Ideas and Old Married Ladies

October 20th, 2014

Image by Florian Klauer via

This summer was  an unsettled one. We moved to Ohio, traveled for a slew of weddings, helped family members move, house-hunted and started new jobs. We’ve been living a rather bohemian life in a loft-style apartment, in a neighborhood that is more down-and-out than up-and-coming. Our tiny nerd is stumbling around on two feet sometimes, constantly showing us all the ways that we’ve failed to baby-proof the apartment. There are big changes that have happened (new state! new house soon! new job!) but lots of small things that keep us distracted every day. It’s boring but all-consuming, this business of settling in a new place.

In the midst of all this life, I’m trying to find and maintain a few creative outlets. My college roommate/BFF and I started a new blog called Old Married Ladies. My dad and I are working on a new issue of Positive365. And after years of stewing on a novel idea, I’ve kickstarted my writing and research. (No link for that, though. It’s in very early draft mode, mostly sketches and ideas and verbal doodles.)

So I haven’t been here, but you can find me in lots of other places. I try to update Instagram from time to time (warning: lots of baby pics), and I occasionally pop on Twitter to find interesting links and bon mots. I’m around! Say hi to me any time, and I’ll be back when I have something to say.


A photo posted by Suzanne Wilder (@thewilder) on

7 Ways to Make a Blog Post Go Viral

July 16th, 2014

  1. Have opinions and declare those opinions to be absolute truth. It doesn’t matter that you’re just some schmo who isn’t an expert and you’re not even that good of a writer.
  2. It should be a list. Always, always make a list. If it’s a slideshow, you get double bonus points. If you include a .gif for every item in your list, triple-super-duper bonus points.
  3. Use an odd number for your list and headline. I recommend a number bigger than 3 but smaller than 15, because we want to feel like we’re learning something, but we don’t want to read too much.
  4. Don’t forget to be funny, too! Because OMG, my kid poops his pants, and that’s like, hilarious. POOP. IN HIS PANTS.
  5. Make sure to point out how human and flawed your experiences have been. Nobody likes Little Miss Perfect. Did I mention the poop in my kid’s pants?
  6. Throw in a heartwarming clincher. My mom is a nurse, y’all, and she saves lives, and she saved MY life by giving birth to me and giving me hugs. A lot of hugs. Sometimes she cries. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.
  7. Don’t forget a call to action so that people will share it. Also, you guys? Tell your mom how much you love her today.

Why we moved to Ohio

July 3rd, 2014

I was working on a long “Farewell, Chicago” post, as well as a “Hello, Ohio” entry, but I realized there’s a much easier way to sum up why we moved to Ohio.

A picture (or three) worth a thousand words:

Family 2014
The Tiny Nerd with Pappy and a piggy


Family 2014
Nana and the Tiny Nerd


Family 2014
The Tiny Nerd with his cousin, enjoying a tiny pool


We have to talk about the hard things

March 1st, 2014

Does it matter if we talk about global affairs? Or sexual violence? Or human rights?

It’s easier to say, “That doesn’t affect me. That is far away. Those people are different from me.”

It’s easier not to talk about these things at all. Not to click a headline. Not to watch a news story that is violent or heartbreaking or controversial.

It’s easier to say, “I am one tiny voice, and it won’t matter what I think or say.”

I am one tiny voice. We have to speak together, even if quietly and gently. But sometimes loudly and forcefully.

We make decisions that speak loudly, too. Where we spend our money. What we click on. What news we watch and read and listen to. What art and pop culture we absorb. How we spend our time speaks volumes.

It matters if I say:

What do we do?

  • Click and read news stories about substance, rather than about reality shows or celebrity gossip.
  • Sign an online petition.
  • Tweet!
  • Send a form email (or an original one, if you’re feeling verbose) to your state representative, senator, the White House, your city councilor, or whoever may be able to speak in an official way. They work for us, after all!
  • Share news stories on Facebook.
  • Spend your time and money thoughtfully.

Related confessions:

  1. As a  journalism school graduate, it’s tough for me to put opinions out into the world. Shouldn’t I stay unbiased and neutral about everything? I haven’t worked in the news business for seven years, but I still have this nagging feeling that I should hide my opinions. But this is about journalism, because so few people read these meaty international stories that news organizations don’t want to pay for reporters to work on them.
  2. I read a lot of things: news, blogs, books, magazines. And I enjoy a lot of pop culture, lately science fiction shows, spy dramas, old cooking shows, and folksy modern rock. I’m not proposing that everyone put down their favorite form of entertainment, but I do think we should be conscious and vocal about the world around us.
  3. I’m not interested in political debate about Republican versus Democrat versus Libertarian versus Tea Party versus Green versus whatever. I want us to talk about issues that affect real people like me (and you). I want to talk about the mother in North Korea who is wondering if her kids will get enough to eat tonight. Or the young women in Russia who wanted to make punk rock music and instead were whipped in public by a government-endorsed militia.
  4. Is this futile? Hopelessly optimistic? Bleeding-heart naïveté? Or is it a plea for more public dialogue about terrible events that shatter the lives of real people in the world?

Here is my tiny voice. I am saying something I believe. Will you join me?

PS: Motherhood compels me to raise my voice. I want this tiny nerd to grow up in a world that is thoughtful, compassionate, well-informed and getting better every day.


They’re Coming launch party

February 15th, 2014

A few months ago, I wrote about the Hubbs’ zombie card game. And now They’re Coming is here.

We launched the game with a small party at one of our “safe houses,” the Star Lounge Coffee Bar. We had a small art raffle, a cake by Drizzle Bakery and a group of loyal survivors at our sides.

The Hubbs is relieved that the game has come to life. He used a company called The Game Crafter to print and ship the games to our Kickstarter backers, though a few Chicagoans will get hand-delivered copies from us this week. (And a few Ohioans will receive deliveries in a few weeks.)

I’ve also stashed a deck or two for myself. Since the littlest nerd has arrived, I’ve been thinking about all the amazing bits of creativity we’ll share with him once he’s a little older: this card game that the Hubbs created, a beautiful handmade quilt from Nana (my mom), several books and paintings from Pappy (my dad), and magazines that I edited. (Maybe in a few years I can add books that I write to the mix, too.)  When I think about the things I leave behind in this world, the first and most awesome will always be my boy. But there will also be little bits of creativity that leave our mark, too.  I hope we teach the littlest nerd that there’s a pure joy in creating something from scratch, or seeing someone you love do so, just for the fun of it.

You can find the game on Facebook, Twitter or the Interwebz. If you missed the Kickstarter, send us a message on Facebook and we’ll pass along order information.


What you do on maternity leave

January 5th, 2014

People without kids may find themselves asking the question, “What do you DO on maternity leave?” Maybe you think new parents get to LIVE IT UP and PARTY ALL DAY, because new babies do a lot of sleeping?

If you think that, you are correct. By “live it up,” I mean, “watch Netflix in 30-minute increments, between changing diapers and breastfeeding and checking whether your tiny creature is breathing.” And by “party all day,” I mean, “sleep in 2-3 hour bursts, in between baby-cries.”

But for my own records, here’s a tiny look into what I did on my maternity leave.


I spent the holidays in Ohio with my family, so I could experience moments of bliss not limited to watching the Hubbs read a pop-up book with my niece and encouraging my parents to snuggle their new grandson. I took approximately 5,624 photos of my niece and her new cousin (“BABY!”) in order to get one or two where they are not moving, pooping or crying. Also: I coordinated matching outfits for my family.

My lovely friends visited in gentle, much-appreciated waves, beginning in the hospital and continuing through New Year’s week. Some came from New York and New Jersey, and others met me for snacks at cafes. My sister left her own sweet baby for a weekend to come cook and grocery shop for us, and my mom visited and granted us a very romantic morning date at Target.

I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, because I was curious about baked cookies that didn’t have flour. The Hubbs gave them a rating of “No, we can’t share these with other people. We need to keep them all here.”

Mostly, though, I spent my time exclaiming, “OH MY GOODNESS, you are so cute!” or “What a good, sweet boy!” or “A-gooooo!” A few minutes were devoted to discovering elbow dimples, and several minutes over thunder thighs. Many hours were lost to translating cries. You learn over a few weeks that “Change my diaper” sounds different from “I’m about to spit up all over you” and from “FEED ME.”

This week I go back to my 9-to-5, and daddy daycare begins. We proceed into a brave new world of parenting. Onward!



December 3rd, 2013

miles for blog


A month ago, I became a mom. Four weeks and two days filled with baby grunts and wails, middle-of-the-night diaper changes, laundry loads of pee-soaked onesies, meals half-eaten and interrupted by squeaky cries, and countless snuggle sessions.  The time has passed in a blur. And we’re just getting started.

Sometimes, the tiny nerd is taking a nap in his room, and I get lost in the midst of a book or a movie. Then I’ll hear a cry from the other side of the door, and it hits me: That is my little person in that room, and I have to take care of him!

I’d like to blame hormones for another common scene, but I don’t think they’re entirely at fault. When the tiny nerd is sleeping on my chest, I  look down at his squishy cheeks and his quivering mouth, and my eyes tear up. The Hubbs and I made this! We get to raise this little beast forever! We get to go on this crazy adventure together! It is overwhelming.


Yesterday was my grandmother Velma’s 80th birthday. She is Mom to seven children, Mammaw to 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The roots of her family tree are deep, and the branches stretch wide. The photo below is her with a handful of those grandkids (me included).

velma and grandkids

When the Hubbs saw it, he said, “Just think, in 30 years, you could be surrounded by a bunch of grandkids like that!”

Celebrating her birthday is bittersweet. My grandmother lives in a nursing home in southern Ohio, where she is a skeleton of a woman, more infantile than senile. She doesn’t speak, and she eats pureed food that is spoon-fed by nurses or visitors.

I hate that my son will never hear her talk about trips to Alaska, cross-country RV journeys to visit family, or stories about her life growing up in southern Ohio. He’ll never arrive at her house to be smothered in hugs and kisses, then stuffed full of homemade noodles or pots full of garden-fresh corn or dried apples. I hate that my husband only knows her as a forgetful, then frail, then silent figure.

But there’s joy in knowing that because of my grandmother, my son will grow up surrounded with family that loves and adores him. He’ll meet cousins, aunts, uncles and all the variations of family that we can throw at him, and they’ll smother him with snuggles and kisses and kind words.

The family has rich memories of time with their mother and grandmother, and those memories will infuse our time with each other.


You have nine months of pregnancy to prepare for being a parent. In my case, I also had a few years of infertility treatments. The idea that I might not get to raise a child, to see my husband become a father, to watch in wonder as an infant became a toddler became a person… That was the hardest part of infertility. I wanted to experience that joy firsthand.

Despite those months of pregnancy, the baby seems to arrive suddenly. You knew there was a tiny human incubating inside your belly, but now there’s a baby in your arms. You are forever the mother to a creature that needs you in a primal way. He needs your warmth, your sustenance and your protection. He needs your voice to comfort him and teach him language. He needs your hands to wrap him in dry diapers and soft clothes.

My days have become an endless stream of mundane, repetitive moments that add up to something profound and deeply personal.


I’m fussing over the baby’s socks. His feet will get cold if they fall off.

“You’re being such a mom,” the Hubbs says.


Freezer stocking day*

October 21st, 2013

Pumpkin pancakes

At the urging of Pinterest (ALL OF IT) and a new-mom friend, I went a little crazy stocking my freezer with foods for our early “new parent” weeks.

One Saturday, I woke up and made pumpkin pancakes. We ate some and froze the rest.

But then I kept going! Chicken and cheese enchiladas. Black bean and corn burritos. Chicken pot pie. Apple pie with a crumb top. Pumpkin crumb cake. (Crumb top was the same for both cake and pie, in case you were wondering.) We ended up with extra lentils from the crockpot a few days ago and a bowl of those ended up in the freezer, too. We are going to be sleep-deprived and in shock (probably), but we’ll also be well fed.

Have I told you about the easiest lentils in the world? I’ve mentioned a lentil-sweet potato stew before, but this is different. And easier.

The Easiest Lentils in the World

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup dried pinto or kidney beans
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce
  • 1 can of chicken stock (or veggie broth, or water + a pinch of salt)
  • 2-4 cups water, depending on how soupy you like your lentils
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste, but probably not much (add after cooking)

I throw all of the ingredients into the crockpot, cook on high for 2 hours and then bring to low for a few more hours (or until I’m ready to eat). I sometimes just set it for low and let it cook overnight, then have it ready to pack in the morning for my lunch.

The end! But you can top with a dollop of sour cream and serve with a side of crackers, French bread, pita or naan. Whatever you  have! We have some variation of this at least once a month, sometimes throwing in vegetables we need to use up (sweet potatoes, carrots and peppers are all good options but you could get crazier).

*Inexplicably, to the tune of Weasel Stomping Day.

Preparing for the tiniest nerd

September 30th, 2013

Rockets and robots // baby boy's room

Until you know you’re having a baby, you don’t have any of the material things you need. It’s not as though, at some other point in your life, you need a crib, a changing table, diapers and receiving blankets. It’s not like having a friendly house guest, who can sleep in the same kind of bed that you do or use the towels and toiletries you already own. You don’t have the baby stuff, the lotions, potions, bottles, pacifiers, tiny outfits or toys.

OK, maybe a few toys. You might have those.


So you create a room from scratch. And once you know you’re having a boy, you can select the right design elements for a tiny nerd. It wasn’t really going to matter what gender the baby was, nor what color his hair or eyes, nor how tall; he’s going to be a nerd. That trait is 100% in his genes.

Space Invaders wall decals over crib (from Ikea)

You fill the room with robots, rockets, bright colors and some Space Invader-like decals. You hang the handmade Star-Trek-themed mobile that a friend created. Nana makes a custom valance with rocket ship fabric. (She’s already got one grandchild and therefore her grandma-name selected.)

Star Trek mobile

And then you wait for the tiniest nerd to make his appearance. It won’t be long now.

Dreams and zombies and The Bloggess

September 6th, 2013

For more than a year now, the Hubbs has been piecing together the makings of a zombie card game. It’s called “They’re Coming” and the idea, in a nutshell, is that you face off against one other player, pit zombies versus survivors, and attempt to reach your safehouse first and with the most non-Zombies.

The Hubbs commissioned art from a  bunch of cool artists, including Tommy Arnold, Joe Badon, Matt Collander and Christopher Martinez. He play-tested the game in weekly sessions with a friend. He created something from scratch and waited for the right moment to send it into the world.

A few weeks ago, he launched the game publicly, via a Kickstarter campaign. His goal was $4,000. We had a good initial launch, creeping towards $1,000 within a few days, and slowly rising toward $2,000. As his de facto PR woman, I tried to brainstorm some ways we could get the word out. We could tweet, network among friends and get on the Zombies Facebook page. But what we really needed was an Internet superhero to help us.

And she did. Our heroine looks something like this, if she were a brain-crazed zombie:

Less than eight hours after The Bloggess mentioned the game, we had reached our goal. Exceeded it, even.

In an email a few minutes ago, I was trying to find the best way to say, “We are so excited.” The Hubbs said it best, though. We are fucking ecstatic.

The Internet, y’all. It makes dreams come true. (With a million thanks to The Bloggess and her readers.)

They’re Coming is on Kickstarter, Facebook, Twitter and the Internetz.

Top image in this post by Brian Brinlee; Bloggess-inspired zombie by Tommy Arnold.