Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Here is my first-ever letter the editor. I don't know whether it will be published, but I'm so miffed about my missing license plate that I just had to write it. I sent it to the Sherbrooke Record, an English-language newspaper for the Eastern Townships.

The motto of the Ayers Cliff fair is, "Where the city meets the country." Unfortunately, for my family, the city outweighed the country on Sunday.

My husband, my three young children and I had been enjoying the fair all weekend, and our cottage is close enough that we rode our bikes rather than take the car. As a precaution, we chained our bikes together on the fairgrounds, where they waited for us, undisturbed, until we were ready to go home.

But when we arrived back at the cottage on Sunday, we discovered that someone had stolen the license plate from our car. We were getting ready to go back home to the States, and had no idea who had taken it.

We have reported the theft to the Sûreté du Québec and have begun the process of acquiring new plates here in the States. But who, I ask you, steals license plates? What an absolutely ridiculous and petty thing to do.

I certainly hope that the people who took my plate are enjoying it thoroughly, whether it's decorating their family room or attached to a stolen car.

The plot thickens: I spoke with someone at the town hall to get the number for the police, and she told me that someone else's plate was stolen over the weekend, too, and from the same area.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vacances recap

We're back in Milton, after a few days in Canada last week. It was the annual fair in our town there, and as usual, it was a busy and mostly fun time.

Timmy had a nice birthday on Thursday, complete with sparklers in the back yard and on his cake, thanks to Daddy. He enjoyed his gifts -- particularly the Wall-E and Eve robot models we got him. All three kids were saying "Wall-E! Eva!" a lot, and having fun putting them together, taking them apart, and at times creating interesting play schemes. It was fun to watch them.

We went to the fair on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For a small town, it really puts on a big production. The motto is "Where the city meets the country" and I'd say it's mostly country, with all kinds of animals and horticulture being judged; vendors for tractors, farm feed, and custom horse stalls; the requisite arts and crafts; all kinds of yummy fried food and other artery-clogging treats, and of course, the rides.

This was Abby's golden year of the fair. She was small enough to go on most of the kiddie rides, and big enough to go most of the big kid rides. So she enjoyed the carousel, the scrambler (with a queasy Mommy beside her), the kiddie car ride and a milder version of the tilt-a-whirl. She and Earl also went on this one called the Cliff Hanger, which was a contained version of hang gliding. She loved them all.

The boys had fun, too, and loved the Jumping Frog, which brought them up a tower and then gently dropped/bounced them down a little at a time. Of course, Timmy wanted to go on all the big kid rides. Brian got a little upset when a French-speaking carnival worker told him he couldn't go on the ride yet. Le carnie wasn't mean about it, but Brian didn't understand a word and burst into tears. It had been a long day by that point.

We rode our bikes to and from the fair all three times. The Fay family on bikes is quite a sight. First, there's Earl, with Timmy in a bike seat and Brian in a trailer, pulled behind. Then there's me, with Abby on her trail-a-bike in a quasi-tandem arrangement. It was a short ride, and a lot of fun, which also helped us feel virtuous and green at the same time.

The only spot on the weekend came just as we were about to leave last night. I took out the trash, and discovered that our license plate was gone from the back of the van. Who steals license plates? I mean, really. It's not like it was even a vanity plate or anything; just a standard-issue letter and number mix. Maybe it was the Massachusetts slogan, "The spirit of America" that proved irresistible to some Quebecois, who simply had to have it for his salle de famille or garage. Je ne sais pas.

We put the front plate on the back, and took off. Tomorrow I need to call the Hotel de Ville and figure out how to report a stolen license plate in Canada. An international incident. Maybe I should call the CIA, too.

Another music lessons story

My feature story about starting music lessons through the elementary schools ran in Saturday's Patriot Ledger.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Up for air

August has been, as always, a blur in my house. With three birthdays and our anniversary (#15 this year) it's like Christmas and the Fourth of July rolled into one. It's been a whole lotta baking, party-throwing, eating, decluttering (still) and traveling, and not so much exercising or writing.

The writing thing is picking up again, however, with a few assignments in the works. As part of one of them, I spoke to Marla Cilley, a.k.a. the FLYlady, by phone today. She was all Southern charm and decluttering enthusiasm. I also got another story idea from my conversation with her; now I just need to figure out to whom to pitch it.

Abby starts school a week from today, and I'm back to teaching in two weeks. It will be a schedule adjustment, as always, but I'm looking forward to it, even as I'm enjoying these last uncluttered days of summer.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Careers in the arts story

My interview with two former Milton Public School students who have gone on to make their careers in the arts ran in today's Milton Times.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to normal

The parties are over; the celebrated houseguest gone. Dad and Mom arrived on Thursday and headed home this morning. It was a good visit, and a treat to have Dad staying with me for the first time in years. (Mom stayed with my sister. Mom and Dad are divorced, although obviously friendly enough to share the 400-mile trip from Rochester to Boston.)

The weekend was very nice; a good "real" birthday for Abby on Friday, followed by her "friend" party on Saturday. She wanted a High School Musical theme party, so we cranked up the soundtrack tunes, moved the coffeetable and let the girls all do their best dance moves to get the party started. Some of them were really good, and they all knew the words to sing along, too. Very cute.
We did a simple craft (no other kind ever happens in my house, actually) and then I told them the East High cafeteria was open for pizza, which I had made. The rest of the party took care of itself -- presents, cake, and a little time to play outside before it was time to send them on their way with their crafts and goody bags. It was fun, and better than last year's ballerina party -- probably because it was shorter.
I was very proud of Abby. She really connected with her friends, through the common bond of craziness about High School Musical. Toward the end, she was forgetting the social graces; when it was time to bid her last guest goodbye, she decided to do the bear walk down the hall in the opposite direction. Fortunately, the mom understands kids with ASDs and wasn't fazed in the least.

Of course, I still made Abby come back and tell her friend goodbye!

On Sunday we had a combined family party for Abby and Timmy, who will be 3 on the 21st. As always, everyone was so generous with gifts and yummy food for the party. We are truly blessed. Grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles -- it was so good to see everyone, and to celebrate Abby and Timmy with them.

Kids with both sets of grandparents, August 10, 2008

Left to right: Mom, Bobby, Brian, Judy, Abby, Dad, Timmy

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Religion feature

My article on the hopeFound shelter BBQ series ran in today's Patriot Ledger.

And, my dad arrived the other day! It's great to have him and Mom here for Abby's birthday.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ready for takeoff

I spoke with my dad last night, at my mom's house. It looks like he's actually coming! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. He has a cold and sounded pretty miserable on the phone, but hopefully he slept well and will be feeling better today.

I remembered one more trip to Boston he made, which was for my Master's recital in 1993. But the only singing this weekend will be a few rousing choruses of "Happy Birthday" to Abby and Timmy.

Speaking of which, I've got goody bags to fill.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Truth in advertising

I finally have an updated photo on my profile here. I like my old headshot, but it was taken about 10 years, three children and a good 20 pounds ago. Behold the real me.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Latest family column

My family humor column, Just a Minute, ran this past weekend in the Patriot Ledger. A slightly uncomfortable subject this time -- but the way I see it, you just have to laugh at some of the crazy stuff that happens with children in the house.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


This Friday is Abby's birthday, and we're having a family party on Sunday for her and Timmy, whose birthday is the 21st. We're expecting quite a few people -- godparents, relatives from Earl's side of the family, my sister and brother-in-law, and my mom. But yesterday my mom told me that my dad is coming, too, and I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

My dad doesn't like to travel, and the last time he was here was in 2002. I think he's been here a total of four times since I moved here in 1991, including the time he helped me move here in 1991. He came for my graduation from New England Conservatory in 1993, and again sometime in the late 90s when we were visiting him and the transmission in our car blew out. We had to get back to Boston, so he loaded us into his car and came and stayed with us for a week. That was great.

Then in 2002 he was here for my sister's wedding. He had a great time, and so did we. But we haven't been able to get him back here since then.

It's funny -- when I was sending out the invitations for the party next weekend, I thought it was kind of silly that I was sending him one, since he wouldn't come. But I'm so glad I did!

(There, Dad. Now the world knows you're coming. Don't let them down. :) )

Friday, August 1, 2008

Milton Times article

My article about four Pierce Middle School students who have been selected to attend the People-to-People Leadership Forum next spring ran in this week's Milton Times.