Author Archives: powerskirstin

Where good intentions come to die.

The tagline of this blog (see title above) was chosen for a reason.

At the end of last school year, I made it a goal of mine to get the kids out hiking a bunch this summer. The woods are such a magical and sacred place; I have so many fond memories of hiking alone as a twenty-something and just being at home there. I love the smells of the earth, the quiet and isolation, the views that can be enjoyed when you decide to hike up a trail as opposed to just along one, and the way your muscles engage with every step and make you feel all powerful.

Well, want to know how many times we hiked this summer? Once. And that was today, the day before back-to-school. I am really cutting it close, huh? I always make all these grand plans, yet rarely do I follow through on any of them. This just happens to be my way.

I took the girls to Devil’s Hopyard State Park to hike a trail I did with some fourth graders  on a field trip this past spring. I knew it was going to be a challenge for them and it was. In the best possible way. Almost right away, the trail became pretty steep and Frances slipped and fell on a wet boulder. She slid down the rock a way and got a little banged up. She started to cry because I think it scared her (and me!), and also because she’s a pretty big wimp. To her credit, she did not ask to cover up her dirty/scraped leg with a towel, which she sometimes does, just so she doesn’t have to look at it and be reminded she is injured, no matter how slight. She got up, brushed off, and firmly reached out for my hand, which she held tightly for most of the rest of the climb, letting go only on the flat parts, where there were few rocks and roots.

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Nora was much more sure-footed. She took to the hill confidently, saying every few minutes, “This is really fun.” I was impressed and surprised with how well she did given that any time she’s ever attempted some kind of athletic endeavor—except for bike riding, which she seems to excel at—she flubs, leaving me wondering how two parents who were both three-sport athletes could’ve given birth to such an awkward and clumsy child.

The highlight of the hike on the way up was some felled trees that made a bridge across a small creek. The girls thought it was pretty cool they had to maneuver across and keep their balance to get to the other side, without falling in the water. Frances held tight to my hand on the way up, but rocked it like a pro going solo across on the way back down.

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At the top of the trail, as we were nearing the vista, Frances yelled, “Wow! I can see it! Look at all those trees!” This was the reason I had chosen this particular hike. I admired the view too when I had seen it, and thought the girls would be impressed. When we reached the clearing of the tree line, we came upon a young couple. The woman had been crying and was trying to wipe away her tears. I glanced with some concern at her quickly and then had the girls sit near the edge to take in the view and enjoy the trail mix I had made them. I turned around to look at the couple again and noticed the ring on the young woman’s finger.

I called to them, “Did you just get engaged?!”

They admitted they had, and I told them we were sorry for having interrupted their moment. Ha! I’m glad it had already happened and that we hadn’t come upon them sooner in the middle of the act! I offered to take their picture, and they returned the favor.

When we got back to the parking lot and our car, we decided to hike to another spot to see the falls. The girls were super impressed by the sight of these too and the turtle they spied sunning itself on a nearby rock.

On they way back to the car, we passed by a large creek. Nora, ever the explorer (not to be confused with her rhyming namesake, Dora), wanted to wade in and look for creatures. I let the girls take off their socks and shoes to wade around in the water, which soon turned into an underwear-only swim party. It was the highlight of the morning.

When we were driving away from the park I thanked the girls for spending such a special time with me doing something I love. I told them that I had had so much fun.

Frances said, “Well, I didn’t think it was really that much fun. It was so hot, I was sweating so much, and I was just exhausted coming down. And the bugs were getting me and the grass was too high sometimes. And I did fall on that rock, remember?”

Yeah, yeah. Well, it was fun for me. And we do get to cross off hiking on the unofficial summer bucket-list.

And now I can make grand plans to add some more hiking into this upcoming fall season, and then fail to actually make it happen. Because that is just my way. 🙂

 

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I wanna hold your ha-ah-ah-ah-and. I wanna hold your hand.

There is full-on Beatlemania in our house right now. It’s been the soundtrack to the second half of our summer, along with Rowan’s variations of the lyrics to the ditty commonly known as “Do you know the Muffin Man?” For example: Do you know the Ice Cream Man? The one who lives on Sprinkles Lane, of course. And then there’s: Do you know the Motorcycle Man? He happens to live on Muffin Man Lane. And finally, the ever popular Golf Man, who sometimes, like the Muffin Man, lives on Drury Lane, or when Rowan has difficulty pronouncing that—Journey Lane.

Our Beatlemania began when I picked up a Kidz Bop Beatles cover songs CD at the local library. The girls recognized two right away—Blackbird and Let it Be—since Liam had included them on a past playlist of bedtime songs. We listened to the CD nonstop in the car for two weeks. Nora wanted us to skip around to all her favorites, while Rowan wanted to listen to one specific song only on repeat, and Frances demanded to hear every song, without skipping, as she emphatically stated she loved them all.

When we are not in the car, the kids are either humming or singing Beatles tunes, or asking for them to be played on the various devices around the house. When I mentioned their Beatles love to a good friend recently, she told me about an animated kids’ show on Netflix called Beat Bugs, which includes Beatles songs in each episode. Naturally, they are addicted to that now too.

I’m excited for them to hang out with my mom in a couple of weeks when she comes to visit, so they can serenade her and she can sing along. I love that they love music that reminds so much of my mom. And I love that they love music that is timeless and just so, so good.

Nora’s favorite: Let it Be

Rowan’s favorite: Blackbird

Frances’s favorite: all of them

The evolution of a knock-knock joke.

This past school year our family really got into jokes and riddles. Nora especially became a fan as her much beloved music teacher often read riddles aloud on the morning announcements, asking for kids to turn in solutions to him throughout the week.

She would come home and try to remember the riddles as she relayed them to us at dinner time. She would frequently leave out major details, leaving us all confused and very entertained in the process.

We stopped at the library several times to pick out some joke books, and the knock-knock ones quickly became family favorites. Even Rowan began to catch on and participate in his own special way.

His earliest knock-knock jokes all sounded like this:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Pencil.

Pencil who?

Pencil go on a airplane.

————

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Cookie.

Cookie who?

Cookie go on a airplane.

He would repeat jokes using this formula, subbing in any object he happened to spy lying around for the thing that would be destined to go on the airplane. Although how the airplane came to be in the first place, I’m not sure I can recall. Eventually, potty talk won out, as it always does, and the same joke frequently turned out this way:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Poopy.

Poopy who?

Poopy go on a airplane.

Sometimes we would even cut him off and supply our own airplane punchline, stealing away his predictable thunder.

Later, the jokes varied slightly, seeming to make more sense, although still not in keeping with the true intention of the knock-knock joke. These were of the sporty variety:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Soccer ball.

Soccer ball who?

Soccer ball go in the net.

———–

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Basketball.

Basketball who?

Basketball go in the hoop.

———–

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Golf ball.

Golf ball who?

Golf ball go in the hole.

And on and on and on. Different sport. Different ball, or puck, or whatever, different goal. You get it.

I’m hoping this year, that if jokes become a running theme of our family dinners once again, we will get to experience further evolution of the Rowan knock-knock joke.

A day at the zoo.

Today seems as good a day as any to pick up pen and paper, so to speak, and begin writing again. If anything, it’s a way for my dad to keep tabs on our family, as I know he will faithfully read the blog. Hi, Dad!

Like most households in Connecticut with school-age kids, we are counting down the days until summer vacation ends and school begins. The kids seem ambivalent, and I am too. Though we are sad our time together will soon be changing and evolving, the kids are excited about new opportunities, and I am longing for us all to have a bit more routine and structure to our days.

We have had a summer full of beach days, house guests, play dates, day trips, and some travel. With so many people around and about, we’ve seldom had time to spend together, just us. So today, when we woke up and realized we had no plans, we decided to go to the zoo.

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A friend at work had recommended a smaller zoo in Massachusetts, so we drove the ninety minutes or so it took to get there. We all enjoyed seeing the animals and talking about where they come from, what they eat, and the kinds of habitats in which they live. I have to admit that I was astounded at how much background knowledge the kids—the girls especially—have about some of the zoo animals, thanks to the exposure they’ve gotten from the Wild Kratts show on PBS Kids. They were telling me all about sloths when we got to the sloth exhibit, and I was like, “How do you know all this?”

From Wild Kratts, mom. Like, duh. Well, they didn’t say like, duh. But they might as well have to illustrate just how disconnected I am from the content of their weekly TV intake.

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Watching the rhinos.

I delighted in really being present for once and watching the joy on the kids’ faces as they took in the sights and rode the rides. It was such a fun and easy day. It kind of makes me wish I had given in to more opportunities like this throughout the summer. And now the end is almost here.

 

Step it up. Please.

A couple of nights ago, Liam and I went to a fancy dinner to celebrate my birthday (the big 4-0!). Afterward, we had the great opportunity to go and see author David Sedaris perform at the Garde Theater in downtown New London. He was hilarious, as one would expect, delighting the audience with his essays and experiences. Turning rather ordinary moments into comedic brilliance.

After the show, I got in line to have him sign one of his books which I had purchased especially for the event. When it was my turn to say hello, I asked him if he had any advice for a wannabe writer. A writer who basically wanted to be…him. He asked me what I wrote and how old I was. I said I was turning forty in a few days and he looked slightly taken aback. I’m hoping it’s because he thought I was much younger than my age, and in fact, not the opposite, although he never did explain the thinking behind his look. Perhaps our encounter will be material for a new story. One about this old lady he met at a book signing who was trying to pawn herself off as twenty years younger than she really was.

Next, he asked me if I wrote every day. Feeling slightly ashamed, I admitted that I didn’t.

“You need to step it up,” he said rather seriously. “You’ve got to write every day.”

I knew this. Know this. But somehow, coming from him, it made me feel like I really do need to get my butt in gear here with this writing game.

Then, the fantastically funny Sedaris opened my book, signed his name, and wrote Step it up. Followed ever so politely by the word Please.

How cool is that?

Heard around the house. The Rowan version.

Me: “Who spilled granola all over the floor?”

Rowan: “My do it!” (then, after more consideration) “No me do it!”


And, another common breakfast conversation:

Liam: “Rowan, do you want raisins in your oatmeal?”

Rowan: “Yep.”

Liam: “And syrup and yogurt?”

Rowan: “Yep. But no mix it up it, daddy. No mix it up it.”

Liam: “Nope. I won’t mix it up it.”


Me: “Rowan, stop picking your lip.”

Rowan: “I not.”

Me: “And please put on your shoes.”

Rowan: “I mam. I mam putting on my shoes.”

Touched by God.

Well over a month ago, the priest at our church was giving a homily about a young woman who was struggling with her faith. The priest told about how the young woman asked her grandmother why she couldn’t ‘feel’ God’s presence in her life. The young woman’s grandmother asked her to pray to be touched by God. So, the young woman did. As she was praying, the priest’s story continued, the young woman’s grandmother reached out and put her hand on her granddaughter’s shoulder.

When the young woman finished praying, she told her grandmother that she had felt God touch her. The grandmother admitted it had been her hand to touch the young woman, but that sometimes God chooses others to be the ones to reach out and ‘touch’ those who may need guidance.

About a week after that nice story had been told at Sunday mass, our family—minus Liam who had already left for work—was getting ready for school. I was in the kitchen and the kids were all seated at the table eating breakfast. Out of nowhere, Frances asked, “Mom, is it true that God can really touch people?”

I was deeply curious about her question, so I asked her why she wanted to know. She said, “Because I was just sitting here eating my breakfast and I felt something touch my head. And then, when I reached up with my hand to feel what it was, I couldn’t feel anything.”

Hmmm. First, I was stunned, because I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. You mean she’s actually paying attention in church, while she’s busy hustling up and down the pews, switching seats left and right, and pretend-reading the hymnals?” Then, I was somewhat astonished thinking that God had chosen my child to touch in the middle of a busy school day morning as I was hurriedly packing goldfish into a lunchbox compartment.

I don’t even remember how I answered her question, but about twenty minutes later, after the moment had been all but forgotten, Frances said, “Ooooohhhh. Now I know what happened.”

I, of course, was multitasking so hard, that I had no idea to what she was referring until she finished her explanation.

“My hair band broke. Silly me!”

Translation: The super duper tiny hair elastic must’ve snapped on Frances’s head. She, of course, reasoned that something invisible—God perhaps—must have had touched her, because when she reached her hand up, suspecting to feel something, she felt nothing. Until later, when the elastic decided to make itself known in the most revelatory way. Ha!

Guess our Frances isn’t the chosen one after all.