Showing posts from January, 2012

Making giant memories

There is something to be said for memorable vacations.  I’m not talking about the kind where everything goes as planned and you have perfect family photos in matching outfits on the beach and when people ask how your trip was you simply say, “it was very nice.” I’m talking about the OTHER kind of memorable.  The kind where, if someone asks about your trip you bust a gut.  I’m talking about the kind where, years down the road when my kids tell their own kids about their vacation, they don’t remember the things that all went routinely but can recall, with detail, the quirky things that made those days away special.   Because for me, that’s what vacation is.  It’s a step out of your normal life, into a pretend time where there’s a tiny coffee maker in your bathroom and someone gives you clean towels.  It’s a time where you roll your eyes at laundry and don’t do any cooking but think it’s perfectly fine to eat a can of Pringles for lunch.  It’s a time when you focus more on the livin

The happiest place on earth, if you can get there

Years ago when our first daughter started in her princess phase, I put my glass-slippered foot down, right then and there.  I told my husband and anyone else who would listen, “I refuse to take our children to Disneyworld until they can walk the whole park because strollers irritate me up to here and I’m not parking it out in the middle of nowhere when we all have to go to the bathroom at the same time.” And pretty much I started training them all since day one, forcing them to take long walks through the woods or around the block.  It wasn’t so much because I was yearning to take them to Disneyworld, but more because I knew that there would at some point be a window of magic and fantasy for all of them at the same time.  Before the oldest got too old, and when the youngest was not too young, we had to be ready and raring to go. Not only that, but having talked to friends, I was just downright scared to try to book a Disney vacation.  “People write entire books on this stuff,” I

Resolving to remember potato chips

My mom has been hobbling around on her bum knee for years.  If the weather was colder or if she spent an exceptionally long day chasing after grandkids, it was pretty obvious in the cockeyed shuffle she perfected.  But enough had finally been enough, and she recently went in for knee replacement surgery. The procedure itself went well.  Her recovery in the hospital was as it should be, long, painful physical therapy, and mediocre (at best) food.  None of this was new to her, because she had her other knee replaced just a few years ago so she knew exactly what she was getting herself into. On her third day in the hospital, I went to visit her for the first time since the operation.  I walked in and when our eyes met, I immediately saw that quiver in her chin, that automatic response that somehow keeps our eyes from turning into water faucets.  No mother ever wants to break down in front of her children.  We instinctively want them to always see us as strong, unbreakable, and the

Four and twenty thousand blackbirds (giant flocks...what gives?)

It is said that there is power in numbers, but nothing can compare to the numbers of the massive swarms of birds that swirl around us when the weather starts to turn colder.   If you’ve seen them, you’ve stopped and stared.  Chances are you may have even counted one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, etc to see how long the train of blackbirds lasted, and most definitely you’ve marveled at how fluid and graceful such a group could be.  (Until they land in your yard, that is.) Such an impressive act of nature deserves a moment of your time, I think, and what makes it even better is to know a little bit about what you’re looking at. As it turns out, they aren’t all blackbirds.  Well, they’re all black birds, but in fact a few species are usually involved in the dark streaks of night moving through the early winter sky.  Brown-headed cowbirds, common grackles, European starlings, and even red-winged blackbirds all join together while making their migratory journey towards warmer