That M is funny. The following quips all came up during a single dinner.

Okay, first, we were eating a soup with some noodles. We’ve been adrift, because we used to be deeply loyal to the protein version of Barilla pasta, which is made with chickpeas. But then, remember how a while back, the chairman of Barilla said that he didn’t like gay families and he didn’t particularly want them to eat his pasta? Well, our family stopped buying Barilla. Which is a bummer, because it’s really, really tasty. It’s been about a year and a half and we still miss it. So Cute W was lamenting the fact that we no longer ate Barilla and he started waxing nostalgic.

“Remember. . . ?” he said. “It was that special protein pasta, the one with. . . what was the special thing they put into it. . . ?”

“Hatred?” M suggested.


Later, we were talking about Netanyahu speaking at Congress, which led to a little general Middle East talk, at which point Cute W the Faithless started in on his tired old rant about religion being the root of all mortal strife, blah, blah, blah.

And M deadpanned: “You’re right. Just get rid of religion and make people be scientific instead. . . that will solve all our problems.”


Moving off foreign affairs, Cute W totally stepped in it when he hit the touchy subject of kids owning phones. Apparently he’d heard about some new study that said that drug and alcohol use was lower among teens who owned phones, and that there was speculation that the kids were so entranced with their devices that they felt no need for any mind-altering substances.

M jumped up, triumphantly. “You guys are putting me at risk!” she exclaimed. ” You might as well just buy me some pot!”


M is going to be my assistant at this weekend’s Hannaford Kidz Expo. Come visit us!

Warped and Frozen

The other day I walked outside and the sun so much that it made the day seem just a little bit milder, and I thought, “Gosh, it’s not bad out today at all.”

And then I got into my car and saw that the temperature was 10 degrees. I am not even kidding–this happened. Apparently, my perception of normal weather is entirely warped.

In fact, just writing this made me wonder, “What’s the temperature now”” Answer: it was 27 degrees. And when I saw that and realized that the next several days are going to be colder, I immediately set aside my laptop and reported outside for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Sadly, I didn’t notice the wind from inside. It’s another one of those window days, as I call them. Looks good from in here. Shortly after I left the driveway, my walk shrank into a walk around the block.

Someone recently said that “global warming” turned out to be a poor choice of words (actually, it was Anna Quindlen). Clearly, there is climate change, but every time there’s cold or snow, some science-denier decides that this means everything’s going great. I was musing on that the other day, wondering what might be a better term. Briefly I was stuck on “Crazy-Pants Weather,” and I do think it’s more accurate, but then I realized that if we decided to dub our current climate the Crazy-Pants Weather Era, then every time there was a beautiful blue sky with fluffy white clouds, all the cranky anti-scientists would spend the whole day pointing out the weather’s momentary bout of sanity and looking smug. So, never mind.

But, see these sweaters?


They’re pretty, but they’re awfully warm. For years and years, they’ve really been too warm to wear in a practical sense. I’d pack them on trips to ski in Vermont, or sometimes I’d wear them as a top layer outside, instead of a jacket. But I run hot. Many years ago I had a facial, and the woman scrutinizing my face says, “Ah, you work out. . . I can see that you are sweaty here, around your hairline. . . .” and I made a little acknowledgement nod, but the truth is, at that time I didn’t work out. I’m just someone who sweats, like, from living my life.

Anyway, these sweaters that are a little too sweaty for this sweater to wear? I’ve been wearing them constantly, for weeks. I’m feeling pretty done.

Also, it seems like the cold weather might be attempting to destroy our house. We’re feeling pretty good about the roof (knock on wood!), because it was re-done recently. But possibly the foundation is buckling. Suddenly the back door and the bathroom door (you know, the ones that knock into each other) don’t close very well because something’s gone warped and off-kilter. In fact, the bathroom door doesn’t close. The best you can get is almost closed. Luckily, it’s on the outer perimeter of the house, so we avoided it and its torturously cold toilet bowl already, anyway. This is the sort of thing that makes Cute W wake up in the middle of the night and fret about our home’s imminent collapse. He pretty much can’t go through that door without muttering ominously. And that means quite a bit of muttering. The prospect of waiting it out and then finding out how much it will cost to prevent our house from crumbling is, if you’ll forgive me, chilling.


Giving Until It Hurts

My sweet J is a giver. She is a classic second child, going along with whatever her elder sister says. When friends argue, she plays peacemaker. But she also literally gives stuff all the time. For any holiday, she’s always coming up with gifts, either homemade or store-bought. Remember that time she bought Cute W “love dice” for Valentine’s Day? This year he got a soccer-ball tin of candies, I got chocolates, and M received a teddy bear.  She also frets quite a bit about the presentation of the gifts, including elaborate wrapping and hiding. It is very kind, and sweet. But I also feel bad for her sometimes: she spends, she worries, and she frets, and obviously, she doesn’t need to do that. Especially when M rarely reciprocates.

But generally, she likes it. The other day she was recalling our ski trip with friends. At one point she’d left the big girls to accompany the toddler-preschool set down to a game room with their grandma. The grandmother had asked for someone to help shepherd the kids, and at the time, I worried that J was sad to be leaving the cool crowd to help. I’d motioned to her that I’d go instead, but she said it was fine. So, weeks later, she started telling Cute W about going to the game room.

“So, I was giving the little kids bunches and bunches of quarters. . . .” she started.

“Wait, were you giving them your own quarters, or were you just helping to hand them out?” I asked.

“They were my quarters. And they were so excited that they kept coming to me. . . .”

“You know,” I pointed out, “they had their grandma with them. That’s exactly the sort of thing that grandmas are for, to give little kids quarters.”

“I know!” she insisted. “But that was what was so fun about it. I had mints with me, too, and with all of the quarters and mints in my wallet, I felt like I was a grandma. It was fun.”

And she showed us her wallet–a hand-me-down Vera Bradley from our neighbor–and damned if it didn’t look just like a Grandma Wallet.

Josie grandma purse

She had plenty of money and she was happy to give it. Really, she has a huge savings for a 10-year-old, and it’s because any money she spends goes toward giving either presents or charities (she gave $100 to Safe Passage after learning about it at a church service). I swear it comes back to her, just like karma. And she really does like it, so I suppose I just have to chill.

But meanwhile, sometimes she needs to chill. Like last Thursday night, after gymnastics, which was also Cute W’s birthday eve.  In keeping with tradition, J had a present for Cute W. This was particularly unnecessary, because after receiving an expensive camera for Christmas, he kept insisting that he didn’t need any gifts from anyone. At the time, we thought that his parents would be around for the birthday, and I finally managed to convince him that if I followed his wishes and presented him with nothing, I’d look like the crappiest wife ever. So I’d ordered up a couple of token items. When J found out, she scolded me for taking all the ideas, then insisted on buying one of of me so that she could claim it as her own. But it was not yet wrapped. Which I should have thought about, but didn’t.

So, you may recall that there was headache and drama on the way to gymnastics, and practice itself went worse. Apparently, she was falling off the beam and messing up skills that she knows how to do and becoming increasingly miserable. She arrived home weepy, tired, and hungry. Between showering, eating, and getting composed, it was probably an hour later when I went to check on her up in her room. She was supposed to call me for a final tuck-in after teeth were brushed, and she hadn’t called. When I got upstairs, my heart sank.

J was surrounded by scraps of paper and ribbon and an unwrapped CD.

“Want me to get you a gift bag?” I offered.

“No.” I expected that answer. I love gift bags, but I know that she thinks gift bags are lazy. But for the life of me, I had no idea why she’d gone with such stiff paper. Or why she hadn’t asked me for help.

“How about tissue paper?” She agreed to that one. I brought it up and prayed it would be quick. I should have known that mere tissue paper wasn’t enough. She started struggling with the ribbon.

“I bet that this would be a lot easier in the morning,” I started.

“But his birthday is in the morning!” she exclaimed.

“But, honey, he’s not going to wake up in the morning and demand a present immediately. . . .”

“He’s up before me! And if I’m not around, he’ll know I’m working on his present!”

“Okay, so first: what if he knows? Isn’t it kind of fun on your birthday to know that someone’s wrapping a present for you?”

At this point she was crying: the present looked horrible, she was so late, everything was terrible.

“Honey, you didn’t even need to get him a present. You are a present to your Daddy every day. Giving him a hug is a present and smiling at him is a present and telling him about your day is a present. He would much rather have a daughter who’s happy and no extra presents at all. I bet he’d be really sad if he knew how worried you were about this.”

She was unconvinced.

“It looks great right now, I think. Heck, M didn’t get your Dad anything. Please stop being so hard on yourself.”

. . . .

“In fact, I think you’re too tired to see how pretty it is. Everything looks better in the morning. You’re officially not allowed to work on this anymore.” And then I confiscated the gift, the wrap, the ribbon.

In the morning, Cute W was hard at work making his own damn birthday breakfast. Can you believe that? He is the morning person and the breakfast-making person. It’s sort of like with long-distance driving: with limited exceptions, actually driving the car himself is easier for Cute W than watching me fret and stress my way through driving the car when we’re on trips. I was not entirely useless: I’d made chocolate mousse and edited W’s article on his birthday eve. Also, I am patient. Realizing that J was missing, I reported up to her room, where she was tearfully struggling over making a bow.

J gift back


There was a bow, a lovely note, and a drawing on the other side of this gift. By the time I managed to convince J that Cute W would rather have her hanging around and helping her with waffles than have any more refinements to his gift package, he was running late. He’d expected that we’d be helping him instead of spending 20 minutes moaning over the imperfection of the wrapping paper, so all of us were behind schedule. And he didn’t end up unwrapping any gifts until later that night, which was long enough after the drama that I had to remind him to fawn over the wrapping job. He did, then tucked the tissues away as a keepsake.

On Friday we heard that SICM was collecting items to put into Easter bags for local kids, and we went shopping to donate some things. There was also the suggestion that kids could help decorate the Easter bags, as in, Oh, what a lovely idea! What a great activity for your kids, la, lah, lah. . . . And I absolutely agree. But not for my kid. We’re going to just stick with shopping. I can’t handle any more craftiness for at least a few days.

February Break

I’m just going to lay it out there: this February break does not represent my best parenting work.

Now, I’m not saying that I suck. I have my moments, like constructing a fabulous Halloween costume, having impromptu female anatomy lesson, or getting kids to eat vegetables. This week, though? There just hasn’t been the kind of effort you’ve come to expect from a woman who spends her work life urging families to get their kids out and about.

Part of this is a scheduling issue. We had a plan for visitors that fell through. If I’d known that I was going to have a great yawning stretch of nine days, I would have at least attempted to plan a day trip or two ahead of time. Now that the calendar’s theoretically opened up, though, it’s surprising how empty the calendar isn’t. Between soccer and gymnastics, one girl or the other has had something scheduled every day this week, which discourages impromptu day trips.

And part of it is plain old lethargy. It’s cold. I have cramps. I did a free trial of Hulu+ so that I could watch the end of Parenthood, and those episodes won’t wait.

So, yes, there’s been too much tv. There’s been a discernible lack of grooming all around. Work outs have been well-nigh non-existent. But, hey, it’s almost done now.

Lucky for M, most of her friends are in town, so she’s kept pretty busy going on outings with them and their parents. M hasn’t hosted a birthday party since 4th grade, and she’s been pretty consistent about never wanting to invite anyone anywhere. It’s pretty irritating. She’ll happily run around with her friends and their parents. I’ve met these parents, and I really don’t think that I’m inherently more humiliating than any of them. These days I’ve taken to giving up and just trying to slip the hosting moms some cash. Part of me would like to plan a surprise party for M’s next birthday party, but I think that she’d really, really hate it. But with so many of her friends playing basketball, and because she never invites people over, I was really glad that kids were free to play this week.

Based on the last post, you might suppose that all of my parenting challenges are coming from the elder sister, but that just isn’t so. Sweet J has been a bit crazy-making these days, too.

J’s a poky little puppy. It always feels like a struggle to get her out the door to gymnastics. Usually, this makes sense, because she’s rushing to finish homework and eating a ridiculously early mini-dinner. But you’d think this week would be easier, with our schedule clear. Nope. I think that part of it is that traffic is so unpredictable that there’s not a consistent link between behavior and consequences. On an excellent day, the gymnastics place is 15 minutes away. Generally, I allow 20 minutes, and when traffic is nutty, it can take 30 minutes. Usually, if we leave 20 minutes before class starts, we arrive with a couple of minutes to spare. But sometimes we’ll leave on time or even early, and traffic’s awful, so we’re late, anyway, and sometimes we’ll leave late and we hit every light perfectly and skate in right on time. The result is that J seems to feel no sense of urgency to get out 20 minutes ahead. And the worst part.. . . the very worst part, is that when she decides that she’s late, she goes into a freak-out mode that seriously interferes with her ability to get her butt out the door. So I’m trying to keep her cognizant of the time without flipping the freak-out mode switch.

So yesterday, I gave her warnings at 15 minutes ahead and 5 minutes ahead, and she acknowledged it, and then about 3 minutes before it was time to go, she requested headache medicine. This was the first mention of a headache all day. In fact, the last time she mentioned at headache was right before gymnastics, and on that day I probed, “Have you been feeling bad all day, or are you just not in the mood to get off of the couch and away from the tv and do gymnastics?” She was appalled. She loves gymnastics. How could I even question it? I’m so terrible. “I’m just saying that I can understand that you might feel decent lying around and not-so-good doing back-handsprings,” I said. “But if you’re feeling really sick all day, you should stay home and rest.” NO. She was fine. So when she requested headache medicine 3 minutes before go-time I refrained from rolling my eyes, but that 3 minutes were supposed to be devoted to boot-pulling, refusing a coat, and walking past the full water bottle and going back for it, not measuring out and taking medicine and following it with a juice chaser.

She sucked down her medicine and, seeing me standing in my shoes and coat, switched into freak-out mode. I stood silently, watching her pull on her boots.

“I can’t get them on! And please stop just watching me!” I turned and sat at my conveniently-located computer. I even had some silly story to read.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” she wailed.

“Sweetheart, it’s fine,” I murmured. “I’m ready when you are.”

“Stop yelling at me!” She said this to her quiet, quiet, murmuring Mommy.

“Are you kidding with that one?” I asked, half-snorting. I mean, I was in the Mommy Zone. I was so Zen. I wasn’t late for my practice.

“You’re so mean. I hate how you’re acting all calm.” She said this. It is a direct quote. I know, because at this point it was so good I had to write it down, and luckily, I was at my desk.

“I’m sorry, baby. Should I yell? Would that feel better to you?”

I’m not usually much of a yeller, and my children occasionally accuse me of yelling when I actually get quieter. Once, strictly for demonstration purposes, I responded to the accusation by actually yelling, “This is what it would sound like if I were actually yelling” and M promptly started to hyperventilate. But in this case, J ignored me and I finished whatever I was reading on my computer and we headed out.




Recently, M shared some inaccurate information with me. Repeated this inaccurate information. Insisted on this inaccurate information. When confronted with solid evidence directly contradicting this information, there was no verbal admission of guilt. That, my friends, is not how she rolls.

A few days later, M was lamenting the tragedy that was her forced relinquishment of a pair of shin guards. J needed shin guards for field hockey, and she’d inherited a spare pair of M’s.

Okay, first of all, I’ll admit it: sometimes I try to get M to move on from a particular item so that I won’t have to buy something for J. Earlier this winter, due to the miracle of neighborly hand-me-downs, I had in my possession three different pairs of snow pants that were roughly the same size, which was size was slightly-too-big-for-M. J owned a single pair of snow pants: a bit snug in the waist, definitely getting worn, and sporting a duct-tape patch on one knee. Sized between the three big pairs and J’s dilapidated patched pair, the snow pants that M still had from last year were, she insisted, her favorite snow pants ever, ever, ever. The size was perfect. I argued that they seemed almost indistinguishable from the ones a size up, and that’s when M pointed out the hot pink piping, which is “my favorite! It is why I love them!” This argument seemed absurd, since for about four years she refused to wear any pink whatsoever on principle. And as this discussion continued, little J jumped in with, “I like my snow pants. The patch isn’t too leaky and as long as I don’t button the top they fit.” Because that, my friends, is how she rolls.

But back to the shin guards. For the longest time, M owned two identical pairs of yellow shin guards, until they started looking a little small for her legs, and we bought a new pair. The yellow ones have been around as back-ups, but they’d been tucked in a basket literally for months when I fished out one set for J. M readily agreed that J should have them.  That is, until the other day, when she started moaning right before a morning practice about how she was down to one pair of too-small shin guards. “What are you talking about? Where are your A-list shin guards?” I asked.

“They’re gone,” she answered darkly.

“Gone where? You had them last week! Have you looked for them?”


“You’ve looked all around your room? You’ve checked every compartment of your soccer backpack?”

“Yes. That’s what I mean by gone. Do you think I’m too stupid to know how to look for my shin guards?”

This, my friends, is a question best left unanswered.

It was certainly a Great Mystery. That is, until a few hours later, when M & J were playing outside and I decided to conduct my own search. In her backpack, I found M’s A-list shin guards in the second zippered compartment I tried.

They were nestled snugly with a jersey that wasn’t hers. At their last game, the girls had had to switch from black to white right before the game. Rather than opening her own (monogrammed) backpack and pulling out her own (numbered) jersey, M opened a random backpack and picked out a random white jersey, one belonging to the only girl on her team who wouldn’t need it for the game because she was subbing as goalie that night. I had duly laundered the jersey, hung it to dry, and left it with M’s backpack so she could return it to her teammate at that morning’s practice, the same one that had her moaning about her missing shin guards. So she had taken the jersey, shoved it in next to her (allegedly missing) shin guards as she headed to practice, and then neglected to return the jersey, anyway.

I went to the back door to call out to M, busy on the snow fort.

“M? I’m just checking–you’ve already thoroughly searched your backpack for the shin guards, but you couldn’t find them? You unzipped all the pockets?” I called.


“And, this morning, did you remember to return your friend’s jersey?”


“So, you’re saying that the shin guards are still missing, but at least you took care of the jersey?”

Yes!” She’s getting impatient with me now. Seriously, middle-aged women are pretty slow.

“Sweetheart, look.” I hold up the shin guards and the jersey. “They were in the same pocket in your backpack.” She looks at me blankly. “You know, you’re starting to develop a real credibility issue with me.”

She chirped, “Thank you!” And perhaps she missed my credibility statement entirely (like I was saying “wonka-wak-wahhnk” Charlie Brown’s teacher-style), but I swear to God, it seemed like she took it as a compliment. She positively beamed with pleasure.

shin guards

Fantasies and Concessions to Reality

I think that if I were very, very wealthy, I would like to hire someone to take all of my last little bits of stuff. Those small slivers of soap melting on the shower shelf. The lotion at the bottom of the pump bottle that’s broken so that you can no longer pump the bottle, and instead you have to unscrew the top, churn the little dipstick-straw thing inside the bottle, and swipe it against your arm. The dishwashing machine detergent that only comes out if you store the container upside-down, and then the upside-down container falls over every time you open the cabinet, which usually knocks over a bunch of recyclables, too. The gummy, frosted clumps on the lid of the ice cream cartons. Never mind, I could probably handle the ice cream clumps myself. But the point is, I think that even if I were insanely wealthy, I still couldn’t just throw this stuff away. I’d feel guilty about the waste. But I’d find someone to take it. Hell, if I were unbelievably wealthy, maybe I could pay this person well enough that they could convincingly act grateful. They’d be all, “Oh, thank you! I was so, so hoping for 1/16 of a tube of acne cream, because the only thing I like better than a pimple is to spend 45 seconds of focused attention on coaxing pimple cream out of its container until I have way too much, and then I am Morally Compelled to spread the pimple cream on portions of my skin that are perfectly clear but considering breaking out. Especially if the cream has been expired for 7 months. This. Is. Awesome.” And then I’d be rid of something and feel like I’m making the world a better place for that one special employee.

As long as we’re fantasizing, I would pay some serious (imaginary) money for the type of beautiful and spacious mudrooms that you see if you Google mudroom images. The photo below signifies my most recent concession to reality in my house:

shoe mat

I have no doubt mentioned that our perplexing little home comes equipped with four doors to the outside, one for each side of my house. The door off of our kitchen is hardly ever used, with three notable exceptions:

  1. When, instead of actually cleaning cutting boards of bread crumbs, I lean out the door to brush the board off for the birdies before sliding it directly back into the cupboard;
  2. When I am having a maple syrup candy-making emergency; and
  3. When the kids come to the side door to pound furiously while gazing through the door’s window, looking aggrieved about how I’ve “locked them out.”

Currently this door is so adrift in snow that even its limited uses are well-nigh impossible.

Meanwhile, the front door is used by people who just don’t know any better. To encourage the learning process, our doorbell only works roughly 30% of the time, so your chances of actually gaining access to the house via the front door are poor at best. I believe that we’ve replaced the doorbell once or twice already, so perhaps it’s possessed. But that front entry isn’t entirely useless! In the months of January and February, the small, ugly, linoleum-floored entrance way is transformed into a walk-in refrigerator. This is particularly convenient for soup and football season, so that our refrigerator isn’t overflowing with soup pots and beer.

The backdoor is our most often-used door, and just inside the door, there’s a tragic bottleneck with a smallish-but-very-deep closet. Even when it’s optimally clean, it doesn’t fit much, and it’s tough to get into it:

clean closet

Sadly, it’s not usually this clean. It tends to be a sloppy pit full of shoes, mittens, and bags. It’s lined with tons of hooks that are perfectly set for my children’s height and yet they seem to find it extraordinarily strenuous to actually make the motion required to hang anything from these hooks. This closet opens onto a teensy space right next to the downstairs bathroom. In fact, if you open the door to the bathroom wide enough, you can rig it so that you can’t actually enter the house, because the back door collides with the bathroom door. If you can believe it, there actually used to be a door in this doorway to the closet, too, but we only had to jam three doors together about five times before we knew something was coming off the hinges.

And that leaves our screened porch door. This is just off the driveway, making it our favorite door for ride pick-ups and drop-offs. It’s our cat’s favorite door, and it’s where J has been tromping in every day after school, leaving a mess of melting snow behind her.  After muttering darkly for weeks, I had the brainstorm that I should remove the area rug from our refrigerator-foyer and just set it down next to the screened porch until the end of snow and mud season. Which was the right decision. But it also feels like I’m surrendering, because it signals that I’ve officially given up trying to keep things contained in the back door closet area. Sure enough, within a day of the rug move, boots, shinguards, and mittens had popped up there like mushrooms. I’m officially marking time until May, people.

It reminds me of another household concession I made. It used to drive me crazy that every time I sat down at our kitchen table, I found a random pen or pencil there. I’d harumph to myself, especially because they were often writing utensils from my desk. Finally I gave up and put a mug out as a pen-and-pencil catcher. It was silly, I reasoned, for me to retrieve my pens and pencils from the kitchen just to have them swiped again. I’d make a place for a pencil to await a writer, and then no one would need to bring more into the kitchen. A few weeks later, and this is what it looks on my kitchen table:

pencil cup

Note that there are still a pencil and pen randomly cluttering up the table, in spite of the super-conveniently located cup. Which apparently is some sort of magnetized sucking vortex, because it’s accumulated pencils, pens, a marker, a letter opener, a bookmark, and a pair of scissors. And what does my pen/pencil cup look like, over on my desk?

pencil less cup

Completely writing-instrument-free. I am not even kidding about this one. Sigh.

On a side note, I wanted to point out that I really have been keeping up with updating my Events page pretty well. So don’t forget to look.

I haven’t added lists of links to the blog much lately, and I think that’s because I tend to share them via Facebook pages instead. The KidsOutAndAbout page gets most of my misc. parenting links, and the Working Group on Girls of Schenectady tends to get my girl power links. Unless they’re too profane.


Awesome Local Girl Power Film Festival!

How cool is this?

. . .

Okay, I’ve misled you.

There actually isn’t an awesome local girl power film festival. But on the bright side, it feels like there’s an unofficial, slightly-spread-out-on-the-calendar girl power film festival. Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday, February 25th at GE Theater at Proctors, there’s a 5:30 pm reception, 6:30 pm screening of The Empowerment Project. The film’s short description: “The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things is the incredible journey of 5 female filmmakers driving across America to encourage, empower, and inspire the next generation of strong women to go after their career ambitions.” This is the one-hour film, geared toward middle school and high school girls and their parents, and it’s for parents and girls ages 10 and up. It’s free, but you’re supposed to RSVP to ensure your spot. You can see a trailer here.


On Wednesday, March 4th at the Spectrum, there’s a 7 pm showing of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. Spectrum’s short description: “Mary Dore’s film resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. The film takes us from the founding of NOW, when ladies wore hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation.” You can see a trailer here.


On Thursday, March 26th at the Kahl Campus Center at the Sage Colleges, from 6-8 pm (actually, I’ve also seen it as listed at 7:30 pm; my guess is that the film’s at 6 & there’s a 7:30 panel discussion following), there’s Finding Kind. The film’s short description: Two female filmmakers “set out in a cross country journey of discovery and education. Interviewing women and girls along the way about their lives and experiences, Parsekian and Thompson find, among all of the unique personal stories, some universal truths about growing up as girls. Finding Kind is a document of that journey, and of the filmmakers’ quest to take these experiences and find a common ground of kindness and mutual respect.” This one’s free, too, but you’re supposed to RSVP by March 26th. You can see a trailer here.

finding kind But, wait, there’s more! You can continue the girl power in the comfort of your own home through the splendor of Netflix.

Girl Rising is on Instant Netflix: “Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams.”

girl rising

Miss Representation is on Instant Netflix: “highlight[s] and challenge[s] the limiting depictions of women in the media and our larger culture.”


Maindentrip is on Instant Netflix: “14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out—camera in hand—on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone.”


Half the Sky is on Instant Netflix: “the [four-hour] documentary series introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable — and fighting bravely to change them.”

half the sky

Now, I wonder if I can get the girls to join me at the film festival. . . .


Snowy Afternoon

Right now, my children are hard at work.

They’re diligently harvesting icicles for their snow fort. Each icicle requires going to one of the upstairs bedrooms, clambering onto some furniture to reach the upper portion of the windows, opening the windows from the top down, carefully breaking off the precious spear o’ ice, swaddling it into a towel, carrying it carefully down the stairs and through the house, nudging into a pair of shoes at the door, maneuvering out the doorway without breaking the icicle (this part’s particularly tricky), and stowing the icicle with the ever-growing pile.

As you might imagine, this process if fraught with household perils. Not fully closing the upstairs windows is one of them. Forgetting that the windows should be closed at all is another. Occasionally there’s a sharp sound of breaking glass above me that indicates that the icicle wasn’t successfully transferred from the eaves into its towel-swaddle. And, really, the towel-swaddling is evidence of progress from previous harvest after repeated maternal complaints about a trail of drips. They’re not so fast out the door, leading to enough of a draft that Cute W, two or three rooms away, asks what’s going on. The shoes bring just a bit more snow in every time they’re slipped on, and when the shoes are not exactly where they’re expected, one sister will steal the other’s pair, which works just fine until the second sister is at the door with no shoes immediately apparent. Then, her only recourse is to open the door, step out onto the porch barefoot, and call to her sister until her cries and the wind whipping in through the open door rouses me to point out the vast array of sneakers and boots available, as well as the sister’s slide-on shoes, which were only tucked under the vast array of sneakers and boots.

And yet. They are so happy, so diligent, cooperating with each other and planning their building and setting the stage for an afternoon outdoors, that I do my best to ignore the irritation. I choose not to venture upstairs,  I turn the thermostat down for the duration of the icicle-harvesting process, and I throw a towel down by the back door. When the girls finally determine that their supply is big enough to move the entire construction project outside, I remind them to check the windows and wipe the floors, and they are extraordinarily compliant. They know that this entire operation requires considerable maternal forbearance, so when I throw out the requisite tasks before they can head out, M beams, “Yes, Mom, we love you, anything for you, Mom.” And even if there’s a bit of the Eddie Haskell in her response, I can’t help but be charmed.

As they’re bustling outside, Cute W, who’s ventured into the kitchen to make some lunch, offers them some grilled cheese, and I suggest that they take it outdoors. Cute W’s flummoxed. “You don’t want to do that, do you?” Oh, on the contrary! An outdoor winter picnic is one of the girls’ favorite things, and it’s always better if you’ve got something warm and cozy, so grilled cheese is perfect. I shoo them out, and ten minutes later I’m setting the plates of grilled cheese out on the back porch, AKA the take-out window. We’ll hope it holds them for a long time, but meanwhile, I’ll get cocoa prepped on the stove. When the girls come in, they’ll squeal and declare that I must be psychic, and I’ll gravely agree with them. Why yes. Yes, I am.


Rainbows are Better Than Snow

Okay, I’m feeling a bit fed up with the snow. I can’t remember if I’ve told you this before, but years and years ago, my toddler nephew thought that I was in charge of precipitation. I don’t know how he got this idea, but I loved it. It made me feel like a goddess.

These days, I’m pretty sure my goddess-named cat, Isis, believes that I’m in charge of this weather. Why else would she pad out over the powder and then turn back and shoot me such resentful looks?


Huh. I don’t know if her bad attitude is fully captured, but trust me, Kitty Be Pissed. Although it can be even worse with rain, when she travels from door to door, hoping that this side of the house will have a better offer than the back did.

But my kids love me, at least! That’s because yesterday, we did one of their favorite things ever. We went to the car wash.

What is it about the car wash? I never go by myself, because my kids find it so entertaining. In fact, M said that after a recent birthday party the mom asked if people minded if they paused to wash the car on the way home, and everyone shouted for joy.

Seriously. M got in the back seat with J because Car Wash Joy simply must be shared with someone as thrilled as you are, not some lame-ass adult who’s too busy fretting about whether or not she remembered to fold the rear-view mirrors in. Is everyone’s family like this? I have to imagine that if your kids aren’t literally shrieking with happiness, you neglected to go premium, because you know, for a couple of extra dollars you can get . . .


Oh-my-gosh, YES! It’s the rainbow wash! It’s thrilling to see it squirted on, it’s sorrowful to see it swooshed away, and as it’s tidied, each of the last little remnants must be identified and celebrated with fervor until. . . Psshhhhhh! . . . they, too, pass out of existence. It’s the circle of life.

Ummm. . . what else? Yesterday I was telling J (again!) that if such a thing as a Daughter Store existed, with models of every possible girl available, I would totally pick out one J and one M. I used to say that from long ago, like, sure, you arrived by accident, but I love your You-ness. But this time, J said, “Mom, that’s creepy.” Whaaat? “Yeah, think about it. It’s actually a really creepy idea.” Okay, yes. Upon consideration, it is creepy. But it had never occurred to me. Or them, back in the olden days. But both of the girls have read Sold, so they’re aware of the issue of human trafficking now.

Man, now I am completely skeeved out. I feel like someone needs to hose me down with some rainbow wash. But I’m afraid to go drive in the snow.


A Holiday That Isn’t Yet

I woke up this morning feeling festive. Yes, I know, intellectually, that when a coming blizzard is described as “potentially historic,” I should be more worried about traffic accidents and shivering shut-ins, but, to me, it feels like an impending not-yet-officially-declared holiday. I’m thinking, do we have the makings for cocoa, and are everyone’s mittens dry? Well, alrighty then! Let’s bring it!

Or, that’s how I was feeling before the day started getting me down. This morning I was all set to do a morning workout at the JCC (so I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about missing my evening class if the snow had started), stock up on some groceries, and rush over to the library before it opened to avoid fines. And then I couldn’t find my damn car key. Crap.

What’s unbelievably awesome about our new car is that you don’t have to insert the key into the ignition–you just need to have it on you. My key’s usually deep in the pocket of my backpack or coat, and I’ll literally go days without even seeing it. So I was dressed in work-out gear and toting grocery bags and audio books when I climbed into the car and pushed the button. And. . .  nothing.

It took hours. And yes, there were multiple calls to St. Anthony. I watched the class start time come and go, I called Cute W to ask if he’d brought an extra key to work, and I cleaned. Whenever something’s lost, I always clean. That way, even if you’re not finding anything, you’re at least making progress, right? But I got pretty cranky. Not being able to find one’s keys can seem like a minor inconvenience or like Just More Evidence That Your Life Is A Shambles In Every Way, and this morning, it felt like the latter. The key was eventually located, between sofa cushions, where it must have landed after coming out of a clothing pocket, although I have no recollection of having put the key on my person. But whatever. I’m trying not to be bitter. I’m trying to move on. At the time I found the key, I was close to giving up and walking to the grocery store. Which is lovely when you have a few things to pick up, but my planned purchases were not suitable for hiking. So I guess that’s good.

But meanwhile, it’s still not snowing, and J’s after-school floor hockey class has been cancelled. The school texted me and emailed me, and then someone had J call me, too. Yes, yes, yes: I know. Thank you. So it’s not quite feeling like a holiday, after all.

Speaking of thank you-but-no-thank-you from J’s school, the teachers sent the kids home with marigold seeds at the beginning of the school year. Theoretically, we were going to nurture our little marigolds and watch as they literally blossomed as a symbol of our blossoming children. A week or two a classmate’s parent saw that ours was still alive and kicking. She congratulated me: theirs was long-dead. I know that it was a lovely concept, but I really hate getting something alive to symbolize my children when the survival of said Symbolic Object is not assured. And, sadly, our marigold has died as a result of its own success. . . that little stem got loner and longer, and we tried to support it while keeping it in a sunny spot, but. . .  the stem got crimped. Here it is, the symbol of J and her intellectual growth this year:


Now, that’s just too bad. We tried. Cute W had actually bought a little “grow your own bonsai” kit on a business trip, and the bonsai plants and marigold have been coddled, let me tell you. Plant food and a special plant light and some prime real estate on a table in our dining room. It’s been months and here are the baby trees:


Part of me is relieved that the marigold is out of its misery and we’re now down to two teensy baby plants to try to keep alive. But seriously, I wish schools wouldn’t send home anything alive. . . half the parents don’t manage to pull papers out of the backpacks for weeks, so it’s like authorizing plant-murder. And those of us who actually try could probably spend their time and guilt over something more productive.

Speaking of sending things home from school, there are a few things that I would like to see from school. M, who is an awesome-tastic student, had a less-than-stellar test. I had been told about this less-than-stellar test, and I’ve been informed that this test was particularly poorly received by the bulk of the 7th grade community, and I have now seen the actual score of this test through that miracle of technology, the parent portal (all hail!). But the test itself has never materialized. My daughter has told me that they weren’t given back. Excuse me? I would like to see this test. I would like to know what the test looked like, what she got right, and more importantly, what she got wrong. This seems like a reasonable thing to want to know. It seems like, if there is an indication that material was not entirely grasped, the responsible thing to do would be to review this material to ensure that this material is learned even if that particular unit has passed. And if everyone did horribly on this test and the teacher’s doing something to address it, then I could rest easy, but nobody’s saying anything about anything. So can’t I please ask? I am not That Parent who thinks that their child poops rainbow bubbles and therefore any evidence to the contrary means a conspiracy. I just feel like, if we’re trying to teach the kid and limited evidence suggests that the learning isn’t happening, it’s worth looking into it.

Of course, my desire to see this test is viewed as evidence that I am an Evil Shrew bent on Abusing and Humiliating a daughter who is Clearly A Deep Disappointment To Me. Any mention of the test could have absolutely no purpose but to inflict emotional abuse, clearly. So when my daughter said that bringing home this test was not possible and I said that I’d email the teacher, there was Sorrow and Pain and an insistence that the daughter would acquire this test if only, please, for the love of puppies and butterflies, don’t email the teacher! Because that would only amplify the crushing humiliation. Okay, I said, as I stuck the dagger that I’d intended to shove under my daughter’s fingernails into my waistband. . . for now. I will be asking for the test later in the week, and if I don’t get it, I’m emailing the teacher and just asking this teacher not to rat me out.

And speaking of teachers, I’ve sent another note to our governor expressing my deep disappointment with pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth regarding education. Feeling that way, too? Let him know.

So, the grouchiness continues. I’m ready for the flakes to start falling so I can break out the cocoa and Baileys and be done with the day, already.