Monday, October 05, 2009

I've been away too long.
My conversations have been few.
But while I've been away
Each and every day
My heart is beating next to you.

But now I'm here at last
And I mean to stay...
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings -- "Tell Me"

(Go check out the coolest group ever)

So I'm stuck at home with sick Short People...what to do? I've decided to take advantage and drag my inconsistent self back to the blogging world. I haven't been here since March? Really? Geez, what is wrong with me? I've been trying to figure out why, and...uh...I've got nothing. So I'm just going to try to do better. Hopefully I will succeed.
The Short People are thriving in our neighborhood, where 8 girls under the age of 9 overshadow our lone neighbor boy (poor, poor Benjamin!) with their Kool Kats Klub as they gather en masse in sunglasses, beads and the occasional tutu to ride bikes, scooters or skateboards and nag each other like the true girls they are. And my god are they driving all the parents crazy! I am seriously considering buying all of us referee shirts and whistles for afternoons and weekends, when we are all forced out of our homes for hours at a time to intervene in the "I had the trapeze first", "she won't share her hula hoop", "but they're MY skates" arguments. Yesterday actually ended in some fisticuffs. But my, do they all look lovely while they are acting like wild animals. They appear much more civilized here at India's 7th birthday party.

When not verging on juvenile delinquency the Short People are busy with school. Kate started kindergarten this year, and India is in second grade. The solo photo of Kate was taken on her very first field trip to the Graves Mountain Apple Orchard to pick apples. I chaperoned this trip, and had a great time. We made a fabulous apple crisp with our selections.

Both Short People are taking dance. India is continuing to enjoy ballet and Kate has found she is a tap/jazz kind of gal. The picture of India is from her spring ballet recital. Pardon the stage makeup, she doesn't go out of the house like that on a regular basis, I swear. Kate likes a little more funk and is a big fan of Sharon Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Deelite. Kate can sometimes be heard warbling another one of Sharon Jones' songs "I ain't nobody's baby, I ain't nobody's fool...better get yourself a new one". God forbid some boy ever try to mess with Katie in the future. She'll use some of those techniques she's learned in the neighborhood...

As long as the Short People don't pass their crud to me I will be spending this weekend at parts unknown for an early surprise birthday present. T. is sending me off somewhere with my mom and sister for what he is calling "Amy's Fun Weekend". Hopefully I will make it.
Time to sign off and break out the Lysol...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When your sweet lilting laughter's

Like some fairy song,

And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;

You should laugh all the while

And all other times smile,

And now, smile a smile for me.

Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr. -- "When Irish Eyes are Smiling"

Confession time: when I began LDWSP I made a deal to challenge myself by beginning each post with only the lyrics of songs I know. I had to make a slight exception for this one, because though I am well aware of the chorus (who has been to a bar on St. Patty's and isn't?) I was clueless about the rest of the lyrics. Not only did I have to look them up but I had to research the writers as well. I won't make a habit of it, but the only other Irish songs I know are all depressing. Besides, Kate has a lovely smile, doesn't she?

Now let me just say up front that I am not Irish. In fact, my family is decidedly Scottish. I come from the McKay clan on both maternal and paternal sides. Weird, I know. We aren't from West Virginia, I promise. This was generations ago (I hope...).
So is it sacrilege for me to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Probably. But when your sister marries an Irish descendant, your nephew is named Rowen (with reddish hair, not less), and your daughter is born a few days before St. Pat's it's an easy theme. And a fun one.

I think Kate had a great time during her weekend-long birthday revelry. To help her feel better about being apart from her friends on her birthday I followed my friend Janice's perennial party advice and "threw money at the problem". I bought a variety of sparkly tattoos, fancy headgear, decorations, lots of Irish goodies, made an Irish cake and an Irish-themed game, and made reservations at our favorite Irish pub. The only glitch in the whole Irish extravaganza was a lack of green bagels; apparently they weren't making them until Sunday. Oh well. There was more than enough green to make up for it; if you look closely you can see that I am even sporting some green sparkly nail polish to match my tattoo.

To add to the excitement the Short People had a real, live baby doll to entertain. Even Kate, who was not too excited about a baby, and a boy baby at that, was entranced by Rowen. He is a cutie, isn't he? Their fascination led to a fervent desire to care for their own baby dolls, so our den was littered with babies, clothes, diapers, bottles and accessories for real and fake babies alike. Made me have a few brief (very brief) pangs to have another. Don't worry, Tracy, it won't last.

We celebrated Kate's birthday in Irish style, but we also honored a few other occasions. My parents had their 40th wedding anniversary in January, my father turned 60 in February, and Derek had a birthday earlier in the month so we were a partying group. Mom and Dad are going to the Angus Barn for a private meal for two cooked in front of them with one of their renowned chefs, and Derek got a pub tee and some good beer...what can I say, I told you he was Irish! Since my parents are enjoying a second childhood as music groupies we treated my father to tickets to see Delbert McClinton at the Birchmere. He is famous for guessing his gifts so Clare and I decided to fool him. His certificate was taped to a rock (to weight the present) and labeled "and roll". Rock and Roll...get it?

I don't know, do you think he is excited about his gift?

Thanks for a great weekend, everyone. We miss you already!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's new pussycat?

What's new pussycat?
Pussycat, pussycat I love you.
Yes, I do.
Tom Jones -- "What's New Pussycat?"

What's new is that you are FIVE today.


Kate was born loving cats. As a result of this affinity she changed her name at age 3. She informed us..."I not Tate (she couldn't pronounce her "k"s so she was "Tate", not Kate). I Titty Tat Tate!". From that day on her name has been Kitty Cat Kate. Too bad Tracy is allergic to cats or she would be getting a kitten for her birthday. Poor girl has to resign herself to the stuffed animal kind, of which she has a bevy.

When we moved, our friend Sally made a mix cd of classic 60s hits for us to listen to on our trip. By far Kate's favorite song is this annoying little Tom Jones number. She listens to it over and over and warbles along, especially on the "whoooaaah"s. Gee, thanks Sally! Haven't figured out how to pay you back yet, but I will think of something.

It is difficult to turn 5 when you don't have many friends in town to celebrate with. She has selected blueberry pancakes, saucheege (sausage) and scrambled eggs for her birthday dinner. She already received the aforementioned Dan Zanes tickets (see previous post), but will have a couple of other surprises to open as well.

Kate had another birthday celebration when Tracy's parents visited two weeks ago. They brought with them a new big girl bike! A wonderful gift, especially now that we have a normal, paved drive instead of crushed clamshells. She is enjoying zooming around with all the neighbor girls.

On Saturday all of my family is coming to party down for a big St. Patrick's Day themed birthday party. We're serving all green foods including a green cake, green ice cream, sandwiches on green bagels and green punch. We'll play a rousing game of "pin the gold on the pot at the end of the rainbow" and later we will head to an Irish pub for dinner. We also plan to celebrate my brother-in-law Derek's birthday, and since he is Irish it's a great pick.

Maybe Kate would agree to go with the St. Patrick's Day theme every year. Who can beat green beer?

Monday, March 09, 2009

House Party Time

jump up

day is breaking
jump up
let's get shaking
i know you're lying down
jump up and we'll dance around...

jump up
clouds are passing
look up
the sky is laughing
i know we'll be laughing too
jump up i want to dance with you

Dan Zanes -- "Jump Up"

We here at Long Day With Short People are music snobs. When the Short People were born we vowed never to listen to the dreaded children's music, a genre we hate for it's sacchirine singing, cutesy sentiments and just plain bad musicianship. Anyone who has ever felt their eardrums bleed from listening to 25 rounds of Barney's "I love love me..." or happened upon The Wiggles will understand.

When we had our first Short Person I didn't know any children's lullabies so our girls have grown up being soothed to The Beatles "In My Life" or this lovely Tom Petty song (can't remember the name...the Short People call it "Daddy's Song) as we tuck them in bed. I will never forget India's first Mommy and Me swim class where I was the only Mommy who did not know the words to "The Wheels on the Bus". Unfortunately, I know them now. My mother, sister and I prefer to make up our own irreverent lyrics to that one... but that's another blog.

A few years ago I was pleasantly surprised to discovered Dan Zanes and Friends. A former member of the 80s band the Del Fuegos, Dan Zanes plays "family music" which is code for "music that doesn't suck". His stuff is so good that once my parents heard a couple songs and asked us to burn a copy for them, not knowing it was a CD for children. The New York Times wrote that “Zanes' kids music works because it is not kids music; it’s just music - music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even.”

So when I learned that Dan Zanes was going to appear in concert the weekend before Kate's birthday we decided that would be a fun early birthday present. We weren't disappointed. I actually think it was one of the best concerts I have heard...okay, behind Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Dave Matthews Band, the Indigo Girls with Matthew Sweet, Jethro Tull, The Allman Bros, Old Crow Medicine Show...but I truly did enjoy myself.

What made the concert so cool (besides real musical talent that included a mandolin, upright bass, banjo, saxophone and trumpet) was the laid back, inclusive vibe. Everyone was encouraged to dance in front of the stage or in the aisles (Zanes told the audience "we can either have a concert, and that's cool, or we can have a DANCE PARTY!!!!"). You can imagine who made a bee-line and landed smack-dab in front of the stage. I hope I didn't dislocate any Short Person's arm pulling them down front...

During "Catch That Train" the band convinced almost the entire audience to form a train and dance through the concert hall, out into the lobby and back in again in a giant, happy circle. They had everyone singing along, and the songs were all very cool. "Wabash Cannonball", "Walkin' The Dog", a couple of gospel tunes and even some Spanish songs. For the last number the band unplugged all their instruments and continued to play and sing as they strolled the aisles and led the entire audience into the lobby where they serenaded a girl in a wheelchair, then led us all down the hall and into a courtyard where they posed for pictures and signed autographs.


But Kate did have a homemade musical instrument made from paper plates and popcorn that she shook so hard during the concert I was afraid we would pelt our neighbors with hard corn kernels. Dan Zanes signed it for Kate and wished her a happy birthday; what a great present! I'm going to have it framed along with her ticket.
But it would be even cooler to frame the autograph along with a picture of Dan Zanes and the Short People.

Maybe next time..

Friday, March 06, 2009

This is the end
Beautiful friend

The Doors -- "The End"

The last few months have been sad ones. We had to say goodbye to the place we loved and find a new home. The Eastern Shore was a wonderful fit for us with gorgeous unspoiled water, open spaces and fabulous friends. It was the place where we found our beautiful home, and it was the place where are children were born. We lived there for over 10 years and planned on staying there forever.

But some things don't last forever, and we decided that Tracy's job needed to be one of them. The decision to move was made even more difficult by the fact that we had to keep it a secret, even from our closest friends, for almost a year. The Shore is a small, close-knit place and word travels FAST, so this huge elephant was in the room with us and we couldn't talk about it. Even in front of the Short People. Talk about a challenge! Try having a crisis and keeping it a secret even in your own home. Throw in all my health problems and the death of my beloved grandmother in October and you get one gal who just did not have much happy to discuss for the last few months. If you can't visualise my mood just ask Tracy; he'll do a fine imitation of Amy In A Snit.

So now we are in Culpeper Virginia, trading the sea for the mountains. We've been here for almost two months. Boxes are mostly unpacked, the snow is melting, and the shiny is rubbing off. In typical kid fashion the Short People are resilient and have adapted marvellously to all the changes. India loves her new school and Kate has enjoyed a brief reprieve from preschool to stay home every day with me until she starts kindergarten in the fall. India adores having her own room (can't say the same for Kate, especially when India says "I need some private time" and shuts that door) and they love being in a neighborhood. Some of the sweetest words a stressed-out mom can hear are "Can India and Kate come out to play?".

There are still some growing pains. Tracy is trying to find his way in a completely different hospital environment and is commuting 40 minutes one way. A blackberry and laptop were waiting on his desk day one, and I have never seen Tracy react with such disgust. I miss all my friends terribly. Wednesdays are days of mourning knowing that playgroup goes on without me. Honestly, though, I am enjoying a break from all of my volunteer work, and am taking the time to sit back and focus on family and health. We are renting until we can sell our house (in this market that may be a year from now), so there is no pressure to decorate, hang pictures or paint. After taking care of a large home built in 1835 with a lot of land, a new construction house with a garage, trash and recycling pickup and CLOSET SPACE is a treat. And we still have a decent yard for the Short People and the dogs, too.

The past four months haven't been all stress and mayhem; during my hiatus from blogging some wonderful things happened. My nephew, James Rowen Tyner, was born on December 14th. He is the cutest, best baby in the whole world and you'll be seeing a lot of him. We had several fabulous sendoffs, pictured here, so we could say goodbye in style. The Tooth Fairy has been a frequent flyer over our house, causing a few panicked trips to the bank for more golden dollars. India was asked to audition for the Richmond/Tidewater Ballet Nutcracker; she didn't make the cut because she was too small for the costume (she is tiny but mighty) but it was an honor to be asked. I turned 39, where I plan to remain until I die.

It's time to crawl back on the Long Day With Short People wagon. I hope you all haven't forgotten me. And I hope some of my Shore friends will join the ride. I miss you guys!

Oh, and do you know anyone who wants to buy a fabulous farm house on the Eastern Shore?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Oh, my crazy baby

Try to hold on tight
Joan Osborne -- "Crazy Baby"

Our almost 200 year old home survived the storm on Saturday just fine, with just a few limbs down and several bushels of walnuts to pick up before we can mow. The house is as right as rain, as it has been for almost 200 years. A house built to withstand the ravages of time and weather.

I can't say as much for our mental health.

On a good day the Short People are what most people politely call "busy" or "energetic"; code words for "high energy" or even "pain in the ass". They do not, I repeat, do NOT like to be at home or have to entertain themselves for long periods. My girls like to be On The Move at all times. They wake up each morning, rub the sleep from their eyes and inquire "What are we going to do today?" and woe to the parent who answers "nothing".

As an aside, this makes living on the Eastern Shore very difficult during every season but summer, and all of those activities are OUTSIDE.

So being confined to the house without the ability to play outside, combined with the very real threat that the power might go out, was more than the Short People could bear. I had, as part of our Hurricane Preparation Kit, socked away some crafts and activities but we ripped through those faster than Hannah. We even painted a birdhouse, which they completely covered in paint in 2.8 seconds and then asked for the next activity. We also had a dance party, courtesy of A & N Electric, who managed to keep us in power (thank you!) the whole day. Can you say Cupid Shuffle? What can I say, the Short People apparently like a line dance.

We also enjoyed quite a bit of dress up, as you can see. Yes, that is a tiara Tracy is wearing in the first photo. Later India modeled her very creative "Ariel" look, replete with a red scarf for hair and a mermaid's tail hanging out of her p.j.s. I know, the p.j.s are both Valentine's and Christmas; what can I say, at least they match...sort of.

In short, we weathered the storm but ended up with a nice case of cabin fever. Hurricane season isn't over yet...time to go restock the arts and crafts.

And maybe a bottle of wine or two?

Friday, September 05, 2008

I built this ship - it is my making
And furthermore my self control
I can't rely on anymore
I know why - I know why
Crazy on a ship of fools
Crazy on a ship of fools
Turn this boat around - back to my loving ground

Robert Plant -- "Ship of Fools"

Or perhaps I should I have started right off with "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...".

We decided to celebrate Labor Day with a group of our friends on Cedar Island, another of the Barrier Islands that line Virginia's Eastern Shore. Six families (13 children ranging from 12 to 2) were to meet at around 10:00 Monday to spend the day and cook lunch on the beach. We planned to push off around 3:00 so we could all return home for a leisurely evening of prepping for the first day of school on Tuesday.

Out of the six families, three of us have boats. This poses no problem; we can easily fit an extra 3-4 people in each boat. of our boat-owning families experienced a boat casualty the day before so we were down to two. Okay, no worries, we regrouped and just ran an extra shuttle trip back and forth. Within an hour we had all 25 people safely relaxing on the beach. The children were playing and swimming, the adults were exploring ( one found THIS above... we are assuming it's a whale bone) and enjoying Mary's Famous Margaritas. It was FUN.

The most enjoyable part of the trip was what the kids dubbed the "Hubba Hubba Highway". The HHH consisted of entering the water in front of our boat (braver children jumped off the side of the boat), then letting the current,which runs parallel to the Island in this spot, carry them past three boats to a designated exit spot. Even some of us adults rode the HHH. It reminded me very much of childhood tubing trips in the mountains...floating down a lazily moving current.
So relaxing.

Finally it was time for some of us to head back. Our friend John (see "Worries to the Sea" part I) ferried one family and just DID NOT RETURN. None of the guys were worried (their theory was that John was on a beer run) but after excessive nagging the wives finally convinced Tracy to go in search of John. And boy did he find him.
John was sitting on the dock, literally covered from head to foot in black marsh mud. He found John's boat a good 300 yards away, stuck in the marsh. Apparently John's steering had gone out, causing the boat to go kamakaze and catapult John into the water. This is a very, very dangerous thing. The Shore is full of stories about people who have been thrown from their boat and either hit their heads and been knocked unconscious or been sucked into the propeller and cut to ribbons. John managed to surface and push the boat away from him and into the marsh, where the engine revved at full throttle, threatening to blow. John made his way through knee deep muck, cutting his feet on oyster shells, to cut off the engine before it exploded, and then walk through this mud back to the dock. So we are down to 5 families, 11 children, and one boat.

Tracy got John into his boat and then realized that OUR boat was not running properly. Now we are down to NO BOAT, lots of tired and cranky people (and that's just the parents) who want to go home and get ready for the first day of school tomorrow, and no way to get there. Thank goodness for cell phones; Tracy called us to tell us what was happening and we found rides with other boaters. Another lovely thing about the Eastern Shore...folks are amazingly friendly and accomodating.

Once we had recovered from our boating (mis)adventures, it was off to school for the Short People. India's first day of first grade was on Tuesday, and she ran to the car at pickup time yelling "First grade is AWESOME!!!". Let's hope they work on her vocabulary a bit, but we're thrilled that she is so happy. Kate's first day of pre-K was Thursday, and she was a little "nuwvus" but seemed to enjoy herself.

Each Short Person selected their own "first day" outfits but were not allowed to accessorize. We are experiencing an accessory ban here, mostly because they broke 5 bracelets in 4 days last week. Evidently some of this happened because they were playing "pets" and using stretchy beaded bracelets as "collars". They would tie a scarf "leash" to the "collar" and pull each other along, calling each other names like "Clarabelle" and "Fluffy". Yes, school couldn't come back around soon enough around here...we clearly ran out of fun things to do and were really reaching down into the depths of our imaginations. This leash and collar design looked waaaayy too S & M and also resulted in a multitude of brightly colored and very tiny beads scattered everywhere; the vaccum and I are still finding them. The accessory ban is for the best; if I let them they would arrive at school looking like Evana Trump.

Now we are battening down the hatches for the big storm. School was on a two hour delay this morning thanks to the weather; sometimes fog rolls in from across the bay before a big storm and this is what our yard looked like at 7:00. Time to go fill up the tub, pull out the batteries and charge the cell phones. Wish us luck!