Sunday, May 30, 2010


Since we moved into our home at Tim's project, Thin Flats, he's been in charge of the utilities. I was in charge of them when we lived in my building, so it's only fair. Since then the gas has almost been turned off, we spend more than I would ever imagine on cable, and more recently we just got a $517 water bill. All of these bills pile up at various places around the house, so I try and bring them to work, so they can pile up on his desk where I imagine he's more likely to be in the mood for paperwork. He just brings them home again because he doesn't like a cluttered workspace, and they aren't work-related.

We always get our serious discussions out in the car. We were discussing the Memorial Day weekend on our way to the Shore. Of course he'd forgotten that Monday is a national holiday, so he referred to "when I'm in the office" on Monday. I accepted that I might need to take the kids on my own that day. After all, he gave me from 1-7 on Friday....normally "Mommy Day." I got to go to the studio alone to pack and ship without having to quiet my tape gun for a sleeping baby. I was like a bubble wrap hurricane.

I was muttering out loud about whether or not Ikea would be open on the holiday. He asked why, and I said that I wanted to get him a bunch of those cute little files. I'd set them up on the table next to his side of the bed. It's the table that is his clothes limbo. I guess it's the clothes that aren't dirty enough to be banished to the hamper or the dry cleaning bin, but I know he's put some there that have been thoroughly puked on by Toby, so I don't know. It's also where paperwork goes to die if it doesn't make the trip through the wash in one of his pockets. He said, "Wow, files? that might be great....Actually it might freak me out; I've never kept track of that stuff. Why should I start?" I said, "We'll take off your pants and file the contents of your pockets; it'll be like foreplay!"

Turned on by "paper and media organizers," that's me.

the BUTT

Everyone has a story of their kid saying something rude about someone to their faces. Mine happened at the YMCA. We were in the bathroom of the women's locker room waiting for Jack Peter to finish pooping. It's embarrassing enough that everyone had to listen to the pooping narrative, but an enormous woman was doing something at the sinks during the process. I was standing at the door of the stall poised with toilet paper in my hand which left Steel to wander. She didn't go too far. She was like a little satellite or moon orbiting the woman at the sink. The woman had one of those gravity-defying rear ends. It was the size of a college dorm room fridge on it's side resting precariously on two traffic cones. The woman was wearing a massive bra and an even huger pair of underwear. Steel murmured, "She has a big butt." I chose to say nothing. The woman let out a low throaty, "uh huh." It was all easy enough for me to ignore until Steel cried, "MOM! I SAID SHE HAS A BIG BUTT!" The woman said, "I like that!" and I sort of laughed nervously and hurried us out.

It's a funny enough story, but it got funnier when the delirious feverish Steel was in my arms 2 weeks later. I had just finished telling her that she was too sick to go to the YMCA to swim. She accepted that news in silence. A few minutes later she said, "Mom? Do you remember the butt at the Y?"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

falling short...

I make a show of being a good parent: I made a cake shaped like a whale because my son wanted whale at his end-of-school party, and I couldn't find any whale meat to grill. (I could kill the guy who actually made an octopus pasta salad for his kid who wanted octopus at the party) However in the chaos of the party, I abandoned my hungry 20 lb baby girl into the somewhat-willing arms of a very pregnant mom with 2 kids of her own for almost 1/2 hour so I could shove octopus in Jack Peter's mouth and cuddle Steel. Steel wasn't into the festivities; as soon as her dad arrived they went upstairs to the little nap area to sleep. He and I ate lunch and left the party to try and squeeze some work in. Steel was discovered by a worried teacher an hour later all alone on the floor burning up with a fever. Far be it from me to think, "hmmmm......her brother just got over being sick; she's eaten 1 strawberry and a sip of a banana smoothie all day; she's passed out; maybe she's not well."

I make a show of being a functioning pottery business. Today's task was to finally pack and ship an order for a place in Santa Barbara. It's been in a corner, 2 pots shy of complete for 3 months, with a big note on it: "Ship end of May." No one is going to die if a shipment of pottery arrives June 10 instead of May 31, but why the hell do I leave it to last minute and be foiled by a feverish kid?

I try to convince myself that I'm a good wife, too. Of course upon hearing I'd have to turn around and go pick up my kids 4 hours before I'd planned to, I stomped into my husband's office to have him help me get the 3 car seats back in the car. It was 90 degrees out, so that was a truly unpleasant task, but I probably could have done it myself if I weren't wanting to make a point of the fact that I was going to pick up the sick kid.

Tim was in a major meeting with bankers, and the car seats had been removed because he spent yesterday catering to the needs of his Japanese mentor (70 something) and girlfriend (32) and those of every other person who wanted to hang out with the mentor. Tim chose to BBQ even though it was 90 degrees, a
nd our garden is in direct sunlight all afternoon. The professor's English isn't great, and architects are generally abysmal at small talk, so it was a socially lurchy kind of day. Social lurching usually results in way too much alcohol consumption. However, alcohol makes Tim that much more likely to want to really communicate. The night ended with his trying to convince said (jet lagged, exhausted, drunk) professor at midnight that he had taken a huge part in creating the Philly community in which we live because he was such an inspiration to so many budding architects here. Either Yoshida wasn't understanding, or he was culturally offended by Tim's obsessive praise or he was just plain drunk and tired, but Tim wasn't getting the response he'd expected which caused him to rephrase numerous times only to hit the same mute wall. Meanwhile I'm whipping up the whale cake at midnight spraying blue buttercream all over the kitchen walls because I haven't gotten the hang of revving up my Kitchenaid to clean off the beaters the way my mom used to...

I also make a show of being a good daughter. The weekend before my dad was visiting. He lives alone and is 6'1" 160lb. I have a bet with myself when I'm pregnant that I never want to outweigh a McDonald brother, but I outweigh my own dad 5 months into it. He's fun to cook for because he gorges himself and rhapsodizes about it the whole time in his thick Rhode Island accent. We went to a farmers' market, and I picked up some rhubarb to make him a pie. I only bought 3 stalks. I prepared them and gave Toby the ends to gnaw on. There were some leafy bits that I didn't think she'd be able to tear through, but she almost choked; I extricated the leaf from the back of her tongue and gave her something else to gum. I realized I didn't have enough rhubarb for a strictly rhubarb pie, so I went online for a strawberry rhubarb recipe. It started, "Prepare the rhubarb and throw away the leaves; they are poisonous..."

So here I am happily blogging because the kids are home and I can't work. (I think of myself as a pretty dedicated blogger, but I dumped a rye and ginger on my computer. The result is a complete loss of battery power which is making everything a pain. Now I'm even falling short at this...) Sick kids have excused me from another dreaded kid birthday party and going out tonight to not talk with abysmal-at-small-talk architects and non-English speakers at a KOREAN BBQ. ("Hmmmm it's really hot; lets go sit around a fire and cook meat again, but this time we'll do it INSIDE!" Architects are morons...) Normally I'm chasing kids around with broccoli screaming about rescinding their coveted single movie night if they don't do whatever I'm wanting them to, but when they're sick I'm a parenting slacker: I don't need to fight any battles. They get to drink juice, eat chips and watch movies. So 2 out of 3 of my kids are deathly ill, my husband is exhausted, and I feel like I won the lottery.

What kind of mom allows her son to wear the tweety bird one-piece in public? It's out of my control, and it was great to see the Japanese guests' faces when confronted with this....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

stinky feet

5/14/2009-JP's 3rd birthday....I scheduled it for 4:30 on Thursday, his actual birthday, assuming that it would be such an odd time that few people would show up. 19 kids and at least 40 adults were there. Wine and cake were everywhere. Steel was staggering around at the end of it shoving cake in her mouth from every plate she saw and grabbing half empty juice boxes, ripping the straws out, arching her back to coax out any remaining drops, crushing the boxes in her hands as she sucked. I hope it wasn't a a foreshadowing of her future behavior at 2 am in some frat house, but I fear the worst. Jack Peter was as gracious as a 3 year old recipient of 35 presents could be, but it wasn't pretty....

So we survived Jack Peter's 4th birthday party. A glutton for punishment, I approached it much like I did last year. I scheduled it for 5:30 pm on his actual birthday...a Friday. I cleared all the furniture out of a room and put pillows, mattresses and blow up beds in there with all of the linens in the house. Real bouncy castles are expensive and kids have to wait their turns because there's a limit on the number of children and the blower thing is really loud. My way, no one has to wait, and it almost ensures us an exciting trip to the ER. Tim dutifully used every drop of helium in the BJ's tank to blow up 50 balloons. I made another ridiculous cake. There were 3 cases of beer, lots of juice packets, cheese balls and carrots.

I'm the only one who lost her mind...An hour before the party I went to get plates at the Asian grocery store thinking that I'm going to be throwing a lot of these parties in my life, so I might as well have unbreakable plates for everyone because throw away plates upset me, and I can't let that much of my pottery get broken. I lost my car keys at the store. I still don't know where I left them. It was sometime after Steel came up to me clutching a slippery quart glass jar of kim chee (korean pickled cabbage) or maybe while Jack Peter was climbing on the stack of 25 plastic kid chairs reaching for the plungers...After a 1/2 hour of hysterically searching, having banished the kids to the car (running out every 5 minutes to make sure they were still there) a woman brought the keys to me. I couldn't understand her well enough to figure out where I'd left them. I refrained from invoking any fake Chinese. My friend, Sarah, had "fluent in fake Chinese" at the bottom of her resume.

The bouncy room ended up smelling like stinky feet. How can kids this young smell bad? If I was worried about last year's party foreshadowing my childrens' future frat party behavior, this year tops it. 2 out of the 3 manic naked kids streaking around at the end of the evening were mine. I finally got to relax and take the balloons out of my hair. (Jack Peter wanted me to look like a bug by attaching 2 green balloons to my head.) It was probably the first kid party any adults enjoyed only because my mom was there and told me that I'd be cruel if I didn't let them all watch the Flyers game. She was right.
I tried to wind down the kids by putting on a movie. That was about as successful as putting the Flyers on to wind down the adults...

Monday, May 10, 2010

a branch of philosophy

I told my kids' uncle that I wouldn't put these pictures online, but I was lying. I edited out the undulating labial ones. Undulating bums are OK right? How can I keep these from the world? My husband and I like to walk down the street wearing this baby on our fronts with her naked thighs dangling out of the Moby Wrap. It gives pleasure to so many. She's a Marilyn Monroe baby. If Marilyn can look back, does she have regrets? She gave and continues to give so much pleasure. She had a life of consequence, didn't she?

“Amherst College educates men and women of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value and advance knowledge, engage the world around them and lead principled lives of consequence.”
knowledge: the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning
principled: objectively defined standards of rightness or morality
morality: concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct

I went to Amherst College. Do I lead a "life of consequence?" I have 3 vases of french tulips surrounding me. I'd be fine with one. I'd be FINE with none, but I have 3, and I'm really happy about it. I make pottery for a living. I have to charge a lot of money for the pottery. A lot of money is relative. I could not afford my own pots, but people can and do. Sometimes I feel ashamed that they cost so much-especially now that I live in Philadelphia instead of San Francisco. People have to spend 1/2 a million for a house in SF, so what's $50 for a great coffee cup?

Above-mentioned uncle's partner and I had a date night the other night. I call nights out with female friends date nights now. I get that excited, flustered feeling before my dates. Tiffany reminded me that 3 years ago when 12 of us were in Italy, we started a meal by giving thanks for things. Apparently I gave thanks for color. It's all I think about (except for astrology and the whereabouts of all sippy cups) Maybe color is a subplot and beauty is the main one.
æsthetics: a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.
Hmmm....Maybe I should say I'm a philosopher. It sounds much classier than a potter. I wouldn't have to deal with the Patrick Swayze thing. I'd be able to justify the prices of my work because I think about the colors all the time. AND people wouldn't give me crap for putting naked pictures of my gorgeous baby online.

I only date 2 women, by the way, and both of them are stunning.


So my son can wear a dress to school 2 out of 3 days a week, but I'm not supposed to let my daughter have a short haircut....Tim resisted, but now he's on board.

She isn't as much of a gender bender as my son is, but she only humored me for about 5 minutes to wear the pink hoodie dress. The source of her insistence on no skirts, no dresses, short hair and monster truck sleepy suits is not so much a desire to be boyish. It's a combination of spite, competition, comfort and adoration...

It's clear that Jack Peter likes dresses because they are comfortable, cute, twirly, and he gets a lot of attention for wearing them. Steel's refusal to wear dresses is still a mystery to me, but her love of his clothes is primarily a desire to have the things she knows he wants. I blithered away drunkenly to Tim the other night about wanting to instill in her an ability to figure out what SHE wants. How does one do that? Jack Peter always has wanted exactly what he's wanted. Steel either wants what he has or wants to lie in my arms and be fed pretending she can't what Toby wants. Ironically, she's the most demanding of my children.

I not only want her to want what she wants...I want those wants to be the right wants. I want her to want broccoli. I want her to want exercise. I want her to want equity in the world. I asked when she was griping about not getting the armrest chair, "Steel, would it be fair if Jack Peter ALWAYS got the armrest chair?" "NO!" "So is it fair that Steel ALWAYS gets the armrest chair?" "YES!"

Competition must be at the root of it. Tim always maintains that he has NO INTEREST in competition, and yet he has to deal with competition regularly as an architect. He is convinced that how someone else performs doesn't motivate him at all. I, on the other hand, am unabashedly competitive through and through. My mother always described me as "the one to get the 2nd A." Once I knew it was possible to do something, I wanted to do it too and better. Why would I try to squelch my innate competitive nature when it's always served me well?

Now I work entirely alone. Is it that I don't want to deal with competition? I don't even enter shows. The payoff for entering juried ceramic shows never seemed worth it to me, but maybe I don't want to ignite that competitive little lacrosse player and risk NOT getting the ball....

We had a couple over who had both been laid off. The husband was interviewing at a firm that Tim knows to be rapacious. Tim said, "If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you be interviewing at that firm?" Of course we all had to answer what we'd be doing if money were no longer a factor. Tim wants to be an urban farmer! Maybe the competition is getting to him. I'd do the same thing I already do except I'd give the pots away-maybe with some arugula in them if Tim's farming so much...I'd definitely have more flowers, massages and yoga in my life.

My dad has always done exactly what he wanted. He is turning 75 next week. He's thinking he might have to give up living in the middle of nowhere in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Tim has been suggesting a condo here in Philly. Grandpa Peter is mulling it over, but the big hurdle for him, in a thick Rhode Island accent: "I won't be able to get loaded at night and blast my music!"

Monday, May 3, 2010

wasabi peas

pepto pink cup and pitcher

Steel's in a noticing and commenting phase. She started the weekend by getting into bed with us and saying, "Jesse Friedman doesn't talk; he just bounces on his ball." Jesse is autistic, and I've been wondering when my kids were going to notice. We haven't been to Jesse's house in a while; she's been mulling that over for 2 months. Steel asked a woman at the YMCA why she has so many pimples on her face. At a friend animatedly asking questions of Baby Toby, Steel shouted, "SHE DOESN'T TALK!"

It's a shame we all don't say what we're thinking. My friend Martha and her husband have a posse of 4 couples who hang out regularly. They cook fancy food and take too long to do it, so they're all drinking for hours on empty stomachs. Things get out of hand from what I've heard. At the end of the most recent night Martha teetered into the bathroom while the hostess finished with the last of the dishes. Everyone had gone. Martha is
excruciatingly gorgeous. She was squinting at herself in the mirror. It appeared that one of her nipples was erect and off center. She's a modest person, so for her to wear a tight, cute top was a stretch, but she had. After some excavating, she discovered a wasabi pea had fallen down her shirt and made its way almost to the center of her left breast. She was horrified. She came out holding the pea, bellowing at her friend at the sink. The friend said, "Oh thank God! I've been wondering all night what the hell was wrong with your nipple!"

Martha couldn't live for a minute with the idea that they'd ALL thought she had 1 off-center, perpetually erect nipple and none of them had said anything. She
texted everyone, "That was NOT my nipple; it was a wasabi pea!" One male immediately responded, "That was NOT my penis; it was a cucumber roll!"

If everyone said what they thought about my work, I'd lose my mind. One of my best friends doesn't like my "pepto pink." I've never forgotten it. I've even gifted him pepto pink bowls to try and change his mind. My husband made the mistake of saying he doesn't like one of our coffee mugs. It plagues me. It works in the converse also. If someone says they like one thing, I assume they don't like everything else.

Somehow the weekend ended with Jack Peter and Steel naked outside on the landing pretending to shoot passers by. There was a huge gay pride event in our neighborhood. If everyone said what they were thinking, I'm sure I'd have heard more than once, "What a shame those two little white trash, bigoted homophobes get to live in such a cool