Friday, June 7, 2013

My own Mother's Prayer for Her Daughter (in addition to all that great stuff Tina Fey has already written)

Dear Lord, Please watch over my dear girl, as she learns that Math is Hard, not because she's a girl, but because she's not a computer.  Give her strength to keep doing the hard stuff anyway.  Place at least one teacher in her life who thinks everything she does is golden, and place at least one teacher in her life who thinks she has an attitude problem, from day one of class, even though she doesn't say a word.

Guide her away from exclusive groups, i.e. cliques, gangs, cults, the Illuminati, and Mommy Groups that look down on moms who don't breastfeed.

May she find someone who she will call her Bosom Friend, and may that friend understand the reference to Anne and Diana, instead of looking at her kind of weird when she says "Bosom Friend" out loud.

When the time comes that she has to make a decision between a bikini and a one-piece, may her decision be guided by the color or cost of the swimsuit, and not by societal pressures to be sexy, or pure, or any other word used to describe women that gives me hives.

May she never blame Thee for not giving her a strong singing voice, or thick eyelashes, or violet-colored eyes, but may she thank Thee daily for giving her Whitney Houston songs to delusionally sing along to anyway, mascara from Target that works just as well as the expensive stuff, and colored contacts, if those are the things her heart truly desires.  

May she find the humor in Quentin Tarantino films, when the timing is right, but may she never look at any of the characters as her personal heroes.  May her yearbook quote be something from a great poet, or thinker, or a John Hughes film.    Anything is fine, really, as long as she stays away from hate speech or Grateful Dead lyrics.

Watch over her when the time comes for her to pick a college major.  Give her the foresight to not pick her future career based on the boy she likes, or the rumors of easiest professors.  Basing it on how cool it sounds when she talks about it at family reunions is fine, obviously.

We thank Thee, Heavenly Parents, for giving her a quick mind, and a strong, able body.  May that combination become quickly apparent to anyone who thinks they can take advantage of her gentle, giving spirit-- preferably in the form of clever retorts in response to harsh words, and swift kicks to the groin in response to unwanted advances.  

May she learn to love her kitchen, not because of any dumb idea that that's her Place, but so that she understands that McDonald's and Taco Bell don't care what she feels like an hour from eating what's in their kitchens.

Give her courage to ask if she can hold babies that don't belong to her, confidence to keep holding those babies, even if they cry, and character to give those babies back to their moms when everything in her tells her to grab a strong hold of those chubby little thighs and make a run for Mexico.  

I'm sure I'll have more things to ask of Thee when stuff comes up that I could have never anticipated.   (The Future isn't seriously going ahead with that idea to make robots made specifically for people who need to cuddle, is it?  If so, expect prayers concerning that).  Because it seems that that's the nature of Mothers who have Daughters.  We just never stop worrying, and there is always something we just never considered needing to worry about.  I know that somehow, that's part of your Grand Design.

Grant me the strength to resist thinking that I have nothing more to worry about... even if the time comes that she thinks everything I do is great and perfect, and I can do no wrong, and she never puts up any resistance to me or my ideas of what she needs.  It's then that I know she's the most lost.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Relationship With Yer Dad

For some reason I think it's funnier to say "yer" instead of "your" right now.  Sorry that it's kind of annoying.

This is Post Number Three in the series of 30 Things I Want You To Know About Me.  I'm supposed to tell you about my relationship with my husband,  AKA your dad.

Something that we hear a lot from family and friends is how smitten I am with your dad.  I really do think he's just about as perfect as a man can get.  He's very handsome, he's smart, he's hilarious, and he does everything he can to keep us safe and happy.

We are alike in many ways.  We find the same things funny, and we have the same taste music and art. We share the same values, and we struggle with a lot of the same flaws.

We've been married for ten years, but before we were married, we were best friends for five years. When I was 16, because I was a big nerd, we would talk on America Online instant messages (holy crap, we are so old.)  I used to get very excited about receiving an e-mail from him.  He was funny, and always gave good advice when I needed it.  Sometimes he would help me with homework assignments, or we'd play Beatles lyric games, or we'd message back and forth until late at night until one of us was the decided victor in an unspoken contest of which one of us is funnier (him... always him.)

When we finally met in person, I thought he was the cutest guy I'd ever seen, not counting Ewan McGregor, of course.  I loved being around him, and he always made me laugh.

When we FINALLY started dating, after a year of being "just friends," I decided that I really liked kissing him.

We were best friends, even when we took a break from dating.  It wasn't always easy being in a relationship with the male version of myself, but over the years we found out what our differences were, and we discovered that changing the other person into our more perfect selves was not only impossible, it was even desirable.  We love each other because of our differences, and we encourage each other to be our best, but we aren't interested in changing anything.

I really hope you two find someone who loves you for who you are.  The best advice I can give is to keep your eyes open for the person who is always there for you, even when you're at your lowest.  And try to be the kind of person who can be there for someone else.  And find someone funnier than you, that you like to kiss.  Everything else just kind of falls into place.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3 Legitimate Fears

This is #2 of the 30 Things series that I now realize I should have introduced a little better.  Organization is never going to be my strength.  This is for you, Lennon and Harrison.  I want you to stumble across these posts someday when you google your own name.  I hope you find out a little more about what makes your mom tick, and I hope it offers more insight about who you two are.

So #2 is where I'm supposed to tell you 3 legitimate fears I have, and how they became fears.  One thing I want you to understand about fears is that they are a totally normally part of being a human being.  You can't avoid them, everybody has something they fear, and you should never apologize for your fears.  Your fears are very real to you, and if you hide them, they will never get easier to deal with.  Your personal fears are part of what make you, you.  And not all fears need to be faced.  I hope that if you're afraid of fire, you don't feel some need to walk into a burning building to overcome that.   But you can always remember that your fears can't control you, and they should never keep you from doing something that would make you happy.  I also don't want you to use them as an excuse to avoid doing things that are hard for you.  Doing hard things, in the face of fear, is what will make you a stronger person.

1.  I'm legitimately afraid of ghosts.  I don't know how this fear started, but I know it was perpetuated by all the horror movies I know better than to watch when I'm feeling brave.  As I get older, I become less afraid, because experience has shown me that even in really spooky places where ghosts are most likely to make themselves known, I've still never encountered one.  I just really don't ever want to.  I'm pretty sure if I ever saw a ghost, I would die of a heart attack, and that's just not how I want to die.  If I DO die of a heart attack (which is likely, since that's how most of my ancestors died), just know that it was because of ghosts.  And I've decided that if ghosts are real, I want to be one, and I'm going to haunt you two.  But in a loving way.  Nothing spooky, except for on some Halloweens when I'm bored, and maybe also when you're doing something you shouldn't, like sneaking out of the house, or making out with someone you just met.

2.  I'm afraid of being totally blind.  I don't know what it will be like, not being able to see anything ever again.  I'm afraid it will make me feel claustrophobic.  Even thought this scares me, I'm also fairly sure I'll be fine when it happens, because I'll have no other choice but to be fine.  That's how most fears go.

3.  I'm afraid that something will happen to you two, and I will be helpless to make it unhappen.  I just always want you to be safe, and healthy, and happy.  I don't really know how to get over this fear.  I'm pretty sure it will be around until the day I die.  Maybe even after.  I guess that's another reason I'll want to haunt you.  If anything is going to scare you, I guess I want it to be me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

20 Random Facts About Yer Mom

Hey kids.  It's your mom.  Once upon a time, I used this blog so that people could be like, "Man, she's funny.  She should come write for my popular NBC sitcom."  Then, I started talking about ghosts in my kitchen, and so I stopped blogging altogether, so that the government didn't come take you away from me (for being a crazy woman who thinks her grandma, who died a long time ago, would care that her granddaughter would make cake.)

But I'm back!  I have a good friend named Keiko who has been loyally updating her blog about her own kids, and she started a series of 30 Things She Wants Her Kids To Know About Her.  I thought it was a good idea, so I'm stealing it.  If for some reason, you want to know about Keiko instead of your own mom, you can read her blog here.  If you wish she was your mom instead of me, don't tell me that to my face, or I'll probably cry.

This 30 Things series starts with me writing out 20 Random Facts About Myself.  I'm no rule-breaker, so that's what you're going to get.  Oh yeah, and I'm including stuff about your dad.  Because he doesn't write blogs, but he should.

1.  I like mimes.  Your dad has little patience for them.

2.  When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time playing alone in my room with dolls and little animals.  I made up personalities for all of them, and some of them even had different accents.  I wasn't athletic, or easy to get along with, so about 90% of my memories as a kid are of me playing in my room.  I consider it time well spent.

3.  Your dad, I'm told, was pretty much the same way.  He used to play with Legos and stuffed animals too.  When he was a little older, he became pretty obsessed with basketball, and later, playing the guitar.  What I think I'm saying is, you poor kids have the DNA of introverts, and if either of you ends up being an extrovert, we apologize for how weird you must think we are for giving you so much alone time.  (I'm pretty sure neither of you are extroverts, by the way.)

4.  Ten years ago, your dad and I started working on watching the Top 100 Films, according to the American Film Institute.  We're almost through the list, but it's taking us forever because so many of the movies are way boring.  For example, we both ha--aaaated Yankee Doodle Dandy, and we still don't get why it made the list.  Hopefully it's been bumped by the time we make the attempt to watch all of these again with the two of you.

5.  I never really learned to drive, and your dad was 18 when he finally got his driver's license.  I have a really good excuse, but your dad doesn't.

6.  I used to be really obsessed with TV theme songs.  I can still tell you how the theme song goes to any show made between 1960 and 1995. My favorite is probably the theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, although the theme to  Good TImes or Laverne & Shirley is pretty high up there.   Let's be honest, with themes like The Golden Girls, The Jeffersons, Facts of Life, Full House...  how do you really pick a favorite?  I don't know this for sure, but I bet your dad's favorite would be the theme to the Dukes of Hazzard, or maybe Sanford and Son.  My least favorite is the theme to Law & Order.

7.  The obvious choice for favorite theme song would be the theme to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, because that is still my all-time favorite show that has ever been on television.  I love the way Mister Rogers speaks to people.  I see him as my own personal hero.

8.  I have no idea who your dad's personal hero is.  Probably me.  (I'm joking...)

9.  My favorite sport to watch or play is baseball.  If I had better vision, I think I'd be pretty decent at it, because I'm good at guessing what other people are going to do.  Instead, I settle for being good at Rock, Paper, Scissors.   Your dad's, like I said, was basketball, but now he loves nothing more than taking you kids to baseball games.

10.  I am pretty good at baking, and your dad is pretty good at cooking, but neither of us think of the kitchen as the most favorite room in the house.

11.  Dad grew up in Utah, and I grew up in Arizona.

12.  Your dad's (and now Harrison's) middle name is Bradford, after the Bradford side of his mom's family, which goes back to William Bradford who was on the Mayflower.  I think this is a pretty cool Fun Fact, but your dad always seem less than impressed by it.

13.  The first argument your dad and I ever had was because he said that the song "Glory of Love" (from the movie Karate Kid Part II) was from the band Chicago, and I corrected him and told him it was Peter Cetera.  I don't remember how long we argued about it, but we all know that I won, because duh, it was Peter Cetera.  But also, he won, because correcting people, no matter how right you are, is an annoying thing to do.

14.  For our wedding dinner, we ate Kentucky Fried Chicken in a shopping center in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The next night we ate pizza in Liverpool.  I apologize that your taste buds were determined by our genetics.

15.  I prefer colored lights on a Christmas tree.  And I like live trees.  And I like stars on top, instead of angels.

16.  Your dad is really photogenic.  I'm not.  At all.  I usually have to apologize for ruining people's perfectly good pictures.

17.  If I could be a teenage in any era, I would have picked the 1950's.  I think I would have been a beatnik.  Your dad and I have talked about this, and we both agree we would have been awful at being hippies in the 1960's.  Except for the Loving Everyone part.  We'd be super good at that (unless they were annoying us with their self-involved hippie dancing.)

18.  When I was a kid I really wanted to be a lawyer.  Then I found out other people don't like lawyers, and it was kind of boring.  So I wanted to be a filmmaker.  Then I found out filmmakers have to be good at filmmaking.  So I wanted to be a character voice for animation, or a puppeteer (or, to be more specific, a muppeteer).  Then I found out I don't really have a good voice for that.  Then I wanted to own a bed and breakfast in England, or a record store.  I still secretly want to do all of the above.

19.  Dad really loves old pickup trucks.  I think it would be the first thing he would buy if he ran into a lot of money.

20.  Ever since I was little I wanted a blond daughter and a dark-haired son.  When I drew pictures of kids, that's how I would draw them.  Whenever I got a baby doll, I would ask for one with blonde hair and blue eyes.  My dollhouse dolls had a blonde little girl and her younger, brown-haired brother.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would actually have kids that looked like that.  I guess it was meant to be.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

AP Cake

Lennon had a school assignment this week that asked her to bring a baked good from her culture/heritage. I made about six decent jokes mocking myself, my family, and the assignment, and then I really got to thinking about what we could make. Eric is Swedish on his mom's side and Dutch on his dad's side (not to mention about a gazillion other European things... he's related to William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation fame, and he's probably descended from the hunkiest court jesters in Euroland, because, hubba hubba, that man can make me laugh). (And that's how you ruin an otherwise decent blog post you could proudly share with your children someday).

I am half Mexican and half German. This would explain why I desperately love accordions. I am closer to the Mexican side of my family, because I grew up around them, and I have really only visited my dad's side a handful of times. I still feel very close to my German roots, and absolutely love all things Pennsylvania, where both sides of my dad's family have planted themselves ever since the first of them came to America in the 1700's.

For the most part, I relate to this side of my family through food. My dad introduced me to TastyKakes, Cheez Whiz and pretzels, and funnel cake, and I was pretty much sold. Excuse me, but you like to fry dough and eat tiny cakes? Yes, okay, please.

I remember my dad making something called AP Cake. My mom had the recipe from his mom in her recipe box, but it was never a regular thing in our house. I only specifically remember one night in particular when my dad made it for everyone. It's one of those memories you don't know you have, until it's triggered by something as random as a school assignment brought home by your kid twenty years later, but it's there, golden and warm, and as easy to recall as what you did this morning. It wasn't important, or eventful, and there's no reason it should be so easy to remember. But I do.

When Lennon and I were talking about all of her different cultures, I knew I wanted to share AP Cake with her, the way my dad shared it with us. So I asked my Aunt Jean if she had a recipe, and she sent me one she found online that had all the same ingredients. And in true Aunt Jean fashion, she didn't hesitate to offer some back story. My grandma, she added to the bottom of the recipe, used to make these cakes and sell them. She mixed the ingredients by hand, and she used Gold Medal flour. She could remember exactly how her mom looked in the kitchen, making these cakes. And she admitted to tearing up about it.

So this afternoon, Lennon, Harrison, and I gathered the ingredients and started making some cake. We talked about my dad, and where he grew up, and what little I knew about my grandma, having never met her. I told them about how my dad made this cake for me when I was a kid, and how I could remember the way it smelled more than anything else. Harrison loved cracking the eggs and mixing the dough by hand, and Lennon loved packing the brown sugar and measuring the Crisco.

At one point, just as we were adding the milk, the kitchen started to feel ... how can I describe this? Even more full. Not exactly crowded, but just on the verge of that. And then, my grandma, who I had never met, and who I know very little about, suddenly became very real to me.

It was a quick moment, lost to Harrison's desire to add twice as many eggs, but it was special, and I hoped that it would stay with me, until one day, it was recalled with the same golden, warm clarity as the memories that made it possible.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Lennon hates Spirit Week at her school. But of all the days she despises, it turns out Nerd Day is at the top of her list of Days That Should Be Nevermore.

I asked her to get ready this morning, and reminded her that it was Nerd Day, so if she wanted to, she could wear one of Harrison's button-up plaid shirts, and a pair of his church pants.

She went into his room, and came out a minute later crying.

"Mom, I HATE Nerd Day. It makes me feel like I'm making fun of someone."

My sweet, sweet Lennon.

So I explained that most Nerds nowadays are pretty darn proud of their nerdiness. Some of them would even walk in a parade to declare it, if that opportunity ever arose.


But she wasn't buying that for a dollar. She said that it felt like she would be making fun of someone, just for being smart.

And I saw her point. Nerd Day is a little bit about mocking the set who chooses academics over fashion. You see a lot of kids, who would otherwise never wear such a thing, with white shirts, highwater pants, and pocket protectors, and, Lennon's least favorite part of Nerd Day... the fake glasses. We had this issue a couple of years ago, and decided to make amendments by adding white tape to her own glasses. It, apparently, was not enough.

So I explained my own definition of a Nerd. A Nerd, I stated, is someone who loves something so much, they learn everything they can about it. He or she might devote a major part of their life to the pursuit of more knowledge on that topic. The things a Nerd loves most become more important to him or her than Being Like Everyone Else, and so, a Nerd distinguishes him or herself from the rest of the pack. A Nerd is just someone who likes something with passion.

I told Lennon there were different types of Nerds. I explained that my favorite type of Nerd is the Star Wars nerd. I'm not a Star Wars Nerd, by any means. I have no idea how many crystals are necessary to properly focus the plasma through the hilt of a lightsaber, or how to do a decent impression of a Wookie, but I admire those who do know those things.

So I asked what kind of Nerd she'd like to be, and we could make an outfit that Honored that kind of Nerd, instead of making fun.

She asked if I had any shirts with Star Wars. I did have one, so I fished it out of the back of my closet. She also wanted to wear some of my socks, so I gave her a pair of argyle ones that, oh my goodness, so sad, FIT her (She's getting so old.) And she searched for her Converse and asked me to do her hair however I want (I went for a modified Princess Leia thing). Then she said she'd make sure everyone knew that she wasn't "making fun" of someone who likes Star Wars. She said, if anyone asked, she would tell them, "I'm going as my Mom for Nerd Day."

Aw shucks, Lennon. I'm honored.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


This conversation just happened and I rushed to the computer to write it down so I could always remember that time I was a moron:

Lennon: Mom can we go see Oprah?

Me: Um... we'd have to take a plane to Chicago.

Lennon: Is Oprah only in Chicago?

Me: Yeah. And actually, we couldn't go see Oprah, because Oprah doesn't have a show anymore.

Lennon: That's sad. What do all the singers do?

Me: Singers?

Lennon: Yeah, like (does what I think is a Celine Dion impression)

Me: Are you talking about Celine Dion? I don't know what she does. I'm sure she'll be fine without Oprah.

Lennon: Is she in Chicago too?

Me: (Beginning to question how we got here) No... Las Vegas I think....

Lennon: So but you said you can only see Oprah in Chicago?

Me: Lennon, are you talking about Opera?

Lennon: I think so.