Monday, May 16, 2011


At six a.m. on Sunday morning, I opened my eyes to a sun-filled room and a curly haired 5 year old telling me to get up. Why? Did she have the coffee brewing and blueberry muffins in the oven?  Had the blind dog been walked and my morning paper gathered?  Had the public radio station been turned on to my favorite morning jazz program? Had brunch reservations been made? Was there a clean towel placed on my favorite pool chair next to a mimosa and a good book?

No. Sunday was not Goddess Day; it was Mother's Day. 

I rolled out of bed, stepped over the piles of laundry, and put on an ill-fitting bathing suit. Casey pleaded with me for 20 minutes to take her in the car to rescue a stuffed cat with silky fur and big eyes from a horrible life at the mall.  I told her that we would go rescue the cat after she picked out 12 stuffed animals from her toy bin that she didn't love anymore so that we could deliver them to new owners.  I was told, " No way. Never Never Never. You are not my friend mommy."

She's right. I am not her friend. I am her mother. I am a goddess. Perhaps she is a goddess in training.  The stuffed cat continues to live at the mall.

After washing the dishes and watering the plants, I was relaxed. There is something therapeutic about running water that lets your mind drift to a needed vacation near a waterfall on a sparsely populated island. I was brought back to reality at the sight of my daughter showing off her prize catch, a baby snake.  "Mommy, mommy, look at my new friend!" she exclaimed. "Let's look for its mommy" she pleaded.  "Heavens no, put it back in the grass and let it find its own mommy!" I gasped.

The baby snake was placed in one of Casey's many habitats that inhabit our yard.  For the next hour we "competed" in our ritual swim races. I guess its the age: where kids want to compete at everything; they want to win; they want to win a prize; and they often gloat about winning even if they win unfairly and with help from us goddesses.

Mother's Day would not be the same if it came and went without a list of life lessons.

Well I had written a gem of a list in the draft stage of this post. Then, I became distracted and I deleted my post. 

I must have been half-heartedly enthusiastic about my list, otherwise I never would have allowed such a slip-up.  Maybe I'm tired of reiterating "life lessons."   Perhaps, this is why I have 3 books featuring mother/daughter relationships lying around my house, each half read.   Maybe my five year old is right to tune me out most of the time.

My thoughts drift to the greek goddesses.  Haven't we all, at one time or another, gone the way of Persephone and eaten pomegranate seeds offered to us by a representative of the underworld?  Will my daughter stray from my learned teachings and separate herself from my guidance. You bet she will.  Feasting on Hades' pomegranate seeds guaranteed that Persephone would be separated a third of every year from her mother. According to this Greek myth, this separation is the cause of winter as Persephone's mother, Demeter, the goddess of the harvest and fertility, refused to let the world flourish while her daughter was away.  Upon Persephone's return from Hades each year, Demeter allowed the world to be reborn in springtime. 

All this talk of goddesses excites me to read about Hestia, Aphrodite and Athena, and study the crossover between myth and reality. It is time to celebrate my inner goddess. 

So, I raced into my house and unearthed a box of "femcrit" books and some supermama reads. I found it, the book I would enjoy on my Mother's Day!

My mother's day is from this day forward, goddess day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

That's A Wrap

Take One, Scene One:

Two friends are seated at a kitchen table surfing eharmony, a website of dating hope that one friend has recently joined.
The joiner says: "Let's look at my matches. If nothing comes of it, at least I will have 90 days worth of laughs."
Non-joiner says: "What was the age range you put in? My God, if that guy is 45, I'm 70!"
Joiner says, "Look at this one, he lists his job as "pharmaceuticals," he's a drug dealer, next!"
Non-joiner says: "Well, here ...this guy seems normal, he is an architect."
Joiner says: "Are you kidding...he's making out with his dogs in every picture. I hate dogs. Okay, I did say I like pets on the site but this animal lover, no way!"
Non-joiner says: "Okay, this guy then, he is a wait he has tattoos all over his arm...he probably got his law degree while in prison.  Next."
Joiner says: "All right, let me show you the 2 guys I have decided to break the ice with...look at these two.
Non-joiner says: "Oh my God, no way get rid of them...they are ex-husbands of friends of mine...only in their dreams are they what they say they are. Lucky I'm here to screen these guys for you."

At that moment, the computer screen beamed, "Windows is Shutting Down."
End of Scene One

You may think that you saw this scene on tv, you may have.  I am sure it has happened an unimaginable amount of times.  The other night it played out in my kitchen with my best friend, "the joiner."

So often you hear people searching for their "soul mate."  Who coined that phrase? It has become a cliche. My friends need to stop searching for one, as a nice friendly chap will do as a start. 

I need to have my joiner friend come back over and watch my favorite tear jerker flick: Cinema Paradiso.

Young Salvatore falls in love, has his heart broken, and never really loves again. His eyes are opened at the film's end. The film's ending is the best I have ever seen.

Call me a naive romantic, but I love the way love is portrayed in the movies. Love is wondrous and love is torture.

My true love is Robert Redford. Of course it is. He is intelligent. He is a cowboy. He is a thespian. He is a philanthropist. He was and always will be Hubble Gardner. And, well, my name is Katie.

I think I have watched, "The Way We Were," at least 30 times.  Katie Morosky is an odd choice for Hubble which is why us ladies love it!  Katie M did start annoying me after my 20th viewing however, I keep forgiving her because of dialog such as this when she pleads with Hubble to stay:
HG: "You never give up, do you?
Katie: "Only when I'm absolutely forced to. But I'm a very good loser."
HG: "Better than I am."
Katie: "Well I've had more practice."

I bet most women have dated a Hubble Gardner. I was in love with one for three years until his candy coating wore off, exposing his true Charlie Sheeness.   I fled.

Us women love to talk about love. What could be better fodder?  Over the years I can recall some pretty sage advice that I have given myself and others.  I continue to develop this love laundry list:

1. Know your value.
2. Desire a loaf of bread and not crumbs.
3. Don't rescue or look to be rescued.
4. Let yourself be adored.
5. The movies are not always right.

Regarding the Fifth principle, a scene from my favorite Mother/Daughter drama: The Joy Luck Club,  proves my point.  After Suyvan's dinner party at which her cooked crab was featured, Suyvan says to her Chinese daughter,
"That bad crab, only you tried to take it. Everybody else want best quality. You, your thinking different. Waverly took best quality crab. You took worst, because you have the best quality heart. You have style, no one can teach."

Listen here, my eharmony joiner friend(s).  You have the best quality heart.  You have style no one can teach.  Take the good crab. You deserve quality.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where Are My Gold Shoes?

Today the sky is a dreamy blue.  A shade of blue that I have seen many times in children's picture books, in popsicles, gumballs and sheets of satin.

I wish if the sky fell it would just envelope me in its sweet, comforting blue hue.

The week has ended. A bittersweet conclusion.  My mom flew in for my daughter Casey's Spring Break.  With a "routine" break comes tender, sweet, funny moments and jittery, scattered, flip-outs.  The flip-outs are my short bursts of frustration where I cannot get my five year old to "do as I ask."

My mom's plane flew out last night. Casey spent the night at her dad's place and will return home soon. I am left with some waking hours of alone-time to let my brain and emotions melt into a pool of lumpy tapioca.   After this exercise, I will take my tapioca mindset and begin reconstituting it into a firm yet penetrable workable form.

Laundry is done, check. House is cleaned, check.  Dog is fed and walked, check. My yard is beautiful, thanks to my mom and Casey planting for days. . . Check Check Check!

The inventory of my surroundings is done so it is time to take stock of my thoughts.  Seeing Casey enjoy her Nonni all week and watching her behave splendidly for her brings me pause.

Mothers want the best for their daughters.  My mother sees the wonderful life that my daughter and I have.  She sees the beautiful relationship that Casey has with her father; one that I have worked hard to nourish and one which I continue to foster despite the sacrifices I make.  

Yet she wants me to be careful not to forget to nourish myself before all vigilantly create my own life irrespective of my pursue love...a love that will give me the adoration I deserve...perhaps the value I crave.

It is oftentimes lonely being a mother, having a child be so utterly dependent on you to know your way around the world.  It is especially lonely being a single, Alpha female raising an Alpha 5 year old female.  No matter how many "right" things you do as a parent, when you have lived your life in a driven, goal-oriented way, you see the "wrong" things you do in 3D.

But I must forgive myself for some of the lapses of "structure" I know that I need to provide my daughter in our home life: of going to bed at the same time, sleeping in our own beds, eating balanced meals at the table with no drawing pads and computers available. Yes I am guilty of cuddling up with my daughter on the couch during school nights and letting her drift off to sleep in my lap. Yes I am guilty of letting her sleep and wake up in my bed and letting her whisper softly to me each morning, "Mommy are you awake, look the day is here." Yes I am guilty of letting her draw while she eats and while I eat and write on my computer. 

But my daughter is not my life; she is the welcomed guide to my great life. Every day she grows and I grow. I teach her and she teaches me. She can do things better and so can I.  There are moments where I call her Veruca Salt; the spoiled girl who falls down the bad egg chute in pursuit of Wonka's golden egg, or Violet Beauregarde; the gum chomping take it and never leave it girl who turns into a giant Blueberry.   But there are countless moments where I call her my angel baby, a label the NICU nurses fittingly gave her at her birth.

Nearing Easter and having had my mom visit makes me think of my favorite children's book: The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes.

The Country Bunny is the main character in a story that has defined my life and undoubtedly the lives of many other adults who grew up reading this tale of courage, resourcefulness, fairness, and determination. 

 In 1939, DuBose Heyward, legendary author of Porgy and Bess, wrote this story for his daughter. The Country Bunny is about a little girl bunny with brown skin who believed that one day she would become an Easter Bunny.  Her dream was a long-shot given that only “big white bunnies who lived in fine houses” and male “Jack Rabbits” had historically become Easter Bunnies, coupled with the fact that she had 21 bunnies to raise.  But the Country Bunny had a kind and very wise fan. A grandfather of all Easter Bunnies believed in the Country Bunny and he gave her the hardest task of all, delivering an egg to an ill child on the highest mountaintop.  With the help of gold shoes, the Country Bunny succeeded and became an Easter Bunny, returning from her quest in time to bring Easter tidings to her own bunnies.

I know many Country Bunnies and they enrich my life.  I see my mom as a Country Bunny. I hope that in time my daughter sees me as one too. 

I just found my Gold Shoes and I went out to my car and with my beautiful nails chipping and scraping, I removed the numerous stickers that Casey had plastered on the 2 rear windows of our car.  Those stickers had traveled with us for months.  Despite not being Jewish, nice moms at school wished us Happy Hanukkah because of the many holiday stickers gracing my car windows.  It was time for me to reinforce needed boundaries.  

The glue was great on Casey's stickers. They put up a good fight but finally yielded to my efforts.  Our car windows now glisten.  All I needed was to focus and assert my Country Bunny Alpha mompower.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Many know that my bunny love fest is attributable to my grandfather whose nickname was Bunny. Our Silly Dilly store is bursting with bunny love now that our Bow Queen has loaded us up with custom bows for baskets and bonnets.

Here are some fun decorating tips to ring in Spring.

Doors and Entryways

Here is the wreath that we made for my front door!  Natural materials form the wreath and the straw bunny face. Kristin's beautiful custom bow uses burlap, high grade ribbon and bling. The added detail of the blinged feather on bunny's hat is perfect!  I have a beautiful frame around my front door and I always drape a seasonal garland to accentuate my holiday wreath.

You can opt for a smaller centerpiece on your front door like a vintage sign or our newly crafted Bunny Bonnets. We have taken straw bunny faces and adorned them with Kristin's bows.

Here is a rack of our Bunny Bonnets we placed in our store yesterday.

Here are some of the Bunny Bonnets up close:

Kristin's Ribbons are versatile. They have ribbon ties for tying onto baskets and a pin back so they can pin onto anything.

Inside Room Vignettes

Mantels and fireplaces are the focal point for your seasonal decorating. Here is my fireplace which I like to adorn with vintage seasonal images.

I also scatter seasonal pillows and create vignettes around the room.
Here is my mushroom vignette:

As I am a maniacal fan of Maileg danish design rabbits, xlarge bunnies hold court in my living room during the Spring. Here is Kristin our Ribbon Queen holding the new Spring '11 Cornelia Rabbit in our store. Cornelia is 3' tall and she sports a fabulous flower print romper and espadrilles!

Easter Baskets
The Easter Bunny's imagination is limitless when it comes to making and filling baskets. Each year, EB brings my daughter and me a themed basket. I usually get a basket of jewelry and hair accessories. 

Here is a Teacup Basket the EB likes to deliver. We have small teacup planters which can be filled with goodies or Alice in Wonderland treasures or a beautiful plant.

The EB also likes to use unusual containers for baskets. Pails for a Beach Basket; Felt Dinosaur and Pirate Baskets for Easter Day joy and year-round practicality; and fun canvas caddies like this one filled with Art Supplies.

Lately, I have been in love with all things Red Riding Hood. We have the cutest musical toy in the store with RED spinning around the belly of the cute hairy wolf. The song is appropriately Age of Aquarius from HAIR. 

I am in love with Piggy Story's new design Little Rosy Red which graces many new art products in our store, perfect for a Little Red Easter Basket.

And when you want to attend the Traditional Egg Hunt, go nostalgic and heirloom. Our Danish design, felt baskets, Fair Trade made in Nepal, are stunning for the Hunt.

Here is a basket with a custom ribbon:

At our house EB always hides our baskets. We receive a directional rhyme that leads us to our treasures.  This fun hunt was a tradition that a Mama Country EB started when I was a little girl.  

Have a wonderful Spring and do not forget to read my all-time favorite story:

The Moon Over Wonderland

Last night the moon was full and captivating. It was a Bella Luna; a Moonstruck moon. Every night Casey and I let Fiona outside for her evening frolick and we look for our moon. Casey, like plenty of us, is fascinated with the moon. Last summer when we were driving  through the rolling hills of CT at dusk, she whispered, "Mommy I am watching the moon. It is riding with us."

When looking at the moon, you can't help but be drawn into its glory and wonder who else is gazing at it at the same time. Are those other gazing eyes happy? Are they struggling? Are they diabolical? Are they pensive? Are they hopeful?

Moon gazing is grounding. It allows us to have a deeper connection to the rest of the world as it highlights our overall insignificance and significance.

With all of the current global happenings, it is difficult to not start your day each morning like Holly Hunter did in throwback movie "Broadcast News."  Her ritual each morning was to go into her office, sit down, engage in heavy sobbing, wipe the snot from her nose, and exclaim, "There, that felt good. I'm ready for my day."     

I do not begin my day sobbing at a desk, but I do typically begin my day in an intensely thoughtful, emotional way by giving mental affirmation and gratitude for every blessing that visits my life and the lives of others close to me, and wishing strength and compassion to all those in need.

It is imperative to channel hope and compassion in your life everyday. When I litigated discrimination cases, a job that required me to investigate, expose, and try to understand and remedy the behavioral flaws of men and women who harbored and acted upon ill will, ignorance and prejudice, I was given the privilege of meeting many, many people. Some I liked, some I loved, and some I disliked.

After years and years and thousands and thousands of hours of questioning people in such cases, one line of testimony from a company officer impacted me the most. He said that our species is "inherently flawed."  That premise has resonated with me for years and it will continue to do so.  I believe that that "flaw" is actually a purposeful design to make us a great species. We all have within us the ability to do good and to be kind and the capability to be mean and act selfishly.  We all act on these abilities every day; the only difference is the degree and extent of our acts.  It is our exercise of our gift of free will that defines how we live our lives. 

Acting upon hope and compassion for our "flawed species" gains the utmost importance  in view of our children and grandchildren. It is the children who are not corrupted by the challenges of life. When my daughter was drawing on the driveway with chalk, she found a dandelion. She squealed that we should blow the spores and make a wish. We blew and she yelled, "I wish that everyone has happiness in their heart."

My daughter is not growing up in a war ravaged nation. She is not living the tragedy that the Japanese children find themselves in.  She does not go hungry at night. She is not sleeping in a make-shift shelter. She knows not of physical or mental abuse. However, she sees kindness and unkindness at her young age, even if it pales in comparison to the horrors experienced today by other children.

It is that kindness and unkindness that I, as her parent, guardian and trustee, must diligently show her. Because she is 5, I use words like "grumpy bumpy" and "crabapple" to describe unkind behaviors, but I also stress that just because a person's behavior is bad, does not mean that that person is a bad person unworthy of compassion and forgiveness. The "grumpy bumpies" and "crabapples" are sad and misdirected and often need kindness and compassion. 

The lesson for my daughter is that "Class Equals Kindness." I do not care what your educational level or socioeconomic status is. People with class are kind. My goal is to raise a compassionate child and it is my obligation as a "flawed" adult to practice what I preach every day. It is us: the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents who are tasked with the privilege of illuminating the meaning of the Moon for all of our children living in each of our wonderlands.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Only Dogs Need Apply

My daughter has been carrying around this section of the newspaper for days now. She puts it in her Pre-K4 bag in the morning and takes it out at night. No day passes by without several pleas for this hamster.

We are a one dog household. We have Fiona, our Bull Terrier.
When Casey came home from the hospital, Fiona was ready to assume her duty as charge nurse.  The two were inseparable. Both of them came to my law office every day for one full year. Casey was a baby and Fiona was 2.

Fiona is the largest bull terrier I have ever owned. She is 75 lbs. of loving. She has the sweetest temperament, barks only when needed, and is grateful for simple pleasures and companionship. Too bad my marriage didn't have the same relationship qualities.

When Casey turned one, I started planning, researching and developing Silly Dilly Tot Spot. When Casey turned two, the website was launched. When Casey turned three, the retail store was opened. 

As I celebrated opening the retail store, Fiona was stricken with spontaneous glaucoma and within days, she went completely blind in one eye.  Her other eye had compromised vision. For one year, medicine helped ward off total blindness.

To help Casey understand Fiona's condition, I wrote this story Fiona and the Magical Skating Pond 

 Today you would never know that Fiona is blind. She walks around toys, and navigates new pathways around objects I have moved. My story is right. Fiona sees life with her heart.  Sure it is back-breaking to lift her into the car to go for a ride, but she loves the wind up her nose.  Sure it is a circus act to walk her with Casey while Casey insists upon holding the leash and collecting rocks and bugs.

One frosty morning, I almost lost it.  I finished my shower. It was still dark out. Fiona barked to go out. Okay, I thought...she has no problem walking into the front yard to do her business and returning inside.  I opened the door and stepped onto the porch.

Superdog leaped off of the porch, bolted through the yard and ran down the dark street. Clutching my towel, I ran after her, screaming for her to stop.   I saw in the distance that she had stopped to visit with a little teacup dog being walked by a very elderly gentleman.

When I reached them, the man nervously asked, "she's friendly right?"  I replied, "too friendly, so sorry." The man and teacup pooch left. Without a leash, I straddled my bruiser dog and marched her up the road. We gave a nod to a city worker and waved hello to our neighbor. Nothing new at our house. . . Me running in a towel after our blind dog on a winter morning...late for school again.

Fiona is turning eight and she still spins in the air when we come home.  I love hearing Casey imitate my voice, "hi Fiona, hi baaaaaaaby."  

Sure a hamster is a cool pet, but our dog is the greatest! 

Note to readers: This blog entry was written for the purpose of being read to my daughter in furtherance of my position that no additional pet: hamster, rabbit, cat, fish, etc...will live with my knowledge at our residence.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweat the Sweet Details: Spring is Springing

News just in from family in Connecticut . . .  the spring thaw is happening. Kids from all over New England will have eaten their last snowball.

My mom, donning her sidekick camera, will have to shelve her woolens. Thank God the hunters didn't mistake her for a bear on one of her daily winter photojournalist walks!

The first spring flowers to bloom up North are the daffodils and crocuses.
Sweet memories of these flowers randomly blooming in patches of lawns and woods propels me to run and check my Home Depot credit account to see if it will permit Casey and I to grab an enormous ride-on cart and fill it to the brim with delicious Zone 7 spring blooms.

My nails looked too good anyway. I swear that I have manually rottotilled my garden with my bare hands. I think my mother, sisters and I were purposely born with square feet so that we could get a strong foothold in the garden, allowing us to squat, bend, weed, plant, and water for hours. Despite my years of nicknaming our feet, grape-stompers, we all garden faithfully and competitively.  Damn my mother for sending me photos of her hillside of hostas and my sisters for their perfect rows of tulips. They can't match my dew drop tree canopy around my pool!  All of us love wine, but we never owned a vineyard and the closest we came to stomping grapes was watching the I Love Lucy episode where she and Ethel stomp grapes in a barrel.  So garden-stomping square feet is a more accurate label for our tootsies.

My love for Spring flowers has inspired us to create beautiful Spring Ribbons for our store customers to beautify and personalize Easter Baskets. When I say "us," I really mean our ribbon creator, "Ribbon Queen" Kristin. I merely ordered some of the ribbon from Denmark.

Kristin's tireless manicured hands lovingly and painstakingly create our beautiful Spring Ribbons. They are available in a variety of colorways and they can bear your childrens' names. The Spring Ribbons will tie onto baskets and they will also have a pin back so you can pin them on a frame or hat. Each Ribbon is unique. Have a look:

When you love doing something, you don't mind sweating the sweet details. Just ask our Ribbon Queen.