Tuesday, December 29th, 2009
It is vacation time. The kids are on school break and I am enjoying the simple pleasures for the first time in a long time – sporadically anyhow. No planes to catch, no interviews to schedule, no books to send. It has been board games, making tissue paper flowers, challenging kids in scrabble and humiliating myself on Wii games in between interviews, meetings and final papers.
One of Harrison’s and Olivia’s biggest treats is reading past midnight. This has seriously cut into my opportunity for late night television, something I indulge in just a few times a year. So, when the kids left for Tahoe with Michael, I surrounded myself with DVD’s and munchies and ended the night with an episode of CSI: New York .
There are a few seductions to this show, and they all reflect a sampling of my fantasies: of being a detective, of having curls like Melina Kanakaredes’, of having a job with cool, high-tech gadgets, (more…)
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
I love my dinners with Harrison and Olivia. Each night we set the table, light two candles, grasp hands and have a silent meditation. We express something we are grateful for in the last twenty-four hours, and enjoy our dinner. It is a perfect way to set the day’s activities behind us, and settle into our family evening.
The conversations that ensue are often enlightening. One night Harrison and Olivia shared articles they had had read in Newsweek. I was amazed, considering I hadn’t picked up an issue from our coffee table in months. Other times we recap our days. There are the sibling spats and the kids telling me not to respond to my beeping iphone, too – all in a night’s conversation.
Tonight Harrison and I were alone, and he was in the mood to express his latest brainstorm. A filmmaker, a consumer advocate and a budding entrepreneur, he was rarely at a loss for ideas.
“Hey, mom. I have an idea for a reality show,” (more…)
Monday, October 12th, 2009
“You know, you have to do your housecleaning chores before you can play.”
Harrison, Olivia, my niece Stephanie, and I were enjoying a Saturday morning pancake breakfast at the dining room table. We love it when Stephanie spends the weekend with us. At 25 years old, Stephanie, who lives in Daly City, brings a special effervescence to our household. She somehow manages to be both an adult and a playful child. One moment she and I are sitting on the sofa, talking about spirituality and philosophy, and an hour later I spot her climbing out of a steep incline of bushes, pulling twigs out of her hair, holding high a red rubber ball. (more…)
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
The lazy summer days are over. This is evidenced by my family calendar. It is the latest addition to our hallway decor. Some have family photos, others framed artwork or posters. The Friedes family? We have a 24×36 laminated calendar with four colors of penmanship scrawled across sixty squares.
This is a new system for us. It was spawned by a classic Mom Mess Up.
“Mom, it’s minimum day,” Olivia’s sweet voice came through my phone.
I looked at my watch. I needed to pick her up from school in precisely 30 minutes – about 3 hours earlier than I had planned. (more…)
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
The opportunity was ripe. I heard Harrison in the kitchen and tiptoed up the stairs to the adjacent dining room. He was humming to himself, and I heard the hiss of an opened Gatorade bottle. A cabinet door creaked and slammed, and the clang of ice cubes rattled in a glass. I could just hear Harrison’s smugness, pleased to be surrounding himself with his favorite delectables. Finally, the crinkling and rip of a bag of chips punctuated the end of his mission.
I pressed my back up against the wall, trying to predict his exit route. I knew he was in the middle of reading a book, which was splayed spine-up on the living room table below. I thought he might walk through the hallway on my left, the most direct path to his destination.He had his treats, and he was in a zone. Sure enough, I heard the pad of his jock-sock footsteps. (more…)
Saturday, August 29th, 2009
“Good news, kids! It’s movie night!!”
I always love movie night at home with Harrison and Olivia. We make popcorn on the stovetop, pour sodas and sports drinks over ice, grab a bag of sweets, and load it all onto a tray with our special old-fashioned red-and-white striped individual popcorn containers. We spread two blankets over our three laps and feel festive before we even hit “play” on the DVD player.
So I was a little taken aback when, after my announcement, Harrison and Olivia sighed in unison and say, “Oh, no.”
”What? What is it?”
They exchanged knowing glances. ”Is it an inspirational movie?” Olivia shook her head. (more…)
Friday, May 22nd, 2009
When Harrison was sick last week, I was secretly happy. Life has been extraordinarily full with interviews for The New Jew, sending advance copies of the book, and planning Harrison’s bar mitzvah – in addition to an already full schedule. Time would stand still for a day. Harrison and I would bond.
We enjoyed a day of leisure, but when Harrison awoke the second day still sick, I knew it was time to take him to the doctor. He stepped into his hospital scrubs – his latest favorite article clothing – and off we went. (more…)