Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Shef has become a tree-hugger, and I mean this quite literally.

Tonight, when we ventured outside to play (“Go outside!” he demanded, and hurled himself toward the front door), he ran down the sidewalk and wrapped himself around an elm.

“Hug the tree,” he said.

“Good!” I praised him, surprised by his target, but inclined to encourage loving behavior. “That’s nice!”

He unwound his arms, smiled, ran a few steps toward me, and then turned back toward the tree. “Big hug tree again,” he said, smashing his face into the bark.

As this continued for a good twenty minutes, interrupted only by moments spent searching the ground for ants, his cheeks are a little chafed, but I assume they’ll heal overnight.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"Bobsey Twins" No More

This morning, anxious to make and keep friends at my new job, I glommed on to Jodi, a friend of Renee’s I know who happens to teach in my new district.

I sat next to her, and I walked in step with her. When she drank water, I also drank water. When she ventured outdoors to cool off, I stayed faithfully by her side.

These behaviors were motivated by my insecurities about being new, yes, but they were also prompted by my years of attending staff development meetings with Renee, my One True Teaching Love.

Renee, you see, has what we might call “high-inclusion needs.” If you’re a step beyond arm’s reach of her at any given event, you need to provide fair warning and adequate explanation.

So, midway through the morning, when I gave Jodi a run-down of where I would be for each minute of the next five and asked if she would like to accompany me to each location, she shot me an exasperated glance and stopped walking:

“Look, Kace,” she said, putting her hand out in front of her, as if to say stop right there you neurotic type-A, “we don't need to go through all that.”

I nodded agreeably, although I felt rather perplexed.

“I mean,” she looked at me knowingly, “I know you’re used to going to these things with Renee, but..." She shook her head and raised her eyebrows, "I’m not Renee." She paused and searched my face for recognition.

And so it’s clear I’ll have to re-train myself in appropriate staff-development behavior. This will be tricky, but I think, if I actually do want to make and keep friends, it’s probably necessary.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


“Golly-gee-whilikers!” Dan exclaimed in response to something I’d said. It was a total Hugh Grant moment.

I rolled my eyes. “You’re such a dork,” I said, shaking my head.

Dan frowned. “I am not!”

I raised my eyebrows. “You just said, ‘Golly-gee-whilikers.’”


“Anyone who says ‘Golly-gee-whilikers’ is a total dork.”

This is an irrefutable fact, and so he had no response. It should be mentioned, however, that although clearly dorky, he did tirelessly t-ball with Shef while I drank wine on the deck this evening, and for that, I am very, very grateful.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

I Draw the Line at Five Pounds of Cubed Ham

For a few days, I thought that what I should do is become a Once-A-Month Cook. I’d buy lots of food in bulk and then spend one-of-four Saturdays wiping sweat from my earnest brow, wielding the Cuisinart and hefting the dutch oven, heart set on providing only the most delicious (and freezable) meals for my family.

But then I checked out some once-a-month cookbooks from the library, and I realized something: I don’t want to cube ham in order to make seven dishes of Ham and Cheese Surprise, and I don’t particularly want my chicken pre-boiled.

So, I’m back to the drawing board on the home-cooking front. I will now investigate the possibility of once-a-week cooking, which seems less revolting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Doing the Toughest Job

My former guru, Oprah, always says that being a stay-at-home mom is the toughest job. (I say she is my former guru only because now that I have forsaken breastfeeding and no longer spend mind-numbing days alone with Shef, diapers, and housework, I don’t really have time to dial her in. I even quit Tivoing her when I realized I could capture back episodes of Gilmore Girls on ABC Family in that same timeslot, and, well, as you may remember, I was really into the Lorelais there for awhile.)

Anyway, I know "O" shouts-out to SAHMs because it is they who purchase her line of anti-frump lounge wear, and also because she knows being a SAHM is a job that she surely doesn’t want to do. It seems like every-other show features Oprah confessing that she never felt she could balance motherhood and her lofty career aspirations.

Now that I’m officially a working mom, I’ve been thinking about Oprah’s “toughest job” pronouncement, and I must say I’m not convinced. Having done the SAHM gig for awhile, certain other jobs seem harder to me – active-duty military, for instance, or working in pediatric oncology, where kids regularly die on your watch. Frankly, I'd much rather be a SAHM than empty porta-pots eight hours a day.

Even if I directly compare “working mom” to “stay-at-home mom,” there doesn’t seem to be any great difference in difficulty. I’m still exhausted. While my mind was numbed before, it’s now reeling. I’ve had to groom (God-forbid) and dress professionally, and then, just when I’ve hit my stride at work, I have to zip over to daycare and dive into hardcore, making-up-for-lost-time mothering for five hours straight, during which time I'm guaranteed to get snot and shit and masticated food on my work clothes instead of my frump gear.

While the mix of work and home I’ve chosen may not be easier, I will concede that for me, so far, it seems much, much happier. I feel decidedly more stimulated, less put-upon, and more empowered to manage my own time.

Perhaps I should call Oprah and let her know that I’ve come to this conclusion? Maybe I should include a copy of my new work badge photo, which I’m sure would qualify me for a full makeover.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Litany to Alleviate My Guilt

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Here are some things that Shef can do now that he’s a big, grown-up seventeen-month-old:

He yells, “Ready! Set! Go!” and takes off running down the sidewalk. “Running” is a very earnest waddle, and he keeps it up until he falls down or loses his breath.

Dan has been quizzing Shef on the map in the study. Now we can ask, “Where’s Devin?” and he’ll answer, “Pah-wu,” and point to South America.

“Do it self,” has become a frequent utterance. He aches for self-sufficiency.

The dolphin obsession rages on, and he asks to watch the Minnesota Zoo’s web cam on my laptop several times a day. Ask him what dolphins do, and he’ll say, “Jumping! Swimming!”

He’s really into playing t-ball with Dan. “Daddy do it,” he says. Dan hits the ball and tells Shef to “field the grounder,” so Shef watches the ball land, yells “Get it!” and brings it back to the tee.

He loves Teletubbies. “Watch the Tubbies,” he says, and asks us to sing the theme song. I’ve made up raunchy alternative words to the song, but I don’t sing these to Shef.

His new favorite song is the Minnesota Rouser. “Mih-so-da!” he demands. We oblige at least ten times a day. I haven't yet made up inappropriate counter-lyrics, but eventually I will. It's inevitable.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's Guilt That's Kept Me Away

As it’s Saturday, I’ve enjoyed three desserts so far. It’s not quite the “moderation” I’d envisioned, but it’s a start.

In other news, I’ve been having blog angst because I haven’t really been, you know, documenting Shef’s life on the blog so much.

At a dinner party, I’ll recount an amusing Shef-related anecdote, and some well-meaning friend who has no intention of causing my guilt meter to read “Commence Flagellation With Thorny Whip” will remark, “Oh, that’s so cute! I hope you’re writing these things down.”

And then I go home and worry about not recording enough stuff, and how now Shef is going to be one of those kids who laments that he has no baby book. His mother, he'll tell his therapist, failed to monitor milestones and archive photographs, and instead she wrote about his penis on the internet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This morning I went shopping at Target, where they have state-of-the-art dressing rooms in which you can view your front and back simultaneously via well-placed mirrors.

It was between the mirrors that that I came to be intimately familiar with the chunks of cellulite glommed on to my outer thighs. Instead of freaking out about their presence, I spent several minutes hoisting the lumpy mounds and pulling them this way and that until I arrived at a couple of decisions:

1) The underwear that I thought was in pretty good shape for being six years old is really not.

2) There is no need for me to be eating candy and dessert and multiple treats every day. From now on, I’ll only be ingesting junk food from Friday through Sunday, and then, only in moderation. I swear to this.

When I called Molly, the friend with whom I used to frequent Wendy’s in my pre-Fast Food Nation days, to tell her of my nutritional resolution, she told me it was the “stupidest f'ing idea she’d ever heard.”

We’ll see.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Movie Review

I am so disappointed.

It turns out Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous totally sucks.

I am now watching the end of it, but I’m doing it only out of a deep sense of loyalty to Sandra Bullock, with whom I know I could be bosom friends if only we were to meet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Continence: It's Everyone's Business

Next week, I’ll be going back to work at an actual school building. I’m sure it’ll be a little startling after eighteen months at home, but despite a healthy case of nerves, I’m really looking forward to it.

I got a job teaching tenth grade, an age I love; and frankly, there wasn’t much keeping me at my old job. You see, first my principal offered me a part-time position, and then a month later decided I couldn’t have it; and then, to hold a hot iron to the already seeping lesion, he called a week after that to say that if I did decide to come back full-time, I would no longer be working with my One True Teaching Love.

And really, if the social studies teacher on your team isn’t going to tell all 150 of your students that you sometimes pee in your pants when you laugh too hard, what’s the point in reporting for duty? Also, I’ve really gotten used to the Enrique Iglesias that she blasts toward my wall during homeroom. If I knew that some other teacher was over there crooning “Hero” with her while I languished away across the building in a Enrique-Free Zone, I think that just might put me over the edge.

Anyway, Renee, my One True Teaching Love, was complaining yesterday that she hasn’t been featured enough on my blog. I reminded her of the 30th birthday photo spread, but she still wasn’t satisfied.

“Look,” I said finally, “you’re just going to have to say funnier things when we’re together.”

“HEY!” Her eyes narrowed, and she pointed a finger in my face. “You KNOW that there’s hardly a time we’re together that you don’t almost pee your pants.”

I had to admit that truth of that, and so FINE: it’s Renee’s day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Engage in This Deranged Competition

Our good friends Jordan and Joel have some other good friends, Rob and Katie.

You have no idea what effect this simple fact has on me. Basically, when I think about Rob and Katie, I turn into the husband from Sleeping With the Enemy.

“What did you do this weekend?” I’ll quiz Jordan suspiciously, sure she’s cheated on us with her “other best friends.” Sometimes, I’ll even interrogate Mo, Jordan’s babysitter, to determine which couple they’ve seen more of lately. If it’s not us, I’ll sulk and devise a plan to rise again to the top their friend pyramid.

Yes, it’s twisted and sick; and frankly, I’m not proud of it.

To make things a little more complicated, Rob and I are co-Godparents of Jordan and Joel’s oldest daughter. We’re “God spouses,” as he likes to say, a phrase that always elicits giggles from the group.

And Jordan and Joel are Shef’s Godparents. When we asked them to oversee his spiritual development (translation: try to make sure he doesn’t grow up to be a gay-hating bible-thumper), I was sure this would put us over the top for good – Rob and Katie could never catch up.

And then, right when I was feeling most confident, the competition went in for the kill – eight months later, J&J became their son’s Godparents, too. Conniving bastards.

So when Jordan and Joel announced that Dan and Katie would be Godparents to their new baby, our complicated relationship with “the other best friends” was completely solidified. We were inextricably linked in a Holy Religious Sense, Bound Together Forever By God.

After a moment of silence, Rob asked, “Does this make us Spiritual Swingers?”

Yes, I thought despairingly. Yes, I’m afraid it does.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Whipping it Out

“You really work hard,” grad school comrade Jessie observed, as I cranked out four pages of my Karen Cushman paper in three hours on Saturday. We met for lunch and coffee and lots and lots of silence -- silence broken only by the clicking of laptop keys and occasional deep sighs of frustration.

“Yes,” I acknowledged, briefly tearing myself away from my handiwork. “There’s no motivation like a baby.”

Jessie looked a little confused.

“Well,” I explained, “if you’re either paying hard cash money for the privilege of writing your paper, or your spouse has assumed 100% of the childcare for an entire Saturday, then you can’t really afford to dick around.”

Sad, but true, she agreed.

And so, armed with the motto “Don’t Dick Around,” I’ve written fifteen pages since Thursday.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

The Way, Way Opposite of "Hip"

This morning, I held Shef on my lap and scrolled through Tivoed Sesame Streets, looking for something to fill twenty minutes before the guys headed off to fuel Shef’s new obsession -- “Dawfiiins!!” -- at the Minnesota Zoo.

Friday’s episode, Tivo reported, featured Telly, who “must face his fears about performing at Karaoke Night at Hooper’s Store,” and I honestly thought to myself:

Now that sounds like a great episode.

Although I’ve never been “cool,” it’s possible that with this thought, I’ve hit an all time low. In any case, I still think Gaby and Miles’ rendition of “New Way to Walk” was especially stirring.

Friday, August 5, 2005

My Ponytail Has Been in So Long That My Head Hurts

I had lunch the other day with Emily, my most stylish friend. Now, before you start feeling offended that you’re not my most stylish friend, you should know that Emily looks like this:

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And you should keep in mind that she’s looked like this almost every time I’ve seen her in the last eight years. She looked like this even when we were camp counselors who showered once a week, and only in the lake.

When I’m with Emily, I sometimes feel like Country Mouse to her City Mouse. This feeling is based in the fact that I look like this, and have looked like this almost every day for the past eight years:

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Despite her superior appearance, however, Emily is warm and accepting. When she did my wedding-day make-up, she plucked my unibrow without complaint and explained patiently about the mechanics of the eyelash curler. Similarly, when I visited her at Aveda Institute for a $12 haircut while she was in school, she didn’t flinch when I told her I used whatever shampoo was in the shower and didn’t own a round brush.

“Okay,” said Em, nodding without judgment. “Then, do you own any brushes, Kace?”

Now, that’s my kind of friend.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

A Shocking Discovery

The other night, I called an important meeting with Dan to discuss our conversion to FlyLadyism.

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You see, I’ve decided that together we’re going to stay out of CHAOS (that’s Can’t Have Any One Over Syndrome), and we’re going to do it as FlyLady intends – fifteen cheerful minutes at a time. So, I signed up for FlyLady’s millions of daily emails, and in her welcome form letter, she said, among other things, that she was so proud of me. I must admit that I felt a little proud too, and right away felt motivated to do whatever FlyLady said.

Dan is considerably less enamored of FlyLady and spent most of our housework meeting lounging way back on the couch and looking at me incredulously. His lip curled up, and he appeared to be constantly on the verge collapsing into hysterical guffaws. In fact, he did giggle a little when I paused a moment while explaining the Morning Routine in order to search for the FlySpot, which, despite how it may sound, has nothing to do with sex, but instead contains the details the Weekly Zone Missions.

“Now,” I said, getting back to the agenda once I'd located said FlySpot, “after the bed is made, we swish the bathroom.”


I pursed my lips disapprovingly. “Rub down the sink, and then do the top of the toilet and around the edges.” I moved my hand in a circular motion to illustrate the process.

“Fine,” Dan sighed, rolling his eyes.

“Then,” I continued, “every few days when the toilet gets skuzzy, put one of those scrubber things on the toilet wand and swish the bowl.”

Dan stared at me blankly. “Scrubber things?” he asked.

“Ye-ah,” I said. “You know, one of those Clorox sponges I got to replace the toilet brush?” I pantomimed clicking a scrubber onto the handle.

Vacant stare from my spouse. No response.

“Um, Dan? Have you ever cleaned the toilet?”

After a few seconds of trying to think up ways to get out of admitting that this was the case, he laughed sheepishly. I stared at him open-mouthed and wondered how it is possible that he has never, ever cleaned the toilet in our almost five years of living together; and for that matter, in the whole rest of his life. Clearly, his parents and I are guilty of some major enabling.

“Look,” he said finally, pointing at me accusingly, “when you blog about this, you had better make fun of yourself, too.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Almost Famous, Baby!

Tonight, when we were reluctantly slinking back home after lounging blissfully in Jane and Dobby’s air conditioning, we noticed that outside our house a block party was in session -- a block party we hadn't been invited to.

Lois, a sheepish neighbor, knocked on the door and explained they’d forgotten to “flyer” us, but asked if we would please come out and meet a few people. So, Shef in his pajamas, Dan in his Old Farte t-shirt, and I, inexplicably obsessed with checking my fly, moseyed out there to make nice.

This turned out to be an incredibly fruitful endeavor, as I learned that Soul Asylum began in our garage. Yes! Soul Asylum! They played here in their early days, like before Runaway Train and Winona Ryder.

In other news, my brother Devin has a blog. He’s going to write about his experiences of being a missionary in Peru. Don’t worry, I don’t think he’s going to be the psychotic kind of missionary who preaches about hellfire and eternal damnation, so you probably won’t be repulsed if you go check it out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005


His legs have thinned out, but his tummy -- not so much.

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On a side note, I have successfully harrassed and cajoled another pal into Blogdom, and I have very high hopes for Calico Fig.