Sunday, April 25, 2010

Supporting good causes

When he was 8, Dean came across a flier promoting a fundraising walk. The organization was Dog Orphans, and their annual walk helps support their local no-kill shelter. My response, when Dean said he wanted to participate in the walk, was to explain that he'd have to ask people for money -- that it wasn't just about going and walking, but that he'd need to get people to make donations and that he'd have to do the asking himself.

I was honestly amazed when that didn't deter him at all. We certainly talk a lot at home about supporting causes you believe in, and about the importance of being generous in as many ways as you can -- I just didn't think he'd taken the message to heart at such a young age.

He's done the walk every year since then. Today he made his neighborhood appeal, going door-to-door explaining his project and asking for support. I am so proud of him. It's very hard to make a direct appeal like that, and I'm proud at how committed he feels to this organization. He also saves up a portion of his allowance so that he can make his own contribution -- $50 this year!

The walk is next Sunday (5/2). If you're interested in making a small donation, please let me know (it's a non-profit organization so gifts are tax-deductible).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

While Dean had his piano lesson

On a side note, the Christmas Club scheme isn't going as well as I'd planned -- yet. But maybe I could give photographs as gifts....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Some kind of a break

We're on school vacation this week. Most schools in New England get a week off in February and another week in April (some do 2 weeks mid-March instead, which is more in line with what colleges do). Anyway, I've never understood why we get these vacations, although I'm not complaining. We're making a week a mix of some down time, some errands and chores, and some outdoor time (we never get as many opportunities to take long walks as we would like...).

I wish we were in Maine, although it's probably still pretty cold and muddy up there. Even more, I wish we were in Chicago, holding the memorial service for my mom that we had planned but that ended up being destined, for now, not to be.

Dean's happy enough to be close to home, to have a break from routine but still be surrounded by the familiar.

I wish we had a little stream like this running through our yard; streams offer endless opportunities to play and explore.

Came across this tiny flower that I've never seen before. Any ideas what it could be?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Two in one

When I was growing up in Chicago, in the mid 1960s, at Easter time you could go to the regular grocery store and buy lamb butter -- that is, butter in the shape of a lamb. Lamb cakes, too, were readily available; vanilla pound cake baked in a lamb-shaped mold with white frosting from a star tip artfully applied. There was kind of a resurgence in lamb cakes -- or at least in the availability of the molds -- probably thanks to Martha. But lamb butter is a bit more elusive. My mold came from here, should you be wishing for one yourself (scroll down the page to find the lamb). And in the spirit of true disclosure: none of us has yet had the heart to cut in to the lamb, so here we are nearly 2 weeks past the holiday and he's still living in the fridge.

Also thanks to Martha, now that I think about it, is our tradition of buying two packages of Easter egg dye. For years we have been making brighter colors by putting 2 tablets in each cup instead of one. The wrinkle this time was that Dean didn't want to put 2 of the same color in each cup but instead he wanted to mix his own colors. I admit that this is still one of those times when I have to take a deep breath, think about who it is we're coloring eggs for in the first place, and let go of "how it should be." Sure! Mix away! I did feebly recommend that he think about what colors he'd be creating before putting the tablets in, knowing that this wouldn't be his approach. He's a process guy, not a product guy.

So we had two of the same mix, and some pretty intense mixes, and found interestingly that the dyes don't combine consistently with each other the way they do with two of the same.

And his favorite part, still, is playing with the colors afterward. Success, then!

Easter was also Dean's birthday this year, so we had an elaborate plan for celebrating both -- starting with a morning that was all about the eggs and the basket.

THEN it was birthday time.

Followed by an outing to spend some gift cards that were burning a hole in his pocket.

A sweet and successful day. Twelve seems at the same time an impossibly big number and exactly right. We celebrate who this amazing person is, how much his arrival changed our lives, how unimaginable life without him would be. He enjoys hearing stories on his birthday about how his birth day unfolded -- all those hours of labor, all that joy when he finally arrived, all the attention that our beautiful little boy received from the hospital staff, how very sweet he was right from the start. I do feel that we're turning a corner as a family as Dean steps into this new, older self. We struggle sometimes to find the balance, the flow -- to readjust our relationships and yet hold on to what's core for us. I try not to think ahead but to revel in the now.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If you have no daughters...

...give them to your sons! Hot cross buns. I was inspired to make up my first batch and we all loved them with our hot morning beverages. I see that other recipes seem to call for an overall glaze plus the cross; maybe next time I'll do an egg wash for the shiny appearance (Dean says an overall glaze would be too sticky to deal with). I love foods that are associated with certain holidays, and I love how ancient (*pagan*) traditions got incorporated into Christian traditions in order to make the new ideas hold -- at Easter just as at Christmas. (The old belief here was that cutting the cross shape into baked goods helped ward off evil spirits that might interfere with the baker's success.)

While mulling the cross form, I am endlessly fascinated with the way the paint wears away on the storm drains on our street; these always look beautiful to me.
So much to see in such a small, usually overlooked place.

A tiny, tiny pebble, trying to impersonate an egg, I think.

And tiny buds, waiting breathlessly to unfurl.

I've got photos and stories from the birthday/Easter combo just passed and will try to get caught up this week.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Lottery

We buy lottery tickets. Ken keeps an eye on the jackpots; there are a couple of different state lotteries, and then Massachusetts is part of a multi-state mega jackpot lottery. Every once in a while, we'll have a dinner table conversation about what we'd do if we ever won $5, $10, $200 million dollars. Ken is kind of a *lottery savant* -- tell him the jackpot amount and he'll tell you the lump-sum payout and the take-home after taxes. (It's a gift.)

Anyway, we all enjoy thinking about not just what we'd do for ourselves, but how we'd take care of family, friends, and causes that are important to us. It's worth a dollar or two to foster these daydreams, and someone has to win, right?

And the other reason we don't feel we're senselessly throwing money away is that we actually like the fact that our dollar or two is making possible someone else's dream come true -- that we're contributing to someone's most unbelievably awesome day.

Still, it would be nice to win -- Team Paradox would certainly have it's money problems solved!