Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Twelve posts

As the year comes to a close, I'm thinking of what I wrote in this little space during these 12 months. I have written over 200 posts about things big and small.

For instance, while Music Monday started in October 2007 it continued through the year. Day to Read was launched in 2008 and will return on January 8, 2009 (so what are you reading?). Jen in Michigan hosted The Writing Game early in 2008.

And then there was travel, travel and more travel - to Las Vegas, The Netherlands, Tennessee, New Orleans, Washington DC, New York, along the North Carolina coast, and Chicago. I love to travel. There are times when the kids' shows will talk about the Pyramids of Egypt or Ancient Greece and I will moan about how I want to go to those more exotic locales. The kids will often report back to Amazing Guy and he will get this look in his eye making it clear that we aren't going anywhere that exotic in his lifetime.

But, borrowing from the beloved and talented Alex Elliot, I'm highlighting my favorite posts from each month. Actually she does this cool list of the first line of the first post of the month but I'm more literal. I just want to talk about what I loved. But February gets two - hey it is my list and February was one of those huge, active and packed months:

January - A Boy in the Hospital
February - The ugly truth and Lorraine Hotel, 2008
March - The Smell
April - We're just beaming here
May - Show and Tell
June - Did I tell you I got an email from a New Yorker magazine music writer?
July - Pink hearts and bad connections: the Yaz Concert
August - Sunday service
September - I love the beach
October - How a park should be
November - Writing the Bee Tree
December - La

Did I get the list right? Did I miss a piece you particularly liked?

And a very Happy New Year. May we all find ways to stay creative.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The power of reading

The kids were all sound asleep in record time. It was 8:30 and I was downstairs when little lady cried out from her room. She was yelling and crying.

I ran upstairs to find her sitting up in her bed, covering her mouth and saying something. I couldn't understand her at first.

"I turned pink!" she wept.

Just like in Pinkalicious, which we had read twice before she fell asleep.

I rubbed her checks, checked her belly and assured her she wasn't pink. Then she dropped back onto her pillow to cuddle under the covers.

Any books turned you a different color?

Do join in Day to Read on January 8, 2009. A group of us are turning off our computers (at least the times when we are on purely for fun) and opening a book, a magazine or a newspaper. Why? Read here to find out.

SMID's Day to Read 2009

Monday, December 29, 2008

Candy Girl

Get ready for a flashback. One of my sons' current favorite songs is that 1983 classic from a local band...


Amazing Guy seemed a bit horrified when I told him that when I was a junior camp counselor my group of 6 and 7 year old girls were called "The Candy Girls". They even did a dance routine to this song at the camp talent show.

Everybody now...

Candy Girl
What I need to say
I need your love
Each and every day



Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial


Any tunes your kids are singing from the good old days?


Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky above then write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link as well as your comment. Just don't bother.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Give a gift

There is lots of talk right now of giving gifts that don't cost a lot, are meaningful, handmade, etc.

I have an idea. If you can, give blood.

We live near a Red Cross center that always has signs imploring people to stop in and give blood. I never go in. My town is near many hospitals that have blood donating centers. I never go to them. I used to give blood regularly but just fell out of the habit.

But my dad needed blood a few years ago.

My sons needed blood when they were born. At one point while they were in the hospital there was a shortage of donated blood and all the parents with babies in the neonatal ICU were assured that our infants would always have blood.

There is a hospital that has a mobile van stationed for one day every other month outside of the train station I go in and out of. Last week I finally went into it to start giving blood again.

It was relatively painless. There was no bruising. And while eating my required snack (fig newtons - yummy) and juice I wrote the following anonymous note on a card to attach to a stuffed animal for a pediatric patient:

My sons needed blood transfusions when they were babies and now are healthy big guys. You will be healthy too. Happy holidays from your blood donor.

Please consider giving blood in the next week or so. Go to Give Life and find out where you can donate. Think of it as the gift you were meant to give.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fun in the Snow

The things I do for posterity.

During the great storm of this weekend (seriously - it snowed non-stop from Friday afternoon until late Sunday night) Amazing Guy and I took the kids sledding on Saturday morning. We went to a park with a tall hill and lots of open space to ride out the run.

Little lady lasted a total of 4 minutes. Maybe a bit longer but the deep snow (up to her knees) and wicked cold (it was 15F or -9C not including the wind chill) was too much for the delicate flower who clearly prefers warm weather (she's been talking a lot about our summer vacation spot).

The boys didn't want to leave after 40 minutes. They claimed they didn't want to go to the birthday party that was starting shortly. They wanted to stay all day.

I took photos (surprised?) to record the first big snowfall and sledding excursion of winter. The boys had been managing the steer clear of me and other people. As I took the photo to the right I didn't think it would be any different.

Until my son started barreling right towards me and my feet were stuck in the snow. I managed to lift one leg up, he ducked and he went right between my legs. Another parent stood watching the whole thing and commented that it looked like we had practiced.

I shook off the feeling that I had narrowly missed having a broken bone to use the video feature on my new camera.


video


Fun in the snow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Urban Nutcracker

This weekend we took the kids to see the 10th annual Urban Nutcracker. Created by former Boston Ballet dancer Tony Williams, it was a joyous celebration combining Tchaikovsky's original music with Duke Ellington's interpretation of the holiday classic. There was hip-hop, doo-wop singing, ballet, tap dancing, Irish step-dancing and dancing atop giant bounce balls with handles.




It was such fun. Which is an understatement. It was glorious. To see all these children and adults dancing and singing was happiness - and skill, endurance, grace and gumption - personified.

Little lady insisted we all dress up for the performance. She was asking that her brothers wear tuxedos. I explained they didn't have any. She settled for khakis and nice sweaters.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial


Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below then write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a little bit easier.


But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link and your comment. Just don't bother.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guess who is here?

The most perfect baby in the world is here!

That would be my nephew. My brother's son. And he is perfect in spite of being my brother's offspring.

Yet this little man isn't a baby but on the verge of toddler hood. He is here from the West Coast for the holidays and I get to see him today!

Excuse me while I get ready to hug.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

La

The other night I went into little lady's room to check on her. Her covers were nearly on the floor so I picked them up and arranged them around her long body.

She stirred and smacked her lips.

Then smiled and let out a blissful "La".

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amhal and the Night Visitors

As the holiday season began, I took the boys to their second opera and little lady to her first. You may (or may not) recall that the boys' first opera involved bugs.

This was a (thankfully) brief opera. Amahl and the Night Visitors is an opera in one act by Gian Carlo Menotti. It was performed in December 1951 and was the first opera specifically composed for American television. I had never heard of it until I joined our church. It is a somewhat regular part of our congregation's holiday celebrations. I hadn't managed to get to a performance until this year.



This is a clip I found on YouTube. The production we saw was stellar. And even more so because one of the kings only learned his part 5 days earlier. The original singer had to drop out when his daughter was born weeks before her due date.

It was a wonderful way to start the holidays. Surrounded by music and good people.

And my kids not understanding half of what was being said.

"Are they really going to SING the entire time?" asked one.

While his sister did an interpretive dance in the aisle with my scarf.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial


Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below then write a post about music (you can even just post your current favorite song) and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a little bit easier.

But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link and your comment. Just don't bother.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

That Look

Pretty quickly after the boys were born, I learned "the look" that fellow parents of twins give each other. You can tell the difference between looking at your family because they are incredulous they are seeing identical twins and that knowing, reassuring look of "honey-I've-been-there".

This week I realized I'm in another group with its own distinct look.

While riding the subway I sat next to a mother and child. The child, who looked about 8 year old, was appropriately bundled up in a hat, scarf, mittens and a huge puffy coat with a big hood. I could only see the child's eyes, which were closed shut.

I settled in for the ride to the end of the line. After two stops, the mother gathered her belongings and quietly asked the child to wake up. The kid didn't budge. She shook the child and started to get a frantic look. There was no way she could carry the child. I asked if I could help.

She explained her daughter needed to wake up because they had to catch a bus from the station. I offered to carry her bags to the subway platform so she could lift the girl. She politely declined and kept trying to get her to wake up.

I asked how old her daughter was.

That was when she made a face. A weary face I recognized. It was a face I often make when preparing for the response this other mother was about to give.

"She's four years old" the mother wearily replied as she looked down. Her four-year-old had the height of a second grader.

I gave her a big smile and said "My daughter is four as well and just as tall! She wears size 7 clothes. Does yours?"

Her head came up and shoulders relaxed. She smiled. She didn't hear the usual incredulous questions of "What? She can't be!" or "I'm sorry, she's how old?" or - my favorite - "Are you sure?". She nodded and said that her daughter too wore size 7 and 8 clothes. We then arrived at her station.

Eventually her little lady did wake up. Or woke up enough to get off the subway safely. And the mom and I exchanged the look.

Because I'm in the club of parenting an extremely tall child. And coping with the inane comments people say.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If you give a kid a camera

If your daughter gets a hold of your fancy new camera, she may takes pictures....



of your birthday cake



or the pan that warmed the pasta sauce



or the Christmas tree, up close



or the garland and a stocking



or the corner of the keyboard.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birthday Greetings

Thank you for such a warm welcome to my 40's. I am actually pretty psyched to be 40 years old. I get a bit of glee when I tell people my age and I usually get a "really? I didn't think you were, errr, that old."

I'm not saying I look 23. But I don't look 40. So it probably makes turning 40 a bit less painful.

I got many greetings, phone calls, even a dedicated blog post - complete with my favorite electronic card characters, Hoops and Yoyo - in honor of my birthday.

But my favorite of all arrived in an envelop from a dear friend. A friend who isn't married, doesn't have kids and lives a pure adult life in a cool apartment in the city (note a bit of envy in these typed words). A friend who would have every right to ignore me during the kid-crazed years but instead celebrates the nuttiness that is my life.

In the front the card says:

Look at you living the minivan dream

Inside it says:

Happy Birthday to a Suburban Goddess

And she wrote a kind, thoughtful note that made me weep in front of the kids. Because my friends do that to me.

Thank you to all of you who wrote kinds things on my birthday. Those I've known for decades and those I have never met in person. My life is richer for knowing all of you.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm 40 Today

Yup - Happy Birthday to me.

I've learned not to be shy about trolling for birthday wishes.

Saturday we combined Mommy birthday party and trim the tree evening. We listened to the Putuamayo New Orleans Christmas CD. There is nothing like Ingrid Lucia singing 'Zat you, Santa Claus? She sounds like Billy Holiday. Well, really Ingrid sounds like the drag queen Joey Arias "channeling" Billy Holiday but we won't get picky.

Our new family tradition for birthdays is music cards. For Amazing Guy's 40th Birthday, one of the cards was of Elvis Presley saying "I'd be nuthin' but a hound dog if I didn't wish you a Happy Birthday." That card was played over and over and over again for weeks. And every time you heard peals of giggles.

For my birthday cards, Amazing Guy let little lady pick out the card from the kids. And she put on quite a dance....




Even the boys got down and danced. Nothing like The Romantics to help usher in a new decade.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Leave me some comment love. If you are writing about music and linking to me in your blog today please add your name to the linky love list.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Today is the first day of 1st and 2nd grade boys'


basketball.

Singular Saturday



For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Day to Read 2009

SMID's Day to Read 2009


January 8, 2009.

Please mark your calendar.

Because, again, I'm asking you a favor.

A year ago I asked folks to take the time they would blog and read something on paper instead. A book, a magazine, a pamphlet, the newspaper. Anything printed.

Why did I do this last year?

Because according to a report released last year reading books is linked to civic engagement. This National Endowment for the Arts reports that young folks aren't reading like they used to. Get this:
  • only 30% of 13-year-olds read almost every day

  • the number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004 - that is 1 in 5 kids don't read for fun

  • Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure

  • The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading

According to Diane Gioia, the Chair of the NEA,

"The poorest Americans who read did twice as much volunteering and charity work as the richest who did not read. The habit of regular reading awakens something inside a person that makes him or her take their own life more seriously and at the same time develops the sense that other people's lives are real."

A year later, that quote still gives me chills. It shows that reading can transcend poverty, help people think beyond themselves.

That is why I'm asking folks, myself included, to take time one day in January to stop blogging - for the entire day or part of the day - and use the blogging time to read. Last year over 100 folks got in touch with me to say they were suspending blogging for the day to read.

So read a book. A magazine. A newspaper. Take the button and please paste it in a post as well as your sidebar (link back to http://denyingsoccermom.blogspot.com/2008/12/day-to-read-2009.html). Write about this. About what books, magazines, newspapers mean to you. Write a couple of posts about writings that have taken you to another place.

Then Thursday, January 8, 2009 turn off your computer and read. Then on Friday, January 9th, write a bit about what you read.

Thank you. Again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Friends like this.....

Amazing Guy sent me the following link from CNN today. It is a clip from the Campbell Brown show. In it Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania is recorded on an open microphone having one of those "side" conversations. He clearly didn't realize the mike was on and said the following about current Arizona Governor Janet Nepolitano being nominated to head Homeland Security for President-elect Barak Obama:

"Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."
I'm just flabbergasted that one of the more progressive governors would say something that moronic, that sexist, that so friggin' stupid.

But I can't talk too much about it now. I have to make dinner for those kids. Those kids that mean I can't devote 19-20 hours a day to a job. I guess that means I'm not a good worker.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I saw Australia Sunday

I saw Australia Sunday. Not the entire continent but the nearly 3-hour film. Which could be as long as it takes to see the country.

I have managed to see all of Baz Luhrmann's films on my own. I danced myself out of the theater as 1992's Strictly Ballroom ended. In 1996 Romeo+Juliet played in a very small theater and I found myself sitting behind two teenagers who clearly hadn't read Shakespeare. As the movie was ending they were yelling at the screen for the two lovers not to kill each other. They didn't realize that is how Shakespeare's tragedies always end. Someone, or several someones, die.

Moulin Rogue! (2001) was such over-the-top brilliance I listened to the soundtrack over and over again. I was thrilled when the circus one year used the can-can song, which my kids renamed the clown song.

So when Australia arrived on our shores I thought it would be a delicious combining of Priscilla Queen of the Desert with Man from Snowy River. I would settle into the chair on my own and just fall into is vibrant story-telling.

It was two long, rather boring movies put together. It started off a taming-the-outback/cowboy film and when that story ended (and I thought the movie was over) an entirely new World War movie started. One friend (also a Baz fan) bemoaned it had every single movie cliche imaginable.

And how badly did I just want them to break out into song?


"Young Hearts Run Free" from William Shakespeare's Romeo+Juliet.

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day - Red Hot and Blue

Today is World AIDS Day. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS, 33.2 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2007. That same year, some 2.5 million people became newly infected, and 2.1 million died of AIDS, including 330,000 children. Two thirds of HIV infections are in sub-Saharan Africa.


By far one of my favorite CDs is the first Red Hot & Blue compilation - then popular and classic singers (hello Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry together?) reinterpreted Cole Porter standards. The songs took on a new poignancy in light of the AIDS epidemic. It is often credited with being the first major effort in the music industry to raise awareness and funds for AIDS.

The CD came out in 1990 when an AIDS diagnosis was essentially a death sentence. Long before the "cocktails" (which one positive friend of mine begs that the drug combination not be referred to such a happy thing of alcohol) lengthened lives and the diagnosis became in theory an illness to manage, like diabetes. Although as we all know, the life-sustaining medicines are not available in many of the nations where HIV/AIDS is running rampant. For instance one out of every 10 adults in South Africa has the virus that causes AIDS.

This is my favorite track from this favorite CD. Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter's Every Time we Say Goodbye.




I wear on my winter coat a beaded red ribbon made by a positive woman from South Africa. This isn't something I think about one day a year but every day.

Now for a personal note to a friend. I'm so sorry you were in the hospital. Get better. I hate that you have this disease.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial



If you are writing about music and linking to me in your blog today please add your name to the linky love list.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yesterday I finished my






Singular Saturday


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Setting the Thanksgiving Table

Setting the Thanksgiving table - Snoopy style.




Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Writing The Bee Tree

Some of you have been following a little project I decided to try.

I've been writing a 50,000-word novel in a month - 30 days to be exact. As the above graph shows, I've been writing almost daily and pretty close to finishing. Those two huge red days were when I spent a Saturday for my organization's biannual convention and when I had book group. I think that is a good reason not to write. I was talking about other people's writing.

My kids have finally noticed that I haven't been typing furiously while working on the blog. Lest you think I am getting solitary time to write - I have been writing while helping someone put shoes on her Cinderella, managing second graders' homework and listening with one ear as someone practices piano. In spite of this one little guy is getting excited that I am nearing the end. He seems to think it will be on bookshelves next month.

What I hate to tell him is that I wrote this for me - as both a personal challenge and a purge.

The challenge originates from NaBloPoMo 2007. I posted every day last November and would sometimes stumble on blogs in which the author declared there would be minimal posting since she/he was "doing" NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. It made me wonder if I could do that.

Then in January I left the kids for a mini-vacation with Amazing Guy. While thrilled to be away with him, the location was less than desirable for me. On the flight over I got to thinking how horrid it would be to die, leaving the kids, going to a place that I didn't really want to go to (it would be horrid to die period - but particularly egregious if it was going someplace wretched).

Fortunately I did survive the trip and spent the next 10 months thinking of scenarios, interactions and dialogue of three kids as they grew up without their parents. Things would pop into my head and I would overhear exchanges that just fit into the characters that were lodged inside of me.

So I started The Bee Tree on November 1st not sure if I would get to November 30th with a complete novel. I decided to write 1700 words a day and was surprised at how easily I could write. I'm not saying I've been writing well. The point of writing in a month is to create lots of quantity, not quality. That is what December is for - National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo).

A funny thing is happening as I near the last 5000 words. The characters are leaving me. They are saying goodbye and the ending is making sense. While I originally thought it would be a complete purge, I'm a little sad that they won't be visiting me anymore. It is as if they are finally out and will let me have that brain space back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Psycho Killer





Psycho Killer by David Byrne at the beginning of Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense. By far one of the best openings for a movie.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any music from movies that just thrill you? Feel free to answer that question in the comments. If you are writing about music, and linking to me, in your blog today please add your name to the linky love list.



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Up early to make West African chicken and peanut butter

stew.

Singular Saturday


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Get that shotgun"

I followed my four-year-old into the large box store to buy snacks for the kids going to the child care at the convention this weekend. She just strutted in, swishing her multi-layered skirt with her butterfly shirt and citrus-fruit rain boots. Her blond curls bounced as she held her head up high.

An older black couple were walking out of the store. The gentleman followed little lady with his eyes and just smiled. This big, huge smile.

The lady looked down, shook her head, then looked me in the eyes.

"Ooooooooo...." she said as she clicked her tongue. "You better get a shotgun right now!"

"Yes I do ma'am" I replied with a big laugh.

And little lady just strutted even more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Instant legislators

My state isn't doing too well with legislators right now. There is a general pall over the General Court (as they are known) thanks to legal action being taken against two state senators (one involving assaulting four women while the other involves taking bribes) and increased scrutiny of the conduct of two representatives. Then there is that lovely fact that my state ranks dead last in contested races - meaning once someone is elected representative or senator they are rarely challenged in future elections. It is as if they are then handed the job on a silver platter.

At Saturday's convention I ran a workshop called Advocacy for Change! (someone else added the exclamation point). Usually at advocacy (aka how a bill becomes a law) workshops you have the range of folks - people who have extensive experience working in politics and people who didn't know they have both a representative and a senator in the State House. I wanted to do something different then the usual PowerPoint explanation of the legislative process ("the governor files the budget in January and then there is a hearing....).

I set up a role play where folks were assigned jobs. I asked a woman with limited English to be the "first" Spanish-speaking Governor of Massachusetts. I "elected" a young woman with a bright red do-rag the Senator who was also Chair of the Committee. People were assigned the role of business owners, residents who opposed and others who supported affordable housing (clearly that last one wasn't a stretch).

We held a mock State House hearing complete with a head table, "Senators" and "Representative" cards, a table to testify from and a clear mandate to give keep the testimony to one minute. I had given those who were testifying a fill-in-the-blank testimony sheet. They just had to come up with 2-3 important points to justify their support or opposition of the issue before the committee. I asked those who were the legislators to pose tough questions and at times seem disengaged (once when I testified before the Senator now facing bribery charges she loudly opened her mail. Although to "my" newly appointed legislators' credits - none of them had the heart to be mean or rude during the 8 minute hearing).



There was a worry that we were putting people on the spot to perform. To do something they wouldn't be comfortable with. I figured I could coach people through the exercise if it got really painful but it was worth the chance.

As always we were running out of time for the session. The "Governor" went first to speak and I was running around trying to line up the subsequent speakers. Suddenly I heard the young woman with her hair covered in a red cloth say very loudly, "Yes Madame Governor but WHY do you SUPPORT this? How will it help our communities?"


I shot up in the back of the large room and then nearly fell over. She and her fellow "co-chair" kept each testimony at one minute (often with a terse "your time is up!"), grilled people about their positions and gave people a real taste of what a hearing is. Neither of them had been to a hearing of any kind.

But who was the "Senator" in the do-rag? She is 18 years old and only recently got her GED. She desperately wants to go to college but because she doesn't have a traditional high school diploma she can't get financial aid for college. I am going to figure out how to get in her college.

Because in 5 years I want to run her campaign. For whatever office she wants to run for.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sporting their tutus

This past Saturday morning I was up at 4:45 to shower and get ready to pick up a colleague at 6:15. Good thing I was up by then because she was calling me at 5:30 am to make sure I remembered the children's movies.

Saturday was our biannual convention. Two years ago several of the gubernatorial candidates came to speak to our members. They are community organizers, builders of affordable housing, youth leaders, non-profit board members, housing counselors at the forefront of the foreclosure crisis and advisers to small businesses which often provide the only jobs in distressed neighborhoods. Some of them bring their children to spend the day with other youngsters playing games, reading and watching movies. Two years ago we had the largest turnout to one of our conventions - 650 - due in large part to people wanting to see the Democratic Candidate, Deval Patrick.

This year we thought we would be lucky if we broke 500. We weren't sad about that but had planned accordingly. An amazing thing happened - we kept getting more and more registrations even though our big "star" speaker was on of our Representatives in Congress. He is in the thick of the market meltdown. We surpassed 650 and it kept climbing. At one point we had over 40 kids signed up for childcare. Suddenly we were facing a convention with more people than the space could hold. More people than we had bought food for. As staff, we had to promise not to eat or take a seat.

We were packed up against the walls. But the energy stayed positive thanks to two dance performances. There are no videos or songs to post so please use your imagination. A hodge-podge of hip-hop, old school rap and funk played throughout a posh hotel ballroom as teens of different races and ethnicity came up to dance their hearts out. These were kids from two cities hardest hit by foreclosures in our state. They know families thrown out of their homes, walk past boarded up buildings that are being gutted by arson, and watching what were once lively, vibrant neighborhoods disintegrate before their eyes.

And they danced. And several of the girls wore tutu skirts over their leggings or pants. It was a wonderful image. The splash of pink or white tulle as the arms and legs were flying, as the faces hardened then brightened, as they danced.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial


Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below then write a post about music (you can even just post your current favorite song) and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a little bit easier.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Half-way through my

Singular Saturday


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obscenities Part II

Thanks so some kids in aftercare, "sucks" has become a regular word used by my 8 year olds. With the perfect tone they say to their little sister "that sucks!" as she tries to tell a story they think is silly.

This has been getting progressively worse and then on Monday I hit the breaking point. I was informed that one kid with a much older brother says that sucks isn't that big of a deal.

I got little sister out of the van, turned to the boys and described in graphic detail what exactly sucks means. I asked them if that was really what they wanted people to think about when they said that word.

They haven't said it since.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reflection

"Reflection" by Bob Staake. A beautiful New Yorker cover reflecting a incredible time in our history.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Went to a hockey game, Part II



Really, you would think after the July, 2007 post I learned my lesson. But my Virginia cousin's kid is on some elite team based in New York state. She came to the northern part of our state this past weekend to watch his team play in a tournament.

My dad and I brought the boys to watch their cousin play in a tiny, cold and really smelly rink. At one point a puck flew over the protective walls. Fortunately no one was hurt and my guys got to keep the puck. I was thinking this wasn't going to be as bad as the game that was called due to excessive fighting (just think about that for a minute).

Then the shoving started. The pushing, the tripping, the smashing against the boards. Something happened so that a player from the other team was ejected for the rest of the game.

He was escorted by a referee off the ice. As he stepped over the threshold onto the floor he turned to the ref and loudly yelled "I'M GOING TO FUCK YOU UP!!!!!!!!"

My 8-year-olds, who are not allowed to say "butt" around me, were 5 feet away. They turned around and walked over to me and my cousin. One said,



"Mom, what does fuck you up mean?"

When will I learn?

(I explained it meant a horrible fight but that it was a really gross word.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Farewell Mama Afrika

I turned on the radio Monday morning and came in on the middle of a piece by the stunning Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about Miriam Makeba. I became very aware that Ms. Quist-Arcton was using the past tense which meant only one thing.

Miriam Makeba died early this morning after performing. It couldn't be a more fitting way for you to pass away. You lived in exile from your beloved South Africa for decades, singing the songs of your homeland. You made sure the world paid attention to the horrors of apartheid. And you did it with song.


This song is Pata Pata. In the interview I heard this morning, Ms. Makeba explained it is traditional wedding song. The English-speaking Africans called it "the clicking song" because they couldn't make the Xhosi sound. I've tried on number of times to make that sound with the back of my tongue up against the back of my mouth. I sound like a drowning badger.

Farewell Mama Afrika. You truly made a difference with your music.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What are you listening to?

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial


Really. What are you listening to these days? Tell me.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So proud

"When results confirmed what many had only dared to hope, celebrations erupted and many reflected on the implications of a black man elected to the highest office in the country, the same country that less than 50 years ago denied blacks the right to vote.

'They were hung, honey. Their homes were burned down,' said Merlene Jackson, a 65-year-old poll worker at Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan, referring to violence she heard about as a girl growing up in Valdosta, Ga. Today, 'they're coming in and no one is hurting them, no one is shooting them down. I never thought I would see this. It's just joy all down my soul. When you are down so long, you don't think you can get up, and this is the unreachable.'"

Boston Globe, November 5, 2008

I walked into my office this morning and a colleague, a 50-year-old African American woman got up from her desk to hug me. She started to cry. So did I. I don't know the depth of the pain, the suffering. But I am proud to be a part of change.

Hail to the Chief, President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama. January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Go Vote


We've been holding signs in opposition of Question 1 - a ballot initiative in Massachusetts that would eliminate our income tax. While my kids can't vote, it is important to have them participate in the democratic process.

And to have them come with me when I vote. It is our duty as citizens in a democracy to cast our ballots. It is my duty as a mom to show them I believe it is important.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Make him a punch line; vote NO on Question 1

Tomorrow let's make McCain and Palin a punch line in the history books.




And everyone in Massachusetts DON'T STOP AT THE TOP [of the ballot]! Vote NO on Question 1!

Everyone singing This Land is Your Land today?

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial



Saturday, November 01, 2008

What I will be doing this month

Singular Saturday


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Friday, October 31, 2008

6240: Happy Halloween

I thought I was all set.

Little lady decided she would be a princess. She has been deciding which of the three already purchased pink or magenta dresses with sequins to wear. How thoughtful of her not to want to buy something.

One guy begged for weeks to be a character from a movie he hasn't seen. A movie he hasn't even asked to see. I relented and bought him a Commander Cody from some Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon movie. He has been floating on a cloud and respectfully left the costume in the bag.

The other guy, oh the other guy. About a month ago he decided to be someone that required a handmade costume. Fortunately a fellow parishioner from our church thought it would just be the coolest thing to help me assemble a denim prison outfit. I found the black shoes, white socks and black and white stripped shirt.

Wednesday night our friend came over to paint "stitches" on the denim pants. Thursday eve we tested the black hair spray and gel to make sure we could make a pompadour before the school parade.

But we decided to watch a song and dance clip one more time before bed time when we all realized the denim jacket was missing something. Some numbers.

Specifically the numbers 6240.

So I ran to the craft store tonight, got stencils and fabric paint. I put 6240 on a little boy's denim jacket. Because those were Elvis' numbers in Jailhouse Rock. And that is what my little man is going to be for Halloween.



Lets rock, everybody, lets rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin to the jailhouse rock.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Best Museum


I have now visited one of the best museums, ever. I don't make this statement lightly.


The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is just an incredible place for learning, history preservation and imagination. As a kid, Amazing Guy went there with his dad and more than once he talked about the Museum. More specifically he talked about the coal mine.


While waiting for the coal mine tour we watched a documentary with the familiar twang of mountain music talk about life in a coal mine town. The deceit of the mine owners, the back breaking work, the six-day work week that started before the sun rose and ended at night and the ever present film of coal dust.


Then we got on a rickety cage of an elevator. Our guide at one point turned off the light (making me seriously question the intelligence of bringing a 4-year-old into a coal mine) so that we traveled down into the earth in pitch black - which is apparently how coal miners travel to their jobs every day.


The tour was obviously mostly in darkened caves. At one point we stood around a variety of different equipment and my children learned about the phrase "canary in a coal mine". And my 4-year-old did fine. I found myself misty eyed several times thinking of the miners who were killed in the Sago Mine in West Virginia or that miners toil in such conditions so I can have electricity to type these words. I suddenly felt very selfish.

After exploring the depths of the ground, we wandered over to learn about battles fought in the depths of the ocean. The Museum has the only German U-boat in the United States. The exhibit leading up to the boat is one of the best displays I've seen. There was a 3-D movie showing the American military trying to figure out where this boat was that gave a terrific context of the war and the damage the Germans were inflicting on the merchant marines and maritime commerce during World War II. At one point when the American boat dropped "depth charges" into the ocean, the floor actually shook.


And after experiencing the buildup to the capture, we turned a corner and were nose to nose with a huge boat. Boat is actually a misnomer. It was a monster.


We went on a tour of the U-Boat. I thought, like on other submarine tours we've been on, we would just walk down the long hall, look into different spaces, then leave. No, we were taken on a guided tour complete with German voices piped in over speakers that simulated the capture of the sub. At one point the lights went off (again causing me to question the intelligence of bringing a 4-year-old on a submarine) and red flashes surrounded us to simulate the depth charges. Again though my 4-year-old did fine. There was a grown man though who could barely keep it together. I wondered if he was recalling some long ago time or thinking of what someone he knew experienced. His weepy discomfort was hard to watch.


The Museum was originally built to be part of the Chicago World's Fair which was the setting for the terrific book Devil in the White City. The building was converted into the Museum during the 1920's and 1930's. It was exciting to walk in a building and along the grounds of such a significant place.


If you go to Chicago, go to the Museum of Science and Industry. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How a park should be

A park should be a public space that attracts the public. It should bring people in, either through activity or attractions, so that it is busy and full of life.

The capital city in my state has recently unveiled a large swath of public park space thanks to the depression of an interstate highway. The public space that has been created does not invite wandering, hanging around, or thoughts of grandeur. It doesn't challenge or engage. It is just pretty green space.

I wish they had talked to the folks who created Millennium Park in Chicago. Earlier this month the family and I went to the Windy City to both visit this grand town, see their grandparents who flew in from south of the Mason-Dixon line, and watch their dad run the Chicago Marathon.



Millenium Park has two of the best large scale public art I have seen. One is the Crown Fountain. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, it consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images of faces of folks from Chicago citizens. For a while they are just on the towers, sometimes smiling, other times just looking out when all of a sudden they pucker up and they "spout" water.



While we were there people danced under the spout, a groom carried his bride under a spout and people just cheered out loud as the water rained down. It was one of those big communal experiences that I wish could happen in every city, town and neighborhood. It is art that brings people together.

Then there is the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as "The Bean". This huge stainless steel structure/sculpture brought you literally into it. You walked underneath, laughed at your reflection, smiled at strangers' reflections and marveled at how the sky and buildings behind you were in front of you, part of the skyline. It was beautiful, engaging and fun.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coming to this one late: I Got it (What you Need)

Over a year ago, a certain large chain of coffee shops starting handing out cards with codes to redeem on a certain music site that starts with a vowel.

That is how I have come to learn about a variety of musicians included Hillary McRae and James Hunter. Getting a couple of their songs for free has led me to buy their CDs. Clearly I am in the demographic the large coffee shop attempts to influence.

But this song from 2007 just makes me outright smile. I Got it (What you Need) by Galactic and Lyrics Reborn pairs a Los Angeles rapper with a New Orleans funk band.





In case you don't catch them my favorite two nuggets are:

I got Girls Gone Wild
Cab drivers Gone Wild
Rabbis Gone Wild
Presidents Gone Wild
But hey - that's just 3 months of old CNN


And:

I'll take gold cards, Chase Cards, green cards, the race card
And anything legal tender
with a white man in the middle of it


Any song making you laugh about the state of our world right now?

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial