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.

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


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'


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 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.