Our People

Herr Husband and I had date night tonight, and as we so often do, we found ourselves among white sexagenarian Cantabrigians. Not sure what this says about us or our sense of fun.

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And of course, Paula Poundstone was hilarious.


Transparent

You should not be reading this blog. You should be watching Transparent on AmazonTV, like I am. Remember how the best gift I got Herr Husband for Christmas was FiveTV for the bargain basement price of $79? It let me rewatch all of Arrested Development, and now it’s letting me continue the Jeffrey Tambor party with Transparent.

So, it took me until today to understand fully get the title. My brain isn’t always functional. It’s not just transparent as in transgendered, or as in coming out and fully visible as oneself. It’s Trans-PARENT. Duh. Because it’s about Maura (Tambor) a transwoman who comes out to her three adult children. There’s heartbreak and humor and great characters and incredible writing. Go watch.


Jam Time!

Wheeeeee!

Wheeeeee!

She is very proud of herself.

She is very proud of herself.

Do you live locally? If not, skip this post. If yes, keep reading. Do you have kids? If not, skip this post. If so, keep reading. Have we discussed Jam Time already? If yes, you too can skip this post. But if not, hold onto your hats! I’m about to drop some useful parenting info on that ass. (I wonder if that phrase has ever been uttered/written before? Google says no.)

Go to Jam Time in Natick (or in Maynard, but I’ve never been to that one). Before you go, you and your children can shout Jam Time in a silly voice and amuse yourselves endlessly. And then once you’re there, you can alternate between playing with your children and practicing benign neglect as they work on their independence and you gab with your friends (today, Rocky and her pals).

Jam Time is clean, quieter than other indoor play spaces (it’s the carpet), and friendly. It’s small enough that you can let your kids wander and then find them with ease. The people are friendly and they have organic junk food for sale (they understand their client demographic well). There’s a bounce house, a ball pit, a train table, a pretend fire station, a lot of ride on toys, costumes, and climbing stuff/slides. Everyone leaves happy, and my kids fall asleep on time. Win.


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Things about my day:

1) Tantrum cycle disrupted! I managed to do no yelling today (a bit of firm bossing and maybe a dose of snark), but every time I felt myself getting testy, I tried being silly instead. It mostly worked. Das Big Boy was exhausted and a bit whiny, but we staved off any actual meltdowns. Huzzah! And I’m only like a quarter of a way through that parenting book. By the time I finish, my kids will be teaching transcendental meditation and curing cancer.

2) It probably helped that my parents watched DBB this morning while I took Little Liebchen to her “school.” She continues to be totally in love with her teacher, and sits as close to her as humanly possible and watches her very intently. And then we went to buy her Christmas present for DBB. She had already picked out his present (when I asked her what to get him she knew exactly what he wanted:

Me: What do you want to get your brother for Christmas?

LL: Da trac-toh.

Me: Which tractor?

LL: [Rudy] trac-toh. (We brought Rudy Huxtable a tractor with which DBB has long been obsessed.)

How cute is it that she knew exactly what he wanted. And I let her hand the credit card to the woman in the store and she was so proud. The concept of waiting and surprises was a bit lost on her. She kept saying, in front of him, “Where’s Bruduh’s trac-toh? I play bruduh’s trac-toh. Trac-toh in da cah.” But so far he doesn’t seem to have caught on. He’s planning to get her a baby doll. Yay for my kids knowing what each other wants, boo for their adherence to gender roles. But she is getting trains, too. And he already has dolls. Does that help?

3) My wunderkind high school babysitter also watched the kids (and folded laundry!) tonight while I went to an AMAZING talk by Jill Lepore about her book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman. I’m getting the book immediately. Basically, if you thought Wonder Woman was all skanky boots and magical rope tricks, you were wrong. She was developed–by a man, I might add–specifically to empower young women to shed the bonds of male domination and become equal members of society. Her creator lived with two women–a career woman and a child-raiser, in a happy trio–one of whom was Margaret Sanger’s niece. Sanger and Suffragists were major inspirations for WW. Lepore is a hell of a speaker: dynamic, funny, smart. You could see the teaching-endorphin buzz moving through her. (You teachers know what I mean: when you finish a class and you feel like you’re coming down off of something because everything has come together, and the room is crackling with fresh knowledge and sizzling synapses.) Ultimately, Lepore’s thesis is that Wonder Woman bridges the gaps between what has been called first and second wave feminism, and that in fact there weren’t two distinct waves, but a rush. Loved it.

4) All of her talk of social action and protest and change made me feel that we’re (or at least I’m) too complacent. The goals of Wonder Woman’s creators in the early forties still haven’t been achieved today. And the failure to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner really got me down. Did you see that tape? I only listened to the audio in my car and I had to stop driving because I was sobbing. Our nation has a long history of exciting and engaging protests (eventually) yielding important change. I feel like some people are down on protesters these days. But I’m thankful to them. Still trying to think of ways to do my own small part to help foster change… This is the type of occasion on which I really miss teaching (also, I attended the Lepore event with beloved former English teachers who were similarly fired up/heartbroken).

5) Here is your holiday card outtake. In three parts.

Hansel and Gretel cower in fear, and wish you a joyous holiday season.

Hansel and Gretel cower in fear, and wish you a joyous holiday season.

Did Katja fart, or does her piano playing just really stink.  I am in a lot of trouble, by the way, because I find potty humor hilarious and will be unable to scold my children for employing it. Katja currently pronounces fart "shart," and I laugh every time.

Did LL fart, or does her piano playing just really stink?
I am in a lot of trouble, by the way, because I find potty humor hilarious and will be unable to scold my children for employing it. LL currently pronounces fart “shart,” and I laugh every time.

Don't make me (or my butt) the butt of your jokes!

Don’t make me (or my butt) the butt of your jokes!


The Department of Ongoing…

I've decided that when I don't have a fitting photo, I'll post a holiday card outtake. In this one, you can see the yellow pants pver which LL and I had a fight. I didn't want her to wear them, because they didn't match the dress and they were covered with chocolate ice cream. So she put them on herself. Take that, mama. Then she was being surly as we tried to take the photo, so we put on the Thomas theme song to cheer her up. But every time we did so, she leaped up as if to say, "This is my jam!" and began dancing wildly around the room.

I’ve decided that when I don’t have a fitting photo, I’ll post a holiday card outtake. In this one, you can see the yellow pants over which LL and I had a fight. I didn’t want her to wear them because they didn’t match the dress and they were covered with chocolate ice cream. So she put them on herself. Take that, mama. Then she was being surly as we tried to take the photo, so we put on the Thomas theme song to cheer her up. But every time we did so, she leaped up as if to say, “This is my jam!” and began dancing wildly around the room.

Efforts: Go read my second book review at Postmodyrn, please. It’s about Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions (Thanks to a dear reader for the suggestion!). A funny, wise memoir about the first year of parenting.

And in ongoing Sagas (in this case, of me and the double stroller): The weather today was luminous, and I decided to pick Das Big Boy up from school on foot. So Little Liebchen and I walked the two miles there in increasingly chilly weather. I got to have a moment of smugsbyness as several parents praised my efforts. Then the skies opened up and no one thought I was so clever anymore and everyone felt bad for me. Thankfully my neighbor was there to pick up her (incredibly kind and lovely) children, and had an umbrella to lend me. And I laughed at myself for pretending it was a good idea to do stuff on foot.

Fortunately, it dried out. And then I ran into not one, but two friends on the way home (also both on foot). So it turns out it was a good idea after all. So there! Smugsbyness regained!


Cop Out (Again)

Me in college. Spring break, senior year. I am not pregnant.

Me in college. Spring break, senior year. I am not pregnant.

Herr Husband has just returned from yet another business trip, and I spent all of my writing energy on a Facebook post railing against the Greek system at Dartmouth to my frat-guy pals. You know things are going to go well when you use the phrase “white male privilege” with successful white men.

All of this is to say I’m tired, especially after last night’s post. So you’re not getting much out of me today. I didn’t even take pictures of my kids.

We did make a monumental decision to remove Das Big Boy from one of his two preschools. It’s the child-centered one that I love so much, but he was overwhelmed by attending two schools, and the structure, music, and nerdy content of the public school (where he can also get speech/social supports) clearly speak to him. Just another reminder that it’s not our philosophies that matter when we’re parenting, it’s our children. I wonder how many times I’ll have to relearn that (said the vegetarian who feeds her kid fourteen hot dogs a week). I’m sad, of course. I love the directors. I love his teacher from last year who helped him learn to like school and his teacher from this year who bent forwards, sideways, and backwards to get him more excited about participating. But I know he got a lot out of being there, and that this is the right move for him now.

Thanks for all of the love on yesterday’s post, guys. It means a lot. Love you all.


Words (from other folks…)

I thought I’d recommend some children’s books tonight. These are some of our favorites with which you might not be familiar. Do me a favor and share some of yours/your kids’, too. As always, I recommend you support your local bookseller (or mine, Wellesley Books!).

1) Dinosaur Rescue, by Penny Daledinosaur rescue

Ok, so high literature this one is not. It’s essentially pandering to the interests of preschoolers: dinosaurs, crashes, railroad crossings (what, your kids don’t demand you drive them past certain crossing gates multiple times a day?), trains, emergency vehicles, and easily-resolved crises. You pretty much can’t go wrong with this combo. Repetitive, readable prose and brightly colored, highly detailed illustrations make this one the whole package. And it’s led to some fun play schemes in our house, too.

2) Who Will Comfort Toffle? and The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My, by Tove Jansson

toffleThese charming books are translated from the Finnish. Written in whimsical, rhyming couplets, they’re quirky and heartfelt. Toffle is about a lonely soul who finally finds his match, and Mymble is about a quest to find a lost sister. Both take place in the same mystical world. Mymble has spectacular cut-outs on every page, and both use vivid drawings of their invented beings. They’re on the long side (especially Toffle), but they hold my kids’ attention.

3) Stop Snoring Bernard, by Zachariah Ohorabernard.

Bernard is an otter with a snoring problem. His pals kick him out of the otter exhibit, and he tries to find a new spot in the zoo. Don’t worry, it ends happily. The heavy line drawings look like woodcuts, and the simple prose, animal characters, and opportunity to make loud snoring sounds will amuse toddlers and preschoolers.

4) I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen and Marc Rosenthal

boboWilly’s lovey is his sock monkey, Bobo. But Earl the cat loves Bobo, too. So they battle over him. The line drawings use pops of primary colors, and the words take over the pages at some point. Simple enough that little ones can start “reading” along with you. A favorite of each of my kids between eighteen months and two (but DBB still enjoys it at four).

5) Listen, Listen,listen by Phillis Geshator and Alison Jay

Another rhyming book with highly detailed illustrations: cute little animals, lovely landscapes, and frolicking folks. The book goes through the seasons, describing the changes in nature and the different activities people can enjoy. It highlights the sounds of each season with lots of opportunities for kids to make sound effects. Charming and beautiful, it’s a great book for games of I spy.

So what are your family’s favorites? Share in the comments! We’re always on the hunt for new books and love getting favorites from friends. We were just introduced (via gift) to the wonderful Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. Circus animals survive a wreck at sea and become valued members of a Maine community! And a Facebook post taught us about Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s Mercy Watson, the toast-loving, problem-solving, trouble-making porcine wonder!