Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just like Madeline

I would not say that the little girls at Miss Clavel's school, the smallest one being Madeline, were a big part of my childhood. I knew of them but don't recall reading the books as a child. We have a few of the books in the house but they aren't ones we read repeatedly - over and over again - like others.

That will change because I now share a special bond with Madeline.

It all started last Monday, December 7th, the day before my birthday. I started to feel a bit blah during a meeting (but then who doesn't feel blah during meetings) and noticed I wasn't hungry (an odd state for me). I made myself eat some soup with a friend and blessedly she was interesting and engaging so I could focus on the topics and not how I felt.

I had to leave the big city early to see the boys in a Musical Theatre review. They and 40+ other kids spent the last six weeks learning Singing in the Rain, We Go Together and other songs and this was the big performance. I got to the school auditorium and immediately started feeling chilled and then really hot. My gut started to hurt and all I wanted to do was curl up under the medal chairs.

I watched the performance, clapped and cheered. I thought I had done a good job covering up my discomfort. As the boys bounced off the stage one of them came up to me and asked "why are you so mad? You looked mad during the show."

So much for hiding it from them.

I managed to get us in the van and then realized I was really hurting. It was so bad I taught one of my sons how to make an emergency call on my phone. "Does this mean you are going to crash?" he asked warily. Fortunately we were able to retrieve their younger sister from her after care program and arrive home safely without crashing.

I told the kids to fend for themselves for dinner and not torture the dog. I curled up in bed, read on-line the symptoms for appendicitis, and laid there convinced it wasn't my appendix. It didn't feel like the flu - no achy joints or headaches - and it wasn't a stomach bug. The pain was all in my gut. And while it was painful, and I had heard all these stories of people suffering blinding, rolling-on-the-floor pain, it in no way compared to giving birth without an epidural.

So I laid there trying to convince myself that it wasn't my appendix.

And then I smartened up, called the after-hours staff at my doctor's office and called a friend to drive me to the hospital. By 9:00 pm I was drinking barium for a CT scan and by 2:30 am, my birthday, I was going under general anesthesia for an appendectomy.

And, just like Madeline, I now have a scar to the right of my belly button. And she is now one of my favorite characters from children's literature.

Now I just need a yellow hat with a black bow.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wish list

Shot on Sunday. A new theme by Mo'Jenn.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Let the season begin


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit its new home at
Finding My Way (aka MoJenn).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

All I got

Dang I did another NaBloPoMo
30 posts in 30 days. Phew.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Perfection, by Muppets

Because I can think of no better way to end NaBloPoMo, 2009 with the Muppets singing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.


Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

How are you celebrating the last day of November?

Please join in Music Monday. Just leave a note if you play, write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

Look who played!!

Finding My Way

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Shot on Sunday. A new theme by Mo'Jenn.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today was wonderfully


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit its new home at
Finding My Way (aka MoJenn).

Friday, November 27, 2009


Performing, with help from a 2-year-old cousin.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


What came home in two 3rd graders' backpacks yesterday --

I am thankful for my brother. He always lets me play his DS games. Second of all, he is nice to me. In fact, he always lets me listen to his iPod because mine broke. Lastly, if he wasn't in the world I would be sad. W. is the best brother, I love him!


Thanksgiving reminds me of all the things I'm thankful for. I appreciate my mom, my family and my dog.

I'm especially thankful for my family because they love me. Secondly we go on vacation together. Lastly they love me. I love my family.

I also appreciate my mom because she makes our dinner every night. Secondly, she takes care of me. Lastly she loves me. I love my mom.

Finally, I'm grateful for my dog because he plays with me. Secondly my dog loves me. Lastly my dog loves my family. My dog is the best

As I enjoy this holiday season, I realize that I have many reasons to be thankful. My mom, my family and my dog are very important to me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Say whatever

While driving to school one brother told on the other one.

"I saw him sitting on his chair the wrong way. His bottom was on the back rest and his feet were on the seat!"

What followed was a cascade of confessions, tattle-telling and a 5-year-old younger sister begging that we not talk about this.

The upshot was that someone was copping a little attitude in his third-grade class, in part to keep up with the antics of his friends and in part because I gave him permission.

I what?

"Yeah Mom! You told me that I could say whatever I want when I am with my friends!"

Back up a year or so ago when the first, real ugly word came out of my sons' mouths. I was in a panic. How does one stop them from using obscenities, snarky sayings, crass gestures? How does one, as the saying goes, not think of an elephant when someone says elephant?

A dear friend had an ingenious response. She tells her daughters she can't control what they say to their friends but in their family home they have to use appropriate language.

So that was my response and we've done pretty well in the family, language wise.

What I didn't think would happen was he would take the comment to mean all actions with friends, outside of our house, including class time.

We have now clarified that what I meant was during recess. Class time means work time.

And I have to go apologize to a third grade teacher.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Instant ancestors

As the classic American holiday that celebrates family descends upon us I'm reminded of this photo I took with Ambassador when we went to Charleston, SC.

Instant ancestors. Who would you like to claim?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Congratulations bill

Boy: Woof! You sure gotta climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington. But I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is?

As a kid I was a huge fan of Schoolhouse Rock - those ingenious 2 minute cartoons sandwiched between Saturday morning shows that taught math, science, grammar and history.

But my favorite, all-time knock down drag out favorite is "I'm Just a Bill".

Boy: Gee, Bill, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage.
Bill: Well I got this far. When I started, I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local Congressman and he said, "You're right, there oughta be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress. And I became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.

In some ways the love of "I'm Just a Bill" clearly inspired me to go into public policy. It planted the seeds of a belief that government can make a difference. Like making school buses stop at train tracks.

Boy: Listen to those congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you?
Bill: Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones. Most bills never even get this far. I hope they decide to report on me favourably, otherwise I may die.
Boy: Die?
Bill: Yeah, die in committee. Oooh, but it looks like I'm gonna live! Now I go to the House of Representatives, and they vote on me.
Boy: If they vote yes, what happens?
Bill: Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again.
Boy: Oh no!
Bill: Oh yes!

Since arriving at my current job in 2007, I have been trying to pass a new state law that creates a structure to ensure federally subsidized, yet privately owned, buildings with contracts ending somehow remain affordable. Versions of this bill have existed in some form or another in the State House for over 15 years.

Since getting a panicked phone call in April, 2008 I've been working to reopen a state loan program that helps to remove lead paint from low-income families homes.

Clearly I don't do this work alone. There was a team of folks and I was part of a great team in both cases.

The new almost law is An Act Preserving Publicly Assisted Housing. I write almost because while both branches of the legislature unanimously passed this bill and enacted it last week, we are still awaiting the Governor's signature. My organization worked in coalition with other groups - housing advocates, elder advocates, faith-based groups and others to get this bill passed.

The state government program, Get the Lead Out, reopened on October 28th with money we successfully advocated for during the last state budget process.

So in honor of both those items, and to explain my work, I bring you I'm Just a Bill from Schoolhouse Rock.

Congressman: He signed you, Bill! Now you're a law!
Bill: Oh yes!!!

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Can you point to a song and say "yup, that made me what I am today". Do you dare admit it?

Please join in Music Monday. Just leave a note if you play, write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

And we have a player!
Mo'Jenn - Simple pleasures

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hanging green

Shot on Sunday. A new theme by Mo'Jenn.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Doctor just said little man does not need


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit its new home at
Finding My Way (aka MoJenn).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't like it

I picked the kids up from school and was driving home when the shocked voice of a 5-year-old directly behind me gasped,

"Did you cut your hair?"

Yes. I did. Don't you like it?

"No. It is too short."


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Like it was 1996

Yesterday I forgot my cell phone at home.

If it was a normal day, one spent at the desk working on my computer next to a phone it would not have been a big deal.

But yesterday was not a normal day. Yesterday I got to watch, after a few years of my work and literally decades of other people's efforts, a bill get to the last stage of becoming a law. And I couldn't instantly tell people outside the State House about the progress.

The funny thing is that my counterpart from a sister organization didn't have his phone either. He forgot to charge it.

So we ran back and forth between the House and the Senate chambers to watch the different proceedings. While waiting to hear about the bill we talked, because we couldn't text or surf the web. It reminded me of how the State House was before the Internet, cell phones and texting.

You sat around with colleagues, watching history be made, and really talked. About people, the weather, upcoming efforts, gossip and jokes.

And I found myself missing 1996.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have a new mantra for when I get dressed in the mornings.

W.W.I.W.? Because what would she?

Last week, during what I thought was the end of all illness among my brood but turned out to only be a brief respite (and meant the kids probably infected an entire region of the Commonwealth), we went to one of my favorite museums. I love it any day of the year.

Right now I want to live there.

The museum is hosting Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel. It is an incredible show of one woman's love of clothes and embracing color, texture and jewelry with abandon.

She combines haute couture with thrift store finds. She layers necklaces upon necklaces and then adds more necklaces. She thinks dressing should be an adventure.

So I have a new mentor. Someone I will talk to every morning and ask how bold, how outlandious I can be. Not that she will answer but it will be a lively conversation that I will have with my new imaginary friend.

Every morning I plan on asking what would Iris wear?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"She will text you back"

An exchange this past weekend when it became apparent that little lady would not be going to ballet class due to her fever.

"Mama, you can't forget to call my ballet teacher!"

Ok I will.

"No! You need to email her. That is easier."


"Then she will text you back. That will be faster."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shake the Disease

It has been one of those weeks.

Monday afternoon I picked up my guys at aftercare to find one of them dragging, his eye lids half open. He fell asleep in the back of the van during the two mile drive home.

And it has been downhill from there.

He had all the symptoms of H1N1 - fever, cough, a bought of throwing up, and general misery. The only good thing was it lasted for a day.

Then his twin brother caught it. He has had a fever - going up to 103 at one point - until yesterday. And their younger sister caught it. She actually psyched us all out. She too had a fever for a night and was fine for 24 hours. Then - bam - another bout with a fever. Both of them were checked out by the pediatrician and neither had a secondary infection which was a relief.

But being cooped up with no where to go, and kids that don't act sick even with fevers, is really tiring.

Not that this song fits with the situation, the title sums it up.

A live version of Depeche Mode's Shake the Disease. Hopefully we will shake the disease.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

You shaking any diseases? Any songs help you through ailments?

Please join in Music Monday. Just leave a note if you play, write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

And we have a player!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shot on Sunday

Shot on Sunday. A new theme by Mo'Jenn.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This week we were most likely visited by


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit its new home at
Finding My Way (aka MoJenn).

Friday, November 13, 2009

103 Degree Love

He thoughtfully coughed
Into his elbow and then
Gave my face a hug.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stay in School!

Ever since the boys were little they have admired construction sites. Big ones with large equipment. Two guys working on fancy brickwork for a sidewalk. Anything with tools and concrete and they stop to stare. More so as preschoolers but even today they will ogle at the men (and aren't they usually men?) in hard hats and work boots.

Back when they were three years old we walked by two men laying brickwork for a sidewalk. I was commending their craftsmanship when one of them held up his hand, pointed at my boys and said sternly to them "stay in school!" while the other gentleman nodded with great seriousness. As if three year olds understood what they were saying.

Fast forward six years later and this fall the boys and I, along with their 5 year old sister, looked up as we saw several men restore a smoke stack at an old brewery. The cherry picker was lifting a man up to on it. We stopped to admire both the work and the thrill of the rising equipment. Once again, the lift rider yelled down to my kids (we were the only people watching) "stay in school!" while several colleagues shouted in agreement.

Is there some pact that all construction workers sign to yell "stay in school!" at young children? Is there something embarrassing about working in construction?

Why does this keep happening?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pirouette with that kick

The last game for the season was played by a team of kindergarten girls this past weekend. Coached by three high school students (with some backup by a player's dad) they were a force to be reckoned with.

Well most of them. One particular 5-year-old, the one related to me, would often end a kick of the ball with a perfectly pointed toe which would have made her ballet teacher proud. She never seemed terribly focused on the ball, often twirling or looking out to the sidelines for a wave. During the last game she ran off the field for a hug. She ran off the field while the ball was in play.

When given the choice of playing in a soccer game to going to ballet class, there was never any doubt she would be in a leotard and tights instead of shin guards and cleats.

But the morning of her last game, my daughter announced she "loves soccer!!" and plans on playing it forever.

I think she was just psyched to get a movable arms trophy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One down for the count

Like everyone else with school age children, I have been worrying about flu shots. The boys got seasonal flu vaccines during their annual physical last month but not the H1N1. Little lady hasn't gotten either.

But it may not matter. Yesterday evening, one little man developed a wicked cough and fever. At 4:00 this morning he graciously added vomitting to his list of ailments.

Last night, he wrote out the following schedule for his sick day.

1. have breckfist
2. get mom's cofe (coffee) and my skoan (scone)
3. eat the skoan
4. charg DS
5. play DS
6. tack a nap

We'll see what #7 is.

Monday, November 09, 2009

First Train Home

I have a new singer I've fallen in love with. A legitimately new singer, one who wasn't recording in the 1980's. In fact she was in grade school in the 1980's.

Imogen Heap has me transfixed.

She has one song that has my daughter transfixed. She is happy when the song starts in the car stereo and has even taken to narrating the beginning.

[As the music starts my daughter says from the back]

"She's running down the street for the train...."
"She's in the station....."

Got to get on it sings Imogen.

"She MADE it! She's on the train" my daughter yelps triumphantly.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Got any new songs or singers you can't hear enough of?

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

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"people of ill will use time"

This morning, I finally got to sit through an entire service at church. This fall has been spent teaching the middle school class. Today was my first "day off" since September and I relished the chance to sit in quiet, sing some hymns and reconnect with dear friends.

The two readings included one by Tony Kushner, the Angels in America playwright, and a excerpt from Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham. I took some liberties:

I had also hoped that the white straight moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white straight brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored gay people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this 'hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial all injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

So to those of you who are silent as these ballot initiatives strip human rights - who chose not to speak out against the hatred towards gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexual persons, who attend houses of worship that ferment hate yet say nothing - you too are people of ill will.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

"Education is not the filling of a vessel, it is the lighting of a...


William B. Yeats

Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit its new home at Finding My Way (aka MoJenn).

Friday, November 06, 2009

No Hobos II

My walk from the office to the train station takes me past a square that is a hangout for homeless adults. In the summer I wear large hats to protect myself from the sun. One man, with his paper cup outstretched, would often comment on my hats.

He hasn't been out on the streets for long. I started seeing him in the spring in a nice sweater and khaki pants. He stood straight with his clean teeth and would hold out his cup. He looked like a nice grandfather with his full head of white hair and sweet smile. But as the months wore on he is now in sweatpants and his hair is a bit more matted. One afternoon earlier this fall he had a black eye. When I asked what happened he told me he had fallen down.

After their day at the back-up child care center my kids and I were walking towards the station. The gentleman who compliments my hats was smoking a cigarette (a new habit I think) and talking in earnest with another man. He noticed me, promptly hid the cigarette and smiled.

"Where is a hat?" he asked.

"Nope. No hat today" I smiled sheepishly. "I have my kids though."

He said hi and asked them how the children were. I introduced them.

"Hi kids. My name is Patrick" he said.

We told him to have a good evening and walked on. One boy grabbed my hand and urgently said "Mommy?!"


He pulled me down so he could whisper in my ear. We were at least a city block away from Patrick.

"How do homeless people go to the bathroom?"

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Knock knock - hello? Maine?

Knock, knock. Hello, Maine?

Hi, I'm SMID and I live in Massachusetts which has had marriage equality for over 5 years.

Funny thing? Even after five years of gays being able to marry, the sky is still where it belongs. No four horsemen nor large swarms of bugs have descended upon us. Everyone's marriage - straight or gay - continues to be the business of the two people in that marriage.

Why, Maine, why couldn't you just do the same?

Maybe this piece from The Colbert Report explains it.

The Colbert Report

Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nailed 'Em - Mormon Church Trespassing
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

So really Maine is just another fearful, bigoted Utah. Why don't you move West. As one friend of mine says, you don't deserve the Atlantic Ocean.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No hobos

The kids were walking down a busy city street with me on their way to get my latte and their donuts. There was no school (yet another professional development day for the teachers) and I was taking them to my office to have breakfast in the meeting room then over to a back-up child care center for the day.

"I want to be a hobo for Halloween next year," announced one of my 9 year old sons as he held my hand. His brother was a few steps ahead while their younger sister was on my other side.

"No you can't," I told him.

"Why?" he asked. I knew my answer would appear in less than a city block.

The man emerged from one of the many nooks inside the buildings along this street. He wore a torn, dirty coat and his pants were too big. His beard was shaggy and filthy. His two bags bulged with their contents. He struggled to pick them up and moved slowly down the street.

"That's why you can't be a hobo" I told my son. "Hobo is an old-fashioned word for someone who is poor and homeless. Do you really want to poke fun at that man?"

"No" my son said quietly.

Unbeknownst to me his brother was overhearing this conversation. We passed another nook and this son asked "so homeless people try to find spots like this to sleep?"

"Yes" I answered.

And then we walked into the coffee shop.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

What is your post-Halloween candy policy?

The day after Halloween, the big city newspaper ran a piece about different families' post-Halloween candy policies. What to eat the night of. What to keep afterwards. What to throw away.

After about an hour of walking around the neighborhood collecting candy on Halloween this past weekend, one of my boys held up his bag and announced he had enough. We headed home, checked all the wrappings and let them eat four pieces of candy. After that it is two pieces after dinner. None goes to school in the lunch boxes. In previous years, the candy lingers for weeks until they forget about it and I take the leftovers to my office. Usually a little after Thanksgiving.

What do you do? How do you manage the candy? Do you think that leaving it around leads to hoarding and/or stealing? Or do you think it teaches restraint?

Curious minds want to know.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Not your mama's Electric Company

I am the first generation of kids that had the joy of PBS's children's educational programming. Seasame Street, Mr. Rogers and Zoom are all staples of my childhood. My own children have enjoyed their own PBS children's shows including WordGirl, Super Why and Fetch with Ruff Ruffman. A few years ago we even went to a local mall to meet the cast.

But nothing is really beating the new Electric Company. Sassy, smart and fun, I am thoroughly enjoying watching my 5-year-old as she absorbes the repetitive language lessons.

Plus, for this dance, they are wearing fashions from when I watched the original. Gotta love the merging of the eras.

So everyone now, slide and drop. Slide and drop.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

What childhood shows did you love?

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

Sunday, November 01, 2009

30 Posts in 30 Days

Two years ago in November I posted every day as part of National Blog Posting Month. It was really easy for me then, mainly because I had 2-3 posts brewing in my head and I seemed to have unlimited time and energy for blogging.

During that month in 2007, I would occasionally stumble upon bloggers who would mention that they were writing a novel in 30 days. Which just made my jaw drop.

A few would casually mention they were writing a novel AND posting every day for that month. Reading that almost made me close up the blog. I felt like such a wimp of a writer.

During 2008 I found a story forming in my head so I took the plunge last November and wrote a novel. One hundred seventy pages in less than 30 days. I'm still editing it, slowly, but look forward to getting the book to a point where I can share it with some folks and not worry about them laughing at me.

So for 2009 I think I will try to get back into posting every day for November. This has been a very full year off the computer for me. I miss blogging and want to play along.

Let the NaBloPoMo-ing begin.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whispering Your Name

Starting in December, over the holidays, I've been getting many gifts. Often spontaneous gifts that floor me.

I've been handed or mailed mixed CDs. Compact discs full of songs lovingly compiled by friends.

Two of them ended with the exact same song, and neither of the giver/music mixer know each other.

The first time I received this song in a mix CD, it was from my favorite Ambassador. He handed it to me, along with a myriad of other goodies, when we met-up in South Carolina in June for a much needed friends' get-away.

The next time I got it was when a dear high school buddy, who I lost contact with (which was completely and totally my loss), reconnected with me and invited me to this summer's Depeche Mode concert. As I jumped into the car with him and his friends he handed me a two-CD mix, also ending with this song.

And funny thing? I didn't own this song before this summer. Which is probably a crime for any Yaz fan.

Alison Moyet, Whispering Your Name.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Did friends "give" you a song that you fell in love with? Who was it? What was the song?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Newest Member of our Family

Hello world,

Cannot tell you how long it took to finally get my paws on the keyboard.

The humans think I was born in January of this year, somewhere in Virginia. They also think I'm part black lab and some type of hound. Maybe a coonhound. Like the one banned from Nantucket last week.

I was found wondering around and brought to a shelter. One that would kill me if I wasn't adopted in so many days. I'm afraid of any floors that are white. The humans I live with think that is because I was scared in the Virginia shelter.

In the Virginia shelter different humans found me and drove me for a long time to a different type of shelter. One that would let me live until the right humans found me.

And the right ones came to the shelter when it was warmer outside (I'm told it was July). The little ones crawled into the crate I was in while I hid in the corner. The bigger human (he's really big) liked a different dog. One that jumped and crawled all over the little ones. But those little ones just kept saying they wanted me.

They wanted me.

So here I am. With my family.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Fourth Annual Fluff Fest

This weekend, which was partly spent on soccer fields and ballet studios, was also spent in the neighborhood that created Fluff - that distinctly New England foodstuff. Australia has Vegemite, New England has Fluff.

This year's Fluff Festival (aka "What the Fluff?") was more crowded, more chaotic. They even ran out of white bread at the Fluffernutter tent (Fluff and Peanut Butter - get it? Fluff-n-Nutter?) before the festival was over. The line to buy a t-shirt, kid you not a t-shirt, was 30 people long. My friend who lives one block away from the festival, and volunteered at said t-shirt booth, commented that this year there were more folks who were not "from the neighborhood". I would like to note my family attended the very first Fluff Festival in 2006. That should give us some street cred.

Or Fluff cred.

But we got to celebrate in something that is very silly. A sandwich spread made of marshmallows. And what better way to spend a Saturday evening?

And now I bring you a Fluff commercial.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

And maybe... maybe? Linky Love is back. Just in time for the wonderful set of you who play along.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


That pretty much sums up how the boys were during the U2 concert on Monday night. In awe.

We got off to a bit of a nerve-wracking start after a colleague told me it took him 3 1/2 hours to get to the stadium for the previous night's show - causing him to miss the first 45 minutes of U2's performance. While the boys were very calm about that prospect, one did say "I'll be sad if we miss Beautiful Day."

I would have been as well.

We managed to get to the stadium (a mere 15 miles from our house) in under 2 hours. We got to hear most of the opening act, wander the stadium, sign up for the One campaign and get white rubber bracelets, bump into some friends, acquire some free bags with the Blackberry logo and buy the boys their concert t-shirts (using money they had been saving from birthday presents).

From our seats we could see the band enter the stadium. The boys just sat frozen while all these adults around them were screaming and cheering. They were not frightened. Just in awe.

I had warned them that I would be standing up to dance to various songs, explaining that this is what people do at concerts and they shouldn't give me any "sit down MOM!" lines. At one point after I got up for a song Bono yelled to the crowd to stand up and start clapping. One little man did as he was told like he was in school. I leaned over to tell him Bono wasn't talking directly to him and he didn't have to get up if he didn't want to.

He sat down with noticeable relief.

They did get to hear their jointly favorite song, Beautiful Day, but to my disappointment we didn't hear Pride. The boys understood that song after our visit to Memphis in 2008.

It was fun to sing With or Without You, loudly, while a son was hugging my waist. But both guys struggled with what Sunday Bloody Sunday meant. Or why there were images of people covered in blood from Iran shown on the large screens. The car ride home was a bit long for that reason. "What is going on in Iran?" "What happened on Sunday? Why was it bloody?"

In the end the investment, time and loss of school productivity (I can only imagine what these new teachers think of me as a parent) was worth it. Because they had that look in their eyes.

That look of seeing idols. Real idols.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beautiful Day

A while ago, one of my boys declared that particular day was "a BEAUTIFUL day!" His exuberance caused me to break into U2's 2000 hit which led him to demand to hear the real version (as if my rendition somehow paled to Bono's).

And so a U2 fan was born.

When U2 announced their 2009 tour dates I promptly asked my husband (aka Amazing Guy) if we could take the boys to the show. He grumpily agreed to purchase three tickets but was convinced there was no way two 9-year-old boys would appreciate the value of these tickets.

Leading up to their birthday I cut out a U and a 2 from posterboard and plastered images of the band on them. I also included a note in each gift explaining they were being taken to the U2 concert on September 21st.

The evening of their birthday, after dinner, they were given their gifts. New ball caps, Elvis Pez dispensers, a DS game, and other items were unwrapped and appreciated. Then they opened the "big" gifts.

And stared blankly at the large U and large 2 in their hands. I finally mentioned the note and one guy picked it up and started reading.

And they started yelling.

And crying.

And fell to the floor.

And got up and hugged each other, yelling.

Then ran to me and Amazing Guy to hug us.

And Amazing Guy was crying too.

It truly was a beautiful day. And will be tonight at the concert.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Johnny Clegg and Juluka

When I was in Paris in spring of 1990, one of the few bright spots - aside from being with my dear friend Mimi - was the crazy hostel I stayed in. The women's "dorm" was a large room with four or five bunk beds. The advertised "hot showers" were not quite that. You stood in the shower and pushed one of those nobs like in the sink of public bathrooms. For 30 seconds you were blasted with the most frigid, cold water to ever leave a shower head. But by then you were covered in soap or shampoo which you had to get off so then you screemed through two or three more stinging pelts of the "shower".

Add to that someone laughing - hysterically - in the room. I came out, blue and a bit bruised, and she kept smirking.

And so began a friendship.

TM was from South Africa. The only other woman in the dorm was a petite Japanese who spoke no English. We figured out (through hand gestures, maps and some amazing shoes she bought) that she had been to Morocco, alone. TM and I felt pretty wimpy just being in Paris by ourselves.

I didn't run around Paris with TM but we exchanged addresses (this was, after all, pre-email). Once I got home we started to write (paper) letters to each other 3-4 times per year.

A few years after meeting in Paris, she wrote that she had a new job working for a South African musician. She didn't write his name out. I wrote back that I was (note: still am) a huge fan of Johnny Clegg. A white South African who formed a racially mixed band in the early 1980's during the apartheid government, he also published several academic papers before his music career took off.

A few months later I received a package with various signed items. It seems my friend was working for Johnny Clegg.

Johnny Clegg and Savuka - I Call Your Name (1988)

TM has moved on from music but whenever I hear Johnny Clegg I think of how she gave me a connection to one of my favorite musicians.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Who is playing this week?

Fourier Analyst (you gotta read her "coming clean" about her wild music performing days!)

Monday, September 07, 2009

In Suburbia

We got back from vacation late last Sunday and have been gearing up for the fall to begin. Today I could see my breath while walking this morning. Hard to believe that just 8 days ago I was sweating in thick humidity south of the Mason-Dixon line.

But what got me through the past week of non-stop school forms, new schedules, missing soccer gear, and work re-entry was knowing that I was going to see the Pet Shop Boys in concert for the first time with my dear friend who didn't make last year's Yaz show. They were suppose to open for Depeche Mode in the mid-1980's but canceled right before the tour began because they couldn't get the sound right (or how I remember it).

PSB came onstage and I did not stop dancing (and hurt all day Sunday for that). They sang the oldies "West End Girls", "Always on my Mind" and "It's a Sin". They sang from the new album (which I LOVE if you are looking for new music) as well as a hysterical cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida".

The song that resonated with me the most though was "Surburbia".

Because that is where I - now the soccer mom - reside in denial.

I only wanted something else to do but
Hang around
Hang around
Hang around

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Love, more

We're away. On vacation. But I come out of vacation to honor my boys' 9th birthday. To honor their last year in single digits here are letters to each of them. A bit long for typical posts but humor me. They have to share a birthday so why should they share a letter?

Dear darling one,

You are my tough guy. The one who will strut around the house with his pants half down pulling off some gansta move you learned from other white kids at camp. While part of me wants to fall over in hysterics at how just plain ridiculous you look the other part wants to pull your pants up and tell you to act right. You are quick to put on an I-don't-care face when you know you've done something wrong. And just as quick to sob as I send you to your room for being disrespectful.

But then, but then, the week before vacation you insisted on walking arm and arm with me, everywhere we went. Through the big city square, on a wooded and rocky mountain, and into the town coffee shop, you would sidle up to my side that didn't have a bag, slip your arm around my waist and lift my arm to drape over your shoulder. Then you would work really hard to get your steps in sink with mine. Your left foot out with mine. Your right foot out with mine. You would over compensate for my longer strides. This would go on for many city blocks, over several wooded hills.

Every few minutes you would yelp "Mama! We're in sync!"

Yes, my darling boy. I hope we will always be in sync.

Happy Birthday. I love you,


Dear darling one,

This summer I started in earnest to teach your younger sister how to ride a bike without training wheels. It has been a struggle because she can do it. She has the balance and the strength but she doesn't believe she can do it. It is probably the thing that drives me the most nuts as a mother - when one of you can do something but you won't do it because of fear, doubt, lack of practice. It was exactly what happened with you when you were learning to ride a bike. You didn't believe in yourself and then one day you got it. And off you went, riding far away from me.

One afternoon this summer, in the parking lot of a courthouse, you watched me seethe as your sister kept giving up on herself. And you looked me in the eye and said "Mom, I feel your stress."

I nearly fell over. Both from your empathy and from embarrassment.

Around the same time you started to spontaneously say "I love you" to me. Sometimes with a hug, sometimes as a comment as you passed by on your way out the backdoor to play or ride your bike. You never said it to worm your way out of a punishment. You just say it.

And like when you feel my stress, telling me you love me just makes me melt.

Because you will never know how much I love you.

Happy birthday little man,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three years of blogging

Sunday, August 9th was my three year anniversary of blogging.

The first year was just bumbling and fumbling, of getting my blog-legs, of writing for me.

The second year was when I really "got" it - go comment on other blogs so you will get lots of comments on yours.

The second year was also when I "got" them - an insanely wonderful group of friends that have become even closer. I just can't envision my life without you all.

This past year was one of retrenching, of writing for me, of barely venturing out and commenting on other blogs. I'm back where I started. Writing for me. Thanks to those of you who keep coming back and reading even when I take long breaks or don't visit for months.

And just to be super vain, here is my pick of top posts from the last 12 months:

When you Take Boys to a Triathlon

Started and Ended with a Funeral

Travel to You the South Carolina Mix

Determined Pointed Toes

Get Out of My House Lady Gaga

Happy Birthday Darling (Daughter's birthday letter)

Peanuts, a Blanket and Yellow Feathers

130 Songs

Stories from History


Writing the Bee Tree

How a Park Should be

"Go Kill the Yellow Man"

Love more (Boys' birthday letter)

What did I miss?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Futbal and mix CDs

David Beckham came to town this weekend and threw a birthday party for my boys.

Well, not exactly. We bought the New England Revolution birthday party package and brought four soon-to-be third graders with our family. I picked the date partly because one the availability of one of these young friends. Little did I know what a big deal it was that we were going to see David Beckham and the LA Galaxy play our beloved Revs.

These guys knew. They were up ALOT complaining about the ref, the plays, etc. And while the Revs lost, the boys seemed pretty happy. One young guest even declared in the van coming home, "that was STILL a GREAT night!"

And as is our family custom, the boys gave out 9th Birthday Mix CDs. And I think the parents were more excited than the party-goers.

  1. Pride (In the Name of Love) - U2
  2. Everybody's Changing - Keane
  3. Just Can't Wait - The J. Geils Band
  4. I Thought I Lost You - from the movie Bolt
  5. City of Blinding Lights - U2
  6. Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
  7. A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley
  8. Beautiful Day - U2
  9. Candy Girl - New Edition
  10. More Than a Feeling - Boston
  11. I'm a Believer - Smash Mouth
  12. Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townshend

And in a few weeks we're going to give the boys their BIG birthday present - hint, hint - it involves someone on this list.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any of these songs strike your fancy?

Sorry for the lack of Linky Love. Leave a comment if you want me to list you.

Also making music on Monday:

The Ambassador