Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fiddlesticks You, July July!

(audio only)

Suck it July!

It's bleeding hot and all I can think about is Christmas.

I blame you, July. You bring the pinnacle of summer too soon and it's all downhill from there. And you know it.

You make me sick and listless with your temperatures, leaving me vulnerable for anxiety attacks over how I'm going to manage Christmas. I know you get the bitter irony in this, July.

And I know you're laughing at me.

Your mosquitoes are nothing short of torture.

I haven't been outside since June, July, and you know what?

You make me dream. Of other places. Places where it's not in the nineties for seven weeks straight. You and February make an extremely strong case for coastal lives.

See, now I'm worried about winter again.

And I blame you, July.

For everything.

I blame you for the fact that it's noon and I've not showered or dressed.

I blame you for all those nights when I put my kids to bed at ten pm, cleaned until eleven, showered sometime just before one.

For making me go bad on the promise I made in May to never complain about the heat again.

For the heat sickness I got at the pool and for every penny spent on Frappucinos. (You know I can't survive you without them, you bastard.)

But you're done! You're finished! You're through!

So you know what?

Suck it, July!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Roughing It And Other Things First World People Do For Fun

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I really love Starbucks Via and the pleasant suggestions they print on the sides. For instance, just now I opened my coffee cupboard and there on the Via carton it said "For your hotel stay." That made me think happily of the trip we're going to take to California--where, come to think of it, we won't actually be staying in a hotel--and I saw myself, in a tasteful yet economical hotel room, waking up next to my husband and puttering, happy and relaxed, to the, um, hot pot or stove which I'm sure, now, they will have, skipping the hotel coffee, and fixing up a Via.

I am a marketers dream. I am open to all manner of suggestion of pleasant times. You don't even have to try. All you have to do is write in a book what a character is eating and I will crave it. Reading "The Crimson Petal and the White", I craved tea and cinnamon scones. "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" had me eating potstickers and green tea ice cream for weeks. I don't remember a thing about the Narnia books, which I didn't love, except that in one of them they ate sausages as fat as your fingers (I quote loosely) and drank frothy hot chocolate. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo posed a bit of a problem, as the characters were prone to eating things like sandwiches of egg and sardine, or tomato and cheese and raw garlic, but I solved that by making tuna melts, always with coffee on the side, just like Mikael Blomkvist.

So on Sunday night when Noah said, "Let's go camping", I thought two things. One, yay Via, and two, yay Campfire Marshmallows. Campfire Marshmallows are what all the ladies on the Mormon blogs are packing for their families. One marshmallow is about four times the size of one measly Jet Puff. Seriously, these marshmallows make Jet Puffs look like guppy chow. I'd bought a pack in advance and had it sitting in my cupboard, driving my girls crazy with longing in happy anticipation of our camping trip.

We forgot the marshmallows.

I would like to blame the fact that I was a little carsick, but instead I'll tell the truth which is that, as Mr. V put it, "S'mores are the whole reason mommy goes camping". Which isn't entirely true, I also go camping to sip coffee in the woods in the (late) morning. It improves my self-image; allows me to view myself as 'outdoorsy' and 'contemplative', as woodsy and and earthy but low-maintenance, sitting there quietly with a hot mug and beatific smile and ignoring Mr. V's curses as he struggles with the fire and the bacon and the fact that we didn't bring any garbage bags and the kids have soiled all seven of their spare outfits.

I go camping solely to eat the s'mores, and that is my only excuse for the fact that I, a thirty-year-old mother of two, started to cry when I realized we'd forgotten the Marshmallow's From the Land That Time Forgot.

Mr. V set up camp while I told my kids to look sad and pathetic and dragged them across the campsite to bum marshmallows from some fellow campers. I am enormously brave in certain situations, mostly when I am drunk, but also when my access to s'mores and/or sugar and alcohol is threatened. The ladies kindly gave me twelve of their inferior Jet-Puffs and refused to let me pay them. Later I would suspect these self-same ladies of conspiring with a nearby retired couple to murder us in our sleep. But that wouldn't come until much later, when the sun went down and the fires went out and I found myself awake in the deep deep dark, and look we thought we had seen a bear and even though it only turned out to be a stupid bear-cow, forcing Ayla to turn to art therapy to sketch out her frustration at being gipped out of the sight of a real bear, I had bears on the brain and the kindly ladies had walked around the site and then STOPPED to TALK with the RETIRED COUPLE WITH AN AGING YELLOW LABRADOR which can only mean that they intended to murder us with axes in our sleep and make off with our Hershey Bars and Via.

Tent camping is one of those things only first-world people do for fun, along with slaving in the hot sun to pick our own berries, making our own cheese and yogurt, canning preserves, and wearing high heels. Everywhere else in the world they call these activities what they are, which is "hard work" and "things I would never, ever do if I didn't have to".

This is why I think I might be what you'd call "over" tent-camping. This and the fact that I can liken the experience only to pine-scented torture. Like the Viet Kong decided to mop the floors before laying into me with the bamboo shoots. We didn't have cots, or air mattresses, or even thick blankets, and so I spent the night cold and in pain that reached about five or six on the pain scale, I'm not ashamed to say I could have used nothing more than a Valium-Ambien cocktail, kept up by visions of my own death by Golden Age pass members and really, I don't see why I'd want to do that again.

But I will. I'll do it again, because it's fun for the kids. Because there's nothing kids enjoy more than repeating "we're bored!" and "noooow can I have a marshmallow??" while Mom and Dad sweat it over the rain clouds, and the Amazonian volume of mosquitoes, and the bear-cows, and the tent, and the rain fly, and the axe murderers, and the forgotten hammer and trash bags and the eighth outfit they didn't know they were going to need because they had underestimated how difficult it is to make a number two in the woods when you're four-years-old. I'll do it again in spite of, or maybe because of, the bear-cow; for the time-honoring of the tradition, complaining the whole way about the ride, complaining about how long it's taking to pack in and pack out while mom and dad slave like suckers, complaining about the smoke that blows always in your eyes, and the marshmallow you burnt to a crisp before losing in the fire, while Mom and Dad shuffle exhausted from the picnic table to the fire to the car, like Zombies without a will to keep on un-living, wondering why they do it, why they bother. Because for five minutes the clouds break and you can see millions of stars. Because, in spite of all this, you drive, ripe and weary and wondering if it's too early for a hip replacement, back into the hot and shiny city, balking at the noise, squinting at the glare, you remember the cool of the river and the quiet in the trees, and you wish you could do it all again.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Could Be Better Than This?

Ayla rides the firetruck

I was feeling really brave on Friday night and took the girls to Longmont's Downtown Artwalk.

There really are no words for how proud I was of myself or how absolutely smug I was about it. I guess there is a tragic phenomena out there of dads who won't take care of their own damn kids by their lonesome for more than thirty minutes. Their wives go months without a coffee date or a good long six hour internet browsing sesh. Truly, no one should be deprived of these things. No woman should be forced to go more than a week without relaxing into a good old fashioned "Jensen Ackles" google image search. I judge these men harshly even though I shouldn't because I am one of them. In our house, it's the mister who takes the kids on all the outings--to Elitch's, to the pool, to see Tangled or Rio or whatever, and down to the Fidelity Fiduciary to visit Mr. Banks. (Feed the birds, baby.)

So on Friday night, when Mr. V had to go to work, I nearly called it off in favor of my go-to parenting strategy, which is called "Mommies need wine and children need Rugrats or whatever the hell else they click on on Netflix and no that isn't for kids,honey, most of manga is animated porn."

But I didn't.

And boy, was I glad I didn't, once I got there. We headed for gelato first because in this house we have our priorities straight. I handed Ayla the camera and told her to take pictures of whatever she liked. She was thrilled. She snapped some pictures of the gelato that were rather good, and also a picture of me eating the gelato which will never see the light of day. The camera adds a second head growing out of your belly, right?

picture by Ayla

picture by Ayla

There was a booth for god knows what, a chiropractor or mad scientist, or something, and they had a model of bones out on display. Predictably, Ayla wanted to see the bones. The mad scientists were tickled by the skinny mini photog all enamored of anatomy, and delightedly--and then bemusedly--and then with forced and terse politeness--held the model up while Ayla took twenty minutes to set up her shot.

I couldn't take any pictures of Ayla taking the pictures, but I wish I could have because she looked so great. A skinny-shouldered, long-legged six year old with dirt under her nails and smudged across her pale cheek. On her back is the blue backpack she insisted bringing, slung around her neck is the red canvas Trader Joe's bag that I swore ten times I wouldn't carry for her and ended up carrying the rest of the night. Later I would find in it: a long length of twine, a ziploc baggy full of bottlecaps, a pair of scissors, a Mead notebook and one of my pens, a model horse, a woven bracelet, a stuffed teddy bear, a bag of chips, and a framed picture of her cousin Eisley.She is slight and maybe awkward but has forgotten herself in her fierce concentration. Her green eyes are focused, she cocks one stork leg, she carries her tension around her mouth like her mother.


She's amazing.

After the bones booth we hit the art booths for the kids, and Ayla entered a state of bliss. She lost herself stamping and inking, pasting and painting. Indy played along for a while but we were only about one booth in when she started demanding balloon animals. Other kids had been spotted with them. Ayla had gone nearly ecstatic and could not be lured away from creating, even from the booth where they gave the kids a bunch of mark-down dollar store stickers and told them to put them on paper and call it a book mark. Ayla shredded the stickers and played with patterns.

Indy began to yell, "Now can get get my STUPIT balloon!" (That's how she pronounces it.)

"Ayla wants to see the art galleries."

"I want to get a STUPIT balloon!"

"Hey, Indy, let's take a ride on the firetruck!"

"I SAID, I want my STUPIT--ok."


We rode a firetruck. We waited in line for forty minutes for a balloon that I was calling a lot worse than "stupid" in my head. Indy asked for a flower. Ayla requested the alien. It had a funny alien face and came with a clear balloon for a space helmet. The girls were joyous. Giddy. "Are you glad we got your stupit balloon?" I asked Indy.

"Mom," she scolded. "It's not stupit!"

Not five minutes later, Ayla, who will by then be in the state known as 'bouncing off the walls' and not listening to me, will brush the alien's space helmet against the brick exterior of the library, pop the helmet, and burst into bitter tears. In her grief, she will excoriate both the day and the balloon as 'the dumbest ever'. She will ask the age old questions: why, why now, why her balloon and not Indy's. She will feel the terrible regret of 'if only'.

But for those four minutes, after art and gelato, after firetrucks and balloon aliens, before the bursting--man, was I one smug mother.

And don't worry, Ayla recovered. We put on Narnia and she climbed across the couch to reach me. She kissed me on the lips. "That was really fun," she said quietly.

"Funner than watching me browse the internet?"


Ayla makes her alien face

Indy makes her alien face. Just kidding, Indy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Around These Parts


This was outside my window an hour ago. I love the prairie. Here is one of the worst pictures anyone ever took of it.


This is across the street from where the girls take karate. If I can't see lots of sky, I start to panic. My people were pioneers, homesteaders and rough riders, and maybe this stuff runs in the blood.

The girls staged a rebellion against karate today and I let them quit. Ayla quit without bothering to see if she's earned her yellow-belt. (She had. She didn't care). Indy hung in long enough to earn the yellow belt and quit immediately afterwards. It was fun for a week, showing off karate-chops at the park, and then I suspect they tired of all the posturing.

We have dreamy personalities around these parts. Ayla told me she wants to do theater instead. "Like practice to do a show," she said. "Like onstage. Like Michael Jackson."


I can't say I was surprised. Then I nearly fainted over dead when I saw the price of any kind of theater camp for kids.

For her birthday, she wants a cake that is a brain. With zombies dancing around it.

She is awesome.

After my flunkies failed out of the karate summer camp that's designed to have a 0% fail rate, we went to Dairy Queen. What else are you gonna do?

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Are they not the luckiest children on earth? Here they are at 31 flavors the day before.


We fail at some things, here. Cleanliness, godliness, dojo-ness.

We do not fail at ice cream.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Four Breweries and a Wedding



So, we partied down.

There were three visits to breweries, three visits to brew pubs, don't get me wrong I'm not complaining but I'm starting to think my digestive system is not the biggest fan of beer.

O'Dells is a lovely place to start your brew tour. If you're into that kind of thing. Then head to FunkWerks and try the Maori King. All their beers are delicious but I love the tropical fruit hints in the Maori. If I had to reccommend just one O'Dells, I'd go with the Glider Cider. Brewed with champagne yeast, this baby is light on your tongue, just the right mix of sweet and tart, and goes down way too easy.

Then, stop drinking. Just stop. Your stomach will thank you.

If you can't stop, you're not an alcoholic you're just German and Czech. Make your ancestors proud and continue on to Coop's for the Sigda's Chili beer. Never had a chili beer like it. If, by this point, you find your drinking spirit is willing but your flesh is weak and bloated, ask them to mix you up the Bloody Mary with a touch of stout. You won't regret that either. Look, I swear we do things other than eat and drink when we see our family. We also talk about eating and drinking.

Order the garden salad with smoked salmon if you want to give your body any fighting chance of maintaining it's normal functions. If not, or if this is your first day of revelry and you're still feeling strong, go with the Ring of Fire burger (jalapeno, blue cheese, Frank's, oh my) or the fish n' chips, which Coop's does just right.

I swear my six-year-old is not drinking a beer.

Swing down to Oskar Blues in Longmont. Hit up the Tasty Weasel and order whatever's on tap. There's a good chance it was brewed by Mr. V. There's a better chance it's delicious. What am I saying?? This is why I don't write food/beer/travel blogs.

Next, round the corner to Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids. These guys have tons of delicious microbrews on tap and do not disappoint. My favorite's were the Widmer Pitch Black IPA, which was caramely and roasty, and OB's Workingman's Stout. Order the fried pickles, which are spicy with a light batter, and the Silo Burger, which is sooo delicious you won't care that you just consumed three kinds of meat. Then be smart like me and let your brother-in-law buy you a cocktail. Get the one with cinnamon and star anise floating on top. Easy as pie. Tastes like it, too.

After we spent two and a half days tasting every fermented beverage northern Colorado has to offer, there was a wedding. Indy and Ayla were tapped to play flower girls. It was touch and go for awhile there, with Miss Indiana Sophie crossing her arms and tucking in her chin and refusing to move. In the end she made it down the aisle just fine. She opted out of the flowers and bore the rings instead. Look, somebody had to. I'm not going to make a Frodo joke. That's because I lost my moxie sometime after switching from beer to cheap, sweet champagne.

I can't say much more about the weekend because I am a dry tap, here. My sweet libations hath all been spilt, my pleasing personality ran for the hills, and I've entered my week of cranky during which I hope to see no one and have sworn to ingest nothing but coffee with soy milk, salmon, and kale. At some point a bird pooped on my head and at another, a group of amazing women danced around me while I shimmied with a bottle of champagne.

Yep. That happened.

The last thing I would like to say is that I loves all five of my sisters and these chicks are welcome to my house any time.

Let's just do wine from now on.

There's going to be a lot of pictures now.

Noah, his Dede, and Ayla at the rehearsal dinner and let me just say, the lesson I learned this weekend is that if you're not at a restaurant that has specialty cocktails, ones they've developed and mix special, just stick with the red wine.

Susie, Sophie, Mercy. Hotness.

Flora, Fauna, Merriwether, flower chicks.



Kojo, Nyenna, Lady Ci, Ayla, Brother Trey in suspenders, and Titus, the only man who asked me to slow dance




The gorgeousness of Lucy and Nyenna.

The gorgeousness of my sisters Mercy and Lucy.

Susie almost drops the wine.

My sister Lucy and her sister Kiah. We're the new nuclear, baby.

My dad, my amazing niece La Violetta, and my mama.

Don't you guys think I am fascinating???

Moi with moi belle whatever is french for sister, Heather.




PS: Next time you're in Ft. Collins, get yourself to the Little Bird Bakeshop in Old Town Square. A latte so delicious it's ruined Starbucks for me, and the best croissant I've had since I departed Paris one sad day, ten years past. I went twice. It was grand.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Hi Friends stop

Mr. V and I had a plethora of asinine ideas in June stop

They include but were not limited to a visit to Elitch's on the hottest day of the year shopping for dresses on a puffy day trying 'something new' and moving on the third of July stop

You heard that right stop

We moved to a new home on the THIRD OF JULY stop

Sometimes I think my life with Mr. V is just going to be us making one asinine decision after another stop

I've decided I'm ok with that as long as we get to Paris stop

Qwest has done their best to foil my plans to join the 21st century and has prevailed for now stop

Please send chicory calico laudanum extra hooks and a man for the dog at your earliest convenience stop

In reference to you curious and I must say lurid and disturbing inquires I can only advise you to seek out an apothecary and heed the advice included herein stop

And for the love of god someone read Jared Padalecki's (@jarpad) feed on twitter and text me immediately with any and all updates stop

Don't get cute and actually stop send me the updates damnit and I'm going to say stop again now stop

Don't you stop stop

Send word immediately if you find my shower curtain stop

Love V


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