INSIDE*: Reading the Mind of a Parent. How to Feed All the Kids? One Backyard Bird Feeder At a Time? Slow Cookers, Working Parents, and Providing Good Meals. (Another 420 Character Poem in 9 Lines by Patty)


Slow Cooker is how my kids can work & feed the kids at the end of the day.

Big improvement over my suppers of cold cereal and peas.

It’s hard to find the right food for a passel of kids (defined as 1 or more).

Bet this yellow-tabbed, electronically-monitored Big Mama is thinking

“Wish I had help.”

I remember the “Sale! Mothers!” signs and my Far-Side reading of them:

What a good idea.

Another Mom!

Or, a slow cooker.


*I constantly wonder what’s going on inside the mind of our bears. I was inspired by this WordPress Challenge to ponder what the meandering mom of triplets was trying to figure out. I empathized.

Another Story from the Raymond Family Series. This is the version I wrote in front of 4th grade writing workshop students when we were studying the craft of personal narrative and memoir. Like a lot of memories it has a nugget of truth to it. Read it, then check the first comment for further explication. Kisses to you all.




Mama stirs the oatmeal on the stove. We kids sit around the breakfast table and wait. The tie drawer in the living room creaks. Dad always wore brown suits; every morning he opens the drawer full of brown ties and tries to match them up with what he has on. “Miriam! Will you help me, Dearie?”  We watch as Mama wipes her hands on her apron. She leans into the little mirror propped over the stove and finger-combs her hair back behind her ears.  She smooths her lipstick out and lowers the heat under the oatmeal. She walks down the hallway into the living room.


I slip off my chair, wait a second, and follow. I hide behind an armchair as Dad clips a tie onto his starched white collar. I watch as he takes a step closer to Mama. “Does it match, Dearie? What do you think? Hmmm?” I see her look up and pull on his collar a bit to adjust the tie. I hold my breath as Dad leans toward her. Then, suddenly, he plants a big kiss right on her lips and squeezes her in a bear hug. I grin as they laugh. Then I tiptoe back to the kitchen as Dad closes the drawer and leaves for the office. Mama comes back to the stove and turns up the heat.


I don’t recall if they noticed I was watching. All I remember is that the grin that got started early in the morning stayed with me all day. Even now, I’m grinning as I write.

PATTY 4/15/13



Childcare. Creches. Caves. Doing What It Takes to Protect the Kids. (Another 420 Character, 9-Liner)

Childcare: It’s essential.

Besieged Syrians protect their kids in unearthed Roman caves beneath olive groves.

Golden Eye ducks form creches to nurture each other’s babies if need be.

Parents are WIRED to nurture and teach children

so they grow up right.

So what’s happened when a 14-year old shoots a baby

or a 20-year old massacres 1st graders?

Or a President bombs his people?

Wither the wiring? Was it the childcare?

PATTY 3/25/13

The White-Winged Scoter on Twin Lakes Makes Me Think of the Foreheads of Children and Gathering Together to Hold Each Other Dear. It All Fits. Literally, as Joe Biden Likes to Say. (Another 9-Liner in 420 Characters)

I used to cup my kids’ foreheads in the palm of my hand.

It thrilled me, this perfect round orb,

so unlike the sloping brow and bulbous bill of the White-Winged Scoter

I spied on Twin Lakes.

But in a way we’re LIKE the Scoter in our philopatry:

We all have a strong instinct to return to the “breeding” area (birder word);

so, soon, my kids will come back,

if not to let me hold their foreheads,

at least to hug them close.


Start-Up Families and/or Companies and the Whole Working Mom Thing in 420 Characters and 9-Lines. Or: How I’m Not Like the Cowbird Even Though I Used to Hear: “I Care About My Children, So I Didn’t Work.”

A Brown-Headed Cowbird prowls the edges for other birds’ nests

in which to lay its 36 eggs;

and I remember a colleague sniffing,

“I cared about MY children, so I didn’t work when they were little,”

as I rushed home to nurse a baby.

We Super Moms work with Gusto and Guilt;

but 4 kids and 40 years later,

I finally get a good night’s sleep, although it’s turned my hair gray.

In that I differ from the parasitic Cowbird.

Patty 6/9/12

Cowbird Egg in Chipping Sparrow Nest

Cowbird egg hatching in Chipping Sparrow Nest: New Def of Daycare

Male Brown-headed Cowbird