Friday, April 30, 2010

How to Get Your Mom Out of the Boring Lady Store by Bob Rosenberg

When you get in the Boring Lady Store, immediately start pulling on your mama’s arm and repeatedly whisper, “Okay, okay, okay, okay. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”

After your mom threatens to put you in a stroller, walk next to her quietly for a maximum of 40 seconds. Periodically ask if it’s time to go yet.

She will hand some clothes to a lady who tells you that you’re a “darling child.” She says her name is Hillary and she is “starting a room” for your mom. You mention to Hillary that your mom already has a room and she shares it with Daddy. The grown-ups laugh at something.

Break free from mom’s grasp. Pull a pile of yellow lady sweaters off of a table and on to the floor and yell, “Shiver me timbers!” This is not popular with your mama and she will have a “talk” with you by the big plant.

Your mom brings you with her into a tiny room with a big mirror on the wall. You look around and ask, “How come there’s no potty in this potty?”

You are allowed to sit on the floor and go through the stuff in your mom’s purse while she changes all of her clothes a bunch of times. (Except underpants.)

Hillary asks if we are, “doing okay in there” and you can take the opportunity to inform her that they "forgot the potty in this one."

Your mom will make you stand in a line to pay for one green sweater with some flowers on it. The line is long and you are not allowed to touch any of the things on the jewelry table and you are not allowed to move the rope thing that shows you where to stand and you are not allowed, not allowed, not allowed.

Break free from your mom as she gets to the front of the line. Sit in the big chair with the red flowers on it and wave.

Your mom will watch you as you stick your hand down your throat and then barf a little on a pillow with a bird picture on it.

Your mom will run to you in the big red flower chair and see your barf. She will pick up you and the bird pillow. She will buy the bird pillow instead of the green sweater and you will get to leave the store in a hurry.

She will explain to you that she hopes you like the trendy overpriced piece of c-r-a-p because it is going to be your wedding gift.

You don’t know what that means but you get to go home now so it's good.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Birthday Force

“Bob, let’s talk about your birthday party. What would you like to do?”


“Yes, I think cake will be an important feature. What kind of cake would you like?”

“We can have cupcakes but not with green icing.”

“Okay. Why not green icing?”

“Green icing will make your poops green.”

“How do you know this?”

“I just do, Mama. I do.”

“Does blue icing make your poops blue?”

“No. So any color is good, just no green.”

“Done. So I’m guessing you’re thinking Star Wars party?”

“Yes. With light sabers and a piñata with things and candies and everything in it but enough for all of my friends to have things and also no green frosting.”

“Got it.”

“And you can dress like Princess Leia.”


“And daddy can be… Darth Vader is okay.”

“I think daddy dressed as Darth Vader might scare some of your friends.”

“Oh. Yes. We should all dress as good guys everyday. There are already enough bad guys out there.”

“Out where?”

“On earth. I’m from planet earth, Mama.”

I'll Have What He's Having

Every year on New Year’s Day I have a tradition: I mark all of the year’s upcoming important dates on my calendar. I transfer all of my contacts into a new address book. I write my holiday thank you cards. I make lists, not of resolutions exactly, but lists of short term and long term goals.. All of these little chores help me feel like I am prepared for the year.

This year I didn’t get any of those things done on New Year’s Day. I wrote them down on a to-do list and I’ve been transferring them from list to list as the days, weeks, months go by. Finally today, with less than a week left until the beginning of May, I made the decision to let it go: just cross that all off the list and keep going.

I have not looked back. Instead, I have decided to follow my kid’s lead and do the following:

I will look up close at the stuff right in front of me and find the fascinating parts.

I will call out, “Hey batta, batta, batta, batta batta batta batta batta sa-wing batta!” whenever the mood strikes.

I will eat my favorite part of the supper first.

I will insist on wearing sweatpants as often as possible.

I will do some splashing in the bathtub because it’s fun.

I will hug the people I like.

I will get excited to put any amount, no matter how small, into the piggy bank.

I will do the “funny bottom dance.”

I will listen to animals.

I will wear the Darth Vader mask and make the weird breathing noises.

I will have a good time as often as possible.

(I think this could become my new tradition.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shrub Negotiator

In celebration of Earth Day, Bob and I bought some hydrangeas to plant on the sunny side of the house by the driveway. As we unloaded them from the car, he asked me where we'd be planting them.

"I thought we could put the big one right here."

"But Mama, there's already a bush there."

"I thought we could take that out."


"It's weird and sort of homely and I thought the big flower plant would look better."

"You need to leave it. Please."

"It won't be that hard to pull up."

"The bush says it's been there a long time and it really wants to stay there. It's begging."

"The bush is begging?"

"Yes. It's happy there."

"Do all the plants talk to you?"

"All the time."

"Really? What do they say?"

"Everything. Just like us."

In honor of Earth Day and my son's apparent relationship with vegetation, the bush stayed put. Obviously.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Smacksy Saturday Photo: Good Morning

The benefits of sleeping in are rapidly erased when this little darling is the first thing you see when you open your eyes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tiny Pirate

Since we went to our friend Malik's fifth birthday a few weeks ago, Bob has enjoyed speaking the foreign language he learned there: Pirate.

"Ahoy matey Mama matey!"

"Ahoy, sweetheart. Would you like a yogurt?

"Avast ye yogurt!"

"I'm not sure what you mean by that."

"I'll have a yogurt."


"Please, Mama."

"Here you go."

"Thank you. Booty! Do we get to keep all of our stuff forever?"

"Wow, change of subject. Okay. Keep which stuff?"

"All of our stuff, our things."

"You can try to hold on to things, I suppose, but by nature things and people come and go. Except your family. Your family is forever."

"Shiver me timbers!"

"And you'll never get rid of me."



Thursday, April 22, 2010


Jeff and I are lying in bed. He leans over and turns off the light.

"Good night."

“Good night... Jeff?”

“Yes, babe?”

“I was thinking about the amount of frozen food we’ve been heating in the microwave and how all of the food in those plastic containers with the dioxin are so bad for you and then I think if I take Trader Joe’s frozen Indian food out of my diet, what’s left? Then I feel lazy for relying on it so much and how I should be cooking more and you know, maybe I should get rid of all of our plastic containers and switch over to glass for everything for our health and the environment and stuff?

I heard this report that a lot of the 'organic' products from Whole Foods are from China and other countries where the word 'organic' is sort of a crap-shoot. I know we didn’t see Food Inc because we already know everything’s messed up but are afraid to know how much and maybe we should be vegetarians? I love animals but I also love bacon and where do you go with that? I mean really, looking into the eyes of a cow? They're very soulful.

I'm thinking maybe we should move up Bob's bedtime. He keeps falling asleep unplanned and taking weird disco naps during the day and then he's up too late. You know, I realized that he is the only one of the three of us right now with a valid passport. Both of ours expired. I should pick up new paperwork for us next time I’m at the post office. We need to get your car serviced since the maintenance light is on. When should we do that? We can figure it out. I’m snack mom next Wednesday and the color of the week is orange and I can’t think of anything fun but maybe I should just go with obvious orange things? I don’t know. For Bob's party, do you think one of the trees in the front yard would be strong enough to hold a piñata?"



“Are you having an anxiety attack right now?”

“No. I’m not having an anxiety attack. Why? Do I seem like I’m having an anxiety attack? What makes you say that?”

“If I had half of that stuff running around in my head I would definitely be having an anxiety attack. All the time.”

"Maybe I need to make another list."

"Maybe you just need to go to sleep."

"Yeah, you're right... Good night."

"Good night."

"But seriously what about the pinata?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Excessive Force: A One Act


BOB and I are sitting together on the floor watching TV.

I think this cartoon is too old for you, Bob.

But Daddy recorded it for me.

Clone Wars is supposed to be for older kids.

I'll be four on my birthday.

There is just so much violence and fighting.

They are having battles. It's what they do.

There is a whole ethical question about killing the Zillo Beast which will cause the extinction of its species. Then they kill him. It's too nuanced of a message for someone your age.

The Jedi Knights are there to keep everyone else safe.

It's very sad.

Are you saying you don't... like... The... Force?

Wow. That sounded like a threat.

It wasn't a threat, it was a question.

Okay. And yes, I like The Force.

What's a threat?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Really Nice

“Mama, tonight for bedtime I want to read the Star Wars Journey Through Space book. It shows how the Jedi Knights live on the planet Coruscant and Gungans live on Naboo and some humans live on Naboo too and Jar Jar Binks but he’s not a human he’s a Gungan and he’s very clumsy. They have podracing on Tatooine and it has a bunch of sand and two whole moons and everything.

On Kamino they have Kaminoans and Geonosis has scary things and Kashyyk is where they Wookies live like Chewbacca and Tarfful. There’s Utapau and it has Utais and varactyls that they ride. Mustafar had volcanoes and Polis Masa has doctors and Yavin 4 has jungles and on Hoth they ride Tauntauns in the snow. There’s Dagobah where Yoda lives and Cloud City over Bespin. The Ewoks live on Endor up in the high trees. There’s battles and things and let’s read that book about that.”

“Bob? That was impressive and… um… sort of scary.”

“I like Star Wars.”

“I know. I think tonight we need to switch it up a little. We need a story without fighting and bad guys and –“

“Light sabers?”

“No light sabers. Let’s read The Little Fur Family.”

“The fur family is nice.”

“Let’s have some nice.”

"Star Wars is nice."

"You're nice."

Sunday, April 18, 2010


While I was out of town over the weekend, I spoke to Bob on the phone a number of times. I let him know that my friend Wendi had been kind enough to pass along to him, some Star Wars costumes that her boys had outgrown. When I returned home, Bob tackled me, told me that he loved me and then immediately asked for the costumes. Jeff and I watched as Bob pulled each piece out of my suitcase.

"Mama! It's Darth Vader's mask!"

"That's right."

"It's Yoda's Jedi cape!"


"Look at all of it! There's a Storm Trooper thing!"

"I know. How great is that?"

"You are one lucky guy, buddy," said Jeff.

I followed Bob as he carefully carried a Storm Trooper mask to our bedroom. He stood in front of our full length mirror, adjusted the mask over his face and quietly said, "Yes... Oh yes."

We returned to the living room and Bob noticed a brown paper shopping bag near my suitcase. "What's in there?" he said.

"That's for you too, honey. You can take it out of the bag. Daddy can help you."

Jeff said, "Hey Bob, check this out."

"It's a wood board with magnets?" said Bob

"I found it for you at a toy store in the airport. It's called a Responsibility Board. It's to help keep track of all of your family jobs," I said.

"Thanks, Mama. Which jobs?"

"There are a lot of jobs to choose from but let's see they have here. Okay, there's Take Care of Pet, Make the Bed, Set the Table, Take out the Trash, Empty the Dishwasher..."

"When we're all done living then we die?" Bob asked.

"Wow. I guess you're not into the Responsibility Board," I said.

"He's so not into it he preferred to change the subject to death," said Jeff.

"Can I put on the Yoda Jedi robe, mama?"


"And Mama? We don't have a dishwasher."


Smacksy Sunday Link: A Home Movie

The Bob, Backstage 2007

This is one of my favorite home movies. I found it on YouTube and I do not know the person who shot it. The quality isn't great but the subject matter is. In February of 2007, Bob and I were traveling in Europe with Jeff and his band, Lavender Diamond. One evening at the end of a show in Paris, the band joined their tour-mates, The Decemberists, on stage for their last song. Jeff brought nine month-old Bob with him. Wearing his ever present noise canceling headphones, Bob sat in his father's arms and enjoyed his first time on stage.

It is the last part of a song called "Sons and Daughters." I am so grateful that someone recorded it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Elvis and Me, Then and Now

In the summer of 1982 I went to my first Elvis Costello concert. He and The Attractions played an all ages show at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. I was 17 years old. My hair was cut in a severe chin length bob. I wore black and white saddle shoes that were meant to represent me as one who enjoyed ironic throwback fashion and was sort of into ska. My friend Val and I danced in our vintage pencil skirts. The crowd was young and rowdy and new wave. Someone was kicked out for smoking pot.

Elvis wore a suit and tie and his signature black framed glasses. His dark hair was shiny and slicked back. It was a grand performance. He played my favorite song, “Alison.”

I kissed a boy.

After the concert, Val and I sneaked into the bar at the Holiday Inn where we heard Mr. Costello was staying. We giggled as we watched him drinking beer at the bar. When we finally got the courage to say hello, he was kind. The night was magic.

Last Tuesday I saw Elvis Costello at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. He played alone on the stage with his guitar. I am 45 years old and my hair has been dyed to cover the gray. I wore a vaguely business casual ensemble with a colorful scarf to keep off the chill. I sat in my assigned seat and clapped appreciatively between songs. The crowd looked like the population of a 30 year high school class reunion. More than one of the men resembled Mr. Belvedere with a ponytail. Someone got kicked out for taking a picture with his i-phone.

Elvis wore a suit and a tie and his signature black framed glasses. His temples were graying and under his hat, a receding hairline. It was a grand performance. He played my favorite song, “Alison.”

I kissed my husband.

After the concert, Jeff and I talked and laughed on the long ride back home. When we got to the house, I tiptoed into the room of the little boy who had he been born a girl, might have been named Alison. The night was magic.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Much Explanation Do You Need, Really?

I sat still long enough to make a list of the 19 things that I need to get done before I wake up at 3:15am for my 6:10am flight. Bob took the opportunity to apply Scotch tape to the top half of my body. After he jammed the tape dispenser, he moved on to attacking the hanging light fixture with a foam sword.

I will only be away from home for a couple of days. I will miss this guy. Maybe not the tape so much.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Even Hutts Have Issues

Bob sat with MeeMee (my mom) as they looked at one of the Star Wars books that he had brought home from the library.

"Ol' Jabba the Hutt sure looks like he needs to go to the dentist with those teeth," said MeeMee.

Bob said, "Those aren't teeth, MeeMee. That's where he breathes through and he doesn't ever smile because he has to deal with the anger."

"Well I guess he must be pretty angry."

Bob thought for a moment and then held MeeMee's hands and placed her palms on his cheeks. He said, "I love you MeeMee and I sure would miss you if you died."

MeeMee kissed him on the forehead.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here, Now

I know each stage of Bob's childhood goes by quickly. I find myself in danger of being prematurely nostalgic for things that are still happening right now. Forgetting to sit in the moment, my mind will wander to somewhere in the future, missing these right now times already. When he was a baby the days were short, the sleeplessness night were long, all of it a blur. Now it all whizzes by. All of it.

There will come a melancholy rainy day when Bob will no longer wait for the first break in the clouds to put on his rain boots and go "Worm Rescuing." Today was not that day. Today we relocated seven "drowning" worms to the safety of the lawn. Lucky them. Lucky me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Mysterious Contractor

"So Mama, where is God at?"

"Well… he’s everywhere."

"But how is he doing? Is he doing okay?"

"I think he’s terrific."

"How do you know?"

"It’s part of his job."

"I think he’s busy building everything."

"That’s a good way to look at it."

"Because God really likes trucks."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Smacksy Sunday Link: Blood Platelets, Jimmy Stewart and Hedy Lamarr

Two weeks ago I donated blood platelets. Then last week, I did it again. Someone I know needed my platelets way more than I do. Before this process, I didn't know what platelet donation was, I could not use the word "platelet" in a sentence and was quite unaware that I even had platelets. I did know that there is a sweet boy from Bob's pre-school who recently had a bone marrow transplant and the tiny guy needs blood and he needs platelets.

I found out that the platelets in your blood are the little thingies that help your blood to clot. People who need platelets are generally those with cancer or who have had organ transplants. When donating, some of your blood is taken, the platelets are separated from your blood and then you get your blood back. It takes about two hours, it is beyond easy and it helps those in need, immensely.

I made an appointment and showed up at City of Hope. I filled out some paperwork and went through a quick intake process. I lay down in a recliner-ish type of thing, and got hooked up to a machine. While the machine did the work of removing blood from me and returning it, I hung out under a warm blanket and watched my own TV for an hour and a half. Along the way I intermittently squeezed a soft spongy ball, drank some water and swallowed a few calcium tablets. That's it. When I was done, I was given snacks. It was not exactly a spa experience but it's the closest I've been to it in quite some time. It was so simple. I encourage all of you to do it. Really. You should do it.

If you are in Southern California and would like to do a directed donation at City of Hope, specifically for Bob's friend, please contact me and I will give you his donation number. If you are not nearby, then wherever you are, there are those in need. The Red Cross is always looking for donations.

I spent my time in the chair watching a swell Jimmy Stewart, Hedy Lamarr movie from 1941, Come Live With Me. I adore Mr. Stewart and Ms. Lamarr is breathtakingly beautiful. The time sped by.

Friday, April 9, 2010

On the House

I think you’re either the kind of person that goes for all the free food samples at the market or you’re not. Given the chance, my husband could happily survive on the offerings from the product demonstration tables at Costco. I get unbearably self conscious walking by the Sample Bar at Trader Joe’s. I can’t even make eye contact with the guy in the Hawaiian shirt handing out the plastic shot glasses jammed with mushroom turnovers.

It was against my Gram Melva’s principals to snub a freebie. During a Mother’s Day weekend trip in 1997, my mom and Gram and I stayed at a lovely hotel in a seaside town. After a late lunch at a local Mexican cafe we were on our way back to our room when Gram noticed that there was an afternoon tea set up in the lobby. She stopped us as we headed to the elevator. “Where are you going?” Gram said.

“I want to lay down for a little bit.”

“But there are snacks down here,” said Gram.

“I know but aren’t you stuffed?”

“Yes, but we have to eat some,” she whispered, “it’s gratis.”

Even though I am genetically predisposed to going for the free stuff, the idea of taking it makes me nervous. On our recent trip up north, while Jeff and Bob were at the breakfast buffet, I sat at our table eying the basket of darling imported jams.

“Don’t these look good?” I asked Jeff when he returned.

“Take them with you.”


“Put them in your bag, you can have them at home.”

“Should I dump the ramekin of sugar packets in there too? Please, I can buy my own jam.”

“Just do it. For Gram.”

Two days later, we were back home. I opened the little jars of sweet contraband in our kitchen. Their contents were delicious and even better, they were gratis.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dental Hygene for Bad Guys

"Yes, Darth Vader has to take off his mask to brush his teeth... Why? Because Emperor Palpatine says so. Remove the mask, Mr. Vader or we can ask Daddy to help you."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Full Disclosure

When we were 19, one of my closest girlfriends was helping her parents clean out a dresser and came upon a wedding photo of a bride and groom, the bride was her mother, the groom was not her father. Shocked and confused, she asked her mom about it. Her mom said, “It didn’t matter.” It didn’t matter until right then when her daughter’s world was turned on its side for a while as she reorganized her understanding of her family.

Another girlfriend confided recently that she felt like she had already waited too long to tell her elementary school aged kids about her previous marriage. She knew she was going to tell them eventually and was worried that it would be hard for them to hear it now that they had friends whose parents were getting divorced.

I have two previous marriages behind me. I took the experience of my gals into consideration. I discussed it with Jeff. We decided the time had come for me to talk to Bob about it before the news could be interpreted as a secret being kept and revealed.

“Babba? Come sit down for a minute.”

“Okay… Did someone die?’

“No. Why would you ask that?”

“Are we having a talk?”

“Yes, but it’s not about anyone dying.”


“So Bob, sometimes when people get married the two people decide that it’s not a good fit and they get unmarried. It’s called a divorce.”

“I’m going to marry Daisy and Pearl.”

“When you’re old enough and you and the dog and the cat all decide to get married, we can discuss it. So what I want to tell you is that before I met Daddy I was married and unmarried - divorced, two times.”

“Did those guys die?”

“No they didn’t die. No one died. They are both good guys but not good matches for me so we were unmarried. Then I met Daddy. We are a good match and we are a family.”

“And you and daddy are staying married?”

“We are staying married. I just wanted you to know about my other marriages. Do you have any questions?”


“Sure honey, what is it?”

“Do you know I was kidding when I said I was going to marry Daisy and Pearl?”

“Good to know.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Expert Opinion

Jeff is sick. He’s sneezing, has a runny nose, a stuffy head, and a sore throat. At dinner this evening he coughed sneezed and tried to swallow simultaneously. The result was not good. He excused himself to the bathroom to recover. I was left at the table with our resident internal medicine specialist, Dr. Bob.

“Daddy’s whole mouth is broken. He’s going to need a cast on it.”

“A cast on his mouth?”

“Yes, Mama… that might be difficult.”


“We’ll have to use Scotch tape.”

“I think we should try it.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

It Was Serious Business

If you were any one of the six people sitting near us at church on Easter morning and you shook Bob's hand during the peace-be-with-you part of the service, you will recall that the exchange went exactly like this:

You said, "Peace be with you!" or you said,"Happy Easter!"

Bob shook your hand gravely and announced,"This morning I found eggs in my backyard."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Smacksy Easter Sunday Link: Eggs

Thanks to my friend Jennifer for passing along this amazing link. If you are sitting anywhere near a big pile of hard boiled eggs right now, this link will save you.

Wishing great joy to all of you who celebrate Easter and wishing great joy to all of you that don't.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Smacksy Saturday Photo: It's Here

I didn't realize until this moment arrived that I have been waiting for it since Bob was born: The First Noodle Necklace. He made it for Jeff. And it is glorious.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Forbidden Images

In my fading-into-the-distance-life as a TV producer, one of my job duties was discussing appropriate content with the folks in Standards and Practices at whatever network we were working with. Among other things, Standards deals with what a network deems appropriate content for air. Some of these rules are dictated by the FCC/Federal Communication Commission and others are a general mandate from networks depending on the show’s viewer demographic, time of day that the program will air, and script context, among other things. It is not an exact science so it all made for some interesting discussions.

In the early days of film, movie theater projectionists were instructed to edit movie scenes according to the local moral standards of the day. This lovely short film, reminiscent of the beautiful scene at the end of Cinema Paradiso, is comprised of the snips deemed too racy for the time. Forbidden Images was made for the 2007 72 Hour Film Festival in Frederick, Maryland. The footage used in it came from a reel of 35mm nitrate found in an old theater somewhere in Pennsylvania. Thanks to my friend Spider for sharing it.

It's shocking in its loveliness.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Do a Snow Wedding Trip by Bob

If you get to go a snow trip and your Cousin Kim is getting married at the snow then you get to go out of town to a state called Nevada but also you will be in the California state sometimes. There's a car and bus part too. The bus part is super and you get to be in a hotel with beds and a big donuts place at breakfast time.

Bring your Star Wars guys on the plane, mostly good guys but also a bad guy. Do not let the storm trooper guy near your peanut airplane snacks because he might steal them because he does a lot of bad behavior. You will meet the pilot and the co-pilot and get to see the pod they sit in with one hundred buttons and two steering wheels. A co-pilot is a helper pilot like Mrs. T is the helper teacher at my school.

You can sleep on your mom's lap through the wedding part of the wedding but when the eating part happens, your cousin Dan can show you how to make real snowballs out of snow and you can throw them at trees.

Then you can go on the snow part by the outside tables and make snowballs. You can throw snowballs on to the lunch part of the wedding because the people are outside so they like snow. When you hit ladies with snowballs it can make your mom say your name very loud and lots of people will do laughing. Your mom even will do laughing. Your dad will fall through snow in his church shoes so he can't come get you but he gets bossy and thinks the funny throwing is a bad idea.

Snow weddings are fun and if you get tired after everything you can do a suitcase ride and have relaxing. You should have a fun snow wedding if someone wants to take you over there.