Sorry to be a bit on the dark side, but yesterday I heard about the death of a former colleague: a 37-year-old marathon runner, found dead in his bed of a heart attack 2-1/2 days after the fact. The last couple years have brought news of several former grade school/high school classmates’ deaths as well — four cases of cancer, one motorcycle accident and one the result of alcoholism. So of course everyone’s immediate thoughts are how that person’s lifestyle or whatever made them a risk, so they can feel safe themselves. Smoker, drinker, too fat, too much exercise, not enough exercise — you tell yourself whatever you can so you can sleep at night. But you know, I learned when my three-year-old nephew died suddenly many years ago, sometimes people just die. And all you can do (aside from living as healthy and safely as you can) is try to live your life with as few regrets as possible, and letting those you love know how much you love them everyday.
Archive for July, 2009
True, I have a few years of worrying and fretting to go before my three are teenagers. But the point is, I had long discussions with both of my nieces (16 and 18) this week and boy did they depress me!!! The stories they told me of drugs, drinking, sex, date rape, sneaking out of the house, lying, crazily permissive parents — ai yi yi. I’m scared!! My friends and I all vow we’re not going to be the “clueless” parents — that we’ll know when something is amiss — but is it inevitable that we will not know all the stuff our kids are doing?? “Your kids are going to lie to you,” one of my nieces bluntly stated. I know, most kids do crazy stuff in high school and college and turn out just fine (we did, didn’t we??) — but I think about the kids that don’t make it. Maybe parents turn a blind eye because it’s so darn depressing and scary to face reality??
Taking your young children to something you really want to see is risky. But how could you not make the Disney on Broadway production of “Mary Poppins“ a family outing? So you miss one of the very best numbers — “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” — because you had to take your daughters on an emergency trip to the restroom. How do you know it was one of the very best numbers? Because while you were in the restroom you heard the rousing applause go on and on. And on. Sigh. And so you miss about 20% of the dialogue while the kids play musical chairs with your lap and whisper questions like “Are those real kids on stage?” “Is it really storming?” “Is that the sky?” “Why didn’t the people go to her party? Was it because her table was broken?” and my favorite “What happens to us when we die?” (I’m not sure where that one came from!). I’m trying to teach my children the manners of a public event, which means to be quiet, but I love that the kids are interested enough to ask questions and I want to answer them as best I can in as few words as possible in a situation like this. So although I was upset I was missing a decent chunk of “Mary Poppins”, I also had the privilege of holding all three of my children tightly and hearing them all whisper how much they love me. Now that’s “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Despite the cold rain this morning, we headed to the Homegrown Saturday Morning at Lock 3. I wanted to see the 2nd annual Vegetable Carving Competition, and I thought the kids would get a big kick out of it, too. We saw seven finished sculptures, plus both amateurs and professionals at work. It was very cool to see! People have so much talent! Then the rain stopped so we could visit this month’s vendors and do the Children’s Science Investigation (making a constellation from a tuna can that you can project using a flashlight; they generously provided the can and the flashlight!). We got out of there a bit more cheaply this time – just $3 for a mixed bouquet of incredibly colorful, happy flowers, and $6 for a bottle of hot sauce for my hot-sauce loving husband. I’ve marked my calendar for next month – the 3rd annual melon drop!
After taking my husband and kids to the Kent State University Museum for the first time, I learned that it’s definitely more of a “woman thing”. It’s a fashion museum and although I thought it was full of interesting things, the others really weren’t into it. I’m not into clothes and fashion, but the exhibits made me view these outfits as works of art instead of just clothes, especially the gallery full of incredible embroidered clothing from countries around the world and the “Confession and the Sense of Self” exhibit (which makes you read the quotes on the wall and say “oh, yeah, I know exactly what she’s talking about”) . I only wish I could have had time to really study the exhibits and read the explanations, but the kids kind of rushed us through the museum. I was excited to see, however, that in September 2010 Katharine Hepburn’s costumes will be on exhibit. That time, I’ll go by myself!!
Most area libraries have summer reading programs which offer rewards to kids who read a certain amount each week. Rewards include free kids’ meals from McDonald’s and Applebee’s, free icees from Rita’s and free ice cream cones from Dairy Queen. I think it’s great that these companies are so generous and supportive, and I know my kids look forward to earning, and enjoying, their treats. So, thank you! These rewards have been real incentives for my kids to keep reading all summer!
I try to expose my children to a wide variety of museums and other “cultural” opportunities; fortunately, they abound in this area. Also a good thing is that the museums of today are in general a whole lot more child-friendly than when we were kids. Which is a smart thing, because today’s pint-sized museum-goers are going to be the art patrons of tomorrow. And a museum needs patrons to survive. (As an aside, I think the average kids’ enjoyment at a museum is inversely proportional to the price: i.e. places that are “boring” to most kids are free while places like Disney World are $63/day for kids 3-9, and $75 for “adults 10+” (I love how Disney considers a 10-yr-old an “adult”). Anyhow, my point is that the more a museum tries to appeal to kids, the more the kids are going to grow up with a positive feeling toward the place and are likelier to be donors or members when they grow up. That’s why places like Stan Hywet are smart to have exhibits like treehouses and doghouses that the kids can climb in and around. But there are some places which are still very crabby to kids. Not only is there nothing for the kids to touch or play with, but the guards are very gruff. I understand, and continue to emphasize to my children, the need to not touch and be respectful of artwork, not to run, not to talk loudly. My children are not perfect, but they are definitely not tasmanian devils wantonly knocking over priceless antiques or works of art. This is my take on it: if you don’t want young children in your museum, DON’T ALLOW THEM. For example, Fallingwater in PA is not open to kids under 5. That is perfectly reasonable and understandable. But if you’re going to allow kids, then you should be a bit more child-friendly. Even if you can’t provide any hands-on activities (though I would think you could do that cost-effectively for just about any museum), then at least have your guards be a bit less gruff. Yelling at little children isn’t going to win you any fans, young or old.
There are a handful of musicals I’ve been wanting to see if/when they come through Northeast Ohio, and “The Wedding Singer” is one of them. I thought the movie was cute, especially since it takes place in the ’80s, my era, and goodheartedly mocks the silliness of the time; also, it stars Drew Barrymore, who I think is darling. I thought ”The Wedding Singer” would make a cute musical, too, so I was happy to see that it will be coming to E.J. Thomas in October. I saw the Original Broadway Musical soundtrack on iTunes, and after reading the great reviews of the soundtrack, and musical, I downloaded it. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten the soundtrack to a musical before seeing it. It’s funny because when I get the soundtrack after seeing the show, it’s fun to replay the musical in my head when I listen to it. But now, I can only imagine what the musical will be like (though having seen the movie, I kind of have a “heads-up” since I know it won’t be too different). From what I can tell, it’s going to be very funny, and very fun, and it really makes me excited to see the show. The only problem is, unlike the other soundtracks the kids hear in our house and car, there are a few songs that have to be censored for their young ears. Good thing I have my shuffle! (P.S. I just got the DVD of the movie at Wal-Mart for $3 to watch when I want to get even more psyched up for the show)
Spotted today, around noon … a fox! Think he was headed to Lock 3?
As often as I’ve been to Fisher’s or Winking Lizard, or parked in Peninsula to bike, I had never really been to any of the shops in town. The Peninsula Python Fest last Saturday was the perfect way to explore Peninsula and whether you like snakes or not, it was a lot of fun! The town really did a super job of getting into the spirit – with snake games, snake face painting, snake crafts, snakes you could hold (all three of our kids fearlessly wrapped an albino python around their neck!), snake statues made of all kinds of things, and of course, the Python Parade. I think one of the most popular activities was the craft where you could make your own snake from a necktie – just put stuffing into it, hot glue it closed, add a tongue and googly eyes , and voila, your own stuffed snake! Most events were 12-4 and we actually didn’t even get to do everything! Oh, and all the activities were free, too, making it all that much better!