Archive | February, 2013

Laundry Day

18 Feb

Laundry is a chore no matter how you fold it (good one huh?) Well for parents it is something that has looms or fester (depending on the week’s activities of your children) in the corner of your house until it starts talking to you or you just run out of underwear.

As a single person or a non-breeder you have no idea how much laundry can accumulate in a week. You dedicate a few hours to doing your laundry and cleaning your house all in one day, then you might celebrate by hosting a dinner party later that night or going out on a date. Before kids, you would do things like drop off dry cleaning and then actually pick it up!

Once you have a baby that all changes. You find out quickly about which stain treatments work on baby poop, that pee soaked clothes actually can’t be ignored after sitting in a basked for more than 4 days (the smell overtakes the house), and that sometimes it’s just okay to throw out an item of baby clothing that is too gross to take out of a plastic bag and put into the washer (you never liked that onesie anyway). But in the end it all comes down to sheer volume of little people clothes that breaks you. At some point, maybe around the 14 month of your child’s life you decide folding is for suckers. Laundry_in_Paris

Well for you bitter laundry haters I have a glimmer of hope: The laundromat. It is my best kept secret.

I have become a lover of the laundromat (full discloser I have never owned a home where I could have my own washer).

Driven to the brink of exhaustion from walking back and forth from my apartment to the wash room in my building and having by neighbors roll their eyes at me for washing more than a single load, I started doing laundry every other week at my local wash-house. Now this sounds crazy, since there is a washer I can access any time of day in my building, but I have created a sanctuary at my laundromat and I was sick of being two quarters short of a load, not to mention the girl from apartment 24C and her eye rolling.

The laundromat is a place for me go sans my children (there are usually other kids there, but I am not responsible for their horrible behavior so they don’t bug me and they make my kids look like angels for the day). I spend my laundry day listen to music, reading books, or watch tv and munching on unhealthy snacks. It’s worth spending the extra cash for some time alone.

Not all laundry houses are the same, so it might take a few visits to find the right one. Now the key to this is going on a day or evening when no one is there. Sunday and Friday nights are wonderfully quiet. Make sure there is an attendant there during the time you will be washing, they hold the remote and if you befriend them they will turn on Downton Abby for you, not to mention if the machine eats your money they can help. DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN! This is very important, if you bring them they will just make your evening go to s$@t in a few minutes. Note: Some parents will gladly take your kids for a playdate if you tell them you just need a few hours to do laundry. Bring headphones and some technology, even if you are planning to watch Mr. Bates and Anna, this is important to keep the Chatty Cathys at bay. Finally take time to fold, it buys you more time alone, and it will guilt whoever is at home watching the kids into making you dinner or lunch. “I must have done 12 loads of laundry” and “I think I might have tweaked my back lifting a basket into the car” also helps.

The end result of your hours at the washhouse is that you have stacks of clean clothes, where you don’t have to worry about for at least a week, your car smells awesome (thanks to Tide), and you had an opportunity to finish that trashy romance book you were reading (but won’t tell anyone that you own).

Ivy + Bean the Musical Debuts in Berkeley

7 Feb

A year ago Berkeley author Annie Barrows received an email from an old friend that resulted in bring the characters from her best-selling children’s book series Ivy + Bean to life. The email from Nina Meehan, executive director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, was a simple question: What do you think about making Ivy + Bean into a musical for kids?

Barrows, along with her publisher Chronicle Books, loved the idea and gave BACT the blessing to transform Ivy + Bean in to an original stage production. Meehan immediately reached out to New York playwright and composer Scott Elmegreen, creator of Magic School Bus Live! The Climate Challenge, for help. The result is a new musical that debuts Saturday, Feb. 9 at Berkeley’ Freight and Salvage for a three week run, then travels to San Ramon and Mill Valley.

Megan Putnam and Catherine Gloria in the roles of Ivy and Bean.

Megan Putnam and Catherine Gloria in the roles of Ivy and Bean.

With eight Ivy + Bean books and a ninth on the way, Elmegreen had his hands full when it came to creating a story for an audience of Ivy + Bean fans. Elmegreen focused in on what he calls “musical moments;” instances where the drama was high and would translate great on the stage. Hopefully the young audience members won’t get too upset if something from book four makes it’s way into the storyline.

“We are asking our audience to take some imaginative leaps,” said Meehan. “Just as they do in the process of reading.”

If Barrow’s reaction at a technical rehearsal last week was any taste of what fans of the books will think, the BACT crew and Elmegreen have nothing to worry about.

“This part is similar to how you don’t know how your book is going to be illustrated,” Barrows said before entering the rehearsal. “Look at Ivy! She looks just like Ivy.” Barrows declared after seeing actress Megan Putnam in her red wig and polk-a-dot dress. “It’s like having all my imaginary friends come to life.”

Meehan’s gut feeling that the story of Ivy and Bean of Pancake Court was going to be a great kids’ production has not only been validated by the reaction of Barrows, but by the surrounding community and fans of the books. To cover the costs of creating a new musical BACT created a Kick-starter campaign that has surpassed its $5,000 goal before the deadline. And performance dates are already selling out.

“There is no way I had the expertise on what you bring forward and what you bring back,” said Barrows when asked how the theatrical production differs from her books, adding that Elmegreen and Bay Area Children’s Theatre has done a beautiful job.

Ivy + Bean the Musical will be making its worldwide debut on Saturday, Feb. 9 to a sold out crowd at Freight and Salvage (2020 Addison St., Berkeley) with a special appearance and autograph session with Annie Barrows.

If You Go:

Feb 9–March 3. Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley.  $15–$20. www.bactheatre.org

March 9–17. Front Row Theater, 17011 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon. $15–$20.

March 23–April 6. Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. $15–$20.