Dana: September 2008 Archives



One of the things I've learned in my 30 years here on earth is that you can never have enough good friends. To repurpose a Flannery O'Connor title, a good friend is hard to find. I'm lucky in that I have found quite a few.

They celebrated my birthday with me over the weekend, right before I woke up Sunday with a sore throat. I blamed allergies, except the pain grew worse and by the time I was on air Sunday night my throat was on fire and I was barely able to get through my show. During every commercial break I'd gargle coffee and suck the life out of cough drops. Monday morning I woke up barely able to swallow; a trip to the doctor revealed that all four of us had strep and were feverish. Chris, the boys and I wandered aimlessly through the aisles at Schnucks while we waited for our massive prescriptions of antibiotics. I sat down in the magazine aisle and stared at the ceiling.


I'm still recovering and on a massive dose of antibiotics and am in a cold-med induced haze. Fun! I have to be in top shape to cover the VP debate this Thursday for the station.


Thanks for all the birthday wishes. At one point during the birthday celebration evening, I gasped to my friends "Oh my word. Remember that show our parents watched? 'Thirtysomething?' OH MY WORD that's about US."


As it turns out, turning 30 wasn't so bad after all.


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One evening as I was making dinner the boys were running and hollering all throughout the house. They raced into the living room and began jumping on the sofa; from the sofa to the ottoman; from the ottoman to the chair. They have been warned against doing this repeatedly; whenever they scoot the sofa off the rug it puts a scratch in the floor. Whenever they trounce on the cushions it breaks them down. Time outs, being grounded, standing in the corner, none of these punishments have penetrated through their hard heads to make a difference.


I felt the threat booming out of my mouth before I realized that it was my voice. Make it a threat you can cash! screamed the voice in my head.


"If you boys don't stop jumping on and destroying our furniture I'm going to jump on YOUR beds and show you what it's like!" I hollered as I stuck some rolls in the oven. The boys rolled their eyes and ignored me as though I were nothing more than a cigar store Indian.


Chris came home; I pushed him to correct them; he gave it a half-hearted "Boys! Listen to your mother!" They didn't stop. I'd had enough. I ripped off my apron and stomped upstairs, letting the force of my footfalls express my utter disdain for their behavior. I stomped into their room, right over to Liam's bed, climbed on top and jumped up and down as hard as I could. I upset the meticulous pile of stuffed animals lying on top and they flew everywhere. I BROUGHT THE RAIN. The bed creaked, the floor groaned, the house shook, the mattress flapped as though both ends were bird's wings.


"DANA!" Chris shouted from downstairs.


"I! TOLD! THEM!" I hollered back and put more effort into it. My head almost met my knees in mid-jump. I heard shrieks well up from first floor about the time I jumped across the room to Ewan's race car bed. The thick plastic didn't protest as much so I began losing interest.


"MOM'S CRAZY!" Liam shouted as he dashed up the stairs.


"MY MANIMALS!" Ewan cried.


"OH!" I said, standing triumphant at the head of the race car bed. "Oh - I see how it is. It's perfectly OK for you to disobey your parents and jump and climb all over every piece of furniture we have in this house, is it? But your stuff is off limits?"


"Yes!" They shouted.


"Sorry, that's not how it works. If you jump on mom and dad's furniture we get to jump on yours. And I can't tell you how much I love jumping on little boys' beds."


They looked at me as though I had lost it. I left the room so they could think about it and they went right to straightening their beds.

Something they never do unless nagged incessantly.


Have they jumped on our furniture since? No. Now they even put the quilts and blankets back properly after they use them. I am mentally high-fiving myself.  



In other news, I turn 3-Oh on Sunday. I'm hiding out until it passes. Le sigh.


(Also, please read the thing about the imposter if you haven't already. Thanks.)


I was told just a bit ago by a lovely blogger with cool shoes that someone is out on the internets impersonating me, leaving hateful comments on websites and using my name and Web address.

That's beyond stalkerish and quite pathetic. Nothing shocks me on the Web anymore, though.

Remember, your IP address is your signature, your homing device.


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Chris recently brought home an unmarked disc of music by an artist he's just recorded and I've been bopping around the house to it for the past couple of days. Maybe it's because I'm turning thirty on Sunday or that I've just been very introspective lately, but this song on so many levels could not describe my current state of mind any better.

He and some friends recently turned one of the songs into a video. One friend makes movies all over the country and he agreed to film, treat, and edit the footage together. It all happened very quickly and they wanted to create something that matched her aesthetic, something as equally unpretentious as her sound. So they traipsed around the city with a camera and our friend Dustin dressed up as a zebra.


It reminds me of that movie, "Drop Dead Fred," in which a young woman has to cut the apron strings with Fred, her trouble-making imaginary friend, because he is representative of her past, her youth, her innocence. She's grown up now and having an imaginary friend is cute when you're a kid but just flipping weird when you're an adult.


The artist's name is Amy Diaz De Leone and she's seventeen-years-old and adorable. She plays piano, writes her own songs, and I think she's one of the best lyricists I've ever heard. Her stuff sounds so simple at first listen until you recognize the deeper themes of life, growing up and growing old, love, and friendship.

The result of all of this is what you see below. I think they did a fantastic job and I'm really proud of their effort. Very simply, it's all about accepting that you have to keep going:

Weekend recovery


I'm still recovering from the conference this weekend and trying to attend to all the things that fell by the wayside last week. Liam has a cold and a fever so he's relaxing and doing worksheets and such from the sofa dressed as a ninja (Nana bought them costumes over the weekend) and Ewan is finger-painting while dressed as a police officer. The costume comes with a ridiculous, well-toned, pillowy sick-pack abdomen which makes him look even more delicious and buttery. When they nap, which should be soon, I'm going to try to reclaim some of my dining room from the books, canvases, and crayons, like in the above.


Two quick things before I'm out until Monday:

If you can, please come check out the St. Louis interactive conference this weekend, beginning today in the U City Loop at 4pm. All the details you need to know - including how to follow along live, are right here.

This was a huge endeavor, much more than I anticipated but not completely beyond my expectations. There were several points that were positively maddening and some that made me want to hug people until their eyes bulged out of their head like the eyes in those small, rubbery stress dolls.

This couldn't have happened without the help of many people and I want to say an extra special thanks to Melody, Joel, Greg, Lisa and Craig for all the hours, muscle, and too many other things to list.

Hope to see you there.

Jump, jumping, jumped

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I'm in a very introspective place right now. Last night I hosted the moderators/speakers workshop for InterPLAY, the St. Louis Interactive Festival so many of us have been yammering on about. We held it in Chris's building and it was the very first time such a large group of people outside Chris and Doug's circle saw it.


It was also the first time that I met a handful of area bloggers whose work and personalities I've admired from afar. One by one I met them at the massive metal side door before we trekked through unfinished construction and up the elevator to the finished Shock City offices where we sat in a ring of metal chairs, cracked jokes, talked shop, and shared a beer with Bill, who brought a case with him. I looked around the room at my contemporaries, members of an unofficial official industry, and felt an immense sense of privilege to be able to embark on such an ambitious project with them. I know that I'm one of those people that others either love or hate, and this says more about me than I've ever wanted to reveal about my personality, but I just assume that people will always feel the latter. I assume they will and hope that they won't.


After the meeting Chris gave an impromptu tour of his building. This building has shaved an easy five years' off of our life. But what is duration if it's hollow? What is life if you don't at least stick a toe into the unknown everyday? I hung in the back as he explained each room, his motivation, the purpose of the place. That building is his dream manifested. We are going through such a stressful time right now, it seems like this past year has been a series of those. Looking back they seem nothing more than a bunch of scattered vignettes, frozen moments of tears, heartache, frustration.


I tried to downplay my absolute terror at the enormous weight of such a dream, to scoff at the various amounts of stress we've been under to pull this off, by making a couple of jokes here and there. I didn't know what the people there thought of it everything, until I read Mae's account this morning. Her words pierced through it all and relieved some of the pressure, somehow, simply because she gets it. (Read her post.) When I told her that sometimes Chris and I lie in bed at night, turn and look at each other with terror in our hearts and tears in our eyes, and silently communicate "Oh my gawd. What if we fail?" it was the most honest I've ever been about this entire experience with anyone. Like, just by even admitting the possibility will make failure a reality or something.


The good - or sad - thing is that I am so driven for him, that drive, that belief in him has eliminated my doubts, my cynicism that it won't work. He doesn't have bad ideas. His planning, his execution, is spot-on. Sometimes I get so frustrated living with a counterpart who is so much better than me on so many levels but it's the reason why when he extends his hand while standing at the edge of a cliff and says "Jump. Trust me," I do.


And I jump.


I also enjoy watching him on the cusp of accomplishing his life's dream, second he says, to us. (I don't care how sappy that sounds. That's where my head is right now.)


So as he was telling everyone about recording music, about his building, a legacy really, and sweeping his arms all around, I was proud. Pride tempered with fear. For so long I've felt very alone in this feeling. Because of that I'm thrilled to have met Mae and realize that she gets it, too, she's there herself. She's right on the cusp of something amazing.


When people do well in St. Louis, St. Louis does well. I am so hopeful.


A lot of them will be at InterPLAY this weekend. I would be over the moon if you could join us.

A blizzard in fall

I'm standing in my kitchen about to stuff manicotti with an amalgam of various cheeses and spices; Liam is at his desk finishing homework for tomorrow and Ewan is at the dining room table pretending that his crayons are army men and they're waging an epic battle.

Starting tomorrow morning (and running through the election) I'll be guest co-hosting on Jamie's show from 7 - 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. This is in addition to my Sunday night show.

Also this weekend, if you haven't glanced at the badge to your right, I'm speaking and doing some moderating at St. Louis's first ever interactive conference orchestrated by myself and several members of the St. Louis Bloggers' Guild. Dude. Putting together such an event was HARD. Working with a plethora of people, trying to accommodate everyone, and being constantly aware of the various individual schedules is/was nothing short of brain-frying. I'm happy with how things have turned out for our inaugural year, though. We have a lot of great people coming together to share their experiences and expertise and I've no doubt that attendees will walk away with some valuable information. You can learn more about the conference, including all of the panels, here and purchase wristbands (which admits you to the entire festival and you can catch some pretty cool indie bands) here. Many thanks to our kickin' sponsors for helping to make it happen. 

I went to Target the other day to buy some fall clothes for the children. Apparently, when Chris and I sleep at night, the boys wake up, put on an outfit, go outside and drag themselves on the sidewalk. They must do this with every single outfit because there is no way that two soft, made-of-meat little boys are this hard on clothes and no - it is not the new LG washer and dryer we purchased when we bought this house, either. The LG washer and dryer don't really wash clothes; inside the drums are actual magical fairies that wave tiny little wands and make the dirt disappear like magic.If we ever had to sell the house I'd keep the washer and dryer and we'd live in them.


I went to Target because their clothes are cute and I think anyone who spends more than $25 dollars on a single piece of clothing (excluding coats, suits, Easter dresses, fancy crap, etc.) for a child that will grow out of it in two-three months is either a) rich or b) delusional. Target is not paying me to say that I think their clothes are well made, cute, and cheap. Target, for me, is fancy. I do not shop at Baby Gap; I cannot bring myself to drop $40 on a Macy's Ralph Lauren sweater, because while that sweater and an $8.99 sweater at Target were both made in some factory in the same third-world country, the Ralph Lauren factory workers took the extra ten minutes and used their machines to stitch RALPH LAUREN or some polo emblem into the fabric and BOOM, the price instantly jumps up $30 dollars.


(I try to buy American-made when I can, when-I-can meaning when I can physically see it and sadly, it isn't often.)


Liam needed new gym clothes, Ewan needed new pants because in addition to dragging his clothes on the sidewalks while we sleep at night Willy Wonka also visits and puts him in that stretch machine he once used on Mike Teevee. His little pants look like capris. I do not believe in the manpri so it was time for new clothes. Unfortunately, he did not inherit much from his big brother who wore predominately secondhand clothes because we were broker than jokes in those days, as compared to being mildly broke now. Liam's old clothes were either purchased entirely from Goodwill or inherited from people we knew. When it comes to furnishing a wardrobe, I can stretch a dollar to infinity.


While at Target I bought Ewan some pants, Liam his gym clothes, some long-sleeve t-shirts for both boys, a couple button-downs, and new hooded jackets. I unloaded the items at checkout and then severed a couple of limbs and handed them to the cashier because HOLY CHRISTMAS, the total. All the while Liam and Ewan complained about being hungry - even though they'd had a decent breakfast and it was nowhere near lunch - because they were eager to hurry up and already grow out of what I just bought them.


Liam was just excited that I'd bought them hoodies with skulls ("dead guy heads," Ewan calls them), which goes along with Ewan's whole fascination with death. Remind me Monday to show you what he has been dressing up as every single day for the past two weeks.

In seven years' time

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Seven years ago this morning I alternated between watching the horror unfolding on my television and staring at a then-baby Liam jumping in his bouncy seat. He was smiling, laughing, oblivious. The contrast was terrifying. I had to hold him, as though my skinny arms could protect him from the wretchedness in New York and D.C. and the violation that had permeated our society.


While Al Qaeda may have acted thousands of miles away, they were in my country and to me, they might as well have been in my living room. I was scared before I was enraged. That anger has not dulled with time and while people sometimes get grief for taking more than an average interest in politics I'll tell you this: I don't know how a person can exist and not be somewhat engaged - no, I don't know how a person can be a mother, a parent, and not be involved simply as a safeguard for their children's future. Parenthood is political.


To that effect, I don't believe in apathy as a means to political correctness. I won't consider tolerance as a way to placate terrorism. Tolerance can be surrender.

I was going to post something else today about growing boys and the price to clothe them, but I cannot and will not ignore what happened to change this country, this world seven years ago today. Politics aside, it's important to remember today.


Where were you seven years ago this morning?

*Update: You should read this whole comment below. Derek writes:

"I would be in the Middle East not two weeks later and would work every day but 5 over the next year. I went to Afghanistan and since Sep 11th have seen and sat across from many al Qaeda terrorists. They have NO tolerance for the US and are the most hateful and hard people I have ever seen in my life. As long as our enemies wish harm and violence upon us, I'll keep working to stop them."

** Your comments are amazing. I'm going to be reading some of them on-air this Sunday evening. Thanks to those who have served/are serving. Just, wow.

Early this morning

Lately it's been dusky dark when I'm at the station to do my Sunday evening show. When they asked me to come in the mornings I sort of feel like a crypt keeper let loose in the day. Jamie had his little flip camera this morning and I didn't realize that his intent was to post actual footage of his heinous protein dirt shake and me doing the Cabbage Patch on Youtube. In my defense, I was halfway through a potent pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and completely cracked out:

I brought Jamie a mix CD (how neo-80s!) of some of the 2,000+ songs I have on iTunes to play that morning and he asked if I was going to break it down right in the studio like how the Obamas danced on Ellen. You can't hear the music, obviously, because it's playing through our headphones, but here's the track, Kenna's "Say Goodbye to Love":


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Currently trying to extricate a Tostino's pizza from the oven as it said "BAKE ON THE RACK" and I baked it on the rack and lo, it became one with the rack. Liam sits at the kitchen table, working on math lessons a bit later into the afternoon than usual; this morning I drove around the KMOV building four times (much to the amusement of the cab drivers) before finally spying the slightly-hidden little spaces behind the building in which to park. I was due there to tape a segment for a new show called "Great Day St. Louis," hosted by Carol Daniel. Carol sent me an email a year or so ago after one of my posts and she told me she laughed her head off. I was just floored that she even knew I existed.

She caught me doing some last minute primping before walking on the set and told me I looked fine. Because I am awesome like that, I responded with something about how I could feel my face greasing up because I was wearing more makeup than usual and I KEPT TALKING AND WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT and the producers laughed, either out of hysterical pity for the family stuck with me or because they were being polite. 

The taping was lovely, I believe it will air next Monday, when it does I'll let you know. Also: please don't fret none - I'm still working on that big ol' homeschooling resource post and will publish it shortly; I'm currently up to my armpits in InterPlay, the St. Louis interactive conference and lamenting over how certain unnamed wifi providers are proving difficult with which to work. I'm also wrapping up sponsors, so if you want in, email me asap. When I'm not writing, homeschooling, and trying to figure out how to clone myself for efficiency, I've been handling the radio gig and watching in amazement as my phone bay grew from nothing to being completely jammed every Sunday night for the past three months. I'm getting more and more emails about the show and the numbers have the crew thrilled beyond belief. It's a good thing that it's 2008 and I'm not short of ambitious mother role models for inspiration.

The days are getting shorter

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I've gone back and forth the past year about whether or not to create a "strictly-learning" space. When school started last year I transformed the third-floor playroom into a giant classroom, but it was too distracting for Liam to do his lessons there, I missed the French press in the kitchen on the first floor; plus I was too neurotic about paints and glue on the brand new Berber carpeting. A couple of months later and we somehow scooted all the way down the stairs to the first floor again, books, chalkboard and all, and took over the dining room. The playroom became a playroom once again. I was within steps of my French press. The boys could paint without me hovering over them. Liam was at the kitchen table instead of his small desk, where it was easier for Ewan to bother him and fiddle with his homework.

So every afternoon we hold court in the dining room and pretty much learn all over the house. We eat a simple breakfast and Liam practices his handwriting while I check email. We then power through phonics, spelling, history, math, and science. He does his reading and seatwork under how own will at points throughout the day. I don't nag him, except to remind him that his independent work is his responsibility and in order to get the mark it must be completed correctly by morning. I set his desk for him to work at in a far corner of our dining room where it's quiet and out of Ewan's sight.

All of his extra classes begin again in one week; Spanish, art, and gym. It's been a non-eventful summer for him - stressful and heinous for Chris and me - but the boys haven't noticed anything but summer afternoons full of games, tents outside, days in the sprinkler and nights catching fireflies. Summer is the only season that I can't stand to end. I always enter fall with what ifs and should haves. I don't linger on regrets though; I use them as motivation. Next summer maybe we'll get to take that ever elusive family vacation. We've never had one.

You know that summer you had as a kid, the summer where you took some big trip with your family or did something together that you will all talk and laugh about while sitting around the holiday table? Every kid has one. I feel as though I have to make every summer like that while I still have my chance. 

WTH is wrong with feminism?

I began working on a piece of writing yesterday because I was so frustrated with politics and the atmosphere that has swallowed half of the country. I'm one of the people who believe that you can be Democrat, Republican (of which I am neither, I am motivated by issues, not party), or Independent and still share a meal together. This election, more than any I've ever seen, has gotten nasty - maybe because there's a woman, a mother involved and I can empathize with that.

Some of the punditry I've read in the past couple of days has set me off. So I wrote about it at my other gig over at Mamapop, please check it out, my heart on my sleeve. Here are two excerpts:

"If children were really limitations, if people were truly worried about whether or not a candidate could concentrate on their duties as a parent, this question would be universally asked of BOTH women AND MEN. John F. Kennedy had a baby in the White House. He is regarded as one of the greatest presidents of our time. Barack Obama has two young daughters. I can think of a plethora of politicians running or currently in office who have young children. Yet no one questions whether or not the attention of these men will be diverted by their children. No, that wouldn't play into the stereotype. Their penises have earned them a free pass. How nice."


"Women are not second-class citizens and mothers sure as hell aren't second-class citizens. Dr. Laura actually questions how well a mother of five can multi-task? Isn't that pretty evident? And people wonder why the "mommybloggers" are so active, why they make such a ruckus, why they perceive discrimination when there supposedly isn't any. It's because the notion that discrimination against mothers is nonexistent is a myth. We are worthy of respect. Children are not a burden, we are not limited, and if more people in this world had a mother's heart the planet would be a better place to live."

I'll be back and non-political tomorrow.

(P.S. I've been liveblogging the conventions and will do so again tonight for my station - if you are so inclined you are welcome to join. I go live at 8pm CST. Drop me a line at mamalogues at yahoo dot com if you're interested in joining and chatting. Lookit! Emmis even made a graphic!)

The Rules


After his grandparents told him no wrestling around in the pews, Liam scratched this out on his lap at church. His grandfather has a game wherein he informs the kids "There will be none of this ..." and demonstrates that there will be a moratorium on headlocks, body-slamming, tickling, etc. by demonstrating it on the nearest grandkid. Probably sulking after being scolded, Liam drew this, rolled it up like a scroll, and delivered it to his grandpa, who showed it to Liam's grandmother and the two of them laughed.

I'm struggling to keep some things balanced, put out fires, and sometimes I wonder if what I signed up for is worth the trouble of everything I have to go through for it. Everyone has those days, I know. I just wish mine existed without things to make them more difficult than necessary. I'll take what I can get, I suppose.

Today marks our first official day of second grade. I'm still piecing together a homeschool resource page; I know some of you have emailed with a bunch of questions on everything from curriculum to how I schedule my time. I'm not ignoring them; I just I'm a bit slow in answering emails at the moment due to my workload. Thanks for your patience. I'll be here with more regularity, in a very non-fiber kind of way, as soon as we settle in to our new schedule and I can get Liam to stop feeding pencils to his new pencil sharpener.


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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"