Pippi, Flicka, Freya and all

First of all, let me just say that I maybe should have planned to spend two weeks “in” Sweden, because we could easily spend the entire week just on Norse mythology without ever eating one meatball or Dancing one Queen. We started off strong yesterday with brief introductions to Pippi Longstocking (via the cheesy but loveable 80s movie), the Tomten (via this picture book) and Thor and Freya (via my brain and the internet). Pippi was, of course, a big hit – who doesn’t love a crazy chaos-making redhead with a highly individual sense of style? Stupid people, that’s who. The Tomten was deemed slightly less awesome, until they associated him with Bilbo (the slightly adulterated Bilbo from the stories my mom tells them, rather than the echt Tolkien version), and then they wanted to know more. (Ellie wrote a cute little story about meeting a Tomten in the back yard one night and going on an adventure for her writing time today.)

Freya and Thor were chosen because both girls are big fans of The Avengers, so they sort of already know who Thor is, in a Marvel-comics kind of way. Also, I have always really dug the idea of Yggdrasil, the world tree (I mean, I got it tattooed on my forearm, for god’s sake) and I found a really lovely artist’s conception that I kind of want poster-sized in my bedroom but is also a good visual introduction to Norse mythology for kids: Continue reading

Sayonara, Japan; Hej hej Sweden!

Japan Week Collage Well. I do not know WHERE this week has gone. One thing about Camp Nellie Bly is that it’s keeping us ALL busy. In fact, Mama may need to dial it down on the research and presentation aspects of this here camp, because between teaching an online class, blogging, and camp prep I am spending pretty much every moment that I’m not with the girls attached to my computer. The problem is, I enjoy the shit out of researching each country. It’s unexpectedly fun to look at each place from the perspective of what my kids would find interesting or engaging. The nice thing about doing this when they’re so young is that I’m more interested in giving them a little taste of these places than I am in them retaining facts and figures. I know they won’t remember every capital or traditional costume, but I hope they will gain a sense for how diverse and colorful the world is, and how many different ways there are to be a citizen of planet earth.  Continue reading

And We’re Off!

Well, we’re two days in and so far we’re all still alive, so … WINNING. Things have actually been going pretty swimmingly, especially considering that the weather has been kind of shitty and the super awesome camp T-shirts I made ended up being women’s size medium rather than kid’s size medium, so I guess now they have super awesome camp nightgowns. We’re still figuring out the rhythm of our days. I can already tell that late afternoon/early evening will be useless for getting anything done, which makes now no different from any other time of my life since I had kids, and it only took one day of using the fabled chore chart to know that I was going to have to just suck it up and design one of my own. (More on that – probably more than you would ever want to know – later.) I’m also guessing that the day-of-the-week themes (make-it Monday, take-a-trip-Tuesday, etc.) may fall by the wayside, since what I’m really interested in is learning about the countries and having time with friends, and that doesn’t always jive with the theme of the day. But so far I’m quite pleased with how it’s going. Continue reading

It’s possible that I’ve gone a little overboard

LogoForCampNellieBlyWell! This has been a veritable whirlwind of a week. It was the official first week of summer, but since Minneapolis schools didn’t get out until Wednesday, we (I) decided to use this week for prep and start summer camp on the 10th. This would have been a great plan, full of fun times and relaxed summer days, except that I forgot I had jury duty, so Monday and Tuesday were full of scrambling around trying to set up childcare (thank god for good friends who are willing to take my kids last minute), and then serving on a jury (interesting, but not interesting enough to make up for the hassle) and I’m *still* technically on jury duty, but now I just have to call in twice a day and maybe I won’t have to go back in at all. And then Wednesday my kids decided to celebrate the first day of summer holidays by displaying every bad habit or quality they possess, all at the same time, loudly, in my face. So by the time I was done with all that, I felt like I was scrambling to get everything ready in time. Which is a stupid way to feel, given that the only person who is holding me accountable for having everything done “on time” is ME, and I could theoretically let myself off the hook, except that I don’t really have that ability so much at all.

Here are the things I am thankful for this week: Pinterest, Color Inkjet Printers, and Gluesticks. The past few days have been an orgy of downloading, printing and assembling various items to set up for our summer experience. Y’all, I am obsessed with free internet printables. Which, yes, I realize that was not even a word until, like, last week. But I have always been one of those people for whom shopping for school supplies was the highlight of the academic year, and there is so much great stuff out there! Sure, you have to spend hours sifting through crap to find it, but Forms! Calendars! Worksheets! Coloring pages! Charts! It’s all out there and it looks pretty and the time I spend finding and choosing it is almost made up for by the time I save in not having to create it myself! Continue reading

DIY Summer Camp, or: How I Will Probably Lose My Marbles This Summer

Game of Round the World with Nellie Bly It’s June, somehow. We kind of missed April and May in this neck of the woods, so now it’s June even though it FEELS like it should only be April and I am thus mentally unprepared for summer – or, to be specific, for NO SCHOOL.

It’s curious, really, because it wasn’t so long ago that I had both kids around all the time, and that was just … the way things were. Before preschool and elementary school started, there wasn’t a huge demarcation between summer and the other seasons, except that we could go outside more often and the pools were open. But after only a year of having one in school all day and one in preschool some days, I am loathe to become the sole source of activities and structure for the next three months. And before I come off too helicopter-parenty, OF COURSE I realize that my kids need to take charge of their own entertainment and learn to be self-sufficient and blah blah blah. Yes. Agreed. But let us also take into account that this is a seven-year-old and a four-year-old we’re talking about here, so while they’re actually better than most kids at entertaining themselves for long periods of time, that skill is only going to get us so far. Plus also, we have apparently hit the phase I have long been dreading, where playing together – which up to now they have been delightful at doing – means actually playing 30% of the time and bickering 70%. Which is making me 100% crazy.

I’m not gonna lie, I have had some panicked moments, thinking about the long days and weeks looming ahead of us. Previous summers I have coped by signing Ellie up for various week-long “camps” through the Parks and Rec system, and putting both girls in swimming lessons, and stuff like that. I wasn’t *totally* happy with that system – our schedule was never the same two weeks running, and I felt more like a chauffeur than a parent – but at least it gave some structure to our days and gave us something to look forward to. This summer, however, camps and swimming lessons are not an option; my teaching hours have been cut by 1/3 and that means we can pick either summer activities or preschool for Sylvia next year, and frankly, that’s a no-contest choice right there. (But thank you so bleeding much, shit economy and beyond-stupid adjunct teaching system.) So in planning for the upcoming summer, I basically have two options: go-with-the-flow and just let shit happen as it will, or plan something myself. Continue reading

Fair-weather blogging

I had plans, y’all. I had plans that sometime in early April I’d post one of my “I Write Letters” posts, and dash off a cute note to the blog, saying I’d missed it but I’d been hibernating and now that it was spring I’d start blogging again. It would have been clever and chatty, and you TOTALLY would have forgiven me for not blogging in so long.

But then it stayed winter until mid-May. As in shovel-able snowfall-type winter. IN MAY. Even my most diehard winter-lovin’ friends were like, OK, Minnesota: you can stop now. Given my serious lack of ability to cope with winter, you can imagine my state of mind. I lost what little gumption I had remaining, and the blogging, she did not happen.

So then we had, like, two weeks of spring-esque weather, only colder, and it just got warm around yesterday, in patches, because as has been abundantly proved, this state hates me and wants me to die. But at least the snow is gone and sometimes we can wear sandals instead of rain boots, so I guess this is as close to blogging weather as we’re gonna get.

ALSO, I’m embarking on a certifiably insane program for the summer, and I will need to share the details with you as a kind of pressure-valve, if nothing else. I expect large parts of it will be humorous, at least to people not personally involved. More on that soon. But for now, I just wanted to say “hi.” I’m still here. The state hasn’t killed me yet. How are you?

Academy Awards liveblogging

Hey out there! Long time no blog! I’ll do a real post later, but tonight is the academy awards and so I must liveblog. Or actually it will probably semi-live-blogging since I’ll probably have to pause the ceremony while Chad puts the girls to bed. MY LIFE IS HARD. Anyway, keep checking back in throughout the night for my HILARIOUS or possibly just insane observations.


  • First observation: Good god, Jennifer Lawrence is taller than Kristin Chenoweth. I realize that everyone is taller than Kristin Chenoweth, but seeing J-Law and Chenoweth together made it look like one of them was a special effect.  It’s cool, though, because I kind of want to put Chenoweth in my pocket, and I want to be BFFs with Jennifer Lawrence.
  • I’m actually not finding the red-carpet convo as annoying as usual. Like, some of the questions are only slightly idiotic. And they’re actually letting the actors talk about things other than their outfits. J’approve!
  • OK, could Bradley Cooper’s mom be any cuter? SO CUTE.
  • Is anyone else over Nicole Kidman? Anyone?
  • LOVE Charlize Theron’s hair. I want that cut.
  • Just one of the many ways in which Hugh Jackman is awesome is his lovely relationship with his amazing wife. I heart them.
  • Jennifer Anniston: big points for not wearing black or nude dress – love that color red – but could you EVER do something different with your hair? It’s the Oscars! Go with an up-do!
  • Um, I *think* Halle Berry was going for “Old Hollywood” as in Joan Crawford, but if you ask me, that dress is more “Dynasty” as in Joan Collins. NOT GOOD.
  • Mmmm … George Clooney with a beard … drool … Continue reading