Now *this* is what I signed up for

I’m pretty sure the gardeners, whom our landlord insists on paying, stole our rake today. So after I muttered to myself and raked four small lawns with my kids’ toy rake, the little guy and I lay on our backs and watched the sky. And he gently pulled something from my eyelashes, telling me, “just be still, Mommy. You have something on your eye-brown.”

The cuteness, people, erases all the rake-theft grousing.

We were running late on the way to school and there were a few tantrums about not getting dressed and not going to school and not wanting a cream-cheese-on-pumpkin-pancake sandwich and not wanting a jacket because “it’s hAWt, mom!” And all of these ruffled my feathers not a little, on a day where there wasn’t much time to breathe. But the hour I had to chill a bit involved my oldest teaching me to play chess, as Spouse taught him.

The awe and connection, dear reader, eliminates all the tantrum exhaustion.

The doorbell arrived just as my seven-year-old put my king in check. I’m not a good loser, and I seethed on the way to the door. Damned delivery ruins my damned mojo and likely loses the damned game for me and this damned whippersnapper trained by his damned father…box from Cowgirl Creamery. No, seriously, y’all. A surprise package from my favorite West Coast cheesemongers and cheesemakers and cheeseteachers. Inside the familiar white paper and balsawood box, beneath the recycled-paper faux straw is some Mt. Tam, our favorite triple creme brie, a large wedge of Wagon Wheel, the tastiest and mildest aged local and organic we can find, and some seasonal porcini-mushroom-encrusted washed rind cheese. And a phenomenal cookbook I hadn’t known even existed (because each trip to the Ferry Building or Pt. Reyes Station has me tasting all the salty, nutty sheep’s milk cheeses I can find while blindly ignoring all the environmental staged thrusts of jams and crackers and cookbooks).

The savory, creamy goodness, y’all, eases all first-time chess losses. Especially when the accompanying cookbook solves, in just the first chapter, my dilemma about wanting phenomenal coffee at home without any plastic. (Yes, Chemex is probably ideal, and my almost-all-stainless french press is okay, but cold-brewing is exactly my kind of make-ahead and use-as-you-go goodness.)

So my eye-browns were tidy, my brain full of chess (and evidence that my son is a diabolical mastermind), and my belly full of cheeses. But dinner was fraught and bath was looming and the children were wrestling. Again. There is apparently something hilarious about kicking your brother, literally, out of bed. One hundred times a day and despite repeated requests for some feet on the floor and bodies in the bath. And I’d had it. So I called my mom. Because nothing makes the kids pay attention to me like my ear near a phone.

Sure enough, they started bickering and calling me to intervene. I shut the door. They hollered louder. I walked into their room and signed, “stop; you hear him say stop, then stop,” to one; and “you bath now” to the other. And they laughed a gleeful, devilish laugh and hid under the bed. Problem solved. I continued listening to a story about a friend’s daughter who survived a fire and my mom’s subsequent story  to her friend about my PTSD after the fire. Just hearing the woman’s harrowing escape I cried, sad that anyone has to go through those moments just after a tragedy in which they call people, trying to be logical and thoughtful moments before falling into a million pieces of writhing fear.

And I hear giggles.

The dreadful little monkeys had shed their clothes, hopped in the bath, and were laughing that they intentionally disregarded the house rule about emptying bladders before getting in the bath.

Ugh. Little goofballs stopped my fear and my tears with their artisanal urine brine because they were beaming with pride that they’d joined forces and tricked me. I love being bested by my bestests.

The silly beauty, my friends, staunches fear and sadness.

Here’s hoping your eye-browns and your chess set and your coffee grounds and your cheese needs and your grin muscles are all attended to this week. Because melting into the cute and the awe-eliciting and the delicious and the comforting will cure what ails you. I hope.

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Listen to Your Mother

Last weekend I stole away to San Francisco for a bit of heaven.

I started at the Ferry Building and picked up my favorite cheese (ask The Kitchen Witch how good it is) and a sourdough baguette from my favorite baker for breakfast and walked the length of the Embarcadero to an audition at Fort Mason.

Decommissioned military bases make me wildly nostalgic, as though I were part of a cozy military family in the brief post-war period of the 1920s. Every time I pass through a no-longer-guarded post gate I want to pause to adjust the seams in my no-longer-rationed stockings.

The day was magically sunny and cold, the tourists were sparse, and the audition went just okay. I’m questioning the piece I chose and my pacing, but I got a fabulous cup of coffee afterwards and walked back along the beach.

The good news, since I’m doubting I’ll get selected for the highly competitive show cast full of awesome Mamas, is that the San Francisco show in May will benefit 826 Valencia, my favorite resource for students and writers and my absolute favorite pirate supply store in the whole world. The latter is, I promise, one million times better in person. Their New York Super Hero Supply and Los Angeles Time Travel Mart are also riveting purveyors of awesomeness desperately needed in the superhero and time traveler communities, respectively. If you want to learn more about the genesis of the organization that serves school communities *and* pirates, check out this TED clip and marvel at what we can all do—every single one of us—to make writing something every child feels good about.

Hopes and dreams and cheese

Peanut’s list, at three years and two months, of things he would like to be when he’s big, has not changed a whit since three years and one month. So I think this is really it. I’m looking into colleges. And since he wanted some that need college and some that don’t, and he unwittingly stumbled upon the perfectly balanced list (in his order, verbatim, except for the lack of k/g and r sounds):

Fire fighter
Nurse
Worker Who Drives Big Trucks
Astronaut
Farmer
Police Officer
Tea Maker (“at one hotel because people don’t have their teapots with them at hotel”)
Cheese Maker

I told him I would totally come visit every day at work if he were a cheese maker. And I would.  I also think that’s the best freaking job I’ve ever heard, and one of only six I haven’t tried.

Yet. ‘Cuz he needs to apprentice in the family cheesemaking business before going to some Continental cheese college on scholarship, right? Right. Gotta go get a sheep, goat, and cow. And we have to move to Pt. Reyes to learn from the Cowgirl Creamery folks.

Does Cowgirl Creamery offer an internship  for three year olds? Is there a cheesemaking  magnet school nearby? Formaggio Kitchen scholarship? CheeseBoard preschool?