Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Banned-Words Poem

A last act of defiance to end 2017 - a poem containing words recently banned by the current administration (marked by asterisks*). Suggested by my writing group. Happy New Year to all!

Feline Disregard

My cat disregards *evidence-based claims
"There's food in the bowl,"
"The clock does not say dinner-time."
He prefers *science-based assertions -
"My stomach grumbles,"
"I'm bigger than the other cat,"
To justify his larger share of kittle.
His sense of *entitlement
Fuels impassioned cat-clamor,
Loud meows, discordant scrapings
Demands for *diversity in the chow line.
Paws trod gently on the biology text
Open on the table, steps squarely on
Pictured *fetus, showing no concern for
Inanimate offspring as he (neutered,
not *transgender), hungers only for
Sustenance and not for intimacy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

From Blog to Book

I haven't posted very faithfully over the past two months, as I was working on a "secret" Christmas project to turn selected blog entries into a book entitled Wild Specific Tangent: A Mother's Musings from 2009 - 2017.  Through Amazon's Create Space I was able to create the book and cover myself. The selection process - culling from 676 blog entries over eight years - took a long time. I went through several edits, and published a first edition for my family for Christmas before the Works Cited pages were done.  After a few more iterations of edits and writing my citations according to MLA format, I am ready to let a few other folks know about the book.

While my children and extended family are the obvious focus and a significant intended audience, friends and community members are also central to the theme: we can't get through our lives without help.  Though I've been blessed with three amazing children, a wonderful husband and financial resources, I found motherhood to be exceptionally difficult. It wasn't an immediate match with my personality, and when I went to exercise for stress relief, I overdid it and almost permanently ruined my health. If it weren't for friends, faith, family, and our larger neighborhood and church communities,  we wouldn't have made it.

So if any of my faithful blog readers are interested in the story of our journey through rough times and joyful ones, the book is on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form. Here's the link: Or you can do  search on Amazon and it comes up, to my amazement.

My family received their Christmas copies graciously and have so far withheld any but the most loving commentary. Happy New Year to everyone - may it be full of peace, love, friends and family.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Alexa, NORAD and Santa

Daniel read in this morning's paper that he could follow Santa's progress through Alexa - the latest and best application of her abilities. After I gave my permission for Daniel to use the NORAD tracker, Alexa informed us that Saint Nick is currently in Djibouti, Djibouti. Then she warned Daniel that Santa could only come to our house when he is asleep. You go, girl!

Courtesy of the internet, Daniel informs me that Santa has already delivered 3 trillion presents. He's a busy dude! What would my grandparents have said to our following Santa via robotic "smart speakers" and internet? Would they have realized that despite the fact that we follow Santa on Alexa, play traditional carols through our "Classic Holiday" TV channel on DISH (instead of records on the old player), and send Christmas cards with our faces emblazoned on them, the spirit is alive and well?

Presents are wrapped and laid under the tree earlier than usual (which led to an outbreak of greedy gimmes), gluten and dairy-free scones are baking, the birthday cake for Jesus nearly done. Siblings have restrained from too much fighting, Rob's feeling jolly, and I'm so grateful for family near and far. We miss all of you celebrating in other locations, but feel your presence and give thanks for you.

Peace, joy and love this Christmas and always.

Monday, December 18, 2017


We have two Alexa stations in our downstairs area. One portal sits in the kitchen, in convenient range for grocery list additions or questions from the dinner table (who's winning the Villanova game? How many days until Christmas?). The new Alexa is actually on our smart thermostat, lying in wait in the downstairs hallway.

Daniel loves the Alexa (plural: Alexae? Alexas?) and riddles them with questions, begs for jokes, plots the ten-day weather outlook, and requests songs from our entire playlist.  William is neutral, and Aden despises the Alexae, particularly the one in the hallway that she feels is "spying on us." She's most likely right, as Rob validated the theory that Alexa listens to all of our conversations. I need to watch my political commentary.

The spying ladies speak up whenever our verbal output approximates their name. So far they've responded to "next to," I'll getcha," You betcha" and "Achoo." Aden feels sabotaged when the hallway thermostat speaks up when she walks by, as if plotting her movements and leaping at her in the most vulnerable moments.

I'm fairly positive on the Alexae; they're great for grocery lists and playing music, plus they stop making noise whenever I say stop. That's a highly undervalued characteristic in house occupants.  I also admire their ability to unexpectedly go on the fritz, getting out of work with no further ado.  The standard, "I'm sorry, I can't understand you right now. Please try again later," might work for me, too, when confronted by excessive familial demands. I'm going to try it out this holiday season, when demands of food, entertainment and companionship pile up too high.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Truisms from Target

We were in Target yesterday, collecting our usual widespread and various assortment of items (candles, packaged rice, monogrammed mugs, baseball cards), when I overheard this conversation:

Adorable dark-haired child, "What should we get Mommy?"

Similarly dark-haired daddy, "I know what we should do! We should make a coupon book. You know, when each of us promises to do something for Mommy."

"Like what?"  Suspicion colored the boy's voice.

"You know, like do dishes, or put away your toys, or clean your room...."

"Ugh, no, that's a terrible idea!"

I dove into the sheets and bedspread aisle to hide my chuckles, Aden following. We then found Daniel in the toy section, comfortably loaded up with puzzles and Hot Wheels.

"I've got everything!" He announced cheerfully.

"Did you buy for your Dad and your brother?"

"Nope. I spent all my money on me!"

And thus the pickle of Christmas.  How do we teach them to love giving, when - in a child' eyes - it's all about getting?  I know one thing, the secret's not in the aisles of Target, though you can find just about anything else.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Art Therapy

Met with several friends last night in the basement art studio of a neighborhood artist to drink wine and make art. Though focused mightily on making water colors behave, we had a chance to laugh and admit to the tons of various stressors affecting us. We joked about having to avoid news at this time since holiday stress + national / world news = meltdown.  Each had a different tactic for staying sane, and I offer the tactics below.

Avoid television news at all costs. If you must stay updated, start the morning with NPR or other news radio, then gradually move down the preset list to sports, jazz, or pop as desired. When even those options start to grate on the nerves, find COSI 101 and it's non-stop Christmas music.  Also, make time to exercise and sleep. Go to bed as early as possible (the dark evenings make it easier, if we can find time). Help other people. Stick to the basics. Laugh. Be creative.

I left with a semi-respectable water color of a succulent, which I duly showed off to Rob and the kids. It has little artistic merit, but as therapy it was divine.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Still Shopping?

Now we're past the named days but into the season of advent and the "twelve days of deals." The mixed messages of faith and consumerism: "wait patiently" vs. "shop now!" What a strange holiday we have wrought over the years, from Norman Rockwell fireside scenes to frenzied store lines or manic typing away at keyboards.

Over the weekend, in between sport practices and temper tantrums, we put up a live tree. We haven't had one in three years due to traveling the past two Christmases. The kids were delighted, and Aden proved to be a master of patience with the lights, one strand of which was a bum deal. We didn't realize the problem until all strands were on the tree, of course, but I let her take charge of the re-do and all ended well.  We enjoyed pulling out all of our old ornaments and reliving the memories, from my kindergarten crafts to Rob's angel from his great-grandmother, to the nursery school successes of our kids to souvenir baubles from Costa Rica. I found myself in tears several times at the speed of the passing years, and had to hide my face in the curious cats before I exasperated the kids.

My kids surprised me by calling for silver icicle tinsel to top off the tree. My parents always decorated our childhood trees with the flimsy, floating stuff, which catches light in beautiful and mysterious ways but also migrates all over the house and sticks to kids, cats and carpet. For the latter reasons, I've never had it for our trees, but I was tickled yesterday when they asked me to buy some. I'll take a throwback to the old magic any time I can get it, though I can promise we'll still be finding tinsel come Easter.