Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dancing with Pak and Newt

We went to the Martini Memorial Shell a few miles from our house the other day. I've been wanting to go with the kids for years in part because it looks like a mini-Hatch Shell along the Charles River with cool murals but also to give them the chance to run on a stage.

We were too late for the cool murals part. I am a fan of graffitti (hello before you jump down my throat where did Keith Haring get his start?) but not on top of other people's art work. I can picture kids working all summer a few years ago painting the various birds, foliage and other scenes of nature. Now Newt, Styles, Pak and V.S.C. rule the Shell.

However, the performance was first rate. Dancing, singing, a performance piece, more dancing, marching and strange karate moves. It was the perfect day for a show.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Cultured girl

This is the last weekend the Americans in Paris exhibit will be at the big city museum. I missed another wonderful exhibit over the summer at a different museum and was determined to get us to this one.

We got ahead of the crowd and walked into a gallery. Before us was Sargent's The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, one of my favorite paintings when I was a little girl. Here we were, all alone, me and my daughter, with this grand painting of four sisters. It was a moment to tear up for.

Accept all she wanted to do was "swim" on the bench in front of the painting. And yell. Loudly.

It is so easy to forget, especially with a kid as good-natured as this one, that she is a kid. A typical two-year-old. And while I wasn't expecting a lengthy discussion contrasting the brushstrokes of Mary Cassatt to Sargent, I was hoping for a bit more "Look for the dog on the blue chair" or "What colors are in that painting?"

Nope. Swimming on the bench.

At least I got a 54-piece puzzle with the Boit daughters (on sale). I can look at that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Read the books

Last week USA Today ran an article about how parents can show movies to teach their kids about history. For instance the Holocaust section included Diary of Anne Frank and Civil Rights included To Kill a Mocking Bird.

What about reading the books? Actually getting them out of the library, buying them used at a bookstore, borrowing from a friend or family member?

Not that this book should even be considered in the same posting but while on vacation last month Craig put in The Princess Bride DVD one evening for the kids to watch. I flipped. Admittedly not the most rational or mature response but I've been waiting to read that book (yes, it started as a book before the lovely Cary Elwes starred as Wesley) to my kids since I first read the book - as a 14 year old.

I can't enjoy a book after I've seen a movie version. I think it would be the same for my kids. So Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Princess Bride will all be read before seen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jazz, blues and soup

While in St. Louis, I was determined to find a local place to hear music. And have a grown-up night out involving grown-up conversations, grown-up drinks, and grown-up music.

So I convinced 12 people from the conference to walk 1/2 a mile in a strange city towards the highway and the baseball stadium, during a Cardinals game, into a stand-alone building in the middle of parking lots. We walked into BB's and a gentleman who had to have learned the piano during the Great Depression was playing the keyboards. It was exactly what I hoped for.

When a place has under its name (and in its domain name) soup, it makes sense to order it. A bunch of folks ordered gumbo and complained later that it wasn't very good. Hello? As my friend in New Orleans says "If the state don't border an ocean, don't order seafood!" My chicken soup with rice and corn bread was very filling and much more appropriate fare for the state of Missouri.

Now the music. After 9:00 the band came on (we heavily tipped our gentleman piano player) playing old standards and awesome covers (Sitting on the Dock of the Bay will never be the same). Then the dancing. We all cut loose and before I knew it, it was 1:00 in the morning!

Before we left, the band invited a guest singer. A very, very large man, he sang without a microphone over a saxophone, electric guitar, base and drums. He got off the stage (we all worried he would fall) and proceeded to walk down the long length of the club. We could still hear him. He sang with passion, sweat and presence. It was a sight to behold.

If you're ever in St. Louis go to BB's. If you live in or near St. Louis, go there. I was so impressed I bought two hats emblazon with BB's - Jazz, Blues and Soup. One for me and one for my dad's birthday present. This is a place to patronize.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What is love?

Start reading this by singing Howard Jones' 1984 song.

My guys pretend to be on a Zoom cafe segment as they make their favorite meal on earth - peanut butter and pepperoni sandwiches. I kid you not. For a while they added Cheerios for extra crunch. They talk through the steps ("Now you put your knife in the peanut butter and spread it over the bread. Wheat is the best." with a knowing nod to the invisible camera) and start eating with an enthusiastic "Bon appetite!"

This week one guy has decided that the ultimate addition to peanut butter and pepperoni is grated cheese, either cheddar or Mexican combo. And today he insisted I make a sandwich for myself.

Now, I didn't want to squelch his creativity or discourage his limited protein intake. So, with Howard in my head I ate a very small peanut butter, pepperoni and cheese sandwich. With lots of milk.

It wasn't too bad. Bon appetite!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Na-no na-no

I can't take credit for this but it was funny.

My guilt-inducing work trip was to, drum roll, St. Louis. I'll write about a night of jazz, blues and soup another time. But when in St. Louis, especially when the trip didn't inspire me to return with the family, I used a break during the conference to go visit the Gateway Arch along the Mississippi River (yes, this whole time I thought it spanned across the river).

I found it fun to be up so high even on a cloudy day.

However, in addition to not knowing that the Arch didn't span water, I also didn't know how one got to the top.

I rode a little, bitty pod-like elevator that jerked, tilted and groaned up the Arch. It had no windows, was bright white and had little 60's mod seats.

When the doors opened for the first time, one of my counterparts declared "Look, Mork's spaceship!"

Monday, September 11, 2006

Guilty as charged

I love to travel. I actually tear-up when they show the pre-flight film about how to deal with emergencies. Not out of fear but from excitement. Excitement about the possibilities this journey will bring.

While I enjoy taking my kids all over in any mode of transportation (one hasn't lived until you've flown with 18-month-old twins to a foreign country in which you don't speak the language) I love to travel without them.

Yes, I feel guilty about not being with them at the end of their first day of kindergarten II (today) or taking them to yet another soccer practice. I feel rotten that my daughter doesn't understand I will be back. Somehow Thursday doesn't make sense to her.

But I will get to read, uninterrupted, for hours. I read all of Lovely Bones on one solo flight. I have Geraldine Brook's March packed and ready to break open. I have my iPod charged and set on Pet Shop Boys. I'll get to be in the company of grown-ups for several days and not worry about peanut butter on my clothes. I'll get to sleep until I need to get up, not because someone woke me up.

And while I am guilty because I'll enjoy it, I'll feel guilty too.

Friday, September 08, 2006


And not the CeCe Peniston song.

So often older people talk about the days when kids would be sent out of the house with no more direction than "go play". We live on a state highway across from a gas station so there is no chance of sending the boys out there. But we're lucky enough to have a large enclosed backyard. The best I can get out of these two boys is 10-15 minutes of soccer before someone offends, hurts, upsets, etc the other.

Today, today, they played for over two hours outside. Uninterrupted. Needing no guidance or mediation from me. They even asked for their lunch out there. Now, a chunk of that time involved using the garden hose and causing a minor flood in the basement but I'm not complaining.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Denial officially begins

There I was tonight, sitting on wet grass with my 2-year-old as her "brudders" played soccer with 7 other boys. I've now got 10 games to look forward to and another 10 or so practices. The dads stand around, at times helping the truly amazing coach, while moms either talk on their cell phones or go off to gossip. I'm not cut out for this.

However, watching my boys run around and really happy for an hour is an alright exchange for the discomfort, both physically and socially. That and watching a kid who was new to soccer try to show one of my guys how to kick. "Watch this!" this boy yelled as he threw the ball in the air and missed kicking it.

My guy just silently turned around, dropped the ball and solidly kicked it in a graceful arc. Then did it again. His new teammate dropped his jaw.

How sick am I that I loved watching that?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Remembering vacation

Always the first question I'm asked upon returning is "So, how was your vacation?"

Should I respond with "Oh it was great. So relaxing and nice to get-away."

Or do I say, "Honestly? It was fun and incredibly stressful. The kids can be really hard to be with for such long periods of time. But then they do or say something priceless that just blows me away."

"Oh, and it rained a lot during the end of the week."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Riding away

This morning I stood in the empty parking lot of a municipal pool and watched one of my sons finally master riding a bike. For several weeks he had been able to ride long distances but needed me to hold him to get started. Today, he could go from standing to starting.

As he was marveling at his ability to hold both feet off the peddles and make quick turns ("Look Mommy!" was yelled often this morning) I kept wiping away tears. There he was, going farther and farther away on his own. I told him since he was old enough to ride a bike, he was old enough to pay attention to cars (within reason. I have no plans to take him riding along a major highway).

Old enough to ride a bike. Watch for cars. My little man, growing up.