What’s Going On Around Here?

July 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas, Family

By: Danny Thomas

On Moving

I can’t…

My world is chaos.

This house….

I was remarking today, that it’s a good thing we picked the summertime to move…

I feel mostly good in the summer.

It’s good to be bolstered or buoyed by that…

Because moving this time…

This change is so big.

Such an emotional rollercoaster.

So many beautiful wonderful people.





Why the hell is this 20 year-old word processor sitting under my desk?

It has disks full of papers I wrote – that I thought meant something at the time I wrote them…

I’m not even sure if they mean anything.

I am not going to get around to everything I want to do in this place before I leave.

I am bound for some amazing adventures…

On Finley’s Birthday

My baby is two.

She is not a baby anymore.

She is a baby.

She’s the youngest.

All those things

That can’t be helped,

Keep happening.

She, like her big sister, is fierce.

And sturdy.

And tender.

And sensitive.

And just like me.

And nothing like me.

And it hurts.

And it’s wonderful.


His First Sleepover

June 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, Tosha Woronov

By: Tosha Woronov

When Leo was born I called and asked my aunt, whose own son must have been 25 at the time, “when was the last time you held Josh in your arms?” The question surprised her, but she got why I was asking. It had to do with the “remember every moment” sentiment that had been thrown at me a bit too often in my early weeks of motherhood. So here I was, cradling the phone and this infant, trying to do just that. My aunt and I pondered: when will be the Last Time that I hold this child? Will he be 6, having fallen asleep in the car on a road trip?…or maybe 8, as I carry him off the baseball field because he’s (god forbid) hurt?…perhaps 15, heart-broken over a girl (will he let me hold him then?)…

My aunt brings it up sometimes, that question from five years ago. She wants to be sure I remember to register the “Last Time” moments. Maybe the Last Times of her great-nephew will jog her memory of her son’s, like a vicarious walk down memory lane.

I don’t remember the Last Time I nursed Leo, but I do remember the second day after. He was almost a year old and he just quit. He wouldn’t latch on. Not interested. Finished. The day after that, after 24 hours of fretting, of thinking he was sick, I realized that he must be done with nursing. I cried. It was over but I didn’t know it would be over. I didn’t see it coming, and so I didn’t know it would be the Last Time. I didn’t pay attention, the moment passed, and that made me sad.

I couldn’t remember the Last Time he picked a yellow dandelion, but do know he was 2, and then 3, and we were getting a little irritated that he had to pick EVERY dandelion at the park, all 158 of them. We admitted to each other late one night, “I’m getting a little tired of the dandelion thing.” “I know! I have 3 ziploc bags of rotting dandelions in my car!” And then Leo stopped. I don’t remember when. He just didn’t do it anymore. But then the other day he handed me a dandelion as I fumbled with my keys at our front door. “Here Mom, this is for you.” I smiled, because he is sweet and because it hadn’t yet been the Last Time. I didn’t miss it.

I don’t remember the Last Time he told me I was beautiful, but I do know that, for the entire fourth year of his life, he said it every single time he saw my face. I know that I never tired of hearing it. Now I find myself asking him if my dress looks ok. He responds with a numb nod, both eyes directed at a Laker game.

I sort of remember the Last Time we kept count of VW bug cars. I know we got up to the twelve thousands (new Beetles are worth 1 point; convertibles -2 points; “old-school” bugs -3; and the mint-condition, shiny, orange old-school convertible we see around town -100). Not too long ago a cherry-red old-school passed us, and Leo didn’t call it out, although I know he saw it. I stopped myself from yelling “look, old school!” because I realized right then that he was taking some sort of a stand – an “I’m-All-Grown-Up-and-I-Don’t-Think-It’s-Fun-to-Count-Bug-Cars-Anymore” stand.

I do remember the Last Time he kissed me. It was 6 hours ago, as I prepared to leave him at his cousin’s house for his first ever sleepover. Until this week, he wasn’t emotionally prepared to spend the night at a friend’s. His feelings on the issue were clear: “I am not ready yet. I will miss you too much at bedtime.” But apparently his concerns ceased by Tuesday when he announced the opposite: “I want to spend the night at Zach’s. I won’t be nervous at all.”

And so this afternoon, very much aware that I was in the midst of a Last Time, I kissed him goodbye. I did it again and again, and he pushed away from me, annoyed but laughing, “Mom stop! I kissed you already!” I walked back to my car alone, stopping at the curb to pluck a dandelion growing there.


Death and Ladybugs

March 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman


Last night, when I opened the door to greet my daughter as she arrived home from school she looked up at me and said, “When our friends and family members die, my heart will break open.”

She is five and a half going on thirty.  Part Hello Kitty, part Sarah Bernhardt.  She is devastatingly sad and ragingly angry and her heart (broken or not) is huge and juicy and filled with passion.  She is clearly the child of my womb.

I moved aside, to let her walk into the house.

“Did something happen to make you sad?”  I asked.

“Just thinking about death,” she replied, skipping into the dining room and doing a little twirl.  “Look what I’ve got.”

She held out a white paper tub.  Beneath a circle of mesh on the lid a mass of small black bodies moved together — shiny black legs and abdomens and an occasional flash of enameled red wings.

“Ladybugs!  They’re ready for an aphid buffet.”

As Sadie made plans to set the ladybugs free in our cauliflower bed where they would decimate the population of aphids, I went back to stirring the risotto on the stove.  My kids have been to several funerals and memorial services.  They are interested in cemeteries and know what a casket is for.  Sadie will often tell people that we have three pets and three graves, which, though slightly disconcerting, is true.  We’ve lost an old cat, a hamster and a fish and we’ve still got an old cat, a hamster and a fish, so chances are this loss is not going to stop.

My dad died just over seven years ago.  When Sadie was three she could not stop asking, “So your Dad is dead, right?”  At first this question brought tears to my eyes, but after awhile, I kept answering and answering and it opened the way to a lot of long conversations.

“Yes, my Dad is dead,” I said.  And Sadie and her brother wondered what happened next.  We talked about heaven and reincarnation and the possibility that this life, here and now, is all we’ve got.  Theo likes the idea of heaven because he wants to know he will continue to move around and Sadie hopes there are angels because they have beautiful wings.  We talked about how dinosaurs might be reincarnated into people, but how they most likely evolved into birds.  We all think it’s nice to imagine that there is a kind of observatory where our loved ones can train telescopes on our lives and gaze at us for a few minutes.

The risotto finished cooking, my son hopped out of the bath and Sadie returned from the garden smiling.  She’d tipped out her little bucket of live things and now she was set on making a necklace for the cat.  Sometimes the workings of her mind are so fluid, it’s hard to keep up.  My dad was this way.  I hope he’s watching.


Peter Pan & Me

February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas

By: Danny Thomas

peter 2

I have come to realize that one of the hardest things about being a dad, for me, is that sometimes I have to be Mr. Darling; sometimes I have to throw Nana out of the nursery and ask that my children grow up. And even worse, sometimes I have to ask my children to accept “truths” and “realities” as a function of existing in society. I hate this.

Anyone who knows me well knows that this is counter to my nature, philosophically and practically.  I am a knee jerk agnostic; it is my reflex to question anything I “know” to be “true.” One of my father’s biggest sources of pride is having raised a couple of iconoclasts who are not interested in maintaining the status quo. I have the goal, as a father, to honor that tradition and raise children who are, at the very least, mindful of their assumptions.

Growing up, the fictional characters I related to the most were Pooh, Tigger, and The Incredible Hulk. But Peter Pan, for me went beyond a fictional character; he was my myth, my personal icon, a spirit guide if you will. Obviously as I grew, I came to realize that the romantic idealization of youth can be a deadly trap. At the same time I still can’t let go of the notion that there is something of value to letting yourself believe in magic, letting yourself believe in pixie dust and Neverland. Over the years I have maintained and nurtured my connection to Peter Pan’s rascal spirit.  It has grown to be an appreciation and reverence to what is unexplainable. It is faith, of a sort. Believing in the fantastic is part of the fabric of my character. I will always clap for Tinkerbell.

So it’s hard giving up the role of Peter Pan, but I can live with occasionally being Captain Hook, because while Captain Hook is a bad guy – he still gets to play, he exists in Neverland, in this world of imagination. So I can almost tell myself I am playing the bad guy, that this “time out” or that confiscated toy is a sporting kind of discipline. What really kills me is when the role of Mr. Darling is required.

Mr. Darling rejects imagination as “poppycock.” Mr. Darling is the end of imagination, the end of play. Mr. Darling says it’s time to “grow up.” He rejects the fantastic…and on top of that he treats Nana like a… dog!

But sometimes, it seems, the games go too far, the pretending gets dangerous, or scary, and sometimes we just need a break from our imagination…

And that’s when it’s my job as a parent to don the Mr. Darling sports coat and top hat and decide what is real, or what the truth is for my kids – that is a terrifying responsibility.

As hard as that is for me to swallow, it is another example of something I’m learning while being a father, but it’s comforting to know I’ve always got a little “something” up my sleeve.


Repeat After Me

February 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Ann Brown

By: Ann Brown

Ann Brown

I need a couple of volunteers. I have a few theories I want to test.

I have a tendency towards the letters “f” and “s” and “asshole” in conversation and I did not clean up my language when I had kids. Oh, I tried but, honestly, when you walk by your four year-old’s bedroom and see him with the dog’s tail in one hand and a greased up thermometer in the other, the only suitable response is, “what the FUCK is going on in here????”  And when your four year old says to you, “the dog has a little fever but she still has to go to school today”, which means that – for one thing – you are never, ever, ever going to use that thermometer again, any response other than, “are you fucking SHITTING me?” is not going to cut it. And when he tells you that he’s been taking the dog’s temperature every day for the past week and you know for a fact that you put that thermometer in your mouth, IN YOUR MOUTH, only yesterday because you wanted to find out just how hot, exactly, a menopausal hot flash was, well, there aren’t enough “fuck”s and “goddamn”s and “holy shit”s in the dictionary to express your concern.

So my kids were raised in an “R” rated home, language-wise. Well, also nudity-wise, I guess, since we are not a bathrobe kind of family but that worked itself out once my sons were old enough to realize that they’d rather poke their eyeballs out with blunt ice picks than catch a glimpse of me darting nekked from the bathroom to the bedroom.

I averaged about two dozen bad words a day when my kids were little. They were mortified by the descriptive language I used. One year, when my older son was in college he brought a girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner and after hearing me tell a story that was basically a Mad Libs of bad words with the occasional verb and noun thrown in, he said to his girlfriend, “so, judging by their language, guess which parent is the construction worker and which one is the preschool teacher?”

My children preferred the King’s English to potty talk. That cannot be coincidence.

So here’s my theory:

If one raises children in a home full of naughty words, the children will grow up to avoid that kind of language. I believe the reverse corollary is true, as well, because I have this one anecdote to support me.

The harshest thing my friend Alicia says in front of her kids is, “Holy Crackers!” and her three-year-old came up with “oh, for fuck’s sake” when faced with a particularly challenging puzzle at preschool last year. I rest my case.

My theory worked with my own two kids but I need more data. So if any of you have children under the age of, say, two, I could use a favor. Please use at least two dozen bad words a day with them. Begin today and get back to me in twenty years.

I have a really good feeling about this.


The Truth About Lying

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Ann Brown

By: Ann Brown

The wine was left untouched at parenting group this week. I don’t think that has ever happened. And it isn’t because I bought the $3.95 bottle of Shiraz because, frankly, this group isn’t particularly discriminating. I could put out soy sauce in a decanter and they’d drink it up.

No, the reason there was no drinking is because the discussion topic captured everyone’s attention. Evidently, there is an epidemic of lying going around the world. Well, not around the world. Well, maybe around the world. I have no idea, I mostly make shit up, but there was a strong interest in the subject of children and their lies the other evening.

I asked the group to share the biggest lies they made up when they were kids, and if they learned anything from the lying incidents. Their answers will crack you up, but this is my blog so here’s my story:
When I was in third grade, our class had a savings account at the local bank. The details are sketchy (maybe that’s the way our teacher wanted it?) but I remember that we had to bring in 50 cents every week in one of those envelopes that had a button and a long string that you wound around and around the button to secure the envelope. The teacher collected our envelopes and put them in her desk drawer, saying she’d go the bank and deposit the lucre in our class account.

Hold on. I am having a hard time finishing this story because it is slowly dawning on me that we never did have the party the teacher promised us we’d have. In fact, we never saw the fruits of our savings. In fact, we never saw our teacher after April…..

Oh God. I can’t get stuck on this. Must. Continue.

So, one Monday I forgot my money. I sweated through the Pledge of Allegiance, knowing that money collection (which I will now call “the shakedown”) was next. When the teacher called my name I walked up to her desk and whispered, “I don’t have my money.”

She wasn’t a scary woman. This wasn’t the third grade teacher from across the hall, Cruella de Ville, who made the kids line up according to height,the daily mortification of tall girls and short boys. No, my teacher was lovely. Sweet. She looked just like Jackie Kennedy to me.

“What happened, Ann? It isn’t like you to forget your money.” Mrs. Jackie Kennedy asked me.
(Note to self: was that a jab at my being Jewish? Research statute of limitations on hate crimes)
The lie burst out of my mouth without warning. “I was at the hospital last night.”
Uh-oh. Where the hell was I going to go with that opener?
“My mom….has….polio.”

Mrs. Jackie Kennedy put her hand over her mouth and gasped. At the time, I thought I had really hit the jackpot with that lie. Even my teacher was silenced. In retrospect, perhaps she was simply appalled at the fact that I was such an ignoramus not to know polio had been eradicated. I mean, what the hell did I think the blue dot on the sugar cube – the blue which we all called THE POLIO VACCINE – was?

I don’t remember much else. Only that my story included iron lungs and outdoor swings and, I think, a musical scene from “Pennies From Heaven”. By the end, I was covered in flop sweat. I think I might have actually contracted polio.

Well, of course, I was busted. Of course, the teacher called the Principal, who called my mom (after he called the Centers for Disease Control) and of course, I had to face Mrs. Jacky Kennedy and tell her the truth.
And of course, it taught me a valuable lesson.
It taught me that polio was eradicated in 1959.

Ann Brown- Dr. Strangemom


You Can't Judge A Penis By A Grande On Christmas Morning

December 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Ann Brown

By: Ann Brown
The line at Starbucks on Christmas morning was long. The talk was lively. And the topic was hysterectomies. At least, that’s what I talked about with the nice lady in front of me.
Maybe it was the Christmas spirit, or the bonhomie of a crowded Starbucks on a winter’s day, or the power of sisterhood but the conversation skirted the small talk and moved along quickly. It went something like this:
Me: (smiling benignly) Wow, long line.
She: I have to have a hysterectomy.
Awkward silence. I attempted to normalize the conversation once more.
Me: Wow, really long line.
She: If they take your cervix out, you can’t have orgasms during intercourse anymore.
I was at a loss for a response. Another stab at “wow, long line” just wasn’t gonna cut it after that intriguing fact.
But was it a fact? Here is where I am suddenly remorseful that I made fun of my sister a few blog posts back because she only recently learned where the hymen is located. Because although I am quite familiar with the general whereabouts of my cervix, and I can say, with more than a modicum of gratuitous pride, that I have dilated mine – twice – to the size where an actual person’s head squeezed through, I was surprised that a cervix is involved in an orgasm. I mean, isn’t the cervix waaay up there? Like, in Canada?
Wow. My first thought was to congratulate my new friend on the length of her husband’s weener.
“Good for you, honey!” I wanted to say.
But then I worried that I’d be casting aspersions on the length of my husband’s weener. And even though Robin wasn’t there, even though he was innocently waiting for me in the car listening to NPR, even though his weener is perfectly fine, what if when Cervix Woman walked out of Starbucks and saw me get into the car with Robin, she smirked or made a “oh, poor you, with the short penis” gesture at him? How would I explain that to Robin? It’s bad enough that he lives with the paranoia that I talk about him all the time in parenting group, now I am telling perfect strangers in line at Starbucks, ON CHRISTMAS DAY, the day Jesus was born, that I could go with or without a cervix because, uh (and I’d lean in closer here), well, my husband’s weener doesn’t reach there. What if she thought I was complaining, that I was trying to tell her that Robin is alarmingly unendowed, what if she goes home thinking that he and I just bump flat surfaces around down there for fifteen minutes or so and then call it a night?
Robin would totally not be down with that. He might even begin reading my blog, just to check. And that would definitely affect my writing mojo. (In my defense, I did show him the first few posts when I started out a few months ago, just to make sure he was cool with what I was writing but he perused about three sentences, said to me, “are there ever going to be any car chases or anything in this?” and when I told him no, he deleted “drstrangemom” from his Favorites.)
Still, there were questions to be asked about the cervix/orgasm issue.
Unfortunately, however, they will remain forever unanswered because at that very moment my new friend’s lattes (nonfat with two Splendas for her husband, cocoa for her; I heard her order) were ready and she high-tailed it outta there. Rushing home to her foot-long man, no doubt, to get the most use out of her cervix while she still had it. And maybe have him clean out her sinuses and wax her eyebrows while he was up there.
I climbed back into the car and handed Robin his grande double bold drip.
Double bold.
Yeah. You heard me.

Ann Brown


The Holidays, Part 2: My Big Idea

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Ann Brown

By: Ann Brown


Last post, I theorized that Mother Mary got more than the baby Jesus that miraculous Christmas eve; she also probably got her first hemorrhoid. And I think that even the most devout woman who has ever pushed a watermelon through a turtleneck would not be offended by my ramblings. So I feel fairly safe that that post isn’t going to keep me out of Heaven.
But this one will.
I’ve been seeing commercials for the Disney Holiday on Ice shows lately and it has got me thinking. I imagine when Disney runs out of ways to suck our money into every merchandising crime possible, they turn to each other, rub their palms together and mouth the magic words, ” On Ice”.
And they high-five each other and the skies open forth and rain money on their hair plugs.
Well, I could use some money right about now so I am going to play their game. A Hanukkah on Ice show? Too cloying. I can just see it now -Dick Button carrying nine skaters on his arms, each with a candle on his head while Neil Diamond sings something vaguely Jewish-sounding. No thanks.
I’m going new school with this idea.
Dr. Strangemom presents:
Anne Frank On Ice.
Can’t you just see it? The brown-shirted SS goose-stepping and double Lutz-ing their way around the rink ghetto (Brian Boitano will be the show-off standout lead Nazi because he can triple-Lutz). Sascha Cohen or that other Jewish skater will play Anne (yeah, it’s typecasting but that’s how I roll) and Michelle Kwan will steal the show as Miep (the real hero. And I worship Michelle Kwan. I wanted to name my beloved dog, Molly, Michelle Kwan because I adopted her – the dog – on the day MK dropped out of the Olympics. Plus, I thought it would be such a trip to be able to say to people, “hey, I gotta go crack open a window. I got Michelle Kwan in the back of my car” or ” Dammit, Michelle Kwan peed on the living room rug again so I hit her on the snoot with a newspaper”).
Johnny Wier will be Peter but when it’s time for Anne and Peter to kiss, he can step back and Elvis Stojko will take over because Stojko kissing Kwan is money in the bank.
That Canadian couple – Whatsername and Whatshisname -will play the Van Daams, the couple who lived with the Franks up in the attic. Although Whatshername is gonna have to gain a few pounds but I can give her some pointers in that.
Evan Lysacek (isn’t he that dark-haired tall drink of water?) can be the Nazi who discovers the Jews in the attic. Evan placed only second in the Grand Prix final this year so can use his anger to be more believable in the role.
I feel bad that I have no part for Scott Hamilton because he’s been through so much.
Hitler, natch’, will be played by Katarina Witt. I love her, but let’s be fair. She owes it to my people.
Okay, then.
See you in Hell.



My One And Only

November 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Tosha Woronov

By: Tosha Woronov
Tosh and Leo

We are not having any more kids. We are stopping at one. Leo will be -barring some change of heart, mind, plan – an Only Child.

The decision has been made and yet…the discussion won’t stop.

Here are the conversations I have been having -

-with my husband:
me: I am just so afraid we are doing a disservice to him.
him: We’re not. He’s awesome. We’re awesome.
me: I don’t want him to be lonely.
him: He won’t be. I promise. He won’t be.
(long silence)
him again: We are three.

-with Leo:
him: Please give me a baby brother mommy. I promise I will take care of him.
me: I know you would, honey, but I need you to understand that the baby would be tiny, and you will not be able to play baseball with him for like, 5 years.
him: I know that. I would take care of him until I can play baseball with him.
me: Do you realize that daddy might not be able to pitch to you as much, because he will be taking care of the baby?
him: Then you can pitch to me.
me: But I might be making the baby’s bottle or something.
(long silence)
me again: See, Daddy and I think this works so well, just the three of us. We like having just you. We like that we get to spend more time with just you.
him: Ok, I don’t want a baby brother anymore.

-with his family:
them: You really don’t think you’ll have any more? I am so surprised! Is this how Peter feels too?
me: He’s actually more sure than I am.
another of them: I just want to announce to everyone that, in the spring, we are going to start trying for a second!

-with my family:
them: oh, just have another one!
them: you won’t regret it.
them: trust me.

-with friends:
me: I just feel guilty that Leo will be alone.
them: You don’t have a craving to get pregnant?
me: Oh, god, not at all.
them: Then don’t give it another thought. I just want to be pregnant again so badly.

-with acquaintances/strangers:
them: Are you guys having any more?
me: I don’t think so. I think we’re done.
them: That is sooo interesting.
them again: But look how gentle he is with her! How could you not give him a baby sister?

-with myself:
me, me, me: what is wrong with me? Why don’t I have the urge? I am defective. That’s crazy, I have a child! Why is one not enough? He is incredible, a miracle. I could never love another child as much as I love him. But people do, you know they do. What am I going to do when he doesn’t need me any more? What if I suffocate him? Our love, all on just him, that’s too much pressure. But another baby would kill us, break us. What if he needs it? Are we selfish? We can be three and happy or – god -four and divorced. They seem so stressed out, so exhausted. We have an easy flow, the three of us. I love our little team. But their kids have each other. Leo is all alone. I am the worst mother in the world. Oh my god, the cost of preschool for 2 kids! How do people do it? I’m sure Peter would want another one if I had been better at it the first time. Why don’t I want another one? What is wrong with me? I cannot believe Leo will be an Only Child. I cannot imagine another soul taking root in my heart. I wish I had the answer.



October 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Tosha Woronov

By: Tosha Woronov

I took my baby to the park the other day to fly a kite.
A kite!
Watch his smile just BLOOM.
His hair blowing, head tilted back as far as it can possibly go.
Neither one of us can believe it.
I feel the wind’s strength in the kite string, tugging as much on my heart.
Look how beautiful it is!
That random / Winnie-and-Tigger / purchased-at-Rite-Aid / sitting-in-the-trunk-of-my-car-for-2-years-KITE!

It’s almost – almost -the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.