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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.



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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three Cheers for the Cambridge Mama!

Can we get an amen and huzzah and nice-bloody-work for this woman?
Not only did Kate Middleton-come-Duchess-of-Cambridge become pregnant while the whole world speculated on her ovarian activity, and then carry that pregnancy past her due date while the whole world stalked her, she then birthed the child and had to appear on the steps of the hospital FEWER THAN 24 HOURS LATER.
I would like a moment of silence.

Plus, she has shiny hair and a pleasant smile, two things that were noticeably absent from my appearance in the first years days after birthing. And how about the pooch?!?
I wanted to break into "God Save The Queen" when I saw this, or at least a Beatles medley. Such courage! Such grace! Such a normal, postpartum pooch! Praise God for this woman!

If only she'd been around as a beacon of light to me in my own postpartum moments. After Ana, in particular, the truth came heavy (ahem) and hard. I remember humming as I packed my hospital bag. First, please note I PACKED a hospital bag. As opposed to the second and third times around when I threw a pair of underwear into the front seat and shrieked at Marc, "HOW DO WE DO THIS AGAIN?!?" Somewhere we have a photo of Marc getting ready for Mitchell's husband-coached, natural method child birth. I promise that in said photo, Marc is reading the coaching guide IN THE BIRTHING SUITE. We are overachievers.

K. So I hummed as I packed my hospital bag for Ana, so chipper that in a matter of days, I would again fit my svelte and newly un-pregnant bod into a cute pair of jeans that had fit baggy and loose before becoming pregnant.

My last day in the hospital, I could fit one calf into the jeans and I nearly had to resort to using Marc's Swiss army knife to force my sausage-calf into that little hole, DANG IT. So I applaud with joy Kate's unwillingness to force her body into Spanx and instead to even display to the entire world what a real woman's body looks like after giving birth.

Bless her pea-picking, honest, British heart. May Prince George Alexander Louis sleep through the night before the summer is over, and may he be very clever with letters by kindergarten as writing that name will pack one royal punch.
Photo via Reuters

Did anyone else have trouble fitting into the hospital outfit? Or were you all much wiser than I and went home in the maternity clothes you wanted to burn? Smarties, all of you.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rocking Out

Remember pop music? Yeah, neither do I. But I did watch the Grammy Awards show this year, which made me FEEL like I know pop music. I didn't exactly recognize 98% of the artists sitting in the crowd in their astonishing fashion choices. I looked for some fashion highlights to post here, but most of the humdingers involved copious amounts of flesh, cleavage, and sequins in questionable places. Trying to keep things PG around here. I should, though, point you toward this man. 
His name is Red Foo. Much like my name is Red Foo. In other words, we both made up our professional names. But at least I didn't use Foo. Or Foo-Foo, if you've read Stretch Marks. But I digress.

I heard a few songs that were painful, some that were funny without intednding to be, and lots of good stuff. These two are Goyte, the people who got Record of the Year.
I, for one, was unaware we give awards to Record of the Year. Did you know we do this? One record (record?!) that just jumps to the top of the universe for the entire year? I admire the commitment here. One record, best of the whole year. I can't ever really choose my favorite song of the AFTERNOON, much less the year. But these people got it. And I like their song. I also liked it when the girl of the group received her award and she fell all over herself in pure, childish joy, not because of the Record of the Universe award, but because Prince was the one who presented it to her. Prince, who is a musical genius but who is also roughly four feet tall plus hair height. It was an awesome moment.

Today is a lovely summer day, and I think we should all acknowledge our hipness and the Record of the Universe by listening to Goyte's song with the volume turned up. This version is so fantastic. I recommend watching it and then having your children reenact it. Thea likes to be the love-tortured girl, Ana likes to be the male lead who opens his mouth off its hinges when he sings, and Mitch likes to be the guy in a hat who prefers not to look at the camera. 

Some people are talented enough to homeschool their children. I give my children the gift of pop-song-recreation. Our children might end up working for yours, but we all know who will be the life of the company Christmas party. 

Turn it up!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Listening Up in the Minivan

Anybody else putting on the miles in the minivan this summer? 

Listen, I didn't ASPIRE to own a minivan. I didn't exactly aspire to own any particular vehicle, as cars are not at the top of my Most Interesting Things List. I very much appreciate a car that runs well, has a functioning radio, cools and heats at my will, and has power steering and power brakes. I have owned cars that do not fulfill these criteria, and I have had periods of my life and travels during which I owned no car at all. So cars are awesome and practical and fast.

But the minivan. Our best friends, Ryan and Betsy, have openly and frequently mocked us for "selling out" and buying a minivan. I'm not sure what this means, but I suspect it has to do with not looking as cool as they do in their Honda Pilot. This is true. Ry and Bets are also cleaner people, which means that when they open their doors after a ride in the Pilot, newspapers and water bottles and hairbrushes and stuffed zebras don't fall out. They also maintain clean cup holders, vacuumed floor mats, and windshields that haven't developed that curious grime that accumulates after five unclean people and a zebra breathe in an enclosed space over a period of time.

Here's the catch: Ryan and Betsy are missing out. Minivans are awesome. They are huge and can tote around thousands of children and their friends. They have sliding side doors that are perfect for people embarking and disembarking all on their own. They have removable seats that make it possible to haul a twin mattress, three end tables, two suitcases, a rug, and three young children, all before even touching the front two seats (true life, last weekend). And minivans have a certain je ne se quoi…Glamour? Elegance? Panache? Or dare I say, swagger? 

I love our minivan. I'll probably still drive one when I'm a granny, since my kids will need someone to haul their dining room table and stuffed zebras around. I'm a helper that way.

If you are spending inordinate amounts of time in your vehicle, might I recommend some children's audio books to break up the tedium? These are all delightful and will be sure to distract your children from poking each other's eyeballs with Pixie Stix or from plummeting into Whinese Zone. Whinese is a horrible, easily acquired language that can drive parents to dangerous swerving and wild arm-groping into the back seat for a leg to squeeze. Whinese can produce vows screamed out the window at 75 miles per hour that invoke the fury of an Almighty God, thunderstorms, and promises never, ever to take a road trip again.

These are all hypothetical situations. But in case you have hours in the Swagger Wagon in front of you, might I suggest great stories, wonderfully told?

1. E.B. White.
I love this man. He wrote some of America's most beloved children's literature, and if you are super smart, you will find a way to listen to Mr. White reading his own work. We have listened to Charlotte's Web, and I may or may not have laughed, cried, and shook my head at the beauty of his story, told in his voice. We are now listening to his reading of The Trumpet of the Swan, and I feel like I'm digging my toes into warm sand every time we turn it on. Pure delight. If your library does not own copies of E.B. White's audio books, request them ASAP or, even better, donate them as a gift to all the story-hearers in your community.

2. Clementine.

The Clementine books are fantastic and the audio versions are pure fun to hear. Sara Pennypacker is the actress who reads these books, and I feel the very least we can do is listen to a person who goes by that name. Even though Clementine is a girl, my son enjoyed hearing her escapades as well. Also, while Clementine is spicy and busy getting into trouble, she is not mean or snarky. So your kids don't end up sounding like bad sitcom impressions when you turn her off (ahem, Junie B. Jones).

3. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

The woman will fix all your parenting issues, teach your children manners, and she will entertain at the same time. If I could have Mrs. PigWig for dinner, I would. Since that's looking unlikely, I happily press PLAY and listen to how she fixes Donny, Suzy, and Winifred all up and saves them from uncertain futures of chewing with their mouths open and general hard living. So satisfying.

4. Adventures in Odyssey.

Buckle up. If you are new to AIO, you will find it shocking that there are a gazillion of these from which to pick after its long and still-going-strong run as a weekly radio program. I can understand if the words "weekly radio program" make you think of sitting by the fire during the Great Depression and waiting to hear the voice of President Roosevelt, but I assure you, AIO peeps are masters at great, Christian-rooted storytelling for kids and families. Some of the episodes can tend toward saccharine, but in general, this is fantastic family fun. My kids are mildly obsessed and consistently put Odyssey on their birthday and Christmas wish lists.

5. Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo. 

DiCamillo wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, so she's pretty much story-telling special stuff. Mercy Watson is a pig who loves hot, buttered toast. I can't think of a better way to build a story, or a meal, for that matter.

Anyone else listening to stories in the Minivans of Love? I'd love to hear. Adult literature also welcomed, though I might need to wait for a few years (or good earphones) to pull that off…

What's on your playlist?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Oh, Say, Can You See?!? No, Really! Right Over There!

Happy Fourth! What a great holiday. No need to shop, unless you include going to the store for brats and the fixings for a root beer float. No pressure on making the best dessert or the loveliest centerpiece. Heck, you don't even need to shower if you don't want to. Just jump in a pool, lake or leaky hose and that's close enough.

I hope you have the chance to massacre sing the national anthem today. I will be forcing my children to listen as Marc and I attempt two-part harmony and inevitably wind up in a different key and laughing so hard, our root beer float escapes our nostrils.

In a land far, far away, I sang the national anthem before a basketball game. This was a defining, disheartening moment of my life and one which I hope never to repeat. I sang it a cappella, which sounds simple and moving, right? No. No, it was not. It ended up more on the screechy side of moving. Screechy and amplified in a gym. 

Never again.

The one redeeming attribute of that performance was that I remembered the words. This earns me some points, I feel, since the song does include the words "perilous," "gallantly," and "ramparts."

In retrospect, though, the words should have been secondary. I should have taken a page from Miss Maya Rudolph. B to the R to the A to the V to the E!
Happy Fourth and happy antheming! Break out the sparklers and sing loud, sing strong, and sing whatever words you can remember!