Random Crap: October Eve

October is my favorite month. Always has been. I’ve waxed poetic about it for years, and tonight I’m just plain too tired to pull out the multi-syllabic lyrical words. Suffice it to say I have my windows thrown open, a small candle lit, and am welcoming the crisp fall air cascading over the sill carrying the autumnal hum of late crickets in the inky night.

Okay, so maybe the lyrical crept in anyway…

The house is quiet. We’ve found our back-to-school rhythm finally, and bedtime for the monkeys is no longer a struggle every night. All three kids sing softly to themselves once the lights are out- I find it wrenchingly endearing some nights. A few nights ago, Jeffrey sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer until he drifted off.

I can hear my phone under the laundry, but I can’t find it.

This last weekend a bunch of friends flew in from all over and we had a girls’ weekend in the District. This has got to be one of the very best things about living here- everyone is willing to visit! If you’ve ever hit up the journal Segullah, these are the women who make it happen. I’m emeritus on the board, but they still let me hang out and basque in their collective glory:1273793_10151926401883200_1965531760_oOne of these friends is a microbiologist, so I took Abby along so she could spend the day talking science-y things with woman who knows her stuff. Abby wore her red satin cape, Dr. Martin boots, and brought her model of an advancing cold weather-front to show her mad skills and she was well-received. We hit up Eastern Market, Capitol Hill and walked the neighborhoods.

Learn from me, people: don’t wear new Dansko clogs when you’re walking the Hill.

My baby brother is getting married this weekend— it’s been a year of weddings for our family, but this will be the first one I’ve been able to attend. I’m looking forward to hugging my mom like you wouldn’t believe. Do we ever outgrow that? Nope. Not even in the ‘complicated’ relationships. IMG_0999My current favorite photo of Bean. I was out with some friends today for breakfast before making an airport run (see Segullah women above) and I was asked again what Bean’s real name is… anyone know? It always makes me laugh when people ask, and they ask all the time.

I have to pick up Jeffrey’s tuba at school tomorrow. Thus it begins again. Tuba. Bugle. Bagpipes. Really? Really?? Yeah. Really.

Best Dentist in the Universe


Super Bowl Sunday. 13 years old. The men all wanted the kids out of the house so they could yell and scream at the TV with impunity, so my aunt took a giant group of us kids to Roller-Rama. Remember sneaker roller-skates? Mine were blue and white with white pom-poms on the toes… *wistful sigh*

Then I crashed. Blue wheels clicked up with those of another girl, and a spectacular belly-flop onto the polished oak floor yielded a gaping chasm where moments before a pearly white front tooth had been. A permanent tooth. A front, permanent tooth. Gone. I remember skating over to where my aunt was playing PacMan, holding my tooth in the palm of my hand, and hearing PacMan die as she stared at my gaping, bloody mouth. The Soundtrack of My Life.

For a few years, I had temporary caps while my mouth finished growing, and when I was 17, the dentist finally put a ‘permanent’ crown on. It was a decent crown. It mostly matched. For twenty-*mumble mumble* years, that crown held. Usually most folks didn’t notice it wasn’t the same as my other teeth- but I was always self-conscious. In photos it was particularly noticeable- and I would smile with my lips together.

Via the miracle of modern dentistry coupled with the miracles of the internets, air travel and scheduling those miracles can foster, I was in Salt Lake City for business, and was able to squeeze in an appointment with the Best Dentist in the Universe. In case you’re wondering, it’s this guy:

IMG_1017He and his lovely wife— a long-time and dear friend of mine— made room in their schedules to accommodate me during the short window during which I was in-town. I would seriously fly my whole family to Utah for this dentist, so if you need someone, just sayin’… I’ll totally hook you up.

So anyway, turns out there’ve been a ton of advances in modern crown-making since twenty-mumble-mumble years ago when I had this last crown made- and it was the coolest process I’ve ever seen.

He had to remove the old crown (and no freaking way are there any pictures of me with my gaping clown-mouth). Since my tooth underneath is still living and is in pretty good shape, he carefully protected it, and didn’t hurt me even the tiniest bit. That’s a major dental win, by the way: zero pain. Mild, calming chair-side demeanor. All wins. My mouth was sprayed with something called ‘optical powder’ and he took 3D images of my teeth. No gummy latex tooth-mold trays- just perfectly rendered models on a computer screen. From that 3D model, he actually BUILT a tooth for me that custom fit to my mouth. It was insanely cool to watch.

The image was then sent to a milling machine, right there in the office, where a piece of porcelain was then 3D ‘printed’ (I honestly don’t know what to call it- I’m sure there are technical terms, but I was just agog at how cool it was) into a tooth custom fitted and milled for my exact mouth. Et voila:


A few minutes in a kiln to set the custom enamel (that matches my mouth exactly) and it was fitted, inserted, sealed and done. Simply the most perfect match you could even imagine- coupled with the miracle of it being utterly, completely pain-free. And now I have a perfect front tooth! I know it shouldn’t matter so much, but having a nice smile again after so many years of being self-conscious is a big confidence boost. It’s lovely, looks natural, reflects light instead of swallowing it like a black hole, and I feel pretty again. I love modern dentistry- it really is a marker of a truly civilized society.

Anyway, if you’re in the Utah Valley and want the Best Dentist in the Universe, he takes all kinds of insurance, is great with kids and families, is kind, his wife is seriously awesome, and I can totally hook you up.

My Annual Mistake

This happens every fall. The leaves start to change, the air crisps up, and I think “Hey, those leaves are sure pretty orange! I think my hair should be just as pretty!” and I once again foolishly forget the ability to produce orange-haired offspring is not akin to looking good with orange hair oneself. You think I’d get it by now… but no.

Red-Hair-Color1This is what I imagine. Lovely ginger hair, matching my sons’ lovely copper haystacks, festive and pretty for my favorite season. Every time. I’m like Charlie Brown trying to kick the dang football from Lucy…

I eagerly run to the drugstore and purchase a box of autumnal auburn, lie to myself about how great it will look (leaves! fall! warm and pretty!) and dump the contents on my head.

nose-hair-pumpkin-lAnd this, without fail, is what I get. Mo can do pretty red hair. Merida has lovely orange curls. Riversong, for heaven’s sake, my doppelganger! has ginger ringlets. Really, this should work, right?! This is my inner dialogue with the advent of each autumnal equinox (happy fall, by the way- yay!) And yet… still…

Now I’m not afraid of playing with my hair— it’s just dye, right?! Yeah, right. Two trips to CVS, one to Walgreens and one to Target later… the hideous orange is mostly tamed. No, I didn’t allow any pictures taken in the 12 hours I looked like a pumpkin. I do have some vanity…

Photo on 2013-09-23 at 13.32A drabbing down with some ash, a layer of blonde, and then lifting some highlights, and I have my regular color back. Next year, can someone remind me, oh… around September 1st… to just stay the crap away from the haircolor aisle?

Bean: Ten Trips ‘Round the Sun


IMG_0408Dear Bean,

You, my son, are a joy. It’s taken us a decade to get here, and like all great joys (and I do believe this) it’s been accompanied by hard work and difficulty, but it has been (and will always be) utterly and completely worth it. Just like in this photo, you are undaunted by the hills in your life; you charge ahead, embodied in your lithe growing muscles and curious, vibrant, reaching spirit. At once, nothing seems to faze you and everything touches you. You are, and always have been, an enchanting, hard-wired enigma. I cannot fathom you any other way.

It is a privilege to be your mother. From your resilient soul, I have learned things I could not have learned any other way, and you have changed forever the lives of your family. By virtue of being who you are, we are a deeper, kinder, more compassionate and thoughtful family.  The beautiful thing is, you’re just busy being you- it is us who are transformed.

Happy birthday, Bean.
Mama loves you more than she has words to say.




Catching Up: Cage Match

Abby and Bean: Cage Match

Abby and Bean: Cage Match

Sigh. It’s the middle of September. It’s not such much that I’m busy (and I hate the glorification of busy) as it is just being off-balance and trying to find center again after the chaos of summer. I keep beating myself up, for moments at a time believing I there is something to prove in increased productivity. It’s not true. The most powerful creative times of my life have nexus in quiet, deep pulses that generated whole new worlds. The whirlwind isn’t the source of creation. It’s too easy to forget.

Tomorrow is Bean’s tenth birthday. I have done absolutely zero to prepare, and while I eschew crazy, pinterest over the top birthday parties for kids (you mamas that do them, knock yourselves out- go you!) I still like there to be something special for him. The Birthday Fairy will decorate the house as he sleeps tonight, and I’ll bake him a cake (even though he hates cake and won’t touch it) while he’s at school. He’s requested the ever-popular Breakfast-Banquet for his birthday dinner— way more appealing than Jeffrey’s preference for the Tasty Trough and meatloaf. Gag.

The Yosemite Rim Fire came perilously close to my parents’ home in the Sierras- and by ‘perilously close’ I mean up to their road close. It’s was pretty scary, and I spent several days gnawing my fingers in stressful solidarity with my family in California. Thank God for firefighters, that’s really all there is to say. (That’s really always a good thing to say, on general principle, and in a myriad of ways.)

So far, seventh grade seems to be more merciful on Jeffrey than sixth grade. He’s not experiencing any bullying yet, and has his group of nice friends he’s found. Man, there is no end to the gratitude for good friends for your kids.

My baby brother is getting married in a few weeks, and I’ll get to see much of my family for the first time in a few years. This makes me silly-happy. It’s kind of nice to be out of the chaos of overloaded school and no time to breathe.

Abby and Bean seem to like their new elementary school much better than the school from last year. Walking in to meet Bean’s teacher, trepidation from last year still on me, I was relieved that he had not only read Bean’s file, but already made a place for him in the classroom, and quietly told me he’d been diagnosed as Aspergers when he was in 3rd grade. WIN on the teacher score! Abby is rocking 2nd grade, and I have a conference with her teacher later this month.

Scored tickets for the DKM concert in Boston in March!

Saturday, Abby had a birthday party at a blow-up bouncy indoor play gym place. (Modern life is weird sometimes) Bean tagged along, and I was holding my breath. We don’t have a good history in loud, chaotic environs. He shocked the heck out of me. He played with other kids, he held Abby’s HAND (! I kid you not!). Super WIN for Bean- new experience, touching others, playing, dealing with loud noises, and strange smells. The tipping point was misplacing his shoes and being ushered into the smaller birthday-party room where it was crowded and they had pizza and cake. We spent the rest of the party out in the car, but this is easily the best party experience we’ve ever had.

Overheard at our house lately:

A Creeper just knocked over Abby’s house in Minecraft. Bean deadpans: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

Abby: “Mom, I’m having a hard time deciding between being a rocket scientist, a meteorologist, or a forensic detective.”
Me: “Well, I don’t think you need to decide that now. You’ve got time.”
Abby: “MooooOOOMM! You just don’t understand!”

Jeffrey, on watching part of “Saving Private Ryan” with me: “So those medals Grandpa Jack got were not for nothing.” Yeah, you could say that.

Jeffrey was talking about some plans he had to Bean tonight, when Bean explained, very logically, why his plans wouldn’t work.
Jeffrey: “Don’t crush my dreams, Bean!”
Bean: “That doesn’t make sense. How could I crush a dream? You can’t do that.”
Jeffrey: “AARGH!! It’s a METAPHOR!”
Bean: …
Bean: “Well. I guess that makes more sense. OK.”
Jeffrey, wandering off: “Man I get tired of being the only normal one in this family…”

Bean: “I haven’t spent much time in Special Ed this week.”
Abby: “I haven’t gone to Gifted at all!”
Jeffrey: Am I the ONLY NORMAL person in this family??! Mom, you’re good at everything, Abby’s freakishly smart and Bean is… just…freakish!”

Jeffrey: “Mom, take me to Gamestop? No one cares what you look like, just forget your makeup and put a bag over your head!”
Me: “Son. This last day of summer is not going to go the way you were hoping.”

Me: “Can I get just one picture without you being a dork?!”
Jeffrey: “I just can’t give you that, mom.”

Abby: “Mom, do these boots go with this cape?”

Bean is victorious!

Bean is victorious!



There was lunch planned in DC today, but when I realized the date, I thought better of it. There are memorials and protests planned all over the DC and NoVA area today. When my brother was here a few months ago, we went to the Pentagon Memorial for the first time. It’s poignant and astoundingly moving and beautiful in it’s simplicity. Each individual is truly remembered, not just the overarching tragedy. It’s impossible to walk through it without crying.

In the District today, there is a protest march by American Muslims, and a protest march/ride of the protest march by American bikers. Timing and sensitivity issues aside, it’s nothing I want to come within ten miles of. It all just makes me sad. Deeply sad.

Every year, I repost the tribute I wrote as part of the 2,996 Project. James DeBlasse was killed twelve years ago today, along with 2,995 other innocent Americans. Protest all you want… But not today. Today is a day for being still, for allowing the hollow echos of the pain of that day to permeate your heart, and bow our heads in collective remembrance.

Read about James. Be still. Remember.