Art Appreciation with Maddie

Maddie didn’t have school today but Sam did. So she and I went to MoMA to see the monumental Picasso Sculpture exhibit. I’d seen it with a friend earlier in the week, which was good — it’s hard to fully take in an exhibit while also helping a kid experience it. Seeing it with her after seeing it on my own was perfect. And boy did she love it.

We got her one of the audio guides. I wasn’t sure if she’d like that, but she really got into it. To the point that she mostly focused on the pieces that had audio. She especially loved the ones that had audio geared toward kids. At points I watched her nodding along with the audio and then saying “Oh! I see it!” in response to something the curator was pointing out.

Seeing art with a kid is a revelation. Some of her observations were just amazing. Of a sculpture of a woman’s head she said “From this angle she looks kind, from this angle she looks crazy and from that angle she looks serious.” She also noticed that the gallery that had the sculptures from Picasso’s years in occupied Paris was darker (dark gray walls, dimmer lighting) than the other galleries and that it felt “scary.” Quote: “This room is a little like dum, dum, duuuuuum …”

She was less impressed with Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans. She stood in the dead center of the room, ringed by the paintings, and declared “This is dumb” in a voice loud enough that Warhol himself may have heard her. She did like the Marilyns.

At dinner she wanted to share her experience with Sam so we played some of the audio clips from the MoMA app. One of the kids clips mentioned Picasso’s idea that all children start out as artists, that the problem was how to stay an artist when you grow up. Maddie looked at me solemnly, with the wisdom of her nearly 8 years, and said “It’s hard.”

Mother’s Day, 2013

Can we believe how big these kids are?

We had a good day. I got to do my Sunday kickboxing class, and then it was off to Cheeburger! Cheeburger! for lunch. (It is, according to Maddie, my favorite restaurant. I can assure you, it is not.) Then it was just hanging out at home with a nice dinner cooked by Daddy.


Uncle Bill

This week my great uncle Bill passed away. I last saw him at his 80th birthday party in Florida.

But he was a big part of my childhood. Actually, to be fair, it was his wife, my great aunt Madeline who was a HUGE part of my childhood. She took care of my sister and I while my mother worked. She was such a big part of my life that I name my daughter after her. She died about 15 years ago and I still miss her.

But Uncle Bill was there too, always. With his hearty laugh and his big hugs. We went camping with them and on various outings. I remember visiting their house in Weymouth — for a time they lived in an in-law apartment they’d built in the garage of their former house so their son Tim and his wife could live in the main house. For some reason my sister and I found that little apartment fascinating.

His granddaughter Jennifer wrote a lovely post about him.

Good-bye Uncle Bill. You will be missed.

For Sale: Four-year-old

Today was a day.

Preston had to work. He had to leave at 8 a.m. He’d be back at 1 p.m. and Maddie had a birthday party to go to at 2:30 p.m. The big complication was that I still hadn’t gotten the birthday party girls (twins) gifts.

So I got up early, showered, etc. and planned to head out to Target. Easy-peasy.

Maddie had other plans. Literally. She did not want to go to Target. She had a full-body, possessed-by-demons meltdown. Screaming, crying.

I gave her a choice. We could go to Target and get birthday gifts for the girls or I would call the girls’ mother and tell her that Maddie couldn’t attend the party.

Maddie did not like those choices. In fact, at one point in the car she shrieked “This is not my choice!” (Since she refused to choose I made the choice for her — I decided that continuing to deal with the current tantrum would be less painful than extending the tantrum into the “No, no party for you.” afternoon.)

She shrieked and yelled most of the way to Target. She did calm down, thankfully, by the time we got into the store.

Of course one consequence of all this was that it ended up being late by time we arrived back home. Luckily Preston came in and was willing to bring Maddie out to the party, leaving Sam and I to hang out.

She had a great time at the party and Sam and I had a nice afternoon (him napping, me cleaning up the house a bit then relaxing).

For those of you who thought maybe Maddie was an alien being who never behaves like a normal four-year-old. Sometimes, she does.

My Kryptonite

Is vomit.

I’m completely phobic about throwing up myself. I might be the only person you’ve ever met who has never (literally NEVER) thrown up from drinking too much. I never threw up while pregnant (it was my biggest fear). I think I remember that last time I did throw up. It was at least 10 years ago, I got food poisoning and I sat on the floor of my bathroom and cried.

Yeah, so I can’t quite deal.

Tonight Sam threw up. Apparently there is a really bad stomach virus going around.

Preston was a complete trooper. He cleaned up everything.

Sam is sleeping now. Here’s hoping he’s better tomorrow.

Notes from the first day of school

Today was Maddie’s first day of school.She is now officially pre-K. It’s going too fast!!

First and foremost, she looked gorgeous. I got this dress during our trip to Paris:

Notes from the day:

  • This year she’s in a bigger class — 22 kids, with two teachers, two aides and three paraprofessionals (they help specific kids — including Maddie — who have physical challenges and need extra support). I got to meet Maddie’s para and her new speech therapist. She has the same PT and OT as last year.
  • The bus driver’s name is Preston. No, seriously.
  • Maddie said hello when she noticed me hanging around the back of the class, but then mostly ignored me. She was busy!
  • Sam seemed maniacally happy this morning. All is right in his world again. Of course he was also maniacally happy when she returned at the end of the day.
  • Quote of the day: “Sam might be sad today because I’m going to school. He might cry. Mommy might need to comfort him.”

And one last quick snap. This one taken during one of her activities — “painting” with glue and affixing torn paper to the glue. There is a lot of skills in that one activity!

Maddie and Mommy Hit the Town

The Mission: Get ready for school (first day: Wednesday, September 7)


Stop #1 Barnes and Noble: Might as well start out with something fun!

Choice Maddie quote: “First we’ll look at books for you, then we’ll look at  books for me.” (Apparently this is what we do when we go to B&N. I didn’t know she noticed.)

Purchases: For Maddie, Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet and Don’t Let a Pigeon Drive the Bus. For Mommy, the September issues of In Style and Martha Stewart Living. (What?)

Stop #2 Children’s Place for leggings.

Choice Maddie quote: “I’m hungry. I’m tired.” (Seriously. Stop #2.)

Purchases: Four pairs of leggings. One pair was mislabeled and has to go back. Awesome.

Stop #3 Duane Reade for a notebook.

Choice Maddie quote: “I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack. I’m hungry. I want a snack.” (For those of you who think she’s always delightful, not so much.)

Purchases: Purple composition notebook. And Fig Newtons.

Stop #4 Sephora (What??)

Choice Maddie quote: “More cookie please.”

Purchases: Clinique Chubby Stick and hand cream. Plus, 500 point bonus gift!!

Stop #5 Hairdresser

Choice Maddie quote, after I told her that she is always beautiful: “No Mommy, I’m not always beautiful. Sometimes I’m gorgeous.”

Purchase: Very cute hair cut.

Stop #6 Cheeburger, Cheeburger for LUNCH!

Choice Maddie quote, after scarfing down a hamburger and fries: “Tomorrow when we come here I’ll have chicken fingers.”

Purchase: Lunch and a much needed break.

Stop #7 Blue Elephant for shoes

Choice Maddie quote: “These shoes make my feet dance!”

Purchase: Grey Ecco Mary Janes.

Last stop: Nap for Maddie. She may sleep until next week …

Hell is Other Parents

Today was orientation for Maddie’s pre-school.

This is for PRE-SCHOOL. As in FOUR-YEAR-OLDS. This is important. I’ll come back to this.

Orientation is a chance to meet the teachers, get the packet with more papers that need to be signed than a refi, see the classroom and ask questions.

It’s that last bit that inevitably reveals the very worst in my fellow parents.

So one parent asked a question about when the kids would start learning the alphabet because while his son knows the song he doesn’t recognize the letters. The teachers talked about the ways they would learn in class and also gave a few pointers for teaching this stuff at home. They emphasized that learning through play — rather than drills — is really best for this age.

Then the subject of snacks came up. Our school requires that we send lunch but snacks are provided in class.

If you want to see how crazy parents are, bring up snacks.

One woman, who is now my Mortal Enemy (you’ll see …) wanted to know precisely what snacks would be provided. In fact, she wanted to inspect the snacks because “I’m very picky about what my kids eat.” Congratulations, you are Mother of the Year. Your plaque is in the mail.

But then she asked the question that made her my Mortal Enemy. She said “I want to ask about academics.”

Before I go on, I want you to absorb that. She wants to ask about ACADEMICS. For FOUR-YEAR-OLDS.

So then she goes on to say that her child knows his letters and the sounds they make and she’s really worried that he won’t be challenged.

Yeah, she really said that.

I give the teacher a ton of credit. She talked about how kids have strengths and weaknesses and it’s okay for a kid to be good at something. That they enjoy having mastery over some skills.

My Mortal Enemy couldn’t let it go though. She is worried her kid will be bored.

I’ll tell you what I’m worried about. I’m worried my kid is going to LIKE your kid.


Mother’s Day 2011

What a difference a year makes.

Last Mother’s Day Sam was just shy of 6 months old. Maddie was almost 2 1/2 and had only been walking a few months. I can’t remember if he was sleeping through the night. I don’t think so. I’m guessing he was still getting up once. But I know he was sleeping in his crib with Maddie in her new toddler bed. In part I remember because the one and only time that Maddie got out of her bed and came to our room was on Mother’s Day last year.

This time last year I had been back to work for about two months. I was in that stage where mommyhood was still consuming me — literally, as it were, as I was breastfeeding or pumping throughout the day and night. I was tired. So, so, so very tired.

This year Maddie is 3 1/2 and smart as a whip. She loves preschool. This year I got the special joy of getting a gift made at school — a necklace made of plastic beads strung on yarn. I’ve promised that I will wear it to work tomorrow.

Sam is 17 months and delightful. Happy, mostly, though guarded with new people in a way that Maddie never was. Eating anything that doesn’t eat him first.

I’m still tired, but not like then. Mostly I just feel like I have a bit of my life back. I was able to go to the gym yesterday and today. I can wear normal bras again. I’m finally back to my pre-baby weight. I didn’t overly stress on that point either time — it took about a year with Maddie and longer with Sam. But still, it’s nice to be back into some of my favorite clothes and to even buy some new things.

I love being Mommy, but I also love being Tami. The past three Mother’s Days have been all about the Mommy piece — in 2008 Maddie was 6 months old, in 2009 I was pregnant again and last year Sam was very little. This year it finally feels like the balance is swinging back, just a bit, to the Tami side.