......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

26 April 2011

A Bunny Outing

Thanks, Mom, for getting me the zodiac mug for my Easter Basket.

You're welcome! I'm glad you liked it.

(oh snap! what did i just do? did i just out myself as the easter bunny???)

Did you buy it because you knew I would like it?

(paralysis. what the hell do i do now???)

.....yes (?)

(uncomfortable silence)

I just tricked you, Mom.

(say nothing. don't burst the bubble before it's time.)

I just tricked you into saying that you got all that stuff - not the Easter Bunny.

(he has a smirk on his face. i take that as a good sign. the jig is up........but it's ok. still, i'm not a fan of the big reveal; i'd rather let the knowledge deveop naturally, over time. children know these things when they're ready to know them.)

Of course, I did. Do you really think the Easter Bunny does all that by himself? Everybody needs a little help. Everybody.

(oh that was good. how did i do that so fast? leave it open for interpretation and let him take it wherever he wants.)

Later that evening..........

..........I look at him differently. As if he's crossed over some bridge and come out on the other side looking and sounding just a little bit different. Is he more handsome? He certainly looks sure of himself. Could this be the self-esteem boost that comes with tackling an issue and figuring it out on your own? And feeling that you're old enough and smart enough to be ok with it all?

This from a boy who just hours earlier said that Easter originated as a "celebration of bunnies."

Either way, I think the bunny is dead. And it makes me a little sad and a little proud. I'm sproud.

22 April 2011

There's a place for me at......

When you live in a new place that doesn't feel like you, you're constantly on the hunt for things that MAKE you feel like you. A quest for the things that are funny, pretty, interesting, inspiring or yummy to YOU in particular............before the essence of YOU withers away and you succumb to your surroundings and then wonder why your life has taken on a low-level malaise. Harrumph.

Then, TA DA!, along comes Momfilter and the world starts to look a little bit more like me - a little online oasis that gives me comfort in the way it reflects me back at myself. Nice to see you again, sister.

Momfilter comes from the creators of Cookie Magazine, a parenting magazine that rocked the world of mainstream parenting magazines by talking to the person instead of the "mommy." I am not a "mommy" and I never have been. My name is Kristin and I own my own business and I like to write and I can play 3 songs on the guitar - and I have a son named Liam who is the center of my universe (my husband is cute, too, but his cheeks aren't as squishy). Cookie, and now Momfilter, are some of the only forms of parenting media that address me as Kristin first and foremost. As if to say that Kristin is central to my role as a parent.

Cookie went the way of many high quality magazines in this era of the war on magazines. It ceased publication at the same time that we lost Wondertime and Gourmet Magazine (Gourmet for chrissake!) and it's demise cut to the core of women like me who, as I've said before, are interested in more than Disney vacations and rice krispy treats.

But now Momfilter can fill that void.........

....... by encouraging us to travel for real with our kids and not spend every vacation at a theme park, by showing us some kick-ass boots to wear with our not-so-mom jeans, and who cares if you haven't washed your hair in 6 days? I'm sure Momfilter will find a kicky hat to cover up that greasy mess. If you love pretty pictures of creative spaces, and recipes that use hoisin but still pass the kid test (and if it doesn't, give them cereal and enjoy your dinner), if you wonder about how much the tooth fairy should bring or how to make cool things out of cardboard boxes or if you just want to read about other moms and dads who are trying to be themselves and make it all work..........then Momfilter is the place for you.

But this is not a place where you get bored because the writer's child is 2 and yours is 2 1/2 ("we're just not doing the toddler thing anymore"); this is about the experience of parenting for the sake of the parent - all parents. Not just parents of babies or preschoolers or pre-tweens. It's a place where Anna Quindlen can talk about parenting her grown children and we all feel like she's speaking directly to us (it's this week's feature! Check it out!).

Thank you Momfilter for fighting your way through this war on magazines and finding your audience again. In this new home that doesn't always look like me, I simply click here and bask in the "me-ness" of it all.

19 April 2011

The Photo Acclimation Project: Things I find on walks.

Each time I turn and walk away, I go back to take one more look.
As if not staring at it will make it go away.

15 April 2011

Tennis, anyone?

Last week I wrote about tackling a woman in the grocery store parking lot - she had a bumper sticker that made me do inappropriate things. Turns out that she, like me, is a recent transplant from Minneapolis (read about it here). And in the course of our conversation, she warns me about how difficult it is to break into the New England social scene. I say "I know" and point a pretend gun at my temple and mime pulling the trigger. Then she tells me that she plays tennis with a bunch of "gals" and it really helped her make friends.

gaaaaaaaaah. (that's me making a gagging sound and contorting my face in an unattractive way)

I've been given this same advice by everyone who plays tennis. Which is all but two women in this town.

I do not like tennis. I have very weak wrists..........if I could play with a ping pong paddle it would be better. When I was nine, I saved my money and bought a tennis racquet at Sears because I thought Chris Evert was pretty - but my tiny baby-sized hand couldn't lift the racquet off the ground; so that dream was crushed. And I didn't know how to return things so the racquet sat in my closet until my baby-sized hand grew into a bored adolescent hand. At which point, I could heft the racquet just far enough off the ground to slam a tennis ball against my garage door about 10 million times a day (dammit, who checked out all the celebrity biographies at the library?!).

So now everyone's trying to get me to play tennis and I just don't have the stomach for it. I don't mind the skirts but I'm freaked out by the idea of tennis bracelets........why does tennis get its own jewelry? And what does it represent? The whole thing feels very stepford wife-y; I sit in my big house on a quasi-cul-de-sac while the men go to work and the women play tennis. My Marlo Thomas Free To Be You and Me alarm is clanging extremely loudly in my head! Alert ! Alert! It's worse than sitting on the couch eating bons bons............because a) eating bons bons is an individual sport that doesn't have an underlying social climbing theme and b) I would actually enjoy that. Eating bons bons on the couch, I mean. To be a woman of leisure is one thing, to be a woman of leisure who is trying to get in good with the right people at the club is quite another. ESPECIALLY if I don't even play tennis! ESPECIALLY TIMES TWO if I don't even want to play tennis!

Will I meet people if I suck it up and play tennis? Yes. But will they be people that I want to meet? Who knows. Some people just want people to hang out with.......preferably someone with matching reproductive organs; but history has shown me that my standards for the company I keep are incredibly high. You need to be the kind of person who runs to the aid of all in need. But you also need to be comfortable with me dropping the f-bomb on the first date; if you swear like a sailor, you will probably win my heart. And you need to make me laugh. A lot. Can you do this and wear a tennis bracelet at the same time? If the answer is yes, please check the box and pass this note back to me during gym.

12 April 2011

The Annoying Orange: A tribute to my Biscuit Hauler

And though you've all seen this before, I ask you to watch it again and think of me in my Biscuit Hauler (now sitting sad and alone on the used car lot). Replace "Hey Apple!" with "Mama!" to feel what it's like to be me in the front seat.

Mem'ries, says Barbra Streisand, light the corners of my mind.......(sniff).........

08 April 2011

Goodbye, Biscuit Hauler

I have this thing where I personify my cars. Not all the time - I don't pet them or give them treats. But I do see a face upon adopting them from the car dealership and upon release - when I hand him (or her) over to some stranger who drives it away to a sad corner of the used car lot and I swear I can see tears squeezing of the headlights.

I blame it on Herbie. Herbie the Love Bug, the Disney sensation from such film classics as Herbie the Love Bug, Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and Herbie: Fully Loaded (featuring the multi-talented Lindsay Lohan). I've met just a handful of people who know Herbie the way I know Herbie. People who can actually sing Herbie's theme music, the music they play in EVERY Herbie movie when cheeky Herbie takes his unsuspecting owner on a crazy ride through the streets of San Francisco or Los Angeles or Mexico (go Ocho!). Herbie made me see headlights as eyes and bumpers as smiles............and taught me that cars get their feelings hurt when you admire other cars.

Which makes getting rid of cars really hard on me.

We just said goodbye to our trusted Biscuit Hauler, the car we've had the longest in our entire adult lives. AND the car that Liam has known his entire life. The car that brought him home from the hospital when he was known only as "The Biscuit" - hence the name Biscuit Hauler.

We found the Biscuit Hauler after a highly hormonal incident at a Lexus dealership; I was 13 1/2 months pregnant and Mike had found the perfect car for me and our unborn biscuit. It was sturdy and reliable and could win a fight with a semi in a highway collision. Frankly, it was a little too nice for my taste but I understood Mike's need to provide for his family. But upon signing the papers I started crying softly, signing and sobbing, trying to hold back the big fat tears. I did not want that car. Mike put the pen down and took me outside, panicking because he didn't have a clue why I would suddenly start crying in a car dealership.

"What's wrong?!" (panicking)

"I don't think I can do it." (trying not to sob)

"Can't do what?" (confused)

"I can't drive that car." (holding it in)

"WHY?!" (getting frustrated)

"Because....(sob)......people will think I'm a republican."

So we went back inside and told them the deal was off. It helped that I was crying.

The next day we found the Biscuit Hauler. And it was much more liberal. Practically socialist. It was European and utilitarian and I felt much more comfortable in my skin. And I drove my Biscuit around in that car for the next 8 1/2 years.

Until she started losing body parts.

And when the car doctor came to us recently and told us that she needed an operation that would cost thousands of dollars, we decided to pull the plug. We decided to trade our trusty Biscuit Hauler, all 109,000 miles of her, for something newer with more resilient body parts.

I immediately felt melancholy for my old friend. And I started playing a music video in my head of Barbara Streisand singing "The Way We Were" while misty water-colored memories rolled across the screen in slow motion. Liam as a newborn coming home from the hospital, Liam as a baby in his rear-facing carseat struggling against the straps and crying because he couldn't see where he was going, me pulling over at Babies R Us to buy a front-facing carseat when he was not yet 20 pounds or 12 months old because I couldn't take the crying anymore, Liam as a toddler saying over and over and over again "Can you play Puff the Magic Dragon on the radio, please?" except it's in a foreign language that Mike can't understand so he ignores the babbling in the backseat until I scream "WHY CAN'T HE LISTEN TO PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON ON RADIO???!!!"

Oh, there's more........(big breath)

Me driving in a circle for 2 hours at a time because he's fallen asleep in the carseat and will wake up if I so much as THINK about touching the brake ("That's an expensive nap," says his judgey pediatrician. And I say sing it sister. Worth every penny and more.). Me discovering the drive thru during car naps and learning how to coast through slowly without braking.

Liam as a preschooler asking questions from the backseat like his very life depended on it, like he's on a game show with a giant ticking clock, wondering how God pees and if robbers wipe their butts and if people in jail get thrown in the trash when they die.

Liam as a school-ager asking to listen to 93X and filling the backseat with garbage and insisting that he's big enough to go without a booster seat.

This is our car, Liam and me. He grew up in this car - newborn, baby, toddler, preschooler, school-ager. And he has his own memories, too. "Remember when I threw back here?" he asks wistfully, almost fondly. Yes, I say. Good times.

From his sadness, it appears that Liam has the Herbie disease, too. He cries when we break the news to him and for the next two days he sobs, "I don't think I can do it! I can't do it!"

We hold hands on our way to the car dealership, in our Biscuit Hauler for the last time, me gripping the steering wheel with my left hand and stretching my right hand into the backseat to comfort him. Not terribly safe but very necessary.

When we arrive, the car salesman is all happy and energetic and gets in Liam's face. "Hey Buddy! I bet you're excited for your NEW CAR!!"

"No." says Sad Liam. "I've had this car my whole life....." he trails off and looks away.

And when it's time to get in our new car and leave the Biscuit Hauler behind, Liam rests his cheek on her window and cries.

Mikee gently turns Liam's body to put him in the car, but he turns back toward the Biscuit Hauler, reaching out like someone is stealing his puppy. They do this 3 times until he finally gets buckled in. "It's too hard!" he wails all the way home.

The scene is dramatic enough to give us pause.........

It occurs to us that we recently took him out of his old house and plopped him down in a new unfamiliar one - and on the heels of that, we are taking him out of this other, alternate form of housing and plopping him down in this new unfamiliar one. The Biscuit Hauler was the familiar cocoon that moved him from place to place virtually every day of his short life. And now we're taking that away, too? Maybe we could've timed this better.

But what are we supposed to do? Keep the car because Liam is sad? Keep it until until parts start falling off on the highway and wear the car like a barrel? Because Liam is sad?

Liam is a sensitive kid.........but protecting him from sadness does him no favors. It only dooms him to a life of fragility. It robs him of the opportunity to develop skills we all need to deal with the realities of life. Like the tragedy of buying a new car.

So I lick my wounds and hold his hand and tell myself that I'm doing him a favor...........as we speed away in our shiny new car.

05 April 2011

The Power of Sidewalks

I pull into the grocery store parking lot.........and I see a car with a bumper sticker that says

"Matt's Bar: Home of the Jucy Lucy"

I squint my eyes and stare at it, re-reading it slowly to make sure it's not a mirage. I try to stay calm and rational; is it possible that there are 2 places called Matt's Bar and they are both famous for the cheesy goodness known as the Jucy Lucy?


So when I see the woman get out of the car, I run across the parking lot and tackle her to the ground.


She gets wide-eyed and says, "Yes! Wait........are you Noonan?"

Creepy, I think. Should I have checked on the population size before moving here? Perhaps.

But I say yes anyway and she says, "I'm the other one from Minnesota!" And then we cheer and hug and jump around in a circle.

Ok, that's a little exaggerated. But that's how I felt.

Then she says, with a sympathetic look, "Do you miss sidewalks?"

When we moved from the city, I knew I would miss a lot of things; Lake Harriet, luxurious grocery stores, independent movies any time I wanted them, Viet Namese food (can't stop talking about Viet Namese food) - but I had no idea how much I would miss sidewalks. Who knew that those squares of cement between your house and the street could impact your life on so many levels? Especially when you're the new girl.

Sidewalks are specifically intended for people. And they carry people right past your house. The power of the sidewalk is in its ability to build relationships amongst people who are just walking by. When you have no sidewalk running in front of your house, you rarely have people walking by. But you do have an awful lot of people driving by - none of whom stop to chat. After 8 months here, I have never met the people who live next door to me. But I know what kind of car they drive.

When you have no sidewalks, children play privately in their own backyards unless they receive a phone call inviting them to someone else's backyard. And you generally only call people you know...........so if you're the new kid, how do you get that call? I'll tell you how; you whore yourself out by boldly knocking on people's doors - uninvited. And sometimes it works and sometimes it goes against everything this yankee culture stands for. You either make friends or you go on the "Yankee Watch List," a list of crackpots and ne'er do wells who have no manners.

If we have no sidewalks, we have only streets with no designated area for people who are not sheathed in steel and fiberglass. Streets that are for cars that go way too fast 100% of the time and are driven by people who are not looking for pedestrians........because streets are for cars. It's lonely without sidewalks - and, if you're the mother of an 8 year old boy, it's really, really dangerous.

The freedom my kid had in the city has been revoked. He can't walk to a friend's house by himself or ride his bike without an adult chaperone and a helmet and shin guards and shoulder pads and a bulletproof vest. And a plastic bubble. If I could put him in a plastic bubble, I would feel so much better. When I'm the adult chaperone, I ruin the whole bike riding experience by screaming "GET OVER TO THE RIGHT! THE RIGHT! THAT'S WEAVING! IF YOU WEAVE, YOU'LL GET KILLED! GET OVER TO THE RIGHT!"

No one else yells for their children here; it feels like I'm disturbing the trees. But I'm saving my child's life, so screw the trees.

I'm tempted to do drills. Seriously. One of us would take Liam out on his bike and the other would drive around the neighborhood to see how he reacts to a car coming. I'll "come out of nowhere" and I'll pretend I don't see him. I keep telling him that this is how it works - cars "come out of nowhere" and they are NOT looking for the little kid on his bike. And he keeps insisting that if a car "comes out of nowhere," he will dive into the ditch head first. Let's work on that weaving first, I say. Diving into the ditch comes later.

On Liam's first visit to his new pediatrician, the doctor asks how we're doing after the move. Is he making friends? Does he like school? Does he get out and ride his bike? "Yes," I say, "but it's been difficult because we don't have sidewalks."

What a ding dong. Does that even make sense? He's going to think I'm neurotic or queen of the non sequiturs. But just when I'm trying to come up with a lie to cover up my nonsense, he says "Don't even get me started on sidewalks."

He's a believer! He's one of us!

Well, duh. He's a doctor. A doctor of children. Who sees all manner of injuries from in and around a child's world. Like biking on the street when you don't have the focus necessary to keep from veering directly into oncoming vehicles.

But his sidewalk statement goes even further. Apparently, his daughter spearheaded a campaign to build a sidewalk along the busy road from our elementary school to our public library - a distance of maybe .2 miles (that's point two, not two). A project that would not only protect the town's children from avoidable harm but also promote wholesome afterschool activities and support town services. In addition to garnering overwhelming support from the town, she also developed a workable plan with the appropriate professionals and even collected enough donations to fund the entire project.

Did I mention she was in 7th grade at the time? Yes, a 7th grader.

And when it came time to vote, the town selectmen looked at that 7th grade girl and her supporters.......and said NO. They said NO to that altruistically minded 7th grader AND the funding that came with her. They said no based on the fact that there had never been a sidewalk there - so why do we need one now? Perhaps children should be more resourceful in defending themselves from highway traffic. Wouldn't a sidewalk just be a form of coddling?

Keep in mind that my only source on this story is the dad of the altruistic 7th grader. So he may be somewhat biased. However, as the town's doctor, he could also stand to gain quite a bit of income from pediatric traffic-related injuries. That's quite a thumb's up! So you be the judge.

So now I know........ next time I go house hunting, I'm going to put sidewalks at the top of my list of must-haves. Before bedrooms and bathrooms and jack and jill sinks (which I really don't need and I'm really only mocking the people on House Hunters).

I realize that there are some people who crave the peace and quiet that comes with a sidewalk-less neighborhood. The yakkity-yak of nosy neighbors like me is an intrusion on their time with their surroundings. I respect that. But they'll miss out on the awesome experience that is knowing me.

And, until Liam's focus improves, they'll have to put up with a few more years of "GET TO THE RIGHT!"

01 April 2011

Is it Still Funny if I Have to Explain the Punchline?

In my last post, I may have mentioned something about "there hasn't been a single crime all week - not one GD crime." I'll give you a minute to scroll down and read it again.......

(elevator music)

(maybe "Daydream Believer" or Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You")

Okay - do I really have to explain that the line originates from the bored cop who was itching to pull me over? And not me? Because my husband, who is exceedingly bright but sometimes speaks a different English language than mine, came home from work yesterday and said, "You know that no crime is a good thing, right?"

Of course no crime is good. Who wants crime?

"Because in today's post you were actually complaining about the fact that there was no crime here."

No I wasn't. That was the cop speaking. I wasn't complaining. He was.

"Well, it didn't sound like it."

I blame this foreign English language of his. It sounds like English but means something else entirely. It's like Mikelish. Or maybe I speak a foreign language. No - I think we speak the same language but he HEARS a foreign language. I can't tell you how many of our fights end up like this:

"Wait. What are you talking about?"

"I don't know. What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about what you're talking about."

"No you're not."

"Forget it then. What do you want for dinner?"

I wish I could say this was a family issue, but it's been a common theme since we moved. I thought they spoke the same language here.

But I was wrong.

And I'm not talking about the different ways we say "bumper sticker." It's more nuanced than that. I'm talking about having a conversation with someone - in English - and not being able to understand what they're saying.

Consider this conversation I recently had at a deli counter:

ME: What's the smallest sandwich you have?

DELI COUNTER GIRL: Small. They're subs so they only come in one size.

ME: You can't get a half or anything?

DCG: No. You can get a sandwich on bread but you have to order a whole sandwich.

ME: Ok, I'll get the tuna.

DCG: Do you want the whole or the half?

This happens at least once a week. And I stand there like a foreigner, wondering how many times I can say "I'm sorry?" or "But I thought you said....." before I just nod and smile. Sometimes I'll ask a question, listen carefully, then look at Mike out of the corner of my eye as if to whisper, "What's the answer?"

I tell jokes and no one laughs.

I don't tell jokes and everyone laughs.

But I'm getting better. Once I figured out that we speak two different Englishes, I became more alert. And now, although I don't speak the language, I'm beginning to understand some of it. Watch me, I can translate the following sentences:

"You tryin' to win a contest or somethin'? You come in every hou-ah on the hou-ah?"

TRANSLATION: "Thank you for coming to my store so often. I appreciate your business."


"You're gonna love this school. It's the best in the whole state."

TRANSLATION: "I don't know if it's the best, but it's the school that my kid goes to."


"You're gonna love their pizza. It's best in the whole state."

TRANSLATION: "I've tried their pizza. It was good."


"You HAVE to go to this doctor. She's the best in the whole state."

TRANSLATION: "This is the doctor I go to. I've never had any problems with her. There might be other doctors, but I've never tried them."

When you start to crack the code and accept their foreignness, it becomes much more fun - more like travel. You stop assuming that everyone is like you; which curbs the mounting frustration when they do things that don't fit into your box of expectations.

It stops being an aggravation and starts being an adventure. Mostly. Mostly sometimes.

But I still don't understand Mikelish.