Raising Devils

Motherlode: More Screen Time? Homeschooling Anarchists? Good Teachers When Kids Fail.

By KJ / Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Motherlode at the end of this week: I was thinking that my idea to allow kids more “screen time” on the computer if they were doing creative things instead of just playing, as one commenter said, addictinggames.com was a good one–but most people are still arguing for full limits or none. And what I liked best about the New York Times Magazine’s “Homeschooling Anarchist Parents” article this week was the mother’s unabashed embracing of a parenting style I thought […]

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Dog Meets Porcupine

By KJ / Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dog Meets Porquipine Originally uploaded by kjda I totally thought the Porcupine was cute. Yesterday. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone — Correction: I also TOTALLY thought there was a Q in porcupine. But I fixed it. Ah, the glories of not having to adhere to an editorial policy…I didn’t even have to cop to it.

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Motherlode: Lies! Sexual Harassment! Fat Babies!

By KJ / Tuesday, November 8, 2011

So, shameless self-promotion is the mark of the successful modern writer, and in particular the successful modern blogger. I definitely want to succeed at my second week at the helm of the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, and so I’m inviting everyone: please drop by, read, comment, argue and engage! If you’ve ever wanted to discuss parenting styles with New York Times readers from New England to California and far beyond, or even just to take issue with mine, now’s […]

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By KJ / Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Panic! Originally uploaded by kjda

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Motherlode: Does Flying With Kids HAVE to Be That Bad?

By KJ / Sunday, November 6, 2011

After a decade of flying with small children, I’ve learned that what makes the biggest difference isn’t the airline or the other passengers: it’s me. Please, come read more as I return to Motherlode at the New York Times for another week. And comment! Think coffee klatch and start talking’.

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Shoul I Prep, or Just Let This Happen?

By KJ / Saturday, November 5, 2011

If you’re visiting a friend or child with a handicap that is noticeable but not necessarily something that will bother your kids, do you bring it up? I blew this a few weeks ago, when we went to see a family member who is being treated for cancer. I thought she’d wear a wig, and that the kids wouldn’t notice, and I didn’t want them to pester her with a lot of questions. Instead, she had a little soft cover […]

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Out of Words

By KJ / Friday, November 4, 2011

I may be out of words for the day. On the fantastic news front, I will be taking the Motherlode blog again next week at the New York Times. I have some great stuff planned, and I’m going to link here every time, which I think I failed to do last time around. This will be the outtakes. The snark. The post behind the post. Or just the links. But it was a day of mucho wordiness. I started it […]

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By KJ / Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Originally uploaded by kjda The hogwarts crew (that is Sirius Black looking nobly off into the distance), Crookshanks (can we have some suspension of disbelief here? I know it looks like a stripper costume) and one Shy Guy. I don’t usually put pics of the kids’ friends on the blog, but somehow I think we’re cool. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone —

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Lily’s Braids

By KJ / Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lily’s Braids Originally uploaded by kjda Lily is going to be Hermione tomorrow night. Hermione has bushy hair. Lily has straight hair.

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Carving the Pumpkin Harvest

By KJ / Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wyatt was super excited. “Let’s carve penguins!” I was all, dude, that’s going to be so messy. But frankly the pumpkins were messy enough. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my carving stomach. We had a TON of pumpkins to carve. Fortunately Sam turned out to enjoy gutting them nearly as much as he did carving the faces. And like so many things, pumpkin carving is easier but still not precisely idyllic when your youngest kid is five. They […]

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The End (Draft One. The Endle? The Ending?)

By KJ / Tuesday, October 25, 2011

218 pages. 66,000 words, give or take a few. A book. About that year, that really bad year, when Rory was new and we both thought our lives had caroomed (no, really, spell-check, caroomed, I don’t know what you mean by caromed but it isn’t what I mean, not at all) to a very bad place, but only I get to write a book about it. Yet. I just finished the draft. It’s a first draft. With a lot of […]

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By KJ / Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dinner Originally uploaded by kjda Let it never be said that Rory’s KFC meal did not include vegetables.

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Early to Bed: Never Gonna Happen

By KJ / Monday, October 24, 2011

I really thought I’d be asleep by now. I got into bed at 10:15. And then there were just a FEW emails to answer. And then I thought, just half an hour’s book revision. Just half an hour, no more. But it was going kind of well. And then there were just a couple more emails. And Facebook. And a message. And now, this. And a new blog post by a favorite blogger to read (that would be Jess, on […]

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Rebel Without a Cause, or Wine, or Cheese

By KJ / Friday, October 21, 2011

I did some serious gunning for parent of the year tonight. Tonight was the school’s annual “wine and cheese” party. Babysitting was provided by the middle school students, and after a full day of work and two hours “coaching” Sam’s lego league team, I grabbed Rory and Wyatt from the actual babysitter and prepared to transfer them to the middle school team. (Lily came separately, with a friend’s mom.) I promised them a bouncy house. There was none. I delivered […]

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iCloud, and I Got Nothin’

By KJ / Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I’m tired. I’ve been tired all day–sleepy tired, as in, shut-your-eyes-for-just-one-minute-huh? It’s that kind of day. Chilly, dreary, a little rainy. And I just got my mac id to work with iCloud. And I’m sitting here, looking at it. at the little thing that says “move your MobileMe to iCloud” and thinking, damn. It’s all working. Right now, email, iCal–all nicely sync’d up just the way I want them. ANd I JUST know if I move, there will be growing […]

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Carolyn See and the Prisoner of the Book Revision

By KJ / Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Big shout out to Carolyn See, who I have never met (I’d like to!) but who I owe, big time. See, ten days ago today, (that would be a week ago Wednesday) I cleared my decks for what I’d planned to be one big week of book revision. It wasn’t meant to get what I hope will be my next book into any kind of final form, but just to get it into a nice cohesive shape for my agent, […]

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Being a “Special Needs” Parent

By KJ / Monday, October 17, 2011

So this past weekend, I was driving the car, listening to the Moth story hour on NHPR and feeling lucky. I love the Moth (true stories told live). Hell, I have a story I want to tell the Moth. (The Pringle Fairy.) But mostly, I love that what I expected to be a chore—a half-hour’s drive to a sleepover for Lily—was going to be a pleasure. Double amputee, athlete, actress and over-achiever Aimee Mullins was telling a fantastic story, about […]

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The Ritual of the Flu Shot

By KJ / Saturday, October 15, 2011

This weekend, our family of six will load up, head to the medical center, and wait in line for our flu shots. It will be at least our sixth annual such journey, and a funny thing has happened along the way: the kids have embraced the whole thing. Not just because they don’t want to get the flu. I’m obviously a believer in the shot, even understanding its limitations. The vaccine’s effectiveness depends on the match between the influenza viruses […]

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Wishin’ I was Knee Deep in the Water Somewhere…

By KJ / Friday, October 14, 2011

Gonna push the world away for a minute, pretend I don’t live in it… I was on the periphery of a tragedy today, one that wasn’t mine in any way, so I won’t go into details. I did what little I could for the people closer to it, and thought about how communities are when sudden grief strikes: first things fall apart, as people find their day-to-day routine interrupted, and there is a flurry of regrouping, and then they pull […]

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Where’s the Phone?

By KJ / Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where’s the Phone? Originally uploaded by kjda I’ve figured out why we can never find a phone when it rings. (there’s even one hung up in the background.) I may have yours. KJ Dell’Antonia sent from my iPhone

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Snot and the Yogi

By KJ / Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I really don’t think we talk enough about snot. That’s by way of a warning that if you don’t actually WANT to talk about snot, I highly recommend you head over to Motherlode (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/), where I am not writing about snot, and I would love to see you (I am particularly proud of today’s post: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/putting-down-the-ipad-so-my-kids-can-see-me-read/ ). But this is about snot. After a week and a half of no exercise, thanks to the kind of sinus infection that causes […]

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Not the Day He Meant to Have

By KJ / Monday, October 10, 2011

Sam is grumpy, and I know why. He had the day off school, and he really didn’t do anything. Which is partly down to him: he didn’t try to do anything, didn’t look for a friend or set out to build a LavaMaster 5000 or anything like that, and partly down to me. He is ten, after all, much of the really fun stuff he gets to comes from me planning really fun stuff, and today, I didn’t. I was […]

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Come visit me at Motherlode

By KJ / Monday, October 10, 2011

For today, I offer you two topics: School lunches: Fix ’em from the top down, or the bottom up? And: Middle School locker bling: a harmless outshoot of too much igloo decorating on Club Penguin, or consumerism run amuck?

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That Perverse Pride We Take In Our Weird Families

By KJ / Sunday, October 9, 2011

This could end really well. Or—let’s be honest here—it could go really badly. Lily requested cheeseburgers for dinner tonight on this, a fantastic day for grilling, and cheeseburgers she shall have. And, she said, those french fries you make, by which she means the Yukon Golds in cold peanut oil from Cook’s Illustrated. But I stopped by the farmstand on the way home for the potatoes, and they are unquestionably not Yukon Gold, but some type of russet. And when […]

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Stepping in for Lisa Belkin at the New York Times’ Motherlode Blog: Because I’m Good Enough, I’m Cool Enough, and Gosh-Darnit, People Like Me!

By KJ / Saturday, October 8, 2011

Should I play it cool and tell you that of course I’ve been asked to take the first week in what will probably be a rotation of writers filling in for Lisa Belkin at the New York Times‘ Motherlode blog? Should I say that after all, I do already cover parenting, culture and policy issues for Slate‘s XXFactor blog—already a position to be proud of, with a rightly respected publication? Should I tell you that the Times won’t find anyone […]

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Good Girls, Sinuses and Antibiotics

By KJ / Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This always happens. I go to the doctor, knowing, as I did today, that I have a sinus infection. This one is a whopper, a horrible, painful, miserable, ear-popper. Moving my head is agony. Blowing my nose, worse, and of course I only have to blow my nose oh, every forty-seven seconds. Plus, you really don’t want to have a sinus infection if you’re going to change altitude by 600 feet or so a couple times a day, and here, […]

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I Want Teee!

By KJ / Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Want Teee! Originally uploaded by kjda It’s very important to be able to ask for what you want. It’s also very important to listen. When we got to the pizza place, Rory had to go potty. She was jumping up and down, and I told her to run, but– "What do you want to drink?" "I wan’ tee." "Really? Tea?" "I wan’ TEEEE!" "Ok! Fine! Go!" I ordered–pizza all ’round, three fountain drinks, and one bottled drink–tea, but I […]

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Always the Mom Who’s Behind

By KJ / Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tonight was “open school night” or “back to school” night or something like that at Sam and Lily’s school. No kids, just parents in the classroom. Don’t tell Lily, but because we’ve been second grade parents before, we defaulted more towards Sam’s class, although Rob went to her teacher’s main presentation, and I rolled in for the tail end and to ask a key question. In Sam’s class, though, I focused. I listened to the lovely, lovely teacher. I copied […]

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Harry Potter and the Mother Who Kept Her Mouth Shut

By KJ / Monday, September 26, 2011

I love Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter so much that I am awaiting entrance to Pottermore for both Sam and me. I love it so much that I pre-ordered Book Two from Amazon UK, back when Scholastic didn’t realize you could do that. I was Harry Potter for Halloween before more than a handful of kids knew who that was. But I am VERY FRUSTRATED with Harry Potter just now. (And no, not because we don’t have our “Welcome” […]

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Happy Birthday Rory!

By KJ / Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rory’s birthday was Friday, actually. (I think I begin to see why that word showed up in my wordle.) And it was also a little bit Saturday, when we skyped with Grandma Jo and opened HER presents, and then it will be a little bit Monday, when we take treats to class because you cannot take treats to class on muffin day, seriously, people, what are you thinking? It’s muffin day. And then even more NEXT Saturday, which is her […]

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A Cake for the Cake-Hater

By KJ / Saturday, September 24, 2011

I’m really, really proud of myself. I made a birthday cake that even my cake-hating Rory, she of the licked-off-frosting on the $3 cupcakes, loved. I’ve noticed lots of kids are like that—they’re either cake kids or frosting kids. (Me, I was and still am a cake kid, so I do sympathize.) And I’ve noticed that our China-raised kids are often really not cake-eaters. So I’m pretty excited to share this: It’s the perfect cake for Rory. It combines three […]

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Sam! Lily! Wyatt! Wordle!

By KJ / Friday, September 23, 2011

Sam the fantastic. Sam the wonderful. Sam the kid so easy, relatively speaking, that I do not HAVE to blog about him. Sam, the child who was the topic of this blog long, long ago. so long that all of the posts have been horribly corrupted my spam and need to be somehow rescued. Sam, who would really appreciate the above if he only knew what I’d written about him. What are you DOING, KJ? I’m trying to game Wordle. […]

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Plastic Wrap, Socks and the Good Life

By KJ / Thursday, September 22, 2011

Look! It’s my plastic wrap! I love my plastic wrap. My mother gave it to me for my birthday. In, um, 2010. I finally get to use it, because we finally used up our old plastic wrap. We don’t use much plastic wrap, especially if it doesn’t really stick, and I have, as I invariably do, punched it open wrong and it doesn’t want to cut. So it took us more than a year to go through the box and […]

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Nothing Slips Past Us, Here

By KJ / Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I didn’t actually buy new slippers for anyone. Rory and Wyatt need slippers for school, and I must have bought the ones we found in a closet today on sale at the end of the year last year. Then there was a larger pair for Lily that I vaguely remember buying in the distant past, on the theory that she would grow into them eventually, which she has. The problem, of course, is that Rory’s new slippers look like this: […]

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A Very Good Reason to Love Me

By KJ / Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tonight Rory wanted to write me a note. To surprise me. I heard her, at the table, drafting carefully away. “I … Love … You…” “How you write ‘because I’m your Mommy?” I interpreted that she wanted me to write “because YOU’RE my Mommy,” and so I did, on a scrap of the holiday pad she was using, for her to copy. A few minutes she appeared at my elbow. “I have something for you! Surprise!” And she handed me […]

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By KJ / Monday, September 19, 2011

Rory is loud. I have written about this before, but I feel that I cannot possibly have really conveyed what I meant by loud. When I say Rory is loud, I mean LOUD. I mean loud at every single thing she does in nearly every moment of the day. Loud and vigorous. When Rory says “I love you,” she shouts it and then barrels into you at full speed, and at that moment, she’s irresistible. And the she stomps loudly […]

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Chase Me! Don’t Chase Me! Chase Me!

By KJ / Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who doesn’t like to be pursued and desirable? No one! Pay attention to me! Chase me! Want me! I just wish my children wouldn’t take it so literally. Wyatt has a friend over–actually, it would be more accurate to say that both Wyatt and Rory have a friend over. A very good friend. Always a success. Rory wants him to chase her. When he does chase her, she will run and shriek NO! NO! She will dodge. She may even […]

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Greetings from the Tunbridge World’s Fair

By KJ / Saturday, September 17, 2011

Greetings from the Tunbridge World’s Fair Originally uploaded by kjda The Tunbridge World’s Fair is old school. There were pigs, cows, horses, oxen…And rides, of the kind that come by truck and move on on Monday with the carnival. And BBQ, run by a bunch of guys in leather who look like the Sons of Anarchy gone straight. We are sticky with maple cotton candy, maple ice cream, maple candy and a maple donut with maple icing. It’s been a […]

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Well, We Totally Look Alike In Our Bike Helmets

By KJ / Friday, September 16, 2011

This past weekend, we rode in the always fantastic local “Tour de Taste) (pictured a few posts down). 6 miles, 6 stops for food. Who couldn’t appreciate a ride like that? One stop had some very tasty grilled cheese sandwiches and an amazing tabboleh salad (and that is so not something I would usually eat, seeing as how it had neither bacon nor chocolate in it, and I can’t even spell it). They were also promoting their own farm products […]

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When Does It Feel Like They’ve Gone Back to School and I Have More Time?

By KJ / Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let’s see: they’re back in school. They’re all full day four days a week–not the same four days, but four days. I should feel like I have more time, right? Or at least more time than I did this summer. When does that start? After I make that trip in to Lily’s class midday for her “unique week,” probably. Or maybe after the three multi-hour midday meetings for the community ski program I run, because I was apparently, in one […]

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Annals of Lily Jekyll, Lily Hyde: Lily Lies.

By KJ / Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This morning Lily looked straight at Rob, and lied. Not about anything big. Rob said, “Did you do breakfast hokey?” (One of her jobs this week, running the hokey over the rug tiles under the bar where they eat breakfast.) And she said, “yes.” And she hadn’t. I knew she hadn’t. I knew it by the half smile, and by the fact that I’d been in the kitchen all morning. Rob said, “really?” And Lily said “yes,” again. “She’s lying,” […]

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A Perfect Afternoon; or, Why Activities Are Bad; or Spaghetti Zucchini Carbonara: Yum!

By KJ / Monday, September 12, 2011

Did I say it was a perfect afternoon? It was a perfect afternoon. All children were successfully picked up after what must have been a successful day at school. Wyatt needed a few minutes of snuggling, which no other child objected to my granting. Music Teacher extraordinaire arrived, and music commenced. Homework was voluntarily embarked on. There was some bickering over the homework table, where the children without homework were doing mazes, loudly and competitively, because some children can do […]

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Conquering the Tour de Taste

By KJ / Sunday, September 11, 2011

Conquering the Tour de Taste Originally uploaded by kjda Two years ago-quite-today, the Tour de Taste conquered us. An exhausted Rory either, at mile 19 of a 20 mile ride, fell asleep on the trailer bike and fell off or threw herself off the trailer bike in a fury at being forced to continue riding (back to the car) when she really wanted to be napping. Sam, riding after Rob to bring him back to where Rory and I were, […]

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Get Up! Get Up!

By KJ / Saturday, September 10, 2011

It really bothers my children to see me sit on the sofa. This may be because for many years, I did not have any opportunity to sit down. I kept us so busy that we were rarely home, in part because I was a little afraid to be alone with all of these kids, who might want me to play Candyland. I hate Candyland. And then when we were home, it was all very active. We were baking! We were […]

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My New Secret Weapon in the Tantrum Wars

By KJ / Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let me just go right ahead and quote from yesterday’s post: …every day he will shout “I hate school! I don’t want to go!” and then when I pick him up he will shout “NO! I am NOT READY TO GO HOME!” Wyatt does poorly with transitions. But for a blissful 7 hours a day (which really seems like rather a lot) that will be someone else’s problem. Today, oh sin of sins, I was early. And it was popcorn […]

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The First Day of School I Didn’t Photograph

By KJ / Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My mom is going to kill me. I kind of want to kill me. Sam and Lily went off to their first day of school last week and I did not take a picture. Sometimes I just kind of WANT to let these milestones in late slide by. Because time has sped up a bit, and if you don’t acknowledge it, you can just kind of pretend that everything is the same, and always will be. That this is not […]

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The Unexpected Dividends of Switching It Up

By KJ / Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On this rainy Labor Day, books were read, games were played, video games were played, Lego models were built and various and sundry this and thats and whatnots occurred, and suddenly it was 5:30 and no plan had been made for dinner (which, of course, really means that I hadn’t thought about dinner.) There were boxes of fondue in the fridge, and already sliced fondue bread in the freezer (from a party that took place last November, but it’s the […]

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Monday GoodReads: Sideways on a Scooter

By KJ / Monday, September 5, 2011

Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India by Miranda Kennedy My rating: 4 of 5 stars The cover of Miranda Kennedy’s Sideways on a Scooter, with its lanky Western woman walking, Abbey Road style, between two women in bright pink traditional Indian dress, suggests the all-India version of Eat, Pray, Love. So does the subtitle: “Life and Love in India.” In fact, there’s a blurb on my copy assuring me that “if you liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, […]

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Fall is Apparently Here

By KJ / Sunday, September 4, 2011

Corn maze! 85 degrees in the corn maze, but: corn maze! Rory is alone in the picture because the last time we went to this farm, I apologized to one of the people who works here after overhearing him tell her not to touch something, and he came over to me, and I said I’m really very sorry, again, and added that if he had one thing on the whole farm that she shouldn’t touch and he hid it under […]

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Lily’s Project

By KJ / Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lily loves a project. I suppose there are a couple ways in which being so much like me won’t work totally to her disadvantage (although I still think she inherited all of my very worst characteristics), and maybe this is one of them. She had an idea about marshmallow popsicles. Her vision was, I think, that we would melt marshmallow and reshape it into, well, different shapes. I’m not sure how she planned to hold the shapes together, but somehow […]

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