Monday, March 30, 2009


It's back. Now my daughter has discovered It's Raining Me. You may recall the time one of my sons, at a minister's table, belted out "It's Raining Me!" after a solemn dinner grace ended in "Hallelujah".

However, my daughter's preferred version is the video with RuPaul.

Little lady says as she watches this video that she wants to be the super tall RuPaul in the black leotard, tearing the roof off a building.

"Sweetie," I tell her, "we ALL want to be Ru."

Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, 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, March 25, 2009

A Watched Government

I continue to be missing in blogging although this time it is for work. Last Wednesday evening found me in the third training in 5 weeks in another small city in my state. A while ago I wrote about a presentation I made about my organization's efforts to strengthen foreclosure prevention law in our state. That bill I was talking about became law in November, 2007.

This current round of presentations are called "Legislative Learning Sessions". A colleague and I are working to get more folks engaged in state policy advocacy - how their tax dollars are spent and what bills become laws. Years ago I learned a wonderful phrase - "A Watched Government Behaves Differently" - and hope that at the end of the session people get that. They get that this is their government and they have a say in it.

Last Wednesday's session was unique because my colleague and I were in the minority - nearly everyone was a Spanish-speaker. We turned the tables and wore the translation headsets and had the translator translate for us.

I kept hearing stories that their local government was not responding to their needs. I challenged them to challenge their government. Watch them. Write letters to the newspaper. Go to hearings.

I saw one of the participants this week and asked her if they had stormed City Hall yet.

She waved her hand, rolled her eyes and assured me as she turned away it was scheduled for tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Human Nature

For the past two Saturday I've had to bring the boys with me to their sister's ballet class. They actually don't have to sit in the class but rather come down to a funky cafe to wait out the hour. Of course, it is usually a respite for me since they would normally be back at the house with Amazing Guy. So, to try to keep it a respite I encourage them to bring their DS portable game systems. Which is a continuation of the "never say never" list.

When the boys were super little - pre-verbal little - and I saw older children playing with those games at restaurant tables I swore we would never stoop to that. Why go out to eat if you weren't going to have lengthy and meaningful conversations with your progeny about life and current events?

It was when I realized that as they got older - and were no longer strapped into highchairs - that my sons could care less about eating. They just have no interest in meals so even sitting around a table waiting for the food to arrive is sheer torture for them and us (we, however, do no allow radio, television, games, iPods or reading at the dinner table at home. For the token 6 minutes they manage to stay at the table we do talk).

Hence, portable games are now part of our restaurant experiences. And in the coffee shop I got looks from parents with little - pre-verbal little - kids. I silently wished them luck as they glared at me. I sincerely hope they succeed in having non-stop quality conversations during all restaurant meals.

But at some point on the first Saturday, while reading the newspaper, I heard one little man start to sing while feverishly racking up points:

Why, why, tell em that its human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way

Leading the other little man across the table, also with his head down in deep game concentration mode, to sing in reply:

I like livin this way
I like lovin this way

So it isn't so bad because my sons sing to me while they play.

[The funny thing is the version they are singing is an A Capella version by the college group we saw in concert earlier this month.]

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

7:28 update - I had made an editorial decision not to put in a link list. No one played last week and boy - was I wrong! Play along!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sing the praises of high school kids

A local high school a few towns over is just wonderful. As this article in today's big city paper highlights, the kids are alright.

The high school students are performing "The Laramie Project" tomorrow evening. That is the play based on interviews of actual people from Laramie, Wyo., where gay college student Matthew Shepard died after being beaten and tied to a fence in October 1998.

Oh, and they have guests. Those lovely "parishioners" the Westboro Baptist "Church" in Kansas, a "church" which sole purpose seems to be protesting against gays says it will picket this high school tomorrow. Keep in mind the majority of the "parishioners" are related to the "minister".

The director hoped to "generate 'difficult discussions' about prejudice and gay rights in the school and community." Wow, did she.

According to the the article students and staff have announced they will stand "shoulder to shoulder to form a 'wall of silence' between the protesters and the school at the end of the school day. The student rally will be held even if the Westboro group doesn't come."

"I have received nothing but positive reactions here," says the director, who is a guidance counselor at the school. "Ultimately, it is about not using hurtful
language in a school where every student and faculty member has a right to feel safe. Our hope is at the end of this all students will feel more comfortable."
The article quotes a "church" spokeswoman rationalizing protesting a high school for this reason
"We chose that high school because they are being taught rebellion against God and his standards every day.. . . The latest evidence of it is the fact that they are producing 'The Laramie Project,' which is nothing but as a way to teach rebellion!!"
Meanwhile the police superintendent actually called the protests "sort of a gift" (do I love my state or what?) because he says "I think it's given us a good opportunity to have some dialogue about free speech, lawful protest, and gay rights."

The superintendent says all of this has lead to "'great conversations' about the topics of intolerance, race, and disrespect. We're not comfortable having those conversations. It's a dialog that vibrant schools should be having."

Several students were quoted as well including a senior who said "many students were surprised to find out that using terms such as 'faggot' or statements like 'that is so gay' are considered offensive to many."

Shame on that bogus "church" for cloaking their bigotry, homophobia and hatred under the cloak of religion. The cloak of Christianity.

And Sing the Praises of the students and the teachers, staff and community that have embraced us all.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Right where she belongs

As I mentioned last week, we were in final rehearsal mode for You're A Good Man Charlie Brown. I wasn't in the production but was the mama of a Charlie Brown, a Linus and a Woodstock. Aside from Woodstock there were actually three of each of the main characters - there was a "little kid" Charlie, a teen Charlie and an adult Charlie and so on and so on. Woodstock, a character made up for this show, was two little girls who flitted around in yellow with marabous in their hair.

Sunday's matinee was the final show and as is customary the cast and crew gave gifts to the director and other key folks. Some of the littlest kids in the cast were to be handed bouquets of flowers to be given to the appropriate honoree.

My four-year-old daughter - aka Woodstock - was handed the first bouquet to be given to the stage manager. My daughter, in all her yellow finery, proceeded to walk in front of the cast with a gracious yet regal smile and give a huge bow. When an adult on stage tried to gently nudge her towards the intended recipient, she gave an exasperated look, walked even farther out on to the stage and then gave an even bigger bow complete with a hand flourish.

The crowd was roaring. The stage manager was flowerless. The cast was in a quandary.

I ran up to the stage with my daughter's bouquet which I was going to give her after the show. I handed her the flowers and told her to give the other ones to the stage manager.

She looked confused. But eventually did what she was suppose to do.

And I ran back to my chair to bury my face in a friend's shoulder.

And for those of you with 2 minutes to spare, here is a not-so-great-quality video of part of The Baseball Game from this weekend's production of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Have you recently seen some future performers of America? Who are they?

Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, 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.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peanuts, a blanket and yellow feathers

I've been MIB - missing in blogging - because I've been in rehearsals this week. I'm not performing though. I'm doing makeup, plan to bake goodies for the intermission sale, helped with publicity and program ad sales and kept track of a certain blue blanket.

All three of my kids are in a local production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. One is Charlie Brown. The other is Linus. Fortunately, nearly all of Charles Schultz characters looked the same so hopefully having identical twins in those parts won't throw the audience off.

My nearly 5-year-old daughter is making her theatrical debut as Woodstock. The first two weeks of rehearsals were sheer hell with her. After begging to audition and clearly having fun during it, she was miserable as the cast sat in chairs to learn the songs.

Then the third week the director told everyone to finally get on the stage. My daughter ran onto the stage and turned around wide-eyed looking around the small auditorium with a thrill I hadn't seen.

Then she smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

She's there to stay.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Cappella

Saturday night Amazing Guy and I took our three kids to an A Cappella performance at the middle school of a neighboring town. Three college groups and three high school groups took to the stage singing their voice-only versions of Sara Bareilles, Goo Goo Dolls and Bill Withers.

During the first two songs, little lady was falling asleep. While nearly five years old she is someone who could still benefit from a nap, which she categorically refuses to do. It made me sad that this person who must dance when she hears music wasn't going to stay awake.

But I didn't know the power of the performers. By the third song she found her 34th wind and was trying to dance on my lap. I switched seats with AG so she could be in the aisle. She danced up a storm.

Then they stopped her in her dancing tracks.

This video doesn't do them justice because they are excellent singers. It does show they are spirited dancers. And clearly their parents must be thrilled that their hard-earned tuition is helping their sons learn the art of stripping.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Been to a show that made you laugh? Cheer? Shout for joy? Do share.

Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, 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.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

In praise of a bookstore

Last week I was on another blog reviewing a wonderful, wonderful independent bookstore. This is how it starts....

Dedham, Massachusetts is a suburb that literally bumps into Boston. Settled in 1635, the town has born witness to much of America’s history including the first tax-payer funded public school in the United States and the first human-made canal in North America. My family and I live in a house built in the 1870’s and I often wonder what previous occupants experienced, especially after a neighbor dug up an old boot that had buttons instead of laces.

Dedham’s colorful history also includes a distinctive pottery created in the early 20th century. The blue-grey glaze was a fortuitous mistake that lead to the popular Dedham pottery that often had rabbits on the borders or in the middle of the plate or bowl. I wouldn’t doubt that at some point a piece of that pottery was in our house.

So it only makes sense that Dedham’s independent children’s book store, located in the historic Square, would be called The Blue Bunny.
To read more go to Bookstore People.

I'm hooked. The lovely, book-obsessed ladies at Bookstore People have a readers' challenge. They love independent bookstores yet cannot visit every single one in the world. They are asking folks to visit independent bookstores - ones they frequent and new ones - and submit a write-up of the stores to their site.

I encourage folks to visit Bookstore People AND submit reviews of their favorite or newly discovered independent bookstores. Those bookstores need all the love we can give.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Coach's gifts

This past Saturday I finished coaching my fourth season of basketball. I've coached the boys through two years of kindergarten basketball and both years of first and second grade ball.

I've never been one of those coaches to take everyone out for pizza or even give them something like a goodie bag (I won't even give out goodie bags at my own children's birthday parties so clearly I won't give them to a team). However, since the boys play baseball and two seasons of soccer (spring and fall) I've been a non-coaching parent enough to know that with every other sports team I've been asked to chip in for a gift for the coaches. The collection usually gets a store gift card but at times has purchased a coach's jacket or other significant item from the team.

I've never gotten a "collection" present. And this year, with embarrassment, I was bothered by that.

In the past I have gotten several sweet single gifts and clearly the cards written in wobbly second grade handwriting is more sincere (even with mom lording over the kid) than a gift card.

This year's team was an interesting bunch. We started with 8 players and ended up with 7 regulars. Two of the second graders had never played basketball and one of those had never played organized sports. The first graders ranged from complete newbies to one of those phenoms that I always seem to have. A kid who just seemed to be born with the innate ability to get a ball in a basket.

Then my two guys. We had a much better season. They were more tolerant of me giving other kids my attention and towards the end started playing the team captain role - setting up plays, encouraging teammates and even intentionally giving the ball to players who didn't always get a pass.

But my struggle was with the second grader who had never played any organized sport. He was tall for his age and just a natural for grabbing those rebounds. But he would stand under the net with only one hand up and not looking at the ball. He wouldn't run down the court. He walked off the court several times in the middle of plays complaining that no one would pass him the ball.

Each time I explained to him that he needed to hustle. If he would only hustle down the court I would yell to the team to pass the ball. I pointed out that the team ball hog got the ball because he was the first down the court. I pointed out that I yelled for the shortest guys to get the ball because he ran. But this player just wouldn't try. Or couldn't.

At one point I asked him if he liked video games and he nodded with a smile. I guessed that he had to work on some levels and would fail to move up but kept trying. I compared that to basketball.

"Yeah, well, video games are fun" was his reply. Clearly saying that basketball wasn't.

I think that was where I was stumped. I am the mom of three kids who will try just about anything. If I sign them up for something they will do it with full gusto and enthusiasm. The world is big and fun and theirs for the taking. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to get this kid to see the world as fun. Not that basketball is the world, or that only athletes have fun, but there were kids who would never be professional ball players but just threw themselves into the joy of running, of jumping, of being a part of something.

Saturday came and Mr Born-to-Play-Ball was sporting a new black headband with the hometown team's emblem. He ran up to me, tossed a green headband still in its wrapper and ran away. His dad rolled his eyes and came up to explain they had gone to his first hometown team basketball game Friday night. He asked his dad if they could get me a headband. His delivery was one of the best gift-giving I ever had.

As we started to warm up the guy who troubled me showed up not in his team jersey. His mom explained he wouldn't be playing today but she handed me a box. A box from Build-A-Bear. The previous Tuesday they had gone to the mall and he made me a Bear in the hometown team's uniform with a little basketball. I leaned down and told him he could be a great player. Try to see it as fun. He smiled and walked off the court and out the door.

As the game ended one mom who had been working on a project handed me a recently finished bracelet in our team colors. Another mom handed me a mug with "My Coach is the M.V.P." full of little chocolates wrapped as basketballs.

The final kid walking off the court came up to me to thank me. He had been our littlest player, always trying to make a basket. With a help from the other coach (he yelled at his team to put their hands down), our little guy made his only basket of the season right before the game ended. That little man gave me a hug.

Those are the gifts that matter. The heartfelt ones. The lifting a kid up after he makes his first ever game basket. The hugs. My sons looking out for other boys.

I hope I never get a collection gift.

Monday, March 02, 2009

More snow

It is March 2nd and I'm miserable.

We got snow not from one but two Nor'esterners (type of storm in this part of the USA). Kids don't have school. We've got a foot of snow.

I'm so insanely sick of snow. But I don't know of any "sick of snow songs" so I'll just have to make my own....

Blame it on the snow (snow)
Blame it on the stars (stars)
Whatever you do don't put the blame on you
Blame it on the snow yeah yeah
You can blame it on the snow

(Apologies to Milli Vanilli. Actually, no I don't apologize. They plagiarized too).

Here comes the snow again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to walk in the open wind
I want to talk like lovers do
I want to dive into your [frozen] ocean
Is it snowing with you

(I really do apologize to the Eurythmics).

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any songs to make me warm? Forget that I have three cooped up kids? Do share.

Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, 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.