Dana: May 2009 Archives

Blog Body Shop

south city auto body

In the next several days I will - and when I say I, I mean my friend Craig - will begin moving stuff from Moveable Type over to a new platform. I just don't have the time to flub around and scare him half to death whenever I attempt to mess with the CSS on my own to change things, thus the switch. A Wordpress platform is in contention; I was hesitant to move to Wordpress at first because all their layouts, back in "the day" when I first went from Blogger to Moveable Type, completely sucked bass. They were horrible. They looked as though the person responsible for designing all the doctors' examining rooms decided to create themes for Wordpress. I could not be creative if the aesthetic of my blog reminded me of throwing my feet up into a pair of cold stirrups. Things have changed and their designs and functionality have improved exponentially.   

I wanted something that could accommodate video, larger-sized photos, look nice, and yet still look individual (meaning, I didn't want to use a theme that a frillion other people used. Not that I have anything against those frillion other hypothetical people at all, but you get what I mean. Something with a fingerprint.) I also wanted something that was easy for me to customize so I could share more with the internets and the current functionality that I'm working with right now is just ... no. It's not the platform, it's me. Seriously. I can diagram sentences and wax poetic on classical literature but when it comes to things like CSS I am not the first person you'd pick for your CSS kickball team.

So I threw a bunch of stuff at Craig's head and he was all OMG STOP and finally we have some ideas and shortly you'll come here and ta da! See it.

I hope you enjoy it | it will be pretty | the end. 

Proud Mary

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Yesterday I went with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn redux to an all-day field trip at the Arch.
Bear!     I HAD to

Ewan just wanted to look at the animal skins. Liam was glued to his friend-who-is-a-girl-but-is-not-his-girlfriend, gosh, stop ASKING HIM ABOUT IT ALREADY. (Seriously, eight? Is this when this happens, people with children?)

Liam completed his Junior Ranger requirement, though he was a bit cross with me because I wouldn't let him rush through it so he could run outside.

BS Peace Medals.


After their classes on the plains Indians and pioneers, the first half of our group ventured to the swollen river to board the Tom Sawyer and take a trip upstream. 

The boys

My whole life I've never lived more than a few miles from the Mississippi River. We pulled away from the sound of zydeco music and the smell of fried food and out into the muddy water. The river's current is deceptively strong; the kids were fascinated by the giant pieces of driftwood that floated past and bounced between the barges. Open this in a separate window, listen, and look:

Lunch on the Grand Staircase

From the Tom Sawyer

Money shot

Grand Staircase and the Arch

Eads Bridge

The Admiral


Eads Bridge

A coal-burning electric plant. Because 84% of the country's electricity comes from coal.


UE plant

The Grand Staircase

Thanks for joining us. Full Flickr set here. Click the above photos for descriptions.

Shock City Studios

Shock City: Polar Wave Ice and Fuel

The front of Chris and Doug's recording studio. They restored it to exactly how the building looked when it functioned as an ice house, right down to the black, brick-painted strip at the top with the white Polar Wave Ice and Fuel typography popping in contrast. The inside shots are here.
The other evening we watched "The Wrestler." About five years after everyone else.

Just when you think that life can't get any more depressing, "The Wrestler" will prove you wrong. I remarked that you have to watch "Beaches" just to get over "The Wrestler."

Not that it isn't a brilliant movie, beautifully shot, poignant at times and an interesting critique of Americana, but just ... sweet jeebus. You think it's sad that Randy the Ram was locked out of his trailer? Or that his boss is an ignorant little twerp? Or that his bones sound like they're going to crack under the weight of his very heavy and slightly frightening old man breathing? Well then BAM! HEART ATTACK! And then he gets better but BAM! Randy the Ram can't wrestle anymore or he'll die because he's had a bypass! Also? His daughter hates his guts, the trailer park kids all have better gaming systems than he does, and the only person who cares about him is an old stripper from a club called "Cheeks," but when she finally tells him this it's too late because he just wants to wrestle one more time and die because there isn't anything left on earth anymore for Randy.

Watching this movie made me feel like I was going to die alone. Alone, in a van parked by a trailer with only a duct-taped coat to keep me warm. Darren Aronofsky is a tricky little SOB because he made the screen go to black after the final scene so you're left thinking "Wow, maybe Randy the Ram ... doesn't die? Maybe?" This little bubble of hope crawls up your throat before NOPE, CREDITS and the reality of life's awfulness punches a fist down your throat.

This movie dredges up all the awful crap that you've ever experienced in your life, the stuff you've swept under your heart, and taunts you with it. Your dog died? RANDY HAS NO DOG. No social life as a teen? Randy's big night out consists of getting his roots touched up, tanning, and going to the five-and-dime to buy wrestling props. HE HAS TO BUY HIS OWN PROPS. It's like a stripper having to use her own change for dancing music. And then? When he buys his daughter a used pea coat at a vintage store while you can very clearly see the duct tape on his coat? Slap-Chop my heart. The only part of the movie in which I did not require therapy is when some dude with an artificial leg offered it up to Randy the Ram because he wanted Randy to beat his opponent with it. That's fan devotion.

It was a brilliant movie, it deserved every award for which it was nominated, Rourke was robbed at the Oscars, but I will never watch it again because it was that real. This Memorial Day weekend I'm going to watch "Transformers" a few times, "The Big Lebowski," and probably something involving vampires over some beer and BBQ.

Happy Memorial Day, thanks to all our men and women for their service, see you back here on Tuesday.

Sunday in the park

Liam      More bubbles


Chasing bubbles

"I GOT IT, Dad."      Ewan sucks at running on concrete.
Entire set.

Big giant Penelope

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"MOOOOOOM," Liam hollered up the stairs yesterday to my treehouse lair, my office under the eaves wherein I plot extremist activities because I am an extremist. It makes me sound hard. Don't take that from me.

"WHAT!" I hollered back. "DON'T YELL!"




There is a big giant Penelope in our kitchen? Like, a giant girl? WTF?






Which no, it is not a trilobite, rather a millipede/centipede/silverfish, but I call them trilobites much to Chris's annoyance because "millipedes" or "silverfish" or whatever those little minions of Satan are called look insanely prehistoric and defy their benign name. Somehow in Liam's mind "millipede" became "Penelope." By the way, the folks who got close enough to actually physically count the legs on those things? PROPS.

"KILL IT!" I hollered back.








Well played. Didn't see that coming. I finally lumbered down two flights of stairs to see Mr. Smart Aleck standing there holding my Converse shoe over his head, a wicked look on his face.

"FINE. You win," I said.

"I knew I would."
The topic du jour for Momversation. Because I was such a neurotic mess with Liam the irony is that I think I've made him uptight about a few things. Think meaning know. It was so much easier the second time around because I had done it all before. For instance, I knew that I required an epidural the second time around - none of this "I'm going for a baby AND an award, too!" business. I think I had more time to enjoy Ewan's babyhood because I wasn't freaking out over the simplest of things.

Chris and I are "holding talks" (it sounds so much more official that way) about the possibility of going for a third child but I'm still on the fence, the same spot where I've been for the past three years. In the video I mention how perfectly content I am to have a proportionate ratio of children vs. arms and I mean that. Like, three kids will totally throw the balance of power; the Lilliputians children, they will outnumber us. I will have to tie them to the cart just to make it through the grocery store. OHMYWORD and what if I have twins? God apparently thought it HYSTERICAL to make twins run on both my side and Chris's side of the family and I'm positive that I'm playing Russian Roulette here and that as soon as we decide our number is up. Our families think it's sweet, the possibility of twins, and they think this because they would neither have to carry, deliver, or wake up at 5 a.m. with them.

I know that I would love a third baby, I would love him or her to absolute bits and I am enamored with the idea of a big family like the Waltons, so that's not the point; the point is whether or not I could handle a third baby at this time. I give major propers to those who can.

So how did you prepare for a second child? Also - if you have more than two children (seriously, be straight with me here) was it an easy transition like from baby #1 to baby #2? Was it easier? Harder? I've only two friends who have more than two children and whenever I ask they give me The Look.   

The clouds look like pillows

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Almost summer

This morning I woke up before the sun to fill in for Jamie as he covered Laura Ingraham today. I'm half-asleep and may or may not be drooling at this point. Liam still has lessons to finish and I'm going to try to grab a small nap at some point. Ewan likes to pretend to put me to bed like we do with him; this will keep him busy for at least 20-30 minutes so I can catch a few winks, albeit I'll have to do it all hemmed up in his racecar bed.

I'll be back Monday; this site is getting a facelift soon and I have a lot more things to share, things I haven't been able to get to earlier due to time constraints.

Have a beautiful weekend.

When children attack



Reason 2,972 why I married him

During Mother's Day weekend I had a wonderful reprieve from wrestling Chris over the remote because he insists on watching shows about fixing cars and ultimate warriors and other things which are only made relevant in apocalyptic times. He let me watch the super important shows like "Gilmore Girls" reruns and the seventh airing of the last remake of "Pride and Prejudice," alternately titled "the One with the Mr. Darcy That Isn't As Good As Colin Firth." I watched what I wanted and he didn't once complain about how his brain was liquefying from the content or anything.

Because Sunday night marked the end of Mother's Day weekend, after I finished prep last night I was subjected to some show about the SSC Ultimate Aero, a ridiculously expensive pimp car of which few is made, thus the price. (I myself am partial to cars with the old heavy, 70s-era doors that creak like death when you close them or black Mercedes) Chris, who once rebuilt a Barracuda as a teenager and later sold it to a museum, his one big regret in life, was enthralled with the program, though not necessarily with the show's host. Chris kept debating the host's analogies and criticizing what he felt was a limited knowledge of automobiles.

At one point, the host described the Ultimate Aero as the "Buzz Lightyear of its time," to which Chris angrily sputtered: "OMG. Can you believe this guy? Buzz Lightyear is a SPACE RANGER. And not even a real one. And? His fictional contemporaries had equal, if not better abilities and also Buzz Lightyear NEVER had anything comparable a top speed of 273 mph, nor could he go from zero to 60 in three seconds. Yeah, real great analogy there, Francess."
Mah man

I make fun, but really, I think it's hot.


Coloring at the table.

I'm not sure at what age fat, pink baby feet begin to look like elongated little boy feet (with that vinegary odor that accompanies a long day of playing outside) but whenever it happens, it makes me sad.

Every day melts away a bit of his baby fat. It's like watching both of us age, him and me.

I will still pinch him, regardless.

For Mother's Day


I have the best time with them.


I've a greater appreciation for fart jokes and chivalry.


My favorite place on earth is anywhere between them.

I so remember doing this at their age

I learn something new about them, about myself, with every passing year. They have made me so much stronger and fiercer than I thought I could ever be.


I'm not ashamed to say that I drive a minivan. And that there are probably Teddy Grahams mashed into its floor. 

Karate chop!

And I'm not resentful that my house doesn't look like a Domino photoshoot (sometimes those houses seem like tombs) or that I don't get enough sleep.


And I'm not embarrassed by a single stretchmark, or my not-so-perky-anymore chest, or that I wear Converse most of the time. There's comfort without pretense.


I'm proud. I've worked real hard for this life.


And all I have to say is thank you for making me a mother.

(Happy Mother's Day!)


Love this man

Taken on the floor of Shock City's forthcoming industrial lofts.

The colon nests

We recently began a study of the 13 colonies and of the American flag. I'm a huge history buff, so this is pure bliss for me to teach, though I had to correct Liam a couple of times from calling the colonists "colon nests." I have it scheduled so that by the time we get to the lesson on the Louisiana Purchase, we'll be boarding a riverboat for a cruise on the mighty Mississippi.

Studying American history

This is one of the reasons that we have school all year long; it seems a lot more fun to study the birth of our country near its actual birthday.

All about the flag

"And also because of the fireworks," Liam says.

Of course, the pyro. God bless 'Merica.
A remark from Liam and Ewan's friend, S, as told to me by his mother:

"When I grow up I'm gonna be a mountain lion and a doctor!"

"That's nice, like a veterinarian?"

"NO! A mountain lion and a doctor!"

"Oh ...? You want to be both?"

"At the SAME TIME! A mountain lion who's a DOCTOR."

Saturday morning work


My workspace, affectionately called the "war room." It sits tucked up under an eave on the third floor. And yes, every office should have pastel-colored lanterns.

My war room/office     Office window

Click on photos for notes.
Sometimes I think that animals have it so lucky because their offspring shoots out of the womb with the ability to walk and, in the case of baby sharks, find their own food! I don't want to be a shark or anything, but there are times that I feel a twinge of jealousy. Liam has been easy to make a self-starter: he folds his own clothes and puts them away; he sets the table; he's still at the age where helping is cool. Ewan thinks helping is akin to ruling the world and is incredibly gung-ho about it whereas Liam is beginning to catch on to our devilish plan. The problem is that Ewan's desire to help and do things for himself has a lifespan of three seconds and bribes don't work. So the question is: how do you raise independent kids?


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