Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nora for President

I am not a political person. 

I know a lot of people think that's kind of a cop-out these days. It's not that I don't have opinions on political matters or decisions - I have opinions, I vote in elections, I somewhat pay attention to what's happening in the world around me (= I mostly listen when my husband spews off bits and pieces of updates on current events and headlines and tweets, at least until my eyes glaze over and I start thinking instead of how delicious an ice cream cake would be right about now......), BUT, I typically refrain from making any big political statements on social media or in public or in private, or, ever. I feel like four years in Berkeley just kind of drained every ounce of any bit of political activism out of me.... there were more than enough other people around me on that campus and in that city who were really good at it and could cause more of a scene than I could ever DREAM of.

This will probably be the first - and only - vaguely political post I'll ever write. So if you're into that, I'm sorry. You can return to Facebook or Twitter or just about anywhere else on the internet after you're done reading this and I'm sure you'll get your fill of it. 
Or, if you're like me, and you're not into that, then - you're welcome! 

So here's my big statement.... ready?

You know that "you must be at least 35 years old to run for president" rule? 
I think we need to change it. I think we should change it to only allow presidential candidates under the age of 10. If you're too old to order from the kids' menu, then you're past your prime and too old to run this country responsibly. (...and since we mentioned it, why MUST you be a kid to order from the kids' menu, anyway? who are THEY to decide who can or can't eat a child-sized portion of food? isn't this some form of discrimination? agism? that's a thing, right??...and what if I just really want to color while I'm waiting for my dinner? ....I digress. This post has apparently ignited my long-dormant inner-activist.)

How does this make any sense? I'll tell you how. It's very simple.

I'm constantly reminded by my six-year-old just how EASY it can be to be a good person. Just a decent human being that knows right from wrong. Kids understand morality at the most basic level and in the simplest terms; it's honestly shocking how we - as a society of so-called "grown-ups" - can screw it up so royally.


Over the last few months, I've introduced Nora to the "American Girl" series of books that I read as a kid. If you're not familiar (I feel sorry for you!!), the 'original' American Girls were five 9-10 year-old fictional girls that each grew up in a different era in American history. There was a doll for each girl, and each one had a series of books that told their stories. (Note there are now like a billion American Girl dolls you can buy.... apparently tons of different 'modern' books now... I've completely lost track and choose to just shield Nora from the billion newer dolls and book available... she seems quite content with my hand-me-down doll and books, and these things are freaking expensive.) I had Kirsten, who was a Swedish immigrant living in the midwest in the mid-1800s. We have all six of Kirsten's books, which we read first. I forgot how intense parts of these stories were - and the fact that I read them when I was 10 or 11... after learning at least a little about some of these parts of American history in school - unlike Nora, at 6 years old, who is now scarred for life that Kirsten's best friend Marta dies of cholera on the boat ride to America from Sweden, about 15 pages into the first book. She still asks when Marta's coming back. (At her age, I realize I was already an Oregon Trail veteran and cholera was no big deal - no worse than your entire family dying of dysentery or snake bites.) I also had a couple of books from each of the other girls/dolls. Lately, we've been reading some of Addy's stories - Addy is a former slave living in Philadelphia at the end of the Civil War. Again - some pretty heavy topics come up throughout these books - slavery, racism, discrimination, war - and for Nora, this is really her first introduction to this period in American history. At the very end of each of these fictional books is a section called "A Peek Into the Past" - a few pages about what everyday life was like in America during the times in which the story is set, with actual photos, and historical facts, figures, and events. Nora always wants to read this part and always has a thousand questions. At the end of the most recent book, which is set just after the end of the Civil War, it talked about segregation, 'separate but equal', Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights movement, and voting rights. Nora was in disbelief. She couldn't get over the idea that people would be treated unfairly (much less enslaved) just because they had a different skin color or looked differently. She said very matter-of-factly and without even thinking: "That doesn't make sense, because - people can't choose what color skin they have, they're just born with it." I don't know if I've ever had a prouder moment as a parent.

When we got to the mention of voting, we talked for a minute about how for a very long time, only white men were allowed to vote. Then after the Civil War, (some) black people were also able to vote, and years later, women were finally allowed to vote. (I understand this gets much more complex, but again, she's six - so had to stick to the key points.) She had the hardest time comprehending how this made sense, and I couldn't decide if I felt heartbroken trying to explain that this was our country's actual history, or if, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I felt my heart fill with love and hope for the fact that she, as a first grader, knows at her core that this is not how people should be treated and that there's something inherently wrong with this way of thinking. She knows that human beings are human beings and should be treated with fairness, kindness, and respect. And she, and millions of kids just like her, are our future. 

I am hopeful. 

Oh, and..... disregard the crown in her self-portrait.... she hasn't yet learned that presidents don't get to wear a crown. Or maybe she actually wants to be a monarch.... this may change my outlook a bit.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Some days you've just gotta sit and take in the sunshiney day.

After a super-fun/crazy-busy start to the weekend, this was long overdue and a very much welcomed change of pace to cap off the weekend. 

Half-day of work Friday (= attempting to squeeze an eight-hour day into only 4 hours = madness with no potty breaks)...race to get to school by 1:30 to teach an art lesson (how am I remotely qualified for this again? And what possessed me to volunteer for this monthly endeavor? And wh- .....dang, these kids are sweethearts. Nevermind, this is awesome and I love it again).... gather children when school gets out and shuttle them to mom's for sleepover - wait, forgot to bring an endless supply of snacks for after-school munchies - pit stop at Jamba Juice - commence drive to mom's... drop off, get back in car, drive home and get ready for crab feed. Super fun night at crabfeed with some of our favorite people and where does all this wine keep coming from? ...back to our house, with more wine and a late-evening bonfire and tap dancing on the patio (an impromptu one-woman show that absolutely no one requested brought to you by yours truly, because those two shoes have been calling to me lately and, because, wine).... to bed later, MUCH later than a 30-something mother of two should go, to wake up and be out the door at 7:15 to go run four miles with my lovely cousin who was smart enough to get a decent night's sleep... somehow managed to cross the finish line in one piece and even get a decent time... get home, shower, drive to mom's, pick up children, drive home, tell Nora to pick out an outfit that makes her look like a normal human child (what I get for letting the kids pack that overnight suitcase), grab gift to run to classmate's birthday party and arrive right at start time (THANK YOU VERY MUCH! this never happens. Have a quick toast in the parking lot to celebrate. No, scratch that - frowned upon and now we're late. Dammit.) ....birthday fun, school-mom chatting and small talk, pizza (yes please and thank you and can I have seconds? I just remembered I ran four miles this morning and drank fourteen bottles of wine last night and forgot to eat lunch and I am a pizza vacuum.).... home for a brief break, change clothes and make everyone presentable again, grab second round of birthday gifts and head to afore-mentioned lovely cousin's birthday dinner at aunt and uncle's house for more food (....bring it on, I will continue to eat ALL OF IT) and mooooore wine (flashbacks of night before instead point me in the direction of sparkling water.... wise move, Me....). Eat, eat more, eat MOOOORE, sing, laugh, cake, laugh more, chase children, presents, find a way to eat a little more, hugs, car, drive home..... GOODNIGHT.

....child stealing my phone to watch something on Netflix....
....child is hungry. Other child now awake and also hungry. And we're up.

Laundry, yard work, cleaning, grocery sh--nope, nope, nope: SCREW THAT.

A late morning breakfast out (okay - brunch... FINE: it should have been lunchtime, but technically, if you've slept in, then taken forever to get out the door, and haven't actually eaten anything yet, it's still breakfast), followed by a lazy park afternoon with a healthy dose of vitamin D after a long stretch of rainy days and the madness of the previous 48 hours, and.......

Ah. Recharge: complete.

Chaos commencing again in: 5...4...3...2....

Sunday, January 29, 2017

There were never such devoted sisters....

Lucie: "Nora, I think you ate a really good dinner."

Nora: "No, YOU ate a really good dinner... you had almost more than ME!" (She didn't. This is an absolute lie.)

Lucie: "But I think YOU ate a really good dinner, because, I LOVE you!"


It's okay, I'm allowed to have that reaction, even as their mom. I promise. In fact, BECAUSE I'm their mom, I get to make that call, and I say, yes, in this case, a "BARF" response is sometimes what's called for.

But, this. This is sister love. Right here. Innocent, unconditional, and, well, always when I least expect it.

These girls are so in love with each other. Like, so much, that it sometimes makes us nearly cringe and gag as their parents. And yet, somehow - in between all this lovey-language and hugging and baby talk to each other - they are screaming and hitting and snatching toys from each other and mortal enemies. Day and night, Jekyl and Hyde, whatever you want to call it.... these little Two-Faces can switch it on and off like nobody's business.

It's a sister thing. 

I remember this too, with my sister, but as an adult, feel like the petty arguing and fighting over toys or clothes or which game to play or who-hit-who-first make up a very small percentage of the childhood memories I have of the two of us. I do remember, very clearly, lots of make-believe... using our young brains and active imaginations to create our own little worlds - playing "apartments" in our bedrooms upstairs, or "store" - or building houses out of couch cushions or lawn chairs and beach towels - or just running laps around the coffee table listening to Elvis's Blue Hawaii or the Cabbage Patch Kids record. I see echoes of these scenes when I'm called into Nora's room to see an after-breakfast "performance" of Moana (involving a lot of jumping off the bed "into the ocean" and improv songs that are definitely not found on the soundtrack), or see cart-loads of stuff wheeled into the living room for a picnic in the "woods" complete with winter hats and gloves and scarves and various wild stuffed animals. That is, until, Lucie explodes because Nora sang over her part of the finale song, or jumped too soon, or brought TWO picnic blankets out when OBVIOUSLY there's only supposed to be ONE blanket for the picnic, even if this picnic is apparently taking place in the arctic.

I think, as sisters, we made it through adolescence pretty well - not too many actual physical fights (I will not forget the times that I playfully slapped her on the side of the face and ran away - on more than one occasion - just knowing how furious it made her). And, most of our arguments (that I can remember anyway) only centered around me complaining that I wasn't invited or welcomed to hang out with my older sister and friends at the point in your lives when a four-year age difference is most dramatic. I'm left now with what seems like half a lifetime of really great memories with an awesome, (only slightly) older version of myself in many ways, who I consider my very best girlfriend that knows me, understands me, and loves me, more than anyone else.

I watch my girls play and hug and fight and wrestle and cry and then hug again, and wish and hope with all my heart that when they're old enough to realize it, they'll be so lucky to see what they really have in each other.

.....Okay, now it's your turn - don't worry, I'll allow it. I deserve it: 


Friday, January 20, 2017

Dinner Party

It's been a long short week.

Work has been busy, busy enough to be stressful - trying to find enough minutes in the day to actually get everything done while still remembering to go to the bathroom and eat and keep a bit of my sanity. These days and weeks come every so often and without warning.... when everything seems to hit all at once and create a crazy whirlwind of a thousand things coming in from every direction that can instantly paralyze me like a giant jellyfish if I'm not careful. Sometimes it's on a Friday, when I least expect it, and am ready for a peaceful end to the week to ease into the weekend. Like today.

At the end of one of these days and weeks, I want nothing more than to come home and just completely zone out - which is impossible when there are two little hungry monsters waiting for me and the first question I get walking in the door is "WHAT'S FOR DINNER, MOMMMMM???"

And the day continues.

I enjoy cooking. I don't claim to be great at it, or even good at it. I'm mediocre, really. I am capable of cooking food. Fact. But most of the time, I really do enjoy it and can occasionally come up with something that actually turns out to be delicious. This is dependent on a number of variables. One of the most crucial being the percentage of my attention I'm able to devote to the task at hand - which, when the afore-mentioned hungry monsters are present and circling - decreases significantly. Kids in the kitchen used to really stress me out. Don't get me wrong, I adore my children - even being the monsters they are - but when you're responsible for making a full meal of food for four human beings, involving heat and fire and sharp knives, and trying to accomplish all of this in a timely manner so such a meal can be eaten sometime prior to bedtime (which is already way too late for these kids, but that's another story), their presence can really make cooking dinner feel an awful lot like an absolutely terrible reality show that's some combination of Hell's Kitchen and American Ninja Warrior.

But, it's hard to turn down an offer from a six-year-old to PLEASE help you make the salad (when your lazy butt wasn't even planning to make a salad in the first place, but thanks for the nutritional reminder and subsequent guilt trip, Daughter) when she's already trying to be super helpful and pulling all of the ingredients out of the refrigerator. So, I give in and agree to let her help, and by some Disney kind of magic, it turns into a cooking party with me making pasta and Nora making salad and Lucie running laps around us singing indecipherable songs, and before I know it, dinner's ready.

And I remember that sometimes the best way to let go of a stressful day is to just give in and let your kids melt it away. It turns out they're actually pretty good at that.

Oh.... and a glass of bourbon is also helpful. Or so I'm told.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Blog Black Holes

Heeeeyyyyyyyyy there, strangers!

Look at me, I'm back! 

It's been a while. Quite a while. There's apparently this blog-internet-black hole thing that I just, one day, fell into, about.... HOLY HELL, FIVE YEARS AGO?!? (Side note - did you know you can just go find your long-neglected blog on blogspot five years later and it's still just sitting there, still active, waiting for you, like a sad abandoned puppy? You can!!)

Well. In that case: there's a quick recap needed here before we get back into the real, hard-hitting funny-because-they're-truths of everyday life. Not to make it all about me, but..... well, let's be honest: this is my blog and it's pretty much always been all about me, and you must care at least a teeny tiny bit, or you wouldn't be here. Or, maybe you're visiting for the first time and have no idea what you've stepped into. (Hint: it smells. You should probably go wash your shoes off and come back in a bit if you're brave enough and don't already hate this.)

Ready? Here's what's been going on in my universe over the last, give or take, 1,825 days, in a nutshell:

Had a baby. 
She's now no longer a baby. She's now a three-year-old monster, who can be obnoxiously adorable at least some of the time. 
Meet Lucie.

Found a big kid.
My first baby somehow transformed into a now six-and-a-half-year-old in first grade who knows every word to every Taylor Swift song ever recorded and who I sometimes fear is better at math than I am.
Meet Nora. (She's like baby Nora, only a bigger, smarter, more expensive model. Kids are a lot like iPhones.)

Went to Disneyland... three times. 
(That helps answer my question about where all our "savings" have gone over the last five years.)

Lost a good chunk of family.
Said goodbye with very heavy hearts to my father-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandmother, among other family and friends along the way. The last couple years have taken some of the very best from us and I know that there's now gotta be a rager of a party going on beyond those pearly gates.

Started a new job.
It's now been nearly two years since I bid farewell to my federal job and took up SBA lending for a bank. The absolute last industry I ever thought I'd find myself in, and loving it more every day.

Lost our dog. 
Unexpectedly and very quickly.... his a-hole-ness finally caught up with him, and though he was an a-hole for most of his doggy life, he was our fluffy little a-hole and we miss him everyday. 
Long live the mighty Dundster-Meister.

Gained a cat. 
A trip to the store for a fishtank lightbulb somehow resulted in cat ownership. I'm told this happens. Apparently only in our house. 
Meet Lily Lightbulb.

Gained an almost-sister-in-law.
My brother finally proposed to his girlfriend of many years and later this year, there will be a new Kim Carruthers in this world... she'll be almost as good as the original (except probably way Nora, she's also better at math than I).

And am now the wife of a prolific baseball podcaster. 
He claims I'm only re-starting this blog because I'm jealous of his stardom. Yes, dear. That's exactly it. I, personally, am offended I've never been invited on as a guest. I'm the second most knowledgeable person about baseball in this house. (do cats count? nevermind.) So, if you like baseball and especially enjoy podcasts where there is muffled yelling from children (or me yelling at children) in the background, then you should most definitely check this out:  
(YOU'RE WELCOME FOR THE 8 BILLION NEW SUBSCRIBERS...... now can I please come on as a guest???)

Gained a VitaMix.
I saved this for last because it's clearly the most important and exciting and life-changing. I've wanted this since I was 12.

So now we're all caught up. I promise it won't be another five freaking years before you hear from me again. I just talked with my State Farm agent (thanks, Keng!) and got internet-blog-black hole insurance. So we're good. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why I've Been MIA for the Past Billion Days

Well, at least it's felt like a billion days. Maybe not quite that many.

I realize I have been extremely negligent lately with this poor excuse for a blog, and I intend to do much better starting next week. This weekend is the annual Plumgrove Boutique - 32nd annual, in fact - and I've been in ultra-Martha-Stewart-crazy-obsessive-crafting mode for the past several weeks getting ready for it. 

****Shameless Plug Alert****

Come check out some of my stuff!

The 32nd Annual Plumgrove Boutique is this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18th & 19th. Check out more of the details including times and address at!

Here are a few sneak peeks...

Hope to see you there!

...and if you can't make it this weekend, you WILL see more of my blog after this weekend. I promise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Frugal Fright-day: Tip #13

In this week's Halloween edition of 
A Cheapskate's Guide to Frugal Living...

Tip #13: To save money on Halloween costumes, work with what you've got.

This tip is brought to you by Nora... just look at the great, original, creative, one-of-a-kind costumes you can whip up just by gathering things from around the house and tying them onto your body. Who cares that no one will have any idea what you're supposed to actually be... or that to most people, you will probably just appear to be homeless and less than sane... Just think of all those times you've shown up to a Halloween party wearing a sexy cat costume that you went out and spent thirty bucks on just to run into five other people wearing the same thing - you will never again have that problem (and you'll also save a good chunk of change) by adopting one of these soon-to-be classics:

Nora Socky-Hands (this, by the way, is "Beach" version - sunglasses and shirt are optional.)


Superwoman: Kitchen Edition
(...gestures are important with this one  - be sure to point and keep a serious face...
"I want YOU to do the dishes. I'll dry.")

Clothespin Monster - what could be scarier than clothespins?