Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Candy Poker

Somewhere, there is still snow.  Two weeks ago at Loon Mt., NH,  two of my girls and their friend invented a game of poker using candy, as we all waited until noontime on a Sunday, when the lift ticket prices decreased to $29.  Gambling for treats being far more alluring than the hotel pool.  Later that day, the intrepid tree skiers went off trail only to save themselves at the edge of a stream that had broken through the snow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


If we really lived in a cabin, we wouldn't be afflicted with it; we would just walk outside. It's that cooped-up feeling you get living in the city on a dreary 50-degree January day with no snow in three weeks.  Last weekend was dismal. You can't ski when there's no good snow, and you can't play soccer on the soggy icy mud fields.  Indoor rock climbing? Too expensive. Movie? Nothing redeeming enough.

I was in danger of pacing circles around the house moving clutter from one space to another all day long.  I was starting to loath the day and myself. The children were fighting and provoking one another. We were too fidgety to sit down and play board games. Panic was growing in me. I had to do something.  So I became what I am good at: the annoying drill sergeant.  Through the moans and excuses, I forced everyone to get up and put their boots on, then cajoled them to get into the car, husband, too. We drove to the Middlesex Fells, the city forest.  I didn't care how muddy or dead it would look.  This is what we found:  Frozen swamps to slide on, giant boulders to climb, and ice dams to smash.  Fresh air. Trees. I hoped they would get their socks nice and wet. They did, and we all felt better.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Speed Dating for Married Couples

a 30 minute date

While waiting for swim practice to end, a parent typically waits on the bench at the pool or in their car. The other night my husband and I turned our 30-minute wait into a quick date. Nice bistro. Two blocks away from the pool. Could we suspend our obligations and ignore our phones long enough to make eye contact here?  Was there enough time for the PEI mussels to arrive and the Sangria to loosen our limbs? Could we pretend to have a date in 30 minutes? A suggestion of an affair? A flirt, maybe a tryst, forgetting the other kids who needed the next pick ups, and the food the au pair was preparing at home?

Something's wrong with this picture, you notice. Why are two parents doing the pool pick-up? Never, ever do both parents make the afterschool rounds. My car was in the shop,  of course, and my husband picked me up at an intersection where my colleague dropped me off. Why else would we be in the car together?

The hint, the shadow of a date didn't work for long. But it was a lovely attempt.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Please Stay 10.

They say it's not forever. When books evoke strong feelings that must be shared late at night. When stuffed animals are mandatory bed partners, right after tuck-ins and back tickles. When hanging out with mom and dad is really fun, and you often listen to their advice.

Clothes don't matter too much, and boys are still partners in sports. You still want us to check your homework. And if you had the choice, you'd happily sleep in our bed. Hiding away in your room is just not what you do.  I might occasionally find your finger in your nose, and giggle for its gross-ness, or see you use your collar as napkin, and yell.

After you glimpse adolescence, the weather changes.  These days are so perfect, even when they're not.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Opening Day At The New Playground

Some things are worth waiting for.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Inspired By Inane Video


I have no idea what the fox says, but I'm pretty sure it's not choff, pow, hattie-ho, whatever.  When my daughter said she wanted to be that animal for Halloween, I thought, "oh, how cute and original!"

Then someone showed me the video.  It could be worse; worse than a video of grown-ups dancing around in the woods making no sense.

There's a tradition in our family to make all of our costumes at Halloween.  The kids really have to think about how to make something out of nothing. At first they have NO idea. Until they start to unearth remnants and articles from the corners, closets, drawers and under beds.

This fox costume cost 99 cents to make. The purchased item was a peace-sign plastic headband (from iParty--OK, I go as a last resort) to attached the ears to.

So here's the rundown.

Ears: We shaped ears out of pipe cleaners and then hot-glued them to orange construction paper, letting the pipe cleaner ends come way over the edge of the page, so that we could attach them to the headband later. The white in the middle of the ears were painted on with those squirt bottles of puffy plastic paint. What are those things called?  The headband had holes in it from the peace signs, making a perfect anchor for the pipe cleaner ears.

Mask: Purely construction paper. An elastic waistband "adjuster" was taken out of an old pair of trousers to use as the strap. Whiskers are squiggly packing paper found in an old box.

Sweater:  That's my wool sweater.
Belly:  She attached a white washcloth with safety pins
Tail:  A fuzzy brown scarf/boa folded in half, safety-pinned to back of sweater.
White gloves and brown leggings.

I helped my daughter with the ears the night before, but when I came home from work on Halloween, she and our family helper Liz had put this amazing costume together.

This is what the fox says: Hey Josie and Liz, you rock!

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Friday, August 2, 2013

When Poets Were Rock Stars

I finally got inside that lovely house on Brattle Street you pass driving out of Harvard Square, when I chaperoned a field trip at the end of the school year.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, though he was a world traveler, polyglot and professor, wrote poetry inspired by experiences in his everyday life.  He wrote about the blacksmith living on his street, the chestnut trees that got chopped down, his children and the neighborhood kids.  I think about poetry now, when I am trying to turn my kids on to other types of media than the ones they see on the gadgets ubiquitous in their environment.

I made a failed attempt at the beginning of the year to read one poem a night.  January started off strong.  Once I got everyone to settle down at the table, I would read a poem, and on a good night my children would decipher metaphors and make up their own.  Poems like Maya Angelou's "I Love the Look of Words" (where she compares words to popcorn), and almost anything by Robert Frost (skip the ones about death), and Alice Walker's "Going Into the Garden" and Longfellow's "I Shot An Arrow into a Tree" are surprisingly though-provoking for kids.  My children were captivated, if only for a moment, by descriptions of a spring melt or wind's mysterious forms.   I wonder what would inspire them to want to memorize a poem the way they desperately want to memorize lyrics from Youtube.

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