Friday, May 24, 2013


Within all the mommy blogs and parenting ilists I devour, there's this common debate around things that are difficult. And, since competition is evidently just as inherent in adults as our littles, it's tricky not to read it all and avoid taking sides. Some days, according to those in the weeds, being a stay-at-home mom is mentally draining, exhausting and ceaselessly challenging. Other mornings it's the working crew that has the toughest beat: juggling making lunches, planning dinners and handling the emotions of drop-offs and pick-ups nestled between conference calls and quarterly performance reviews.

I wear both hats.

And honestly, I think both sides are equally true.

But that's not the point. Ultimately, regardless of what defines you -- as a parent -- the same tricky situations, melt-downs, and lovely snippets will punctuate your day. What's becoming more and more clear, as my kids grow and tempt and explore, is that our attitude is what cements everyone's experience.

Thing is, while theoretically a flooded bathroom is pretty easily cleaned up and leaving five minutes later than planned really has zero impact on the rest of the morning, when you're in the moment, it's easier to see that one, little measly tree than the beautiful forest. And just like playing dominos on a perfectly waxed hardwood floor, when one black-dotted, white rectangle begins to tremble and ultimately crash, the rest will definitely follow.

So the lesson?

Back to basics: spilled milk shouldn't result in tears and handed-down lemons have amazing culinary properties.

Focus on now. This minute. Today. And don't worry so much about messes, piles of laundry or mud-streaked tiles. There's always time to clean.

But playing in the sun is way more fun.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


It's completely dirty. Covered in pollen from our flowering pine trees, streaked dust on the passenger side door, 'Curtis' outlined in old grime, his first official graffiti -- which as an aside, I clearly let slide since he so aptly spelled his own name, even the tricky 'r' perfectly legible.

But that's just the outside.

Inside is a bizarre yet somehow kid-comforting conglomeration of discarded Cheerios and gummies, playground woodchips and beach sand, and -- for some unknown reason -- mis-matched long-forgotten shoes. If you peek between the front seats, you'll probably see the remnants of an old cheese stick, bubblegum wrappers and scraps of paper with doodles and scribbles which, to a 3-year-old, clearly depict monkeys and rocket space ships.

The front dash has Easter's slightly lopsided art project and one of three 'driving to school' CDs currently in rotation.

And the cupholders, their original function long since forgotten, contain all kinds of edible remnants, cool stick fragments and special rocks that for obvious reasons can never be tossed and must always remain -- just in case we need them one day.

Meet my car. My lovely, messy, and usually a bit stinky child-preferred mode of transportation.

It's been cleaned. And detailed. And expertly vacuumed -- once, the car seat covers were actually removed and -- gasp! -- laundered and dried.

But mere hours later, or so it seems, we are back to status quo. And honestly, we -- the kids and I -- like it that way. We like knowing we're never too dirty after an afternoon at the park to worry about creating new Nissan messes. We find coziness and comfort in the slight old-sock smell that is forever perpetuated by two pairs of feet that can never seem to keep shoes, or socks, on after a long day at preschool. And we plainly adore that no matter where we are headed, we can usually find some hidden treasure within its grimy depths to entertain us.

Pappa's car on the other hand, is spotless. And while not nearly as charming as my tried and true shuttle, it definitely has its own appeal.

Especially on date night.

Thursday, May 09, 2013


When you come crashing down the hillside on your scooter, reeling at the turn, skidding to a stop right before the curb, I appear calm.

When the swing is mere millimeters from flipping upside down, your laugh echoing through the trees, I am the epitome of serenity.

When you "drop in" with the 20-year-olds at the skate park, I blink momentarily, waiting for the cry, the scream of terror -- which never materializes -- and I exude peace.

When you run, run, run out the back door, jumping over rocks and stones, climbing a much-too-skinny tree, yelling out 'look at me', I applaud, beaming outwardly.

But on the inside. Oh my. On the inside I cringe, I squirm and I hold my breath.

And then I remember:

This. This is life as a mother to boys. Who yell and shout and lunge and revel in anything remotely dangerous.

And so I prescribe myself a daily dose of "they're fine" and "don't react" -- and continue to watch and marvel at the stunts which so effortlessly punctuate our afternoons. And mornings. And evenings.

Love you guys. Even if you do make my heart skip a couple of beats.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Best Fish Tacos. Ever.

A few months ago, we took a fantabulous two-family five-day trip to Palm Springs. Four adults, and four boys, six and under. We played. We swam. We jacuzzi-ed. In the evenings we took turns cooking: chicken nuggets, pasta, tuna salad with crackers and sliced cheese for the minions.

For us: expertly-prepared and divinely seasoned steak, fresh fruits and salads, and fish tacos the most deliciously moist, cilantro-fied and lime-kissed halibut tacos I have ever eaten. 

Normally, I don't write down recipes. At best, I half-guess cups and tablespoons and simply throw in dashes of herbs and pinches of flour, tasting as I go, ultimately ending up with a delicious result, but never exactly the same as a previous iteration. But these were so so good. 

Hence, for posterity's sake, le recipe, courtesy of my lovely friend, Flour Girl Wedding Cakes.

salt & pepper
1 bunch cilantro
2 or 3 limes
3 or 4 cloves garlic
olive oil

Cut halibut into bite-sized pieces and throw in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Zest one lime and squeeze the juice of the others over the fish. Chop the cilantro, and add to the bowl. Mince or press the garlic, toss it with the fish and other goodies then generously drizzle with olive oil. Marinate for 2-5 hours in fridge. When ready to devour, throw in sizzling skillet until nice and yummy! Serve in tortillas (obviously) with guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, more squeezed limes and hot sauce.

Monday, May 06, 2013


"We're not helping raise children -- we are helping raise adults."

Teacher Beth delivered that, as well as a few other eye-opening lines -- during preschool graduation last week. Her point wasn't that kids can't be kids. On the contrary, with 30 years of guiding little ones under her belt, she truly understands the crazy fun and delirious wildness inherent in being under the age of six.

The focus, which despite the crying babies and mumbled "be quiets" from the parents actually trying to listen, was rather on being consequent. True. And consistent. On delivering clear guidelines and sound principles and exemplifying that manners and kindness and an attitude of respect-your-elders still very much applies today. 

All parents know, this is no easy feat. We have fantastic days when time-outs are applied fairly and calmness exudes, even during the most trying moments. And then there are those other little blips. The ones that keep you, as a parent, awake late into the evening and the ones that result in unappealing "what ifs" and "shoulds" and perfectly crystalline hindsight.

Despite knowing that nobody is perfect, least of all those of us trying to herd little guys onto a positive and productive path, it's still so important to remember that being a responsible adult doesn't mean you're perfect. 

It does mean that you should have an open mind. A willingness to listen. And the honesty to admit that while love can certainly conquer a lot -- it takes more than that to teach your kids how to live, laugh and grow.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A First: Graduation

Dearest Curtis:

Wow. Just about three years ago, we dressed you in a preppy white, collared shirt and plaid shorts as you entered your first morning as a 'Woolie' with Teacher Maria. You learned how to count to 15, the alphabet song and how to get dressed 'all by myself.' We traded diapers for Super-hero underroos and -- despite your Mamma's initial protests -- cut off those blonde baby curls so you could apply hair gel in the morning, just like Pappa.

A few months later, you left the cozy confines of that tiny room and moved on to daily circle times with Teacher Brooke, shorter naps (yes!) and a more rigorous curriculum. You cherished being the daily 'special helper' -- mostly because this meant organizing the lunch bags, being first in line and getting to peek out the window and meteorolgically declare the weather to the rest of the class.

And now, here we are today. You're 5-and-a-half. You're tall, confident and funny. Athletic and a genius Lego builder. You've spent a full year with Teacher Franca, mastering how to spell your name, draw all kinds of insects -- spiders being a favorite subject -- and in your outdoors-oriented mind, there's never a day when it's too cold to wear a T-shirt. 

Your friends adore you. Your teachers see you as a true leader. And your little brother knows he is incredibly lucky to have you in his corner, always.

Pappa, Axel and I are so proud of you. And we can't wait to see what's next.