21 August 2009

Friday's Lessons Learned: Back-to-school edition

Camp (both the Y camp and tennis camp) are over, our end of summer trip to Cape Cod is complete, so that can only mean one thing...it is time to get ready for back-to-school. So, these are my back-to-school prep bullets:

  • Zoe is still at the age where going back to school is exciting. She starts second grade this year. Despite my love for summer, after a week of no camp or babysitting, I can't help feeling a bit like this:

  • The more backpack choices there are, the harder it is to choose. We went to 3 stores and probably 5 websites before Zoe settled on what is probably one of the most boring options out there. I didn't fight too hard on this one as I was just glad I didn't have to have the same argument as last year because that L.L. Bean backpack barely made it through the summer.

  • Somehow I knew acid wash jean would be making a come back and here they are! You'll note the site called them "tie-dyed" but having just seen them (and purchased them) I can tell you they are pretty much acid wash. I did love my acid wash jeans so I couldn't blame Zoe for wanting a pair.

  • Speaking of pants, I never, in one million years, would have picked out these pants for my daughter. But she picked them out for herself and insists that she is going to wear them so much that I will have to wash them at least once a week. I still have doubts.

  • Buying school supplies (notebooks, folders, pens, etc.) is still so much fun. There is so much promise in those fresh supplies. Besides my laptop I only need a notebook and a pen for my own work supplies these days and I miss all the other stuff.

  • The bulk of Zoe's summer reading has been done in the last couple of weeks. Do you think that is as effective as reading consistently all summer? Or is it another Bad Mommy moment?

  • Every once in awhile I think that I would like to go back to school and then I try to imagine where I would find the time for homework.

20 August 2009

Cape Cod weekend

Last weekend I had the great fortune of visiting family on Cape Cod. We had perfect weather and a really nice time on the beach, buying tacky souvenirs, exploring Provincetown, and eating ice cream. As always seems to be the case on the Cape, I got some fun photos which I, of course, am about to share:

This is Zoe with my niece and nephew. I think this shot sums each of them up pretty well.

And speaking of shots that exemplify someone's personality, I think this one is even better of Zoe. I have titled this picture "Fang" because there is something about that toothless yet maniacal grin on her face.

While we were at the beach I noticed the incredible shadows hitting the ground in front of me so I decided to try and capture them. First attempt is here:

And then my brother decided to "help" with my experiment. Brothers are good like that.

Finally a bit of inspiration struck for this shot which I like to call "Venus de Shadow":

Of course there are lots of beautiful things to take pictures of on the Cape so I have a camera full, but a few of my favorites are this:

And this:

This picture also makes me thing of that Lyle Lovett song..."If I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean..."

And most especially this:

Have you seen this? This is why you're fat

Nope, it is not a dieting site. This is why you're fat is kind of an anti-dieting site actually because it features amazingly fattening foods. In truth a lot of these pictures really turned my stomach, but one or two looked pretty good! Incredible the food combos that people come up with. Plus you can submit your own photo.

19 August 2009

Serious School Supplies

I took Zoe shopping for her back-to-school supplies this afternoon. When we thought we had everything on the list in our basket we were going through it to make sure. Zoe was reading the list and I was locating the items.

At the end of the list she asked, "No crayons?"

I scanned the list and confirmed, "Nope, no crayons."

"Wow, that is serious."

11 August 2009

Dog Years

I just finished reading "Dog Years" by Mark Doty. To be honest, I bought this book from the bargain table at Barnes & Noble a couple of months ago mainly because I liked the picture of the dogs on the cover and I may have recently watched the movie of "Marley & Me" so I was susceptible to dog stories. However, my expectations weren't high and I anticipated a light, perhaps somewhat maudlin read when I picked it off my shelf last week.

On the contrary, I was completely blown away by this book. Sadly, I am not a talented enough book reviewer to explain why, but I can say that the writing is truly gorgeous and while the subject is rather sentimental it is unbelievably well handled with both tenderness and honesty. Even though you know what happens in this story throughout, the telling is so wonderful that I wished it wouldn't end. Tears fell from my eyes on more than one occasion while reading. Tears for the story, tears for Rob and Spanky, and tears for Chief -- for the love I have for him now as well as the inevitable. It is actually a beautiful love story.

Mark Doty is a poet and that skill is evident throughout this book. Much of the prose is wonderfully poetic in its styling and phrasing. There are also lots of Emily Dickinson quotes as well as others (my favorite is from "The House Dog's Grave").

Even if you prefer cats, I suggest you give this book a read.

10 August 2009

Friday's Lessons Learned: On Monday

I seem to be having trouble getting back into the swing of my Friday bullet points, but I still like them so rather than skip them for another week, I've decided to just post them on Monday instead. It is my blog after all so it looks like I can change the rules whenever I want. It is the only place in my life where that is true, so please don't complain much.

Anyway, bullets...

  • I really love summer. Now that it finally feels like summer around these parts, I have been quite happy. I like not having to worry about jackets or even sweaters. I like the beach, I like the pool, I like cook-outs and ice cream trucks. Summer is good.
  • I really love fall clothes. Despite my enjoyment of the summer weather (see above) I've equally been enjoying the catalogs arriving with fall clothes and the early fall collections that have hit the stores. Unlike buying sandals in March which is just a terrible tease, I don't mind buying fall clothes early. They are probably the only good part about the weather getting cooler. OK, the leaves are nice too.
  • Zoe is slowly turning back into a girl. At least a little bit. She has been wearing more of her clothes from the girls department lately. This weekend she wore French braids in her hair. The other day she asked me to help her pick out an outfit that was "cute" and this morning she asked for sneakers that weren't boy's as her current pair are. Of course the current pair are only a few weeks old, but I said yes, she could have a second pair. They are shoes, after all.
  • I heard on the news early last week that we had just hit the mid-way point of summer. Is that really true? I guess I always think of summer ending when school starts, but really it continues until September 20. In the spirit of extending summer to its true length I've decided we're keeping our pool open until at least the last day of summer and at least once we're going to crank the heater on a day when it really is too cold to swim.
  • Chief has a new habit of sleeping on my clothes or shoes. I usually put my dirty clothes on the floor by the door of my bedroom to be brought to the hamper in the morning. Now those clothes are usually covered in dog hair every morning. If I don't leave any clothes he will sleep on my shoes and worst-case scenario he goes over to Rob's side of the bed where there's always some clothes on the floor (ahem!) and sleeps on those.
  • Sometimes when I buy something for Zoe that I think she will really like, she doesn't and I am disappointed so it was with trepidation that I bought her a copy of one of my favorite books from my childhood, "Little House in the Big Woods." (BTW, I bought this book on the quest you can read about here and here.) Her initial reaction was to turn her nose up a bit, but when I offered to lie in her bed and read it to her at bed time, she figured it was worth a shot. I am so happy to report that she just loves it. I've decided to read the entire book to her so we've been having lots of fun bedtimes lately. It does my heart good to see her loving this book.
  • On the flip side of that, sometime last year I bought Zoe a color book called "Scribbles" which is unique because it is not just a color in the lines book. The pages have parts of drawings with directions like "Its a beautiful day today: draw a bright sunny sky," or "this is a leopard...draw its spots." Great idea, right? Zoe wouldn't touch it. Just last week we had some house guests who brought Zoe a very similar book called "The Girls Doodle Book." It is the same idea, but this time she loves it. She takes this book with her everywhere. I am happy to see her enjoying it, but do feel like telling "I told you so!"

06 August 2009

The Summer of Cartwheels

It seems like ever since the local Memorial Day parade, Zoe has been doing non-stop cartwheels. She cartwheeled the entire parade route that day (and wondered why her arms hurt the next day) and has since gotten addicted. She cartwheels in the house, at the bus stop, off the diving board, in the pool, on the sidewalks of NYC -- just about anywhere she can find the space. Lately she's been working on one-handed an no-handed cartwheels as well.

Even though I know I did it too, I can't remember ever enjoying throwing my body around the way she does. I wasn't a cartwheel addict, but I did like rolling down hills, running races, trampoline jumping and just about any kind of jumping or diving off a diving board. These days I would be hard-pressed to do any of the above. Trampoline jumping is still fun, but you can pretty much keep the rest.

When does that change happen in our physical selves? Maybe it never happens for some people, but I think it does for most. Somewhere along the line we stop enjoying the playground and cartwheels and trampolines. Maybe it gets to dangerous or painful or maybe we get too lazy. I don't know. But I do know that I love to watch Zoe and her joy in cartwheels.

03 August 2009

Have you seen this? Mad Men Yourself

If you're a fan of teh show Mad Men then you've got to give this a try. On the AMC site you can "Mad Men" yourself!

I had so much fun with this, but I couldn't decide if I would be one of the office girls (that's me in red) ...

Or if I was more of a stay-at-home Mom ...