Spines

“Mama, the edges of books are called spines,” said Miss Red on Monday night.

We were reading a few books from the library. There are two series that she’s currently wild about, and we are, too. Polly Dunbar has written a number of books, but the ones that keep getting renewed are from the Tilly and Friends series, including Doodle Bites, Goodnight Tiptoe, Where’s Tumpty?, Happy Hector and Hello Tilly. My aunt also gave Miss Red Dunbar’s Here’s a Little Poem for the holidays, and I look forward to her growing into the words. I mean, of course you name a pig Hector and include a chicken who wears lipstick.

Hello Tilly by Polly Dunbar

The second series is the Piggy and Gerald set of books by Mo Willems. Most people are familiar with Willems from his Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series, but I personally think, and Miss Red agrees, that the Piggie and Gerald series is better. A pig and elephant are best friends? Check. Said animals have witty banter and facial expressions? Double check.

I Will Surprise My Friend! by Mo Willems

What about you? Any great book recommendations?

– MD

That Time I Auditioned for Listen to Your Mother…

And other parts of my weekend…

On Saturday afternoon I auditioned for the Madison show of Listen to Your Mother. It was held at the lovely Happy Bambino.

I was nervous, not because I’m afraid of public speaking. I’m actually not. Not too much at least, but because I was reading something completely new and something I haven’t talked about on the ‘ol blog. I promise to share the piece whether or not I read it on stage. But the experience was powerful, and Ann and the stage manager were so kind and complimentary, I told them that they needed to open a drive-through compliment business. I left buoyed and hopeful.

I will find out this week if I made it or not. Last I heard there were 40 women auditioning for 12 spots. I’ll feel OK if I don’t make it, because it made me put some feelings down on actual paper. Yes, I wrote one draft that I ended up using, on actual paper. Using a pen and all. I will report back!

But the night before I got to work on a really satisfying craft project, thanks to NVC. She bought supplies to make fabric-covered buttons, and I cranked out a number of rubber bands, bobbie pins and barrettes for Miss Red.

fabric-covered buttons

Sorry for the poor photos. Taken with my phone.

When I showed her the “3” rubber band, she said “But I am three and a HALF, not three.” Point taken.

And here she is, actually wearing her barrettes:

Miss Red, barretted.

Sunday we went to a Stellar 3rd birthday party, hosted by Megan of Accidents Will Happen. I love how, when people ask us how we know one another and I tell them that we met on Twitter, they look somewhat shocked. It’s true. We followed each other on Twitter, and then one day took a giant leap and had a play date. And we lived to tell the tale!

Have you done anything lately that got you out of your comfort zone? Made any buttons? Went to any kid birthday parties?

– MD

Roses and Thorns

It’s very important to our family that we eat dinner together. I cook about 90% of the time. I enjoy it. It’s not always world-class cuisine, but it’s nice to do for my family. Every Sunday I make a menu for the week, which helps me plan the grocery shopping, and takes the stress of wondering what to make each night.

It’s a family affair: Miss Red now sets the table and CH cleans up.

For years, even before Miss Red was born, we’d ask a certain set of questions:
1. What was your favorite part of the day?
2. What was your least favorite part of the day?
3. What were you most thankful for?

We do this to take the edge of the day and connect. It’s our version of praying. The responses are funny, too. Miss Red vacillates between “I don’t know,” or “this,” or something that happened weeks ago. We take turns answering and it usually puts a smile on the grown-up faces. If for some reason we don’t eat dinner together, CH and I find that we still ask one another before bed.

I remembering reading that the Obamas do something similar, which they call Roses and Thorns. Which basically means we’re a presidential family.

So even though I was crabby yesterday after a challenging day at work, we still asked the questions. I didn’t have a response, but knew that I was looking forward to my yoga class. While short on patience, the questions did help me relax into the dinner I had made – sauteed kale, baked feta topped with capers, tomatoes and basil, and warmed pita. It got me into my food and out of my head. And while I couldn’t handle much of the whining that Miss Red emitted before I whisked off to yoga, I know that when we ask the questions tonight, I will say, “this.”

– MD

Let Me Be Honest

My post yesterday on divorce started many interesting conversations on the blog and on my personal Facebook page. Can I say that it’s these types of conversations that make me happy to be an adult? That people can talk about scary things and feel OK? I don’t know if that makes sense, but to me it feels so right.

I wanted to be more honest about my relationship with my husband. While I wrote that my husband and I talk frequently about our relationship, I am also the one who, when things are difficult, jump to the conclusion that we will get divorced. That thought no longer makes me panic, but it was part of a larger shift in becoming an adult.

I got married at 25, which now, upon reflection, seems like I was a zygote. For years my parents had told me not to get married until I was 30, and I didn’t understand that until I was 28, when one day, while eating breakfast, I turned to my beloved cat, Linus, who was sitting on a kitchen chair while I ate, and said out loud, “I don’t want to be anyone else but myself.” I don’t know where that thought came from – it literally came from the ether – and I understood. I understood that it takes years for a person to become a person. It also now made sense of the fact that my husband and I had a lot of bumps in our early years. That is not unique; I know that the early years of marriage are difficult, but I think a lot of it came from me not knowing who I really was, to my core.

To be honest, I thought about divorce a lot in the early years of our marriage, in that “it’s not too late to get out!” kind of way. Looking back, I can see that it was fear. Fear that gripped me from taking time, investing, and calming down. Thinking back, those years were painful, and I feel light-years away from those thoughts, but I did have them. And divorce still is my “default” option in my brain when things are rough. Again, I have no plans on getting divorced. I love my husband, value him, think he’s incredibly cute, and cherish the family and life we have created. We both feel bound to one another by a sense of deep, deep affection and actively work to make life nice for each other – offering compliments, being thoughtful, and most important, making one another laugh.  But I am not naive enough to know that even that can sometimes not be enough.

So let me sprinkle a little bit of hope and faith into the mix. You?

– MD

As a Child Of

It’s no secret that I read a lot of blogs. Not as many mommy blogs as you’d think; I like looking at pretty pictures, so I follow a ton of design blogs. But two women that I (and tens of thousands/millions of others) have followed for years are dooce, written by Heather Armstrong and Penelope Trunk’s blog, which is allegedly a blog documenting work and life, but has veered into the land of her personal life. I admit, I sometimes feel like I have to look away when reading their work, but it keeps me coming back.

For those following either blogs, you’ll notice that both women have experienced or contemplating divorce. Both women have children. Both women make a living from their blogs.

It was Penelope’s post from yesterday, Divorce is immature and selfish. Don’t do it. that had me almost spitting mad. I mean, read it, and you might feel the same way.

But allow me to back up, because I do agree with her on some points. I agree that some people get divorced without researching and investigating themselves or all of their options, and that it can be bad for children, but let’s face it, a lot of people aren’t willing to look in the mirror and see what needs to be done. A lot of people would rather move on, with our without their spouse, with or without their children. While Penelope lays out numerous reasons for parents to stick together, what baffled me was the intense about of judgment that went into the post. And I, of course, in turn, am judging her. I see that.

As many of the comments in her post start with, I, too, Am a Child of Divorce. Let’s not mince words or feelings: it sucked. My parents managed a calm exchange in my presence and never bad-mouthed one another. They made great efforts to make sure that I was OK. Would my life have been better had my parents not divorced? I don’t know, but they might have been miserable.

Before I got married I was wracked with anxiety. I was petrified of getting divorced “one day,” and of “failing” an unknown future child. I remember with great clarity two things my mom told me: “If getting divorced one day is the worst thing that ever happens to you, consider yourself lucky,” and, “The only reason people don’t get divorced is that they don’t get divorced.” Oh, she also said, “Don’t marry someone you can’t imagine being divorced from.” People, take my mother’s advice.

Photo by Ellen Carlson.

I am not getting divorced. I have no plans on getting divorced, yet I ask my husband often how he feels about our relationship. We talk a lot about our marriage, our life, our dreams and our fears. Like, a lot. I’m not naive to think that it would never happen to us, but I feel grounded in our commitment to one another and our family.

What about you? Are you also A Child of Divorce? How did it shape your feelings about relationships or marriage or the whole family thing?

– MD

A to Z

Similar to Ginger, I’ve seen these floating around a few blogs. They remind me of email forwards. Remember those, people?! Email FORWARDS, where you had to delete all of the random junk at the beginning to “clean up” your email. Play along!

A. Age: 34

B. Bed size: Queen.

C. Chore that you hate: Dishes. Save me from doing the dishes. I had to do them all growing up and hated it. Still hate them.

D. Dogs: 0. I adore dogs, but I refuse to pick up dog poop.

E. Essential start to your day: Coffee and a shower.

F. Favorite color: Purple.

G. Gold or Silver: Silver.

H. Height: 5’3″

I. Instruments you play: I played the clarinet for nine years and the saxophone (badly) for four. I loved it. I fantasize about joining a community band when I’m retired.

J. Job title: Communications Specialist.

K. Kids: One! Miss Red, y’all.

L. Live: Madison, WI. It’s home.

Madison, WI

M. Mother’s name: Ana María.

N. Nicknames: Birdie, Miss Pants, Mama, Mommy.

O. Overnight hospital stays: One, related to giving birth.

P. Pet peeves: People who don’t wash their hands after they use the bathroom; people who say “sorry” when they mean “excuse me,” people who don’t say “thank you” to service workers, i.e. bartenders, waiters, etc.

Q. Quote from a movie: *Blank.*

R. Right- or left-handed: Right.

S. Siblings: Sister from another mister and brother from another mother.

T. Tattoos & Piercings: One tattoo, three earring piercings, although I still want the extra one in my left ear to close up.

U. Underwear: Always. If you live in the Madison area, I also highly recommend a trip to see Katherine at La Lingerie. It’s life changing.

V. Vegetable(s) you hate: Brussels sprouts and beets.

Brussels sprouts. My sworn enemy.

W. What makes you run late: Oversleeping.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: Teeth.

Y. Yummy food that you make: Soups. I can make some mean soups.

Z. Zoo animal: I used to think tiger, but I have a new-found love of giraffes.

Listen

Hi. Hi! *Waves.*

I know, I’ve been pretty MIA. More than at any other time in this blog’s history. It has been a challenging few months. But I’ve figured out how to kind of work through it.

On Saturday, I will interview for Madison’s production of Listen to Your Mother,  a show that honors Mother’s Day. There’s no guarantee I’ll get a coveted spot, and frankly, I’m still working on my audition piece, but I’m feeling good about even auditioning. I’ll report back on how it goes.

Listen to Your Mother

I’m nervous. I haven’t been on stage since my college performance of The Vagina Monologues. Yeah, remember that? I remember having the driest mouth possible, but it was a great experience.

So, here I go again. I’m doing what I can to do stuff outside my comfort zone. To push myself to get out of my head. To make and create. Maybe you’ll get a chance to listen to me in person.

– MD