Sunday, May 17, 2009


We spent a little over a week in Asheville, p'raps I'll get around to posting photos soon. One of the highlights was that there was music Everywhere, and Lyra loves to dance. In a highchair to rock on restaurant speakers, to muzac while in a shopping cart, to buskers, to dance floors and live music, at festivals, Everywhere. Here she is at the Fiddlin' Pig, a famous BBQ and live bluegrass joint in Asheville. After much stomping, clapping, and arm flapping, she bust out her Moonwalk:


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Like Hiking

Lyra has a fine imagination so far as pretending things goes, and it's combined with an impish sense of humor for someone who is only 1.5. Today while we were stomping along a path in the snow she fell behind and yelled "NAP!" and lay down in the path.

After several rounds when I realized this was going to be what we did rather than hiking, I realized the best solution.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Lyra's Word World

Lyra has been in her nap talking on her way to sleep. She started yelling her own name, which I've never heard her do there, so I started trying to type what she was saying. She has the book Goodnight Moon in the crib with her. "Emmy, Caru, Mama, Leeli" are friends of hers. "boocoo!" is what peekaboo sounds like to her. I think Nicky is the name of a boy in another book near her crib. This is what I got:

mommy fish mommy boy? no boy? Lee-RAH Lee-RAH! ducks? veemaga wa. Lee-RAH way-bye. Warooah. Mommy? phone? mommy? Nap. Weeohrah. No boy. Mommy? Bo? oh ow oh. Emmy! Caru! Mama! Leeli! Moon! Moon! Down. (laughing) boop boop boo. Moon? Ay moon. Bah? ba ba. baby? ring. rah. Nah. no. Num Nap! nap! nap? no. nap. wee whoa ah, wee wewe wee oh wee! wee! wee! om WEE! WEE! bash, bash. Voooo, Gooo, voooo, mommy. Oh mommy okay. No? okay. Moon? veee? moon. moon? Moo moo moon. No. Nicky. Ball. Ball? Ball. Wash? whoa, going? weep weep, ducks. wwwww-why. ducks? www-why doi doi whooo- ly, LEERAH, mommy, LEERAH LEERAH! Ah ah moo moo. Meee, up! Mee up! Buk. Bux. Caru? Mama? shu shu mee ma. lada. Whoo woo! Open! Shut! Mowey? No go. Off. Biff? no. wok wok wok. wok wok. WOK! Beep beep. Moon. Boocoo! Knock knock.

(some of the repetitions must be imagined in various pitches.)

We had lunch together after music class and she said "baby!?" when a baby meeped somewhere in the restaurant. I said "oh, did you hear a baby?" She nodded emphatically. "Mommy! baby look?" she asked, and so we went and looked at the baby. She's getting pretty close to sentences.


Friday, October 17, 2008



Friday, October 03, 2008

Babes in the Woods

There is nothing cuter than watching wee people in the forest.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Judging a Neighborhood by its Playground

I have spent a lot of time exploring the playgrounds in my city with my daughter this year. Some rules seem to apply to all of these: nannies talk to other nannies more than to parents, ethnic subgroups of nannies talk to each other before other nannies, babysitters are more likely to talk to parents than nannies, men are often looked at with suspicion by everyone (even other men), and based on things I see you should Always wash your kids hands before they eat or leave any of these parks.

However, the cultural differences at the parks seem to really well illustrate the nature of the neighborhood the park is in. While many of these you might guess by the cost of houses in the neighborhood, some are surprising. In one direction from me people almost never speak to each other at the park. In another they even apologize if their kid touches yours. In another the sandbox is like a giant ashtray full of cigarette butts. In another the donated toys are all broken beyond use and there are never other kids there. In another, the toys are so nice that its hard to believe they don't get stolen, and it's clear they get used regularly. In another it is always so busy that Lyra is just too little to hold her own. In another the young kids are there without their parents and yet give me (often sound) parenting advice and want to hold Lyra (I try to avoid this...she's 20 lbs of quicksilver).

Anyway, it occurred to me that today that whether you have kids or not you should consider spending some time closely observing the environment at the closest playground to any house you're considering buying to get some idea of some of the nuances of the neighborhood culture.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lyra, Dancing Queen

Easily one of my favorite moments from our vacation to Copenhagen and Tallinn was at an art museum in Copenhagen on our last day. Lyra had been spazzing around the museum looking at sculptures and keeping a running commentary. She was a bit over-tired and extra silly. We passed by a cordoned-off area where a curtain separated us from a classical music concert and tried to hurry Lyra along so she didn't choose that location to start shrieking. Instead, she stopped, tipped her head and listened to the music for a moment and then started doing a wild interpretive dance that drew several appreciative onlookers. It's hard to happen to have a video camera in your hand the moments she dances, so here's just a little example. It does capture one of her habits of noticing some part of her is dancing (her hand at one point) and then going with it.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Danish Heritage

Lyra has a bit of Danish heritage. Her late grandmother was a Nye, and she is an Ericson as well, and fit in rather well in Scandinavia, to the point that tourists took her pictures about six times while we were in Copenhagen, sometimes holding their cameras at arm's length to take themselves in the picture with her. I think all of these times were while I had her on the bike. (I did own up to not being native when the tourists spoke English, but they still seemed equally charmed by her. As well they should.)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Camp

The most constant place in my life is about to go away and I have some questions.

It’s camp. Like many New Englanders I grew up “going up to the camp” – a cabin my grandfather built on a lake in New Hampshire in the 40s when all around were woods and the lake was full of fish and loons. My grandmother washed out her pots on the edge of the lake. My uncle, a little kid at the time, signed the cement cornerstone with a stick.

My dad grew up going there and playing with the people next door. I grew up going there and playing with the next generation next door. I just had a kid and she will do many wonderful things in her life, but probably won’t know the camp or the wonderfully creative and smart kids of the next generation swimming next door.

Our camp is a two bedroom camping cabin with a gas tank and electricity. It pumps water in from the lake and has a dubious septic system now, though I grew up trekking to an outhouse there. It has very little land. From the lake it looks a bit shabby next to many of the updated homes. But you can see it so well because it is right on the lake. And as a result of this fact alone it has been assessed at a price similar to say, an entire real house in a fairly wealthy suburb of Boston. I own in Cambridge and my house is worth less. My taxes are also a third of the ones on the camp. In the CITY. In Taxachusetts.

None of us can really afford or even justify this. I could take my kid swimming around the world yearly for the taxes on the camp alone. Basically, because not all the owners are involved financially or otherwise (I am not one), it just can’t easily be kept. It’s looking like someone who wants to build their McMansion on the lake will end up with our camp.

And maybe that’s better than someone just moving into our camp in some ways. I mean how could there be a stranger in OUR CAMP? Would they know my Grammie’s ghost is still there drinking tea out of a stained blue tea cup, chuckling and doing crossword puzzles? Will they know all the places to row a boat and swim or to find bird’s nests or blueberries? Would they know every rock between there and the next door camp and have names for them? Would they know how to time it right to get stuck next door playing cards during a big storm? Would their kids learn to swim, to spit watermelon seeds, canoe, kayak, sail, windsurf, chase beavers, imitate loons, rescue baby birds, find pet rocks, bike into town there?

Will they have any nostalgia for the stationery and gift store that once sold penny candy? Will they know that the restaurant on the way into town or on the dock is NOT Bailey's? Will their kid have a favorite flavor of ice cream from Not Bailey’s? Will they remember when the old town railroad station was a movie theater? Will they know what it meant to take Grammie there to see On Golden Pond? Will they have to get drinking water in town and will their dad know every single free spigot in ten miles because he refuses to pay for water?

Will their dog fall in the water barking at ducks or off the prow of the canoe? Will they have a “you catch it, you clean it” rule for fish? Will they know the legend of Sandy Claws? Will Sharky read them stories in the cove? Will they always swamp the canoe on purpose and paddle it around partially submerged or underneath it bellowing “Yellow Submarine”? Will they get to know their cousin by meeting up there for silliness and snacks? Will they have huge treasure hunts or water fights with the family next door? Do they know the secrets to seeing the fireworks on the 4th without being stuck in crowds? Will their dad present firework shows on the dock?

Will they come back as a young adult with boyfriends? Will they climb the tiny mountain at the top of the road? Will they bike all around the woods and hills and keep a map charting the trails biked and where they go on a topo map on the wall? Will they come up alone and write poetry and sing and put a gas lantern on the dock while they canoe out to the middle of the lake and watch the tree shadows rush toward them as the moon is eclipsed? Will they come as an adult and stay by the lake and write a sample chapter of a book about cabins that causes it to get published?

Sort of. I guess, like Lyra they’ll have their own version of all of this, even if it involves ATVs, JetSkis, and some place where they can’t really afford to park their Romney-stickered SUVs. But no matter what…they’d better be pretty incredibly cool to the neighbors. They’ve been my friends since before I could talk. The heads of that family sat with me at my wedding. This is going to alter their camp too.

Live Free or Die is the NH motto. I guess that covers taxing your house to death since it sure ain't free. I used to dream about moving to the Yukon, having a kid who played in the elements. Meanwhile most of my fun adventure friends moved away, my hiking friends died and moved away or got busy, my kayaking has been curtailed by having a kid, the camp is going away.

Even though I didn't make it up there much in recent years I wish it wouldn't have to go. It's just pointing out even more to me that it isn't the place it was when I was a kid. People have built houses along the dirt road and discovered the public access at the cove. The road actually has a street sign now. It's been Google-mapped. People have too many boats on the lake. And it's also somehow pointing out that here at home there are no woods within 20 minutes of my house, no clean beaches for more, and though I tricked out my mt. bike as a city street, baby-carrying machine I keep being afraid to take her on the crazy streets here.

Sometimes this all just hits me and I feel like I just woke up blinking to find I’m standing around with my kid on a cement slab while my husband works in a cubicle a few blocks away and my mom and a number of my friends are dead or gone. This isn’t how I pictured things, and so it is such extra work to make things change.

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