Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Rennies

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 8:29 PM


If you don't know what a Rennie is, you are probably safe from becoming one. Here, I'll help you out:

rennie: noun A participant (performer or artisan) at a renaissance festival or fair.

I spent many a weekend as a teenager at the Renaissance Festival, trying to hook a dirty, bearded man in tights. What can I say? I've loved it ever since I was a kid, and I've been every year for the last 2 decades.

(Whoa. I just did the math on that, and sure enough, it is right. 2 decades ago, I was 10. I'm 30 now. I'm 30. Years old. Apparently I just need a minute to get my bearings here in Middle Age Land.)

Okay, I'm back.

This last weekend, I took my kids - and I notice I get much less male attention when I have a line of little ducklings trailing behind me, bodice or no bodice.

I'm okay with that.

You might have thought that Eve would have wanted to go as Juliet, or a princess, or a lady of the court, or something like that. I certainly would have put my money on one of those horses.

But you, and I, would be wrong. She wanted to be Robin Hood, with a dagger. A dagger with jewels. Robbing the rich to feed the poor:

Iris also selected a sword for her souvenir, which she has been wielding enthusiastically and erratically ever since:

Oh, these kids! I sure do love them.

They were all pretty equally enamored of Twig the fairy:

I guess if you were needing directions, this would be the guy to ask!

Just think, if only I had played my cards more carefully, I could have ended up married to one of these guys:

No, seriously, they were awesome. I love me some dirty hippies!

A monk and a bellydancer walk into a bar:

But the definite highlight of the day, and probably Devlin's life, was the moment when we were watching Dextre Tripp's Death-Defying Acrobatics and Juggling of Things On Fire:

And when he was standing on top of this ladder, in the middle of the stage, balanced against absolutely nothing, his hat fell off. He needed someone to pick it up and hand it to him, and he must have seen Devlin's pleading eyes boring into his very soul, silently begging, with every fiber of his scrawny being, to be chosen.

It worked.

I don't know exactly what Mr. Tripp had in mind, because I was spoon-feeding Iris broccoli cheese soup and trying to discourage Eve from taking someone's eye out with her wooden sword, but I'm guessing it was that he would bend down and Devlin would hand the hat up to him.

Devlin had another idea.

Before Dextre could say "liability insurance", Dev popped the hat on his head and scampered up the ladder:

Like, all the way to the top:

And then he JUMPED OFF:

And took a bow (and probably 5 years off Dextre's life):

He spent the rest of the day working on his acrobatic skills:

and has since proclaimed his intention to do this for a living. Can someone weigh in here and tell me if this is an upgrade from a stand up comedian?

Animal House

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 9:04 PM


You guys, I have a pet.

If you know me, this is not big news. Growing up, I had fish, lizards, parakeets, gerbils, cats, dogs, and a Venus fly trap (not all at the same time). Then I married a man who (well, "hates" is probably a little strong, but let's go with it) hates animals. He has what some might call a psychosomatic allergy to anything with fur, and although over the course of our first several years together, I suggested every breed of "allergy-friendly" dog and cat known to man, it was to no avail.

Then I had one child, then two, then three, and suddenly my instinct to take care of little creatures was COMPLETELY SATIATED. David breathed a sigh of relief.

The man of the house left yesterday for a 24-hour business trip to Oakland (which doubtless he will think long and hard before doing in the future), and this afternoon I was pulling weeds in the rocky area of our backyard. I noticed what appeared to be a lumpy, multicolored rock under a very healthy patch of bermuda grass. Upon closer inspection, this rock had four legs, a pointy, scaly head, and two beady little black eyes.

First, I said a little prayer of gratitude that I didn't step on it and squish its little guts. (He's only about 4 inches long and working some killer camouflage skills.)

Then, I called the kids out to come see our new friend.

They came out with a large Priority Mail flat rate box, filled the bottom with rocks from our yard, tore up grass and leaves, and we placed him gently inside. Devlin then constructed an umbrella from a pencil and a torn piece of paper to provide him with shade, what with him being cold-blooded and all. They named him before his little feet even hit the bottom of the box. (And doesn't every tortoise want their own gorgeous theme song?)

Then I texted my reptile-expert friend in a minor panic. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Help! I found a little turtle thing in my backyard! What is he, and what do I do with him?

Her: Do you want to keep him or get rid of him?

Me: I'd love to keep him, if he doesn't mind. Mostly I just want him to be happy and not dead.

Her: Yes, "not dead" is always a good thing. Let's start there.

I sent her a picture, and it was determined that my new friend was a Sonoran Desert Tortoise. They are a protected species in Arizona, and it is illegal to buy them, sell them, or catch them in the wild, but apparently if a young 'un shows up in your backyard it is permissible to save it and provide it a loving home.

Which I have happily agreed to do. The little guy is too small to survive outdoors in a suburban setting (apparently wild tortoises spend 95% of their lives in underground burrows, because they are not stupid), so it's a good thing I found him when I did because the rocks he was laying on get mighty hot in the summer, and it is actually possible to "cook" a young tortoise.

(Did you know? Everyone in Phoenix has a solar oven. It's called THE SIDEWALK.)

My reptile-expert friend has a reptile-expert husband, who manages the Arizona Reptile Center, so I brought my scaly new friend, his makeshift habitat, and my three completely twitterpated children to that fine establishment. We got him all set up with some sweet new digs, a couple of lights to provide UV rays for optimal shell growth and temperature regulation, and calcium supplements (because you just can't be too careful).

Total cost: $145.37

Not having to take care of a dog: priceless

(And David even said we can keep him.)

This is what you get

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on at 1:02 AM


It's 1 am. I just turned off the stove to let the oatmeal sit overnight, started the dishwasher, finished up the first 40 invitations for my sister's baby shower, and folded the last of the laundry.

Now I'm off to watch some Dr. G, Medical Examiner, and see if I can beat the last secret Facebook level of St. Patrick's Day Angry Birds, for "total domination" ("total lack of adult interaction", more like it.)

Why yes, David is out of town again. Why do you ask?

Luckily for the sandpaper in my eyeballs, he's only gone for two days this time.

One letter

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:17 PM


Dear David,

How are you doing? This is your wifey here. Haven't seen you for awhile, really. You went out of town on business the first week in March, and then you got an awesome new opportunity at work (for which we are both extremely grateful, I'm sure) and I went to California. Then I came home, and your poor hardworking head has been buried in Share Point or whatever it is ever since.

I am a pretty capable person, I think. I don't really think too much of you leaving me and the kids by ourselves for awhile, or of packing them all up without you, if it comes to that, and taking a little road trip. I'm an independent woman, darn it! I painted our house, and I can do bedtime alone no problem, and bake bread and get little people to church and keep the house tidy, and look not too shabby doing it too.

But it turns out that I really, really need you. Your absence is very keenly felt. I can't do everything by myself. Not even close. I feel like I'm holding things together less and less convincingly with every day that passes. Pretty soon, the seams that I have hot glued together are going to burst apart, and I'm not sure what is going to come flooding out. (But I think you might want to have a gas mask, just in case.)

This letter isn't to make you feel guilty. You're working so hard, so we can have the ability to take our kids to Disneyland, so I can buy little old pretty things off craigslist, so we can have a happy, secure life together. And I love you for it.

So take it as I mean it: just a little place card for you, when you get out from under your pile of new responsibilities, to come sit by me on the couch again and watch The Daily Show (neither of our laptops is invited to this party.) I love you, and I miss you, and I take back anything I may have ever wrongly said or thought about doing "all the work around here". Whatever you do, I miss it and I need your help and I want you back!

We have a performance Sunday morning, so I will see you then. From the soprano section. I will be wearing concert black. Look for me, and I might even blow you a kiss.

One ship passing another in the night,

The Wizzle

Her Black Frock

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 2:47 PM


Eve has broken her 4th commandment of clothing.

Tights. (It's 75 degrees today, but I'm not even going to touch that. Her style choices are not dictated by things so mundane as weather.)

How can this be? How does The Girl Who Will Not Be Constricted come to be at the park wearing a short velvet dress and tights?

Luckily, I learned my lesson last time, and today I bit my tongue and gently offered her a chance to let me into her world.

She is really into the book A Little Princess right now, and for her birthday recently I found her a copy of the PBS miniseries based on that novel that I loved so much when I was her age. Contrary to what you might expect, she is much more drawn to the Sara Crewe who has lost her fortune and spends her days as a maid of all work, living in a boarding school garret in London, than the resplendent Sara who has everything she ever wanted and a wardrobe to die for.

So this morning, when she emerged from her room wearing this little ensemble, I had a sneaking suspicion what was going on in her little blonde head. And I was right:

Miss Minchin, the cruel headmistress, makes Sara wear an old black frock that is too small as she works off her debts after her father dies and leaves her with nothing. She wears black tights because, well, she lives in London and it is cold there, and Eve felt that while the book did not mention sheepskin boots, they were the footwear she had that were most in keeping with the spirit of downtrodden Victorian former elegance she wanted to embody.

Because it is a fine Spring day, and I am in a good mood, I am choosing to revel in her vivid imagination and the burgeoning discovery of fine literature, and not follow the logical conclusion that if she is Sara...

...I must be the evil headmistress.

By the way

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 10:02 PM


A few months ago, I set myself up with this fancy little feature where I receive an email every time someone comments on my blog (don't worry, it doesn't keep me as busy as one might hope). I also believed that this would give me the ability to reply to the commenter, and carry on a conversation that way - since I know if I reply in the comments here it doesn't always reach the intended recipient.

Turns out, every time I thought I was replying to the commenter, I was emailing "".


So I'm just taking a minute here to let you all know that I responded personally via email to every single person who entered my giveaway. I have tried to initiate conversations with so many of you - and I don't know whether to feel better now, because the reason I haven't gotten the response I was looking for is that you all weren't getting the emails, or to feel worse because you all think I have been ignoring you!

So, if you asked me a question, or tried to tell me I won a million dollars, or asked me to do a guest post (hi, girls) and I didn't answer...

...I did.

I don't know if that helps, but there it is. Luckily I am married to a computer expert so maybe someday I will get it figured out.

Little Pink Iris and her little pink nightstand

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 8:20 PM


Iris's cousin Gavin coined this nickname for her a year ago when his family was here visiting, and although when he christened her she was largely non-verbal and did not have a color preference, she has recently made her opinion known and thrown her hat firmly into the "pink" ring.

(When we got home from our trip this weekend, David asked his youngest child what her favorite part of the week was. She pursed her sweet little lips, thought for a minute, and then proclaimed "pink!")

I'm not really much of a pink girl myself, and I was secretly delighted when Eve turned out to be a dyed-in-the-wool yellow fan. But I'm not such a Scrooge that I can't put my personal bias aside and let the little princess have her rosy way.

I found a fantastic solid wood nightstand at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago for $7.99, and it was so perfect for the girls' room that I didn't even wait for half-off day to see if it was still there. (Livin' large, people, livin' large.) I snapped it up and took it promptly to Natalie of Natty By Design for a makeover.

I've refinished furniture before, with varying results, but this time I wanted the real deal. This piece gets a lot of action: it holds all the Barbie stuff, so it's a very popular Dixon girl destination. Natalie did a fantastic job, filling all the little dents and dings, and she's got a fancy sprayer that I just can't compete with. She even hooked me up with free vintage hardware that she had laying around from another project, and it was totally the right move.

I was going to have it painted cream like the girls' beds, but when I showed up at her house, Nat had a wild idea. And I love a wild idea.

Iris loves pink, so...

it's pink! Peony from the Martha Stewart line from Home Depot. Isn't it absolutely perfect?

(Side notes: time to get Iris a box spring. It was cute when she was barely walking, but now it just looks like a prison bed or something. And I love color and pattern, but I seriously think I just have way too much going on in that room right now. Gotta streamline things a little bit, don't you agree?)

If you want to see before and after shots (and trust me, you do) then hop over here. I did my best, but her photo skills are off at Harvard and mine are still drinking out of a sippy cup, if you know what I mean.

The girls love it, I love it, and if you've got an ugly piece of furniture laying around that needs some oomph, I promise you will love her work too. Thank you, Natalie, from Little Pink Iris and me!

Going to California

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011 at 9:18 PM


Last week, I packed up my kids and my mom, and we set off for the City of Angels to visit my sister and top up on Disneyland.

(I love Disneyland).

Last time I went, 7 months ago, it was just me and the kids and my sister. No grandparents, no menfolk, just one big slumber party. It was totally awesome, supernaturally peaceful and easy, just a dream trip. So, I don't know, I sort of thought it might be that way again this time.

It wasn't.

But, as always is the case for me, once I adjusted my expectations so they roughly aligned with reality, things went much more smoothly, and it ended up being a great trip.

Let's take a little photographic journey, shall we?

We had a couple of matchy-matchy sibling moments, courtesy of Aunt Holly's recent trip to Washington DC:

And St. Patrick:

We're not as Irish as we look:

(Incidentally, if you ever see Eve making this face, you should RUN as far away from her as you can. Nothing good happens when we see this face):

And really, all the rest of the pictures are from Disneyland. I have my priorities straight!

Just before we head into the gates. This photo is actually pretty representative of the day as a whole. Devlin had a terrible time with his allergies that day, Iris was happy as long as she was cocooned in some kind of carrier, and Eve took every opportunity to slide that dress off her shoulders like Belle:

It really is just too perfect: Eve in front of a field of yellow tulips:

And who should we run into, literally not 5 minutes inside the gate, but Iris's current obsession, "Icky Mouse":

She doesn't look happy or anything, does she?

On this trip, the kids and I had a little meeting and they decided that the fun of choosing souvenirs first thing out of the gate outweighed the wisdom of waiting until the end of the day and choosing from all the available options.

Sometimes it pays to let your kids talk and really listen to them. They were so right. We went directly into the Emporium, each child spent their budget very carefully, and that was the end of it. They loved their choices, played with them for the entire trip, and most importantly, I didn't have to spend another moment on the issue.

Iris chose Icky Mouse ears, which actually ended up being too big for her. This would have been tragic, if not for the fact that they fit ME perfectly. I may or may not have worn them for the entire rest of the trip:

Eve selected a Baby Minnie Mouse, which she cares for more lovingly than I do for my own human children:

(Don't worry, I didn't just steal Iris's souvenir. We got her a Baby Dumbo the next day that is just absolutely the cutest thing I've ever seen. It has hardly left her clutches since.)

Although I think she might have been equally satisfied with chain-consumption of ice cream:

Let's face it: a baby doesn't get to be in the 100th percentile by standing back and watching other people eat.

Devlin chose Mickey mitts, which will probably feature prominently in his next stand-up comedy routine:

A couple of beautiful Iris shots:

These are not great pictures, but doggone it we waited in line for 90 MINUTES to see these princesses, so you can take 90 extra seconds and look at them:

I did take the opportunity to ask Belle for advice on her singular hairstyle, since Eve is always asking for me to recreate it and apparently my skills are lacking:

We also met Peter Pan, who was very sweet and even inspired Dev to a little hands-on-hips action:

(Are you seeing Baby Minnie in all these shots? She's getting more action than the Travelocity gnome.)

We went to Disneyland on Wednesday, spent the next two days recovering, and then my dad flew in to join us on Friday night. Because my sister lives in town, we had access to known, reliable babysitting and so we decided to go to a grown-up restaurant that night. Jacob decided we should eat at Mozza, one of Mario Battali's outfits. Trouble is, you can't get in without a reservation, and you can't get a reservation on 2 hours notice.

Unless, you call and say that you are your own assistant, and that "Mr. Moffat the film producer" would like to dine at 7:30. Then, apparently, you get a reservation.

It was awesome. Until we arrived, and they only had us down as a party of 4, and we were a party of 5. We couldn't even argue the point because, as the hostess reminded us, "your assistant" made the reservation so it didn't seem prudent to blow our cover and tell her that we darn well knew "the assistant" told her five people, because "the assistant" was standing right there.

We got it all sorted out. Fried squash blossoms, fresh mozzarella, and pizza featuring goat cheese and fennel sausage (not on the same pie) will persuade hungry foodies to put up with quite a bit of runaround, as it turns out.

(That "assistant" has been fired, by the way.)

The next day, we drove back down to Orange County and went to California Adventure for the second of our two-day passes. I had never been, and while it doesn't yet hold the nostalgic appeal for me that Disneyland does, it was very enjoyable and I'm very glad I gave it a shot.

My favorite rides were Soaring Over California, Midway Mania (the Toy Story arcade game ride - so fun) and California Screamin'. If you love roller coasters then you simply must try that one!

My kids were initially pretty miffed that we weren't going back to Disneyland so they could ride Space Mountain and watch Captain Eo again, but they can usually be placated with a well-placed bribe, and this day was no exception.

Eve saw some girls getting their faces painted while we were in line for the princesses at Disney, and talked about nothing else for the next 3 days. I figured a little face paint was a small price to pay for her silence (sorry, I meant "innocent childhood happiness").

However, this being Disney, there is no such thing as a "small price".



And luckily for my wallet, Iris was content to gaze upon her siblings' newly adorned visages:

(That's Baby Dumbo's blanket she is holding there).

I almost choked when they told me how much it would cost, but Eve said it was her favorite part of the whole trip and it was well worth it to me.

What can I say? I'm a great big softie and I love to make my kids happy. If $30 worth of face paint is all it takes to make a memory they will have forever, then somebody hand me a pen and show me the dotted line.

You can't take it with you, right?

How to Travel With Your Mom, by the Dixon children

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 2:54 PM


1. Ignore her. Nothing she says is of any consequence.

2. Any amount of toilet paper stuck to the bathroom floor is, however, of utmost importance, and cannot, under any circumstances, be left where it is.

3. Old rotten bits of food on the ground are also extremely valuable and must be ingested as quickly as possible. The grosser the ground, and the moldier the morsel, the greater the value.

4. While you and your siblings may have the same last name, do not be deceived: each child is a warring faction, and only one can be left standing at the end of the trip. There are no other rules of conduct. Every man for himself!

5. When in doubt, ask for a snack.

6. Or a treat.

7. Or a toy.

8. If your mom says something to your sibling, you can luxuriate in the absolute certainty that it does not apply to you. If there is something really important, she can say it directly to you.

9. And she can say it 6 times. That is the threshold at which you can safely pay attention. She has to earn your respect.

10. See if, next time, you can talk her into just planning a "vacation" that revolves around watching movies and eating Froot Loops.

From seed

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 9:53 PM


I have a garden! It's about 30 square feet, and I will hopefully soon be eating chard, zucchini, summer squash, bell, jalapeno, and poblano peppers, green beans, watermelon, pumpkin, basil, parsley, cilantro, and 3 kind of tomatoes, from my own backyard. (And I won't be eating them, but we also planted a row of sunflowers for Eve along the far edge of the pavers there.)

I'm too tired to say much else about it, except thank you from the bottom of my grubby little heart to Granhopper for her assistance and moral support. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and it is really happening. I'm exhausted, and elated!


Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 1:24 PM


Dear Boden,

I love your clothes. I have been very happy with my purchases, when I can afford to make them. And I love your beautiful catalogs, which you are so kind to send every few weeks. They seem like quite the undertaking: glossy, thick, and comprehensive. I imagine they cannot be inexpensive to produce. This afternoon, I received the latest edition, and it is a literal newspaper, as big as the Arizona Republic. I am writing to request that, instead of such extravagant advertising, you simply send me a check quarterly for the amount saved by the production and postage of the catalogs. I would also accept merchandise credit.

I'm flexible,

The Budget Clotheshorse

* * * * *

Dear Discovery Health and Fit Channel,

Look, I'll make it real simple for you:

1. Discovery Health and Fitness

2. Discovery Healthy and Fit

Pick one.


The Grammar Nazi

* * * * *

Dear Costco,

Your chicken bakes are yummy. But they're huge. I don't need the whole thing, but it seems silly to only eat 2/3 of it when I've paid for all 810 glorious calories. You recently added another bake to your menu, this time stuffed with carne asada. I had hoped you might rectify the portion problem with this new addition, so I could put my mind at rest and my muffin top to memory.

But no. It's even bigger.

I'm so confused,

Hungry and Low on Willpower

* * * * *

Dear Laundry Day,

We've had many years together, you and I. It started off all right, but as time has gone by you've become more and more demanding and high-maintenance. The bloom is decidedly off the rose. I think I've made myself pretty clear, but you just don't seem to be getting the message. I don't like to be rude, but, well, you do rather force the issue.

I think we should see other people. I don't really care who you decide to shack up with, but as for me, I have to say that Pedicure Day is looking very attractive right now.

It's not me, it's definitely you,


Two of a Kind

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 8:48 PM


I promised "after" pictures of my first adult attempt at foam curlers.

(You know, the first time I've used them since braiding one's hair, then sleeping on foam curlers was the best way to skip the crimper in the morning).

So it's been awhile.

I wasn't trying to duplicate the famed Iris Look, but that's kind of how it turned out. Eve's hair has a lot of curl in it to start with, and I read that I should use smaller curlers toward the front, and larger ones in the back. here's where that advice got us:

If it were up to her, we would have left her hair in exactly this state. She thought it was perfection. I, in my maternal wisdom, decided to comb through it with my fingers.

This, as you can see, was a Very Bad Idea.

By the time we sent her off to preschool, we had managed to corral it into something resembling Medusa With Flower:

And by the afternoon, it looked basically like her own hair on its wildest day, minus the two party-pooping pieces that decided to randomly secede from the Curly Union:

So, clearly I need more practice.

Or maybe I could just dust off the old crimper.

Fortuitious Little Happy Happenstances

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, March 7, 2011 at 8:21 PM


Reference, anyone?

I've got a few more ranty letters up my sleeve, but they can wait until tomorrow. Today, you get a few little golden moments from my weekend.

Eve turned 5. She had a little family birthday dinner Sunday night, and I just absolutely love hosting my big, beautiful family in my home. I swept, I mopped, I ironed my tablecloth, I made twice as much food as I should have.

Granhopper is home! Can you spot her?

I made fruit pizzas for the "cake" and I think they are probably the most beautiful thing I have ever created. Except for my children.

Eve wanted Belle on hers, so that's what she got. (Try not to focus on the fact that her face looks like she was involved in some kind of nuclear accident.) Notice the number 5 written in blueberries:

Speaking of Eve, she and I had a very interesting conversation today. It went a little something like this:

Eve: How do you say "pork" in Spanish?

Me: The pork like we get at Chipotle on our tacos is called "carnitas". It comes from "carne", and it means "little meat". It's a diminutive, like Evie.

E: How do you say my name in Spanish?

M: Eva, or the diminutive would be Evita.

E: How do you say Buddha in Spanish?


M: Well, not every name has an equivalent in other languages. Buddha is a very famous person, and I think his name is probably just sort of...his name.

E: Yeah, just a name. A name for people who are statues!

(She is currently spending her first night in foam curlers. I solemnly swear to take a picture tomorrow morning.)

And last but not least: we were driving home this afternoon from some boring errands, on our way to do some boring homework and housework, respectively. It had been such a gorgeous day, just an absolute gift: clear, sunny, breezy, and fresh. We turned down Ivy Street as we neared our house, and as we were driving past the park, Devlin shot bolt upright in his seat and shouted "MOM, A KITE!"

Kite days are few and far between here. Usually, if it's windy, it's also raining or threatening to rain. Today was a day that was made for kite flying. We don't have a kite. But some guy at the park did, so we hit the brakes, pulled into the parking lot, and chased him down en masse.

Luckily, he was incredibly friendly and gracious and was very happy to let all my kids take a turn flying his beautiful kite. He told me his father had made it 30 years ago in Argentina, and it was truly a masterpiece. It was so big that I had to help Iris hold on to the spool - I think it would have taken her right off the ground (and that is no easy feat!)

You can have all the plans you want, but when the wind is just right you have to put them on hold and, literally, fly a kite.