Sunday, December 27, 2009

The prodigal daughter returns

We're back home now and off again tomorrow to spend a snowy week in Santa Fe. Thought I'd share some of our visit to southern California.

Smog makes for killer sunsets. Though the smog was not as bad as I remembered it growing up.

I brought a car load of toys which we piled in the corner but my kids found these plastic bags in the garage and decided they were more fun. They are actually zipped inside. With a peephole for air. I call these immigrant bags since they're the kind you see in the international baggage claim. I bought them for a buck each in Israel and gave my mom a few. Good for storage. Or time outs. Scratch that. Way too much fun for a time out.

I bought my daughter these rad Vans shoes with neon colored skater monsters on them.  When I was ten my friend Andrea and I used to paint our Vans in all kinds of crazy colors and we told my mom that Vans wanted us to start selling them in the store. Well Andrea thought that would be funny and I knew my mom would believe us and that it would end badly, which it did. I saw Andrea on this trip and told her that I'd designed these for Vans. She almost bought it.

Required trip to a cafe with Grandma.

Classic southern California. My husband and I did see a movie while in town (he flew down for the last day of the trip). We saw Up in the Air. I liked it. Could have waited for video though. High fives to Jason Reitman though for making some pretty good movies, almost rivaling his dad's Ghostbusters.

We spent a lot of time at the art gallery where my mom works because my son thinks he works there too. Thankfully there's also a carousel nearby.

I call this one Two Cherubs.

One amazing discovery on this trip was the Bowers Museum Kidseum. When I was about five or six years old my mom sent me to day camp at Bowers Museum with Jason Stern and I hated it. We both did. We both still talk about it. I'm sure it was awesome in theory. I remember we learned about bees. But I just wanted to get home every day. Sound like someone else we know and love from this blog? About ten years ago they opened a kids museum that's only cultural dress and play from around the world. Imagine giant bins of international dress up clothes and masks the size of your preschooler. It was outstanding and we were the only ones there (on Christmas eve day) and the kids had a ball.


More when we return from New Mexico. Happy 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In the news

I'm in Orange County. And in fact we're having a great time. I drove down with my kids on Monday and they were spectacular for the seven hour drive. The key is gum. They like to chew gum and I don't usually let them but I gave them all the gum they wanted on the way down and it kept them very quiet. The other trick is duct tape. Just kidding.

And it's lovely weather here too. We've been enjoying ourselves. I even got to have a mini reunion with a few friends from high school who live in the area. It's fun to reconnect now that we have kids. Whenever I see old friends I'm reminded of the mean trick that although we age on the outside (which actually isn't even the case with these friends who look as beautiful as they did in high school) we are basically twenty-five years old forever on the inside. I'll never forget when I hired a sixteen year old babysitter who called me Mrs. Rosen and I was like what the hell, I'm not that much older than you? Until I realized I was twice her age.

Anyway, I've been taking a lot of pictures this time around which I will share when we're back home and I have a cable to download. I have a lot of "blog entries" in my head, one of which is the fact that I've started to store things in my brain in terms of blog entries which sometimes makes me want to stop blogging altogether. Today and yesterday I've been thinking a lot about television and how I'm glad ours barely works. My mom has a nice TV plus cable so I have my pick of a zillion channel which means I can't excape the news. If you can call it news. This is what's topping the headlines in Orange County:

  1. Tiger Woods and his mistresses and fortune and whether his wife will try to take the kids to Sweden and if he'll fight for them or if she'll try to get half of his billions or just settle for 55 million. Really, people? Who gives a fuck. My mom's boyfriend told me that this story hit a record for the most days on the front pages of major newspapers, beating out 9/11.
  2. A man in Brazil stuck more than 40 sewing needles into his two year old son over the course of a month at the prompting of his mistress to get back at is wife. I don't even know what to say about this except that I wish I didn't know about it.
  3. A nineteen year old woman from Anaheim threw her newborn in a dumpster behind a Mexican Restaurant in Stanton. She delivered the baby in a restroom stall and then put her in the garbage. Alive. What is wrong with people.
  4. Sean Goldman is headed back to the US from Brazil to live with his father David Goldman. I guess the boy was taken to Brazil by his mother five years ago and they never came back. And then she died in childbirth a few years later. And he's being raised by his stepfather. Hopefully New Jersey won't be too much of a culture shock. Right.
  5. Did I mention Tiger Woods? He's on again.
So I'm happy to live in my NPR bubble where I don't have to know about philandering golfers, voodoo inflicting fathers, dead babies in dumpsters or poor kids caught in the middle of bi-cultural marriages gone bad.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mental Accounting

Well I went to the doctor today because I'm sick. Again. I hacked up a green glob this morning that could have been a spoonful of wasabi. It was that green. And that solid. And I've been trying to stay well because we have some trips coming up. I've been squirting salt water up my nose and out my mouth which, if you've never done this, is really awful but does open up the nasal passages. Unless you have total nasal blockage and then water just sprays everywhere including out your ears because it has no where else to go. So I went to see my doctor. And she said just what I wanted her to say. You have a sinus infection. Go get this prescription filled. Because usually I'd just wait it out. Steam my head a few times a day. Spray some grapefruit seed extract up the old schnoz. But I am driving to my mom's (7 hours) with my kids on Monday and then we're all flying to Santa Fe a week later, so I can't risk it.

And thank god she gave me that prescription and made no mention of the five pounds I'd gained. Um, is your scale off? Yes, five pounds. I suddenly had visions of myself on whoever is replacing Oprah talking about how I didn't even notice that I was suddenly four hundred pounds because it just came on five pounds at a time.

After, I went home to get some work done, all the while thinking, where the hell did those five pounds come from? Maybe it's the bowl of cereal I eat every night at 10:00? Maybe I should exercise more than once a month? Those thoughts somehow stimulated my bowel. And I started thinking, that's a good two pounder right there. So really I only gained three pounds. And then I started thinking about how much my huge hooded sweater and bootcut jeans weigh - maybe a pound or more. The hood and extra fabric for the bootcut make the outfit very weighty, you know. And then I hacked up some more wasabi. Quarter pound at least. So then I didn't feel so bad. I had only gained like one pound, when you round down. Which I do. And since it's Hanukkah and I've been eating only fried food for the last six days, I feel like that's actually pretty good.

Then after I picked up my kids we went to Walmart to fill my prescription and I felt even better since most people there are twice my size. Which is why I had no qualms inhaling this giant potato, onion and green bean omelet for lunch (otherwise known as "leftovers omelet"). I mean the bottle says must take with food. I'm just following directions. It also says, follow with Nutella chaser. Swear to god.

What kind of mental accounting are you doing this holiday season?

Monday, December 14, 2009

2010 Calendars

No, I don't have them for sale. I didn't make an art calendar. I sort of missed the boat this year for seasonal merchandise. Even though working for Shutterfly for a year got me to think about Christmas in July and Valentine's Day in October, I still wasn't able to get the Mishmish Studio merchandising calendar on track for this year's rush. Alas, I'm a newbie. Come back next year maybe.

But as our family's resident Shutterfly expert, I'm in charge of the family photo calendar. This year I didn't anticipate how much the holiday season would affect my nascent business so between filling orders, researching kindergarten, doing another quick contract for Shutterfly and having my kids off school for the last two weeks of December, I decided to delegate the task to my husband. I basically set it all up for him and he just had to put the pictures in in a coherent order (birthday people get a lot of pictures on their page, that kind of thing). He did a stand up job and I'm just going back in for a quick edit. But we're missing some pics of my mother-in-law (this calendar is only my husband's side of the family - sorry ma, I'll make one for you too, but it might not be til February...) so I start going through the last few trips we've taken to Santa Fe when we've all been together, including my elusive sister-in-law who's in Israel and always studying for exams because her university goes on strike every three months. And anyway now she's in medical school so we may never see her again. And as I'm going through these pics I jump over to pics from my mother-in-law's Picasa site and it turns out that she has a zillion more amazing pictures. Meanwhile, I am listening to a new song that I love (on repeat, because I'm as obsessive as my own son) and I am sobbing because I love this family so much. The music and the images - what can I say? I love a good score. I hear so many horror stories about in-law antics and bad feelings and drunken blow-outs and, well, I hit the jackpot with this team. They do travel in packs, which can be tiresome, if you're, say, 32 hours postpartum, but I mostly love this style of full family love. It's what I'm used to from my side of the family too (um, you heard about the family band, right?). It's not even a big family, mine or his, but when we're together it's epic.

Here's the song. Play it while you browse through iphoto. Have a good cry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wiped out

How is it possible that I gave birth to two people so completely different from one another? I tell you the recessive gene pool is expansive. Vast.

We're having trouble getting my son to wipe himself (sorry, that wasn't much of a segue). He's five. I'm sure this is normal and to be honest part of me wants to keep doing it because I do a better job than he does, but he should really be wiping his own ass (I keep hearing that little boy in Adam Sandler's movie Big Daddy,  I wipe my on ass! I wipe my own ass!). Anyway, my husband told him he's not doing it anymore and I said, I guess me neither. And then my son didn't take a dump for three days. This is what we are up against. So I said fine, I will wipe and then after, you will practice, as in wipe with no threat of getting poop on his fingers. We've been doing this for a week or so. And yesterday, when he didn't want to reach over to get the toilet paper because he would have to close his eyes so he wouldn't have to see the poop and then he might fall and land in the toilet (his words), I realized the extent to which he is not psyched about poop.

Compare that to a recent conversation I had with my daughter. She'd been playing in leaves outside and then came in and wanted her pants off because something was itching her. You mean the dried up maple leaves in your underwear? Is that it? I pull down her pants and a bunch of brown flecks of leaf fall to the ground and a very nonchalant conversation ensues.

her: (bending over to touch the leaves) mommy, is it poo poo?
me: no, honey
her: spider?
me: no, it's a leaf.
her: oh, leaf. (shrugs and giggles). Leaf is not poo poo mommy. Silly.

Same parents. Swear.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Put a plug in it

I can hear him whimpering in the other room. But I still have my ear plugs in so I can only sort of hear him. Yes, I have ear plugs in. My son has been screaming for the last thirty minutes. First, that his sister used all the tape (this week's obsession is scotch tape) and then, when his sister got sick of listening to the screams and decided she would rather take a nap (yes, she'd rather NAP than listen to her brother scream and cry. I can't say I blame her.), he started screaming about how he wanted to play with her.

I want to play with her!
I want to play with her!
want to play with her!

So I had no choice. I had to put in the ear plugs. Which actually don't do much but send a clear message that I don't want to hear this boy anymore. It didn't help (you should know that neither does holding him tight or snuggling or putting him in a naughty chair or spanking him. None of these things are effective when he needs to have a come apart). So I canceled Hanukkah. Can she do that? You bet your sweet latke I can. We're going to my brother's this afternoon to have dinner and celebrate and open presents and I told him that the other three kids would get presents and he would not. Well that shut him up very quickly. And now he is mopey, but he's quiet. Probably hopeful that I'll reconsider the cancellation. Which I will, but only after he has spent a good amount of time considering his errant behavior. It's bad enough I won't put lights on our house like our neighbors. Now I'm cancelling Hanukkah.
How's that for some holiday spirit. My kids hate me. Fa la la.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Uncle Johns' Band

I just had to share this because it cracked me up. Yes, I often rely on myself for the best laughs. My brother Johnny is very excited about the family band and has purchased music binders for everyone in time for our second practice which is tomorrow night. So he asked me if I could whip up a logo or something to slip in the front cover behind the plastic. Oh and think of a band name while you're at it.

Well, since he's the driving force behind the band and he's Uncle Johnny (to my kids anyway), we're going with the homage to Jerry Garcia, patron saint of garage bands, and calling it Uncle John's Band. And here's what our first album cover will look like:

Kristin on drums
Susie on vocals/egg shaker
Johnny on guitar/keyboard/vocals/sound engineer
Aaron on keyboard
Mook on bass

It has a certain je ne sais Partridge family appeal to it right? Truth be known, I didn't just whip this up. It's a drawing from my Story Birds collection, but it happened to have five characters and the possum happened to look JUST LIKE my brother Aaron so I thought PERFECT.

Time to fight off the paparazzi as I venture out for my daily coffee. These people are relentless...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Someone old and someone new

Say it together with me.
I just came back from a much needed, too short and deliriously enjoyable weekend in Portland, a place I had never been, to meet one of my newest old friends and one of my oldest new friends.

Aimee is someone I met online. Huh? Yes, I met her online. I commented on her blog. And then she commented back. And then we started emailing. Very long emails. The kind you used to send in 1996 before people stopped writing in conventional language in favor of short phrases with no vowels. Yes, those kind of emails. And it just happened we were both artists with MBAs (so incongruous!) and mommies of small children and makers of ketubahs and well the list of similarities goes on and on. And so, one day, when we were both feeling the need to get away, we hatched a plan to meet in Portland. And that's just what we did. We flew in Friday night, I met her at her gate and we didn't stop talking until she left Sunday morning. And we wandered around freezing Portland and talked our heads off, drank coffee, ate amazing food, bought matching sweaters (well, different sweaters from the same woman at the Saturday market) and got lost in Powell's bookstore. It was like we had known each other our whole lives. And that is why Aimee is my newest old friend.

And my oldest new friend is Jenn. Jenn lives in Portland and is chef and owner of Lincoln Restaurant and Culinary Artistry. She is someone I worked with when I was 16 and a counselor at summer camp. We hadn't seen each other in nearly twenty years. About five years ago we were in touch briefly. And then about 8 months ago I saw a little blurb on her in Real Simple magazine so I nearly had a heart attack and looked her up to find that she had opened a restaurant in Portland. I immediately wrote to her and we even spoke on the phone. So when Aimee and I decided on Portland I knew I needed to see Jenn too. We ate dinner at Jenn's restaurant on Friday night and it was amazing to be in the company of two incredibly talented and creative women. Catching up. Getting to know each other. And eating the most delicious food I've had in a very long time. Maybe ever. Go eat at Lincoln if you're ever in Portland.

Aimee flew home early Sunday and I spent the rest of the day with Jenn. More talking. More eating. And even though in some ways it felt like we just slipped right back into the our old friendship, in many ways it felt more like our friendship, or at least this chapter of it, was entirely new.

So there it is. A weekend of grub and gab with two exceptionally inspiring and supportive women. It was just what I needed. Because, friends, I am not great at reaching out. I'm shy. I get intimidated. I assume no one remembers me. But I'm finding that the more I do it, the easier it is and the happier I am to be connected.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

My daughter has crossed the line. The last few weeks she's been crawling into our bed around 6:30 in the morning to snuggle and defrost her Popsicle feet and we rather enjoy it so we indulge this behavior. It's been a good stretch actually. For a while she was coming in at around 3:30 to sleep on the floor next to the bed or covertly sneak between us (her version of stealth mode means a knee in your belly and not a knee AND a foot). There was also that three day "my mattress is like a large diaper" spree. Check. But lately she's been going to be easily and sleeping the whole night in her bed.

But recently she's been coming into our bed with a host of friends. She doesn't just bring Julio. She brings Julio, Mousey, a soft doll that make crinkle noises and two small wooden dolls from her doll house. Yes, wooden dolls. Ever snuggle up to a wooden doll? Or rolled onto one at 6:45 am? Yesterday she brought all of those items plus the lamp from her doll house. And today she brought the animals, crinkle doll, wooden dolls, the lamp, her ladybug key chain chapstick and two magnets.

But I will leave my husband to deal with this burgeoning problem while I go away for the weekend. By. My. Self. Yes, friends. This mama has the weekend off. Full disclosure when I return. Or partial disclosure.

Now go make some time for you too. Let's report back on Monday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Corner View - Corners of my home

I have been remiss in my corner view participation. Started by Jane of Spain Daily, it's a group of bloggers around the world who post on a weekly prompt. I just usually can't get my act together in time. This week's prompt was Corners of Your Home. So here they are, for better of worse. I left out the corners that were full of crap. Except for one corner that is desperate for a makeover. Can you tell a lot by someone's corners? Maybe...

I collect rag dolls. Porcelain painted faces? No thanks. I collect the soft kind and the raggier the better. Here are two from South Africa, that I bought in Israel and one from New Zealand.

We have a lot of books. Paperbacks. I can't bring myself to part with them. And I don't want them in boxes in the attic because then there's NO CHANCE I will ever look at them again. This way they're out of public view but easily accessible. You know, for when I want to reread Othello.

I have kids. Two in fact. One of them, the boy one, sleeps here. My friend Ayelet in Israel made those chickens. I wish she would sell them on ETSY or something but for now only sold in shops in Israel. The quilt is from a wonderful woman in an adorable shop in Rosh Pinna, which is a little artist town in Northern Israel. It has the Hebrew alphabet on it. And the image above his bed is obviously from Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, one of the greatest books of all time. I painted this when I was sixteen.

Even more books. And some friends atop the books.

This corner is actually in our hallway. Kind of a peculiar little place. We turned it into a kitchen. With a view of the Andes...

Here is a quiet corner where I can relax (and nurse - back in the day). My Grammy crocheted that afghan. It's good to have a place to breathe when this is what your office/studio looks like...

Good grief.

Thanks for coming over. For more corner tours visit Jane and her people at Spain Daily. Vaya con Dios.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Quiche me, you fool

In 2001 when I started graduate school in North Carolina my fiance and I had $4 in the bank the day he was hired at the medical device firm where he worked for the two years I was in school. We had been in Chapel Hill about two months and student loan checks were delayed somewhere and we had just spent all of our savings (all of $5000 each) to travel around the world for nine months. The situation was kind of grim. In fact I told my husband to negotiate a $1000 starting bonus and take $1000 less in salary because I had just learned the time value of money in my Introduction to Finance class and understood well that money now was more valuable than money later. Indeed.

Not two weeks later I am at BJs (a wholesale store like Costco) with my newest grad school buddies and I can hardly believe all the fabulous stuff and how cheap it all is (per ounce) and I start filling my super-sized basket with what I am certain is deal after deal of the century. You see I just spent the last year living in a tent with my boyfriend and trekking through Nepal and India and for the four years before that I lived in the Middle East and bought most things at this market:

So BJs was the tiniest bit overwhelming. And exhilarating. And as I'm leaving with my piles of stuff and my $200 bill which at this point is about half of our total savings, the pit in my stomach starts to grow. And I get that heavy thing in my chest like good lord what have I done. But my friends, who are also poor and their husbands don't yet have jobs, are fine and dandy, it seems to me anyway. I am silent on the way home.

They drop me off and help me cart my stuff up to our apartment. I can't even remember all of it but here are some highlights:

A rattan hamper that has two smaller hampers inside it
Ten cans of corn
Ten cans of diced tomatoes
A jar of capers the size of a car battery

And then my fiance comes home and I just burst into tears. He assures me that it's fine and not to worry, until he sees all the corn. And the capers. And he gives me this look, like, well, if you think we need a ten gallon jug of capers than maybe we do. I guess. He's a gem. Ten minutes later I'm driving back to BJs with everything I bought and I return it all. Including my three hour old membership. I can't be trusted in this store.

Turns out neither can my husband. Now it's 2003 and we are living in a small apartment in Mountain View, where we live now, and my husband has found a job but I'm still looking for one. Yahoo and Sun have just laid off about 10,000 people. The economy is trash (or so we thought. until it got a whole lot trashier). This time we live about a stone's throw from Costco and we need some large items like a vacuum. So we join. And on my husband's first visit he comes home with a jar of three bean salad that could feed a company picnic. It doesn't even fit in our fridge. And he looks right at me with a straight face and says, I thought this looked tasty. And five seconds later we are laughing hysterically because we're having flashbacks of the caper jar and all those cans of corn and the matryoshka hampers. But he's already opened the jar and had a serving (so now there are only 754 servings left) and we can't return it. It gets thrown out several months later when the vinegar has turned to rubbing alcohol.

So when my husband takes the kids to Costco on Saturday evening and comes home with 60 mini quiches, I just roll my eyes. And then the next day when I notice that 30 of them are with bacon (he doesn't eat pork) and that he's apparently wrapped his chewing gum in the receipt, he winks and says maybe we can trade these in for a gallon of capers?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Woman of Valor

I'm warning you up front that this is a lengthy entry.

This is a piece that I created this week. The inspiration comes from Eshet Chayil or Woman of Valor, a twenty-two verse poem with which King Solomon concludes the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 31). The poem describes the Woman of Valor as one who is energetic, righteous, and capable. It is obviously meant to honor women, and I'm sure that back in the day it was maybe even progressive. But I have to say I'm not crazy about all of the verses. So I came up with a version more suitable to the complex lives of women/mothers today. The original is in italics, followed by my interpretation (in bold).

An accomplished woman, who can find? Her value is far beyond pearls.
Accomplished women are everywhere, just open your eyes King Solomon! Geez.

Her husband's heart relies on her and he shall lack no fortune.
Her husband relies on her to do the taxes and get a nice refund check.

She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life.
She does him good and only thinks evil thoughts when he leaves his socks by the door.

She seeks wool and flax, and works with her hands willingly.
She seeks quality jeans at a good price and a manicure would be nice too.

She is like the merchant ships, she brings her bread from afar.
She only shops locally and her bread is multi-grain organic.

She arises while it is still night, and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidservants.
She arises when the alarm goes off, pours the cereal and longs for a personal chef.

She plans for a field, and buys it. With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She co-signs on the house and has a nice Merlot to celebrate.

She girds her loins in strength, and makes her arms strong.
Her loins have not been the same since she had the babies but she has strong arms (from carrying them all the time).

She knows that her merchandise is good. Her candle does not go out at night.
She's still smoking hot even though her boobs are droopy.

She sets her hands to the distaff, and holds the spindle in her hands.
She's not great at sewing, but she's taking a class on Mondays.

She extends her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy.
She donates to her friends who do Team in Training.

She fears not for her household because of snow, because her whole household is warmly dressed.
She lives in California where there is no snow and her household wears flip flops in winter.

She makes covers for herself, her clothing is fine linen and purple.
She actually once made a duvet cover out of two sheets and it was really awesome. But not purple.

Her husband is known at the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
Her husband is known at the mechanic, where he likes to look over everyone's shoulders.

She makes a cloak and sells it, and she delivers aprons to the merchant.
She buys her coat on eBay and sells it for $10 more on Craigslist because it's too small.

Strength and honor are her clothing, she smiles at the future.
Bring it.

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the lesson of kindness is on her tongue.
She opens her mouth and mostly has nice things to say unless she's grouchy. And then she writes in her blog.

She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
She watches over the ways of the household, including all the damned laundry.

Her children rise and praise her, her husband lauds her.
Her children rise and want breakfast, her husband pretends he's sleeping.

Many women have done worthily, but you surpass them all.
Many women can have it all, or some modified version of it all.

Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God shall be praised.
Charm and beauty help a lot when the mind goes.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Give her a little time to herself to recharge and see just how amazing she is.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Much to be thankful for this year. The list is long. But near the top of the list is New England style foliage at the end of November when it's 67 degrees outside. No joke. This is where I live. It's not paradise by any stretch of the imagination. A block from our house is a street with like forty-five car dealerships and ten big box retailers with a curious mix of Craftsman bungalows and downright ugly apartment complexes. And there's no open space between towns - just one long stretch of suburban sprawl. But sweet surrender, the weather here is unbelievable.

And of course, the three things I'm most thankful for are these characters. This is our annual Thanksgiving Day tradition of raking the leaves and dumping them, along with our kids, into the yardage bin. They appear to enjoy it.

I'm also thankful that my sister-in-law made Thanksgiving dinner this year because she has a special way with a bird. We actually went over there a few hours early for the first of hopefully many family band practices. It's true friends, I have a wonderful husband, two diabolical delicious kids, a newly refinanced home where it's 65 degrees at the end of November, flexible and creative work that I love AND I'm lead singer in Uncle John's Band. Watch for us on You Tube.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A few things that sucked but didn't ruin my day

1. Trying to adhere my most recent drawing to a piece of Plywerk plywood where it stuck beautifully but one millimeter off on the left side. That sucked. Their adhesive is so good that you can watercolor right on there with no buckling BUT when you miss your mark, you're screwed. But I'm going to see if my husband can't just sand that side or something. Meanwhile I redrew it on a another paper and painted it today taped to my desk. Old school.

2. My son bringing his bowl in from breakfast and dropping it into a basket of toys. Milk + soggy leftover cereal + basket + toys = gross. I clean it up and thank my son for trying to bring his dish into the kitchen.

3. My son (again) trying to get down his sister's bag of leftover Halloween candy because she was whining about it and I'm sure he was hoping to score a piece since he ate all of his and him knocking over a nearly full bottle of canola oil that unfortunately had no cap. Sucked. A half a bottle of canola is actually and mysteriously seventeen gallons of oil when it's spilled onto your counter (and in between the counter and the stove and onto the stove and onto the floor). And it takes a roll of paper towels to absorb.

4. Playing memory on the floor in my studio my son knocking over my cup of coffee on to the carpet. Including the black dregs at the bottom. Seriously? Three spills in one day is a personal best. My carpet cleaning friends will be so pleased to see we switched the mezuzah.

5. Taking the kids to the supermarket after I picked them up from school and getting into the car only to notice that my daughter is missing Julio the rat. I drive back to the front of the store and park in the handicapped parking and run in to see if anyone has seen her rat. I receive many raised eyebrows. But no rat. So I drive around the parking lot three times looking for Julio and then spot him between two cars, jump out of the car, snatch the rat and return him to his rightful owner.

See. I'm learning to control my tantrums too. Shhh. Listen for the applause.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Notes from inside the hatch

Do you watch LOST? So, if not, I'll let you in on a bit of the plot from the second season. We come to learn that there's this weird underground hatch where someone has been living the last few years (and other people for many years before that) who has to type in a particular code every 108 minutes to diffuse a growing cataclysmic energy. At one point we learn that the guy down there doesn't get to the computer in time to type the code and that's what makes the plane crash down on the island in the first place - the energy starts to explode or implode or just plode. Whatever. It's not good. The plane gets pulled to the island, breaks in half and makes a big mess. And then it happens again later in the series, to test if the whole punching in the code is really just a load of horse pucky and in fact it is not horse pucky and this magnetic force thing grows out of control and the hatch releases the cataclysmic energy again, but all the way this time, which draws in all things metal and then makes the sky go white and brassy. Anyway, great show. Many interesting facets. For me though, the whole punch in the code every 108 minutes or fear the cataclysmic force is something I can relate to on a personal level. That force lives in my home. He calls me mommy.

Thankfully our cycles are not every 108 minutes because that would be very unfortunate. But they run about every 108 hours. About every four days my son reaches a certain level of, I don't even know what to call it, energy or frustration or molecular imbalance, that requires him to release. He goes into lymbic mode. All higher brain functioning ceases. The only thing that functions is his voice box. And tear ducts. Those go into overdrive. And the part that kills me is that I can see it coming on. It's like a very slow moving train, but a train nonetheless that, even at slower speeds, can MOW YOU DOWN.

Every 4-5 days is actually amazing progress. It used to be closer to every 108 minutes. So I can tell that he's trying to become a rational person. He's learning about being flexible (this is seriously the main focus of what they learn about in his preschool, which if you ask me is nothing short of revolutionary). And he exhibits flexible behavior. But then, in due time, his magnetic energy grows so fierce that it just implodes drawing us all in a spiralling heap toward him. And I don't have any magic code which I feel is the big joke of parenting. It's like saying to someone, here, go perform open heart surgery on that man. You can reference this nice paperback.

So today he was due for a release. And it happened at the park while we were visiting our friends in a town not too far from here. We were getting ready to come home and I asked him to get on his bike and ride it back to the car which was only about a thirty second ride. He started to crumble. I said, just put on your helmet. It's much easier to ride than to walk a bike. But his legs were rubbery and he couldn't get himself going and it was cold and he was tired and probably hungry. In an attempt to diffuse what I could see was a big ole train barreling right toward me, I said to him, you can go ahead of me and get to the car first. He loves to be first. A few seconds later he says, tell me again what you just said, and of course, I have no idea what he's referring to, and he just falls apart. I try to understand how I can help him. But I have no idea what he is talking about and I know, from much experience, that whatever it is probably makes no sense to me. So I just walk ahead toward the car. And he screams for the next ten minutes for me to come back. But I can't. We've played out this same or similar scenario so many times I just can't do it anymore. Eventually my husband goes back and he quickly gets on his bike and rides to the car and through his hyperventilation explains to me that he needed me to repeat what I had said to him.

Me: But I don't know what you're talking about.
Him: I wanted you to tell me again that I can pass in front of you.
Me: Then why didn't you just tell me to say that?
Him: Because I didn't remember!
Me: Well neither did I!
Him: But you said it!
Me: But why on earth did you need me to say that again if you knew what I said anyway!?

And so, here we are, all of us, players in my son's masterpiece theater of the absurd. And ten minutes later he is back to his charming self, at first solemn and regretful, but soon after scarcely remembering the event ever happened. And I am left to dwell on this, only the most recent of what appears to be a never-ending series of cataclysms, until the next one reveals itself, in approximately 102 hours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quarantine lifted

Hi. I'm Susie. I write this blog. Remember? Little stories about my family and life? I know. I've been gone a while. Bad blogger. No, we didn't take the kids to Disneyland.

I stayed home with my daughter last Wednesday and made some headway on Project Garbage House. I also took her to see Dr. Murray who said she had an upper respiratory tract infection and a gunky ear. I'm not clear if that was a separate thing or what. Not important. Here's where it gets hairy for your protagonist (that's me). We both develop fevers Wednesday night. 102.5. For the next three days I could not regulate my body temperature. I was freezing under my covers, then sweating like crazy, then frozen from the evaporating sweat. And my daughter was basically her happy go lucky self with a little more apple in her cheeks. During this time I sneezed so many times I basically made myself incontinent. TMI? Too bad. My blog. On Thursday morning I decided there was no way I could take care of my daughter since I could hardly get out of bed so I kept my son home from preschool to entertain her. Brilliant move it turned out. They left me alone to sleep all morning, I fed them lunch and then my unbelievably wonderful husband came home at 2:00 to take them all on a field trip and away from Mommy. On Friday I sent my son to school and stayed home again with my daughter. We managed somehow and my husband came home early again and took the kids again. Love him. And the whole weekend was more of the same. Lying around in our pajamas, taking temperatures, administering fever reducing agents. On Saturday night my son developed a fever too. So we took it easy again on Sunday and by Sunday night it seemed like he'd be able to go to school on Monday but then I noticed the eye booger.

GEORGE JESUS! So I vigilantly cleaned his eyes out and made him wash his hands a hundred times and washed his pillow and his kitty and prayed to God that he didn't have pink eye. Monday morning, no gunk but slight fever. So I kept him home but sent the girl. At this point I don't have a fever either but plenty of post flu nasal garbage. And also keep in mind it's been three weeks since I've had any time during the day to work on my business or paint or anything so I'm very close to having a major come-apart (although I did paint Tiny Village on Saturday night. Dab painting, dab nose, repeat). The text says "spread over us a shelter of peace". This was literally an S.O.S. painting.

Someone heard my painting prayer. This morning everyone was fever and gunk free and back to school/work. When the kids left this morning at 9:00 a hush came over the house. I made myself a cup a coffee and just sat on my couch listening to myself breathe. I'm actually so relieved that I work for myself now because trying to juggle sick kids when you don't have a nanny is awful.

In other news, I gathered up the kids on Sunday morning and we went room to room setting aside baby toys to give to our new baby friends. Five boxes of stuff these kids were willing to part with! And guess what we found during the great purge? Softie the scarf!!! On the very same day that my husband switched the mezuzah. Coincidence? We'll have to ask the carpet cleaners.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


My daughter's had a runny nose the last few days and her school asked me to keep her and her nose home tomorrow because I think they're tired of wiping it every three minutes. I know I am. So that means I'm home from work for the day and I could not be happier. My home has reached a state of disarray that it has not seen since we moved in here and I just can't get on top of it. I apologize for ranting about my domestic chaos for the last several posts but it's really all consuming. I have basically ceased to function normally. Now I take out jars of jam and just leave them out. With the lid off. Sometimes even the milk doesn't make it back into the fridge. My clothes are all over the place. There's a giant pile of shoes and socks at the front door. Toys are everywhere. And there's laundry in every available position. Washer. Dryer. On the top of the dryer waiting to be dried. On the futon in the guest room. In the laundry basket. And in the hampers. And the worse it gets, the less I am able to deal with it.


Now I am starting to understand those people who are just buried under the junk in their homes. Because once you pass a certain point you almost need an Oprah style intervention. You just lose all motivation. Like right now, for instance. I could be straightening. But I'd sooner put a pen in my eye. And I have a housekeeper who comes once a week so I have no right to complain. But she ends up putting whatever's out back in bins willy nilly and now we are going on three weeks of random stuff going into random places which is why I still can't find my soft scarf (see previous post)! And in all honesty it's not even bad by normal standards but I am a very tidy Virgo and believer that everything has its home which brings me to another issue of worldwide proportion that's been on my mind and that is what to do with all this stuff that I want to get rid of because no one's home should be a landfill. I am dying to get rid of a ton of our things - a ton of toys, appliances, just crap we don't need. Little things. Hangers, for the love of ginger! Who the hell needs this many hangers! But how to do it? You can't just throw shit away anymore. You have to give it to Good Will so it can be thrown away in Africa.

But back to my daughter, who as it turns out needs to see Dr. Murray again since my husband looked in her ears with a microscope and saw one ear looking shiny and happy with its tube in place and the other ear looking like Chernobyl. So I'm more than happy to take a sick day with my daughter, for her sake and mine. And while she's playing dress up in her room, I'll be casually putting away her clean clothes. And while she's playing top chef in her kitchen, I'll be cleaning mine. And next week, when I'm back to being a Work From Home Artist, I'm sure I'll have something else to write about. If not, I will make something up for your entertainment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear Home,

I don't know how to bring this up without sounding overly sensitive or confrontational. So I'll just put it out there. Are you mad at me? Did I offend you in some way? Are you not happy with the rain gutters or the color we painted the kitchen door? I'm only asking because I can't figure out why you keep taking my stuff and hiding it. Like my keys this morning. I took the keys to open my trunk and get the kids' lunchboxes still sitting there from yesterday so the Mr. could make their lunches and I could leave for work. I brought the lunches in, grabbed my purse and then couldn't find the keys. So I spent the next ten minutes looking all around the house and they were no where. What gives? And this isn't the first time you've taken our keys. What about when our daughter was born and you lifted both my set and my husband's set within a one week span? Do you know how much those goddamn electronic keys cost? Like $150 smacks. So for the next year we measured everything in VW keys. The plane ticket was two VW keys...And then what about my badge for work? I've been there less than two weeks and I already need to ask for a replacement? So I need that back. And also my favorite scarf. The one I've slept with every night since I bought it in on the street in Chile in 1996. The one my kids call softie because it has reached a level of softness unparalleled in the garment manufacturing industry. We can talk about why a 36 year old sleeps with a scarf later. After I get the scarf back. And as long as I have you on the horn, I'm not thrilled with the ants. Or that nail that keeps coming up in the dining room floor, that I have snagged my big toe on seven hundred and twenty-one times, even though I bang it back in every four months. And the way you've started piling up little stacks of papers and legos and cars and small socks and magnets in every corner of you. Every friggin' corner! It's enough already! Put your crap back where it belongs! Including the etch-a-sketch that's on my bedside table. And then give me back the keys.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Corner View - Contrast

The first ketubah I ever made was for my brother. I was 20. I'm not really sure how it came to pass that I would do this for them. They probably saw prices for ketubahs in the Judaica shops (this was before and decided baby sister needed to pitch in. I never even discussed it with them. I just drew what I wanted. A giant colorful tree and the Jerusalem buildings I'd been drawing for a while. And I think they gave me a photo copy of some text they'd found. And it came out beautifully considering I put very little thought into it. That's probably what made it so nice. It wasn't wrought with ketubah-making anxiety. These are the only pictures of it that remain. It's my brother putting a nine iron through it when he got divorced four years later. Not his best moment.

I've since done four others: my other brother's (I'm happy to report they are going on 17 years I think), my own, my friend Heidi's and most recently for my friend Adam. Here's where we encounter the contrast. With Aaron's ketubah, I just painted what I felt like painting. No consultation. Total freedom. No stress. It was for my brother who I knew would be happy with anything I came up with. And he was. Adam's ketubah was a different story. I was doing this as a "professional" or at least semi-professional. It required hours of consultation to figure out the exact imagery that best united two very different people and two very different aesthetics. And by contrast to Aaron, whose idea of Judaism is listening to Matisyahu while drinking a beer on his balcony, Adam is a professor of Jewish History at a seminary in Los Angeles. And by contrast to the rabbi for hire at Aaron's wedding who didn't even read the ketubah aloud during the ceremony, Adam's would be read under the chuppah by a world renowned Aramaic language scholar (a buddy of Adam's). One thing I'll say, even though I was cursing through the process of creating Adam's ketubah (sorry Adam) I learned a lot about what it takes to do this as a business. In fact Adam himself once said he doesn't feel bad for being my most annoying client. It's good to get that one out of the way early. And he was right. I am the master of customer service now. And more importantly, I trust my creative instincts. I loved my brother's ketubah and, despite the challenges, maybe because of the challenges, I loved how Adam's ketubah came out. And I loved how much they loved it. Now I'm just trying to reconcile that 20-year-old artist who doesn't care what the world thinks and paints from her heart with the 36-year-old artist who worries too much about screwing up.

Recently someone ordered Adam's ketubah as a print for his own wedding so I finally had the impetus to stitch together the six scans of the original (which was much larger than my bitty scanner) and digitize the whole thing. Hopefully it will live long in many people's homes. And never come in contact with a nine iron.

For more interpretations of contrast, visit Dana and the rest of the corner views.

Monday, November 2, 2009


So it turns out that taking on this little part time temporary contract at my old job is kind of kicking my ass. Not because it's taxing or difficult or unenjoyable. In fact, it's pleasant work in a nice office with lovely people. So far I haven't had to be at a single meeting. It's kind of the best possible scenario. Except that I run out of there at 12:30 to get my kids at 1:00 and then spend the next six hours trying to clean the house, get my daughter down for her nap, play cards with my son, worry about the mounting orders I've yet to fill (or the lack of orders depending on the day), make some prints (this is next to impossible), make dinner, do some half inspired craft with my son and fold some laundry. And then at night I'm filling the orders I can't fill during the day, returning emails, doing some framing, figuring out what the hell my kids will be for Halloween, paying some bills and recovering from the tantrum I had in response to my son's tantrum du jour.

Things that don't get done: No time for the gym. No time for the super market. No time to finish the drawing I started two weeks ago. And no time to blog. Sorry peeps. Nada tiempo.

And somehow I used to do this. Although working full time gives you a little flexibility. When someone else picks up the kids you can, get this, GO TO THE SUPERMARKET. You can also go to the bank. You can even get your eyebrows waxed, in case your daughter got her Frida looks from you. And you can do it all in half an hour. And don't think I haven't done all of these things with kids in tow. Even the eyebrows. They sit on the end of the bed and wonder why the little Vietnamese lady is torturing mommy. But it takes four times as long and by the end someone is crying and it's usually me.

So today, since my son had his five year well-child check up and by the time I got him to school it would have been silly for me to drive to work only to leave an hour later, I went to the post office instead to ship a consignment order I've been sitting on for three weeks. Then I went to two supermarkets. Then I deleted 200 emails. And put away some laundry. BANNER MORNING. And the afternoon went equally well. Baby was down in ten minutes. Son and I played several hands of Go Fish which I won. Then we made a collage. The house was clean and the laundry away so my son received my undivided attention. Then I taught him that if he could figure out how to hold his cards facing him instead of facing up on the carpet he might not lose every time which he did and then we tied. Baby woke up. Met a friend at the park. Came home and made dinner. And by the time darling husband arrived I was able to greet him looking like this minus the flowing hair (my hair is short):

Namaste. Incidentally, this beautiful card arrived a few days ago with two other cards from a wonderful artist named Lori Portka. She just exudes joy and hope, which shines through in her work, right? (and her blog - check that out too).

We'll see what tomorrow holds when I head back for my second week of work. The fridge is full so I have that in my favor. My daughter has a runny nose and we appear to have ants. Two strikes against. It's anybody's game.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

I have never been a fan of Halloween. I think I've probably mentioned this before. I don't like being in costume unless I'm in a play and it's a really kick ass costume that some professional made for me. I don't like being scared. I don't like horror movies. I don't even like commercials for horror movies. I once had nightmares for about a month when I heard about the Blair Witch Project. I never even saw it. I just heard about it. And in Judaism there's another holiday where you dress up, Purim, and I hate that one too. And I'm convinced there are two kinds of people in this world - the kind who love Halloween/Purim and the ind who hate it. My theory stops there pretty much since I do have friends who are in the love category. We've just come to accept each other.

The holiday has become a little less annoying now that I have kids and get to dress them up. But the lead up to Halloween is stressful. My son went back and forth ten times between wanting to be a broiler and wanting to be a shark. He went as a shark in the end and was quite happy with his costume which my husband sewed for him yesterday. And my daughter. Well even though no one knew who she was except our neighbor Claudia, she looked positively AMAZING as the incomparable Frida Kahlo. The likeness is uncanny. With a little help from an eyebrow pencil...

And where it used to be that the only redeeming quality about Halloween was the candy, it is now that the thing that bugs me the most. True, I could give out pencils or glow bracelets or fruit. But I don't. I give out candy. And I give it to the pre-diabetic 150 pound third graders too. And then I have to deal with my own kids who want to eat a bag full of it until they throw up. So I gave them each a few pieces and put their bags away. This morning they wanted their bags and, based on some good advice from Courtney and Whitney over at Rookie Moms, I made them each pick five pieces to keep and the rest gets traded in for a toy. I have a stock pile of small toys in the attic for precisely this kind of bartering.

And now the Halloween 2009 round up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Corner View - Water

There's nothing more exciting than a Fireman's Pancake Breakfast for a couple of little kids who love pancakes and fire trucks. They even got to get a taste of the action spraying pylons off a ledge with 400 pounds of water pressure. That's a lot when you yourself only weight 32 pounds!

It's a tough job, but someone has to be that cute in a mini fire fighter jacket.

For more Corner Views, visit Dana while Jane is still incomunicado. Meanwhile I'll be over at the water cooler on my THIRD day contracting. Loving the free Special K with strawberries...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just when I thought I was out

I'm forcing myself to write tonight because otherwise I will eat the other half of the pita with Nutella (which I will likely do anyway) and plus, I have a gig at my old job every morning for the next three weeks which, when my former manager and friend first mentioned it, sounded awful and then like a nice, profitable diversion and now it sounds really chaotic. Not to mention that I will miss three weeks of my sewing class (which you never hear about anymore because I suck at it so much. I really peaked with those pillows.) I don't know how I used to do this? How did I used to work outside of my home all day and also buy food and then figure out what was for dinner and make it and clean the house and still have time to post a blog entry and watch an episode of Glee? And also fill my orders! And find time to paint! I'm sure I will be fine but I'm starting to have anxiety and that is why I'm about to finish the other half of the Nutella pita. Be back in a second.

I'm actually excited to see my old friends and have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for me everyday and maybe give my jeans some time off for good beahvior. But I just have a lot going on a ll of a sudden. There's still the issue of the Halloween costume. I ordered a shark from a great shop on ETSY that will require me to do some assemblage and light sewing. But now everyone in the family is really excited about the prospect of Broiler Man so I just don't know when it's all going to get done. And I had originally wanted to dress my daughter as Frida Kahlo since she already has the mono brow but I don't yet have a Mexican dress and since my son cut her hair the other day (did I mention that?) it will be somewhat challenging for me to get it pinned up without an ozone obliterating amount of Aqua Net. I'm thinking she still fits in the chicken costume.

And I'm out of ink! Mother of George, I ran out of ink. And not just printer ink friends. I even ran out of ink in my micron pen. Which means that I can't print or make anything. I sketched a little crazy rooftop village that I want to paint but I need me a new micron! Stat!

And the worst thing of all, is our new duvet. After eight winters with a duvet that has about three feathers left in each little square, I finally bought a giant, super warm, extra cozy duvet (that was, I swear to you, only about $40 from IKEA) and now it is proving to be NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE to get out of bed in the morning. *

*Dianna, sorry in advance if I'm late for work tomorrow morning...I had a flat tire.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who's who?

If it's been an especially long stretch of time that my kids are not shouting at each other I know I can find them sitting in front of my monitor watching the picture slide show when the screen saver activates. They both sit in my office chair and watch pictures go by and loudly proclaim a who's who of our friends and family. My son even likes to take pictures of the pictures on the screen which is sort of metaphysical. And odd.

And sometimes I take pictures of him taking pictures of the pictures on the screen saver. Just kidding. I don't do that. The kids occasionally get confused when the picture is one of them as a baby. They just shout out BABY! But then it's suddenly another picture and they're transported somewhere else. Like Grover Springs in the Eastern Sierras, where we took them over Memorial Day weekend last May with a small group including my husband's boss, Jonathan.

Him: Is that Israel?

Me: No, that's Gover Springs, where we went camping with Jonathan, Brenda, Vivek and Victoria from Aba's work.

Him: And Eric too.

Me: Right.

Him: Is Eric Brenda's baby?

Me: No, Eric is Victoria and Vivek's baby.

Him: Is Vivek Eric's aba?

Me: Yes, and Vivek is Victoria's husband.

Him: Does Brenda have a baby?

Me: Brenda has a baby in her tummy!

Him: Is Brenda Jonathan's wife?

Me: Yes.

Him: Who's Jonathan's husband? Aba?

in a manner of speaking...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Corner View - My Dream

I don't remember when it began but for as long as I can remember I've been the go to person for artistic renderings. Need a sign? Susie can make you one.

Need a forty foot mural for a school house in a Bedouin village? Susie can whip one up. Or two. (or five).

Then when I was in business school I had this dream that I could maybe work as an artist (when I got a 65 on my first finance exam). I painted a bunch of funny little figures one weekend and brought them to a wacky little folk art gallery downtown and the owner said she'd display them. She sold every one and gave me 60% of the proceeds. So I built a website and told everyone I knew and we had a little "gala opening".

And I sold enough of those little guys to pay for my husband and me to bike from Budapest to Prague through Vienna for a month after I graduated (but only enough to sleep in a tent).

Then I reproduced a bunch and made them into cards and prints and invitations and what not. Sold some of those too.

But I started getting sick of those little guys. And had some little guys of my own. And by then I had a business school job and a mortgage and some school loans and I kind of lost sight of my dream. Until my friend asked me to paint her ketubah* and that's when I suddenly woke up.

Good morning! I started painting again. A lot. Different things. That's when I remembered my dream. I forgot about all of those reasons why my dream was impossible and started living my dream.

For more corner views visit Dana, who's hosting this week while Jane is globe trotting...

*traditional Jewish marriage contract