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Serenity Now!

July 18, 2016

We have walked around our fair share of glens and gorges here in New York State observing the layers and layers of shale cut through. I have finally (a week out) realized that I am feeling more than the normal amount of stress about our upcoming visit to Kenya. I’ve got layers upon layers of stress around this trip, some more rational than others. I thought I’d allow myself, maybe just this once, to try to articulate all of them. Enjoy:

  • health and safety
  • avoiding bombings
  • avoiding all other forms of terrorism
  • diplomatic coups
  • visas
  • get my passport back
  • get in and out of Kenya
  • financial
  • communication
  • planning and bookings
  • medication
  • parking in Toronto
  • loooooooong flights
  • whiney children
  • appropriate clothing
  • less luggage
  • taxi charges
  • in-laws
  • no electricity
  • no water
  • adequate food
  • handling life in the “fishbowl” again
  • Transportation on the ground
  • bored children
  • bored me
  • Missing the Democratic National Convention
  • Missing the Olympics
  • Helping my kids navigate the complexities of appreciating and not exoticizing other cultures
  • Navigating the complexities of appreciating and not exoticizing other cultures
  • Seeing former colleagues and students
  • Appreciating what we have without othering those we visit
  • Riding motorcycles
  • Putting my kids behind unknown motorcycle taxi drivers
  • malaria
  • medications
  • sleeping on floors, etc
  • bringing what we need, but not too much
  • gifts for cousins
  • being asked for money
  • being American

I better stop this.







How to throw a party like a Slacker Mom

January 9, 2016
  1. Ignore son’s many hints about upcoming birthday.  You don’t want to throw him the kind of party HE wants: it will be too big, expensive, and overwhelming if you ask about any preferences.  Pretend you can’t hear him and change the subject.
  2. To compensate, think about, but don’t actually purchase, the thing that you know would be an unmitigated hit.
  3. Instead, purchase necessities: boots, shoes, jackets.  These are his gifts.
  4. Allow the low-grade guilt to fester.
  5. The day before his birthday, in an impetuous fit, text the mothers of three fiends whose number are not only in your phone, but labelled.
  6. Make up what you imagine your nearly-nine year old MIGHT like.
  7. Call it a surprise, which really just means put together at the last minute and uninformed.
  8. Madly clean the most public parts of the house for  year-old-boys to not notice.
  9. Arrange for the school district to deliver the son’s friends to your house–the first surprise is on the bus.  Thanks tax-payers.
  10. When they get home, force the boys to do math homework.
  11. The lynch-pin of slacker mom’s everywhere: store-bought cupcakes.
  12. Have the boys assemble snack bags from your lunch pantry to sneak into a movie theatre so you don’t have to pay for theatre popcorn.
  13. Take the boys to a second-run movie at the dollar theatre. Impress them by being the ONLY ones in the theatre.
  14. On the way home, buy them fairly disgusting tacos at a place the son has been wanting to try.
  15. Compel son to admit his birthday turned out much better than he expected it to be.  He expected it to be a normal school day, so a glorified playdate really was impressive.  And much less work than a PLANNED party.

You probably could have figured that out on your own.

Where’s my blog?

June 16, 2014

I tune in, admittedly after 6 months, and there is Japanese posted at my blog.  Where is my blog?  That was my kids’ childhood!


December 21, 2013

I have been SO excited for this break. The last few weeks have been hectic and each day has seemed so long. (Someone else might have written the last half of that sentence with periods to indicate serious pauses between those words, but I just can’t torture sentences that way: it would be SO wrong). On Friday morning when I got up early to let the dog out, I actually considered turning my alarm clock off, thinking I had already lived that day, instead of just imagining it for weeks and weeks.

Since the break was so sought-after, we have to make it count. We got a chance to hot the good old Holly Trolley at the New York Museum of Transportation today.
trollyriders It’s so funny to ride a trolley through the woods–it is such a quintessentially city mode of transportation out there in the middle of nowhere Rush. Still, having seats that can be set in either direction is pretty magical!
The other main attraction is, of course, the model train room. In this huge set, one of the numerous trains running around has a camera and the kids were fairly obsessed with seeing themselves on the TV displaying the cameras’ scene. We’ll conquer the I Spy game next time.

Screen Time

December 20, 2013

I shall witness my children’s performances mostly through the screens of other parents’ devices.
modern parenting
I’m pretty sure. Once upon a time, people used viewfinders, but not anymore. Now their giant devices are not held discreetly in front of their faces, ruining only their own view. They are hoisted high into the air and pointed in the general vicinity of their child, certain they will be able to go into their files later and zoom in on their cherub, cropping out all the irrelevant children. This is Amos’ preschool “Winter Celebration.” The screens were much more prevalent during the younger classes (the school starts at 18 months). Maybe the rest of us grow out of it. I sure hope so. I was fairly agitated at these screen-wielding parents (I-pad guy: you were killing me) and that may have been compounded by rushing from work, finding NO parking, insufficient seating, along with all the other regular complications of life.
I guess he is worth it.

Somebody had a birthday…

December 20, 2013

Sort of. Pete is 6 months old now. He earned his vest and is learning and growing like crazy. Just about the only thing that can wear him out is a couple of hours of dog play–humans just aren’t enough for him.


December 18, 2013

I love it when my kids surprise me. I mean, I MADE those guys–I know everything about them, don’t I? I feed them. I wash them. Everything they have is because I gave it to them, including most of their illnesses. Yet, sometimes they spring something on me.

A few weeks ago, we attended a Christmas party. This wasn’t just ANY Christmas party, this was a Puppy Christmas party. We didn’t actually bring Pete because I knew I would have a couple other troublemakers to walk through the pot-luck line, but there were plenty of other puppies on hand. One of the games that night was one of those getting to know you sheets where you need to “find someone who…” but all about puppies. For example, “find someone who has raised both a black and a yellow lab” or “someone who has raised 5 service dogs.” The purpose of such an activity is, of course, to force you to mix and mingle and talk to all sorts of people you have never met before and ask them personal puppy questions. Personally, I had no interest in doing so. I am THAT lazy. But my six-year-old took it upon himself to make the rounds and find someone to sign in each and every square. He was so proud of himself. The hosts were kind enough to award him a prize and no one has ever been so happy to win puppy poop bags and a soft blanket for his dog. He talked about it for days. PJ is so happy to be the “not-shy” member of the family. Live it up!

We also had our winter dance recital this week. Amos told me he liked recitals because he “only [has] to do the dance one time.” Such enthusiasm. PJ told me on the way there, he had big plans for his solo: it’s going to be funny! Amos was more tight-lipped. I wouldn’t have been very surprised if he had decided to opt out of the solos. Some kids do. Amos surprised me:

And then, of course, I tortured PJ before I took this picture. Clearly, otherwise how could he have such an expression?
Oh yes, Lily surprises me, too. She surprises me with her growing maturity and patience. Her appetite, too. And every time she does something I recognize as my own influence, like get up an hour early so she can get ready for school at an unrushed pace, I smile.

A Much Needed Respite

December 11, 2013

One of my favorite Christmas songs:

And he shall purify

December 8, 2013

There are lots of ways to enjoy Handel’s Messiah. You can find a sing-along, locate a score, drive 30 minutes to sit in a balcony of a 200-year-old church, and do your darndest to pick your way through the alto line. But that is simply the most obvious. You could also spend the time to inventory your Pokemon cards. Or play Ironman on the Kindle, and only after you have drained the battery, kneel in the 200-year-old dust to use the pew as a desk for drawing. Or inventory the red and green sweaters in the Church; red wins, obviously.


November 30, 2013

I don’t know quite why my life has fallen apart so much that I can’t blog semi-regularly. The kids are good. My schedule is manageable. I don’t really have anything new going on. Can I blame the dog? He does need a lot of walks. Never turns one down. Still, it’s probably not his fault.

We had a more-populous than normal Thanksgiving at my parent’s house, which was fun. I can’t take credit: they came to say goodbye to Meg, who left on her mission soon after. Well, maybe they really came to see Stephen Fry on Broadway, but let’s pretend it was for Meg. Regardless, it was a pleasure.
The day after Thanksgiving, we hit the Jello Museum in LeRoy and the Gingerbread Exhibit at the Eastman House. My dad took issue with some outlandish assertions the guy at the Jello Museum made about LeRoy being the center of the universe, but whatever. I didn’t think there were any particularly spectacular gingerbread houses this year, but maybe I have just seen too many good ones.