Archive for April, 2009

The girls had an unusually busy Saturday that started out on the soccer field at 8 a.m. I’m the assistant coach this season – I was quite proud of how the team played. One of our little friends, who had never even seen a soccer game before last fall, has figured out the game this season and even scored a goal! It is really wonderful to watch a child when a new skill clicks in – the joy in this little girl’s face was contagious.

Lindsey and Nora played hard and also scored goals. They play 3 on 3 – no goalie.

I never really care about scoring goals. All I care is that they play 100 percent when on the field. And my girls were fierce out there!

Then it was time to transform into dancers. We precipitously left the game to head over to the racetrack (!) for their first Feis.

A feis, for the uninitiated (like me) is an Irish dance competition. The girls are in the midst of their first session of Irish dancing lessons, and so off we went, to dance at the feis.

For whatever reason, this feis was held at a not-so-nearby racetrack – in a big room upstairs. We got there in time to clean up the grassy knees before dancing in front of the judges. At one point in our journey to the Feis, Lindsey sobbed a little sob and when I asked her what was wrong, she burst out, “I don’t want my knee to be dirty, mommy!”

It was clear that there would be no dancing without cleaning up.

We did get to clean the grass off the knees prior to dancing, but we were a bit raggedy none-the-less, thanks to a couple of playground incidents. Lindsey had a big scab under her nose from when she did a face plant onto the wood chips at the school playground. Nora had a shiner from when she and her sister bopped heads, also on the playground at school. (Though in Nora’s narrative, they did not “bop heads;” as she explains it, Lindsey’s head hit Nora’s eye.)

Nothing dainty about these tiny dancers.

The shiner and the scab...the girls don't let the minor wounds get them down!

The shiner and the scab...the girls don't let the minor wounds get them down!

They had but one dance to perform – the beginner jig. Neither Lindsey nor Nora really knew the moves (they’ve had all of four lessons!) but they gave it a go.

Nora doing her version of the jig...

Nora doing her version of the jig...

Lindsey's turn for self-expression!

Lindsey's turn for self-expression!

In their group, everyone was a winner.

Everyone's a winner in the beginner jig category!

Everyone's a winner in the beginner jig category!

A good day all around….


Read Full Post »

It was serendipity, I suppose, but the day after the 10th anniversary of Columbine, I found myself on a bus with a bunch of pre-k students on a field trip to see a community theater presentation of High School Musical.

Serendipitous because I brood about Columbine quite a bit, so the anniversary of the massacre left me feeling dark and tinged with sadness. Ten years have passed since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went to school one day loaded with weapons and bombs. Seems hard to believe a decade separates us from that moment. The shock has not diminished. The question has not been answered.

What happened to turn those boys into killers?

Ten years ago, I was pregnant with my first child and Columbine gave me one of those reality checks no pregnant woman ever wants to experience.

Your child could go to school one day and die there.

Or worse, your child could go to school one day and murder more than a dozen people before killing himself. (more…)

Read Full Post »

…High School Musical, that is – the community theater version. Yesterday, I was one of the chaperones on the montessori field trip to the theatre to see this show!

True confession: I love the film.

I know there are parents who think that it is awful to let small children watch the antics of high schoolers, but HSM reminds me more of the old-fashioned MGM musicals and less of the traditional Disney template of “mom/dad is dead and an awful woman wants to kill you” movies (as exemplified by Lion King, Snow White, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, etc.)

No one dies in HSM. People don’t dance like sluts. Love is chaste at East High. And there’s not one evil woman determined to kill anyone.

Kind of rare to find all these elements in a G-rated film these days.

And the songs have a nice beat that you can dance to….

So clearly, I was thrilled when informed that I would get to go. I was (at least) as excited as my daughters about this field trip.

It was a blast. I was surrounded by pre-schoolers watching community theater actors performing iconographic roles of Troy, Chad, Gabriella, Sharpay and the gang.

My daughters also enjoyed the performance, though maybe not as much as I did. We had prepared for the field trip by watching the movie and I got the feeling that Lindsey spent much of the play wondering where Zac and Vanessa were. The cast of actors in the stage version we saw were attractive, but did not possess the astonishing good looks of the actors in the film. For a small child, it was confusing to see different people play familiar roles.

When one of the actors came over during the finale to giver her a “high five,” she didn’t quite know how to respond. I showed by example, and she reluctantly slapped hands with him. Nora expressed gloom that he didn’t slap her hands.

Such were the sorrows of the field trip – thankfully, these are the kinds of sorrows that are easily shaken off.

I found the energy of the actors to be infectious. And I still find myself singing the catchy tunes out loud.

But I’ve been instructed by both of my daughters that there is no singing at school – at least by moms with awful singing voices….

Read Full Post »

And I’m not talking about the boozy kind.

As a working mom, holidays are hard – hard enough that I actually had a nightmare about Easter not too long ago. I dreamed I had completely forgotten Easter – and woke up filled with anxiety.

Whenever a holiday rolls around and I’ve added Santa – or the Easter Bunny – or St. Valentine – or whatever – to my limitless list of roles I need to play, the anxiety bubbles up.

How will I get it all done?

My nightmare about Easter kicked my planning in high gear. We don’t go overboard with gifts – but I had actually patted myself on the back for my organizational skills this year. I had all my Easter Bunny tasks done with days to spare!

And I felt quite proud until 10 p.m. the night before Easter, when I gathered up bunches of green cellophane Easter grass, chocolate eggs and the little gifts from Target so I could assemble the baskets.

And I realized that some stuff was missing – like a box of Leggos and a small game for my son.

I checked the Target receipt – and yes, I paid for them. I had left them at the counter several days earlier.

Suddenly it hit me – my advance preparation had left me ill-prepared with my oversight in the checkout lane.

I moved some stuff around from the girls baskets to his – and went to bed worrying that they would notice the less then full Easter baskets.

The kids woke up and were thrilled. My husband made a face at me across our cups of coffee. The kids were hardly deprived with a total of three Easter egg hunts throughout the weekend. We saw a whole bunch of members of our extended family. Soccer started too. They had a blast last weekend – despite the lack of leggos.

Don’t know why I worry so much. But I do – because that’s on my list of things to be as a mom too – worrier-in-chief.

However, I learned this Easter that the “stuff” isn’t nearly as important as the chance to celebrate with family – a lesson I can thank my children for teaching me.

Read Full Post »

A little while ago, my sister invited all three of my children to come over for a slumber party at her house. It was the first time my husband and I had spent a night without children in a very long time.

We were all excited for the slumber party. My husband and I were particularly excited to sleep late the next morning – we had plans to attend my friend’s birthday party in the city and rejoiced in the possibility of sleeping past 6:30 a.m. for the first time in almost a decade.

(Of course, our smoke detector’s battery went out at precisely 5:45 a.m. that morning, creating an unholy din that meant we got up even earlier than we normally do… proving once again that life happens when you want to sleep late.)

My children thoroughly enjoyed their slumber party – there was not the merest possiblity of sleeping late at that house that morning. When it was time to make pancakes for breakfast, the girls wanted to help out with cooking. My sister offered to let them crack an egg, a concept that was as thrilling to my daughters as the idea of sleeping late was for us. According to my sister, here’s their response:

“My mommy doesn’t let me crack eggs,” Lindsey told my sister.

My mommy doesn’t let me crack eggs either,” Nora added, as if shocked to learn her mother imposed the same rules as Lindsey’s mom.

When my children arrived home, we heard nothing but stories about cracking eggs for a long time to come.

So the mother of both Lindsey and Nora has let both her daughters get on the egg-cracking bandwagon. And it’s still a thrilling adventure.

Let’s just say – our baked goods are crunchier than they used to be…. but that’s okay.

And as you can imagine, it is essential to find recipes that require at least two eggs….

Lindsey at work making banana bread

Lindsey at work making banana bread

Crack the egg gently - and often - on the side of the bowl...

Crack the egg gently - and often - on the side of the bowl...

Read Full Post »

After school, after homework, after work was done for the day, my girls wanted to go outside. It was, as is customary in these parts, cold enough to warrant a winter jacket – but the sun was bright; the sky was blue; the snow had melted.

And even though I had dinner to make, I decided to listen to my girls and head outdoors. My son and husband were off looking for a Teddy Roosevelt costume for an upcoming school project, so it was just us girls.

Nora wanted to play soccer. Lindsey wanted to ride her bike. She made a move for her little 12″ bike with training wheels, but I suggested the 16″ two-wheeler (no training wheels.) It’s nothing fancy – a hand-me-down from an older cousin – but it comes in a highly desirable shade of purple. She’d been practicing riding without training wheels before the snow came last week – though without success – and was intrigued.

She’s five years old and wants so much to be a big girl.

The sun was setting, casting long shadows in front of us. Lindsey was very excited when she hopped on the bike. I gave her a push and she was off. I ran next to her briefly, but somehow I knew it was time to let go.

So I let go – and saw my baby girl take off. She hardly wobbled at all.

She was riding her bike like a big girl.

I looked down just at the moment our shadows parted – my shadow slowed to a stop and Lindsey’s shadow moved beyond me – swiftly, smoothly, easily. The shadows parted – and my baby girl was no longer a baby. She was a big girl riding a big girl bike.

Of course, once Nora saw this, soccer was over for good this afternoon. When it was her turn to ride the big two-wheeler, it was as it had been with Lindsey. Our shadows mingled at the start, only to part ways as she took off. She perhaps wobbled a bit more than her sister, but she’s a bike rider now, a big girl.

Learning to ride a bike is a significant rite of passage in our culture. It’s a skill we never forget.

Today, I let go of my girls and watched them move forward toward their future.

It was a joyful day in our house –– and yet with a touch of melancholy too.

Lindsey & Nora exploring the trails ahead...

Lindsey & Nora exploring the trails ahead...

Read Full Post »

Levi Johnston is the focus of media attention these days because he shared gossip about his ex with his new friend, Tyra Banks. And thanks to Levi – thanks to the Palin family who first brought Levi to our attention – I realize that locker room gossip has left the locker room for the much more public forum of the televised media interview.

I know a little bit about locker room gossip. When I was in high school, my best friend Laura and I used to eat lunch in the boys locker room all the time. Not alone, as some kind of weird dare – but with a bunch of boys. Our buddies.

In retrospect, kind of weird to be chatting with the boys over PBJs in the locker room. But cozier than eating in the cavernous lunch hall with hundreds of other students.

Listening to the locker room gossip of my buddies is how I know that teenage boys love to talk about girls – but they don’t love to talk about commitment. They love talking about boobs instead of brains. They love talking about their sexual exploits – real or imagined. A girl who gives the hint of being “sleazy” gives them all the ammo they need to gossip all they want in a rather salacious fashion….

In this day and age, however, the locker room now extends into our living room, thanks to cable. And the gossip about a girl who slept with a guy is now broadcast on multiple channels.

It starts in one locker room – the Tyra Banks Show, which promotes the gossip on its website. And because the gossip concerns sex in the family of the nation’s most vocal advocate of abstinence, a million other media outlets pick up the next installment in the Palin family Soap Opera, which I’m calling Knocked Up Under the Northern Lights. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »