Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lessons from a Master Homemaker, Part I

This is what half a pack of napkins looks like after it has gone through the wash. Beware.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Inside Out

When I was 13, I made the jump from wearing glasses to wearing contacts.* The guy who fitted me for the lenses was fat and gray and smile-free.

He instructed me to balance the lens on my finger, hold it up to the light and look for the tiny letters etched at the edge: "AV." This procedure, he said, was to ensure I wasn't putting the lens on inside out.

My 13-year-old brain heard this and concluded: He's making a little joke. So I gave him a hearty laugh.

You're probably thinking, "Why would someone think that was a joke?" If you are, you're in good company. That is what 28-year-old me is thinking as well. The only explanation I can come up with is that maybe I always associate putting things on inside out with humor? And maybe I was in a good mood and expecting a joke somewhere along the line and latched on to the closest thing?

But anyway. It wasn't a joke. The smile-free man had to interrupt my laughter to tell me that he really meant it, that it was easy to put contacts on inside out. I had to wipe the smile off my face and pretend the laughing episode hadn't happened.

I think about this every time I hold my lens up to the light. It's something that will haunt me until I either get corrective surgery or die.

But even if I manage to rid myself of this awkward memory someday, there are plenty more** where that came from.

*You know the old saying, "guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses"? Which maybe my brother +David made up? Well, apparently in my case it wasn't the glasses preventing the passes. The saying could have been revised to just "guys don't make passes."

**Like the time I told the father of a child I babysat that I didn't know DVDs were considered videos just as he was telling his small daughter that she was a ding dong for not knowing that. Or the time I didn't have anything to say to a girl who was looking for conversation so I mentioned that "these pens suck" only to realize that the pens in question were the ones she'd given me for my birthday. Or every time I take my baby in for a check-up with the doctor and knowingly cite something I think I know about babies, only to find out I'm apparently one of those moms who believes every stupid thing she reads on the internet.

The Jonah Grigg Comedy Hour (a script)


+Jonah: (quiet)


Jonah: (sighs.) Oh, dear.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


When I was four or five, a babysitter told me something fantastic: If I sprinkled a little bit of salt in the bathtub with me, I would turn into a mermaid.

I know there was a part of me that thought the science behind that promise was a little shaky, but another part couldn't entirely rule it out. Mermaids did, after all, live in salt water.

painting by someone named Christine Quimby, who I don't know.

So at bath time, I brought the salt shaker into the bathroom. I climbed in the water, shook in some salt, and stared at my legs, tan and kissed with bruises. I swished the water around a little. I added more salt. I waited for magic.

For those of you who know me well, you're probably aware that I'm not a mermaid. The magic didn't happen for me that day. Neither did it happen in front of the mirror in the dark, chanting Bloody Mary with friends (THANK GOODNESS, am I right?). I eventually caught on to the disappointing realities that my dad's "magical sack," which produced small treasures to keep us kids entertained on road trips, was really just a bag of stuff he'd bought at the grocery store, and that there was no giant bunny hiding pastel eggs in our backyard every spring.

The magic trickled out of my life. It's not that joy trickled out along with it--joy stayed. But it didn't sparkle in the same way it did back when at any moment my world could be rocked by something incredible.

But! Now that I'm the mother of little ones, my joy is at times sparkly again. Yesterday the girl behind the bakery counter at the grocery store handed me two little cookies decorated with confetti, and when I presented them to Jonah, his voice became urgent: "What do you have??" And when he saw my prize clearly, he half giggled and half shrieked. "Two cookies! Two flower cookies!"

You should have seen his face.

And Andy, my 9-month-old, is even easier, if you can believe that. I smile at him and say "Hi, baby," and BAM. Sunshine. Pouring out of his soul. Exploding from his cheeks and eyes and ears and nose and sweet blond hair!

Sometimes in these moments I catch my breath. Tears have been known to come to my eyes and something in my heart tries to burst its way out. I don't know quite how to explain why, but in these moments the only thing I can think is: MAGIC.

photo by the fabulous Malina May Grigg

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Yesterday I didn't find 30 seconds to pick up the stack of napkins Andy dumped on the floor at breakfast until dinnertime, so for those of you wondering if I mopped yesterday: No, I did not. Neither did I mop today.

Ever since the sun came out after winter, I've been asking myself the same question: How am I supposed to take care of my yard, my house, AND my children? I'm not sure I'm doing a passable job on the first two.

It's not always such a whirlwind. I have days where the floor gets mopped. It hasn't happened yet, but I have faith that someday I will find time to pull the weeds from between the paving stones in the backyard. The problem right now is that I'm working on some writing projects with impending deadlines AND Andy has been sick, so he's needing a lot of mom time. Combine those two factors with the usual appointments and entertainments and you end up with napkins on your floor all day.

Once my friend said I impressed her. She said we do all the same things: clean, cook, do laundry, play with kids, etc., but then I do freelance writing projects (few though they are) on top of all that. Lately I've been dwelling on the explanation for that riddle: Her house is way cleaner and her yard is much tidier than mine.

I'm trying to remind myself to give myself credit for the things I DO accomplish, but more on that later. For now, with my boys finally sleeping, the deadlines are calling.