Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hope.

Friday January 20, 2017 Americans witnessed the handing of the baton off from President Barack Obama to President...Donald Trump.  I didn't witness the inauguration.  I did not what to see the beginning of this bleak new chapter in American history. I read the transcript of President Trump's speech and died a little bit more inside.

My friend Anna had the idea weeks ago that friends should gather at her house, eat and drink, and "not watch" this changeover from a pretty great 8 years to its successor - a shadowy future. So Gerald and I packed up the kids and came over armed with wine, whiskey and appetizers.  Other kids and parents showed up. All of the kids were slightly haywire with the late start - curfew comes early for the under-4 set. But we ate delicious spaghetti and meatballs, and drank wine and talked while our kids stampeded through Anna and Anthony's apartment in a blizzard of toys and laughter. I was too busy spending time with friends to take pictures but I do wish I had one shot of the happy mayhem that was wreaked by 10 children under the age of 4.

My husband and I  left Anna's house slightly tipsy with a full bellies and two overtired, happy kids.  I also left feeling happier than I had when I arrived. I was filled with more hope than I have had since election night. Spending good time with good people makes me know that the fight isn't over.  It has only just begun.

Saturday dawned.  I had the honor of watching the Women's March in New York City.  I watched as the first protesters came up Fifth Avenue and I cried  - overwhelmed by the thousands of good people that have taken up the challenge to resist this presidency and to fight the myriad rights and freedoms that are soon to come under attack. I watched as the numbers swelled and over-ran the barricades - a wall of people from building to building marched down the avenue that is occupied by the most expensive retail stores in New York. A man standing beside me climbed up on a streetlight and said: This is what the Other 99% looks like." And he is right.  "Who wants a picture of this?  Who wants a picture of Democracy?" He offered to take the phones people passed up to him and photograph his bird's eye view.  Many took him up on it. The sea of people was energized and positive and healing. 

I've heard it said that New Yorkers live in a bubble.  We do. It is a rainbow bubble filled with everything and everyone you can imagine - we live on top of each other, and we bump elbows on the subway, and we witness millions of different dreams coming true or failing spectacularly every day.  We do all this living together - regardless of and because of our myriad differences and similarities.

Everybody should live in this bubble. Seriously.  If you lived with a million - or even a few thousand -  amazing, dynamic, and DIFFERENT people you're eyes might be opened up a little more. With the beginning of the Trump presidency I felt the bubble of my idealism pop.  Maybe over the next 4 years we can build one big bubble that we can all live in.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Rolls Around Again.

Today my  almost 16 month old apparently said: "It's Christmas time" while at home with her Dad and Clara.  She adds this to her recent repertoire of words that include: Blue, Yellow, Duck, Moo, and Hello.  With Clara in full on Santa-Christmas-Fever mode, I am hardly surprised that Freya is jumping on the Christmas-enthusiasm train.

Flashback to a couple of weeks ago, when Freya and Clara met Santa.  Their mutual enthusiasm for Santa  vanished when presented with the Real Deal - smiles were replaced instantly with steely-eyed glares that seemed to say: "We'd like to see you try something, Santa-man.  We can take you."  I don't know if the sisters discussed their plan of attack beforehand but they clearly were borrowing from last year's intimidation strategy - Don't let Santa see you smile.  

2015
2016
Clara isn't too big on posed photography.  Take this case in point - picture day at school came and went.  This is the photo I took of her before we went to said picture day.  

Clara - candid, happy - cute.
Just try to tell Clara to smile or do something specific in a photo.  Good luck.  Here are the photos I got back from picture day.  First - the portrait.  Same abstract background from my childhood.  I would like to know who matted down Clara's hair before hand - maybe Clara?  Who knows.  And that smile - what a lovely smile - somewhere between - "You told me to smile - I'm smiling." and "I'm just pretending to like you."


And for the grand finale, Clara's class photo.  Top row, center - just where her parents were always placed as the tallest kids in the class.  It's nice to see some things never change. I present to you, Clara, not looking at the photographer with her eyes closed. My one consolation is at least she's not the only one.  4 year-olds, man.



So with that, kick back, relax, and enjoy this holiday season. I know my kids are.




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Halloween and November


The Fall has been a bumpy ride - beautiful weather, autumn trees, starting school, Halloween, taking ballet (Clara), talking up a storm (Freya), and an election with far reaching effects for everyone I know...but through it all there are these two little girls, bouncing along and taking it all in.

Halloween in our house is always a big deal.  It was preceded by many days of Clara dithering over costume choice.  She was pretty set on being a princess (with the occasional "ghost" or "ghost witch" thrown in) but which princess would she be and who would we all play as her supporting cast?  And make no mistake, Gerald and I were background players and Freya was  promoted to sidekick.

After much discussion Clara finally decided she would be Snow White.  Freya would be the faithful Dopey, Mom would get to be the Poison Apple, and Dad would be the Magic Mirror.  Halloween finally arrived, and it was an action packed day.  I attended a Halloween Party in Clara's Pre-K class.  There is nothing more fun than a bunch of 4 year olds clamoring to tell you about their costumes.  (It was heavy on the superheroes and princesses)

Snow White.
Dopey.

Snow White and the Poison Apple.

Magic Mirror and Dopey.

Then it was home for the Halloween party I put together for the kids in our building.  There were spooky decorations and a Monster Corn Hole game that I made.  You had to "feed the monster" to get a prize.  


Feed the monster.
Freya tries her hand at the Monster game.

The only shot of all four of us.
After the party,  it was time to trick or treat - Freya's second time but her first where she could knock on doors. As each door opened, Freya happily walked into each person's apartment, much to their chagrin.  Who needs a bowl of candy when you can go check out all those things on the coffee table?

Freya on her way out from checking out an apartment.

Freya made it through one building before Gerald whisked her off to bed.  I kept going with Clara and her friend Sara.  It was really fun and Clara is already talking about next year's costumes.

Shortly after we were hit with Election Day.  Clara was excited to be voting, as she always is, but she was also excited about "voting for  a girl" and talked a lot about Hillary Clinton.  We went to vote as a family and Clara went with each of us to fill out our ballots. Clara insisted on helping me to bubble in my vote.  It all felt so hopeful and exciting.

Going in to vote.

Post-voting lunch.

When the news came down the next day I tried to explain what happened to Clara without over burdening her with my disappointment.  She worked it over in her mind and said: "Well, can't both of them share the job?  It's good to share."

Wiser words were never spoken.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Conversations with Clara. Episode 12.

Clara's Self Portrait.

Last night Freya was asleep in her crib.  I did Clara's normal bedtime routine - some conversation and some songs.  I kissed and hugged her goodnight and a minute later over the monitor I heard: Mom...Mom?

I walk back into the kids' bedroom.


Clara: Mom. I have to ask you something.  Are the police ever going to come get me and put me in jail?

Me: Uhm. No, Clara.

Clara: What if I do something bad?

Me: Clara, little kids don't go to jail.  It's a grown up thing.

Clara: O.K. Mom,  good night.


I leave.  A couple minutes later, over the monitor: Mom...Mom? I walk back in.


Me: What is it Clara?

Clara: Are you and Dad ever going to go to jail?

Me:  No, Clara - I promise you we will never go to jail.

Clara: And you were just kidding before about calling the police?

(Clara at this point is referring to earlier in the evening when she had strawberry ice cream all over her face and I was jokingly saying: "Clara - go wipe off your face before I call the Strawberry Hobo Beard Police on you.")

Me: Clara, do you seriously think there is a Strawberry Hobo Beard police that might come get you?

Clara: (smiling) Noo.

Me: Clara - you don't need to worry.  None of us are going to jail.  

Clara: Except tigers.  Tigers go to jail because they scare people.

Me: Good night Clara.

Enjoying one of the last hot days before Fall closes in.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sliding out of Summer and Galloping into Fall

It's been a crazy, fun, exhausting, and very hot summer. Clara loved summer camp and when she wasn't there we were cooling off in playground sprinklers with friends.  We are loving the cooler Fall weather.


Freya is officially a one year-old.    She has a confident walk that is quickly turning into a lurching sort of run that terrifies me on a regular basis.  She has a method to her madness though - this rollicking gait looks unsteady but she rarely falls down.  



Freya has a few words in her repertoire now:

Mama:  though she stubbornly refuses use it unless she's calling for me in the middle of the night.
Dada or Dadee: Much to Gerald's delight, she says this often and with gusto.
What's That?: Questions and point with a high pitched baby zeal.
Dog. Nice dog.: Surprised us too.
No no.: Freya has an interest in wires and plugs, which Clara never did. She repeats our: "No no" while she decides whether or not to let go of the cable box.
Go: This is recent.  She's trying it out.

And if you're willing to suspend all disbelief, her aunt and uncle insist she said: "Let me see that" while playing with her cousin Fred.  Let me see that, Freya.

In Clara news - Clara started Pre-K!  Big Girl School!!!   
Before we launched into the school year we took a little break at the New York State Fair.  Clara was the official "Purple Pig" Cheerleader for the pig races, and she and I took ride on a camel of all things.  When Gerald and I saw that Clara actually wanted to go through with this camel ride, I said to Gerald hopefully: "Want to ride with her?" "No thanks." was his quick response. (Thanks a lot, Gerald) One word of advice - when riding double on a one-humped camel, don't be the one who has to sit on the hump.  Clara got the good seat.

The purple cheerleader - very intent on the races.
Clyde the camel takes us for a spin.
And then it was back to the city, and back to school. Clara was a little non-plussed with the dress code - "Why is it SOOOO plain!?," so we spice up her outfits with crazy socks and hair accessories. The few days leading up to the first day Clara expressed some anxiety - new friends, a new place...but when the big day arrived she jumped right in. Every day she says she loves it and wants to go back tomorrow.  It's been a little like pulling teeth getting Clara to talk about what she's doing in school but this past Friday on the way home I asked her what she had learned in school.  She says: "I learned about science and technology.  Computer technology, medical technology, and tool technology."  Well...then.

...is officially in school!!!
This cool cat...