Monthly Archives: December 2010


The cousins arrived.

Santa came to grandma’s house on Christmas Eve. Who do you think was most excited?

He came back that night and filled stockings with band-aids, scotch tape, play-doh.

Then we went to the island.

Now we are here. We wear down vests and mud boots all day. We walk. We sit on the couch and talk about investment portfolios, book contracts and potty training. We dig through the bin of 50 cookie cutters and try to guess the animal for each. It’s surprisingly difficult. Is that a giraffe or a llama? Paul fixed the faucet. I steam cleaned the carpet that Josie smeared with Aquaphor last summer. I’m enjoying a book (Out Stealing Horses) for the first time since I read Cutting for Stone. I read while sitting with my feet close enough to the fire to melt the tread off my slippers.

We promised the girls a trip to the lake after their naps. We took them even though it was almost dark.

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s True

I’ve been a little quiet lately, but only on this here blog. Every other part of my life is very, decidedly, not quiet. It’s been moving so fast and demanding everything. Yes, it’s true. I have a book contract sitting on my desk. Right now. After 2.5 years it appears that Who in This Room will finally be published and available in October 2011.

I was shopping for my niece at the GAP when I got the call. It was all oh, ok, well, that IS good news. Then: Can I get this shirt in a kids size 8? Sometimes it takes a little while for these things to sink in. And then when they do… Oh, heavens.

Because the publisher, a small press called Calyx Books, wants the book to be out in time for Breast Cancer Awareness month, we need to hurry. The usually tight publishing timeline has to be compressed. I’m in a world I know nothing about. I’m reaching in all different directions. I’m reading, researching, asking questions and begging for favors. (Thank you friends.) I’m learning, processing and trying to crystallize the important. I’m building a plan, a divine master plan in my head. When I have it, when I see how the next few years will roughly play out, then I will rest.

Oh, and by the way, this 5 page questionnaire about you and the book and how it will be promoted, we’ll need it by the end of the year. What? Yeah, goodbye holidays.

But I’m not complaining because if all continues in this direction, I’ll have a book in 10 months. It’s a book I’m looking forward to holding in my hands and, eventually, closing.

A Punch in the Face

After Josie was diagnosed with lactose and fructose intolerance I began to wonder how years of consuming lactose-laden foods had affected her behavior, and if her behavior would change with her new diet. Of course, as I thought (fantasized?) about my girl transforming into a quiet easy going child, like other kids I’d heard about but never actually met, I didn’t like the idea one bit. I love that she’s gritty and tough and doesn’t let anyone (including her parents) push her around.

A few weeks into her new diet I’m chatting with the director of her preschool and she tells me about an incident at snack time. Josie’s sitting next to her best friend, we’ll call her Maya. Maya is eighteen months older than Josie, significantly bigger and, um, let’s call her a natural leader (aka: kind of a bully). Maya likes to be in charge and most of the time Josie is so swept up in Maya’s awesome-olderness that she’s happy to follow.

At snack time Maya takes one of Josie’s animal crackers. Now, you don’t mess with Josie’s food. Josie asks for it back. Maya ignores Josie. The teacher tells Maya to give it back. Maya ignores the teacher. Josie stands up and reaches over to her friend’s plate and tries to grab one of her cookies. Maya grabs Josie’s hand and they push and pull and push and pull. Josie’s fingers get squished and she lets go. Josie sits back down but she’s mad. Nothing has worked. The teacher hasn’t been able to fix it. That’s when Josie turns to Maya, pulls her elbow back, and punches Maya in the face.

I guess we don’t have to worry about Josie going all submissive and mellow on us.

When I heard the story I kind of felt like laughing and saying good for her. The director seemed to think it was funny. You have to know how pushy Maya is to really understand. In a way, it’s great to see someone try to keep this girl in check. Josie’s punch may have been one of the strongest messages Maya could have received – from anyone. But then, of course, rational mother steps in and says it’s never okay to hit… Ever. Or is it?

I’m thinking about all this, my brain still whirring, when my friend posts this on his Facebook page.

Parenting survey: your 4 year old daughter comes down from the top of the playground structure, crying her eyes out. She says, through her tears: “Daddy, a boy hit me in the face!!” You give her a hug and then say …. What would you say?

Oh my, the comments he got… Some parents encouraged their children to defend themselves, to hit back when provoked. Others were strongly against hitting under any conditions.

What would you say? Do you encourage your kids defend themselves?

Josie’s Bootcamp

I guess we’re supposed to call it child-centered play. That term is so much more politically correct than child-dominated play. But dominated is so much more appropriate.

The other evening we’re in her bedroom.

She keeps her palms on the floor and kicks up her legs like a donkey. Do dis Mommy!

I do it.

Then she jumps from a squat reaching up toward the ceiling. And do dis Mommy!

I do it.

Then she puts them together – a donkey kick and a squat jump. Do dis den do dis Mommy!

I do it.

Again! Again!

I do it again and again. She stops doing it but insists I continue. I’m wearing my glasses, a wool sweater, and my sheepskin-lined slippers.

She puts her hands on her hips and watches. Every time I try to stop she shrieks Again! Again!

I am SUCH a good mom.

PS – I’ll write about my exciting book-related news when the contracts are signed. Stay tuned!

Three Sisters Stew

I’m long overdue to share some culinary genius with you guys. Of course, this genius is not mine but from my favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family. It’s a vegetarian stew that’s meaty and filling. Josie can’t get enough. If you use delicate squash, you don’t have to peel it. You can just scrape out the seeds, chop it up and drop it in.


  • 1 cup dried Christmas lima beans, soaked 6 to 8 hours and drained
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 cups winter squash peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen corn


  1. Place beans, 2 cups of stock and 1 teaspoon of cumin in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until beans are tender (50-60 minutes).
  2. Heat a 4-quart pot to medium, add oil and saute the remaining cumin oregano and cinnamon for 30 seconds. Add onion, salt, and garlic; saute until onion is soft (5 minutes). Add squash, tomatoes, and chili powder, bring to a simmer and cook until squash is soft (about 20 minutes). Add 1/2 to 1 cup stock if mixture is dry. Add cooked beans and corn; simmer until corn is tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.


We’re heading in the right direction in our household.

We have more positive interaction, more harmony. We have more good days now – more days of Josie at her best. She’s affectionate, verbal, and expressive. After dinner last night she came over to me and told me she had a secret. She whispered I wuv you in my ear.

Sometimes in the evening we do a little stretching/yoga-business to calm ourselves down after a long day. She copies my moves. She focuses on my complex poses, the placement of my arms and legs.

One recent Sunday morning when Paul was out of town she came into my room early. She patted me on the head very gently and said, “I know you’re tired Mommy, but it’s time to get up. Take your time but you’ll need to get up soon.” She finished it off with a kiss on the cheek.

We can reason with her again. Standard discipline approaches – like Parenting with Love & Logic and the Incredible Years – seem more likely to work. We still have our power struggles but we recover and she’s less likely to spend time screaming. She recovers.

She goes right to sleep an hour earlier than just a few months ago and she sleeps though the night.

The other morning when she was having a power struggle with her dad she walked into the kitchen, arms crossed, head down and said, “Daddy, it makes me feel sad when you talk at me that way.”

We’re just past her birthday and in the time of year when she’s more balanced anyway. It happens every year. Maybe all this positive awesomeness is the usual ebb and flow of child development, maybe it’s the result of a big verbal advancement, or maybe the dietary changes; maybe it’s all due to the fading evening light. Maybe, and most likely, it’s all of these things. It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad it’s here and that we’re connecting again. I know we’ll have hard times again in the future but for now I’m going to try to collect those moments, for all of us, so that when the next phase comes we have some good times in storage.

Animal Voices

There is nothing funnier than a human speaking for an animal. Except maybe a human balancing something on an animal’s head, that can be funny too.

I wonder if one reason I’m not in love with Norah is that I can’t find her human voice. We spoke for Emily all the time. Maybe it’s a necessary part of bonding and perhaps we can’t develop one for Norah because there’s nothing going on in her head. She doesn’t have anything to say.

Anyway, I’ve watched this three times. I’ve cried every time. There’s nothing funnier than making a cat speak. Nothing.