Monday, June 30, 2008

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime

Things are going relatively well at Summer Camp Mama and Daddy.  Since idle hands make the Devil's plaything (or whatever that saying is), Jamie created a well balanced schedule of educational activities, musical opportunities, exercise for Mama and Daddy, arts and crafts, and field trips that will allow us to keep Duncan busy and maintain our sanity.  We're in our second week and have enjoyed such activities as muffin tin painting, water play, homemade kazoos, nature bracelets, and music time.  Duncan and I took our first trip to the library on Friday while Daddy was picking up his new car.  Technically, Duncan has been to the library before, but this was the first visit exclusively to borrow books for him.  The Amenia Library is literally the size of our dining room and living room together, but it was a gold mine for Duncan, who enjoyed picking up anything he wanted to borrow.  We've been walking to school three days a week, and Duncan has enjoyed watching the construction of the new gym and its requisite trucks, tractors, dirt piles, and other excitement.  Grandma and Grandpa came this weekend to catch up before all our schedules get too crazy in July.  In a little while, we're off to the bank to open that savings account, finally.  Tomorrow, we're hoping for some quality baking time, and Wednesday we're off for a field trip.  It's a secret for now, but we should be able to take some great pictures.  Off to the bank...

Baby Gymnast?

Duncan has been swinging between his chair and the toy chest for some time, practicing for the parallel bars.  Now, he's developing his floor routine.  

Grandma Reads Curious George

If I can get this to work again, here's a video of Grandma and Duncan reading Curious George.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Apparently, a person who does nothing but collect my spare change makes about $78 annually. This latest statistic is from Duncan's Pig, where Duncan collected about $75 dollars in spare change the previous year. Duncan has now accumulated $205 in his sock drawer (which does not quite rival the $350 in my underwear drawer), not counting whatever is in the strong box from y'all giving him larger monetary gifts simply for being born. Hello? I did all the hard work, folks. Anyway, it's time for Duncan to take a field trip to the bank because the Bank of Sock Drawer does not pay interest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Click the play button to be treated to Duncan's rendition of the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Then go back to my Interstices entry and check off "learn how to upload video to my blog!"

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

I lost my temper at Yankee Stadium.

The weekend before we went to Yankee Stadium, Jamie checked the website to see what we could bring in, and he reassured me that diaper bags were okay. When we arrived, we surrendered our tickets to the attendant and opened our diaper bag to be searched. The first thing that happened was that we were stripped of our sunscreen.

That attendant sent us off to someone else to have our bag checked and tagged, but she insisted that my fair haired husband, toddler, and I would not be allowed in with our sunscreen

(aerosol? metal can? I don't know why). I don't know how many of you have ever sunscreened a child, but the sprays make it SO much easier. I got permission to apply it to Duncan first, and then threw away $10.99 worth of sunscreen, SPF 50.

We proceeded to the second attendant to have our diaper bag searched. I was immediately told that my diaper bag was "an adult sized backpack" and that backpacks were not allowed inside the stadium. That was when I lost my temper.

That diaper bag, although it DOES resemble an adult size backpack, has been packed and ready for anything since before March 12, 2006. As I told her, it was purchased from Babies-R-Us as a diaper bag, and I had been carrying it as such for two years. Some of the things in our diaper bag that day included: sunscreen, snacks for Duncan, bottled water, diapers, wipes, changing pad, a change of clothes for Duncan, Benadryl (as per Dr. Gray-Clarke) in case we discover that he's allergic to bees the first time he gets stung, Aleve for Mama and Daddy, snacks for Mama and Daddy, my wallet, several magazines for me, my new camera, and books for Duncan. We needed it all; honestly, we did.

You see, although we are always prepared for any inevitability, we were also prepared for a long day. Our trip to Yankee Stadium entailed a car trip to the train station, two hour train ride, followed a subway, followed by our time in the Stadium, followed by the subway, followed by the train, followed by the car. We left the house at 8; we got home at 5; we only watched 3 innings of baseball. That is a long time to be away from home with a child under 5, who could become hungry, bored, thirsty, or covered in poop at any moment.

I lost my cool. I was told that I would have to store my diaper bag across the street at the bowling alley (which cost an additional $5) after I transferred all my necessities into transparent plastic bags. After I yelled (and I DID yell), I stormed off to deal with our belongings. Jamie tried to talk sense into the attendant, who admitted the backpack policy had only been in place for two days. I was so angry that I had absolutely no idea what I was repacking to take in with me. The bag ladies were incredibly nice although they could not solve my problem. The bowling alley guy was incredibly nice although he charged me $5 to babysit my diaper bag. The security guy who let us back told us we should complain, we really should. At Jamie's urging, I calmed down enough that I could still create a nice memory with my son, but it was difficult.

So what? It was just a diaper bag. I don't know what set me off. It was the insistence that my diaper bag was not a diaper bag...(don't tell me I'm wrong when I KNOW I'm right). It was being stripped of my right to carry my belongings in a bag of my choosing. It was the fact that an already complicated day was further complicated by yet another complication. Yes, I know I used the word complicate 3 times in the same sentence; I did if for effect. It was the mother bear response to a perceived threat to my child. It was the knowledge that Yankee Stadium was simply trying to keep me safe from the terrorists and that in their own small way, the terrorists had won. I could not get through my day at Yankee Stadium without thinking of them. Maybe you think it was just a diaper bag; to me, it was a civil right.

It turned out fine. We got our diaper bag back; Duncan was none the wiser that Mama was pissed off as hell. As I said before, it really was an awesome day. "Wow, oh Wow! Yankees Mama, Yankees!" But it has to make you think.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It WAS like Christmas.  It was better than Christmas.  We had Duncan at the ride on the choo choo, and he thought Grand Central Station was amazing, but I teared up several times during our short visit to Yankee Stadium.  As we walked through the concrete entryway into the aisle that led down to the seats, Duncan gasped audibly and said "WOW!  Oh WOW!  Yankees! Yankee Stadium."  For the rest of my life, I will treasure the image of the smile on his face and the joy in his eyes at that moment.  It sounds trite, but it was...priceless.  We lasted an hour before the game began and then three innings, which was about all we hoped to achieve.  We gorged on hot dogs, pretzels, and ice cream, and 785,000 times he asked "What's the man doing, Daddy?" and "What's the man doing, Mama?"  (He doesn't seem to care what the women are doing).  It was worth every penny and every moment spent in cars, trains, and subways. Duncan has seen Yankee Stadium, and even if he doesn't remember, we have pictorial proof. Seeing the new Yankee Stadium from the old one felt like one of those moments teetering in time between today and tomorrow, but isn't every day of being a parent a bit like that?  Thanks for a good run, Babe; now, I can look forward to taking Duncan to the new park across the street!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The House That Ruth Built

I'm fairly certain that Yankee Stadium was my idea.  I don't think it was a bad one.  Twenty years from now, I do not want my child to wonder how we let New York raze The House That Ruth Built before he could see it.  So tomorrow, we're going to Yankee Stadium to watch the Yankees play the Padres.  To be honest (and why would I stop now), the mere idea makes me tense. What kind of a loon takes a two year old on a train from Brewster to Grand Central and then the subway back to Yankee Stadium, watches a few innings of baseball, and then does it all over again, backward, to get home?  The potential for trouble is astronomical.  I have nightmares and daymares about people snatching my beautiful child, about him falling under a train, and about him expiring from exhaustion walking between the car and the platform at Southeast Station because we'll have to park a hyperbolic 67 miles away.  

Do you know what is making it worth the anxiety?  Duncan is ALREADY thrilled about the idea.  He and Jamie went to the Wassaic station yesterday to buy the tickets and happened to see Duncan's first, real, live train.  They talked about taking the train to "The City" to go to Yankee Stadium.  It's all he can talk about. Yankee Stadium...Yankee baseball...choo choo...all aboard. When I got home last night, he told me entire paragraphs about what he had done yesterday and about our plans for the trip.  He has been beaming like a searchlight in the longest Alaskan night of the year.  I will not allow my anxiety to interfere with my child's joy in this journey.  If yesterday was like Christmas, I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring.  

Take me out to the ball game.

PS - Happy Anniversary to Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bathtub Van Gogh

About two or three times a year, I develop a fascination with the brain that lasts about 24 hours. As I suspected, I do not have it in me to write about the brain.  I may still have a flicker of interest left by the weekend; we'll see.  

In the meantime, here is one of Duncan's bathtub masterpieces.  It is titled "Baby Circles," because, obviously, "baby" is the opposite of "beeg," which we know as "big."  

Here's another interesting thing about Duncan.  I know that he is developing imaginative play, but yesterday he blew us away.  Jamie took him to school to fly a kite.  Duncan quickly lost interest and turned instead to collecting rocks, which he called "money," and then deposited into holes in the lampost that he called the "bank."  Once or twice he has dropped change into his piggy bank, but it's not an everyday activity so the pretend money in the pretend bank seemed pretty remarkable to us.  Two is an incredible age!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Take Pictures at Innisfree, Check

We had a lovely Father's Day.  Duncan and Jamie had a low key morning while I finished preparing our picnic, and then Duncan had an epic nap (2 hours!).  If he keeps up his "sleep until 7 am and then nap for 2 hours" schedule for the summer, we'll all be happy campers at Mommy and Daddy's Day Camp for School Year Latchkey Kids.  After Duncan's nap, we went to Innisfree for a nice walk and lots of picture taking.  I learned that I have a lot to learn about my camera; I totally forgot that shooting into the sun is disastrous so only 50% of my pictures are any good.  I have two hoods, but does that mean I think to use one?  No.  But we followed our nice walk with a tasty picnic (including indoor S'mores) and then ice cream on the way home.  Yes, that is 2 desserts for those of you who are counting.  Duncan was cooperative through the bedtime routine.  All in all, it was a great summer day.  

Tomorrow, if you twist my arm, I might tell you about the brain and dyslexia.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Introvert Comes Out

I have been living my life in vague apprehension the last few days. Letting Stephen read my blog made me bold, and impulsively, I decided to celebrate my 50th post by inviting about 37 people into my readership.  As soon as I clicked "Send" on the e-mail, I felt like I had stepped naked into the front yard.  I don't know how many of you out there are introverts, but it was Marcie who first pointed out to me the paradox of being an introvert but not wanting to be invisible.  Are there any introverts who WANT to introverts, who truly appreciate it?  Several of the introverts I know either openly admit they want to be something that they're not, or they struggle daily to exist in an extrovert's world. Mainstream society IS an extrovert's world.  But I'm coming along; I have faith that if I invite the right kind of people into my life, I can continue to be my introvert self while enjoying all the perks of the other half. Thanks for joining me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The rental company removed the graduation tent today. That even marks the official end of the end. It usually coincides with the end of my time with tutoring reports, as it did today. Shortly after I submitted the last two reports to be printed, the tent technicians arrived on the scene. I am officially finished with the Kildonan school year and have already begun preparing for summer camp. In 5 days, we begin training a new batch of tutors. There is never a dull day in the life of a private school for students with learning disabilities that specializes in the Orton-Gillingham approach. Lonely maybe, without the hustle and bustle of 150 students ranging from 2nd grade to PG, but not dull.

Transitions always make me uncomfortable. I'm not sure why the spaces in between, the interstices (I believe), are so strange for me. I am never ready to give up the past and inevitably approach the future with apprehension. I don't sleep or eat well during those times, and when they are fraught with emotional overtones, the effects are even more profound. I feel like I am treading water right now. I'm going to take a few hours off tomorrow and then launch myself into preparing for Dunnabeck training. I'm going to pretend that the past is over (isn't that healthy?) and focus on the future.

Here is a list of some things I would like to do this summer:

-finish Benjamin Wistar's sweater before he grows out of it
-take Duncan to the beach
-bake Toll House cookies
-write like a madwoman (currently, I have two journals, a book, and this blog going)
-take Duncan to Yankee Stadium
-reconnect with family members who have suffered from neglect during my crazy year
-put in a vegetable garden, albeit a small one
-watch America's Next Design Star
-learn to upload video to my blog
-earn more blog readers
-teach a nice young man to write a paper with MLA citations and then feed him dinner
-be a playground Mom
-visit the Trevor Zoo
-visit the Bronx Zoo
-take pictures at Innisfree, Bash Bish Falls, and Kent Falls
-visit a new winery
-see a play at Shakespeare and Company
-see Rufus Wainwright at The Egg
-knit with my friends
-see Sex and the City
-find a babysitter be continued...

So here it is, my 50th blog post, mundane, refreshingly free of all the introspection of the last few weeks. Fifty feels significant; it feels like a habit; it feels like a way of life. My family, my writing, and my vocation: that's really who I am now if you cut out everything that is not critical to my health and well being.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dude, Where's My Blog? or, My Commencement Address

Oh my goodness, I am missing my blog.  It feels like home just to see this text box again, but I'm only here for a quick visit.  May was utterly insane at work, and June is not looking much better. Graduation is in two days.  Before then, I have to write and deliver two 3 minute speeches, write some reports, edit myriad reports, grade an exam, and say good-bye to some kids I love dearly as they head off into the future.  

It was hard enough for me, academic overachiever, 4th in my high school graduating class to stand at that pivotal moment and gaze with trepidation into what was to come.  I can only begin to imagine what the view is like when you're a student with a learning difference.  Having struggled your entire life because you learn differently than others; finally finding a place that lets you learn the way you need to and people who understand who you are and how your mind works; graduating from high school and achieving a goal many people in your past thought you would never be able to achieve; and then looking at doing it all again for 4 more years, in a new and bigger place, with new people, and larger challenges.  Exhilarating but terrifying.  I would be lying if I said I was not worried about you, but I know in my heart you have the tools to be successful. Besides all that academic stuff about Pythagoras, Shakespeare, and Pavlov, you have learned how to ask questions, how to play the system, and how to navigate the academic world to your advantage.  You know what it means to try hard.  As Barbara Corcoran pointed out at Career Day, you're not afraid to fail.  If  you do, you know that starting over is always an option.  You will be fine as long as work hard and remember where you came from and who believes in you.  I want to see how the story ends, and I hope we will meet on the other side of this great divide that is college, if not sooner.

So, yeah, to all of you who are not going through this whole graduation thing with me, I'll be back soon.  I have work to do and some letting go accompanied by some holding on.  I'm going to set myself a goal of writing a post every day for a month, beginning on a date yet to be determined, so we'll see how that goes.  More later.