Saturday, January 30, 2010

moments of unexpected joy!

Cross-country skiers are a unique bunch of people! I spent the day with my second daughter, Claire, at a NH series ski meet in the White Mountains. Gathering such a number of skiers (500 or so) together creates a great, goofy community. We saw a team playing a silly miming game in the middle of the gymnasium with dozens of other teams milling around. Another team celebrated a birthday in the caffeteria with loud singing, a tiny cake and a giant steak knife. (I'm not sure if the knife was intended to use on the cake or the teammates? It didn't look like the kid had decided yet....) The ski outfits range from colorful to... flamboyant. Our own team has holstein print spandex. Everywhere we went, the teams and skiers were full of slapstick humour and a robust sense of fun!

There is something exhilerating about hanging out with a bunch of people who are not afraid of 9 degree weather and a bit of snow. Kids and parents alike donned layers upon layers of outer wear and headed out to enjoy the near-perfect conditions. The kids zipped around gracefully (or wobbled precariously) on their skis. But, graceful or tripping over themselves, skiers don't tend to take themselves too seriously! And, out on the course, bystanders cheer nearly as loudly for the competing teams as for their own teammates. There is a wholesome feeling among skiers.

An unanticipated moment of joy sums the day up for me. Teammates leaving at the same time that we were pulled up beside us. It was a beautiful day and Mt. Washington was in the background. There was a sudden flurry of kids. They hopped out of the two vehicles, jostled each other around in the snow, held skis victoriously in the air, climbed snowbanks and generally hammed it up for a series of impromto team photos. Then the kids grabbed the cameras while the parents joined in the goofiness.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A comedy of cats and dogs...

It's been a wild weekend.... Just to set the stage leading up to Sunday night, our eighth-grader brought home her health class assignment, an electronic baby, on Friday. Friday night, the electronic baby was up every hour and a half. I was up every hour and a half with *my* baby who was panicking, afraid she was going to fail health class. Saturday morning, Addie, a very cute but exciteable dog that we are pet-sitting arrived. The afternoon was spent bowling with the acolytes then attempting to watch a concert that our oldest daughter was in. The electronic baby had other ideas.... Sunday, we rushed off late to church. Have I mentioned the electronic baby schedule? After church, Claire (the 8th-grader) had a friend over. Add one *more* electronic baby. Shannon (our youngest) lost a loose tooth Sunday afternoon; always a traumatic ordeal for her as she cries because the tooth is dangling by a thread but she doesn't want anyones fingers in her mouth. Our dog-on-loan spent the afternoon Sunday wedging herself between my knees and barking at every noise. Unless there was a glimpse of a cat. Then there would be a romping chase complete with barking, hissing, and spitting.

Sunday night arrives. The cats take shelter in the girls bedrooms far under the beds. The friend and extra baby go home. Claire's baby goes into a quiet schedule for a while. Addie and our dog sack out watching football with Don. And ice starts falling from the sky. Ahhhh! The perfect excuse to curl up with the girls and watch a movie we've been trying to find time to see.

All goes deceptively well until the girls go upstairs for bed. "Mom! One of the cats peed on my bed!" Right through two quilts. So... eleven-o-clock finds quilts churning in the washer and Don and I taking turns babysitting two cats and a dog in the bathroom enforcing a "get-used-to-each-other" approach. On one of my trips out of the bathroom, I discover that the tooth is *not* under the pillow. I also realize that with about a week's worth of work to go on the book proposal and a cat ignoring litterbox ettiquette, I need to remove all the quilts for the book from the house. When the enforced "time-in" for the animals ends, a big, hairy tooth fairy with a five-o-clock-shadow and a flashlight heads into the 10-year-old's room to look for a tooth while I start skating repeatedly across the driveway carrying armloads of quilts.

Just another quiet night at the Brown house....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The latest "favorite game" at our house is Bananagrams. We're a little unorthodox around here, though. Those little tiles are just so addicting that we can't keep our hands off each others letters! It's common for a passing hand to reach over someone's shoulder to rearrange letters. Or for multiple suggestions to be shouted out for a player struggling with an unusual collection of letters. Laps are a vehicle to hone in on someone's letters (invited or not).

A whole sub-set of moves exists in the Brown family home. There are defensive moves like the "right-hand-up-elbow-out-shoulder-dodge-to-the-right" to block the hand reaching over the shoulder. Or the "hunch-over-elbow-guard-left-hand-shielding-the-letters-from-view." There are also offensive moves used by non-players to sneak into the game. If the objections of a player are not vociferous enough, there is the "chair-wedge" where a few letters rearranged becomes pulling up a chair which gets scrunched closer and closer to play until the original player becomes elbowed to the side. Or the "over-the-shoulder-two-hander" where hands emerge simultaneously from both sides of a player's head and steal letters from the puzzle to spell out some unusual car part. (My husband, Don, is the only one tall enough to perfect this move.)

We have cooperative moves, too. All players will neglect their own letters if someone is struggling with a bizarre combination of tiles. The youngest kids will man the dictionary during fast-paced games, checking to see if "nee" is actually a word (it is) or if "dissect" has one or two s's (two). We've been known to trade letters. We accept words from either dictionary ("qanat," a canal system used in the middle east is in one but not the other). And at the end of a game, we collectively finish all puzzles and remark on all the outstanding words. Shannon, age 10, used "dragon," "jess" (a leash for a falcon), "oxen," "zygote," and "lint" in a game yesterday!

Soooo... what does Bananagrams have to do with blogging? Don peeked over my shoulder the other day as I was setting up the blog and got very excited, "kwilting is NOT a Bananagrams word!"

Darn... I'll have to check the other dictionary!