A Mom's Interview: Being Six

Colette turned six, like half a year ago.

Colette turned six, like half a year ago.

How old are you? 
I am six and a half years old.

What is the best thing about being 6 years old?
The best thing about being 6 years old is that I don’t have to wear a diaper, that I got my ears pierced and that I get to write a lot in school. That’s it for now, maybe in a year, I’ll have something else to say.

What is the worst thing about being 6 years old?
That I have homework.

What would you like to accomplish as a 6 year old?
By the end of the year I want to have at least 20 rocks.

How does it feel to be 6?
Good. But I lost 4 teeth and have a wart on my finger.

The World of Hamilton

By Edie Kitzman (age 7)

I have a CD in the car called “Hamilton”. Hamilton was a founding father. The CD has different songs about his life, and that’s how I know about him. The story of Hamilton makes me feel happy at the part where him and his friends get along. And it makes me feel sad when he got shot by an enemy. What also makes me feel sad about him is his son got shot, too, in the same place as Hamilton.

A kid's chapter book about Hamilton.

A kid's chapter book about Hamilton.

If Hamilton could be a hero, then we all could be heroes, too.

If Hamilton could be a hero, then we all could be heroes, too.

I wrote a book about Hamilton, and there are about seventeen chapters. I wrote it because Hamilton is real, and there are not enough books about him (that I know), and I feel like Hamilton should be honored, because of how he made things happen and why he made things happen. Also, in my life I feel that Hamilton was something more than just a founding father. And I think Hamilton would be great in our world today (if he was alive).

Listening to the music makes me want to see the play, which is exciting to me. Because I love Hamilton.  If Hamilton could be a hero, then we could be heroes, too.

Mapping a life in movie memories

How and why do some movies affect our lives for years? This one was just funny. And it turned into a love story/morality tale: money doesn’t make you happy, people do.

By Teri Michaud

We were flying home from Ireland, spread all over the plane. We were settling in, minding our own business(es), when they announced the on-board movie, Overboard. Our four heads popped up all over the plane looking for each other. Psyched! This was one of our favorite family movies of all time. Goldie Hawn, that nut-job, was perfect as the rich yachting woman who wore thong bikinis and stupid red sunglasses and insulted all of her employees, the hick town in which they were stuck, and even her doting husband. Kurt Russell, who I’ve had a slight crush on since he was about ten years old and starring in some chimp movie, had grown up! Uh-huh, dimples, muscles, hair. He was the adorable but simple carpenter called in to fix her closet while stuck in port. Our heads strained over our seats as we mouthed the next lines to each other, laughing collectively, and annoying our seat neighbors. How and why do some movies affect our lives for years? This one was just funny. And it turned into a love story/morality tale: money doesn’t make you happy, people do.  

Ashley bought this DVD for us one year and Gary and I watch it every summer at the lake. I still laugh every June! What other movies have affected me this way….move me/teach me/ make me laugh or cry or envision my response when a hero/lover/stunt woman is needed?

The first movie I remember seeing on t.v. was King Kong. It was scary, and I crawled up on the back of the “divan”. We were at my Uncle Walt and Aunt Annamae’s new “recreation room”, with a bunch of siblings and cousins sitting on a linoleum floor. The parents were drinking at the pressed-board bar.

A little later on, the only option was watching black and white classics with my mom, Saturday nights at 9:00. She would get so pissed when we laughed at the cheesy dialog or boring love songs, and she would swat at us to leave the room. What?! And give up the half can of soda I got to share with Kitty? Or, if I were lucky, I could beat Kevin to the couch and catch The Big Three Theater at noon on Saturday. I got my first glimpse of Beach Blanket Bingo then. I didn’t know they covered Annette Funicello up because she was old and pregnant.

Oh, I could also watch any junk I wanted if I stayed home sick. But that was too scary, because I’d be home alone, so I’d haul myself off to school. No t.v. was allowed during the week. Ever.

Goldie Hawn_Butterflies are Free.jpg

We grew up in Elmwood. One movie theater was in walking distance, and nobody drove us around then. If we wanted to go to West Hartford Center, good luck. I saw The Sound of Music. We sneaked in the back door and let other kids in, crept up into the balcony, under the velvet rope, kicked the seats, threw popcorn, and bummed Jujubees. I could give a crap about Maria or Leisel or Rolf. I had no idea that they were escaping Nazis. That damn movie played for two years! But up next was Billy Jack, that peace-loving badass, and The CowboysGo, Cimarron, you Hispanic hottie! Once we got driving, we went to—get this! East Hartford—to see Jesus Christ, Superstar, or (sob, snot, sob!) Ryan and Ali McGraw in Love Story. Rip out my heart! Oh my God, don’t ever let me forget Butterflies Are Free… Wait a minute! Didn’t Goldie Hawn star in that?

"Are you going to bring me my lemon or do I have to squeeze it from my hat?"

By Ashley and Colette Rigby

There are handful of movies, that stick with you for your entire life. They aren’t necessarily the “good” ones, either. They aren’t the ones studied in film school, nor have won any awards, hey don’t have a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (I can hear Jeff now, as he scoffs),...but it doesn’t matter. You love them. You’ll smirk every time you hear someone quote it and watch it until the final scene when you stumble upon it mid-way through, in random places like airports or your grandparents’ or parents’ community center.

If the tasseled shoulders didn't give it away, Ashley channels her inner Joanna Stayton. 

If the tasseled shoulders didn't give it away, Ashley channels her inner Joanna Stayton. 

For me, this movie is Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. I love this movie. Always have and always will. I don’t remember when I first watched it, but I can still hear my Mom’s laugh when Annie Proffitt tried to make her new-found family dinner by boiling a whole chicken, feet, talons and all, in a pot of water. I remember, my whole family laughing out loud while watching it in sync on a flight to Ireland, summer before my junior year of college. I bet we were laughing about her bagged-ass dresses that Dean found for her or her tool-boat of a husband, Grant Stayton, flirting with his mistresses while his wife was away. I remember dressing up as Joanna, and Jeff as Grant for Halloween circa 2008 and throwing a great party.

I asked Colette to share with me her favorite movies and somehow Overboard made it onto the list. I’m unsure of how, because we’ve never watched it together. She said she watched it with Meme. I’ll have to fact check this, but for now, I’m leaving it on the list and I hope it stays there forever. I hope when she’s 35 she still remembers the sound of my laugh when Annie squishes candy into the boys’ sandwiches and tosses them loose into a lunch bag, which is what I want to do most of the time.

I hope when she’s 35 she still remembers the sound of my laugh when Annie squishes candy into the boys’ sandwiches and tosses them loose into a lunch bag, which is what I want to do most of the time.

Colette’s List of Favorite Movies:

  1. Ninjago
  2. Overboard
  3. E.T.
  4. The Good Dinosaur
  5. Zootopia
  6. Kubo and the Two Strings
  7. Trollz
  8. Paddington
  9. Inside Out
  10. Coco
  11. Toy Story

If you want to see the remake with me, let me know and we’ll plan a date for April!

Get in the lifeboat, kids!

by Shawna Kitzman

I heard the movie Titanic was playing in theaters this year to commemorate 20 years since its release.

I was a senior in high school when it landed, then parked comfortably for a year, appealing to all types of 1998 audiences. But I immediately associate the movie with graduating, so my first reaction was, Damn, I’ve been out of high school 20 years.  

I saw it in the theaters a few times, and I definitely had tears rolling down my face. C’mon: Leonardo DiCaprio at that ripe young age, and me at the ripe young age, and that story. Beyond the fictional courtship of Rose and Jack, the story of Titanic is fascinating.

But it’s been close to 20 years since I’ve given it much thought. This Christmas, while home with my mother in law Cookie, I decided to watch it on Netflix. It was Cookie’s maiden voyage. I didn’t realize Titanic virgins still existed.

We watched it intently. My kids popped in and lingered for a bit. They begged to see the ship hitting the iceberg, but I shuffled them off to bed with promise of iceberg in the morning.

I shuffled them off to bed with promise of iceberg in the morning.

Cookie and I sat fixed to the tv. She held my hand towards the end, as the drama increases. When an Irish mom tucks her kids into bed as the water rises, I was glad I’d already tucked mine in. They were safe and warm upstairs. I’d forgotten these sad details. The Titanic’s story – one of hubris and hope, then doom – is nothing short of amazing, but it’s sobering to imagine the specifics of that night.

iceberg.jpg

After the movie ended and Cookie went to bed, I stayed up by the light of my phone, researching the Unsinkable Molly Brown (a philanthropist who helped others board life boats, to the chagrin of well-heeled survivors), the oldest living passenger (none anymore), and famous people who met their fate on the ship (the first owners of Macy’s, among others). It was then that I remembered my childhood fascination with the story. 

The next day, I showed my girls the iceberg scene, but not much more. I didn’t want to explain the tragic parts. The collision impressed them. Later, I showed them a YouTube recreation of how the ship sank, which researchers and artists knit together. When we visited the library, they each got two books about the Titanic.

When we came home from the library, the cleaning lady was here. We stayed out of her way on the third floor, now unoccupied by visitors.

The tall guest bed was a ship that hits an iceberg in the night. The laundry baskets were their lifeboats. Their dad, the playful captain who throws them over his shoulder. Then, when we got hungry, we turned out the light and went downstairs for something to eat.

The past of the Titanic Day

This is the Titanic on the water, before it sank.

This is the Titanic on the water, before it sank.

The Titanic was a ship that hit an iceberg. I think we should honor and remember the Titanic because it had two layers on the bottom and most ships only had one, but it sank anyway on its first try. The Titanic had four smokestacks. The one at the end was fake, just to improve the look of the ship.

The Titanic hit the iceberg like this: one of the lookouts saw the iceberg, and yelled “Iceberg!” The ship tried to turn but it scraped the edge of the iceberg. A few minutes later, the ship started to fill with water. Then eventually, the ship sank.

Only some people survived. Some people survived by getting on lifeboats as fast as they could. What is amazing about it is that it sank in the middle of the ocean, and lots of people rowed back to land for almost two days, with no food and no water.

The Titanic began sinking overnight on April 14 and into the morning on April 15, 1912. We should celebrate this day on April 14th and 15th every year.  We all go to West Hartford Center and sing in a circle, songs about history. We drink tea and wear hats. We eat chicken, eggs, fish, pudding, and pastry foods which was what they ate on the Titanic. The end.

-Edie Kitzman

Wink to your neighbor during Sprout

Sprout is when we honor the joy and anticipation of new possibilities. It’s when we get a few more drops of sun. And it happens to coincide with the thawing ground and longer days of early spring.

Every year, we hearty New Englanders bear down for winter. This season of gray, bitingly cold days somehow seems longer than the other New England seasons. But the diverse four seasons – all the same length of time - make this place home.

This very well may be high Sprout.

This very well may be high Sprout.

When we set our clocks ahead, the days elongate, and the green plants nudge up from the ground.

Sprout goes from April 11 through May 2, with high Sprout occurring on the most fabulous day. High Sprout occurs when there are noticeable green buds on the trees. Be looking for these little green gems, as they magically sprout overnight! On this day, you’ll hear people say, “Happy Sprout to you!”

The holiday starts on April 11, the birthday of the sunniest person I know, Michelle. We pour a glass of Chardonnay with two ice cubes (or apple juice) and toast “May the sun warm your shoulders!”

We wear sequined headbands or tank tops (aka “teeny tops”) and dance to music.

The holiday ends on May 2, the birthday of the second sunniest person I know, Emmeline. We wear sequined clothes or headbands and dance in tank tops (aka "teeny tops") to music. Upon the final note of the dance party, we bow to our friends, family, and neighbors and say, “May the music move you!”

There are no tangible gifts exchanged during Sprout, just shared appreciation for the gift of spring. You may see front doors decorated with suns made of wood, paper, or metal.

Sprout is when we honor new things to come, the sunny things we have all year, and the sparkle of life that is so apparent each spring.

-Shawna Kitzman

Get GOne

We need a holiday in March. That stupid month can't decide if it's winter or spring;  it's cold or muddy, and it's almost always gray in the Northeast. My family is crazy for St. Patrick's Day, being of Irish descent, but that, at most, is one day/night and maybe a weekend parade. Let's have a day we can all look forward to because we have to be Outside.  It will be named GOne. 

Get Outside, no electronics. You should go on a hike! Families would have to train to unplug, grab all the intel they need for the day the night before, plan directions from a cute little throwback called a MAP.  Heck, even the kids could get in on that!  Most people love food, so perhaps a picnic would be in order.  I'd put some real food in a backpack or a cooler--my brother-in-law has a Yeti because it keeps stuff cool for like four days. I think it was about $350. Nah, keep it cheap. Real food could include turkey and cheese on a hard roll, with some chips, maybe a hard fruit (apple?), and two cookies per person. Nothing crazy. Bring water too, and maybe a PBR, or some other throw-back libation. No soda, no taboule, no couscous. Your kids will think this is so novel!  Oh, speaking of novels, bring some.  A picture book for a toddler, but really go out on a limb here and bring something you might start to read with an older child, like Old Yeller or Heidi.  I just read Heidi with two granddaughters, and they loved it. And Heidi just had cheese and bread and goat's milk on her picnics, and she never complained!   

Heidi, looking for her goat milk snack.

Heidi, looking for her goat milk snack.

Go to the beach even if it is gray, because waves never stop. Birds wheel overhead and kids learn concepts like low tide. Or you could trek up a mountain or a hill. We have a great one around here, and there is a tower at the top. When it's a clear day, you can see three states after climbing the hundred year old spiraling staircase. If it's cloudy, you make plans to come back. Or go on a real river walk. If your kids run ahead and brush up against leaves and branches and race each other to the lightning-struck tree, they all win! Children and adults pick up sticks, rocks, shells. They can touch moss and collect leaves. Everyone will have a story to tell about being outside, being together, being well fed, being physical and being spontaneous.

GOne is cool because you let things unfold, including your blanket. Sit on that, with your family, and let your day that unfolded, be told.

-Teri Michaud

They can touch moss and collect leaves.  Everyone will have a story to tell about being outside, being together, being well fed, being physical and being spontaneous.

Giving back, when your mind and bank account are depleted

My invented holiday is “Pave-the-Way Wednesday”. It happens every year, on the Wednesday after “Give-back Tuesday”, “Cyber Monday”, “Shop Small Saturday”, and “Black Friday”. Luckily, this holiday doesn't require you to spend any money, which is a relief because you most likely don’t have any left given all the previous days of extreme cash depletion.

By Wednesday, you’re burnt-out on shopping, online marketing campaigns, people, holiday music and life. Also, you probably feel a little guilty for caving into all of that marketing/commercialization bull-crap.

Send them a tweet, a text, a card, an e-mail or perhaps even a phone call if you have that kind of energy left.

“Pave-the-Way Wednesday” is about reaching out to someone who helped you get to where you are today. You can send them a tweet, a text, a card, an e-mail or perhaps even a phone call if you have that kind of energy left. Let them know you appreciate them, and how they’ve helped you. Keep it simple.

Lastly, reach out to someone that you can help. A younger cousin, a struggling neighbor, anyone. You don’t need to help that on that day, just let them know that you care about them and can assist in some small way in the future.

You won’t have spent any money (aside from a postage stamp, perhaps) and you’ll have all that positive energy, lost on the previous days, come right back to you just in time to carry through the remainder of the holiday season.

Shopping in Brooklyn is fun, but thanking people is actually fulfilling.

Shopping in Brooklyn is fun, but thanking people is actually fulfilling.

-Ashley Rigby