Tag Archives: Children

Today: Brighten up.

When I was a sprightly, more youthful twenty-something (I am officially over the hill when it comes to the twenties), I worked in a little state by the name of Rhode Island.  It’s not actually an island, and I wouldn’t exactly qualify the state’s leadership as Rhodes Scholars.

In fact, there are a lot of things about Massachusetts’ neighbor to the south that continue to baffle me.  But that’s a dramatic story– of RI Troopers and speeding tickets, and regional meetings in a state the size of my largest Michael Kors bag– for another day.  If you’re lucky, that day will not be in the foreseeable future.

From Colt State Park

I did a lot of things down there, including occasionally driving the speed limit.  I got to work with a lot of great people.  And I learned a lot.  My first few years out of the Eagles Nest were not easy, but they were certainly formative.  One of the most lasting lessons I learned was from a fourth grader.

“Are you a sad person, Miss Elizabeth?” the little human asked after we finished up a lesson on local architecture.  Considering that just hours prior, I had moved my car to find that yet another feral cat had chosen the underbelly of my Focus as its final resting place, this was perhaps the wrong day to ask such a question.  Was I a sad person?  Possibly.  Was I a pathetic person? Highly likely.

The boy’s question was a loaded question, and on top of that, a personal question.  In other words, a question not to be answered truthfully.  “Nope, I’m as happy as a Lisa Frank rainbow,” I said.  Except I probably didn’t reference only the greatest Trapper Keeper designer of all time.

“Then why do you wear all black, Miss Elizabeth?”  Oh.  So thaaat’s where we’re going with this.  His question had nothing to do with dead (likely diseased) cats, or my (lack of) salary, or my two hour commute.  It was about my gloomy wardrobe.

The boy’s great-grandmother was recently widowed and, following the customs she brought with her from the Azores, she had taken to wearing all black as she mourned her late husband.  She would, in fact, wear all black until she passed away.  I can’t imagine her great-grandson thought I was a widow– that would have required someone being willing to marry me in the first place– but he certainly thought my outfit could stand to be brightened up.  “If you wear pink,” he said, “it tells people that you’re happy and funny.”

Happy and funny (sometimes even intentionally).  That’s me to a tee.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have a daily uniform?  Are you an all-black dresser, or are you bright and bold?

Today: Read on Memory Lane

MeatballsWe are compiling a list at work, featuring our “must read” books for kids, inspired by our own literary childhoods.  With Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (one of my all-time favorites) and Where the Wild Things Are hitting the theatres, now’s a great time to get nostalgic.

Here are a few picks from my list:

Anne of Green Gables collection, L.M. Montgomery: I wanted to be a red-headed orphan on PEI, with a kindred spirit living nearby and a dying adopted father whose last name sounded like custard.  Except for the orphan/dying parent part.  Actually, I didn’t really want red hair either. I devoured these books, one after another.  My sister and I watched the movies on PBS more times than I should admit.

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein: I will not go to school today, said little Peggy Ann McKay.  I have the measles and the mumps, a gash, a rash, and purple bumps.  Memorized that bad larry in fourth grade.  Some things just stick.  My bank account number? Can’t remember it because that corner of my brain is occupied by various S.Silverstein poems.

Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe, Vera B. Williams: I took LeVar Burton’s word for it and checked this book out of the Boyden Library the week it was featured on Reading Rainbow.  The illustrations are perfect.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg: I still daydream of being locked in the Met or the furniture collection at the MFA overnight, thanks to this awesome chapter book.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams: I remember this book sending me into a spiraling six year old frenzy, worried that my having strep throat would result in all of our toys being burned in the back yard, only for them to come to life.  I think the coming to life part scared me more than the burning.  Regardless, TVR contains one of my most favorite exchanges of all time:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The Frog and Toad collection, Arnold Lobel:  Our maternal grandfather was short and had round cheeks.  His older brother was, and is, much taller, with a lean face.  Both looked good in earth tones.  These books, especially Frog and Toad Together, reminded me of Grandpa and Uncle Mac.  I still think they’d probably like sitting on a log, talking about the season, or swimming, or a lost button.

Frog_and_toad_cover[Frog and Toad photo via wikipedia.org]

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss; and Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McClosky: My dad had this awesome leather chair.  We’d still in his lap, while he read to us–these titles in particular, possibly hundreds of times–in the old house.  I’m very lucky my parents read to us as much as they did.

You can check them all out at your local library, or at Amazon.com by clicking here.  Happy Reading!  I’m off to pick up my first BPL card at our local branch.  Man/woman, I love this city.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Go for a run, but avoid that creepy street I mistakenly ran down last week
  • Make some soup!

What were your favorite books growing up?  And for those of you who, like me, loved Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, what’s up with the 3D animation?  I wish the movie looked more like the book… sigh.  OK.  Bye!

Today: Protest indoor scooting


Sometimes people have babies.  It’s always nice to buy them things.  Bad Elizabeth and I went shopping for our friend’s soon to be born baby last night.  Am I insane, or is Magic Beans the most terrifying store on the planet?

There was stuff everywhere: diaper genies, stuffed giraffes, something called an Ugly Doll , approximately 900 plastic horses, plus two screaming children on Razor scooters.  Do I need to mention that this is an indoor establishment?  Scooters.  In a store.  This planet has gone to pot.

You don’t see me rollerblading around the liquor store or Paper Source (grown up equivalents of a toy store), playing a harmonica and touching anyone and anything within reach, do you?  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to, but rather that I probably wouldn’t get away with it.  Any of it.  Especially the harmonica, though.

Are the secrets to shopping at toy/baby stores that I should be aware of? And what the Hello Kitty is an Ugly Doll?!

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Half marathon training, week 3 with Mr. Hal Higdon
  • Home inspection time!

Today: Get ship-faced.

UPDATE: Visiting the Tall Ships at Charlestown’s Navy Yard was a  great deal of fun.  Added some photos from the excursion.  Enjoy!

life vest

I do love a pun. This is embarrassing, but once I watched the E! True Hollywood Story about rappers’ wives (or was it True Life: I married a rapper?).  That’s why I know so much about Big Pun (mostly, how he was terrible and then he died).

Regardless, ahoy, mateys!  Despite the economy’s best efforts to sink the Ships’ visit to Boston, the Tall Ships have arrived.  Though there was no sea parade this time around, I am hoping it will be as awesome as I remember.  Actually, I hope it will be more awesome than I remember.  Because… this is what I remember:

It was 1992 and the Cape Cod Canal was full of ships.

My mom is driving one of a series of Chrysler minivans during this era. I actually think our family was involved in every phase of the minivans evolution.  We had the prototype with very few bells and whistles.  Then they added the faux bois siding, which was very cool.  Then came various compartments in the “way back” (that’s what we called the third row of seating).  Eventually a second sliding door and window tinting appeared.  And, praise Jesus, windows in the way back that actually opened.  I digress.  Again.

My mom packed up all four of us (I believe our ships came in mid-week while dad was at work.  Lucky.) and we headed north.

We (more accurately, she) parked the minivan along the Cape side of the canal and we disembarked, Goldfish crackers in hand, just as the first of several Tall Ships sailed slowly through the canal.  To clarify, a Tall Ship is exactly that.  It’s a tall ship.  Capitalized.  They were incredible—majestic, even—and they reminded me of pirate movies and The Swiss Family Robinson.  And then I started vomiting for a very long time.

Don’t worry, it gets better.

I presume, though I did not witness, all of the Ships made it safely through the canal, signaling that it was time to leave.  Out of respect for the rest of my family, I stopped throwing up.  Once we got back on the highway, we noticed people waving to us from passing cars.  Some of them pointed.  Others beeped and waved and pointed.  We smiled and waved, and quite possibly my mom even beeped, back.

It wasn’t until we were back at the cottage and my mom opened her car door that we realized that we were not traveling on route 6 with legions of adoring fans.  Instead, when my mother closed her car door and pulled out from the side of the road, she succeeded in uprooting a rather large shrub, which traveled with us from the forty miles from canal to cottage, presumably touching other cars as they passed us.  Did I mention that I threw up?

So here’s to hoping Tall Ships: The Later Years is free of environmental damage and stomach illness.  And totally, totally awesome.

Pictures from the adventure (added July 13th):

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Also On Tap for Today:

  • Buy Christopher a birthday pressie.  He turns 21 tomorrow!

What childhood experiences are you revisiting this weekend?  Did your mom ever single-handedly erode a micro-eco-system?