloomsbury hardcover. That one will end up on Antiques Roadshow one of these years.). Oh, how I like to justify the addiction.

Someone, please, tell me to stop. But not really.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

the nicest thing anyone's ever written about me

I was poking around on Friendster - nice that I haven't looked at it since 2003 and forgot about it. So I updated my profile slightly. And saw Kennedy's comment:

Amy is smart, creative, pretty, and has a
wonderful smile. But don't let that fool you.
She will kick your ass if you get on her bad
side, and you'll be all "what the..." and she'll
be all "that's right, bee-yatch!!"

I heart ya! Mwah!

Monday, May 14, 2007

separation anxiety

I was in California for a work-related trip - the first I've taken since leaving my job in L.A. It was easier then: throw everything into a suitcase, pick up trashy reads at Hudson News and shut off the brain when in flight. Now that there are kids in the equation, factor in coordination of husband's schedule, draft menu for days gone, make copious amounts of food so there's no excuse for not addition to all the post 9/11 alert issues and remembering to wear socks and shoes because otherwise you're going barefoot through the security gate.

I admit to having mild, concealed panic attacks on the cab ride to the airport. Not that I don't trust my children's father to take adequate care of them, but I've been so attached to them from day one that it felt as though they were being ripped from me. I bitch all the time about their demanding little natures but at the end of the day, I'm the mama.

It was good to be away and to have a sweet reunion. Zee hugged me, and O gave me the stinkeye before bursting into tears. Though I don't know if he was overwhelmed with emotion or peeved about his poopy diaper.

On a lighter note, my new favorite band no one's ever heard of: "C'mon" is perfect for warm weather listening. Sort of a mishmash of Brit pop and Third Eye Blind. Whatever. I like them.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

home, sort of

We were in San Francisco on a family visit and neighborhood vetting tour recently. You can't go home again, but, seeing the city from an expat's perspective, I understand now why people enjoy living there, despite the cost of living (though you can argue that London and Tokyo would be worse).

What I loved:
- Considerably less traffic than I expected. Now, we drove during non-commuting hours and stayed in a residential neighborhood, but not once did I get the blood boiling sensation I get in Chicago or L.A.
- Great food can be found in holes-in-the-wall for very reasonable prices
- California chill-out attitude
- The cool little playground the kids and I frequented almost every day while we were there
- Dogs everywhere
- All of the renovations going on in Golden Gate Park. The massive Children's Playground at the east end is getting some groovy stuff in. If they still had the equipment that I used to climb on 30 years ago, I would be concerned.

What I didn't love:
- The insularity of the natives (best place to live according to you)
- The pushing out of lower income residents
- Ugly residential architecture
- Goofy public school lottery system
- Overall lack of diversity from a socioeconomic standpoint

That being said, I'd still want to move back if given the chance.

my favorite new saying

"Stupid should hurt."

Go on, spread the love!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

what lives in the grass

Yesterday’s commuting conversation between me and the three year old:

Zee: Mommy, do you know what lives in grass?

Me: Hmmmm…worms? Worms live in grass?

Zee: No. Flowers!

Me: Right, flowers. Flowers live in grass. You’re absolutely right.


Zee: Doggie poo poo lives in grass, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

i dig my new job

I started a new job last Monday. Without giving away too much, I am writing and coordinating proposals for an E/A firm. It's corporate, but it's good corporate, meaning that there's a genuine desire to maintain a work/life balance and people generally are well-intentioned.

Ten years ago, I would've thought this was too square of a place to work. Having worked for "cutting edge" firms, I can say that, yeah, I landed in a good place. The problem with being cutting edge is that there is constant, unrelenting pressure to be cutting edge all the damn time. You can't. You just can't. But a lot of people think you can, and therein lies the problem. I'll take less stress in a less glam industry, thank you. I'm treated well, am respected by co-workers, have access to free coffee and water, leave at 5 p.m. and have the option of bringing the laptop home if I need to...not a shabby trade-off at all.

In other news, we're gearing up for our weeklong trip to SF. We've already got a full schedule - brunch here, birthday party there, dinner over that way. I'm looking forward to exploring my hometown with the minis. Not that they'll remember too much, but in a way, I'm sharing my experience as a kid with them.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

M to the c to the D

I'll admit we are McDonald's patrons, a little more frequently than I like. A franchise is literally around the corner from our house, next to the Dairy Queen. The fast food temptation is a daily battle.

Our default purchases are:

    D-Money - Royale with Cheese meal with a Coke

    Zee - Chicken McNugget Happy Meal with apple juice and apple dippers.

    Mr. O - Filet o' Fish, with most of the tartar sauce wiped off. I kid you not. He'll also help himself to some of my fries, as does Zee.

    me - Big Mac meal with a Coke. Love that special sauce!

Friday, March 02, 2007

the vocabulary of a 17 month old boy

Our Mr. O has been diligently expanding his vocabulary. Below is a current list of favorite words.

    snuh = snow

    snah = snack

    nana = banana, also a code word for "give me something that's good 'n' tasty to eat because I will expire from hunger in three seconds if you don't"

    baba = bottle, of course. Can also be code for "sippy cup"

    meh = milk

    da = downstairs, also "what's that?", also an all-purpose term for anything for which we don't know the word yet

    Mah! = Max, the name of one of our cats

    Mah! = Coco, the name of the other cat

    Cah! = cat

    mama = mama

    dada = daddy

    duhduh = Zee

    Duh! = duck

    Cuh! = cow

    aaaaaaarrrrrrrr = growling sound, can be related to polar bears, lions, tigers or bears in general. Occasionally related to pirates.

    Dun! = done, as in "I'm done with dinner. I'll throw it on the floor if you don't clear my placesetting fast enough...oops, you're too late."

    boh = book

    baf = bath

    No! = No!

Monday, February 26, 2007

i'm now a kids' tv connoisseur

Zee and I are into a new show called "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!". The animation is reminiscent of the Powerpuff Girls. The stories are silly and good-natured with a soundtrack of feel-good-about-yourself pop which reminds me of the music you find on the original Scooby Doo cartoons as well as The Monkees.

The minis are also fans of "Jack's Big Music Show". A lot of the music seems to be written and performed by alt-music peeps who had kids somewhere along the way, or have encountered kids in a big way. Mostly pop, again, though I saw one hip hop-ish video at some point. How can you not like a show where Jon Stewart makes a guest appearance playing a reporter who is trying to interview a groundhog in honor of Groundhog's Day?

Top 5 Kids' Shows at the House

  • Wow! Wow! Wubbzy
  • Jack's Big Music Show
  • The Wonder Pets
  • Pingu
  • Thomas & Friends (because we all need a little Anglican instruction once in a while)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

today's question

Pirates or ninjas?

No, I'm not telling you the answer.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

the sort of e-mail that

makes you feel like you're missing something. From a good friend who's going to grad school right now:

"I went to Iceland last week for four days with my studio, and had a
wonderful time there exploring the place and generating ideas for our
theoretical music venue."

Shouldn't I be the one who's writing that e-mail to everyone? Where did I go wrong?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

when did I become such a sap?

Two of the most beautiful people I know - I'm talking full-package, all-around, inside and outside beautiful - just welcomed the birth of their second son and sent a Quicktime movie to all of us. I sat, watching and trying not to weep loudly, as the tiny one kicked, stretched and made newborn mouth movements. He has an older brother who's a couple weeks shy of 16 months old and who's also a beautiful, sweet little man.

This movie nearly sealed the deal for me having a third kid. Almost.

Monday, February 12, 2007

more clothing I will never wear, no matter how trendy it is

1. Neither skinny jeans nor leggings.
2. Any kind of tiered skirt, short or long.
3. Camisoles as outerwear.
4. Satin baseball style jackets.
5. Giant furry hats.

Friday, February 02, 2007

My Generation X has been searching for ways to differentiate itself in the parenting arena. You have your hipsters, queen bees and wannabees, the new radical stay-at-home movement for both dads and moms, the "why can't we be it all" post punk/goth baby disco contingent and a whole host of ways to differentiate oneself from the "typical" parent of the boomer and previous generations. We fight against overscheduling kids, jockeying for the one spot at the coveted school while pitching in to make the urban public school system work and eschew crass commercialism.

I've seen posts on not allowing kids to listen to crap pop music and banning branded merchandise. There are onesies emblazoned with snide witticisms and political stances. Any trendy piece of adult clothing can be had in mini. I am guilty in putting Zee in the Gap's "skinny jeans". Well, folks, they were on sale, and she's skinny - part of the 10th percentile club, dontcha know.

At the end of the day, are we any different? Does our dogmatic hipster, or what have you, attitude make us any better than the far right or overambitious parents who were molded in the '80s?

Even more so than the boomers, we want to maintain our individuality. In the end, we're all the same - hopessly in love with our spawn and wanting nothing but the best experience for them.

lofty goals

Even though I know better, I like checking my horoscope to see how often coincidence comes into play. This list contains my personal sign's resolutions for the year:

1) Allow true intimacy into your romantic relationships.

2) Open up your friendships to deeper trust.

3) Let new, fiery acquaintances enter your life in time to motivate you.

4) In September, your creativity will reach its peak, in time for you to resolve to accept any opportunity to make your hobby your work.

5) Allow yourself to believe in yourself - as much as others do.

I am completely fascinated by #4, namely because I don't have any hobbies per se.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

sad = not happy

From a recent conver with Zee:

"Mommy?" [said in a small, dramatically quiet and emotion-laden voice]

"Yes, baby."

"I'm sad."

"Why are you sad?"

"Because I'm not happy anymore." [said in a matter-of-fact, yet mildly petulant and accusing manner]

There is a philosophical school of thought for this, though I can't think of it right now.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mr. O's no longer the big cheese.

Mr. O has graduated from the infant to toddler room at daycare. Shocking news for him - he's no longer the big dude, and there are GIRLS in his room. His infant room was a bastion of testosterone for a year. Yet he learned how to blow kisses. He was a little put out by the transistion at first, but perks such as getting his own little chair and eating Cheerios with a spoon have won him over.

In related news, Zee was holding hands with one of the young men in her classroom, and they were running around and laughing maniacally when I went to pick her up. They were partners in a Go Fish tournament, and they must've done well. Her father is not pleased.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Mr. O has some malady whereby his symptoms include not eating and general crabbiness. I have even asked him, rhetorically, "What. Do. You. Want?!" No response but wailing. There is nothing so frustrating in the world as a screaming child who can't quite communicate in complete sentences what the problem is. Hugs were no good. Offerings of graham crackers and bananas were met with an emphatic "no" via head shaking.

We'll ride it out, but this is one of those times where a magic cure-all elixir would be very helpful.

Friday, January 12, 2007

one of the better stories I've told my kids

We took the Christmas tree down last Saturday and took it over to the park for recycling. Everyone should do this. If you can get a tree in the house, you can take it to a recycling center.

D-Money was able to sneak it out without arousing suspicion. But keen-eyed Zee immediately noticed something was amiss when she walked into the living room.

"Mommy, where's the tree?"

"Daddy took it back to the forest."


"Because the tree lives in the forest and wants to go back to see its friends."


"We'll see the tree again next Christmas."


A bit of a lie but I don't think I can adequately explain recycling to a three year old. The fault is with me.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007