Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't Make It Like I'm The Only One

Those of us who are honest about ourselves, will 'fess up to our strange, quirky rituals and eccentricities.

If we're honest.

I'll get the confessional ball rolling first, at Aiming Low, where I go public, with the weirdosities that make us the beautiful unique one-in-a-million being we are.

Come share your list, at Aiming Low, where mediocre is what we do best. 

The Trinity Complex

We have three children, a boy who is ten, and two older boys: 15 and 17 years old. This past weekend, after the boys worked as hard as my husband with the mulch and the wheelbarrow and the spades and the rock moving outside, I knew it was time.

After a dinner of three hamburgers each, a gallon of lemonade, and two packages of Ore-Ida curly fries, I made up my mind. They were man enough. Definitely man enough. I turn to them at the table and ask in a low voice along with a direct unwavering gaze,

You guys ever hear of a movie, Matrix?

Yeah, they say, I think so.

Know anything about it?

It's in the future or the past, or the future that looks like the past. Like Steam Punk. Robots take over and it's all grey and dirty like industrial London.

Well, it's my favorite movie of all time, and tonight, my children, we are going to see it.

I walk to the living room, I silently kneel in front of the shelf where we keep John Gray's Children Are From Heaven and William Bennett's The Book of Virtues. I reach behind and pull out the DVD of the greatest kick ass movie of all time.

I can barely talk when I think of that movie.

When I saw it for the first time, I dreamed, for days, that I was Trinity. I have made it through the toughest situations in my life by being Trinity. The leather bracelet around my wrist is stamped WWTD.

When Matrix hit the theaters in 1999, my poor husband had to endure my round house kicks to his butt and karate chops to his throat as I roamed around our house, hiding behind corners, in black wrap-around Neo sunglasses and a duster coat. If I could have squeezed my pregnant body into liquid latex back then, I would have.

If you have no idea who Trinity is, or who I'm talking about, well, I don't want to stop being your friend over it or anything, but still ... Just. Watch. Her:

The only thing wrong with that clip is that it needs to be about eight times longer.

With the DVD in my hand, I take a deep breath. There is no tip-toeing to the edge of the cliff with this movie. Seeing Matrix is a full blast all engines wide open leap and no going back.

Get ready, boys.

Yeah, whatever mom.

Silence. For the entire length of the movie. (yup) Afterward, fully satisfied, I turn to my offspring, hopeful -- looking at those faces that are so much like mine it makes me ache to share everything with them. Every time.

Well? I ask. Best damn movie or what?

And as if out of some picture perfect world where all dreams come true, my boys jump up, grab black sunglasses and my husband's rain coat and start beautifully spin kicking the air and trying for somersaults.

If there was ever any doubt before, there no longer is now: I lead a charmed life.


**Can't get enough of my parenting style? Follow my weekly parenting column, at milwaukeemoms.com

Sunday, May 27, 2012

For Those Buried At Arlington Cemetery

I remember visiting Arlington Cemetery earlier this year and telling Suzy Soro about it. She told me something that left me with goosebumps. Her father is buried at Arlington, and right before they lay a soldier to rest, the flag that has draped their coffin is lifted off and ceremoniously folded twelve times by six honor guards; three on each side of the casket. Then, while kneeling on one knee, an honor guard presents the flag, stars pointing upward, to the family, with these words, "On behalf of a grateful nation."

For Memorial Day, I can think of no better post to read in honor of those who served, than the one here today:

From Suzy Soro, "My father is buried at Arlington Cemetery ..."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

And I'd Do It All Over Again

Mother's Day 2012. Not that long ago.

To be celebrated for what we are and what we do is one of life's sweet moments.

And the loving care that goes into our specially chosen Mother's Day gifts ... I have been left speechless.

Especially this year, and if you stop by Aiming Low, you'll see why.

My post today, Mother's Day Recap, 2012.

Really, kids, I'm so not worthy.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Because The Moth Wanted To Know

I was with some big city folk last week, who were here in Milwaukee for TheMoth On The Road, a national live story telling series based out of NYC. As we sat passing the time before the show, conversation turned to asking what my plans would be for the coming weekend.

I let them know, "same as any other person's in Wisconsin."

City Mice:  "So, what will you do then?"

Country Mouse:  *repeating question back, in true Wisconsin style* "Me? What will I do this weekend? I'll be doing what everyone else in Wisconsin will be doing on a late May weekend: restocking the fridge with cheddar and having my rummage sale."

City Mice:  "Is that like a yard sale?"

Is it like a yard sale -- how do I even be-GIN to answer that. It is so much more than like a yard sale, garage sale, tag sale, odd-n-ends sale, estate sale, flea market, swap meet.

A rummage sale is, in its most beautiful form: sociological entertainment. Call your bestie, pour the coffee, pull up two lawn chairs, and have at it with the people-watching and whispering as you identify the rummage sale types.

City Mice:  "So, do you make any money?"

Country Mouse:  "Do I make any money? I just shove it in an envelope. With three kids, I just want to clear my house out and once it's out of the house it's not going back in -- what I don't sell, I pack up and drive to a Goodwill donation center. No, the money is just a fringe benefit. I do it for the people that come."

How does someone explain that it's the past time of sitting in your driveway and being an expert in the art of rummageology that you look forward to.

To sit and identify the Early Bird, the Cut Throat, the Price Tag Switcher, the Hoarder, the Snubber, the Yard Sale Addict, the Cheap Mom, the Yapper, the ReSeller, the Swap Meet of His Own Coming Up, the Professional, the Casual, the Haggler, the Negotiator, the Distracter, the Nosy Neighbor, the Lean Out The Car Window Scoper, the Scout, the Nothing Smaller Than a Hundred, the Appraiser, the Trained Eye, the Five Finger Discounter, the Antiques Roadshow Hopeful; that's where the fun is.

It's all of that. And at the end of the day, being able to take everyone out for pizza with the dollars you've made after your closets have been filtered down, to talk about the woman in the black wool coat and even blacker head scarf on a 90 degree day who went crazy over your gallon size plastic bag full of baby socks, $5 for the whole bunch: priceless.

And that's how we do it, in Wisconsin. Pass the cheddar and don't look now but I think I see a Yapper coming.

"Yah, hey...I said 25 cents EACH not 25 cents ALL...cripes."
Flickr cc

**To learn more about the amazing interesting live story telling of The Moth, click here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

When "Good Morning" Leaves You Stumped For An Answer

In Wisconsin, we have this habit.

When you ask us a question, we can't answer it until we repeat it back to you first, like this:

Out-of-Towner: "Excuse me, where is the nearest restaurant?"

Wisconsinite: "The nearest restaurant? You want to know where that is?"

Don't believe me? Try it. Call any area code in Wisconsin and when the person answers, say, "I'm sorry, did I call the wrong number?"

You'll hear this back: "Did you call the wrong number?"

When all is going well in our lives, we can answer simple questions within the snap of a finger. But in some situations, like a nasty hanging-on-to-sanity-by-your-fingernails case of Post Partum Depression, just a "Good Morning! How are you?" can leave you with your mouth open, drooling, stuck for an answer. 

I'm visiting Kim of All Work and No Play today, who was named a Top 25 Post Partum Depression blog, while she recuperates from surgery. She's got her hands full taking care of her two-year-old baby boy and healing. I've prepared a primer of *Quick-N-Ready* responses for those days when you can't string three words together.

Stop over at Kim's where you can clip and paste this so handy you can keep it in your diaper bag copy of "The Guide To Social Responses, For the days you’re having trouble putting three words together."

Hope to see you here.

Beautiful Kim with Chunky


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Moth, Me, Molly Ringwald, and Quail Eggs

I sat next to the endearing Molly Ringwald during dinner last night, watching her eat delicate quail eggs, and listening to a table full of people who fascinated me with their love of stories, of life, of the joy of connection.

I was with them because I'm going to be part of the cast of The Moth On The Road, with their show stop here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The show is tonight and I am walking on air.

What is The Moth?

“It is brilliant and quietly addictive” – The London Guardian

“New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket” – The Wall Street Journal

The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.

Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience.

Moth stories dissolve socio-economic barriers, expose vulnerabilities, and quietly suggest ways to overcome challenges and see with new eyes.

This is straight from The Moth website.

I can tell you that, yes, The Moth is brilliant and addictive. I've spent hours watching the story tellers, people like you and me, on their youtube channel, mothstories. I've spent hours listening to the stories called in by regular people like us, to The Moth's pitch line.

This past November, at 1:00 a.m., I decided to call in my story, a 60 second pitch, to their site. In January of this year, The Moth emailed me asking for more background on my original pitch. In February,  I said yes when they asked me if I'd like to join their cast when they bring their show to Milwaukee.

Tonight, at The Pabst Theatre, The Moth takes it show on the road, leaving NYC to bring more stories to more people. They will be hosting a two hour show of stories, the kind that you get lost in. Like when you were a kid ... riveting stories that leave you feeling like you've known the person in front of you for a lifetime.

That is the art of The Moth ... helping us see that a life is never just a life.

Tonight's theme is Past Tense, Future Perfect: Stories about Generations. Molly Ringwald is headlining. Amazing story tellers will be there with me, like Ophira Eisenberg, Anthony Giglio, Ed Gavagan, and Charles Pugh.

I am the only local.

Yes, I can't believe this is my life, and while sitting at dinner last night with these incredibly generous, supportive people, I kept thinking: I want everyone I know to pitch their story to The Moth. I want them to listen to The Moth, to watch the stories on The Moth. To find out about the people they live with on this planet.

We all need each other, and by hearing our stories ... we get to know one another a little bit better.

" The Moth has presented thousands of stories told live and without notes to audiences across the USA. Now is your chance."

Take your chance. Tell them your story. Find yourself eating quail eggs with Molly Ringwald, learning about a boy following his passion of food through Anthony Giglio, hearing about the importance of a grandmother in the life of a young boy, as only Charles Pugh can tell it.

Do it.

*The Moth's Pitch Line: click the link*
**huge hugs of gratitude and love to The Moth's producers, who have shown me nurturing and encouragement all the way: Maggie Cino, Sarah Jenness, Meg Bowles, Catherine Burns, Kirsty Bennett. A special thank you to Joan Firestone, for her love of the human spirit.

To The Moth:  Thank you,  with gratitude deeper than I'd ever be able to express. Thank you.

**Tickets available through The Pabst Theatre box office.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Is There Ever A Nice Way To Say It?

I love orange. Orange is one of my favorite colors. It's beautifully warm and cheerful and looks great as an accent pillow.

But there is a time and a place for orange.

And splayed across your arse isn't one of them.

How to tell your BFF that those orange capris? Just not working for her.

My post today, how not to be part of a fashion crime, at AimingLow.  Where mediocre is what we strive for.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My feelings about SOPA

A True Confessions Post, Stolen (er, inspired) by Taming Insanity, because you know my feelings on SOPA (you can read about it here)

Dear Kids: Here Are Some Things From Your Youth That I Must Confess:

-I used to mix vitamins into your oatmeal

-I lied to you when I told you that I called ahead to McDonald's and they said they were out of fries for the day

-When we planted tiny individual skittles in the backyard, and the following week we dug up huge packages of them? They really did grow from the skittles we planted, no matter what that kid across the street said

-Dear kid across the street: I have no idea what happened to your favorite frisbee

-I lied to you when I said the best movies were rated G: for GOOD, and PG meant only PRETTY GOOD

-I told you that soy ice cream is just as deliciously creamy as Ice Cream Ice Cream and you can't even tell the difference. Wrong: big difference. HUGE.

-Root beer really only comes in one color: brown (the yellow stuff your dad drinks isn't root beer)

-In the winter when it got dark out earlier, and it seemed to you like bed time came right after supper, it did (6:00, 8:00, what's a couple of hours anyway)

-When you'd ask me to go fast on the freeway and I'd turn on the fans in the car to max, those really weren't our van's turbo engines

-The wrinkles on my face aren't because I didn't drink all my juice as a kid

-Your hermit crabs didn't run away to find a mate

-Your fish didn't jump into the sink to find a mate

-Your turtle didn't crawl down the bathtub drain to find a mate

-Your frog didn't hop out the patio door to find a mate

-I didn't read the How To Care For Your Pet books for all your animals (tap water = bad)

-The boy in The Giving Tree really is nice to his mother, I have no idea what edition book everyone else was reading to their kids

**There it is, my beautiful children, the ugly truth: warts and all. I stand fully confessed before you, no more lies. I'm so glad I was able to get this off my chest tonight, kids. Let's start over with a clean slate and sleep the deep sleep of a clear conscience. Now hurry upstairs and get to bed; now that you're older, I read somewhere that you need even more sleep. Like 14 hours minimum recommended for ages 10 through 11.


Desperate for more parenting tips? Follow my weekly column, at milwaukeemoms.com.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Listen To Your Mother Today

After celebrating Mother's Day with my wonderful boys and husband, I'll be heading out for what will be my annual treat: the Listen To Your Mother show in Madison, a national series of live readings by local writers created by Ann Imig. LTYM began with one show in Madison in 2010, grew to five shows in 2011, and excitingly played in ten cities in 2012. (That's in only THREE years ... are we hungry for this or what?)

And people are asking how they can bring even more Listen To Your Mother shows to their cities.

I was honored, thrilled, grateful, to be part of the 2011 Listen To Your Mother show cast. To say it changed my life is the understatement of the year.

This year, I sit back and see what it's like from the other side.

The Madison cast bios have me counting down the hours until I leave for the two hour drive there.

Believe me, you all will be hearing about today.

Love and luck to the incredible 2012 cast of  Listen To Your Mother.

And, Ann Imig? Look what you've gone and done. Given us the gift of connection in this 1,000 mph world.

Listen To Your Mother: an invitation to share in each other's lives.

*If you're even anywhere close to Madison this Sunday, you can't miss this show. Live readings that leave you breathless.*tickets available at the door, show's at 3:00.

2011 Cast of Listen To Your Mother/Madison

I wish a very Happy Mother's Day to you all. xo


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Best Diet In The World

Summer's coming and the shorts that look more like a belt and skirts that look more like a cut off rolled over waistband from a pair of yoga pants have hit the shelves.

And we're starting to feel the pressure to hit the gym and just say no to the eclair.

But I want a revolt. A revolt on the you-need-to-diet and you need to do it now.

Come join me, at Aiming Low, for the only pre-summer food plan I want to be on.

*since you've sworn off the KrispyKremes, could you pass it my way...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You Got Time For This

Found this through my teen son .... and now want it for my ringtone, and my iPod.

Worth the 1:57 of watching. (Though it'll be on repeat 15 more times) Ear Worm of the biggest magnitude.

Oh Lord Jesus there's a faaaaarrrr...

**Now that I've put all of you in such a toe tapping head bopping good mood, I hope you'll come visit me today at Kim Forde's place The Fordeville Diaries and yes, she's as cool as her name. Funny, snappy, clever woman. You'll love meeting her. She's celebrating her 40th, and I've sent her a birthdaygram, telling her Hush, now, it'll be all right. 

Really? Promise? I'll like 40?

Monday, May 7, 2012

We've Been Found Out

Somebody, after a special time together with their spouse this weekend, when they were feeling extra super close and intimate and confusing he is so my BFF with just he is my pal, confessed to their SO.

One of us out there leaned in close and whispered, "You know, honey, how when you call me from work and ask my how my day is and I say awful? Almost didn't survive. The twins just about did me in today. Can you stop on the way home and get take out?"



Some days, it's not that bad.
Some days, it's pretty good.

My friends come over.

And we have our coffee with Bailey's.

If it's after 12:00, we'll have the opened box of Franzia's in the fridge (more affordable and better for the environment), mixed with a little Mott's apple juice. It doesn't sound good, but it really is.

One day a few weeks ago, Cindy was over with some others for our Sports Equipment Acquisition Meeting and mixed too little of the Mott's with too much of the Zin, and I didn't have time to go to the store for cheese and crackers because I had to run back here after school drop off and clean the toilets before anyone came over, so there was the wine on the empty stomach and next thing you know she freaked out -- even though she was fine -- about having to leave and pick up her kids from school.

She forgot her Xanax that morning because she was in a hurry to get here, and so with the Franzia in combination with the no Xanax and no Cheddar she spun into this full huge panic attack -- have you ever seen one of those? -- and half of us had to stay with her and talk her off the ledge, and the other half of us split up and got her kids to piano, soccer, and swim.

Even though I personally think it was just low blood sugar, we decided not to let Cindy make her own wine-apple sippers anymore.

So, some days are pretty hard.
But some days really aren't that bad."
Yeah and Thank you for that Miss-Gets-Weak-In-The-Knees-By-A-Little-George-Clooney-Weekend Stubble. Now the cat's out of the bag.

Which is why there are these posters up on every single street corner of the subdivision this morning:

*24/7 Party Alert*

If you hear of a party about to happen under the guise of  "playdate" or "playgroup" or "book club" or "school fund raiser meeting," please call this number 26I-KNOW.

Ingestion of alcohol may be occurring.

Your call will be kept in confidence ... you may make it anonymously if you choose.

A family member will contact the homeowner, the party host and /or the appropriate responsible party without identifying the original caller.

Any of these parties under the cover of a legit activity has the potential to result in unweeded yards, garbage days being missed, frozen Encore for dinner, and unwalked dogs.

There may also be alcohol loosened lips resulting in gossip being spread that was sworn to secrecy, physical injury from ones thinking they can still dance to Flo Rida, and assault over someone outdoing another in their Bakasana crane pose.

This hotline is staffed Monday through Friday, from 9:00 - 3:00 PM.

PLEASE CALL and an appropriate chaperone will be dispatched to monitor the "Plant Sale Committee" in session.

Thank you.

*thanks and no thanks, you know who you are. We realize the flesh is weak, but still -- next time you find yourself wobbly weak in resistance to weekend time with your spouse, commit to zipping your lip first. And if you dare let in on why we actually go to Story Time [30 minutes alone, with People magazine] consider yourself alone, mixing your own Mott's Specials from now on. 

 Flickr via Photopin cc


Follow my weekly Parenting Column at milwaukee moms.com : "making life a little bit easier."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Legend In Your Kids' Minds

I don't mind bragging that I am a good storyteller.

My kids will be the first to tell you that no one can embellish and polish up a story the way I do.

Since the first night my husband and I brought each of those little babies home with us in their itty bitty buckets, we've been reading aloud to them. Not just word for word like anyone-anyone-Bueller?Bueller? style, but live! tonight! It's Mama! reading The Giving Tree!

Want to know what you need in your story reading tool kit that'll conjure up memories in your kid's hearts powerful enough to have them crying at the mere sight of a bed time story book when you're dead and gone [not to put too fine a point on it...]

Pop on over to Aiming Low, where I tell you Tricks to Becoming a Legendary Storyteller.

Aiming Low, where we aim for the mediocre.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Signs of an Impending Reaction

You feel a tickle start at the end of your nose, a burning to the eyes and your mascara begins to sting, you find yourself pressing your lips together to steady the quivering.

All signs of an overwhelming rush of emotion that can open a floodgate of tears that is unstoppable and hits at 85 mph. We couldn't plan a reaction like this and if we could we'd be the highest paying acting coaches in Hollywood. 

Could be that your little angel has just given you an "early Mudder's Day card, mama" like this:

or you overhear your husband talking to someone at a party, saying, "yeah, I knew I wanted to marry her after two weeks but I didn't want to scare her away."

These serendipitous moments of life that leave us feeling unworthy can come at us like a lightning bolt and at some very inopportune times.

I have a heart made of glass. And not the tempered kind, either. Despite life, my heart has remained a shatter in an instant cross to bear. 

I am proud of the fact that I am a strong woman, supporting myself since age seventeen and paying my way through college. I handle life's curve balls; not with grace, but with determination to do what it takes. Yeah, it's usually with kicking and screaming, but I do what I have to do. That's how I see myself, that's how my kids describe me, that's how my husband counts on me to be.

I am their superhero.

But how can I be Trinity or Ripley or Beatrix Kiddo when I become a blubbering fool at the first sign of love from the ones closest and dearest to me?

After seventeen years of being a mother and finally figuring out the warning signs of the Hoover Dam about to burst, I have found a way to circumvent the oncoming episode of uncontrollable gasping and heaving when in the sight of adoration.

With the goal of maintaining my six foot four larger than life superhero status in my family's eyes, I've come up with a plan of attack when the love dagger threatens to pierce this liable heart:

-SKIN:  I pinch my skin. Hard. The pain is usually enough to distract me and take me out of the heart rendering poignancy of the moment.

-NOSE: As soon as I feel the zing to my nose that tells me the tears aren't far behind, I squeeze the end of it, painfully, between my thumb and forefinger. Ouch. What were we going to cry about now? Can't remember, thinking too much about how tender the tip of my nose is.

-MOUTH: Pressing my lips so tightly together that my face could pass for one of those dehydrated apple old lady dolls I made in fifth grade girl scouts. 

-THROAT: Obnoxious, yes. But all is fair in the arena of looking able and in control. Constant throat clearing to the point of embarrassment will keep you from doing the ugly cry, you'll be too busy chatting with all the faces turning around and offering you a Luden's.

-CHEST: Take deep, shoulder lifting breaths. Hold. Tears abated while you assure those around you that no, this isn't an asthma attack, and yes, you do have an inhaler with you should you need it.

-BIG TOE: I step on my big toe, the one on the left foot that has the ingrown toenail. I apologize for the TMI, but the trade-off is this, I see stars but at least my kids don't see tears.

-HEART: err, this one. Do what you got to do to NOT focus on this one. The central processing unit of it all. One thought of what you're feeling right here, right now, and you can throw all the tricks above out the window.

Yes, I've tried all of these quick to the rescue hysteria saving tips; sometimes they work, more often than not they don't. My children have seen me as the little lady sobbing in the last row during their school plays more than they've seen me as the six foot four glamazon able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

And that makes me the world's first five foot five and under superhero.    

 Image via Photopin cc


Related Posts with Thumbnails