Fighting for the Hard “R”

Laura De Veau

We live in Massachusetts. Those born and bred in Massachusetts have an interesting accent. For those who have never heard it, then I would recommend watching an episode of “Cheers”, especially one where the mailman, Cliff Clavin is prominently featured.

I love living in Massachusetts. But, I grew up in New York. So, I will never shake my love of the Yankees, and I will never have a Massachusetts accent—well, except when mocking people or in a feeble attempt to impersonate the Kennedy family. While for some, the accent has a kitch-factor I really don’t want Spicy Girl to develop one. So, I’m doing my best to combat the tendency to drop the “R” that she gets just by virtue of being a local.

My in-laws have killer Massachusetts’ accents. So of course, Spicy Girl has a great deal of exposure to the dropped “R’s”. Which, of course, makes me nervous. Or, as the natives would say, “wicked nahvus.” (Read more…)

Broken Hearts, at 5

Kate Chretien

I pulled up to the school parking lot next to the playground and scanned the scene for Elise. I had to look twice before spotting her. She was crouched down low to the ground, entirely separated from the other children running around like, well, children. It struck me as odd since she’s usually the center of activity: the social butterfly, a little leader.

But here she was, digging by herself in the woodchips. Something was off.

I called her name as I strode closer. She looked up at me. Her face was streaked with dirt. There was a sadness to her, a hint of lonely. What happened?

“Ally said she wasn’t my friend anymore. She told Mrs. Jones on me.”

Ah, I was beginning to see.

I looked up to see Ally trudging glumly towards me, wearing the same tortured expression on her face. Trudging ever so slowly. “Elise said she wasn’t my friend anymore, and she doesn’t like me.”

This was a lover’s spat. (Or, a 5-year-old-BFF-spat). Sad yet so sweet at the same time. The poor things.

I assumed couples’ counselor mode and tried to bargain a peace treaty (hug).

“Hey, guys, you know you both really love each other and are good friends. I think a hug will make everyone feel better.”

Elise shot me a look and started walking the other way while Ally stood, watching her leave, pushing up her glasses with her finger.

For the next 10 minutes, I did my best to convince the two that a truce (and hug) was in order. I was operating under the same rule that couples shouldn’t go to bed mad at each other, translated into 5-year-old-girl-friendship terms: BFFs should not leave the playground mad at each other. Ally seemed willing to let bygones be bygones but my little Elise seemed to have inherited a stubborn streak. *looking around, whistling* (Read more…)

No Discipline

Becca Sanders

We have never had to discipline my son H., who is now seven.

Oh, there’s been an occasional time out and we do remind him of things he should or should not be doing: “Use your fork. Honey, use your fork. We don’t eat with our hands. No, fork. Fork. Fork. FORK!

But because of his autism, I don’t think he “gets” what boundaries are or how to push up against them. Any transgressions he makes are usually side-effects of poor impulse control – not misbehavior.

Example: every year our local elementary school holds its picnics at a park on a nearby lake. This year  I decided to accompany his class. Before we left, the teacher gave the class a list of “don’t.”

“If a ball goes in the lake, what do we do?” she asked the class.

“Leave it in the lake!”

“That’s right – stay away from the lake! And if a ball goes in the street, what do we do?”

“Ask a grown-up to get it!”

“Yes! And if a ball is snatched up by a crazy man wielding a hatchet?”

Okay, I made that one up.

Ball policies firmly in place, we headed down to the lake and made for the playground. H. has an aide with him at school at all times, and as we pushed H. in the swing we chatted about this and that. Now, H. loves the swing, but he also loves the water. He sees water, he wants in. Cold temps? Feh! No swimsuit? No problem! (Read more…)

Just What the Psychologist Ordered

Angie McCullagh

Every summer for the past few years, my friend Tricia and I have chosen a weekend in July, packed magazines, diet sodas, and lists of good restaurants and gone off together for a couple of child-free days in a nearby city.

Recently, we returned from our annual sojourn, and the decadence of two nights without putting children to bed, making meals, and quelling tantrums is still fresh in my mind—a glittering jewel among the sameness that is my normal life.

Sure, I feel guilty, strapping my husband with solo familial duty after a long week of work, but, pretty frequently, he flies to different parts of the country for his job. And, in June, I took the kids to Michigan for two weeks while he stayed home. By himself. So I think I deserve this.

And, as much as I’m enjoying the summer with Milo and Belle, the days are not all spent churning ice cream and careening down the slip and slide. They are also full of nurturing, explaining, calming, cooking, laundrying, transporting…etcetera. It’s still sickness and refereeing arguments, worrying, and sometimes pulling my hair out by its unevenly dyed roots.

Mommy needs a break, is what I’m saying.

Mommy needs something different. Something mildly adventurous. Tricia put it best during an especially fun taxi ride through downtown Portland (Read more…)

Ain’t No Sleep in Sleepover

Karrie McAllister

Every woman out there who held sleepovers at her house as a child should go to the phone, immediately, call her mother, and thank her profusely for what she did.  Because now, as mom with a daughter who likes sleepovers, I know the hard work, toil, and strength it takes to get through them.

Bottom line, you can’t sip on wine when you’ve got a house full of nine year old girls.  Sure, the thought will cross your mind a few hundred times, but in your heart of hearts, you know the right thing to do is skip the Cabernet and head straight for the caffeine.  You’ve got a long night ahead of you.

To prepare for a sleepover party, I have learned that you need to gather a few things.  First, prepare a craft that is more complicated than it should be, so that the girls end up making a mess of beads and glue and running off somewhere while you are left to complete seven authentic Native American bear claw necklaces.

Secondly, serve a meal with zero nutritional value.  Vegetables and exotic foods are strictly forbidden at sleepovers.  Put too many out and you’ll need to supply each hyperventilating girl with a paper bag filled with potato chips so she can breathe in and out and extinguish the nasty taste of vitamins in her mouth.  Play it safe: pizza and candy. (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

We did a review a while ago of dry shampoo. Here’s an alternative when you don’t have time to wash, but want to get rid of the oily-ness. Sprinkle some baking soda on your hair, comb through then quickly fluff your hair with a blow dryer. (note: You can also add a little scented baby powder to keep your hair smelling clean!)