Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Struggle is Real

I have to go to the dentist today.

I hate the dentist.  Not just my particular, current dentist, but all dentists.  Not the people themselves, just their professions.

I know it goes way back to childhood.  I had some horrid dentist coupled with some bad genetics.  I had lots of cavities and they would fill them all at once in a tiny room with lots of adults and drills and shots.  I remember fear and pain.  And shots.

And so I'm an awful mom.  My memories of the dentist get in the way of my own kiddos.  I hate taking them.  And I've even put off appointments.  I'm passing along my phobia.  (And it's not generational--my mom loves going to the dentist.  But then she's had very few problems.)

Actually, I've been very lucky.  Cavities as a child, now some wear at the gumline that hurts.  No root canals, no crowns.  Very lucky.

I hope I'm as lucky today.

But I still hate going.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Snow Report

You probably know by now (except perhaps Lambeth, my friend in England) that we're facing a huge snow storm on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Blizzard warnings are in effect and predictions are for 12-24".  I've got enough food to eat for days, with or without power.  I'm expecting the kids won't have school on Tuesday or Wednesday.  We'll see.

Sis in her gear
In other news, on Saturday morning when we woke to 14F temperatures, Mama decided to take Sis skiing!!  Mama herself hadn't skied in 30 years; Sis had never been.  But they went to a nearby place and had a wonderful day.  Sis took beginner's lessons in the morning but, because of her speedskating ability, only spent a few minutes on the bunny slope before being moved to the green and then the blue paths!  Apparently, she's really good.  And Mama didn't break her back--and could even get up on Sunday morning.

Bud on the slopes
Which is when they went back, taking Bud with them!!  Sis skied green all day by herself, while Bud took lessons and Mama later skied with him on the smaller hills.  He had fun, too.  I think Sis and Bud even skied together.

I think there will definitely be more skiing, though not for me.  I have memories of one disastrous ski trip as a teen.  A quick morning lesson during which I could barely stand still or upright--I had no control over the skis--and yet the instructors still took me on the mountain on the lift and promptly abandoned me.  I skied down by myself, though I'm pretty sure you can't call it skiing.  I ran into a child, who wasn't hurt, and a tree, before taking off my skis and walking the rest of the way down.  It sucked.  I think I ended up walking in town the rest of the afternoon.   I don't think I'll be trying that ever again.

On the ski lift together

But I'm glad my kiddos love it.  And I'm so glad Mama had the gumption to give it a try--she loved it!  So, our plan is to go back to Vermont to ski next year and I'll sit in a nice cozy lodge by the fire and crochet, just like I like.  But I'll love watching them all ski.

And we'll all love the snow days this week.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


It's blowing like mad outside--it even knocked over our freestanding basketball hoop!  But it's sunny and warm.

Until tonight, when we might have 2-5" snow, depending on the forecast.  Which means, there could be a school delay . . . and since it was already an early dismissal, they might not have school at all.  Which is great because Mama wanted to try to take the kids skiing.

And I hear there might be a nor'easter in the pipeline for snow on Tuesday.


On Tuesday night, there was a hip-hop dance lesson at school.  Both kids went, but Bud was much more interested in it.  And he's so good!  Several people said he was a natural.  He certainly is flexible and he learns quickly!  (Though, I heard Timberlake's "Can't Fight This Feeling" too many times.)  Maybe we can get him into dance lessons this summer.


Summer.  Yep, already planning summer activities.  Sis will do a week away at computer camp and a week at speedskating camp.  Bud will do theater camp and maybe those dance lessons.  As a family, we're going to a weeklong Audubon camp in Maine.  And then we'll visit Texas for a bit in the summer, which will be great (and really hot.)


Monday, March 6, 2017

Speed Racer

I'm constantly impressed with our little speedskater!  We had such a wonderful time at her second competition and are so proud of her.

We're learning more about speedskating every week.  Though, I don't quite know the lingo, every competition meet is divided into several races, by distance and then by ability (with odd, almost inappropriate, names like "midgets" and "pee wees"--which are teenagers!)   I believe each meet has a series of 6 or 7 races in decreasing distance--the 1500, 1000, 500, 333, 111--with semi-finals for a few races and the newbies doing the 500 and 333 more than once.   Each place in each race has a set of points awarded; these are tallied at the end of the meet and one set of gold, silver, and bronze awards are given per division, by ability and gender.  No participation awards.

Sis bested her times in all of her races.  Her coach had told her to focus on her technique, not on just going fast or winning.  So she kept herself down in first position and did her crossovers.  She raced against 3 others--2 girls and a boy who raced with them but was in a different division--and was last in all but one race--she beat the boy!  But it didn't matter because she ran clean races, improving with each one.  On the second to the last race, she really pushed, wanting to beat the boy who was from her own club (it's a friendly rivalry)--you could see her hunker down and push.  She fell at the end, a terrifying moment for us, though it was clear that she wasn't hurt--she fell on her butt and slid across the finish line (her skate has to cross.)  But she was so proud of herself!  Her first fall in competition, a milestone.  And she got right back up, all smiles, and had another race later.  And when she won bronze in her division, she was so excited, so proud--more than she won an uncontested gold in the last meet (she was the only girl).  She said she'd rather have competitors.  So very proud of her.

The sushi case!  The store is the size of a Target.

Just one fake food display,
at just one of the food stalls
We had fun outside of the competition, too.  We stopped at Mitsuwa, the huge Japanese grocery store on the banks of the Hudson, looking across to Manhattan.  I could see the GWB, Grant's Tomb and Union Theological, near Columbia, and all of the skyscrapers of Midtown.  And we love the store.  Mama a lot as a child; we also went to the one in Chicago several times.  Beyond lots of imported tasty treats, there is an awesome food court.  Bud and Sis had sushi, I had katsu-don, and Sis had gyoza.  There were also a Japanese bookstore and also a knicknack store, with Pokemon, Pusheen, Totoro and other Miyazaki movies, amigurumi books, origami paper, and lots of anime things.

We also stopped by the Schuyler-Hamilton House, where Alexander Hamilton courted Eliza Schuyler in 1780.  It's a beautiful white colonial from 1760 owned by the DAR, now on a tight little run-down street.  They only do tours on Sunday from 2-4 p.m.  I was glad just to see it.  One day, we'll go back for the tour.  And all the other historical sites in the area.

There will be other chances because Sis loves speedskating.  And we do, too.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Under the Whale, Under the Whale . . . .

I slept under the great blue whale on Saturday night!  The blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History, that is.  With my family and a few hundred others.  It was the museum’s famous sleepover, our own Night at the Museum.  And it was wonderful!  I don’t have an official bucket list, just an idea of things I’d like to do, including speak another language and play piano (check! check!), and this had been on it for a long time.  In fact, generally speaking, I’d wanted to sleep in some kind of museum ever since I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler.

We arrived with sleeping bags and stuff in tow, around 4 p.m., earlier than needed.  We were hungry and so headed to CPW where there were food carts.  We started with lovely Waffles&Dinges, including a waffle with ice cream, one with caramel apples, and one with speculoos cookie supreme.   We also got Nathan’s hot dogs and crinkle fries.

We didn’t know yet where exactly we would be sleeping.  In addition to the whale, guests also slept with North American mammals and the hall of minerals.  I wanted the whale and was thrilled that we got it (I think our crowd was below the 465 people maximum and so everyone slept under the whale!)  I was so excited.  We waited awhile as the guards quickly cleared the museum and then were escorted to the Hall of Biodiversity and Oceana, where we chose a spot on the edge, under the tail, near the polar bear.  Cots were provided and made a good sleeping spot.  But that was not for six hours!

In the meantime, we had almost free range of the museum.  We wandered the semi-dark and almost completely empty hallways.  A volunteer took our photo in the magnificint entry hall with the dinosaurs—with no one else around!  We were alone with the Moai—“dum dum, me want gum gum” if you know the Night at the Museum movie.  We saw the birds, the Plains Indians, the Asian peoples, mostly by ourselves.  It reminded me of my years working at museums, where I greatly enjoyed being alone when they were closed to the public.  This is as close as I’ll be able to share that with the kids. 

We saw an animal demonstration, with Barn Owl, Golden Eagle, alligator, opossum, black-throated monitor, and python.  We wandered the dinosaur halls during a flashlight fossil find, shining our lights on the stegosaurus, triceratops, titannicasaurus, and pterodactyls.  Mama, who took photos throughout the whole evening, had fun photographing the illuminated fossils.  We also stood in the darkened turret and looked out over the city.  And then we saw a movie on the wonders of the Arctic!  Plus a snack and a bedtime story. 

My favorite part, besides the experience of being in the museum after closing, was visiting the butterflies.  I love butterfly-ariums!  The one at AMNH is small, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.  I even had a few land on me—one on my hand, one on my shoulder, one of my skirt, and one on my forehead!  That last one, an owl butterfly, stayed put for 20 minutes even as I walked around; I finally had an attendant remove it so we could continue our explorations.  It felt so light, and tickly, like my own live butterfly headdress.  Sis had one land on her arm and Bud had one do a touch-and-go landing on him, too. 

And then we readied for bed under the whale, around midnight.  Many kids were riled up, running around screaming, but Bud was asleep before the bedtime story (Trenc’s original picture book Night at the Museum) and Sis was asleep right after I gave her one of my ear plugs and didn’t even hear me sing “Baby Beluga” to her.  I listened to the ruckus but mainly focused on the whale above me, flickering in the flashlight lights as if it were under the sea.  This effect was even stronger when they shut off all but emergency lights, but the sky lights behind the whale were swirled shades of blue.  Beautiful, mesmerizing.  I almost couldn’t sleep.

The view from my cot
But eventually I did, waking only once when Sis needed the restroom.  The hall of hundreds of people was very quiet, except two very loud almost caricaturish snorers, and that beautiful whale.  I loved sleeping "under the sea."

The next morning found us having a quick breakfast, picking up some pins and magnets at the shop, and heading home, talking about how this was tied for best sleepover ever with the 19th-century ship Conrad at Mystic.   It just occurred to me that both have connections to whale, though the latter’s is pretty gruesome.

I much prefer the image of that giant blue whale above us.  I’ll treasure that for a long time to come.