I just don’t get it.

Lately, no matter WHAT product I’m shopping for or what review I’m reading online, Amazon.com will not leave me alone about this: Read the rest of this entry »

Ha! I wrote a post today. Betcha didn’t see that coming.

Today’s post is about mornings at Hacienda del Ritter. Jamie gets up at the crack of dawn every single morning and watches the news while his dad and I dart in and out of the room tossing Pop Tarts at him and looking for clean underpants.

Sometimes this is a good thing, like when I haven’t caught the weather and need to know how to dress the kids or whatever. Jamie is all up in that business. He memorizes the forecast. Except that sometimes he lies about it if it doesn’t coincide with his four-year-old plans for the day, or the Batman t-shirt he was planning to wear to school. You can generally tell when he’s doing that because he starts whipping out extremely technical phrases without fact-checking what they mean first. Generally speaking, if there’s a moisture advection or speed shear involved in Jamie’s report, I probably need to pull up WeatherBug on my Blackberry. He goes out of his way to sound credible on the days when he’s fibbing, whereas on the days he’s telling the truth, he keeps it to just-the-facts, like “sunny” or “windy.” This is helpful for Mommy. Read the rest of this entry »

Von Trapp Family Album

Posted: October 24, 2011 in General Nonsense

In case anyone was wondering what I would’ve looked like wearing lederhosen in 1984…

High on the hill was a lonely goat turd...

…wonder no longer. Yup. That’s me, lower left. And just in case my mom is reading, I totally love this. Seriously. I think it is my favorite photo to ever come out of my childhood, with the possible exception of any that involve my siblings and potty seats. Because that’s just good leverage. 🙂

Spatula City

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Baby Love, General Nonsense
Tags: , , ,

“She never wanted anyone in her kitchen, so the only way you could get to lick the beater or the spatula was to help her out. All of a sudden, one day I realized I knew how to make all this stuff.”

–Tim Kellogg

So…Jamie has this stuffed toy dog that his grandma gave him when he was a baby. Like many toys Jamie’s owned since before he could actually talk, “Dog” has existed ubiquitously around the house without ever having been given a proper name.

Until last week, when Jamie proudly walked into the living room carrying Dog by one scrappy ear and announced that he’d finally named the pooch we’d all grown to know in anonymity: “Spatula.”

Jamie suddenly loves Spatula with all his 4-year-old heart. We have long conversations in the car about Spatula: what we think Spatula did all day while we were at work/school, what Spatula’s favorite thing to eat for dinner is (ironically almost always something Jamie himself does not enjoy having for dinner), what Spatula wants to watch on TV, etc. There is no question, at this point, I could not answer about Spatula.

For the life of me, I have no idea what prompted Jamie to name the dog that, but I kind of like it. It reminds me of Ramona Quimby naming her doll Chevrolet after the family car, because she thought it was the most beautiful-sounding name she had ever heard.

I think it might have something to do with the fact that I have a pancake flipper in the kitchen shaped like Darth Vader, which Jamie appropriately insists be used to prepare all of his grilled cheese sandwiches. (If he catches me using the plain red spatula to make his lunch, he looks all crestfallen and mopes off.)

I suppose it could simply mean that he’s spending way too much time in the kitchen with mommy, which secretly pleases me to no end.

Or, it could just mean that he is four years old, and it made perfect sense to him at the time.

Whatever the reason, Spatula appears to be here to stay. I thought you should know about it, lest he become a recurring character here. I didn’t want anyone to think my child actually had a spatula as a toy pet. After all, that would just be silly.


…and I’m here again.

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Okay, so it’s been like a year since I randomly started this blog, and then promptly abandoned it after taking a writing job, which I later abandoned to go back to college. Which I am still currently doing, so that’s at least something that’s stuck. 🙂

I’m cold. Really freakin’ cold today. I’d love to write lots of witty thoughts regarding the past year of silence, but I can’t feel my feet after walking across campus in the rain. But I made up my mind to go back to blogging, so I’m blogging anyway. And praying that the space heater under my desk doesn’t completely burn off my outer layer of leg skin before the inside has had a chance to begin thawing.


I promise I’ll try harder with the next post if my blood doesn’t freeze in my veins and kill me. Which might happen. Just so you know.


I’m pretty sure I am the world’s Worst Parade Mother. 

Now this is different, mind you, from being the world’s Worst Mother. I think I’m safe there. (Probably.) 

But beneath that glitzy pageant sash remain countless other flashy titles just waiting to claim young mothers at the heights of our careers: “Worst Shopping Companion,” “Worst Dugout Mom,” “Worst Cub Scout Den Mother of Portland, Oregon,” and so on. So don’t fret ladies — someday you’ll find your tiara, too, and probably where you least expect it. 

Last weekend, Hubby and I decided to take our boys to a local parade. It was fun, it was free – what could go wrong? 

We rounded up the kids, saddled on the 12,362 random objects necessary for any trip destination further than our bird feeder with baby Oliver, and headed out. 

During the ride there, we started getting our three-year-old, Jamie, psyched up for the festivities: 

“We’re going to see marching bands, and big trucks, and bright, poofy floats!” 

“How many pieces of candy are you going to catch?” 

“All those pretty girls will be waving at you!” 

We may as well have told him Santa Claus was going to be there, crapping out ice cream Batman bicycles. By the time we pulled into a parking space, Jamie was READY for this parade. Then the trouble began. 

Empty lawn chairs and shade tents stretched as far as the eye could see, reservation claims staked by all of the responsible, plan-ahead parents who had been willing to leave their patio furniture unattended in the center of town for the better end of a week. 

As we hiked down block after block of folding plastic living rooms, it became obvious we didn’t have a clue how parade etiquette worked. Venturing too close to someone else’s parade seating has apparently become the outdoor equivalent of choosing the urinal right beside the only other guy in a large public men’s room. At one point while leaning over someone’s wicker chaise, I swear I heard a beeper go off, like the ones art museums use to keep people from reaching over security rails. Yikes. 

After twenty minutes of scouring the pavement for an unpopulated three-foot area to call ours, Jamie was drooping. We finally sat down just as the fire engine sirens began to wail. On cue, I launched uncontrollably into Overprotective Mommy mode, covering the baby’s ears with my palms. 

“Keep your ears covered, Jamie! Do you understand me? Ruin your eardrums now, and you’ll have nothing left to waste when you buy your first car stereo.” 

By now, parade volunteers were making their rounds, handing out plastic candy sacks for kiddies. (Seriously, folks? You remembered to bring chairs, end tables, mood lighting and enough cigarettes to make sure my kids have emphysema before the marching band’s second number, and you forgot to bring candy sacks? I guess there wasn’t enough room left in the car.) 

And while themed floats bearing the first Tootsie Rolls of the day wheeled into view, I began to panic. 

As a mother, my entire existence revolves around drilling universal rules of safety into my kids’ heads. And now, I’m suddenly just supposed to throw all of that instinct out the window for a whole afternoon? 

“Talk to that nice stranger wearing a costume, honey. Tell him your name! He has some candy for you! Go ahead, pick it up off the ground and eat it! Look – they’re throwing more candy off the back of that truck! Now run out into the street and grab some before those other kids get it!” 

Needless to say, it didn’t turn out to be the glorious endeavor I – or Jamie – had been expecting. Meanwhile, Ollie, whom I’d somehow, earlier, imagined clapping his pudgy hands to the music and squealing in delight, had instead sweated completely through his onesie and lay listlessly in his stroller like the photo of a veal in a PETA poster. By the time we loaded our chairs back into the trunk of the car, I knew I’d completely blown it. 

I remember having a blast at every parade I went to as a kid. How did my parents do it? What made them better at this than I am? 

Maybe I was just so hopped up on Sweet Tarts that I hallucinated most of it. Either way, I came out ahead. 

But now I have these boys to think about, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get this parenting thing down pat. Will practice make perfect, or am I destined to be the worst at this forever? 

Either way, I suppose I’d better start polishing my crown. The Homecoming parade will be here before we know it.

Well, I wondered how long it would take after accepting a new job writing columns again before someone sent me a nasty response.

It didn’t take long to get my answer. Exactly one column has already appeared in the paper, and today I received the following email from a former coworker:


Nice to see you are still writing. You always had a great wit and a good turn of a phrase.

I have to tell you, however, that this article reminded me of a woman (Chandra something) who wrote for the [local daily] a few years back and now is the editor of the monthly rag called [a local monthly]. I think you can do much better work than this first article. I pulled up your web site and suggest you take another look at it yourself. The first dish pictured what what appeared to be the fatty side of the meat starting straight at the viewer. Another picture had chicken drumsticks that didn’t look as if they were cooked thoroughly. If they were smoked, that might explain it. “Spam fried rice”. Are you a sadist?

Signed [Name of alcoholic old codger who used to sexually harrass me daily at the car lot I worked at after college]

I thought about it for a few minutes, about all of the things I could respond with–about having been solicited by others to go back to column writing; about my humor cooking blog having gained the positive notice of: household brand name corporate sponsors, my favorite professional author in the universe, and a famous British food critic; about having better things in my life to worry about than trying to be the next Erma Bombeck…and on and on. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this is exactly why I hate column writing. Because I’m not a professional writer, BY CHOICE, and I don’t see the need to invite this sort of shit into my life to have to deal with or think about when I have enough reasons already as a mother to question my self-worth.

So, after breathing deeply, I wrote as brief and courteous-but-not-overly-nice a response I could muster, and walked away. And no matter how badly I wanted to tell him off, I didn’t. In fact, I was extremely proud of myself for making sure the phrase “and the horse you rode in on” appeared nowhere in my response. Good for me.

But for the record, this is exactly why I stopped writing. I don’t care if I’m smarter than he is, or appeal to a different audience than the person critiquing me. I don’t care if it’s just one person’s opinion, or that in the world of journalism, it’s a lot more common for people to contact you because they didn’t like something you wrote rather than because they did like it.

I don’t like to write professionally because it invites this crap back into my life. And I don’t need it, I really don’t.

And that’s the truth. (Insert Edith Ann raspberry here.)