Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009

Farewell ... to another year

"Are you sorry yet?"

That's what the bumper sticker on the SUV festooned with other Grand Old Party sentiments was asking me as we waited for the traffic light to change.

I imagine the person inside had slapped that sucker up the moment polls closed in November of 08.

I wanted to ram the gas guzzling middle finger of a vehicle with the force of a thousand auto crushers.

Thing is, I may be angry but I'm not sorry. I believe Barack Obama was the best choice we had for a leader. I believe he is a good person who has made and will continue to make decisions based on what he truly believes to be in the nation's best interest. Decision that will undoubtedly be unpopular to people along all political spectrums.


I would like to see this country embrace socialized medicine.
I would like to see this country turn its back on war.
I would like to see this country spend its earnest efforts and our money on innovation and education; not corporate megaliths beholden to stockholders and their own golden parachutes. And not on the machinery of destruction.

I would like to see the newspaper industry go non-profit.
I would like people who rail on about their "God given rights," realize that they were wrong. Rights are given by governments we elect, and which have been happily taking them away while still touting our freedom.

I know these thing I want may never be realized. And yet, I still have hope.

This has been an amazing year for us as a family.

Ittybit started kindergarten, and it has been wonderful for her and for us. It has been far from the exercise in futility and the uphill battle I had envisioned. She still dresses herself in loud, alternating patterns. She still marches to the beat of her own drummer.

The Champ has been, for the most part, a happy little monster who always keeps us guessing. He is hysterically random and, at times cunningly contrary.
HIM: "I don't want that cookie. I don't want that cookie."
ME: So ... do you want that Cookie.
HIM: "Yeah."
He has not, however, slept through a single night yet.

That has been hard on us as parents, and perhaps on us as a couple, too. But it also seems that without much discussion the fact that this time won't last forever makes it somehow seem tolerable. Maybe that's just wishful thinking, or some incomprehensible chapter in the bedtime story of interrupted REM cycles. But smiles here and there between us seem to be some evidence that we are on the same page.

Of course, like most Americans, I look back at 2009 and see it as being a personally difficult year.

I have shut the door on our beloved barn, tearing up the very first time I chastised one of my children for leaving the door to our new house wide open: "We don't live in a barn anymore, you know."

I have been slow in embracing our new home. It wasn't until one day ... months after we'd removed our last box ... that I was struck by the fit. We hadn't purchased one single thing for the new living room or family room or office. The place just seemed meant for us ... for our stuff.

I have learned a lot this year about myself. About tolerance and lack thereof.

I have learned about standing up for myself. I have learned about the necessity, in some cases, of burning bridges.

I look at my mother, who was diagnosed with cancer for a fourth time, and realize life is too short to suffer for long with anything we know to be damaging to our souls.

As I look at my mother, I also am shown myself. A mother, bound to be reviled for the choices I made, the things I said, the roads I made my family take ... no matter what choices they were. Perhaps revered, too. Eventually.

Looking back I see where there is room for so many regrets. Rest that didn't meet relaxation. Anger that could have used better management.

But ... am I sorry?

No, I am not. I am not even ambivalent. I still believe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You know it's cold ....

"You know it's cold when ...

"When your eyebrows freeze to your hat."

- sent by iPhone and taken AFTER he decided letting his nose freeze was better than losing any more eyebrow hair through headwear-ectomy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm starting to think rocket science might not be like rocket science

Experience (namely the lack of it) is really the hobgoblin of all life pursuits, isn’t it?

I was thinking about this as I stood at the sewing counter of a local fabric store, asking the ladies what supplies a beginner would need … seeing as how I bought my six-year-old a REAL sewing machine for Christmas … and seeing as how I don’t know the first thing about sewing anything besides replacement buttons (and even then the results aren’t pretty).

I could see from the looks their faces, they thought I was in way over my head.

They offered classes and tried to sell me an $80 sewing kit.

I thanked them and asked them to point me in the direction of thread.

I’ve muddled through before.

Sometimes it’s been mortifying. I’ve been critiqued for the way I’ve dug holes in the garden, the way I’ve hammered a nail and even the way I mop floors.

But other times it has been gratifying.

Like the time I stood in the tile aisle at Home Depot, discussing supplies with an equally clueless friend, who was graciously helping me tackle a tiling project, only to have a smirking woman thrust her card in my hand … "just in case your DIY project doesn’t work out."

I didn’t give that woman or her card a second thought until I was standing with my friend outside of our finished job. She’d cut. I’d placed. It wasn’t perfect, but we’d done it ourselves and we’d done it together.

I wasn't thinking about any of that, though, as I stood at that fabric store, seeking the kind of homemaking wisdom I'd hoped would always escape me.

Sewing, I'd decided, may as well be rocket science.

And yet Christmas morning came, and the sewing machine made its way to the dinning room table.

The reckoning was at hand.

My mother-in-law asked me if I'd ever sewed before ... I said no and left it there. It was too late now. Whatever happened, happend.

I read and follow the instructions. And, surprise of all surprises, soon I had the thing humming along.

By the end of the weekend, Ittybit was rising before dawn and getting projects ready to sew. A purse for her American Girl doll, a pillow for her Barbie, a quilted pillow ... just because ...

Without following a pattern, without measuring or cutting straight lines, we made our own designs.

They weren’t perfect, and yet somehow they were.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Edna Mode would not be amused


But super heroes really seem to feel more like Superheroes when they're wearing capes.

"Look mom!" he says, taking another lap around the living room, "I AM a flying toy!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can't leave well enough alone

Well ... She USED to love us anyway.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warm wishes

annabel and ariel

May your hair be manageable and your holidays static free.

But if your hair should be unruly, just remember ...

Your cat loves you anyway.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The best birthday yet

It's 7 a.m. ... party at 2 p.m.

Every 12 minutes from 7 a.m. onward we could anticipate the following question: "Is it time for the party yet?"

Once an hour we were assuring her that it very well might be the BEST BIRTHDAY YET!

Of course we like to hedge the bet by trying to set her expectations low. However, it's near impossible to figure out where the expectations are in the six-year-old set.

What might poop our parties doesn't necessarily phase her.

Her brother running roughshod all over the house.

A washing machine that suddenly decides to stop working and overflows smelly water all over the floor.

A father with no voice. A mother who can't stop sneezing.

She wasn't even deterred that the first guest to arrive couldn't stay.

She's like that, this kid. She takes most everything in stride.

Even when the "barbie" popped out of the cake and it kind of looked like one of Sid's toys from Toy Story, it couldn't dampen the amusement of having a doll-shaped cake.

"It was the best birthday ever!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Now we are six

Dear Ittybit,

I can’t believe you are six.

Didn’t we just get home from the hospital with you, a tiny bundle, swaddled against the bitter cold?

Didn’t I just watch you take your first steps? Say your first words?

I am a cliché.

But you are an original. And you made me a mother on this day, six years ago.

And since then you’ve been changing my world in ways I never could have imagined. You’ve been making me think about the world, and how we live in it; you’ve been making me think about what it is that’s really important in life, not just what we get hung up on. Because of you I live in a strange world of heightened anticipation; a world of fear and wonder.

It only sounds bad when you’ve never visited there before.

When I look at your face – even when you scrunch it into an expression of displeasure – I can’t imagine being anywhere else. You bring joy to that place.

You also bring love, compassion and sensitivity; things I hoped you would possess innately.

Recently we read “The Giving Tree” together. At the end you started to cry.

“I don’t like that man. He just took and took and took. … Why do humans have to be so selfish?” you wondered.

The only answer I can muster is “We don’t have to be … that’s what this story is telling us. We can be more like the tree.”

When I look at you I have hope. I believe, again, in the power of youth and idealism. I believe that you will leave this place better than you found it.

And I feel peaceful.

Happy birthday, little growing girl. You've made the world a better place already.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dear heart

Stupid Kindergarten teachers! Always making me cry.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Setting sights elsewhere this holiday season

Done Christmas shopping yet?

Maybe? Maybe not?

Oh ye of little faith …

Christmas is but a week away. The children are nestled in front of their DS players and the shopping storm that has taken place makes you feel a little … well. … icky?

Never fails. You spend your holiday shopping time at Target (*genuflects* … I love the store, but really, a Mom ‘n Pop it’s not) and you feel a little like you’ve been put in a blender and set to pulse. Or I do anyway.

You may even wonder if you have a pulse.

So what’s the antidote?

SHOP LOCALLY, at locally owned businesses.

There’s still time Ebeneezer:

The handmade holiday gift shop at Spencertown Academy runs through Dec. 20 and offers hundreds of unique items by local artists including jewelry, painted scarves, marbled books, quilted handbags, letterpress cards and more. Open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. And just because it’s art doesn’t mean it’s expensive. In fact, if you’ve been oogling an amazing artist, holiday shops are probably your best chance to get an original work without having to sell the farm.

Amazon is jungle in Brazil. Visit there to see an environmental masterpiece. To read one, though, visit your local independent bookseller. My favorites are Market Block Books in Troy and The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza; The Chatham Bookstore, Mainstreet, Chatham, NY; Berkshire Books, Chatham, NY; Blackwood and Brouwer Booksellers; and Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

One lunch time last week I took a walk around the block and realized one of my favorite shops had moved. Closer. The Spinning Seed, 272 River Street, Troy, is a little store with big ideas, not to mention terrific finds. It offers organic, biodegradable, handmade, sustainable, non-toxic, recycled, fairly traded, vintage and upcycled goods. In fifteen minutes of browsing I scratched three folks off my list. Holiday hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 to 5; Friday 11 to 7; Saturday 10 to 5; Sunday 11-3; Christmas eve 10 to 3.

Speaking of sustainability, I’m a huge fan of re-gifting. And what better way to find re-gifts than by hunting around some local consignment shops and second-hand emporiums. You’ll save some space in the landfill and get something useful to boot. Last year I got an amazing set of wooden farm animals (and their humans) at Goodwill Industries and virtually every book the kids want to read over and over again has come from The Book Outlet in the Troy Atrium. In addition to its rabbit warren of every known subject matter, the shop has a wonderful children’s section.

This year I made my own candy, but usually we get our chocolate gifts from Krauses. (And if we're lucky we'll be the recipients of some of the candy maker's chocolate decadence. They can't guarantee Christmas delivery at this point, but I guarantee it will be well received whenever the gift arrives.

Monday, December 14, 2009



Merry-freaking-Christmas, grandparents and Jed.

Before I drowned my sorrows in homemade toffee ...

Silas, now of the big-boy-hair clan, would like to announce a winner of the holiday swag contest.

Annabel did the honors, picking from several wads of paper (each perfectly folded so as not to give anyone an unfair advantage) jammed in her ballerina jewelry box.
And thanks to kindergarten and phonics, she could even read the winner's name herself: Binky.


**For those wanting to leave me some commiseration for the cutting of Silas' baby-boy hair ... please feel free to comment here as well. Commisery IS company, right?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Little brothers can be quite bothersome

They never sit still.

They talk to loudly and at inappropriate moments.

They are always interrupting you.

They moonwalk past all your friends, not to mention the school pricipal, when it is your turn to be center stage.

They hold their hands over their ears when you are singing your heart out.

But instead of losing heart, you smile.

You know, deep down, he's your biggest fan.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Have you met 'Mad Boy' yet?

left nap (and wedding) early

Well ...

He's nearly "Two Half" and ...

He's "mad at Mama."

He doesn't "Yike his daddy."

His sister "annoys" him.

In fact, there are more things that annoy him than don't:

"I not yike milk."

"I not yike cookies."

"I not yike dat."

"Dad is annoying me. I not yike him."

"I not yike that song."

"I not yike bekfast."

"I not yike socks."

"I not yike boots."

"I not yike my coat."

"I not yike your hair."

"I not yike you anymore."

... but of course ...

He's a big boy now. And he's asserting his independence.

"You gonna miss me when I go to super school."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Miss Ittybit's Sense of Snow

The phone rang at 6 a.m.

I bolted upright in bed and immediately thought of Olympia Dukakis.

"Who’s Dead?" I mimicked in my best Brooklyneese.

Turns out the school day was killed by six inches of snow.


When I was a little kid, a person had to listen to the radio for what seemed like hours before they knew for sure whether they’d have to get out of their pajamas and slog to the bus.

"I think they closed the school … but there was static around the Es … I have to listen as it loops around again."

Television stations got into the school closing game when I was a tweenager, and we fixed our eyes on the ticker that traveled across the bottom of the screen as the names of the districts whizzed past faster than credits on an animated movie.

It occurs to me that the death of this particular school day harbors another tiny demise: My kid will probably never bound into my room whooping and hollering that school is cancelled (YIPPEE!!).

I’ll be telling her about her time off once I get my breathing in check after the shock of a pre-dawn phone call.

It also occurs to me that being an adult on the first snow day of the season is about as fun as shoveling heavy, wet snow uphill in bare feet.

Not only do you have to dig yourself out and get to work, but now you have to get a sitter, fight your way through snow drifts the school bus wouldn’t risk AND then wait in long lines to get your winter tires changed over with the others who had bet Climate Change would make that little chore obsolete this year.

While the kids are eating snow off the car (DON’T EAT SNOW OFF THE CAR) you stand there with your snow brush dusting the windshield off into your shoes.

You think you should maybe wear boots, but then you’d just have to go back in the house.

"GO BACK AND GET YOUR BOOTS" your mom-voice chastises you. But as an adult, you ignore it.

Your kids however, look a few feet up from the footwear and wonder at what’s not on your cranium.

"Mommy? Where’s your hat?"

"Oh … I don’t know. … No time for that now. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go."

She hands you a fleece hat with pink ears, and tells you can wear it. She’s got an extra one.

You thank her and take it, putting it into your pocket "for later," you tell her.

It will be alright. You’ll get the snows, you’ll have greater traction. It will be warm in the car and you will just go from there into a warm building. It will be fine.

Your car tire won’t blow out on the highway right after you get the tires changed.

You won’t be stuck by the side of an interstate in foot-high drifts as you wait for your husband to come and rescue you -- your Knight in Carhart coverall armor.

No. That NEVER happens.

But as you are standing by the side of that road with snow seeping into your shoes, you can be assured that when the police cruiser arrives to make sure your are OK (and that you have assistance on the way) you may not have the proper footwear but you will have a stylish hat.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Christmas cards ...

Helper, Not Helper and Dog, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

are on their way.

*dusts hands*

Monday, December 07, 2009

Eating us out of (gingerbread) house and home

One (pretzel) stick of wood at a time.

Friday, December 04, 2009

If it wasn't for the tarnish we might not notice the shine

Dear Ittybit and the Champ,

It has been so tense here these last few weeks.

Perhaps it's because so many corners of our lives seem to be crumbling into a fine dust.

So much tension and strife. So much worry. So much anticipation.

And then came the virus.

The one that emptied out Ittybit the night before Thanksgiving. The one that gripped me a few days later and got your father a little while after that. I was sure it had missed the Champ until the phone rang at my desk the second I sat down in the chair Monday morning.

I turned right around at went home before I even had a chance to fire up the old Dell.

Since then the crud has been playing a game of peek-a-boo.

While you recovered almost immediately, Ittybit, the Champ has been locked in battle -- occasionally vomiting between being otherwise happy, active and hungry. Monday, sick. Tuesday fine. Wednesday fine ... then sick. Thursday fine then sick ... and back to fine.

When you are parents you will understand what such uncertaintly does to a person who is suppose to have at least some of the answers.

I don't handle rollercoasters well. I don't handle illness well.

That's an admission I'm making to myself, because ordinarily I THINK I handle everything well.

But it's gotten to the point now where Ittybit is asking me if I'm "frustrated at the children or just frustrated in general."

I don't handle it well.

I am tired. I am tense. I am tied up in knots.

And one night, when Ittybit is peacefully sleeping, your father is sick and in bed, little Champ (after seemingly getting over it) starts to vomit. ... and then won't settle. There is no sleep. There is no consolation. There is only Nickjr at night and an incontinent dog for company. My own stomach turns with the smell of my surroundings.

I am not at my best. I just want you to stop whining and sleep, I want you to stop asking for water I can't give you. I want to sleep.

I am not comforting. I am on the edge of the cliff I cut out myself from solid rock.

But I am there, turning the channel, cleaning up vomit, wrestling you into fresh clothes when needed. And cleaning up dog pee and troubleshooting her needs: Water? Out? Leftovers? Please stop barking, It's 4 a.m.

It wasn't one of my shining moments.

In the morning I try to get ready for work -- a day I can't really miss because there is a special deadline and not enough people to meet it.

I break down instead as I hear the sick, mad boy bleating plaintively from the sick couch for his mommy.

I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this.

I haven't slept. I feel sick again. I can't do this.

Your father tells me "Just Go" and "It's like ripping off a Band-Aid. ... He only wants you when you're here."

The words sting.

You sit on my lap and calm down, but peace doesn't last for long.

"Waffles," you tell me.

"Dad will have to make waffles."

"No, you make waffles ... you help me."

"I can't help you. We have no waffle mix. I haven't slept. I'm going to be sick ...."


I can't help. Daddy can help"

"I want my Daddy."

I was crushed. And yet, I know I would not have been hurt by it had it not been deserved.

This evening, in the car, after I picked you up from the sitter's house, you both argued most of the way home.

Champ, you told your sister you were bigger than her. Ittybit, you asked me to tell him the truth. I tried. He wouldn't hear of it.

Bicker, bicker, bicker.

Despite the arguing, I smiled and thought this is normal. This is good. This is healthy. It was the first time I can remember smiling in more than two weeks.

And then Champ, you started to sing: "I am sleep, sleep, sleeping ... I am waking up."

I laugh. ... You have as good a voice as your sister's (even if you are smaller).

I will get sleep. Things will be better, I'm telling myself.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's that time of year again

I know I haven't been able to GIVE these things away let alone sell them, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

I have got to muster the holiday spirit somehow. I've still got faith in holiday swag.

So ... here's the deal: You comment, delurk, tell me something you've always wanted to tell me (but just didn't have the patience to deal with the all the login names and toggle buttons). Talk about whatever you like: traditions, photography, family, navel lint. I don't care what it is.

And sometime around mid-December I will take all the names, put them in a hat and pick one (so long as you leave an email address in the sign-in menu, not to be shared with the Internets, so I can contact you if you win) and that person will get a mug filled with something sweet and homemade. Probably this (if I can manage not to burn it, that is).

UPDATE: Dec. 11
I'm nearly ready to draw a name for the mug, but I've decided to give away as many packages of toffee as I can manage**. All you have to do is e-mail me your real address and buttery sweetness will be in the mail.

**Obviously if I get inundated with requests I'll have to come back and say something smarmy ... like I meant the first ten delurkers. ... or something.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How 'EASY' crafts look when made by the not-so-crafty

heart felt letters

Well, from this distance they look pretty good, actually.

I got the idea for these felt letters at Better Homes and Gardens. I thought they'd look nice on the tree.

It took the whole family (and Silas, who uneventfully found three missing tapestry needles) and one afternoon to complete seven letters.

I just printed Helvetica letters at a 600-point font size for use as a template. We used regular embroidery floss for the stitches.

Stuffing them was a little more difficult. First I tried stuffing them in increments, and then I tried finishing most of the sewing before attempting to stuff in the batting. It was kind of a draw as to which was better. I found the stick end of a paintbrush was instrumental in getting the stuffing in the right places.

We're going to attempt a few more for teacher gifts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Potty Mouth


There's nothing worse than refering to a bench in one's dinning room as "The OUTHOUSE."

Well, maybe the fact that the children think it's fun to play in the "Outhouse" is worse.

Although, what do I know? I seem to have no trouble "doing business" under a photograph of "The Fall 2003 PROBABLE Champions" of Chatham's Over-30 Soccer Team.

downstairs bath

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Good days, bad days and holidays

We might not be sitting around a table this Thanksgiving day, sharing a meal and a laughing with our families, though that was the plan.

Early this morning, just as I was getting to sleep, Ittybit woke up, sick. Every 20 minutes since she's been up wretching some small amount of stomach acid almost into the toilet. Almost.

As soon as the time softens the fright of the phone, we'll be making some calls to tell people that maybe they should not come to the house of ill repuke after all.

We'll add the disappointment to a growing list of concerns.

We know life isn't always roses, often it is thorny.

But we'll still be thankful ...

Even if we're eating Cheerios and milk come dinner time.

We know we are blessed with Works-Too-Hard Dad, and Little Sick Miss, and Mad Boy Bites Occasionally.

We wouldn't trade our incontinent, geriatric mongrel for any other pedigreed pooch.

And though I call her Stupid Cat, she's Lovable, too.

I'm thankful every time I look at my kids, when they're screaming or running around like banshees. They are people I'd never imagined I'd ever meet, and now can't imagine life without.

I'm thankful for you folks, who have spoken up. And for those who just read silently.

I'm thankful for time and space and hope.

I'm thankful for this joyful mess.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bucking the norm since 2003

Losing her two front teeth was more in line with what she wanted this Christmas.

Mission accomplished!

Plus, as and added bonus ...

Two days later a lateral incisor wriggled its way out of her mouth and under her pillow.

For those keeping score, five baby teeth have made Ittybit $25 richer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Throwing the book at holiday shopping

I know it’s not too early to be thinking of holiday shopping …

*Looks, behind her … to the left … pretty much all around …*

I just feel a little weird about writing "Holiday" and "Shopping" in the same sentence BEFORE Thanksgiving.

But I feel I must, since the nice folks at Simon and Schuster sent me a few books for review and my kids ripped the packages out of my Mom-Fu-GripTM, demanded I read them every night since their arrival, and made me retool my disclosure statement.*



Ittybit took one look at David Carter’s latest book and started jumping up and down. "It’s the Peek-A-Boo Bugs! It’s the Peek-A-Boo Bugs!" she screamed.

She’s loved Carter’s "Peekaboo Bugs: A Hide-and-Seek Book" since she was barely a year old. So his "Snow Bugs," with its familiar bug-eyed characters and its beautiful metallic sheen, was a welcome addition to her collection despite the fact that’s she’s starting to read on her own.

Her reaction to "Snow Bugs," however, paled in comparison to her enthusiasm for "White Noise," his simultaneously released pop-up book, modeled it seems after the mid-20th century Modern art movement hallmarked by such masters as Alexander Calder and Paul Klee. The book, which is meant to be touched, is beautiful in its clean-edge simplicity but also riveting for its playability. Readers will notice the tiny tinkle of dangly paper bits, the crinkle of folded papers and the whimsical ricochet of a paper xylophone right off, but word of warning: once your kidlets learn they can use the book to amplify their voices … look out. You might want to start bedtime a full hour earlier. White Noise, $23 Snow Bugs $12, both published by Little Simon.

Similarly fond of the "David" series by David Shannon, Silas has been glued to the illustrator’s latest picture book: "Robot Zot!" Written by Jon Scieszka, The slightly skewed figures of the tiny but destructive alien Robot Zot, who finds foes in the kitchen of a middle class household (such as the blender and the coffee pot) easily conquered. Robot Zot also makes light work of destroying the toothpaste-shilling television foe only to find his circuitry slightly rewired has he finds a damsel in need of saving -- a toddler toy. The illustrations are breathtaking and carry the story forcefully from page to page, even though the story could lose a few lines for simplicity’s sake.

Spoiler alert: Silas was a little worried Robot Zot would bring harm to the family’s curious little black lab, but relieved when the pup was lifted to safety by the gigantic Dad.

The dog, however, does not seemed to be saved for long as the wordless end page shows the forlorn looking canine surrounded by the appliance detritus as an angry Dad looms overhead.

As the boy is breathing a sigh of relief, I am laughing my fool head off: Everyone blames the dog. Published by Simon and Schuster, $18.


"A Child’s Book of Faeries," Celtic tales from the British Isles are retold by Tanya Robyn Batt and illustrated by Gail Newey. Children of all ages will be introduced to the enchanting, if not dark mischief, of old-world faeries. The book, published by Barefoot Books, features an audio CD that is perfect for long car rides. Hardcover, 64 pages. $20.

"The Best Pet Of All," elegantly written by David LaRochelle, and with retro-styled illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama, is a seemingly straight-forward story of a little boy who wants a dog, but, when his mom says ‘NO!,’ settles for a dragon. How bad could a dragon be? Find out as the charmingly simple tale of a childhood rite of passage takes you down an unfamiliar path. Dutton Juvenile, 32 pages. $17.

What little girl doesn’t love Fancy Nancy? Not mine, that’s for sure. I picked up "Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire," last summer, and in addition to the introduction of new vocabulary words, the book is packed with information about flora and fauna. It was even helpful in calming the heebie-jeebies Ittybit gets from garden-variety creepy crawlies. Even a trashcan full of flies didn’t turn our new reader’s stomach. Published by Harper-Collins, 32 pages. $13.

Yoga Pretzels: This 50-card pack has been a staple at our house for mother-daughter yoga sessions. It offers a complete yoga practice from warm up through relaxation, and it helps Ittybit run the class. She picks the poses and off we go. At $15, the set is a bargain for any yoga enthusiast in your life.


*Disclosure: I had planned to donate all new books received for review from publishing houses to the Pajama Program. Since my kids have fallen in hot, germy love with them, however, I have arranged with one of my favorite independent book sellers, Politics and Prose, to send equivalent books to the organization. As luck and timing would have it, my favorite bookshop hosted David Carter earlier this month and the books will be signed by the author.

Since it’s not only the Christmas season but also the danger season, I urge you to support this wonderful organization, which provides new pajamas and books to kids in homeless shelters and who are new to foster care.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I've never seen this smile before


No doubt, this is what happens when she's NOT ignoring the photographer.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spirit of the season is what you make of it

By now I thought I'd be a seething mass of rage about public eduction.

I thought I'd be one of the parents beating down the door at Kindergarten demanding to know exactly what was behind the thought process of making kids color trees realistically instead of imaginatively.

I expected to roll my eyes every time some piece of paper made its way home that asked us to buy-bring-donate something toward the mission of establishing school spirit.

I didn't expect to find it all so charming. I didn't expect to love how the teachers talk to the kids, or get their attention, or encourage their participation.

I also didn't think I'd actually want my kid to wear pajamas to school when she would rather not.

But. Here were are. Spirit day.

pj day at school

Now ... back to a little eye-rolling.

All hale the spirit of the season: Profits

Bah humbug.
Before the last of the Halloween spiders were summarily swept from store shelves, shopkeepers dusted their stock with the downy flake of polystyrene snow. JCPenney trademarks "Joy of Giving," and economists are wringing their hands, predicting a sad year for retailers, as shoppers vow to live within their means.

Can anyone really blame us for wanting to rain a little on the retailers’ parade?
This Saturday why not help the Nimbostratus clouds open up by attending the Buy Local Bash from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Troy Atrium, 297 River St.

The bi-annual vendor fair features 50 businesses from Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties including food producers, potters, jewelers, clothiers, health services and more. North Country acoustic duo Eddy and Kim Lawrence will perform live music. A $10 donation is suggested.

Why not rewrap last year’s toys?

Take the kids to the Albany Institute of History and Art’s 100th Anniversary celebration of the Albany mummies, featuring a talk by Egyptogist Peter Lacovara this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

In addition to new exhibits and lectures, there will be plenty of hands-on, art-making opportunities for the kids. Children are also encouraged to bring toys from home to recreate the mummification process in the museum studio.

Lacovara, senior curator at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emerson University, will speak at 2 p.m. He will lead a discussion about the mummy Ankenfenmut, his coffin and the connections the Capital Region has with ancient Egypt.

The event is included with paid admission, $10 for adults $8 students, seniors $6, children under 12 children younger than 6, free.


Thanksgiving weekend is being heralded by AIH&A with a series of free events beginning Friday, Nov. 27 and running through Sunday, Nov. 29.

Come see the new exhibits during this admission-free weekend. There will also be special events on each of the three days.

On Friday from noon to 4 p.m. drop in to the art studio and create a 12-inch texture tile there will be storytelling from 1 to 3 p.m. by museum educators and docents and a lecture at 2 p.m. by award-winning author James Bruchac, about Native American storytelling.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday there will be a musical performance and book signing with Hudson Talbott. Students from the region will perform selections of his book "River of Dreams," an adapted story of the Hudson River that tells its history through song.

From noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, learn about fresh water fish and create "gyotaku" – an 18th century Japanese art form that combines fish and printmaking. It appears the museum will be using three-dimensional models instead of fresh fish.

Don’t miss a special performance by fifth graders at Giffen Memorial Elementary School, who will perform a hip-hop composition under the direction of teacher Jeremy Dudley. Dudley (also known as Origin) has been teaching at Giffen for nine years, and is a three-time winner of the Best Hip-Hop Artist in the annual Metroland readers’ poll. The students' piece recognizes AIH&A’s exhibition: Hudson River Panorama, 400 Years of History, Art and Culture and the 400th anniversary of the river’s exploration.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shutting the door

It's been a week or so since I've had my main camera, having sent it off in a package to New York City so that someone in a repair shop can cut and paste in new parts.

It's been a while longer since it has worked properly. Mostly I muscled through, appologizing to people for the random clicks that just didn't sound right as every other frame the shutter stuck open.

In the past when I've been without my main camera, I've felt anxious and edgy. Missing something important in my life.

But when I sent it off this time, with it's cracked gaskets and sticking mechanisms, I felt relief. I didn't want to haul the heavy body here and there; or drag it out at the mortification of my children. I didn't want to be the official photographer of our lives or someone elses.

I thought I might even break out the film cameras, or the toy ones that once intrigued me enough to make it a moniker. But I didn't.

I took a few snaps with the old camera, and actually said "NO" a few times to my kids, who asked for me to take a picture of something or other.

Today, as I trucked over to the FedEx office to retrieve the package containing my reconditioned camera, I realized I wasn't excited to have it back.

I didn't dig it out and affix a lens.

I didn't test it to see if it was in better working order.

I just trusted it would work when I needed it to.

Then I tucked it away in the back of the trunk and shut the door.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Seriously ...



I wish my mind worked this way creatively and not just appreciatively.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How bland would life be ...

without sugar ...

and spice?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to make a grown man (nearly) cry


BE THE TEACHER THAT TELLS HIM: "Your daughter is delightful. When she sees another student is all alone or not having a good day, she makes a point to go and play with THEM on the playground. She's a great influence on the other kids."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep cycles


I remember the last time I slept through the night.

It was Thursday, last week.

It was a fluke made possible by hope and the husband.

Prior to that, the last time I recall sleeping six consecutive hours was a few weeks before The Champ was born.

Lately the sleep deprivation has been so horrible, though, I've missed the real baby baby-days when naps just seemed constant and an appropriate amount of sleep could be achieved by collecting it throughout a 24-hour cycle.

The night routine, however, goes something like this:

6 p.m. Dinner.

7 p.m. Bath. Act out a pre-apocalyptic version of Waterworld using two wooden salad bowl "boats" and three bendy straws. Brush Teeth. Dress for bed. (No one is really sure which chore is done in which order as most of the time pajamas are wet).

8 p.m. Reading.

8:30 p.m. Bed.

8:30 until ? Mom (sometimes dad) sleeps in toddler bed until sleep sets in. Could be five minutes could be an hour and five minutes. It's a crapshoot.

10 p.m. (regardless of when child fell asleep) Parent will unpretzel them self from the sleep position made famous by a sloth in the Movie Ice Age, and tiptoe downstairs to finish one of 3,000 ordinary household chores that have piled up.

10 p.m. and two seconds Itty-bitty will awake and ask for water ... or why the parent trying to sneak away down the stairs didn't stop in and say a final "good night."

10:30 p.m. Parent who may (or may not) have finished washing the dishes will tiptoe back upstairs and go to bed.

10:35 p.m. Dog will bark at the bottom of the stairs until one of two adult humans gets out of bed and shows the dog that the gate HAS, in fact, been left open.

11 p.m. Dog will finally settle down after walking around the second floor, looking for toilets to drink out of and food to eat.

11:05 p.m. Dog will bolt up for no reason and run to the other side of the room.

11:30 p.m. Dog will resettle.

Between midnight and 1 a.m. The Champ will wake up and start crying.

He will not be consoled.

1:15 a.m. The parent who tried to get him back to sleep will bring him to bed.

1:30 a.m. He will sleep.

2 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 2:45 a.m., 3 a.m., 3:15 a.m. The Champ will want to nurse.

At 4 a.m. cat will crawl into the mom's hair and lay down.

4:01 a.m. through 5:30 a.m. Mom will try to get the cat to sleep on the dad while simultaneously trying to get The Champ to fall asleep.

She will lose.

From 5:30 a.m. through 6 a.m. The boy will want to nurse.

On alternating days of the week, which might potentially line up with the tides of the moon, the dog will become incontinent and require the work of a hazmat team during the above-mentioned hours as well. (Last night was one such occasion. I'll spare you the details.)

*You are welcome.*

From 6:30 a.m. until 7 a.m. the non-sleeping boy will want to sleep.

7 a.m. The mother - who no longer understands herself when she speaks - will get up, untangle the cat from her hair and try to take a shower.

7:05 a.m. The hot shower and warm suds will make the mother feel somewhat human again. She may even sing.

7:08 a.m. The daughter -- all tousle-haired and unintending – will sneak into the bathroom and sit quietly on the commode. She will say 'Good morning, mommy' and then will flush the toilet. Singing will stop.

And thus begins another day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ernie, Bert, Big Bird ... You don't seem a day over 5

For those of you living under a (Fraggle) Rock: Sesame Street turns 40 today.

The Big FOUR-O!

So much has changed on the program since I was a young viewer:

The set has sloughed its gritty, inner-city edge;

Ernie and Bert have lost their furry-puppetness;

And even Cookie Monster has been compelled to eat vegetables.

Characters have come and gone. Most notably when the real-life death of actor Will Lee caused the Children’s Television Workshop’s progressive decision to allow Mr. Hooper – his character – to die on the show.

It was riveting television for children and adults. It still is.

Perhaps what makes Sesame Street so successful as a television show is that it is consistently changing while still protecting its mission to provide quality children’s programming focused on education.

It has interwoven cognitive curriculum with current events, social awareness and multiculturalism. It has taken risks and held to core values.

And though each of us – myself included – can point to at least one thing on Sesame Street that ruffles our feathers, what we can’t deny is that the educational experiment has been a rousing success for not only generations children but their parents, too.

Sesame Street didn’t let us off easy. It wasn’t just an address we could park our kids to get things done. It was a place where questions brought more questions. Sometimes tough ones to hear, and tougher to answer.

I didn’t look forward to telling my then four-year-old why her favorite character at that time – Mr. Noodle’s brother Mr. Noodle – had no new episodes. He’d died the year she was born.

But I told her about Michael Jeter's death, in much the same way Gordon told Big Bird why Mr. Hooper couldn’t come back.

I may have my petty issues with a lisping bear and a little red monster who refers to himself in the third person, but I can’t deny what each has meant to my kids.

I can only thank them for the gentle wisdoms they’ve offered throughout the years, and for being there when they really needed some monsters that weren't really that scary.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I believe, I believe, I believe

iv hand

Amy Wallace writes a blunt but factually accurate piece in Wired about how parents’ unfounded fear of vaccination is putting us all at risk for epidemic, and there is a sh*tstorm of response.

No one is really surprised, although Wallace claims she wasn’t prepared for the intensity and bullying tactics of some of the vitriolic responders.

I have to admit, however, because of this piece and because of the positive response it has also gotten, I’m feeling a little less afraid to say what I’ve been thinking about the subject all along.

I am not on the fence about most vaccines. I believe in them. I believe they, above most other forms of medical advances during the last 100 years, have made the quality of our lives better. I believe they still have tremendous potential.

I know there is a lot I don’t know. I know that there is a lot scientists don’t know and there will always be established understandings that study will overturn.

But I also think that if you take what parents don’t know about science and medicine and heap it into a gigantic pile and put a match to it we could heat the planet.

It kind of makes my head spin when folks point to their fears, such as the very slight risk of getting Guillain-Barre Syndrome from a flu vaccine as reason not to vaccinate, especially since Guillain-Barre is most often the direct result of illnesses such as flu and bacterial infection and is rarely linked with vaccine.

That’s not to say that there aren’t people who SHOULD NOT BE VACCINATED for certain things. That’s not to say that there won’t be rare and serious side effects, even death.

But it makes me a little crazy when folks point to the government and call it a vast left/right/center (whatever) wing cesspit of conspiracy and throw up a wall of disbelief at study after study that concludes no link between immunizations and autism. They don't trust anyone but themselves. Yet they will put their children through a litany of unstudied and potentially dangerous procedures -- such as chelation therapy – based on speculation.

A flu shot, especially when they are scarce and when flu mutates so rapidly leaving even the immunized somewhat unprotected, seems like a small thing compared to all that.

I can understand skipping the shot.

There has also been some compelling work in epidemiology that suggests flu vaccine doesn't really work to protect the people we'd most like to protect.

We do, after all, have choice.

And while I believe in immunization, I also believe in choice. I am cautious of new products. I am wary of firms that are the sole patent holders, as is the case of the vaccine to prevent HPV and some cervical cancers. I feel fortunate to have time to see what happens with that particular vaccine before the decision is at hand.

The risk vs. reward still seems unclear, especially since regular pap screening is still the single best way to prevent cervical cancer.

But for other illness -- ones that show up without warning or ways of prevention such as polio -- I think vaccinating as much of the population as has been done for generations is really important.

I believe Wallace is right. We have a feeling of safety from these illnesses because of vaccine. Wild polio infection hasn't been seen in this country in 20 years because of widespread vaccination. Africa, Asia and other developing nations still see polio infections regularly. And when you think how global we've become as a society, my guess is the gaps in vaccination will allow these devastating illesses to come right back eventually, just as we're slowly seeing the return of whooping cough and measles.

I understand fear. I am not immune to it. But I also try to keep it in check; I try to realize those fears aren’t coming from a rational place. I also try to realize communication is one of the most difficult things we will ever do as a society. I misinterpret all the time. I also see so many misinterpretations that it makes me wonder if we even know what the people we trust are saying.

Dr. William Sears, for instance, is often referred to as being a doctor who doesn't accept the safety of vaccine. Yet from my reading of his work, I think that assessment is utterly wrong. He wants children to be vaccinated. He's a proponent of vaccination, but he realizes there is fear. He believes that if parents had better control of when and how their kids were vaccinated the medical community would see better compliance. A lot of what he talks about is intended to make parents feel safer, not that they will be safer.

I view what he touts as a kind of a “Love and Logic” for parents. Give parents choices - choices that won’t put anyone in jeopardy - and they will take the path you want them to take. Yet for some it seems to just give credence to their fears.

And those fears seem to be leading many of us to thoughtless behaviors. Our children come first. We know what’s best. Damn the torpedoes. And that saddens me no end.

It pains me to talk about "underlying conditions" as if those with underlying conditions deserved what they got … I’m safe. We feel safe because we are healthy. We think those who are unhealthy are so by choice or lifestyle. But really, we are healthy because we are lucky not because we’ve been responsible.

We have responsibility to those around us who aren’t so blessed, and we shirk it time and time again. We are willing to risk the health of those with the underlying conditions, needlessly, because of philosophical and unfounded fears.

Seriously, if I can prevent another mother from sitting by the side of a hospital bed while their child is tethered up to IV lines because of rotavirus, like I did, I am happy to do it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

'That was me'

The real deal has been entertaining boys for centuries ... iFart Mobile has been doing it since 2008.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You and Media

sports section ... while waiting for the ferry

Not always but more and more often I cringe when I hear or read about "The Media."

Usually the reference is under the context of the Big, Bad Mainstream MediaTM blowing something out of proportion.

By way of disclosure, I must come clean and admit that I myself have been guilty of such thinking. In the 24-hour news circle of life what journalists cover often gets amplified in our collective psyche.

I roll my eyes like nobody's business when television talking heads put their best "I'm shocked" lilt in their voice as they jovially discuss the topic du jour.

One need only think about recent (and not-so-recent) "hammer heads" to understand and nod one's own head in stiff-necked anxiety: Terrorism, Abduction-Murder, Pandemic.

But then I think: Newspapers are dying! Professional media - people paid to research, edit and produce stories about current events - itself has become endangered.

I must also admit, it has been a while since I've watched television news, or read the New York Times from cover to cover. I can't remember the last time I sat down with The New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet without having been called into a doctor's office a few minutes later.

Like many folks these days, I get the majority of my news now from YOU in the bloggesphere.

Sure ... many of the links I click lead to stories in one Post or another. Some lead to peer-reviewed medical journals. But many lead to the great, big interconnected Web of us.

Whatever IT is, I -- like you, the new media -- Tweet and re-Tweet it; paste it into my Facebook page; put my concerns about it in essay form, complete with first-hand experience and links to other blogs. I discuss everything in minute detail, then show you where you, too, can find out more ... usually another blog. In addition to alerting others to the original news story, we provide analysis and directions on where to go to engage in heated argument.

These days, much of what I know about healthcare, foreign policy, parenting, shopping, corporate ethics, the common cold, vitamin D, green smoothies and how swine flu is spreading, has come from you - my Internet community.

Yes, we are the new media.

We pride ourselves in being smart, articulate and unafraid to speak our minds.

Some of us are journalists, that is true. Some of us are also doctors, scientists and statisticians. Those and many, many more of us, here in the ethosphere, however, are just folks with opinions.

Likewise, fewer and fewer of us (as a nation) are studying science or mathematics in school. Fewer of us even understand imperical formula. We trust our instincts and our inner voices. We look to pat each other on the back. We seek like minds.

So when we talk about the media and how it slants, when we point a finger, we should be looking in the mirror at ourselves.

We are the way information spreads.

Virally, imperfectly and with a heavy dose of bias.

When we speak of how the media is scaring the pants off of us, we must remember that while the message might have originated from The Big Bad MediaTM the interpretation likely came from a more "trusted" source: YOU and MEdia.

Monday, November 02, 2009

It rained, it poured, it stopped (wash, rinse, repeat)

oh man

Looking back over the last 72 hours, I'm not at all sure why I like Halloween.

We aren't talented at making costumes.

My camera isn't working properly.

Doesn't matter, I can count upon at least ONE of the kids not wearing their costume. And the other one to fight, tooth and nail, for the most illogical footwear ever. Neither will really let me take their pictures.

We are REALLY low-brow with decorations.

We get NO Trick-or-Treaters.

But that doesn't stop us from buying too much candy.

We spend all day trying to get normal things done around the house while Ittybit asks "Is it time to go Trick-or-Treating yet?" All. Day. Long.

Of course, then it rains.

And Ittybit's hard-fought-for-shoes make it impossible for her to keep up with the pack.

Which means getting caught in the rain, and getting drenched.

Which brings on tears.

And changes of plans.

And more tears.

And even when they are so exhausted that they can no longer keep their eyes open ...
No one sleeps.

First one. ...

And then the other ...

Make their way into our bedroom.

The dog barks until we let her in the room, too.

Then the cat creeps in.

And jumps on the dog.

Who jumps up with cat-like speed but old dog-like grace, and skitters around to the other side of the bed, where she circles and circles, her unclipped nails clicking against the floor, until she finally drops with an "ooomph."

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

All. Night. Long.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

pumpkin carving

Hope you have tiny, lovely surprises.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(The return of) Random Question Thursday


I know, I know ... Who cares?

Please, don't answer that. That is NOT the question.

The question is:

What will you NOT be doing this Halloween?

We are NOT buying Nestle candy, that's one thing.

One of us may NOT be dressing up. Again.

We are NOT having a costume yoga class.

We are NOT going to be staying indoors. (Hopefully the cat will be, though.)

and ... finally ...

We are going to NOT one but TWO parties.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Silas is (still) golden (but he's becoming more like us every day)


My father called me today to report on a report he’d gotten from his town’s librarian about my son.

The Other Mother, you see, takes the boy to that library on Wednesdays for story time.

“He used to be so quiet. So shy,” she laughed as my dad probably sniggered silently (and uncontrollably) before emitting the short blast of “HA!” -- a laugh trait I never really noticed before my son inherited it from him.

“Now it is pretty clear he has an opinion about everything and he’s not afraid to share it.”

Like when he storms clear across the room to lay his random thoughts* on some kid patiently waiting for the craft table to open up:


He gets THAT from me … There’s a reason why I’m suddenly talking about the cat while discussing the disappearance of the yellow and blue winter coat Ittybit handed down to The Champ.

“Oh, glad you found it. Yes, yes. I was wondering what happened to his coat. … That stupid cat!”

*It’s not really random. I blame her for its vanishing.

It is true that my son’s communicative skills are blossoming with such speed I think it’s forcing him to stutter:

“My-my-my-my dad is working,” he says with a smile, pointing as we pass the garbage hauler. “He-He-He-He drives that truck.”

The glint in his eye reflects the little devil inside.

Not to mention the slight tinge Eddie Haskleism he shares with his sister.

“He was so cute, today,” continues the librarian. “A little girl started crying and he went over and put his arm around her. ‘It’s ok, It’s OK’ he said.”

I could hear my dad’s pride swell.

“Yeah, but what she doesn’t know is that he spent the morning trying to balance things on her head while she screamed for him to stop.”

Sweet, adorable, amenable Silas, who quietly goes about doing whatever it is he wants to three feet below the rest of the world.

He’s already figured out we’ll blame the cat.

“MOM! RAT!!!” screamed Annabel this morning minutes before we were to leave the house.

“Wha ….?” I stammer as I tug my attention away from trying to pull both of the boys lower limbs out of his left pant leg.


I hulk over to the place she’s jumped three feet from, where she found what appeared to be (from my viewing of it) the headless, tailless torso of a squirrel wedged between the cushions of the chair.

I jump back. "That's no rat."

My mind races with squirrel-like precision: Wha? Oh my g… I don’t want to touch … How am I … Cat. Outside. Call Jed … double bag my hands? What kind of sick, twisted pet hides their kills in a chair? What do I do … the body? Uh .... CAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

After pacing back and forth, I find plastic bags and make my approach. I peel away the cushion and the thing flops lightly onto the seat.

Light and airy like. ... Just as if it were the last crust of olive bread the boy begged for the previous night.

When he was sitting in that chair.

I turn around to see his squinty eyed, twisted mouth expression looking right at me.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What dangers lurk under the sink so rare?

There’s a leak in the drain of my kitchen sink.

A slow leak that is even slower in getting repaired.

I’ve learned to work around it. I’ve propped a double-sided utility caddy under the drain; one side catches the drips, the other contains the various detergents and scrubs used in the weekly cleaning exploits of yours truly.

On the occasion of cleaning other parts of the house, I check the levels and find an inch or so of water needing to be dumped.

Occasionally we go away on the weekend … and then the following weekend, perhaps, we make other plans. The grime and gunk around other parts of the house build up.

As does the pool of water in the caddy.

How many weekends has it been since I checked? I wonder.

What I found was dreadful. Horrifying even.

Two. Dead. Mice.

Two sodden, matted little corpses, floating in either ends of the plastic bin.


Oh … it seems so tame, doesn’t it? It seems so much like the daily diary of any frustrated housewife.

No one really cares what’s under your sink. Rodents floating in an inch of water, in a place one keeps their toxic chemicals to clean an inch of dust, matters not in a world where toxic assets have cleaned out entire retirement savings.

Yet this terrible discovery is what I’m thinking about as I’m reading “Sir Ryan’s Quest,” a charmingly drawn and beautifully written story by Jason Deeble about a little boy who meets the King of the Pots under his kitchen counter and goes on a journey of epic proportions in the otherwise mundane corners of his house.

But two people I know really do care what’s under the sink. They aren't even squeamish. There is adventure to be had.

Even Silas, at the grand old age of two, can spot the man living in Deeble's jungle closet. He screams in delight over the basement cave’s moldy monster. Annabel, likewise, giggles in anticipation as Sir Ryan's Quest leads from room to room.

Both kids adore the language, which adheres itself to a poetic chivalry of another age. It’s a joy to read aloud.

And I have to admit, I adore the message: Adventure is everywhere, even in the relative safety of home.