Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Gambler

When you get invited to the next baby shower, take some advice from this experienced mom, buy the mother-to-be either a sh*t load of batteries or new tupperware.
The batteries are self explanatory. The extra tupperware is necessary because no matter how much you label your plastic containers, it's always a gamble whether or not you'll get them back from the PTO teacher appreciation luncheon or the preschool pot luck.

song: The Gambler • artist: Kenny Rogers

Monday, January 30, 2012

Train in Vain

It's a little disconcerting that Alec Baldwin stars as the conductor in the Thomas the Tank movie S & N cajoled daddy to rent at the library.
Hello boys and girls, I'm Mr. Conductor, and I'm here to tell you "that you don't have the brains or the decency as a human being. I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the a** who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned."
I wonder if Mr Conductor lets riders use their cell phones.

song: Train in Vain • artist: The Clash

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rebel Yell

Stayed home with the boys all day today while Ken worked and did not yell once.
And if you don't have kids or don't remember (cause who wants to remember yelling) what it feels like to yell at your kids - it really sucks. There are people who will lovingly tell you that sometimes you have to yell at them and that everyone yells  at their kids sometimes and that they themselves even yell at their kids, and that's all well and good and true but even so - not yelling - is way better.
The simple truth is that I didn't yell not because I was a calm, zen mother, but because there weren't that many conflicts. H was at Nana and Papa's so C didn't have anyone to spar with and after his 20 minutes on the computer he disappeared upstairs to stage elaborate Playmobil battles. The twins got along with each other downstairs and even cleaned up their toys without being asked.
We didn't have to go anywhere so there was no getting-out-of-the-house-on-time stress. I even managed a few minutes of living in the present before H got home and we moved on to stories and homework.
The no yelling thing was great but what makes it all the more interesting is that I also talked to my sister on the phone today and one of the things we talked about was the people who post on Facebook about how incredibly happy and fulfilled their lives are and how I feel like the more you post on Facebook about how deliriously happy you are, the more unhappy you must secretly be. What's wrong with admitting to a little unhappiness? A little frustration?
So we started making analogies. How can you appreciate being happy if you've never been sad? How can you appreciate summer if you never lived through winter? How can you enjoy your own inner calm if you've never been outwardly mad? How can you appreciate a day of no yelling if you haven't had days where there's yelling (lots and lots of yelling).

song: Rebel Yell • artist: Billy Idol

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lay, Lady, Lay

Why I couldn't do any work today.

song: Lay, Lady, Lay • artist: Bob Dylan

Thursday, January 26, 2012


The Tao of My Twins: Lesson #11 

What they say: "You help me."
What they mean: "You do it."

song: Help • artist: The Beatles

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rhythm of the Road

Saw the addition to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Friday. Sweet. Draws attention to the building in a positive way. The Gardner suffers from being splashy on the inside but virtually invisible on the outside. Maybe this will lure in more visitors.
And the best part - I didn't have to get off the subway at South Station to try CheeseBoy. They have one at the Pru.
Thank goodness they didn't have CheeseBoy when I was in college - I would have weighed 300lbs by 1990.

song: Rhythm of the Road • artist: The String Cheese Incident

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hazy Shade of Winter

The snow's was fun but sort of a let down for S & N.
First they questioned why, if it was snowing, it wasn't Christmas.
Then they wanted the snowman to talk.

song: Hazy Shade of Winter • artist: Simon & Garfunkel

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Love Everybody

Frankly, I hate "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Not only is it a bad show, it's a tired hyperbole.

song: I Love Everybody • artist: Lyle Lovett

Saturday, January 21, 2012

rumination on a snowy day (a couplet)

I like snow
when there's no place to go.

Friday, January 20, 2012

China Doll

S & N concentrate on breaking gender barriers at the library.
Could somebody donate some sweaters to those barbies? All they have to wear are bikini tops and halters.

song: China Doll • artist: David Bowie

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Choice in the Matter

Why does the press continue to refer to Mitt Romney as Governor Romney?
The man gave up being governor of Massachusetts in 2006.
I gave up being the design manager of a small magazine in 2002 but people don't refer to me as Design Manager Briana-Gartner.
At the very least he should be called, "former Governor Romney;" but what he really is is Stay-At-Home-Candidate Romney
As I see it Mitt's like a lot of SAHMs. He gave up his career to focus on something else. In the case of SAHM's, it's a new baby or a growing family. In the case of Mitt Romney, it was to nurse his presidential candidacy.
SAHC Romney should be writing eloquent statement about the joys of staying home, about how it's been so much more rewarding than work and how fortunate he's been to be able to watch his candidacy take its first steps. SAHC Romney should be touting what he's learned from play groups, books, and his online support community of other SAH candidates.
He should speak up for the rights of other SAH candidates, some of whom are maligned by the media as being nothing more than wealthy spouses who turn their candidacies over to nannies to raise and spend their time playing tennis and planning ski vacations.
To his credit, he has tried to reach out to non-SAHCs. Don't worry. He feels your pain. He knows you wish you were staying home to raise your candidacy yourself instead of having to enroll your little one in preschool part time and enlist the help of your parents to watch your candidacy in the afternoons while you're working.
Good preschools are so expensive these days and if your candidacy doesn't get into the right one, it will never amount to anything more than a regional or county win at best.
His first candidacy was four years ago and since it will be starting kindergarten soon, it's no wonder Romney is trying for a second. He's got to have another candidacy or SAHC Romney better get a part-time job or at the very least start volunteering at the PTO. If not, people will talk.

song: Choice in the Matter • artist: Aimee Mann

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Keep Me Wonderin'

How do the other mommy bloggers do it? How do they have the time to observe the adorable antics of their children, write posts that are considerably longer than most of the stuff I churn out, create their own buttons and design clever headers, and then cross post and network in order to self promote and build a community of friends and readers?
Case and point. I had one new comment to my blog the other day and sat down to respond to it - because all the blogs on "how to create more blog traffic" strongly encourage responding to every comment.
Anyway, I'm responding and hitting the send key when S comes in the room to tell me something.
He repeats the something.
Then repeats it again.
Finally I realize he's trying to let me know he's spilled his juice. I follow him into the kitchen where he's spilled a gallon of apple juice on the table and floor. At the same time the phone rings and it's the mom of H's friend Sam calling to set up a playdate for Saturday except I can't hear what she's saying because now N is crying from the bathroom where he's just noticed some skid marks on the undies he's been wearing all day. I say "hey sh*t happens."
Not only that but there's some liquid on the floor that I initially assume is pee though later come to realize is just water from the cat's bowl. Also the seat of N's pants are mysteriously wet.
All that in the time it took to respond to one blog comment. So again I wonder - how do these other moms do it? Observe, write, maintain, create, nurture, cook, clean, and do laundry.
And then mop up a gallon of apple juice.
Last night neither the twins nor the cat chose to sleep in our bed.
I lay awake for hours wondering why.

song: Don't Keep Me Wonderin' • artist: The Allman Brothers

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reach Out, I'll Be There

scene: a narrow hallway leading to a back door containing a washing machine and dryer. The cabinets stacked above the machines are full of canned food.
A mother is transferring wet clothes from the washing machine to two drying racks that crowd the dead-end hallway. Above her head, the cabinet is open. The camera zooms in to show several cans of Planter's Mixed Nuts on the second shelf.

Father: Can you reach my nuts?
Mother: I can't. I'd need the step stool to reach your nuts.
Father: You mean I have to reach my own nuts?
Mother: I'm afraid so. I assume you can reach your own nuts.
Father: I've reached them before.
Mother: I thought so.

song: Reach Out, I'll Be There • artist: The Four Tops

Monday, January 16, 2012

Twenty-Nine Ways

Yet another way to avoid supermarket plastic bag guilt when you've forgotten your canvas totes:
Take your purchases in your shopping basket up to the cashier and tell her your dilemma. Ask her if she minds if you put all the stuff back in the basket after it's been scanned. Carry the items to the car in the basket, transfer the purchases to the floor of the back seat (you don't want your apples getting under the accelerator). Then send your nine year old back inside the store to return the basket.
Works great!

song: Twenty-Nine Ways • artist: Marc Cohn

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Your Mother Should Know II

Now S tells me his mom is coming for lunch tomorrow, and I have to cook the main course.
I can hardly wait to meet her.

song: Your Mother Should Know • artist: The Beatles

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Your Mother Should Know

S keeps insisting that he has "another mother," and his own house.
His other mother eats candy and uses "bathroom talk."
He's constantly asking me if we can go to "his house now."
I tell him that I don't know where his house is.
He tells me it's near Nana and Papa's house.
I tell him we'll go later.
He tells me he wants to go now.
I suggest his other mother pick him up.

song: Your Mother Should Know • artist: The Beatles

Friday, January 13, 2012

This is the Time

Not too late for resolutions I trust. Last year I went for the concrete and came up bust so this year it's on to something less tangible.
Two thousand and twelve is the year of living in the present. There. I've said it but it's not just me. The mantra of living in the present is being touted everywhere: books, articles, Eastern religion, NPR. Being in the present is the new black. It's hip. It's the cure to what ails us. Only thing is. Maybe it is.
Maybe I do spend too much time hashing over stuff from the past.
I know I spend a lot of time worrying about the future. And while it's probably a good bet to prepare for the future, sinking lots of time into worrying about it gets one nowhere. And it might even be detrimental to one's heath if what I've been hearing is correct.
If I'm lucky, I might be noticeably in the present once or twice a day.
Living in the present starts with taking a deep breath and noticing what's going on. Taking is deep breath is half way to calm if you ask me. Sometimes I feel like Dr. Suess's Grinch - that my heart is two sizes too small and it takes a big inhalation of air to inflate it.
There are loads of road blocks on the way to living in the present. Because if it were easy - we'd all be doing it.

song: This is the Time • artist: Billy Joel

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shadows of the Night

What will it be tonight?
The cat jumping on my head and waking me up?
The cat jumping on Ken's head and waking me up?
The twins coming in, one at a time, to sleep in our bed and waking me up?
The cat again. I wake up and put her in the hallway.
C coming into my room and waking me up to say the cat's jumping on his feet?
Me suggesting he carry the cat out of his room and close the door?
The cat back in the bedroom because C left the door open but closed his own?
The dream in which I am in a wedding party and my cousin picks out a red tulle ballet skirt for me to wear?
Why go to bed at all?

song:  Shadows of the Night • lyrics: Pat Benatar

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Digging in the Dirt II

Immediately after seeing this I felt the need to mock it.
Sure, plants growing out of egg shells are cute, but the text touts this as a way to recycle your cracked egg shells. Of all the things we need to worry about finding a way to recycle - egg shells aren't one of them.
They recycle themselves, pretty easily in your compost, have been for years.
If you'd rather plant seeds in them by all means go ahead, but don't pat yourself on the back over all the egg shells you're keeping out of the landfill.
Then I thought - "you're such a curmudgeon Joanne, just let them have their cute seedings in egg shells - what's the harm?"
I suppose the harm is when we think that we can rest on our green laurels after recycling egg shells and therefore don't address any real issues.

song: Digging in the Dirt • artist: Peter Gabriel

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bluer than Blue

Noooooooo! They picked the Smurfs!
Don't those kids read movie reviews?

song: Bluer than Blue • artist: Michael Johnson

Monday, January 09, 2012

Leo (a couplet)

We are smitten,
with our kitten.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sixteen Tons

Ken is the kind of consumer that companies hate.
He buys what's on sale - without any brand loyalty.
The last several boxes of diapers he's brought home have featured characters from Sesame Street.
I believe I have complained in the past about how it's practically impossible to find a diaper that doesn't feature some licensed character on it. I also believe I have suggested my excellent idea for no-name diapers which, instead of Dora the Explorer, have the words FRONT and BACK emblazoned on them.
This would be very helpful. Especially when you have to change the baby in the middle of the night. Or in a drunken stupor.
But back to Sesame Street.
Although at our house they do not watch television except for movies, anything goes at Nana and Papa's so S & N are able to recognize the Sesame Street characters.
And what is the next step after recognition? Stating a personal preference naturally.
Both the boys prefer diapers with Ernie on them.
It's not surprising that they both like the same character - they are twins after all.
What happens is that stacks of diapers are disheveled and strewn about the bedroom in the search for  the coveted Ernie diapers. And there are never enough Ernie diapers to go around. Grover is the runner up choice but it's a distant second. N & S will make several passes through the stack in hopes of an Ernie before settling on a Grover.
Then there's the problem of the other characters: Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster. They are on the rejected diapers that no one wants.
Oddly, Elmo appears two times more often than the other characters. In one version Elmo is waving; the other is a static head-on illustration.
Why, I ask out loud, are there two versions of Elmo? Were there so few other suitable characters that they had to repeat one? What about Oscar? Kermit? Snuffaluffa-whatever his name was? What about them?
Ken does not understand what the big deal is about this. So I explain.
It's like this honey. The box of diapers is like your can of mixed nuts. First you eat all the cashews, and then the almonds. You keep going until you get to the Brazil nuts. The nuts you leave in the can when you open a new can because you don't like Brazil nuts. No one likes Brazil nuts.
Now imagine there are twice as many Brazil nuts as there are cashews.
Elmo is a Brazil nut.
What's even more of a travesty is that there's no Bert diaper. How can there even be an Ernie diaper without a corresponding Bert diaper? What's wrong with Bert?
It's nuts if you ask me.

song: Sixteen Tons • artist: Tennessee Ernie Ford

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Sail On

Don't miss the 24-hour reading of Moby Dick, going on now, at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Four and a half hours in and the Pequod hasn't left the dock yet.

song: Sail On • The Commodores

Friday, January 06, 2012

This is why we Fight

A disturbing statistic I read recently stated that siblings argue on average, eight times an hour.
I mentioned this to C who dwelt on it for a few seconds and then said, "that seems about right."
Today the elementary school students voted on the feature film for Jan. 20's movie night. The choice was between Smurfs and Despicable Me.
Please let Despicable Me win.

song: This is why we Fight • artist: Decemberists

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Throwing it All Away

For the record I'd like to say that I, for one, cannot wait until Falmouth adopts a pay as you go trash disposal system. I think we should all sit on the floor and spill out the refuse in our trash cans aka Colin Beavan (Mr. No Impact Man himself) and really look at it.
Way back when - towns didn't collect garbage - and really why should they? Why is the town responsible for hauling away the styrofoam packaging from last night's take out? Way back when farmers had their own personal garbage piles on some remote corner of their property (Peter Rabbit's relations are always rooting around in it in the Beatrice Potter books remember?) There wasn't much in it, some composting newspapers, rotten rutabagas, shoe leather, and glass bottles.
Of course most of us don't live on farms anymore or have large enough tracts of land to accommodate our own personal Fresh Kills; and towns got in on the garbage collection action (wisely) in order to prevent diseases from spreading through cities and large towns when waste was left lying waist high in the streets.
I've heard the argument that pay as you go will create rampant littering but have you looked around lately? Look up in the trees and count the plastic bags, drive down Thomas Landers Road or Route 28 where the double lane highway ends as you approach town - litter is already rampant. People who don't recycle are just lazy - pay as you go isn't going to make them into illegal dumping criminals. If they haven't the energy to sort through their trash and separate, it what makes people think they'll have the energy to load it into their cars at night and drive around looking for a place to dispose of it? It's like the reusable bags. We aren't motivated to remember them because it's not costing us anything to forget them. Not yet at least.
In Sandwich this summer, where they already have adopted pay as you go, I saw more instances of people putting items in their front yards with sings on them reading "free." How great is that? Instead of throwing away something that could be useful to someone else - items are being offered up for free. Did everyone in Sandwich suddenly become altruistic, or by making it harder to throw stuff out (or more expensive) has the town given people incentive to consider (and take responsibility for) what happens to the stuff they throw out.
If it's easy. It's easy not to think about it.
Taking it a step further, why should our trash cans be laden with plastic twists ties, cellophane windows to cardboard boxes, the plastic clam shells that the batteries came in, the hard-to-remove plastic that tiny computer camera flash card come in - that you need the kitchen scissors to extract, not to mention what happens to larger items at the end of their life cycle, like TVs . The companies that make these products should be the ones to deal with all the trash that's created just by buying something and opening it up.
Maybe, when we're all left holding the bag (literally) we'll start holding corporations accountable. If corporations are recognized by law as having certain rights and responsibilities should they have to clean up the messes that they create?
After all, my kids have to clean up theirs.

song: Throwing it All Away • artist: Genesis

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bless the Beasts and the Children

Today I interviewed a minister for a story I'm writing about pet blessing ceremonies.
The entire time we were speaking on the phone, Leo the kitten was on top of the mouse cage trying to swat at my son's pet mice.
"Got a blessing for a mouse about to be eviscerated?"

song: Bless the Beasts and the Children • artist: The Carpenters

Far Away

And here's another thing about plastic bags. At the Windfall Market (our town's independently owned grocery store) they deduct a nickel off your total for every reusable bag you bring in. Let's just say up front that a nickel is not much of an incentive to begin with but - I would argue that when I do remember to bring in my canvas bags I can fit four times as many groceries into them as I would be able to get in one plastic bag. So shouldn't I get 20¢ per bag instead of just 5¢? Shouldn't the policy be a nickel for every plastic bag I am saving the store by not using?
I do not know the answer to this but last time I was in Windfall with my bags I had three bags but only enough items to warrant the use of two. The bagger argued to the cashier that I should get 15¢ off my order, a nickel for every bag brought, not a mere 10¢ for actual bags used.
If that's the policy I could start bringing my entire reusable bag collection into the store, which is upwards of 10 bags, plus the half dozen my husband keeps in his car.

song: Far Away • artist: Nickelback

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Nick of Time

Today's revelation -- you don't need to remember to bring your canvas bags to the supermarket. You can just walk in the entry and fish a plastic bag out of the plastic bag recycle bin! I did it today. Works great! Sure, the store bags aren't as flashy as my own reusables but it sure beats trying to carry everything to the car or stuffing it in your purse at self check - which is not only inconvenient but also looks kinda fishy.
I plan to use the tactic on a regular basis - and hopefully embarrass my children with it.

song: Nick of Time • artist: Bonnie Raitt

Monday, January 02, 2012


Yes we lost some great folks in 2011. Steve Jobs, Andy Rooney, Clarence Clemons, Liz Taylor, my two amazing aunts, Lucille and Betty; and let's not forget Dobie Gray.
What's that? You say you don't remember Dobie Gray? You mean the refrain, "give me the beat boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll" means nothing to you?
Drift Away is the first pop song I remember listening to. I was six when it came out in 1973 (go ahead, do the math), and I heard it played on an eight-track tape player in my babysitter Valerie's car. Yep. It was the 70s - - and I had a babysitter named Valerie.
Sometimes Valerie would pick me up and drive me over to her house where she'd leave me with her mom and go off with her boyfriend. Their house had a grape arbor outside the back door. When I played inside I used to set up their Mousetrap game or watch the fish in their aquarium that I remember as always being cloudy. Valerie's mom was always in her nightgown in the middle of the day watching tv in the living room.
Sometimes Valerie would bring me along to do errands or stop off at her boyfriend's house - her boyfriend's parent's house of course. Her boyfriend had the Stoned Again poster in his room - the creepiest poster ever when you are six years old.
This is what I am reminded of whenever I catch a snippet of Drift Away on the radio and drift back to 1973 and wonder if my parents had any idea when they went out that I was being carted around town or left with a middle-aged woman who by all accounts appeared to be comatose. As a parent I'm proud to say I used a much more comprehensive vetting process for potential babysitters.
So thanks Dobie, "thanks for the joy that you've given me. I want you to know I believe in your song."
But that Stoned Again poster still creeps me out.

song: Valerie • artist: The Monkeys

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Freeze Frame

New Year's Day Run and Dunk. "Look Ma! No hands! And come to think of it I can't feel my feet either!"

song: Freeze Frame • artist: J. Geils