Archive | September, 2011

Best. Party. Evah.

30 Sep

It’s a week in coming, but I finally have a chance to post a few pics and video from Blake Dean’s rad, thrashin’ 0-3 birthday party last Friday. Special thanks to Skatedogs‘ Adam Cohen and cute-as-hell helper Dylan for giving the munchkins the time of their lives.

BD representin'

Blake "Crash" Fantin

Skateboard cookies, courtesy of Sweet Jills

Even hardcore skaters need a cookie break!

Best time ever- can’t wait til next year.


*Above pics courtesy of Doug Kline at


Suburbs 4VR!

30 Sep

Rolling in the grass instead of seeing dead bodies roll down the alley = fabulous!

So – we officially began living in our new house on Monday night. Since then I have decided I never. ever. ever. want to leave.

We fell asleep to the sound of crickets, rather than cop cars. We threw away our garbage, and it actually stayed in the bin … the entire night long. I didn’t even have to use a bull horn to scare people away from our window. Best thing ever!

Romeo, Blake's new best friend

The monkeys got to roll around in the yard. Blake met a new best friend, Romeo (the kitty from next door). Rhett learned that grass is tickle-y to lie on. My husband relaxed for the first time in five years.

Welcome to our civilized neighborhood!

People said hello when they walked by. Kids rode by on bikes and skateboards. (Yes – the wheels I heard were actually skateboards, instead of shopping carts). Am I dreaming??? I love it here!

"Rhett on Grass" - a portrait

I don’t want to knock urban living completely. We loved 1724 for awhile. We loved being a block from the beach. And seeing movies and TV shows filmed at all hours. And walking to our favorite bars and restaurants. We even loved our actual condo a little bit. But at this point in our lives, we’re just not cut out for urban life.

The suburbs. Where Fun = taking pictures of ourselves in front of the walk-in closet.

I know it’s antithetical to my youthful days of giving the bird to authority and scaring old people. But here’s to the suburbs! Please don’t ever make me leave.


B’s thrashin’ skateboard mix

22 Sep

Skatin' to the (punk rock) oldies

For anyone else who loves toddler skateboard music … the following is what we’ll be listening to at Blake’s thrashin’ skateboard party this Friday. Posting for posterity:)

Beck – Timebomb
Rancid – Roots Radical
The Fratellis – Flathead
Bad Religion – Los Angeles is Burning
Blink 182 – Every Time I Look for You
Screeching Weasel – Cindy’s on Methadone
Mike Ness – Don’t Think Twice
Jawbreaker – Boxcar
Hey Mercedes – Eleven to Your Seven
Social Distortion – Highway 101
The Pretenders – Popstar
Brigitte Bardot – Moi je Joue
X – I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Youth Brigade – Sink with Kalifornia
Blink 182 – First Date
Elvis Costello – What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding
Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl
Lady Gaga – Telephone
Blink 182 – Roller Coaster
Lucero – Tears Don’t Matter Much
Misfits – I Turned Into a Martian
Blink 182 – Rock Show
Rainer Maria – Ears Ring
Screeching Weasel – Falling Apart
Pretenders – Stop Your Sobbing
Sleater Kinney – Entertain
Stray Cats – Rock this Town
X – The World’s a Mess – It’s In My Kiss
MIA – Paper Planes
Oasis – Wonderwall

Yeah – probably a few too many Blink 182 songs … but nothing says toddler skateboard party like Blink. Oh, and not to sound like a lawyer, but as far as I know, these are the “clean” versions of the above songs. Or at least the cleanest.

I am pretty sure Hollaback Girl is Blake’s fave song on the mix. I’ll have to mark that in the memory book in case he tries to deny it when he turns 16.

xoxo! My baby is about to turn 3!

Mr. Suck: Protecting you from sucky people everywhere

19 Sep

"When you see it, you'll know quick: Things marked SUCK will make you sick."

OK – I totally lied. This is my last vent session.

Awhile back, I thought about starting a series of stickers that people (i.e. friendly, non-knife-throwing, law-abiding people) could hand out in order to peacefully protest the sucky-ness that seems to be invading our society. They would be modeled on the poison control stickers known as “Mr. Yuk” that were popular when I was a little girl.

In my naive, Pisces mind, I truly envisioned being able to hand over a Mr. Suck sticker to the rude person in question, and having that person completely change their perspective on their behavior. Not realistic, I know. But it’s nice to think that there is a peaceful way to protest someone’s bad values or lack of integrity without having to raise your voice, or even address the person personally. Just hand them the sticker and be on your way – content in the fact that now they know they’ve behaved badly.

Anyway, after a few too many sucky experiences this week, I decided to revisit my idea. Meet Mr. Suck – armed and ready to protect you from sucky people everywhere. Just peel and stick, and we’ll know quick: Mr. SUCK will make you sick.


As a side note: I learned just recently that the Mr. Yuk poison control label my mama had faithfully pasted to our rotary wall phone when we were kids was in fact designed in Pittsburgh. Check out the Mr Yuk song if you feel like reliving your past.

Forget 90210 … my dream home is in the 15668

7 Sep

4291 Sardis Road a la 1956-ish. Major amenities include: Churches handy!

Same house circa 2008. Just add trees

I have a few secret wishes in life. One is that my grandfather will sell me his house in Murrysville, and that I can raise my boys in the same woodsy home I used to play in growing up. While sorting through [more and more] boxes in preparation for our move, I found the original MLS listing for the house. Talk about a bargain at $15,750. (Note the scribbles in the top corner:I’m guessing they are calculations on income/monthly payments.)

As an editor, I would want to fix the grammatical error on this sign. As a granddaughter, I would let it go.

My brother and I spent many a weekend under our grandparents’ heels in this little home. We had sleep-outs and cook-outs on the patio. Ice-skated (or in my case, fell on my butt) on the neighboring lake. We watched toads splash into the pond on the hill. Listened to bullfrogs while catching lightning bugs and spotting daddy-long-legs on the porch. Swung in the swing my grandfather made for us. Pulled onions and tomatoes from my grandmother’s garden. We loved every minute of the time we spent there. And now that I’m older, I can only dream of doing those things with my own boys.

The bridged driveway

Most kids probably dream of buying their childhood home, rather than their grandparents’. The truth is that my brother and I moved quite a few times  growing up. My grandparents’ home gave us stability, not to mention a lot of warmth and love. As soon as we crossed the bridge from the road to the driveway, I felt safe. (I also felt a little queasy, as the bridge is extremely narrow, and I was always worried about falling over the guard rails.)

A lake. For Blake.

Living in California, we’ve gotten used to living in crowded cities and smaller spaces. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to have snow (or “weather” of any kind, really). We have no idea what it would be like to mow two acres of grass … most of which lies precipitously on a heavily angled hill. But if the chance ever comes up, I’d love to give it a try. (To be more accurate, I’d love to try calling someone to mow it for me.)

Me with Blake Dean and his great-grandfather circa spring 2009

My grandfather is a stubborn man. I doubt he’ll ever be willing to part with this home, and when he does, he says it should be torn down so something bigger and better can be built in its place. In my opinion, it would be impossible to build something “better” than what already exists there. Here’s to hoping that stubborn old guy realizes it, and that [when he’s finally willing to part with it] this sweet little home goes back on the market one last time.


My dream = sleep-outs on the porch with the boys.

Girl crush redux

5 Sep

"You left me nothing ..." - painting by Clint Stalnaker

So – before I hit the Liz Phair/Aimee Mann show in Saratoga, I briefly touched upon my 15+year love affair with Liz Phair. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, and I recently found a few that accurately reflect my love for the lovely Liz, a la the mid 1990s.

The above is a jacket my brother painted for me in high school with the cover of Liz’s album “Exile in Guyville.” I’m not sure it was finished in this pic, but in the end there was a text overlay that read “You left me nothing …” – a line from “Johnny Sunshine,” one of my fave Liz Phair songs. Since I was 5 feet tall, and weighed about 80 pounds, the man-sized motorcycle jacket was ridiculously large on me. But even in my ridiculous-ness I felt proud to wear it … daily … even in 90+degree Pittsburgh heat.

When crush turns to obsession: I'm pretty sure I had this hanging on my wall. At work.

I had a friend in high school, Dan Piser, who was equally obsessed with Liz, and we doted on her in whatever way it was possible to dote on a star back in the 1990s. We didn’t have the internet, and I’m pretty sure neither one of us had our own computers. But somehow Dan created this beautiful testament of our love: a picture of Liz embracing me, which I hung on my wall through at least my first year of college. Because, you know, it’s totally normal to hang a picture like this on your wall when you’re in love [er, obsessed] with a certain singer.

Another jacket by my brother: Minor Threat. I had a major crush, of the boy kind, on Ian.

On another note, the Liz jacket reminded me of another jacket my brother did – for himself – of Minor Threat. They were another obsession of mine in high school. And if I were 6’2 like my brother, I would have probably tried to steal this jacket for myself as well.

Anyway, a short walk down memory lane care of a box full of old pictures and an ueber-talented brother that helped bring my crushes to life.


“That woman, over there, in the mirror, is me …”

4 Sep

Those who know me are aware that my mom died from Multiple Sclerosis when she was 48. There are folks who are relatively “lucky” when it comes to MS – having a few episodes every year or so, but generally able to lead a normal life. My mom wasn’t one of them. She was diagnosed when I was 10, but by the time I was in grad school she was spending most of her time in a wheelchair. She went from a vibrant woman, dancing with her sister on the weekends (when I was in high school) to a woman who couldn’t even stand on her own – someone even she didn’t recognize.

I hated talking to my mom about her being sick. I was terrible at accepting it or acknowledging that she was struggling. Being super strong, she didn’t really talk about it much either. She just accepted it and powered through, no matter how hard it was. And she was always there for me, no matter how sick she felt.

Being a mom now, I can understand how parents do that. You don’t want to show your children you are having a hard time. You want to be strong for them. You want to be the mom, no matter how much you need a mom yourself.

While sorting through boxes today, I found a poem my mom wrote not long before she died. I believed then, and still do, and that she knew it was coming. And from this poem it is clear that she was still having a hard time – as did I – making sense of the “her” that still thrived inside of her, and the one her body was representing. I have read this poem before, but it hits me like the first time each time I find it.


“So he doesn’t pee on his face …” [wise words from my mama from beyond the grave …]

3 Sep

So – as we’re getting ready to move, we’ve been sorting through lots of old books and mementos, one of which happened to be my mom’s old bible. As I flipped through, I found a hand-written note dated Easter 1978, with instructions for the baby sitter on how to care for us while my parents were out. I would have been just past 1 year old then, and my mom would have been a ripe 22. These are her instructions – many of which ring true today. Thanks, mama. You made me smile today.

"If she fusses and won't eat, give her cereal to shut her up." That advice would ring true for me to this day. :)

Being knee deep in potty training with Blake, I found my mom’s advice on my brother’s potty time to ring true. “Hold his pee-er down so he doesn’t pee on his face.” I have, in fact, seen this happen before learning the hard way otherwise. *So* wish my mom had been here to offer that advice a few months ago. (I’m also super fond of, “If she’s fussy, throw her in bed.”)

"Hold his pee-er down so he doesn't pee on his face ..."

In addition, I’d like to point out that I was probably in my 20s before I stopped associating the word “pee-er” with “peer” – as in “a group of peers.” I’m still not sure what to call it so Blake doesn’t have the same problem.

Anyway – my smile for the day, care of my mama in heaven.


Easy, baby

2 Sep

Rhett "Easy Baby" Fantin

When I first had Blake, people would ask me if he was an “easy baby.” Considering that we ran the sh0p-vac for three months straight just to drown out the incessant sound of his screaming, I figured the answer was no. But not having much experience with babies, I had no idea what an “easy baby” actually was. Or even if they really existed. That is, until I met Rhett.

Rhett Lee Fantin is a little bundle of chubby sunshine. He smiles on contact. He lights up like a candle when he looks in someone’s eyes. He’s so easy-going that when he cries, I actually feel really sad because I know he must really be hurting. [Whereas when Blake cried – and cried – I usually felt like taking a looooong walk … far, far away.] He’s the sweetest baby I have ever met. I cannot believe he’s mine.

I say this not to indicate that Rhett is a better baby than Blake. Or that I love him more than Blake. (After all, I loved Blake a lot as a baby … so long as he was sleeping.) I just mean to say that I finally know what people mean when they say they’re baby people. Or that they want to have tons of babies. Or that they couldn’t stop holding / watching / smooching their babies when they were born. With Rhett – I never want to let him go.

Sorry, B. You’re the funniest, sweetest, cuddliest, smartest boy in the world … now. But when it comes to baby temperament, your brother has you beat … easily. And now that I know “easy babies” actually exist, there is a possibility that I might actually want another. Someday :)

As my mama used to say: I love them both the same. :)


My super-hero crush: it’s in the bag …

2 Sep

My Captain America bag: saving me from the ever-threatening dangers of bag boredom

So – I’ve made no secret of my love affair with Captain America. Thus, when I saw this rad comic-inspired fabric with mi amour all over it, I had to nab it. The hope was to create a stylish little going-out bag that’s part geek/part chic. [And heavily studded, of course.]

Three super pockets for change, keys and phone-age

The hardest part about finding the perfect going-out bag is that the small ones don’t hold anything and the big ones are a major drag to carry. So I designed this one as a slim/compact wristlet, with enough pockets to cover the essentials. I even found the perfect button in my notions box: a silver star, a la the Captain America shield.

No one can save you from a three-year-old Captain America fan.

The only down side? My son keeps stealing it! Take that, mama! Pow!

Total cost: $5 in fabric and interfacing, plus some remnants from my scrap bin.