Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Sonnet

I heard this yesterday on A Prairie Home Companion, read by Garrison Keillor, who also wrote the poem. I don't listen to PHC much, but as a kid I loved the Tales from Lake Wobegone tapes my father had. My dad has been a big fan of PHC for years, and somehow Garrison Keillor's voice and mannerisms have gotten all tangled up with my emotions about my dad. So hearing this sonnet read in Keillor's voice gave me a big old lump in my throat. It's simply beautiful. One of the richest, truest poems I've found about war and death. You can listen to Keillor read the poem here.

Memorial Day Sonnet
by Garrison Keillor

We’re here to honor those who went to war
Who did not wish to die, but did die, grievously,
In eighteen sixty-one and in two-thousand four
Though they were peaceable as you or me.
Young and innocent, they knew nothing of horror—
Singers and athletes, and all in all well-bred.
Their sergeants, mercifully, made them into warriors,
And at the end, they were moving straight ahead.
As we look at these headstones, row on row on row,
Let us see them as they were, laughing and joking,
On that bright irreverent morning long ago.
And once more, let our hearts be broken.
God have mercy on them for their heroic gift.
May we live the good lives they would have lived.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I've been doing way too much online browsing lately. So that browsing doesn't turn to spending, I will now blog about my finds.

Mostly, I want this bento box. But I'm having a hard time justifying the purchase (for Paige's lunches when she's in preschool in 2 years? for my school dinners which I never actually pack, instead eating "dinner" out of a vending machine?)

These linen fabrics from Cicada Studio. So, so pretty.

Who's Hiding by Saturo Onishi. My kids love interactive books, and by "interactive" I don't mean electronic and annoying. Plus Japanese imports are the new black.

These apple shoes for Paige from Livie and Luca. Can't you just picture these on her big, fat feet?

A vintage swimsuit. This one or any number of others. But I wouldn't act so dramatic about it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excuses, excuses

I know, I know. I've missed a day or two of "post a day in May." I wish it were "a post ALMOST every day in May." I've had a busy week: a big birthday bash for a good friend's little boy, a visit from my BFWUTBAWFF (best friend who used to be a work friend forever), Anna. These events plus dealing with inordinately obnoxious behavior from both boys has kept me from my leisure activities this week.

That and the myriad season finales on my DVR list: The Hills, The Riches, The Bachelor, Survivor, the finals of American Idol. It's important to keep up with TV too! One must do her pop culture duty, you know. I can't have the rest of the world knowing if Matt chose Chelsea or Shane and not know myself. (Shhh! Don't say! I haven't watched it yet!) It's damn irresponsible not to keep on top of current events.

So there you have it. I posted. Now I'm only 2 days behind instead of 3. More clever posts to come. Probably.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lift your sk*rt to kirtsy

I have a late mother's day post I'm working on, but until I get a chance to finish it (after grades are turned in tomorrow), I thought I'd take a minute to broadcast some news from the blog formerly known as sk*rt, a favorite site of mine.

Sk*rt now has a new name and a new URL. Everything else about it is the same: still great links, still woman-centric content, still the hang out for all the cool girls. But now sk*rt is kirtsy. If you haven't checked it out before, click over now. But be careful, you may get sidetracked over there. Possibly for hours. And hours.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

And the winner is...

After careful consideration and much waffling, I narrowed the list of names submitted to the name my new old sewing machine contest to three favorites: 1. Hazel (from Victoria), 2. Agatha (from Janet), and 3. Mrs. Penelope Turtleback (from Anna).

I wanted there to be some randomness in choosing the winner to save me from feeling too guilty, so I used a random number generator (Owen) to pick a number from 1 to 3. And the random number generator chose...
#1: Hazel!

It's the perfect name for my new old sewing machine: strong but pretty, old fashioned but not fussy. Thanks, Victoria! Email me your address at meanmommyblog {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll put your prize in the mail this week!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wild girl

Here's a little story about Paige that says a lot about who she is these days.

Today my mom, the kids, and I were at Michael's (the craft store) looking for new ways to spend money on stuff I didn't know I needed, and Paige was being Lately she becomes outraged at the idea of riding in a shopping cart or a stroller, and she's very vocal about her displeasure. Once wrestled into the cart, she squirms out of the seat buckle and tries over and over to stand up, giving her poor mother visions of bloody chins and cracked teeth. Also, it's really annoying.

Lately my solution is to force her to stay in the cart until I'm 75% finished shopping; then I let her "walk," which usually ends up as running with me chasing behind her, frantically reshelving the items she's pulled down and smiling apologetically at other shoppers.

When my mom is with me, she and I can work like sheepdogs and maintain some semblance of control over Paige as she tears through the store. Sometimes my mom is even willing to do all of the chasing (though I think she secretly disapproves of my letting Paige out of the cart at all) and let me finish my browsing. Today was that kind of day.

At lunch, she gave me this report of her tour of duty: While chasing Paige up and down the aisles, my mom came upon a woman looking at some lovely Martha Stewart craft paper, a toddler perched demurely on her hip. The little girl had sweet blond curls, pinned back neatly with a be-bowed barrette, her hair falling in perfect ringlets on her neck. She was dressed in a crisp smocked sundress and little white sandals and was looking innocently, patiently around the store, giving little waves to passersby while her mother shopped.

Just as my mother noticed this woman and her darling daughter and had registered the scene, she looked up to see Paige at the other end of the aisle, bangs hanging in her eyes, barrette torn from her head and tossed on the floor of the knitting aisle, mouth green and sticky from my attempt at a lollipop bribe, one shoe on her foot, one in her hand, running toward my mother and hollering gleefully. "Like a wild girl come from the jungle" my mother said. She looked from the well-coiffed mother and child to her vagabond granddaughter, now hanging on her knees, wiping lollipop goo on her linen pants.

"Honey," she told me at the end of her story, "I wouldn't want it any other way."

Me neither.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Two reasons to love being a mother

Made at preschool by Mitch (the flowerpot, not the sign) :

Made by Owen after he got in trouble for being rude to me today:

To Mom, Love Owen
I am 100% sorry about what happened. It will not happen again!

Heart in a puddle on the floor.

p.s. Don't forget to enter the contest!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Name that machine

I know I already posted about my new old sewing machine, but I just can't help saying, again, how much I LOVE this thing. Everything about it. The way it looks, how heavy it is, the sound it makes when it's stitching, its cover. It has a soul, this machine. And so it needs a name.

I keep trying to give it grandma names like Rosie and Martha (also talk show hosts' names, I now realize), since it's at least 40 years old, but so far nothing has stuck. So I turn to you, my loyal readers (all 12 of you). I'm having a "name my new old sewing machine" contest and the winner will receive a custom-made zipper pouch much like the one pictured below (in different yet equally charming fabric):

Submit your names in the comments, and I'll pick one by Saturday, May 10. And please, at least one or two of you have to play. How embarrassing would it be to have a giveaway that no one entered...

Monday, May 5, 2008

But oh, those su-hum-mer niiiii-hites

One of my favorite things about summer is playing outside with the kids after dinner. The hours between dinner and bedtime are my favorite of the day anyway because our chores are done, daddy is finished working, and everyone is well fed and happy. We often play a game with the kids or do some drawing and coloring until bedtime.

But in the summer, we go outside. Sometimes we take a walk, sometimes we just play in the yard. I love the light of summer evenings and the feel of the air. I still get excited when the fireflies come out. I love being barefoot on the driveway, feeling the heat of the day radiate under my toes.

Tonight was one of our first nights outside after dinner. John lit some firework snakes we had left over from last 4th of July, and even though it started to rain, and the snakes made it look like the driveway was pooping, it was a gorgeous evening, a harbinger of a summer full of warm nights. The first one of the season.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Strawberry pickin' on a Sunday in May

Today we had a "best laid plan" that actually went off as I'd imagined it. Usually when I arrange a charming family outing, imagining the sweetness of an afternoon together, doing something that the children will love and be grateful for, the outing goes awry and ends with me exclaiming, "Why can't we just enjoy a fun day together without (insert obnoxious behavior here)," then feeling ridiculous and old because I sound so like a mom.

But today was charming. It really was. The sun was warm, the strawberries were gorgeous, the children were enchanted by the idea of picking their own food (Paige just like carrying the bucket), and we got 8 pounds of beautiful berries for half what they cost in the supermarket.

Now we have a lovely vanilla cake with strawberries and cream cheese icing. And a pile of stained clothing on the washing machine.

And we have strawberries to eat for a week and some to give away in yummy treats for teacher appreciation week, and some to put in homemade milkshakes. Strawberries are Owen's most favorite food, so we also have a very happy boy.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Summer resolutions

I gave my last exam today. I'll grade like a mad woman for 2 or 3 days, turn my grades in, and then face a long summer of freedom--freedom from folders stuffed with ungraded papers, freedom from fussing with unfinished lesson plans, freedom from students handing me excuse after excuse for late essays and missed classes. If only teaching literature meant just teaching and none of that other business. Oh the joy that would be.

I have ambitions for the summer, of course, and I thought perhaps thinking them through here, committing them to binary code would help solidify my commitment to these ambitions. So. This summer, I hope to:

Clean out the house. Really, really clean out the house. In fact, I'm hoping to reduce our belongings by half.

Sew a lot and toy with the idea of sewing more seriously.

Be more creative with the kids. Less TV and computer, more play.

Teach Owen to swim (it's high time, I know, but the boy's a fraidy mouse).

Teach Owen to ride a two-wheeler (see excuse above).

Revive Mommy Blog Round Up

Increase my contributions to Momformation

Set up an office space for John

I should stop there before the list gets so long I run screaming away from it. I tend to overwhelm myself with ideas of how to use my free time until I'm at a loss about where to begin and end up doing nuttin'.

Happy summer (to me)!

Friday, May 2, 2008

A post a day in May

Though I am a day late, I decided to participate in Jenny's (of the lovely allsorts) Post a Day in May mainly because the button she has for participants is so pretty, I just wanted to display it on my blog.

And also because THE SPRING SEMESTER IS OVER!!! And now (well, in a few days, after the mountain o' papers is graded) I can give more attention to my beloved pasttimes. Like last summer when Mean Mommy was born and sometimes I posted twice a day and also kept up the now languishing Mommy Blog Roundup, whose abandonment causes me daily guilt and sadness. I love MBRU. I just haven't have time to maintain this blog, write for Momformation, keep up with work, laundry, diaper changing, general child rearing, and get my daily sewing fix.

Speaking of sewing, I have some gorgeous pictures to share. Both are amazing recent thrift stores finds: a vintage Singer 328K from the 1960s that works like a dream (for $10 dollars!) and an unbelievable quilt top, whose every hexagon is a beautiful piece of vintage fabric. (For more pictures of the quilt fabric, click here.)

I'm in love with both of these things. The sewing machine especially. It's such a good, sturdy machine, obviously lovingly cared for by someone for years, and I was very lucky to find it. When I sew on it, I feel giddy.

Ok, I promise, more coherent posts to come throughout the month.