Sunday, August 31, 2014

Gadget Free Day

One Saturday in July the children were home alone with their mom. Frustrated with her kids' perceived inability to communicate or mobilize, she confiscated all their ipods, phones, computers, kindles, ipads and i-hoo-haa's and declared a Gadget Free Day.

The troops protested, threatened to tell their dad, and even refused to go and get their hair cut as planned.  (And they had really shaggy hair.)

The mother let the kids steam and stew and troop back up to their rooms.  She waited.  About 45 minutes later, one of her daughters came downstairs and asked if she could build a tree swing.

Yes, the mom swallowed. She had no clue how to make a tree swing.  After a few deep breaths and a survey of the basement, the raw materials began to emerge.  There was sawing, drilling, knot making, and testing of the hemlock branch.  A monkey climbed the tree to secure the ropes. With many knotting iterations, the seat was finally level.  The swing worked!

They all shared the satisfaction of working together and building something with their own hands. And no one asked for an I-pod for the rest of the day.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On the Waves

Being active on the ocean, or in the mountains, with any of my kids is a peak experience for me.

Yesterday Josie and I had a break to ourselves at Coast Guard Beach.  I didn't realize folks on the beach were watching us until Josie caught a beautiful ride and suddenly we heard whooping, cheering and applause.

Sometimes nature and children cooperate, and the beauty all around you becomes vivid.  You feel so grateful.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Body Art for Bored Teenagers

My 13-yo daughter came home from school one day with elaborate drawings on her legs and arms. Bored in science class, she grabbed a Sharpie and went at it.  At first I was upset, and told her how wrong it was and that she had to clean it off before the next day, blah blah.  But I was struck by the beauty of her designs, which were like a hybrid of henna and geometry.  When she said, "Mom, you should let me do this because you know I would never get a REAL tattoo," I thought, hey, she's right.   I decided to count it as a blessing that I have an artistic daughter who would never get a permanent tattoo.  Above is a design she did on her sister's leg.

Then I remembered the book I had read recently, The Garden of Evening Mists, by Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng.  Such a complex and beautiful story about a Malaysian woman who was interred by the Japanese during WW2, and the Japanese gardener who becomes her lover.  Beside crafting sublime gardens, this guy was a secret expert in "horimono" the ancient Japanese art of body tattoo.  I won't even tell you about the sensual scenes in the book when he is working on her back. Now I am helpless against works of art, even on my children's skin.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Persuasive Essay Assignment

What my 9-year old son submitted for his assignment.

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.