Monday, February 22, 2010

The Roller Rink

Back in the day (for the uninitiated, "the day" was circa 1981/1982 for purposes of this post), I was known to attend the school skating parties at my local roller skating rink. Which one of my elementary school friends on Facebook so helpfully pointed out was The Great American Skate on the Berlin Turnpike in Connecticut (was it in Berlin or Newington?).

I can still see that rink in my mind's eye. Everything about it. It wasn't in our town so we didn't hang out there per se - just birthday parties and the occasional school skate. But I remember it with excitement. A purely social co-ed activity when there were few others. Fifth and sixth grades were the height of roller rink excitement for me. (Which coincided with the general discovery of boys as cute, giggle-inducing entertainment.)

My big kids are first and second graders. Their school has a few after-school skates every year - but we've never attended. Until this month.

On a whim, I decided that we'd brave the rink. With the three-year-olds. I didn't tell them until I picked them up from school. We drove from school to Skate City*. They were very pleased.

Let's just say the rink doesn't hold the same cache at 38 as it did at 11. But all four kids had a ball. Two skated and fell and skated and fell and generally enjoyed themselves. One skated about 15 feet and quit but looked ridiculously cute doing it. The other refused to even put on the skates but quite enjoyed the arcade, even without any quarters.

We'll be back. And because I have the smaller ones who will eventually skate, I might actually get to stay and watch the older ones when they reach that obnoxious flirty fifth grade phase that I still remember so well. It's gonna be awesome.

*for those readers in Kansas City, Skate City is the old Skateland South at 103rd & 69 Highway.

Friday, February 12, 2010


In honor of Valentine's Day (a holiday, I am convinced, was created to make mothers of elementary schoolers crazy), a few things I love:

  • my baby's wild hair and strong chin
  • the way my other baby winks
  • my girl's enormous eyes
  • my oldest son's labrador-thick hair and crazy big-boy-teeth
  • my husband
  • Coke
  • the smell of hazelnut coffee
  • chocolate Necco wafers
  • roasted garlic hummus
  • sushi
  • history museums
  • movies made from Jane Austen novels
  • And bad reality TV
Have a love-ly weekend.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How the World Has Changed

For most of the summer of 1988, I was in the Netherlands, living with a Dutch family. It was some kind of exchange program - I can't even remember the organization that arranged the trip. It was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.

Fast forward 22 years, my sister announced that she has a job interview in the Netherlands later this month and asked, via Facebook, if anyone had any Dutch language CDs she could borrow. I didn't but I did have my trusty Berlitz Dutch for Travellers still packed in a box in the basement. So, I dug it out to send.

Published in 1980, it was kind of old by the time I bought it in '88. But, I figured, it's not like the language has changed. So, big deal.

And then I leafed through the book.

Page 22 revealed the first major change. Marked "Arrival", it starts with the helpful phrase "Here is my passport" (or "Hier is mijn paspoort"). Things get a little dicey further down the page though.

In the subsection about customs, it says "As at almost all major airports in Europe, an honour system for clearing customs has been adoped at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. Baggage is often not even opened, although spots checks are a possibility." I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that procedure has probably changed. Just a bit.

Conveniently, the book (not a dictionary, mind you - just helpful words and phrases for tourists) also contains the words for milliner, typewriter ribbon, carbon paper, cassette tape, record player stylus, film negatives and flash bulbs.

The section about money is all about the gulden or guilder - no Euros here...

There is also a section about the post office, mailing letters, sending telegrams and asking the whereabouts of a phone booth. There is no section about the internet, wifi or international mobile phone usage.

So, for what it's worth, I'll be popping the book in the mail to Cara tomorrow. Here's hoping she doesn't have to break out the phrase "Ik wil het graag laten wassen en watergolven."

'Cause that'll mean she went retro for her interview and asked for a shampoo and set at the beauty parlor...