Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cat's out of the bag


It started with my son asking if he'd ever had a pacifier, to which I answered no. Not for lack of trying though.

Him: Did I ever suck my thumb?
Me: No. You sucked on the ears and tail of your Kitty so I had to cut them off because they smelled horrible.
Him: No you didn't. His ears are right here (pointing to the sides of his face, which kind of stick out, but are not ears).
Me: Those are Kitty's cheeks. His ears were here (pointing to where I cut them off).
Him: (Whimpering) Why did you cut Kitty? (sniff sniff)

Oops. I mean I just figured he knew that I'd cut off Kitty's ears because there were no ears and no tail and it's very clear where they used to be. But suddenly he was grieving for his disfigured kitty. The cat that he'd slept with every day since he was born. Well that's not true since this one was actually the one we got when he was six months old because my husband had lost the original and as a first time parent I was certain that kitty was an integral part of our sleep system and I was not willing to forgo another second of sleep because we didn't have the damn cat. The point is this is a very well loved kitty. But the ears and tail had to go. They were biohazard.

So then he demanded a new kitty. He has this thing with everything being just right. He doesn't want unwanted food on the side of his plate; he wants it off. Or to keep his empty juice box next to him in the car. He wants it in the front with me so he doesn't have to see it. Used goods. And it made me sad that suddenly Kitty was a hideous creature to him. I told him I could sew the ears back on but he wanted a new one because he'd be able to see the white thread. Brother.

But I found some mustard color thread and sewed back one ear good as new. Which I might add was no simple task since that ear spot was all full of thick seams and such. He was pleased. So was Kitty. But when I looked for the second ear to sew back, it appears to have gone missing. Which was a big problem tonight at bed time. He was very unhappy to sleep with a one-eared cat. Very unhappy indeed. He was sobbing about it. He wanted me to take off the ear I'd already sewn on. When pigs fly kiddo. I worked hard on that ear and there was no chance I was taking apart all of my work. I just let him cry and cry until finally he quieted down. I almost clocked his ear but I kept it together. I was torn between wanting him to feel some empathy toward the one-eared cat and just wanting him to go to bed. I opted for the latter and spared him the lecture. I find that the less I talk the better. But when will he learn to love thy one-eared neighbor?

I am so screwed if I can't find that other cat ear by tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Win Win


So about that parenting lecture. Here's the thing. I find parenting to be hideously difficult. I do. Well I did up until two weeks ago. Ever since my son had an opinion which was from basically the time he could hold his head up, we have been embroiled in an epic power struggle. And I feel that, as the adult, I should win. And he feels that, as the cuter of the two of us, he should win. And this year, the year I envisioned to be full of story time and art projects and baking and wild imaginings and wonderment and merrymaking, has really been a lot of fighting and conflict and shrieking and time outs and hell. It hasn't been that bad but the bad moments color my memory because they are so bad.

And I have tried many techniques, none of which worked. We've talked to counselors. No light shed. We've read books or at least parts of books because I just don't like to read parenting books. They are all boring. I even considered that maybe he had a chemical imbalance. Or maybe I do. Well, for sure I do, but nothing that a little pita with nutella can't remedy.

But back to the lecture. We have friends whose kids are so well behaved it appears they are not actually kids but very small adults with smooth skin and high pitched voices. Turns out that these parents did a workshop some years ago in the Adler method of parenting (Alfred Adler, Viennese psychotherapist, long dead), the basic tenet of which is positive discipline. But not the "good sharing" "good pooping" bullshit that we heap on our kids from the moment they latch on. Good latching baby...In fact, I have basically stopped praising my kids altogether, but that's something else I'm trying, which is also working.

Here's how it plays out anecdotally. If my daughter won't hold my hand when we cross a street I say to her: You are such a careful girl! Thank you for teaching mommy how to be so careful crossing the street. She immediately grabs my hand. And when my son starts talking to me while I'm on the phone, which he ALWAYS does, I say: I really appreciate how patient you are being while I'm on the phone. He walks away. Win win.

The other really important piece is that, on the advice of a friend who had just gone to an Adler-based lecture on positive discipline, the very lecture I sent my husband to despite having to miss the Lost finale, I sat my kids down one morning and said the following: guys, I heard from someone who teaches mommies and daddies how to be better mommies and daddies that kids your age are old enough to be told something only once. They agreed. I now ask them to do something and nine times out of ten they do it without being asked again. Sometimes with a lag in execution but I am learning to be even more patient as they get used to my new M.O. I'm happy to report we are going on three weeks conflict free.

Now there is obviously much more to this than a few tips, but when tips work, I'll take them. This is why I don't have much to write about lately. I'm sure once these kids figure out I'm playing them they'll find other ways to get my goat. And then we'll be back in business. Until then, my posts are going to terribly boring. I'm just warning you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Big Sur

Has it really been more than a week since my last post? Jeez. I don't even have much of an excuse. Except that I have been completely obsessed with the LOST finale and spent much of my time looking at videos and listening to podcasts and figuring out how I was going to watch it since I inadvertently signed my husband up for a parenting lecture on the same night. What on earth was I thinking? More on this parenting lecture later. We may be on to something.

And in fact my mom was visiting to help me watch the kids while they had a few days off from school for Shavuot, the holiday where we celebrate Moses getting the ten commandments by eating blintzes and cheesecake which doesn't make a ton of sense but I think over the generations no one has questioned this odd custom since it's so delicious. Incidentally my son told me the other day that his sister took one of his toys and with tears in his eyes, perhaps fearing the fate of her soul, explained how that's breaking one of god's commandments. Oy.

PLUS we were camping this weekend and happily out of range. It was our (now) annual trip to Big Sur with a few families from our old preschool. Two of the other families also watch LOST so last year on the trip we spent a lot of time theorizing about Jacob and the Man in Black. This trip was all about wondering how it will end.

Here's how it ended for me. Sobbing in front of my monitor the day after it aired since our digital antenna couldn't get ABC to work. And thinking about how we struggle as adults to work out all our stuff. And knowing that I'm simultaneously helping to create the stuff my kids will have to work out. Stuff can feel weighty.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tools of the Trade


I had every intention of writing about what a great weekend we had. First a trip to Angel Island with friends. Took the ferry over and then road bikes and flew kites on a perfect day in San Francisco. And on Sunday we strolled around at the Art fair on our main street and I bought fabulous earrings from my favorite jewelry guy and then we opened BBQ season at my brother's surf shack in Santa Cruz with some tasty brats (the hot dogs - not my kids) and played a ridiculous game called Munch the Box which may or may not have caused me to pull a muscle in my ass. A story for another time.

Instead I will bring you closer to my daily reality with a saucy tale of a little girl who put a hama bead in her nose (those beads that you puts on little peg boards and iron them and they become pretty multicolored plastic thingies). And then some time after she did this asked me to get it out.

Me: Get what out?
Her: The bead.
Me: The bee? You need to blow your nose? Bee in your nose?
Her: Yes.

She blows her nose and nothing comes out. Then I realize she's said BEAD. Like a piece of PLASTIC WITH A HOLE IN THE MIDDLE THAT AIR BLOWS RIGHT THROUGH.

Crap. If I have to take her to the ER because she's got a bead jammed up her nose I am not going to be happy...

Me: (with mildly panicked voice) YOU HAVE A BEAD UP YOUR NOSE?
Her: Yes.
HER: No.
Me: Tell me what you did?!!?!?
Her: NO!!!

She finally admits that she did in fact put the bead up her nose and now she's terrified because I'm coming at her with a tweezers and a flashlight but eventually we pin her down by sitting on her get her to lie down on the bed with her head tilted back and her nose pulled downward so I can shine a light in there and find, indeed, a black hama bead. My son held her hand and told her she was brave and I reached in there to do the extraction.

This was not in my job description.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Time Out


When I was working with my life coach last year, reading through the book Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd, we spent one of our sessions (this was a group thing) discussing our issues surrounding time and money deciding which was more difficult to reconcile.  I find both time and money to be elusive. And both stress me out. But today I realized which one has me by the balls.

I was driving to IKEA for the third time this week because I have been using their Ribba frames to sell my work in retail shops. I spruce up the back with some craft paper and add a sawtooth. Everyone's happy. Except me. Because these frames suck. They are always scratched or have a dent and you never notice until you've unwrapped them. So I was exchanging yet another frame. But they don't open until 10:00 and I drop my kids at 9:00 so I tried to run a handful of other errands, with greater and lesser degrees of success. After a trip to Kohl's (exchange pajama pants to accommodate my ever-increasing backside), Sears (get new bathroom rug because old bathrug has been deemed biohazard by the County Department of Health), and Peet's (self-explanatory), I managed to get to IKEA, exchange my frame and drive home via Anthropologie to get the discounted knobs I wanted to bling up an old dresser.  As I'm driving home and watching the clock, I start to feel what I can only describe as a full blown anxiety attack. That pulling sensation on your chest. And that slight constriction in your throat. Because I know I now have only an hour and a half to get the days work done before I have to pick up my kids from preschool. And all progress ceases.

Plus my studio is still in disarray. It was better when all of our stuff was still in our bedroom. I find that I can sleep just fine in a mess, but I have a lot of trouble working in a mess. And I've been sitting on the framing order for over two weeks. And I still need to find swim lessons for my son. And buy tickets to Albuquerque for August. Plus my friend's house was broken into and they took her computer and I am imagining how I would be basically out of business if someone took my computer or it died of natural causes because I have not backed up anything (first order of business for tomorrow - must back up to external hard drive AND external server). Tick. Tick. Tick.

Money comes and goes. But time only goes. Faster and faster every day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

And the cards go to...


Lisa (Pesach game)
Kate England

Send me your home addresses ladies and I'll get these little friends in the mail. Thanks to everyone for your great comments and fun ideas. You're all a clever and creative bunch.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Starting in the middle


You know how the hardest part of any project is starting? Of course. We all know this. I sometimes have trouble with the finishing too. And the parts in the middle when I want to quit. Or leave the country. Or eat a pita with Nutella. When we decided a few months ago that we were not going to move because we just can't afford anything else in this area, we said, OK let's manage the space we do have a little better. Starting with the garage room which doubles as my office and studio space. So my husband went online and quickly bought a kit to build a Murphy bed and has spent the last few weekends building it while I have been losing my mind trying to occupy our kids so he has time to build. Last weekend he finished the thing in record time and started talking about installing it and I'm like, wait, what about ripping out this hideous carpet and painting the walls?  This was not part of his plan. This was part of my plan. So he said, OK, we can start doing that next week. And something in me snapped. I needed to start painting a wall at that moment. So I took my son to buy some paint and we came home to paint the whole damn room test the color. We didn't move any of the furniture (except the futon) or tape anything or put plastic down. We just started. Painting.

Now, know that this is totally not my style. I plan everything. I am careful. I don't jump in usually. But I had to do it. And as we are painting and having a jolly time my husband is slowly coming unglued. And he's put together with epoxy so this is unusual. About an hour later I get a lecture about how this isn't how he does projects. Nothing about the room is ready. True. But I am ready. He understood the urgency and took the kids to the pool and I agreed to take everything out of the room while he was gone. That night we painted. And the next day I bought the wood for the floor, we ripped out the carpet and in one weekend the room was done. Almost done. Putting in shelves and installing Murphy next week.

Sometimes you just have to start. And who better to know this but my husband who, for months, has wanted to start a compost. We inherited the outside bin but not everything was aligned to get started. We needed some chicken wire to deter rats. We needed to mow the lawn to use the grass to get started which meant we also needed our lawn mower back from friends who had borrowed it. We needed a compost can for our kitchen. But none of this stopped him from starting to collect rotting fruits and vegetables in a salad spinner on our counter. For about a week. Eventually all of the pieces were in place but had he not started saving scraps and stinking up the kitchen, we might not have been so quick to figure out the rest.  I made this analogy for him and he rolled his eyes. But I have a new floor so I let it slide.

REMINDER: Still time to enter the cute little gift cards giveaway. Go here. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Celebrate your Inner Toddler


I decided last minute to bring a few packages of these little 3x3 inch gift cards to the last show I did and they sold out! So I'm making them available on ETSY. They come twelve in a pack with envelopes. Six boys and six girls.

And they have many many uses:

1. Kids birthday parties - duh.
2. Valentine's Day cards - add a little heart sticker to the chest!
3. Preschool trading cards
4. Cut off the backs and frame them in a collage.
5. Hang them from little clips to make a mobile.
6. Toddler Taro cards

What will you use them for? Leave a comment with your idea or, heck, just leave a nice comment, and on Friday I will randomly pick THREE winners. Woohoo.

Gift Card Variety

Fire when ready




On Sunday we celebrated Lag B'Omer which is a sort of obscure Jewish holiday, at least for Americans. But it's a day off school in Israel so it's a pretty big deal. It's the thirty-third day of the Omer which is the seven weeks between Passover, the physical emancipation from slavery in Egypt, and Shavuot, the spiritual emancipation when Moses received the ten commandments. Why the thirty-third day is so special is a little unclear. Feel free to chime in if you know why. Something about the end of some terrible plague that wiped out 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students back in the day which came about because his students weren't nice to each other. If they'd been Catholics it might have been a wrap on the knuckles. But no.

Anyway, the Omer is a period of mourning. Wandering directionless in the desert darkness kind of stuff. But the thirty-third day is a little reprieve. People can get married on that day which is quite popular. It's when my in-laws got married. It's so popular that we once attended three weddings in a twenty-four period when we lived in Israel. That's a lot of rejoicing.

And what do we do on Lag B'Omer? We light bonfires. Kids start collecting wood about two weeks before. You never want to be building or renovating your house during the Omer because a group of teenage punks will sneak by your home and steal all of your wood. You see ten year olds lugging giant tree branches across town and two by fours. It's hysterical. And lord knows why but you also shoot bow and arrows. You can't even make this stuff up, it's too random.

So a few families got together on Sunday and we had a BBQ and the kids made pita to bake on the taboon which I can only translate as the underside of a wok. It was an epic day for archery too. My husband stayed at home to finish putting in the new floor of my studio because he's the most wonderful person in the world and also to guard the wood. Plenty of Israelis in Silicon Valley. You can't be too careful with your wood around this time of year...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rite of Passage


Well it has been a crazy stretch these last few days. I decided at the last minute to do another little show at our JCC -  a fundraiser for the preschool -  and it went very well which is exciting but I forgot about how exhausting it is to sit at your booth in the sun and be charming for four hours and also lug your stuff all around two days in a row. And you think huh, this is pretty good money for working 8 hours and then you figure in all the time and energy you spent getting ready and set up and schlepping and recovering and filling orders and you realize, huh, I'm thirty-six years old and I work for minimum wage. But I'm happy doing it. And I'm learning too. I actually met a wonderful watercolor artist who shared some tips for shows and for framing.  So I will pick her brain more.

And on top of that we did some home improvements so my studio has been in several states of disarray since the weekend. But I am already so much happier with how it looks and soon to be happier with the way I can arrange little stations for what I do - create, communicate, print, ship etc. My own little supply chain. More on this later.

But I'm most excited to share this little piece of mail that I got today from a little company called Hallmark, who sent me an email back in October wanting to license my Tree of Life image for one of their cards (!). And here it is. A bar mitzvah card of all things which is so serendipitous since I just wrote a silly blog about bar mitzvah invitations here. Isn't the world funny like that? It's only one little card so I'm not exactly writing any press releases. But licensing has always been part of my general plan to take over the world so I'm celebrating my own mini rite of passage over here bat mitzvah style, minus the braces and Laura Ashley dress. Oy.