Forget the Wine, This is What Your Host Wants

May 23rd, 2011 · 13 Comments · Children's Books, Gifts, Culture, Dinner, Kitchenlightenment, Rituals

Almost always, when we have friends for dinner, there comes a point when Andy turns to me or vice versa and says “Should we check on her?” And by that we mean, should we try to lure back whatever guest has walked in our front door only to be whisked upstairs to Abby’s lair for a “tour” of her room. It’s not that we don’t think our seven-year-old is doing anything but charming the pants off  her, but receiving a personal introduction to all 8,000 of her Littlest Pet Shop Pets is a task I believe only a mother could love — scratch that — I mean, a task only a father could endure, and definitely not in the job description of “dinner guest.” Unless you are my friend Lia that is, who, oddly, seems to like my children as much as I do. Last Friday, she came over for some minted pea dip (with potato chips…mmmm) and tagliatelle, but spent the first half hour locked into conversation with the girls as they all crafted Papertoy Monsters together from the book she bought them. To the point where I felt bad interrupting them to, you know, catch up with my friend. I should’ve known Lia would show up with a gift that killed. When Abby was at the height of her Hello Kitty obsession, she came with a fleet of Hello Kitty books, calendars, and magnetic dolls. Last year, she arrived with two kids’ umbrellas from Pylones. And as if this isn’t enough, she is almost always armed with Magnolia cupcakes, chocolate chocolate for Phoebe, and assorted for the rest of us. Believe me, this is all any guest ever needs to do to a) win my friendship forever  b) warm my heart  or c) be invited back. (more…)

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Who Needs Playmobil?

March 31st, 2010 · 1 Comment · Rituals

This post really has no business being on this blog — except for the fact that Paper Doll Command Central happens to be at the kitchen table, especially during long stretches of unscheduled spring breaks. You are looking at Alexandra and Claire, two paper dolls in my daughters’ collection of about three hundred (each with her own name). It works like this: the kids tell me what kind of doll they want me to draw, I do my best to sketch it (not always with grand success; they are still making fun of my attempt at Juliana, a half-princess, half-horse), then they are in charge of coloring, cutting, naming, then (most important) playing with them. I find if I put in a good thirty minutes with them on it, they disappear for hours, diving into elaborate adventures through imaginary worlds. And then I am free to make dinner.

During a looong snow day last year, I bought some poster board at the local stationery store and drew a few scenes for them. They lined up their poster boards in the living room and had the characters jump from place to place and room to room. My favorite, of course, was the restaurant, decorated with real photographs.

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