Thursday, April 17, 2014


"We should get a hammock for the backyard. One with a stand."

"Hmm. Yeah. But we should tie it to the tree."

"That won't work. I looked."

"Well, we could rig an anchor to the shed and then string it between the shed and the tree."

"But it's super shady and there's spiders and there'd be leaves all over the place."

"But it would be so nice to lay beneath the dogwood right now."

"If the hammock was on a stand we could move it to beneath the dogwood."


"And when we move to a new house we may find a place that we can hang the hammock without the stand."

"But then we'd have this giant hammock stand."

"We could sell it. People probably buy them. I mean, we're going to buy one."

"But then we'd have this giant hammock stand!"

"Don't worry. I'll put the stand on Craigslist. I'll do it first thing tomorrow."

"And then a guy shows up at our door and says 'I'm here to buy the hammock stand' and you say 'Oh, sorry, it's not actually for sale yet. We still have to buy it, then move to a new house where we don't need it. So leave me your number and I'll call you when we have the hammock stand and a new address.'"


Monday, March 17, 2014

Eat, Pray, Blah Blah Blah.

I never read Eat, Pray, Love. I probably will someday, when I'm laying on a beach, half asleep, daydreaming of dolphin song, which probably sounds like Yanni. And then a saltwater-drenched, battered but legible copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love will wash up next to me. "It is time", it will whisper from it's bleached and fishy pages. 

Tonight a friend shared this quote on Facebook, and I read it once and it nibbled at me, like a piranha pedicure. I read it again and it broke skin. It was exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. Perfectly timed. An author to her audience. 

Whatever it was that Ms. Gilbert said in her famous book about Julia Roberts, I'm fan enough because of this:

I couldn't find the Eat, Pray, Love font. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thank You, Scott Bakula.

Did you ever watch Quantum Leap with your parents? Maybe because it was the one thing that they liked that -- you hated to admit -- you really liked, too. Scott Bakula was just so ordinary and relatable. If that guy could travel through space and time, well then so could I. Right? C'monnnn, you watched it. 

Quantum Leap's intro included this echoing statement:

"And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home."

And that is what is front of mind for me as I sit in my bed, glancing at the wall to my right which now sits empty, the bookshelf removed, the photos and Jerry Garcia bobble head packed safely away. All that is left are a few things that won't go into storage: an acrobatic english setter figurine, my weekly money jar, the love box, and a re-used jelly jar filled with dried acrylic bullet holes. These are all real things. For the last 3 years, almost to the day, I've been looking instead at a bookshelf. I stared at titles like Spanish Now! and Learn to Knit! and every single book by Christopher Moore. But now the shelf is tucked back in the corner of Cransky's shed, in hibernation, curled up with bins of vintage dresses, shiny spandex and other super fun things. 

Today I pored through clothes and photos and books and forgotten art and bits of tangible nostalgia from all different parts of my life. As I touched them and pondered them and, naturally, instagrammed them, they started to make more sense to me. I saw them less as representations of my life chapters and more like reference points on a global map of me. Always there, not linear, not was me, is me, or will be me. Just ... the lay of my land. 

And so -- ready set
go -- I take another leap.
imagine my face. i'm too tired to photoshop it in.
thank you scott bakula for letting me use this image.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My 8 year old asked me about rape.

tippity tap tap tap *pause* tippity tap tap tap

So went the sounds of me Facebooking, hunched over the laptop while awkwardly standing up, one foot through the doorway and in to the kitchen so that I felt that I was successfully multi-tasking. And then came these words:

"Mom? What's raping?"

The boy was draped across the couch, taking the metal shin guards off his Christmas robot and snapping them back on again, over and over. My Facebook-drunk mind whipped in to rapid sobriety. I knew that this had to be a side-by-side couch talk. My 5 year old daughter was preoccupied with Elsa and Anna in her room, and I was grateful for the Disney soundtrack that would keep her out of this particular conversation.

It seemed like not so very long ago that I was trying to assuage my little boy's nervousness about bad guys, assuring him that there are very few legitimate "bad guys" in the world, and mostly it's a case of a normal person making bad decisions or being in compromising situations.

I looked him in the eye and asked him how he heard about "raping". He told me that he had heard it at the dinner table at his dad's house, his older step-brother had mentioned that he heard a kid at his high school had been raped. When he asked the grown-ups at the table what that meant, he wasn't given any answers. I said, "Well, I think if you're old enough to ask the question, you're old enough to hear the answer." 

It isn't really about age, anyway, though, is it? Lord knows I can have conversations with my 5 year old that I can't even have with my own maternal predecessors. It seems more that it's about knowing the person you're speaking with that determines if the conversation can be had, not age, and I knew this boy before me so well. 

So here I was with his question. "What is raping?" I was trying not to let my mind linger on the news that a kid may have been raped at his step-brother's high school. I tried to not let my mind go to the places that would bog down my heart with sadness and anger, the emotions that would grab a hold of my tongue and stifle what I really needed it to say. So I kept it simple.

"You know a little about what sex is, right?" He nodded. "Yeah." 
"Well sex is a really cool thing that grown-ups get to do when they're super in love with someone. It's something that they agree to do, together. Rape is when one person forces someone else to have sex, or touches their sex parts against their will. It's when one person wants it, the other person doesn't, but they make them do it anyway."
"You can't force people to do what they don't want to like that," he frowned.
"I know," I said. "It's an incredibly horrible thing and people who rape go to jail for it."

He didn't need to know that not everyone goes to jail for it. That more often than not, rapists get away with it. And they do it again. That even famous people have done it. He didn't need to know that not only are there indeed bad guys out there, but sometimes it can feel like they're everywhere. But he did need to have his question answered.

He was frustrated, hung up between a perception of not-quite-ready little kid, and the reality of an inquisitive and astute big kid. "Well I understand that! Why wouldn't they answer me when I asked?"

When you're one half of a split family and you cannot speak for the other parent, you have to choose your words like they're red and green wires attached to a ticking bomb. I don't know why his dad wouldn't answer him. But I tried to imagine myself at a dinner table, with other kids present, and thought about how I would have reacted under the same set of circumstances.

"I don't know why they didn't answer you. Maybe there were other little ears around, ears that aren't yet ready for these answers. Or maybe they were caught off-guard and didn't know how to respond. I will always do my best to answer the questions you have for me. But I do want you to know that they're not always easy for me to say. And they might be even harder for others to say. So if you have a question, and you are having a hard time getting an answer, then you can ask someone else. Like you did tonight with me."

And that was the that. The rest of the night was spent with a movie in the living room, songs before bedtime, and the normal yelling "GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH!" across the house. There weren't any nightmares. No panic attacks over bad guys. The world didn't explode. In fact, I don't think the world has exploded yet from mere dialogue. Pretty sure that's a fact.

So far he hasn't stumped me. But I bet that day's not far off. I'd love to hear from you in the comments on the tricky questions you've been asked by your children, and how you've responded. Would you respond differently if asked again?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow Day Voodoo.

~journal entry to my kidlets on the onset of Snowpocalypse 2014 ~

It's a full on, can't be argued with, bright-skied, still-wind, crisp-yet-fluffy SNOW DAY. And I'm pretty positive you two kiddos made it happen.

Only two nights ago, Maggie, you suggested that we all wear our pajamas inside out. This is typically done by accident, never by design. In my mind I raised one inquisitive eyebrow in a perfect Jack Black arch (in reality I simply opened both eyes wider, like Jack Skellington with a botoxed skull). You had more to tell. To continue the intrigue you also stated that we all had to sleep with spoons beneath our pillows. Your kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Thomason, said that these acts of kinder-voodoo would make it snow while we slept. And if teacher says it -- even with a chuckle in her voice and a wink of her eye -- to a kindergartener it's as real as my promise to buy a flock of penguins as pets when you're 50. Not. A. Doubt. 

And so you did. You emerged from your bedroom with your purple flannel jammies perfectly buttoned up, seams on the outside, princess face on the inside. You held a shiny metal spoon like a royal scepter and practically begged me to Instagram the moment (though the begging was as silent as the b in womb and I admit I interpreted the beggery from the flailing spoon-in-hand gestures). Then Riv, you shot off to your room like a cat after a laser pointer and in a flurry of Angry Birds underwear you were voodoo-ready, too. 

We curled up together on the couch with our chapter book. And in-between the Beavers telling of the return of Aslan and Edmund's escape to seek out the White Witch, you two projected a snowy morning. I tried to soften the expectation with news from the weatherman. The one who lives in my phone and eats magic for breakfast. Then off to bed with inside-out jams and Ikea spoons to sleep upon. 

Well the snow wasn't there in the morning, but the freezing temperatures still teased that it could come. The magic-eating weatherman hinted it was on the horizon. So I bundled you up in heavy coats and fuzzy gloves. Then I hugged you outside of school, a little longer than usual, my face buried a bit deeper into the tops of your strawberry-scented heads, soaking in your kid magic, basking in your sweet, unwavering love, relishing the arms that encircled me and hugged me so tightly in return. Then I said, "Your daddy will pick you up after school. I'll see you in 5 days." You already knew that, of course, but it has become a part of our crazy rhythm for me to remind you at dropoff, a ritual of the 50/50 split.

I can't be certain if you staged a second night of inside-out-jammies and spoons under the pillow. Or if one of the other time-honored tricks of snow day voodoo made its way into your imagination coffers: a superstitious toolkit filled with white crayons and ice cubes and spoons of all sizes! Regardless, you did it. You two brought on one helluva brilliant snow day and I'm out in it. The streets are quiet except for pockets of neighbors gathered in driveways in constant smiling chatter. The winds are still except for the persistent swooshing of dog tails. The dogs of North Portland are making a party of it and our own domestic beast will NOT shut up about it. It's like he thinks we gave him a gift and he wants to bark it so everyone knows "Snow day! Snow day! Snow day!" and then frantically searches to find a non-frozen place to poop. 

But you are having this snow day at your other house, with the other part of your family. And I am finding ways to not think about you because I wish so very much that we were together. The sledding down the driveway and the twice a day hot cocoa, the 48 hour pajama-fest and the tricking the dog with snowball catch, the bliss at more snow fall and the feeling of living outside of time. I don't think I can express the bi-polarity of being a full-time mom with part-time custody, the constant pull I feel toward you even when you're not with me, the push of resistance that keeps me distracted and constructive. The moments I have without you that I must release up to the air with a faith that they will be carried as wisely as seeds in a spring breeze, and the moments I have with you that I must chew and savor with the patience of a culinarian but the appetite of a castaway. 

This snow day belongs to you, and your daddy, and your other family. But it also belongs to me. You gave it to me, after all. Because even as I roam the neighborhood helping the dog find a suitable snow patch to turn yellow, watching your friends run in snow-drunk circles in the middle of the street, I can still feel the kid magic you gave me. I can taste it in my Mexican mocha and feel it in my wool socks. That extra long, strawberry-scented hug must have done the trick. And it couldn't have hurt that I slept with my pajamas on inside-out, too. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Blog Neglect: The Guilt. The Reason.

Well hello. You might remember me from such titles as ... this blog. You know, the one with my name on it? Here, let me brush the dust off the banner. There. See now? Yeah, that's my name. And lately, this is the place where words go to wait. 

(Here's where I tangent and head over to photoshop where I will spend far too long doodling an image of a waiting room filled with Words flipping through pages of People.)

Oh. The Guilt. 

But here's The Reason:

I'm putting on a show, yo! 
For the first time in forever (not a Frozen reference) Listen To Your Mother is coming to Portland! My partner in rhyme, Carisa Miller, and I have been busy with a capital ACK!  I'd compare it to pregnancy -- it's definitely a labor of love -- but there's a bit less time to prepare and a lot more wine to consume. We've been hitting the mean streets of P-town, dodging yarn bombs and evading soup-cycles, strumming up some local sponsors to help make this show the success we know it will be. We'll be giving them all some proper air time of their own, but first, how about a little hello?

which seat will be yours?
Firstly, meet Alberta Rose Theatre. She's the beaut who will be our home this Mother's Day. And she wants you to buy your tickets now. And one for your mom, your sister, your brother, your best friend and your best frenemie. Recommendation? Best not to wait long. Get your tickets right here -->

Secondly, give a HUGE hug and high five to the incredible souls from Portland Women's Crisis Line! You know those tickets you just bought? Just a second ago when you clicked that link? You just put money straight into the hands of PWCL! 10% of all ticket sales from the Portland show of Listen To Your Mother is going to them, and we are simply over the moon to be supporting such a rockstar organization who have been empowering women and supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence since 1973. 

Thirdly, this show would not be possible without the support from local sponsors. Know them already? Then please pay them a social visit and extend them a thank you. Not yet acquainted? Well then now's a good time. I've handily linked their names to their facebook pages. Give them a hearty like and a big ol' XOXO. Here are some quick introductions, with more to come shortly on my soon to be un-neglected blog, Carisa's blog, and our local Listen To Your Mother website:

  • Zenana Spa - Pregnant and in Portland? Rejuvenate here.
  • Women's Healthcare Associates - Thank you for helping me birth my babies!
  • The Radio Room - I smell an after-party ... it smells like buffalo cauliflower, mac n cheese and a hot toddy ...
  • Crafty Wonderland - They'll tickle your DIY bone and scratch that support-your-local-artisan itch. Oh yes. Art sponsoring art.
  • Toro Bravo Cookbook - That's right. Tasty n Sons, Toro Bravo, THOSE brilliant face-feeders HAVE A COOKBOOK. 
  • Bolt Fabric Boutique - Where I go to pretend I can sew. Sigh. I'm sure you could do that Russian nesting doll fabric the justice that I could not. 
We have an inkling that there will be more lovely souls to thank shortly. And we'll follow up soon with more details and (eep!) news from our upcoming auditions! Oh did I not mention? This show is starring the one, the only .... your neighbors! This is a live show produced, directed, sponsored and STARRING local voices who all are here to give motherhood a microphone. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Apologies to almonds.

It was one am on January 1st, 2014, and I was already learning stuff. 

Earlier that night I roasted some chestnuts in the cast iron pan on the stovetop. I needed to crack one open and take a bite, to see if they were done. The shell removed easily to reveal the peachy nut brain inside. 

(go google "chestnut brain images" for a funhouse of good times)

I took a timid bite and determined that they needed to roast a bit longer. Moments later, my mouth confirmed that they were underdone with the telltale signs of allergy. My tongue felt mildly swollen, the insides of my ears were burning and somehow my teeth were itchy. YOU CAN'T SCRATCH A TOOTH ITCH! Bah. I could now add raw chestnuts to my ever-growing raw nut allergy list. 

It wasn't so long ago that I would bring to work with me a mason jar filled with raw almonds. The jar would maybe last me two days. I loved raw almonds like a pre-schooler loves bubble wrap, and I'd pop them all day long. The crunch was gratifying and did more for my desk-side productivity than 3 cups of black coffee. Sometimes co-workers would come by and say hello, grabbing a handful for themselves despite my critical eye, mindful of how many they were stealing from my precious stash. Raw almonds and I were a thing. Practically teammates. Good for each other.

Then the almonds got bitchy. 

I couldn't eat them anymore. I couldn't endure the teeth itching or ear burning that came with eating my favorite food. I could eat them dry roasted, or blanched, or tossed in copious amounts of butter and brown sugar and cinnamon and cayenne, but I couldn't eat them in their perfect, naked form. It was a damn shame.

Then the almonds turned the whole birch pollen family against me.

Raw peaches, cherries, and nectarines have all climbed aboard the "we hate Kelli's mouth" train. I could eat a cherry pie, but I couldn't eat the cherries whilst making the pie. I could clean up the puddles of peach juice left in my childrens' wake on a farmer's market Sunday, but I couldn't make a peach puddle of my own. Something had just switched, and I really didn't know why.

So back to one am, just shortly after the proverbial ball dropped and we had one final family dance party to What Does The Fox Say. Cransky and I were nibbling on the chestnut brain remains that still littered the kitchen island and I wondered aloud, "Seriously, what IS making me allergic?" And Cransky replied with, "This is information that you can actually find out. All you have to do is reach a foot over there and grab your phone." I looked over my shoulder at my phone. It was pretty close. It all sounded so easy. I sighed, the physical memory of tooth itch still lingering in my enamel. And that's when it happened: I learned something.

It's called Oral Allergy Syndrome. It's real. And people aren't typically born with it. The allergy develops when an immune system gets confused and mistakes a protein in the food for harmful. It gets confused! Then the body gets set up with a triggered alarm system so that every time you take a bite of that same food always and forever for the rest of your almond-loving life lasers of acute but annoying pain fire off across the hole of your face. 

It cannot be un-done. My body made a mistake and now cannot un-learn that mistake. There's no system override! I ate myself into an allergy.

But at least now the mystery is solved. This isn't like the "every 7 years your body's allergies re-set themselves" theory. You know, when people are allergic to cats, and then they're not, and then they are again. This isn't a theory at all. It's just science: human bodies can sometimes be quite dumb. 

And I apologize to almonds for calling them bitchy. Turns out it was all my fault.