One hour a day, for one more year. Making make-believe a priority.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dogs v. Kids

Today a friend and I took our girls to OB after school...with their giant dog (the breed escapes me), Jake. OB's main draw for some people is the beach reserved for dogs at the north end of the neighborhood. As a non-dog owner, I haven't been to Dog Beach in years...even though it is really just on the other side of the jetty from People Beach.

Playing with the kids and the dogs today, it struck me suddenly that kids and dogs really are pretty much the same thing. They'll both approach any other kid/dog, no matter what shape or size, and try to make friends. (Though some are more prickly or reserved than others.) Arguments are usually fought out in a matter of seconds, and they're usually over some stupid toy. They are both fascinated by poop, and they rarely obey. Neither kids nor dogs leave the beach willingly, and, when they finally do, they both manage to fill the car with bucket loads of sand.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Finding Uranus (tee-hee-hee)

So the girls were in this Mad Science after-school program this year, and one (of many) goodies they got to bring home were these cardboard blocks with a quarter of a planet (or the sun) on each side.

The idea is to match them up and make Mars, Saturn, the Earth etc... Yesterday Esmee asked me to play with her, and (you'll be glad to know) I obliged. We actually had more fun mixing them up: The Smoon, Marturn, the Plun. Then we decided to hide them (like Easter eggs) and find them. It was a blast. "I found Uranus!" Luckily, the girls are young enough not to get Mommy's juvenile (not to mention tired) bathroom humor. Grow up, Mommy, right??

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Don't Wanna Play!

Okay...this was bound to happen, and it pains me to admit it, but I seem to have fallen off the little red play wagon. For the last couple of days I have been terrible about making the time to play. I won't make excuses, because they'd all be lame. I'll simply say, I haven't been feeling very playful...due to lots of things, both in and out of my control.

This morning I volunteered in E's classroom. And there is a little boy who has been problematic all year who was in rare form this morning. He hates school, wails like an animal when his mother (angrily) drops him off, rattles the fence like a prisoner, and then proceeds to sulk and mope throughout the classroom, crawling under the desks and causing general mayhem. The teacher's patience is wearing thin. By the end of the morning, mine was gone. After I firmly asked that he stop disrupting the other children and sit down and cut and paste already, he looked at me like I was an idiot. He wasn't going to play by anybody's rules. Not his mother's, not the teacher's, and certainly not some lowly volunteer's. He was pissed about everything: the colored pencils, the snack bin, the other kids.

It took me all day to realize (and accept), that he and I are not so different. But I'm forty, not five, and so instead of crawling under a desk, I've been crawling into the safe quiet of my office. The house is a disaster, we are out of groceries, and the shirt Kicky needs to wear on her field trip tomorrow is filthy. I think I just had a mommy overload this week, and refusing to play has been my way of lashing out. Granted, it doesn't make it right, it just makes it make sense.

I owe the girls at least two or three hours. I promise I'll jump back on that Radio Flyer tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Toys Post-Script

Just found this. We didn't get sugar cereal in our house. Ever. I would have killed for some Freakies. And wouldn't you know, those Freakies toys are collectibles now.


There are few things that I am as sentimental about as the toys I played with as a kid. Fortunately, I have parents who are equally nostalgic, and as a result, many of my toys have survived. They kept my Sunshine Family Dolls,

my Wizard of Oz Dolls,

the doll house my grandfather made, my favorite sock monkey, George, as well as my beloved Sasha doll.

I have such strong memories associated with each of these toys; I am practically transported back to my childhood simply by holding one of them. And for the lost toys, I have spent hours on ebay searching: for the Freakies Cereal plastic figurines I coveted, the Fisher price farm whose door moo-ed when you opened it, and for the "lemon twist" contraption I spun around my ankle in the summertime.

Ever since starting this project, I have begun to look at my girls' toys differently. For one thing, they LOVE the Littlest Pet Shop creatures. Until now, I have tolerated those bug-eyed bobble headed critters in the same way I suffer the Polly Pockets, the Cabbage Patch kids, and all of the assorted noisy accoutrements to their respective babyhoods. But yesterday, I sat down with the girls and played with the Littlest Pet Shop puppies and snails and frogs and, for the first time, I saw the allure. For one thing, they have tiny little things that belong to each of them: lemonade stands, and tiny houses, even a miniature dance floor replete with a disco ball. The girls have given them each a name and a personality. And it struck me yesterday, I would have LOVED these ridiculous little things as a kid.

I guess now I am responsible for insuring that they too survive the rigors of my kids' play...and wind up in their mailboxes thirty years from now, preserved and ready to elicit all sorts of sweet memories.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Home Sick with Flip

I don't get enough alone time with either one of the girls. They really are like flip-flops...they come in a pair. But the last two days Esmee was super sick with a bug, and so she stayed home with me. After I got over the fact that I would get no work done while she was here, I decided to take advantage of my Esmee time. We played Sorry, watched movies, and yesterday we made chocolate chip cookies. The coolest thing about spending time with the girls individually is getting to see what they are like alone. Just the Flip or the Flop. Esmee is very funny. She has an incredible sense of humor. She's also affectionate and smart. It's hard to see that when she is swallowed by the shadow that is Kicky.

However, the sweetest moment of the last two days had to be when, while licking the batter off the beater, Esmee said, "I wish Kicky was here. She'd like this."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Painted Ladies on Stilts

I love the Ocean Beach Farmer's Market. And it seems like lately it's been drawing more and more "talent" in addition to the fabulous food and requisite beach freaks. Today there were at least five musicians playing various instruments, staggered in alternating shop doorways. There was also a man painted completely silver whose bucket said that if you paid him he'd dance...however, bucket empty, he was as still as the paralyzed Tin Man until Dorothy gave him some oil. My personal favorite was this white painted lady on stilts. Esmee didn't know she was real. She gave Kicky a beautiful rhinestone ribbon.

She looked a little like I imagine The Tooth Fairy might look...the same Tooth Fairy who had to visit TWICE this week already. (I'm starting to think Kicky is yanking her teeth out for the cash.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

When I was a little girl, my mother always, always took time to play with me. She made all of my clothes and toys (most of which she saved for me to share with my own children -- before I even had any plans to have children). She was the queen of craft projects and always let me use grown-up things like scissors and knitting needles and sewing machines. We used to sing in her pickup truck together at the tops of our lungs (sipping on Tab and eating Cheetos). She let me stir the batter and knead the dough and when I put on a show in the front yard, she always had a quarter for admission. I love you, Mom...and thank you for teaching me how to play.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mamma Mia

I know I said that watching TV with the girls doesn't count as quality playtime, but I make the rules so I am allowed to break them, right?

Tonight Patrick had a gallery opening to go to, so after eating breakfast for dinner, the girls and I plopped ourselves down on the couch and started flipping through the channels. Both of them squealed with delight when I found "Mamma Mia." The first time we watched this together was last summer in Vermont with my mom. And we all fell in love. My mom wanted to be Meryl Streep. I wanted to be Meryl Streep. And seven year old Kicky could see herself in Sophie; declaring that someday she's going to live in Greece and have long hair just like hers. So tonight we watched it again, and we danced to all the Abba songs across the living room floor. And when this scene came on, I cried.

It was eight and a half years ago that I became a mom. And those years really have slipped through my fingers.

Hold on tight.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Sometimes the best thing about playing a game is learning something new about your kids. Esmee, acting as a kangaroo last night, hopped and then gently patted the head of something in her pouch. "That's my Joey," she said. Who knew she knew the name for a baby kangaroo?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rockin' the Three-Legged Race

This project has really made me think hard about my tendencies and annoying quirks. Today I was forced to face another one. I am, and always have been, a wallflower. I would much rather observe than participate. At parties, I'm the one on the couch watching people and eavesdropping on conversations. At events, I am the photographer, the one on the sidelines. It's part shyness, part laziness, and part just-who-I-am. And so today, at our friends' three-year-old's birthday party my first instinct was to reach for my camera at the announcement of the three-legged race. But guess what? I am 100% committed to playing...even if it is absolutely contrary to my nature. And you know what? Kicky and I rocked! We won our heat by a full lap. I was exhausted at the end and am thinking maybe I need to exercise more...but it was great. I even tossed a water balloon later. And, I threw some crazy thing that looks like a cross between a football and a dart. Wow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Warhol Meets Marie Curie

We've been busy here lately...but still trying to keep up the rigorous play schedule. Today was a day at the beach...buried Kick to her neck, and she's now filling the bathtub with about six pounds of sand she brought home in her bathing suit.

The other night I did something I hadn't done in awhile. Kicky had drawn a picture...titled "Science Lab"...and I offered to help know like one of Warhol's Factory workers. And it was great. I'd forgotten the sort of calm that comes with coloring...especially when you're just coloring inside someone else's lines. (Yes...I'm an inside-the-line kind of colorer -- surprise!) But look how amazing our collaboration wound up.

And news flash from the tub -- and I quote --- "We're playing a game called Destructive Meanings." I'm not even going to ask.