Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The meaning of appliances

We were standing in the basement of the two-family we were living in. Amazing Guy and I were a few years into our marriage, long before children arrived in our lives, and had moved into a new apartment. Our friends rented the apartment on the second floor and they owned a washer and dryer. So Amazing Guy and I decided to buy our own set rather than schlep to the laundromat.

I thought I would hyperventilate.

For some reason buying appliances caused me to panic. It felt so permanent, so we-are-here-for-good, and I struggled with that loss of freedom. The ability to just pick up and move was gone. In my mind, a real moving company is needed to move a washer and dryer.

I grabbed a hold of Amazing Guy and told him how I felt. I admitted that this felt more permanent than our wedding.

He was horrified. "How can buying appliances be more permanent than getting married?" he asked.

Because I knew he was always game for an adventure. A washer isn't.

Happy anniversary Amazing Guy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Go kill the Yellow Man"

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

My kids notice lyrics. You may recall me being asked loudly on the side walk in our hometown "Mom, what's Negro Day?" after we had just listened to the soundtrack for the movie Hairspray.

They also sing lyrics really loudly.

As when this summer we had one of little lady's friends over for dinner. We brought this 4-year-old home for supper and were taking her to the weekly outdoor concert. Her mom was traveling out of state for work and we were just thrilled to have her join us.

Little lady's friend was adopted by her mom in China.

After we finished eating, one big brother decided to put on his favorite song at the time, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. He knew it is about the mistreatment of veterans following a "long ago war" (to a then almost 8 year old) but clearly had no idea about the location of that war or what some of the lyrics were about.

He was singing loudly around the dining room table and our young friend continued to have the look of either horror or exhaustion from watching identical boys run constantly since she had walked into the door of our house. As he was matching Bruce's notes perfectly, I fell into a panic because he was getting close to a particular lyric:

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man

I didn't know whether to tell him to outright stop singing which would lead to a series of "why Mom?" in front of our young, Asian-American guest, or just stare at him and hope telepathy would work.

I stared and in my brain begged him to stop singing and not ask why. He did stop singing and for the first time quietly went into the other room to do something else.

Later that night, after our young friend was dropped off at her house, I thanked him profusely for stopping his singing. I tried as best as I could to explain the context of the lyric and how Springsteen was trying to show how war dehumanizes people.

I was able to tell the little friend's mom about this a couple of days later. She blessedly wasn't fazed by it all and said she was glad there was a teaching moment out of it.

Several weeks later we were making 25+ copies of the birthday CD as favors for the boys upcoming party. At one point the little Springsteen fan yelped that we had to make one without "Born in the USA" for a classmate of his.

His classmate was also adopted in China. He didn't want her to feel bad when she got the CD.

Got a song that you like but something about it makes you jump when you hear it? Do tell.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rain rain go


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"What's sexy?"

While listening to a Brazilian song with the lyric "girls be looking sexy, lookin' mighty fine", I heard the following question from the back of the van.

"Mom? What's 'sexy' mean?"

That was so easy to answer.

"Do you remember that last hotel we stayed in before vacation ended?"


"Do you remember how, when we were loading the car, you and your brother saw that lady leave the hotel?"

A much slower "yeah" came out of his mouth.

"Do you remember how she was wearing a short black skirt, really high heal shoes and a top that, um, made her breasts look big?"

Giggles were now coming from both 8-year-old boys in the back of the van. "Yeah" was barely uttered in between snorts.

"Remember how you and your brother couldn't stop looking at her? That was sexy for you."


Monday, September 22, 2008

Never say never in September

Several things I must admit:

1. I will not buy my kids character toys, clothes, gear (e.g. backpacks) because I don't want my kids to be walking advertisements for large corporations nor do I want them to limit their creativity to what media mongols deem "creative". Of note is that Halloween is a big exception. That is fantasy and part of the fun is being someone else. Plus I really want to dress up as Wonder Woman one of these years. But that is a different post.

2. I absolutely love (and luckily so do my kids) the PBS show Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, the game show involving six pre-teen/early teen kids and a cartoon dog host (the same voice actor who does Kenny the Shark). Season Three starts TODAY, September 29th!!

3. When a friend who works at the PBS station that produces FETCH offered to buy all three of my kids FETCH shirts, I didn't hesitate to say "YES! And do they make them for adults?" But then she insisted that I not pay her back when she handed me the shirts. So technically they are gifts.

But really, who wouldn't proudly advertise a well-written and thought out show about a cartoon dog with his own reality game show which is based in his garage (aka "Studio G")? A show that somehow gets my kids to make up their own math or science challenges or gets us to try new things like Circus Smirkus? And how can you not promote FETCH when this is one of the advertisements. Everybody get your Earth, Wind and Fire on (really click it - it takes 30 seconds to watch)....

So now that you all are getting down thanks to an orange cartoon dog (and plan on TiVo-ing the new shows on September 29th), what advertisements just make you smile?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting ready for ballet class little lady is a vision of


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

greeblepix contest


River Bricks

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

They are not just twins - a letter to the Governor

This letter has not been sent but this is a real piece of legislation being considered in my state.

Dear Governor,

I'm writing to ask that you veto House Bill 469 which is on your desk awaiting your signature. A friend who doesn't have children thoughtfully forwarded me an email from a group of parents of twins and multiples who are working to get the bill signed by you. The bill would (in the words of the email alert) "allow parents to make the choice about keeping their twins in the same classroom or splitting them up rather than having the superintendent or principal making a unilateral decision for all twins".

My poor friend, who I have not seen or really connected with in a few months because our schedules haven't been in sync, got the proverbial earful from me in my reply.

I think the parents behind this bill need to get over the "twin-ness" of their children. I speak from experience. I have identical twin boys but I will be damned if the sole focus of their identities are that they are twins. I also have a singleton daughter. Is she less special because she isn't a twin?

Teachers have 18-22 kids in an elementary school class. They cannot be expected to remember what two identical people are wearing each day. And then what if, like yesterday, the siblings-who-happen-to-be-twins want to wear the same outfit? Do I tell them they can't because it might confuse their shared teacher?

One of the more horrid things that happened to the boys while at a parochial school for one year where they had to wear uniforms (because we couldn't get full-day kindergarten in our town) was during aftercare the counselors would just say "I can't tell you apart so I won't call your names". My sons were basically called "hey you!" for a year at aftercare. It particularly drove one of my boys nuts. He hated it.

Multiple siblings interact differently when they are apart (as with all siblings). Sticking multiple siblings together in a classroom only perpetuates the notion that they can only function as a paired set or unit, not as individuals. I see on a daily basis how my sons are looked at differently when they are together then when they are alone with me. Just the other evening on the subway it was uncomfortable seeing how people would outright stare and point at my sons. Even with people that we see frequently we still are asked twin questions and comments. But when it is just one of the boys with me he is not stared at by strangers and is talked to like the individual he is. I want their classroom experience to be about them as individuals.

And why, my dear friend pointed out after reading my tirade, do parents of multiples get this privileged choice of which classroom their children are assigned? Shouldn't all parents get this choice?

The alert ended with the salutation "twin-cerely" which is what set me over the deep end to author this letter. Please veto the bill.


Soccer Mom in Denial

PS - I did call your office to ask you not to sign the bill. The poor guy answering the phone was just shocked to hear that I opposed the bill.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No music yesterday

Yesterday I did two daring things.

I ran without my music.

And I ran my first ever race.

Back in July, little lady asked me if she would ever get to cheer for me in a race.

So after our NYC trip in July I started training, in earnest, for a 5K race in September. I picked a local event in honor of a late city counselor who advocated for affordable housing and thriving neighborhoods.

My goal was to run 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in under 35 minutes. While training I listened to a terrific mix list. It got me going. One song I love so much I put it on the mix twice so I can hear it when I'm at the halfway point.

However, I had been reading the scorn which "old time" runners thought of people who run races with headphones. I decided to run my first race without tunes. I did want to hear what was going on around me, perhaps even talk to some people.

I crossed the starting line longing to hear my current favorite tune. I tried to sing it to myself and then just focused on breathing, which became hard early on. I was getting pretty discouraged but kept going, even cheered on an older gentleman as he slogged up a hill, listened in on some high school girls gossiping, and heard marching band drums as I neared the finish line.

My cheering section - all four of them, saw me and started yelling and whooping. And while I was quite proud of crossing the finish line at 32 minutes and 32 seconds, one son commented to Amazing Guy "Well, at least she didn't come in last place."

And my reward for running without music was a parade, complete with college and high school marching bands, neighborhood bands, clowns, colonial re-enactors and bagpipes.

I think I'm hooked on running races.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any song you really miss when you don't hear it?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tonight I'm going to surprise the boys by taking them to a Red Sox


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yet.... another.... race....

Much planning and thought went into it but it was still a burden to endure for all involved, particularly the runner. Amazing Guy ran (in 902% humidity) the Labor Day 1/2 marathon at Virginia Beach after our two week vacation. This was the first "away" race that required the kids to wake up at 5:30am to help drive AG to the starting line.

I'll let that fact sink in.

He was dropped off at 6:15 am for the 7:00 am start and I managed to be one of the last cars to fit into a municipal lot near the race course. The kids were beyond miserable when they were leaving the van. Oscar the Grouch is the vision of cheer compared to how grumpy they were. And then we were saved.

The hallmark of this race is bands playing throughout the course. The kids perked up right away and happily sat for over 30 minutes listening to a local cover band as they waited for their dad to come by.

We became huge fans of the Running Elvis. In addition to the running ballerina with rabbit ears and tail.

And the surfer dude with shredded board shorts.

Of course, they really perked up after AG ran by the first time because it meant they got to go to a breakfast buffet. Then we cheered for him again a little after mile 11. Then we found him at the end on the beach.

In all, lots of fun but still tiring. And I wasn't even running.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We all had the moon

One of the most special aspects of our vacation is we get to spend several days with my beloved Uncle and Aunt who reside deep in the South. By traveling past the Mason Dixon line, it enables them to come up and join us for several days.

Last year was the first time they joined us. While gazing at the moon during that first visit, my then three-year-old daughter taught my aunt, a retired preschool teacher, Laurie Berkner's Moon, Moon, Moon song. For her 4th birthday this past April, my aunt sent little lady a copy of Many Moons by James Thurber. A wonderful story about the sick princess Lenore and her desperate father, the king, who will get her anything to make her well. All she wants is the moon and eventually she gets it.

What was most touching about receiving the book was the note my Aunt enclosed explaining how her mother had read the book to her. My grandmother was a big fan of The New Yorker so I'm sure having a children's book written by a New Yorker writer was a huge treat for her to read to her children.

The copy of the book my aunt sent was the only one she had and included an inscription from a former preschool student's family thanking her for being a wonderful teacher. I was so touched that she gave my daughter her only copy of a book she cherished.

Weeks later I came upon a set of books my now (almost) 95 year old grandfather sent me when the boys were born. They were original editions of both The Little Prince and Many Moons, complete with the fancy "from the library of" labels with my late grandmother's name in typeset. My aunt had told me she didn't know what happened to the copy of Many Moons. It was so safely stored away from children's hands that I forgot I had it.

So I decided the original edition of Many Moons should go back to the woman who once had it read to her when she was a little girl. And that all of us should have our own moons like Thurber's princess Lenore. I asked an incredibly talented artist/jeweler here in town to design and create three moons - one for my aunt, one for my daughter and one for me. What she created were delicate hand painted moons with craters. On closer inspection you can see that a part is painted darker to show the crescent. Her design was brilliant.

We all sang "Moon, Moon, Moon" and read Many Moons while wearing our moon necklaces on vacation. Under a beautiful moon.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shouldn't have even thought it

While driving down the island to catch a mid-day ride on a sailing boat, we drove past the local hospital. I thought to myself "wow, our third year visiting this lovely place and we have yet to come to the emergency department."

I almost said it out loud to Amazing Guy but thought better of it. That would've jinxed us, you know.

Apparently thinking it was all we needed to be jinxed.

That evening, at the end of our rental house driveway, one of my sons caught the front wheel of his scooter (aka Razer) on the gap between the driveway and the street. He only landed on his hands. His reaction was different then anything I had seen by my kids before. No out and out wailing, no jumping up and down thrashing in pain. He just stood up then tucked his right arm to his belly and doubled over. He didn't cry out, didn't even look for comfort. Amazing Guy and I saw the entire thing from the front porch and our little man didn't seek us out at first.

But as the evening wore on it became apparent he was favoring his right wrist. Even in the middle of the night, after he had crawled into bed with us, I watched him stretch in his sleep. He fully stretched his left arm all the way to the wall but kept his right arm close to him.

Then I knew that I had jinxed us.

And doubly so. Because my little man had to spend nearly 5 hours in the little island hospital's emergency department.

On his 8th birthday.

[Update: Even after a visit to the orthopedist it is still only a "suspected" fracture of a growth plate but they treated it like one. He's wearing a splint all the time for three weeks then only during "active" times for one week.]

Monday, September 08, 2008

Vacation Tunes

Music Monday, after a needed vacation, is back....

Any trip with my family involves music. While we played the boys' 8th birthday CD a lot, another mix came into play. My Running While On Vacation mix.

The surprise hit of the list? J. Geils Band "Just Can't Wait". The kids came up with the following additions to the chorus

I just can't wait
("to get to the beach"
sang/yelled the kids from the back of the van)
Just can't wait
("to play in the sand")
Just can't wait
("to swim in the pool")
Just can't wait
("to get out of the car")

Click below to listen the the song. There is no video. And really, is one necessary when you can have visions of three children going nuts rocking out in the back of the van? Or of me slogging running briskly in 137% humidity up very steep hills?

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

So now that Music Monday is back in full swing, any summer vacation tunes to share? Do tell....

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Still trying to hold on to that vacation

Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I love the beach

I love the beach.

For boogie boarding.

To walk to.

For walking on.

To walk away from.

For the dunes.

To jump on.

And dance on (they were singing J. Geils Band's "Just Can't Wait").

For the umbrellas.

To ride bikes to.

To cover your legs in wet sand.

Even in the rain.

Even when you can't swim.

To play games on.

To build sand castles on.

And sand birthday cakes on.

To play with drift wood.

I love the beach.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm coming back

Really. I will.

We spent over two weeks away. It was lovely.

Then we returned to a flooded basement thanks to the water boiler exploding. Not so lovely.

And two boys started second grade today while a little lady started pre-K. And the grown-ups in the house had to go back to work. So we are all playing a little catch up right now.

But I will be back. To share stories of the beach, drives and the island hospital. Because for the first time, I had to take one of my kids to the Emergency Department while on vacation on this island.