The Family

The Family

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why Books

There are varied responses to the question: Why do you read so much?

While I've often heard it said that books are a form of escape, that's never been the case for me.

I read because it makes me feel.

Such as the wonder and delight of the magical world created in any Harry Potter book, no matter how many times I've read it before.

Or the pity and empathy for poor Buck at the beginning of "The Call of the Wild." Those feelings later give way to a sense of pride and respect.

Then there's the fear that Mira Bartok stirs up when she recalls the countless stories of her mother's schizophrenia in "The Memory Palace." Maybe others would feel disgust, or empathy for the author, but I guess it more closely relates to terror and panic for me because many of her stories are all too familiar.

Or the longing one feels when reading "Grandfather's Journey." The pull of two places is so strong, combined with the memory of one's own grandparents, that it's hard to get through the book without pauses of grief.

Then there's the joy of discovering great food from great places in "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World."

There's also the understanding of the loss of innocence when reading the last line of the e.e. cummings poem "Maggie and Milly and Molly and Mae."

It's countless other feelings: love, despair, disgust, glee. The list goes on. And if  you ever catch the reading bug, it will never fail to deliver. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Girl's Night

It was our first real mother/daughter outing. Sure we've done things, just the two of us, but never had officially done what could be considered a girl's night out.

After having a family dinner (plus a friend) at Zoe's, Jack and Matt headed home to play with Legos while Mattie and I headed with our friend Lauren to a gymnastics meet.

Although Mattie had a hard time understanding what was going on, she did find the girls flipping around and over and under the parallel bars interesting.

Her favorite part, hands down, was sharing a bag of M&Ms! Well, maybe not the sharing part, but she loved getting to eat M&Ms nonetheless, and I loved spending the evening with my girl!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Note on Where We Stayed

This may be the first post I've written where I can't recommend the hotel we stayed in.

We traveled to the Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta on Tuesday to tour the Michael C. Carlos Musuem. I had been debating about staying the night, but saw what was described as a boutique hotel nearby offering a reasonable rate.

I waited until Tuesday morning to book the room at The Highland Inn, and my first clue should have been I didn't get an automatic confirmation. It came through my e-mail and when it did, it mentioned there were no elevators in the hotel, just stairs. I didn't recall reading that on the website, but knew it was possible I might have overlooked that part.

Once we pulled onto the street, and I saw the hotel sign, I knew we were in trouble. On Sunday I asked a friend who knows the area well if she'd ever heard of the hotel.

"Does it have a red sign?" she asked with an apprehensive look.

When I pulled it up on my phone to show her what was pictured, the sign was white.

"I don't guess that's what I was thinking of," she said.

Guess what color the sign was when I arrived?

Yep, red.

I found a parking spot around the corner, and as I was unloading, a kind 20-something woman told me she'd be happy to help me up the hill with our stuff. She saw I had children with me and mentioned there were some "sketchy people" hanging around the corner.

Then we go to check in and the signs at the front desk were not encouraging. There was a note stating if a GPS was visible in your car, you were asking to have it broken into. Even worse, when I asked the clerk if I could leave my bags at the counter while I ran and got the GPS, he said yes, but not to leave them in sight of the front door.

Another sign instructed anyone entering after a certain time to present their key to proceed past the front desk.

Of course our room ended up being on the second floor, and the front desk clerk made no attempt to help me up the stairs with my luggage. Even though I packed light because we were staying only one night - thank goodness - it was still difficult to manage everything plus helping Mattie maneuver the stairs.

I assume that not having an elevator is what makes the owners feel they can market the place as a "European-style boutique hotel."

I should point out that there were plenty of people walking around on the streets. Women walking dogs. Parents strolling young children. However, I could not shaking the feeling of discomfort while at the hotel.

The best thing about the place is that it is about a block away from The Majestic Diner. Diner and breakfast are all you have to say for me to come running, and we had a fabulous breakfast before heading home Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Michael C. Carlos Museum

The Micheal C. Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, though small, houses unique and interesting treasures.

The museum offered free admission and extended hours yesterday, so we made the drive to check it out

Here's some of what was on display:

I was recently researching nearby museums that had Egyptian artifacts and this one popped up. Once I realized they had the special offer for free and extended hours for yesterday, I figured it was as good a time as any.

When we got to the Egyptian Gallery, I thought Jack was going to burst with excitement.

The piece de resistance.

Mattie was less than thrilled with all the scary mummy stuff, but she did take to all the colors in one gallery.

I could have spent hours in the Grecian Gallery. This mosaic hanging above an elegant sarcophagus was my favorite piece.


After leaving the museum we walked across Emory's beautiful campus and went for dinner and ice cream nearby.  We had no sooner left the museum when Jack was asking to go back!

We ended up spending the night at a nearby hotel so that I wouldn't feel like we had to rush. I'll post more on that tomorrow because it was interesting, to say the least.

Monday, February 17, 2014


If you are looking for good books that are interesting for your young reader as well as help you, the parent, grasp the techniques behind teaching phonics, I have to plug the following Usborne books:

"Fat Cat on a mat" 

"Big Pig on a dig" 




 "Sam Sheep Can't Sleep"

Whether your child is quick to pick up on the skills behind mastering letters and sounds or he/she needs a lot of practice with familiar words and stories to get interested in a book, these are excellent resources to have.

One of the most valuable teaching tools for parents is the final page that explains phonics sounds and how to say them properly, which makes the often overwhelming task of forming a young mind for reading a bit less intimidating.

I think the Easter Bunny might bring these editions in some Easter baskets this year:

"Frog on a log,"


"Fox on a box,"


"Shark in the park"


"Ted in a red bed"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In Need of the Great Outdoors

It's been a cold winter.  Not cold enough to keep us indoors everyday, but cold enough that going outside while having to put on layers of clothes becomes more of a hassle than it seems worth with two young children. I'm usually frustrated and grumbling by the time we make it out the door.

That's why this sun-filled weekend was so great. No layers. No jackets. Just heading straight outside with none of the extra stuff.

On Saturday we meandered our way around the pond at our local art museum to get an up-close look at all the outdoor art work. The art museum has been open for 10 years, but only recently began displaying outdoor pieces,

Jack, who informed me on the way how cool he thought heads were because his art class this past week focused on heads - big ones, famous ones, weird ones - was hoping to see a bronzed head of some sort. While I'm sorry to say no heads were on display, here's what we did come across:

A Depection of a Wooden Bridge


A Flying House Equipped with Turbo Boosters

No Clue, But it was Fun Playing Peek-A-Boo

 My Personal Favorite - The Prayer Booth


And Sunday we were joined by what seemed like most of the town at a local park.

Enjoying Time on the Swing



Having Fun on the Outdoor Exercise Equipment

These folks had the right idea - Mimosas and Hammocks

The spring-like weekend was nice. It seems this week might bring another winter storm our way. If it does, it will be the first time, at least in my recollection during the past 35 years, to have snowed twice in the same year.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Date Night

I'm not sure the term date night is suitable when referring to an evening out with your child, but because the official name of the event was "Daddy/Daughter Date Night," we'll just go with that.

Last night was the first time Mattie and Matt have attended the local dance. The event itself, so popular it spans through three consecutive nights, is in its 25th year. According to Matt, it was party central.

Mattie was so excited she saw the university mascot "Aubie" and got her picture made with him.

Speaking of pictures, I can't wait to see them. I have the feeling they are going to be reminiscent  of prom pictures.

And while Daddy and Mattie had their date, Jack and I headed to a local pizza place to eat, chat and play some silly games for a date of our own.

What a great Thursday night for all!