It’s not PC to say who’s your favorite child, but I’ll tell you who mine is: the child who is the least trouble at the moment! (needless to say, my favorite changes several times an hour) Seriously, though … we have three children, girl boy girl, and it’s interesting to see how other people treat them. Some prefer boys, some prefer girls. Some prefer the youngest, the middle or the oldest for no reason other than where they lie in their birth order. Although I can see the subtle (or not-so-subtle) preferences, I don’t think my kids can … yet. Though when someone goes on and on about one child, I always like to point out the accomplishments of the other two. What’s funny is that if you ask grownups who the favorite child is among their own siblings, in many cases the kids all think it’s someone else (in other families, though, it’s pretty obvious to every child but the favorite, and in some, it’s obvious to everyone). It’s hard to play it fair, I think, but very important. Who needs another chip on their shoulder?
Archive for October, 2009
I grew up in a home with a fake Christmas tree. Every year, my mom put the center pole together then stuck branches into the holes. Every year, I vowed to myself that when I had my own house, I would have a real tree. Better yet, I would take the family — like in a Currier & Ives postcard — and we’d go to a Christmas tree farm to chop the perfect one down, then we’d carry it back to our car, laughing all the way, cheeks rosy and hearts merry. Well … anyone who’s taken kids to chop a tree down knows that that scenario isn’t quite reality. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice to say, this is one of the reasons my husband would prefer an artificial tree (there’s also the expense, frazzled nerves, frustrating attempts to get the tree straight, mess, propensity of our trees to fall down, etc.). I, however, refuse to budge on this issue. Or should I say, refused. Last year we got our tallest tree ever, though not on purpose. While my husband was out of the country, the tree fell over, breaking many of our ornaments, some family treasures. I was heartsick. I also didn’t want to hear “I told you so” from you-know-who. So I hauled the tree to the porch and cleaned up the mess. The next night I took the kids to Pat Catan’s, where they had a few fake alpine trees left for 70% off. I let each child pick his or her own. I brought the trees home, and that night while the kids slept, I stayed up stringing lights so when they awoke, the trees were lit and they could decorate them with their own ornaments. The kids had a ball and loved the idea of having their own trees, especially when they learned their presents would be under their own trees (plus, I figured that if these trees last they would be sentimental additions to the kids’ first apartments). Best of all, our little model Christmas train actually fit in a circle around all three trees, making it a sort of “Christmas Village”. But I still missed having a real tree, and one that held a collection of my own ornaments, especially the ones I’ve made my husband every year since we started dating. So here is my plan for this year: the kids can have their own fake trees from last year but we’ll also go to the Christmas tree farm to pick out a small tree for the family ornaments. It’ll be less expensive and hopefully less stress and less likely to fall over! If this doesn’t work, you may just see a chalk outline of a tree on our wall next year!
I have a problem. I feel like I have to go everywhere and do everything, and Halloween/autumn is no exception. So this month we’ve done Ramseyer Farm, Akron’s Boo at the Zoo, trick-or-treat at the Akron Art Museum, “Night at the ‘Boo’-seum” at the McKinley Museum in Canton, Hale Farm’s fall festival and four of the Hiking Spree hikes. We painted pumpkins, read Halloween books and made crafts. Each child had a parade and party at school, and tonight is the neighborhood trick-or-treating. To be honest, I don’t even like Halloween. It’s not about the candy either because I don’t want a bunch of that stuff in our house (and in fact, most of these activities didn’t even involve candy; it’s more about learning). I just feel like there’s so much to do out there and I want my kids to experience it all. And it’s not just Halloween, it’s Christmas too and let’s not even talk about summer. Even now, with as much as we do, there are places or activities I pass on, then I wonder if I made the right choice. Could you imagine if I lived in NYC with endless choices? I’d really be a nutcase!!
Sorry my entries have been so Bruce Springsteen-heavy lately, but I always get that way before one of his concerts! So I downloaded the video for “Wrecking Ball”on Friday night. I had never heard the song before but after seeing a clip of the video and reading the reviews, buying it was a no-brainer (thanks to everyone who buys me iTunes gift cards to help support my love of music!). I love the song and video for a lot of reasons. But you know what it reminds me of? The Richfield Coliseum, where I saw my first rock concert (which was, coincidentally, Bruce Springsteen), and which has since been torn down, like Giants Stadium will be (that’s what “Wrecking Ball” is about). The Coliseum … now that was a great place to see a concert or a basketball game. The Q just isn’t the same. I don’t know what it is. I’m not a smoker, but I think a smoke haze is kind of necessary to set the mood. Also, it seems like before, all you could buy was beer or pop in big plastic cups. Now, you can have paninis, soup, organic food, bottled water – it just isn’t right! I mean, when I saw Bruce in January 1981, we literally sat so high that when we pumped our hands up in the air during “Born to Run”, my knuckles got bloody from hitting the plaster on the ceiling. Now it’s brightly lit and smoke-free and the fans are middle-aged, wearing Dockers, and carrying trays of gourmet food back to their $100 seats. It’s all so … so … sterile … the exact opposite of what a rock concert should be! (And speaking of wrecking balls knocking down places like the Coliseum, why do we have to tear down buildings after 25 or 50 years when people in Europe live, work and shop in buildings that are hundreds and hundreds of years old?)
Today we had about 90 minutes to kill while we were in the Cleveland area, so we stopped by Rosby Berry Farms on E. Shaaf Road in Brooklyn Heights to pick some raspberries. I had never been there before, but it was a very cool to see a farm in the middle of the city. Seriously, you’re just minutes from downtown Cleveland, and every few minutes, a train passes by. We picked 2 pints in about 45 minutes, then the kids had some time to ride on the tire swing and play with the three border collies. It was a great way to spend a beautiful fall morning, but now I’ve got 2 pints of raspberries to do something with! (I made raspberry streusel coffee cake this afternoon; next will be chocolate raspberry milkshakes!). This is only the fourth time I’ve picked fruit since I’ve been an adult: several years ago we picked blueberries while vacationing in Michigan, and last year I took the kids to Greenfield Berry Farms on Major Road in Peninsula to pick blueberries and raspberries (if you love sunflowers, they’re just $1 a stem), then we went to a place south of here somewhere to pick strawberries. I think it’s a fun way to help kids connect the food they eat with where it comes from. To find a place near you, visit www.pickyourown.org
So when I was a teenager and home, depressed, on a Friday night, I would put on some Bruce Springsteen and get lost in the music. Well whatdya know, here it is, uh, several years later, it’s Friday night, I’m home and yeah, kinda depressed … so I just downloaded some Bruce Springsteen from iTunes (Wrecking Ball, Always a Friend, Restless Nights and … The Fever). The Fever’s playing now, and if that bluesy sound doesn’t make me feel better, nothing will!
So … our family has been in a battle with various “bugs” lately, and the bugs are winning. One of the worst things about being home with sick children is that it has kept me from immersing myself fully in our autumn splendor. And how splendid it has been the last couple days, especially with the blue sky and 70 degree temperature! Unable to stand it any longer, I took the kids this afternoon to Stan Hywet to walk around the gardens. I took about 40 photos, trying desperately to capture the beauty — and boy was it beautiful – but knowing that photos could never begin to do it justice. And knowing that these moments of magnificence are so darn fleeting … it’s bittersweet, that’s for sure.
As a former reporter, I have interviewed tons of people and written tons of stories. But twice in the past week I have been on the other side of the “camera” for a change, and boy is that different! Last week a reporter from The Daily Kent Stater did a phone interview about my role as a contributing artist for the “Day of the Dead” show opening on Halloween at the North Water Street Gallery in Kent (I’ll have two paintings in that show). And earlier this evening, I was among a group of artists interviewed for a cable TV show called “The Art of Living”. Host Diana Ray was doing a segment on the very awesome store in Highland Square, “Made in Akron,” and Elizabeth Tyran, the very personable and amazing manager, invited me to participate since I have some of my work for sale there. Diana herself was so bubbly and upbeat that she made the experience fun, but it was still very weird for me to be in the “interviewee” position. As the interviewer (and then editor), it’s nice to be in control. As the interviewee, you just have to hope they make you look good! (“The Art of Living” airs at 9:30 on Saturday mornings, Time Warner Cable Channel 14. The Made in Akron segments will begin running on Saturday, October 31, with different clips shown through the month of November.)
… for the next 3+ years, I’m going to snap. Wasn’t the whole Y2K bruhaha enough? I only just first read about ”2012″ last week, but I’m sick of it already.
I had planned an outdoor family adventure for today (the kids had off school), but my husband couldn’t get off work and the weather forced me to come up with a change of plans anyway. I saw that “Where the Wild Things Are” was opening today, and although I never really liked the book, the Beacon Journal gave the movie a really good writeup. Plus, the Falls Libarary was having special crafts and stuff to go along with the book and movie, so I thought I’d turn today into a “Wild Things” one. I have to say, the library did a super job with their event. There was a scavenger hunt (little pictures of the 8 characters were hidden throughout the children’s room), a craft where the kids made a climbing monster, face painting so you could look like a creature yourself, and a little drama presentation of “The Hairy Toe” (kids could make their own hairy scary finger afterward). It was all very cute. As for the movie … well, it’s really not “a kids’ (or at least not young kids’) movie”, per se. Instead, it’s a very accurate and sad portrayal of the loneliness children feel, a feeling better appreciated by grownups, I think. Poor Max has a lot on his shoulders, both at home and where the wild things are. It’s not all happy happy and when the movie ended, the audience just kind of sat there. I of course was still embarrassingly trying to wipe tears from eyes from the scene near the end when Max says goodbye to the wild things. All in all, don’t go expecting a bunch of laughs, and don’t be surprised if your kids don’t get it. But most of all, don’t be surprised if watching Max brings back some of your own childhood memories, for better or worse.
Update: I was so impressed by the movie’s score — it fit the movie perfectly — that I bought the soundtrack last night from iTunes. It’s short (just 38 minutes), but very sweet …
P.S. If there’s a “Wild Thing” in your family, you can buy a super-cute pair of pjs for him at Kohl’s. And I mean CUTE! (be sure to get them on sale and with a 15% coupon too, otherwise, ouch!)