How It’s Done Blog

Poopy-Bottomed Demon Child

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Define "Gossip"

Really, nothing is better than a little bit of dish. Particularly if that dish makes you feel, oh, just that much better than the person about whom your source is dishing. Maybe, just maybe, you feel like a better mother, or a better wife, or just a better person all around, period. Gives you just that warm glow. For about an hour. Then you’re left with knowledge. Knowledge that, if shared, could make others feel like better mothers, better wives, […]

10 Reasons Not to Have #3

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: 2005 edition

Every year the Byliners on The Well (my favorite online community of freelancers and roustabouts) post “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”– a little annual review of career, life, and just a touch of politics. Here’s mind (feel free to do to same on your blog, and let me know). The Good: Broke into 4 national magazines in one way or another. First essay accepted for national mag. Finally have some strong recent clips. Finished co-author book, edited, well […]

Hocus Refocus

This has definitely become something of a navel-gazing blog, and the more navel gazing I do, the more I start to notice that much of my navel probably ought to be kept private. I didn’t set out to do quite this. My plan was to post more finished, funny, essay-like entries, but I can tell you right now that those take time–and, of course, that’s not time that comes from my kids, laundry or sleeping efforts. It comes straight off […]

The Great Snack Project

Yesterday at the grocery store I completely lost my head. This was partly thanks to the entertaining musings of Caitlin Flanigan in To Hell With All That, which we read for book club. Flanigan is always fun to read. For one thing, she’s a person who can see the guilty side of anything. I closed the book, thought the hell with that, I am the mother I am, and went and bought $300 worth of chicken nuggets. OK, an exageration. […]

You Know

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Not the People I Think We Are

I think I remain stubbornly convinced that we are, somehow, or will be, somehow, living the sort of life that is found primarily in the pages of, say, a J. Crew catalog. That handsome dogs will romp up to us as we pull sculls up on the banks of ponds, dressed with what Fitzgerald might have called enviable casualness. It is this illusion that leads me to participate in things like “tball on the green”. We do live in a […]

Dear Willliams Sonoma. Send the Spatula, not the Guilt

Dear Williams-Sonoma: I just received my order of assorted miscellaneous Halloween baking items and plastic bowls, and the minute I opened the first box, I was disappointed. Disappointed, annoyed and even pissed off. When I opened the second box, I felt even worse. Not because of the items I ordered, which are pretty much exactly the completely unnecessary but fun to have items I expected, but because you didn’t just send me a few pumpkin candies and a ghost-shaped spatula: […]

Happily playing

Happily playing Originally uploaded by kjda. KJ

Who Said I Didn’t Want to Raise a Quitter?

This weekend’s highlight: a visit from one of my oldest school friends and her family (featuring “Boston Joey”, so-called to distinguish him from one of their best friends and sometimes even directly addressed as such). Boston Joey has done some skiing; his five-year-old sister “Roofie” has not. So as my friend took a year off the limited life span of her lower back by taking Roofie up the J-bar and Lily decided she wanted to hit the chair lift, I […]

Post-Haircut treats

Post-Haircut treats Originally uploaded by kjda. KJ Dell’Antonia (Please attribute any drastic spelling and punctuation errors to my poor thumb-typing and creative autocorrect.)

The end of a perfect party

The end of a perfect party Originally uploaded by kjda. KJ Dell’Antonia (Please attribute any drastic spelling and punctuation errors to my poor thumb-typing and creative autocorrect.)

Meet krypto the superdog.

Meet krypto the superdog. Originally uploaded by kjda. KJ Dell’Antonia (Please attribute any drastic spelling and punctuation errors to my poor thumb-typing and creative autocorrect.)

An audience

An audience Originally uploaded by kjda. At the dentist! KJ Dell’Antonia (Please attribute any drastic spelling and punctuation errors to my poor thumb-typing and creative autocorrect.)

Because we are all about healthy lunches here.

Because we are all about healthy lunches here. Originally uploaded by kjda. KJ Dell’Antonia

This sick day may be too much fun…

This sick day may be too much fun… Originally uploaded by kjda. KJ Dell’Antonia

Adventures in Adoptoblogland

I got an impulsive email from Guoji Familia this morning–she, Cupcake, Spark and her #2 son were heading our way! We met up at the Montshire, and hung for the morning. It was great to meet up “IRL”, but I’m finding the whole thing inspires me to talk in what I think of as “blogher” talk…lots of exclamation points and references to the ‘net. We had a good time, and bonded over plenty–adoption, of course, kids the same ages, yadda. […]

Wyatt’s Big Day

Wyatt’s Big Day Originally uploaded by kjda I had a fabulous day with Wy. There was some suggestion, yesterday, that perhaps China hasn’t had a blanket flu-freakout, and that travel dates, for everyone who’s waiting on them, may come soon–and although I’m still hoping we’ll be heading out in June, I can be ok with SOME delay–just not infinite, or even indefinite, delay. It turns out that the combination of a little positive news and a beautiful day returned me […]

Fun times online

Fun times online Originally uploaded by kjda We are trying to guess whose luggage will be so overweight that they will have to repack. One set of girls just had to go buy a new bag. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

Fwd: GuoMen Quarantine Hotel as seen from Beijing DiTan Quarantine Hospital

Fwd: GuoMen Quarantine Hotel as seen from Beijing DiTan Quarantine Hospital Originally uploaded by kjda

Up the Great Wall and on to Fuzhou

We had a beautiful, if hot, day for climbing. The kids were troopers. Some of the stairs were so high they came up to Wyatt’s waist. It was hot, hot, and getting crowded as we came down. People here use umbrellas against the sunshine, so here we were, on this amazing day, climbing down in a sea of umbrellas. Our flight to Fuzhou was uneventful (no temperature taking or hazmat suits…) and the Shangri-la is a very nice hotel, too–haven’t […]

Hoo, Boy

Worst. Parent. Ever. That’s me. Flat out worst. Which is a pity, because the day had gone rather well. Kids playing together, birds singing, sun shining, whatnot. I went out–promising Rory I would come back–and i did, which she seemed to see as a good thing. Better yet, I went for a bike ride with a friend, and every hill just felt good, because it was just so great to be out on my own. And then… I miscalculated dinner. […]

Amish Friendship Bread, Defrosted

On June 6, I completed the squishing and flipping and baking project that is Amish Friendship Bread–which I know for a fact is slowly conquering the country, and may be nothing more than a ploy to get us all to buy at least one package of vanilla pudding this year–baked my two loaves, and froze one. June 6 was just a few days after we got our travel dates. Rory was still pictures and an idea. We were thinking packing, […]

Idyllic. Can’t last.

Idyllic. Can’t last. Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

On the “Holly”

On the "Holly" Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone


I’m having a moment. Summer is over, it is oh so very much over. Sam is back at school, and the others go back next week, and the luxury of having so many days stretch out before us with little planned is utterly gone, and I am feeling like I wasted so much of it caught up in my own stuff. Sam will turn 9 next year–nine!–and time is passing. I should have spent the whole summer holding his hand. […]


I’m feeling impatient and cranky today–like all I can do is gripe at people and criticize. And very touchy–as in, I worked hard on this dinner and you’d better sit down and eat it right now, and for heaven sakes don’t TALK to me while you’re doing it! Nobody is moving fast enough or being nice enough for me. Rory’s horrible wound is a little better. Sam still looks like he’s been in the wars, but I don’t think he’s […]

How was the Big Birthday?

Great, if you just whitewash it here and there. The thing is, from two on, I had to just get my skates on and GO. 2:00 pick up Sam, town, snack, buy balloons, 3:00 pick up Lily, home put together big ole’ plastic doll house, cry because we cannot play more with it and it is not ours (well, that would be Lily). 4:00 babysitter’s, share cupcakes, celebrate. 4:30 Farmer’s Market for dinner. Park, try not to get run over, […]

The Artists

The Artists Originally uploaded by kjda This is how we celebrated Columbus Day. For once, everyone is feeling very satisfied (and they are about to have pumpkin pie!)(not made from these pumpkins–who do you think I am?!) KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

A Halloween Book that looks like us.

A Halloween Book that looks like us. Originally uploaded by kjda I know my kids’ books–I co-authored a book about them, and I review them for DoubleX–but I have to admit that the advent of Rory has made me more aware of race in the pictures. That’s not really true–I was always aware–but more appreciative of books that look like us, and the Biscuit books–while not always my favorite, because they tend somewhat towards the inane–are good that way. The […]

Ouch–Another Bad Morning

The power went out this morning, for all of about 20 seconds. How badly can this throw us off? You’d be surprised. First of all, many clocks no longer functioned, but the real issue was the alarm clock that announces that it’s time to brush teeth–or rather, time to shift gears. You cannot argue with an automated bugle. You CAN argue with mommy, or at least you can try. You can’t win, but you can burn a lot of energy […]

Never Best Left Unspoken

Let us say, for example, that you have something you would prefer the children not discuss at this precise moment. In our house, that list could include: Monkey Bars The book “Snuggle Puppy” Izzy’s upcoming birthday party Chinese class Rory’s Mama Deena and Baba Mike baths The one thing we are guaranteed to talk about is exactly whatever you–or, in this case, obviously I–would prefer that we just not, at that particular moment. I am happy at any moment of […]

The Person I Want to Be

The Person I Want to Be Originally uploaded by kjda Today, after school and Sam’s early dismissal and a fairly lengthy incident that seemed as if it was all Wyatt’s fault for having a temper tantrum and hitting me in the preschool parking lot but was really my fault for running late, we made snickerdoodles. Sam and I put the ingredients together, Lily ran the mixer and everbody rolled balls on cinnamon and sugar, and everyone was happy, and Sam […]

Mellow, Relatively Speaking

Mellow, Relatively Speaking Originally uploaded by kjda This was yesterday, actually, at the bookstore. Lily read a Dora book that I refused to read–which was of course a serious bonus. Coffee was had, a small tantrum thrown for reasons too dull to describe here (suffice to say that no, I won’t buy TWO copies of Berenstein Bears Valentine’s Party–in fact, I can’t believe I bought one.) And we skied a few runs, had a Lily friend over and her mom […]

What I Want to Send for Lunch

What I Want to Send for Lunch Originally uploaded by kjda I would do it, too–except that even though I have three kids all eating lunch at the same school, they aren’t allowed to share food. We spent the day skiing–fabulous! Wonderful! Also surprising, since at 3:45 this morning Lily was throwing up. But unless it involves contagiousness–hard for me to imagine on a ski slope–I never argue with a kid who says she’s feeling well enough to get outside. […]

Any Chance You’re Thinking of Adoption?

Toying with it, maybe–kinda just thinking hey, what-if… I have a feeling you’re out there. Email me or post a comment and ask me to email you. (No one can see your address but me.) It is so hard, and you should totally do it. There are so many kids out there, Rory’s age and a little older, that need the life we have.

Procrastination Lesson

Sam had a “Jump Rope for Heart” event at school today. They were out early–at 12:30, for conferences–and participating kids could stay, and jump, and earn prizes and have big fun. But they were supposed to raise money for the American Heart Association. The papers came home weeks ago, and I said, Sam, look, you could really do this well, you know a lot of people. I will match anything you raise. After a week I brought the papers along […]

Rainy snowy happy Saturday

I just want to say that I truly believe this was the first rainy saturday I have spent wholly at home with no real plans and no big activities since Sam was born, so almost nine years ago,that I haven’t wanted to rip my one arm off and beat myself to death with it by dinnertime. Around here that counts as a good day. I am not ignoring the question of whether I got flak for the slate article–I just […]

Vasa museum

Vasa museum Originally uploaded by kjda KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

I Dunno…

Meh. It’s summer. This makes me happy. I bonked, halfway through a DoubleX post today that I wNted to write, in fact, told people I would write–three hours later, there I was with the same single paragraph. I can tell you that is not an economically sustainable business model. This makes me unhappy. Rory is having a delightful touch of nighttime regression, refusing to go to sleep, romping about her room, kicking, jumping and building forts until all hours. Unfortunately […]

When Putting Your Kids on Reality TV is Good for Your Career (and you’re not an actress)

Let’s say you’re the owner of a small but popular bakery and a gifted cake decorator with aspirations to be, say, the next Colette Peters. But how do you get there? Baking celebrity cakes would help. Writing a book, ditto. But somehow you’ve got to get the attention of the celebrities, and publishers insist that a book needs a “platform.” “Who’s going to buy a book by an unknown baker,” they demand, while you’re left moaning “but how do I become a known baker without a book?” Meanwhile, you’re juggling triplets, running the bakery and soothing a husband who’s one–tenth occasional (and subversive) bakery staff and nine-tenths Mr. Mom. You’re at a standstill.

Enter TLC. Read More

Not a Baby

Not a Baby Originally uploaded by kjda In June, I was at the pool and kept hearing, I thought, Rory crying. Again and again I’d look and see … An angry baby, about a year old, making the noise Rory makes when she cries, exactly. And not the noise she makes when she really cries–the noise she makes when she fake cries because she’s angry, or needs attention, or is outraged at the general un fairness of life. I decided […]

Julia Roberts: Formerly Hot?

Jess, I love that women over 40 are dominating on magazines covers and, even better, in the movie theater. I noticed it too—and I also noticed Laura Linney (46) on the cover of last week’s New York Times Magazine, that More magazine’s circulation is increasing (cover girls have to be over 40; this month’s Kyra Sedgwick is 44), and that the inside of Elle magazine, not just the cover, offers articles clearly aimed at women past the ingenue stage: recovering […]

One. More. Day.

I’m not exactly ready for school to start. It’s just that, given that it’s going to start, that the inevitable march of time will draw us inexorably onward, I would just as soon things START ALREADY. There’s this whole processing and adjusting and sorting thing coming at us like a freight train, and in my head, I’m already on it. But in reality, of course, I just have to let it spin out. Tonight we nibbled at it. Sam and […]

Truly Friends Forever

Most of us had friends as kids that we promised, with mixed results, to love forever—but what must a friend from your orphanage, from your foster home, from your past mean to a kid? We adopted Rory at nearly four, and from the first, she’s been asking for “Bethany.” As often as she cried for her foster mother and father, and maybe even more often, she cries over Bethany. She wants to see her. She lingers over the pictures we […]

No Messing With Heaven

First, let me say that I know from tough questions bubbling up from the back seat. I have already handled, on previous occasions, the question of what war is, an explanation of gay marriage and, regarding racial discrimination, “but that was all a long time ago, right?” And I have fielded, also while driving, a lengthy discussion among all four kids regarding why and how my youngest son, then three, could indeed “get a baby” if he chose to marry […]

Language As a Second Language

I have to admit I am a little worried about Rory’s language. She isn’t exactly a non-native English speaker. Her foster parents spoke English, and so did she, although it was about on the level of a two year old (we adopted her at almost four). But the nannies and other staff spoke Chinese or dialects, and I imagine the children did a lot of physical communication, since they would have had varying speech abilities. Rory is still behind, and […]

Lily and I Get Crafty

Lily and I Get Crafty Originally uploaded by kjda In a continuation of the preceding post, this is also the kind of thing that is now possible, on this side of the mountain of the past, oh, nine years. I like this kind of project. Quick and chick. Start, over done, contemplate achievement. I like Gingerbread houses. I like frosted cookies. I like Halloween costumes and cardboard box houses. I will never, ever sew you a dress–too precise. Too time […]

Fireflies, the Musical Version

I seem to remember someone in some book or another making fun of the way, in musicals, suddenly everyone bursts out singing. This is not, of course, the way of the real world, particularly if you live, as I do, in a pretty deep swamp of cynicism accompanied by a healthy dose of irony. I mean, I might burst out singing, but it would be meta-singing, in which I totally understood how goofy it was to burst out singing. My […]