My Girl; My Camera

Posted on 5/31/2010 04:43:00 PM
One of the first pictures I took with my new camera.


We're still going through that introductory getting-to-know-you-after-the-first-date phase, my new camera and I. You know what I'm talking about, right? When you meet a camera and you think, eh, that's a nice enough looking camera. And then that camera takes you to dinner and suddenly THIS IS THE BEST CAMERA ON THE PLANET, I CANNOT WAIT TO MARRY THIS CAMERA AND PLAN MY RETIREMENT WITH IT. But then after you've spent a few weeks with the camera, you start to see some cracks in the camera's armor. Maybe you and the auto focus can't really seem to come to agreement as to who's in charge. Or maybe the flash is kind of a cad and shows up only when you least expect it, usurping all the attention in your photograph. Then you start to wonder: Is this camera really all that? Maybe that friend of mine who set us up was wrong. What if this camera turns out to have a ton of baggage and can't get past it's own mommy issues? Or worse yet, what if this camera turns out to be a serial killer and keeps me tied up in the basement? Maybe I'm not all that ready to commit to a camera yet. Maybe I need to know more about this camera's origins first. Who said this was a great camera anyway? ...and ...whoa...wait a minute ...I don't think I'm talking about the camera anymore.

But this camera stays turned on for more than fifteen minutes at a time... so already it's a vast improvement over my previous one.

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Mediocre Expectations

Posted on 5/29/2010 06:45:00 AM
Yesterday, I had an unexpected day off work with no children around. This seldom happens. I realized when I learned at the last minute on Thursday that my office would be closed Friday and both my kids were already scheduled to be in school, that it has been years, years I tell you, since I had a day off work when I didn't also have to nurse a child back to health, or when I had a vacation day that didn't also coincide with a school vacation day. I'm pretty confident in saying that I've never even taken a sick day when I didn't also have a kid at home who was also sick, or worse, who wasn't sick and had the pent up energy of a rubber band being pulled way beyond it's stretching point and me without the strength or ability to chase after them. Such is the plight of motherhood; wah, wah, blah, blah, feel sorry for me. Oh wait, most every woman reading this KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT I MEAN.

I was so surprised at my good fortune, in fact, that I decided not to waste it. I declared it My Day and had a whole elaborate schedule planned. Once I put The Large One on the school bus and took The Small One to preschool, I would:

1. get a massage - and have the apple-sized knot in my neck that makes the fingers on my left hand tingle off and on removed once and for all.

then I would immediately walk next door and

2. get a pedicure - asking them to remove the two inches of callouses on the bottom of my heels that keep cracking and bleeding through my socks

then I would drive down to the church building and

3. practice the organ - because I've recently been asked to play the organ in church for Sunday services and here's the thing about the organ: it's a whole different instrument than the piano. You use your feet and stuff. I know! Remembering how to do that for the first time in years requires a bit more than stomping imaginary foot pedals under my piano on my living room floor. Plus I also need time with the concept to desensitize myself from making inappropriate jokes every time I say, "I have to play the organ."

once I did that, I would walk over to the mall next to the church and

4. get my hair cut - because at this point I'm pretty sure a mop head perched precariously on the top of my head would look more polished than what I normally do every day with my hair and I have to give a presentation to our Board of Directors next week and maybe they should think that the person who is directing the cosmetic redesign of their website should be aware that she looks like a hobo and be willing to do something about it.

somewhere in there, maybe if I had time, I'd

5. stop by that new Soup restaurant I've been itching to try but can't ever go in - because when we are down in that area it's always Sunday after church or I have my kids with me and who wants to clean $8 soup off two kids and the floor? Not me, that's who.
and/or:
take some photos with the new camera that I haven't had time to learn how to use yet.


That's all I really wanted. A few things that I've needed to do for awhile, but haven't since they always get bumped to the bottom of the priority list. One or two things I kind of wanted to do. Everything would have been completed by 3:00 pm when I had to be back in the house to get The Dormouse off the bus.

Except.

I got The Caterpillar to preschool late after an Epic Battle Over The Toilet. I'd like to be easy going Mom about this all, but I am SO OVER this potty training thing. This child can stay dry and clean all night long, but she can't do it during the day when she's awake? That's a whole other post, but I was just trying to get her to go before she went to school since no one's seen her poop for three days and every time we put her on the toilet, she sits there for the better part of an hour and until they give up tell her to go play. Then we find her five minutes later hiding in a corner with her legs crossed.

When I finally got her off gave up and took her to school (I lost this Toilet Battle; the Toilet War rages merrily on), I went to the massage place and they couldn't fit me in until later in the day. The pedicure place wasn't open yet. I quickly rearranged my to do list and hit the organ (heh heh... see?) next. While I was there, The Dormouse's school nurse called me saying she'd been in the nurse's office for the last hour complaining of "dizziness" and they thought I needed to come pick her up.

"Does she have a fever?"

"No."

"Does she feel like she's going to throw up?"

"No."


"Any other symptoms?"

"No. But you'd better come get her."

"Are you sure? She was fine when I left her this morning and I don't think she really even understands what 'dizzyness' is."

"Well, she's been in here for about an hour and she says it's not getting any better, so I think you'd better come get her. Can you come right now?"

What I am going to do for a dizzy child at home that a REGISTERED NURSE can't is beyond me. But this all just confirms my suspicions that the end of the school year is just around the corner and that the teachers and staff are a bit... I'm gonna say trunky, because can't be bothered to give a damn seems judgmental.

Realizing that was the end of My Day, I canceled all of my appointments, drove back to the school to pick up The Dormouse and took her home. Where she ate some lunch, and then proceeded to bounce off the freaking walls of the house because THIS CHILD WAS SO NOT SICK.

Then I picked up The Caterpillar, where they happily handed her to me along with a plastic bag full of one soiled outfit and four pairs of soiled underwear (seriously??!? they couldn't put her in a pull-up after the THIRD pair of soiled underwear?) and we went home to continue The Battle of the Toilet because she never did really poop that day.

Moral of the Story: Keep your expectations low and your hygiene lower. You'll save yourself a world of disappointment.

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Between the Lines

Posted on 5/27/2010 03:12:00 PM
Even though I've made it clear on this blog that I pretty much stopped reading books when The Children came, we still encourage lots and lots of reading around our house. The Dormouse took to reading with the same enthusiasm a carp takes to food being dropped near it in the water. She has read twenty of the Junie B. Jones books and truly laments the fact that there might be one out there she hasn't tackled yet. I'm currently taking suggestions for a new series for her to begin obsessing over this summer. I was leaning toward the Ramona Quimby or The Great Brain series I loved so much as a kid, but I'm wondering if there's something out there that's better or more interesting. Suggestions would be appreciated. I've got to come up with things to keep her busy in this year's edition of Camp Sweatshop.

For the better part of the last two years, The KingofHearts has been reading to The Dormouse most nights before she goes to bed. It was something we started after The Caterpillar came along in a desperate attempt to be able to tell The Dormouse later that we didn't completely ignore her once her sister was born. I'd stay upstairs to nurse the baby and put her to bed and they'd go downstairs together and read. Since it's The KoH, however, we couldn't have a normal, six year old, age appropriate book, could we? The answer is no, we could not. I suggested Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. Those suggestions were given less attention than the leaf stuck to the underside of my shoe. No, The KoH is reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy to her. Not just The Hobbit, (which actually creeped me out quite a bit as a ten or eleven-ish kid who saw just the animated cartoon on television) but the whole damn series. So right before she drifts off to slumberland, he fills her head with tales of Orcs, Trolls, Ents, wars and battles between good and evil. Good night, sweet dreams, I'll see you in the morning... that is, if the eye of Sauron doesn't see you first.

She's actually enjoying the books quite a bit, though I would have bet cash money that they'd be way over her head. While I imagine some of it probably still is over her head, she's comprehending much more of it than I would have guessed and loves all the puzzles and riddles contained therein. The KoH maintains that he's raising a nerdy girl so she won't have a problem with boys when she's older. My counter is that nerdy girls are available to all the nerdy boys IN ADDITION TO the popular boys and this just makes for more boys to worry about. Time will tell who wins that argument. Either way, I'm gonna let the age appropriateness issue slide because they are halfway through the series and not only is she loving this time with Daddy each day, but we haven't had even a single nightmare issue to deal with yet. So I like to think it toughens her up a bit so that one day she will be able to look at network news programs and not weep for humanity and want to run screaming off the planet the way I do every time I happen upon the evening headlines.

Aside: The Dormouse came home the other day while I was listening to the radio and some story came on about the oil spill. She announced, "I am SO SICK of hearing about this oil spill! Why do they have to talk about it so much? I don't care about it anymore!" I explained that it was a big deal because the oil was getting into the water and many plants and animals might die because of it. Then a few hours later, a television broadcast showed footage of the coastal areas where the oil is reaching and some animals caught in the oil slicks and she was Moved. To. Tears. I think we're striking a fine balance between right-wing-as-long-it's-not-in-my-backyard and bleeding-heart-liberal. Hopefully this means she'll be equally comfortable moving to Berkley, California or Houston, Texas one day when she's older.

/digression

The Caterpillar has been really into reading lately too and can't stand to be left out of what the "in" crowd is doing. So when The Dormouse and The KoH head to her room for their Long Day's Journey Into Mordor, she goes to her room and collects a stack of books to read with Momma. We like to kick it old school, though. None of this Tolkein crap for us; we're more the Boynton speed.

She started off trying to read this to me, but I had to hurry it along for the sake of the video. Transcript below - it's not exactly the Boynton text, but it's funny how she gets the gist of the words even when she doesn't remember them exactly.



The hog and the pig are dancing...
but not the hippopotamus.

The cats are trying on hats...
but not the hippopotamus.

The moose and the goose are drinking juice...
but not the hippopotamus.

The bear and the rabbit have been to a fair...
but not the hippopotamus.

Now the hog and the frog hurry out for a jog,
While the cat and the rats in their new running hats,
And the moose and the bear and the goose and the rabbit,
are doing their best to keep up with the rest,
but not the hippopotamus.

The the animal back comes screaming...
"Hey, come back!"

And she just doesn't know,
should she go, should she stay? Should she go, should she stay?
"Yes, the hippopotamus!"

Not the armadillo.

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Pine Cone

Posted on 5/26/2010 04:23:00 PM

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Bi-Lingual

Posted on 5/24/2010 05:12:00 PM
KingofHearts: "Ask The Caterpillar what she learned in preschool today."

Me: "What did you learn about today in preschool?"

Caterpillar: "Momma, I learn Chinese!"

Me: "You learned Chinese in preschool?"

Caterpillar: "Yes."

KoH: "Ask her what words she learned."

Me: "What did you learn to say?"

Caterpillar: "I learn to say 'please' and 'ABCDEFG.'"

Me: "Really? How do you say 'please' in Chinese?"

Caterpillar: "Pleeeeeeeeeeeze!"

Me: "I don't suppose there's any point in asking her how to say 'ABCDEFG' in Chinese, is there?"

KoH: "Nope. It's about what you'd expect."

Caterpillar: "ABCDHFG, JKLMNOP, XYZ..."

Me: "Hmm. The Chinese are missing a couple of letters to their alphabet too."

KoH: "Yep."

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Inheriting Her Father's Sense of Humor

Posted on 5/22/2010 07:19:00 AM
The Dormouse:

::puts blankets over head:: "Heeeey! Who turned all the lights out?"

::uncovers head:: "And THAT... is called 'comedy,' of course."

::bows, walks away::

Seriously, this is why I have a college savings plan. How many more years until she goes away to school?

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Uncomforting Lullaby

Posted on 5/21/2010 07:22:00 AM In:

This is an old photo from when we had an extra child from a few weeks back. The reason I'm posting it today is that I just remembered I took this video of them singing lullabies and rocking their "babies" together. As you can see, one takes primary responsibility for the "rocking" part and the other handles the "singing." But I think that's just because every time I'm with the Other Child, during the first twenty-four hours she refuses to speak to me in anything above a whisper. Note to self: see if you can transfer that skill to work on people in the neighborhood and colleagues at work.



I finally sat down to listen to the song The Caterpillar is singing.

Here are the lyrics:


"Rock-a-bye in the treetop
well all fall
the shark will fall and we sing with the flowers.
Sharks,
mouths,
sharks,
mouths,
sharks,
mouths,
sharks,
mouths.

I'm not sure how I should take this, but I think that all signs point to the fact that I maybe, possibly need to turn off the Discovery channel during Shark Week.

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Spring Greenery

Posted on 5/20/2010 03:41:00 PM In:

Just a SOOC shot that's been hanging around on my hard drive. I'm trying to file them all so I can get started dealing with the pictures I took with my new lover camera.

I used to be ethically opposed to Photoshop and post processing, assuming that it was basically cheating for photographers. Then... well... I learned how to use Photoshop. And I started post-processing to some small degree, almost every single photograph I took. This spring for the very first time, I submitted photographs that were altered in Photoshop to a show. Now I'm not so sure how ethically opposed to it I am anymore. It's easy to be opposed to something when you couldn't or wouldn't do it anyway and you don't have to change your life at all keep that belief. And this applies to more than just Photoshop.

This one is post-processed in Photoshop.


Which do you like better?

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Momma Wants to Win a New Husband

Posted on 5/19/2010 12:56:00 PM In:
Last weekend I took an Indian cooking class from everybody's favorite Bakery Scientist and Food Chemist Extraordinaire, The Badger King, who will be hence forward known as The Kitchen King after every Indian's favorite spice.


This was my next step up after the Thai experience.

Funny aside.

At that Thai class, we were all talking about whether we could make this stuff for our families and most everyone in the room said their kids and/or husbands wouldn't eat it so they'd have to make it for themselves. I, however, piped up about how I take my kids and/or husband to Thai restaurants all the time and they eat everything and love it, so I was confident that they'd eat whatever it was I cooked for them from this evening because they're not picky eaters. (I KNOW! Sanctimonious, much? Sometimes even I can't stand to listen to me.) Then I went home and cooked every single recipe that I learned and they all ate exactly NOTHING from any of it.

Not so much funny, ha ha. Just funny sad.

But I digress.

Last winter after one of the big snowpocalypse events, a guy came to our door to ask if he could borrow a shovel. He'd been staying with his girlfriend, who lives on about a half a block up and is from India, when the sky fell and his car was completely lost under the snow for three days. She didn't own a shovel and neither did he, so he stayed there but now he had to go to work and was having trouble digging out his car with the broom and dustpan he was using. The KingofHearts loaned him one of our shovels and then went down a few minutes later to help him dig out. We didn't really know him or her, but we couldn't go anywhere anyway and it was the neighborly thing to do. A couple of weeks later, she came to the door with a giant bag of homemade Indian food she'd made for our family to thank The KoH. After we got over the weirdness of accepting three days worth of food from a near stranger and tried some of each dish to make sure we didn't die (we are such cynical souls), we realized it was the most amazing food ever. The lentils! The lemon rice! The naan! Did I mention the lentils? We spent our energy the next few weeks scheming about other things we could do for her so she would make us more food in the future. But then she found out it was us who kidnapped her dog in the first place, so she was a lot less appreciative when we showed up at her door to return it.

Hence, my need to learn to make my own Indian food.


Badger's classes are great because he's a little bit Alton Brown, a little bit food anthropologist, and a little bit travel/cultural guide, with some inside jokes thrown in that make everything more hilarious if you happen to know him outside of class. Even though I haven't necessarily come home and changed the way I look at the kitchen, nor have I become someone who no longer would rather order pizza for delivery than make a meal from scratch, I really dig learning about the science of cooking and in each class there's always been at least one trick I've picked up that has Blown. My. Mind. Like how to perfectly skin tomatoes in two minutes flat. Or that you should start potatoes in cold water when you boil them so the outside doesn't overcook while the inside stays hard. Or the magic that is the potato ricer. Or what was that thing about garlic? I got too distracted by the taco discussion to pay attention to that one.

Some of the funnier quotes that came out of that class and have been thrown around in my home lately have mainly to do with asking an old Indian woman about her culture:

"So now almost all the middle class in India have blenders and they don't have to make purees by hand with a mortar and pestle."
"Do you feel a loss for the old ways?"
"It is a stupid question, no?"

"Did you have an arranged marriage or a love marriage?"
"Grow to love, grow to hate, it is the same."

"You aren't working very hard to get a husband, are you?"
"If I do a poor job of making this, does it mean I don't have to have a husband?"


Good times.

The single most salient point that I picked up from this most recent class is that in India the common conception is that being able to cook well will get you a husband. One woman in the class offered that she already had a husband but was hoping to get a new one and I may or may not have agreed just a little too strongly with her point.

Apparently the quality of your chapati and whether or not it puffs up and is perfectly round when you put it on the fire is a key indicator in that quest. Here is mine:


Mr. Cusack, I shall be awaiting your proposal.

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I Wanna Tell Ya All a Story

Posted on 5/18/2010 09:04:00 AM
When I was little, my mother was a member of the PTA - that's the Parent Teachers Association - for the uninitiated out there. I don't remember one single thing she did in the PTA except for help throw an ice cream social each year, which to us kids, was the premiere event of the year - imagine the Oscars or the Grammys and multiply times ten because ICE CREAM!

(Ice cream
makes everything better when you're eight years old and live in a hot climate.)

We'd wander over to the school basketball courts at the start of the day and they'd hand out those tiny little elementary school cups of ice cream frozen so hard you could use it to break out of a glass jail cell along with wooden spoons. And maybe you might get some chocolate sauce, I don't know. I'm pretty sure they had games and maybe even once a cotton candy machine. As Joe Biden might say, it was a big f-in deal. So much of a big deal, in fact, that my eight year old self was pretty sure that was the only thing the PTA did.

During the very first week of The Dormouse's public school adventures last year, she came home with a form asking all parents to join the PTA. It cost $5. I filled out the form without really thinking about it and wrote a check for the dues - it's just what you do. Besides, any class that got one hundred percent participation for PTA membership would get a pizza party. I couldn't be the one holding her back from that great prize. A couple of weeks later, my PTA membership card came in the mail and The KingofHearts laughed and laughed.

I was slightly perplexed as to why this was so funny.


"You're a card-carrying member of the PTA," he mocked, "it doesn't get more Suburban Housewife than that. This may even be more funny than that time I caught you barefoot and pregnant... IN THE KITCHEN. Bwa ha ha ha!"
Personally, I still don't get it.

But when she entered the first grade, I paid $10 for a PTA membership for him and me both. So now he is a card-carrying member of the PTA too. Take that, Mocky McMockerson.

I go to the meetings when I can - meaning when they don't conflict with my evening orchestra rehearsals, which has not been often this year. Nothing much really happens at them and I find myself
tweeting random thoughts that pop into my head during the meeting just to stay awake. But back in March, The Dormouse was identified by the school for the My Kid Can Beat Up Your Curriculum program. I didn't think much about it in the way of what this meant for me until a couple of days later when she came home with a handful of fliers and I found out that not only are there are three completely different options for how kids in this program are served but that this program also has it's very own PTA. So I went ahead and joined that too.

*sigh*


And then, there was this incident where the coordinator at the school, who was supposed to answer all my questions, said something like, "You should consider this other school" and then neglected to tell me that not only was there a lottery for placement in this school but that the deadline for said lottery program that was less than forty-eight hours from the moment of our conversation. I was told about that by someone in the PTA meeting I happened to attend - two hours after the five o'clock deadline that had happened earlier that day. Since I was kind of pissed about that, I may or may not have let my ticked-offedness get the better of me and raised my hand when they made a plea for volunteers to run for office on this PTA board next year because hey, at least I'll get to know stuff the school district officials won't tell me if I'm on the board.

So now here I am, a member of not one, BUT TWO Parent Teacher Associations for one kid and quite possibly going to be a board member on one of them and The KingofHearts does not let a second go by wherein he misses a chance to tease me about this. I'm starting to see why it's funny in a sad, sad loser sort of way.

So as I was at one of the PTA meetings on a rainy night last week, sitting in a hard chair in the elementary school cafeteria with fans blowing so loudly I could not hear anything any one was saying, I started to wonder, "What am I doing here? How did my life come to THIS?"


And then the President of that PTA stood up to answer questions and someone asked, "What's the status of the school uniforms?"


A little background: last year, the subject of mandatory school uniforms came up at the PTA. As is process in our district, there needed to be a petition signed by a minimum number of people to request a vote of all the families in the school. Then once it was put to a vote, seventy-five percent of the families needed to vote yay for uniforms. (I'm ambivalent about school uniforms as I might have mentioned, but I voted no simply because it's one less thing for me to do.) They didn't get anywhere near the required percentage of yes votes. What I learned later was that they had held a vote the year before which was voted down as well. Then this year, out of nowhere, The Dormouse came home with yet aNOTHer voting-on-school-uniforms ballot. "Good heavens," I wrote under my no vote on the ballot form, "this is the third year in a row we've voted on this issue and it's clear the families don't want uniforms. At this point it just seems like someone on the board has a pet issue."

So when the question was asked at the PTA meeting about the results of the third vote in three years on the subject of making uniforms required at the elementary school, the PTA president said this:


"Well, as many you know the most recent ballot on the question of uniforms did not receive enough
yes votes to pass, so there will be no mandatory uniforms at the school next year." *pause* "We are currently talking to the principal to explore the possibility of voluntary uniforms next year."

Seriously. How freakin' funny is that? That was my entertainment for the week.


In the last year I've become keenly aware of the fact that a parent is the last bastion of responsibility when making sure their kids learn - whatever it is you want them to learn. It doesn't matter if it's church, school, the socialist government, whatever, I've come to understand that even in the best of situations, there are going to be holes in my kids' education and it's up to me to find a way to plug them. And if I'm not willing to step up and plug those holes, no one else is going to do it. Being a part of a PTA (or two) is just one way for me to work on that. So that's why I'm going to cowboy up and do it despite the fact that there aren't very many things I'd rather do less.

After the uniform discussion, the candidates running for positions on next year's board were introduced and asked to say a few words about themselves to the group. They handed the microphone around and each person took a turn saying their name, how many kids they had in the school and how old those kids were. No one elaborated. No one turned it into a campaign speech. Truthfully, they all seemed to feel as stuck and resigned to this situation as I am. Until, that is, they got to the last person, who took the mike -- and I swear on the toffee flavored ice cream I just made that is waiting for me in the refrigerator, I am not making this up -- these were her exact words:

"Hello, I'm [name redacted] and I have a seven year old daughter in first grade and I just want to say that I believe that children are our future. And my feeling is that we should teach them well so that they can lead the way for the next generation."


Admittedly, this woman looked to be about as young as you possibly could be and still have a seven year old kid. I realize there's a distinct possibility that she is young enough that she doesn't even know the Whitney Houston song, but can we all just agree that I showed incredible restraint in NOT putting my mobile phone up on the air, turning it on, and swaying from side to side? I'm going to need accolades for this because IT WASN'T EASY. Also not easy: Refraining from raising my hand and adding, "Yes! We should show them all the beauty the possess inside and maybe also we could give them a sense of pride so it would be easier..."

So I'm also doing it for opportunities to practice self-control.

That and the mockery.

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Purple Flower

Posted on 5/16/2010 08:15:00 PM
I'm not very good at plant names. I recently submitted some photos to an exhibit where I had to "provide the botanical names" for all the photos I took. The list I sent them looked something like this:
  • weed
  • helicopter seed from tree (maple?)
  • Eastern Tent Caterpillar on some type of moss
  • pine-ish tree
  • cool flower I do not know the name of

I like to think I gave the judges a good laugh, but I'm guessing they just shook their heads. The thing is, Google all you want, but you can only narrow down the one hundred and seventy-eight thousand hits by so much when all you've got to go on is "flower, white petals, yellow center."

Similarly, this might be some sort of iris, but it flowers in clumps and I've never seen an iris like that so I'm just gonna go with "Purple Flower."



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Fake Raindrops

Posted on 5/14/2010 07:00:00 AM In:
Taken through a car window on a rainy day in May.


OK - I lied. It was taken on a sunny day and April with liberal doses of photoshop.


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Up To the Highest Height

Posted on 5/13/2010 02:26:00 PM
I'm coming to the end of a couple of weeks where, through a series of events that were both willingly chosen and guilt driven, I have severely overextended myself. I blame this mainly on my old nemesis, The Phone, and a few ill-considered actions in which I for some ridiculous reason, chose to answer it when it rang and then could not say no to whoever or whatever was on the other end. I have been to PTA meetings, rehearsals, concerts, played special numbers for church, filled in as organist, taught classes on parenting skills (I know!), showed up to events to act as photographer, and just in general been a point person for a number of outside-my-work-hours work things not to mention two Really Big Things I am working on for my actual job responsibilities. In other words, all work and no play make Alice an absentee mom. Note to self: learning how to say "no" occasionally could come in quite helpful. Every time I think "if I can just get past Tuesday. Tuesday is the last of my commitments and after Tuesday, all will be at rest and I can breathe," then I realize "oops, except for that thing Wednesday."

Last weekend, The KingofHearts announced to the girls that we'd be heading out to test out the aerodynamics of paper and string and they'd better get their shoes on, stat. Not having any idea what he meant, they still didn't want to miss out and scampered off to find shoes and put something on other than diapers and underwear. When we finally got to our destination, here's what he had planned.


Despite little wind that morning, we found a nice kite flying hill and managed to get some kites off the ground, which greatly impressed me. When I was a kid, I could never get a kite up in the air for more then ten seconds unless I was running at full speed and that never lasted long, so I was dubious about the girls' abilities to handle this activity without great frustration, but apparently that had something to do with the fact that where I grew up in the desert where moving air barely has the force needed to spread the seed of a dandelion plant. I was pleasantly surprised that even The Caterpillar was able to get her kite flying in the actual air for a decent amount of time.


That is, until a big wind snuck up on her and she let go of the string. The The KoH went comically sprinting across the length of the field, trying to catch it. When he got almost to the edge of the park where the fence would have stopped him, I thought he was almost going to get it and he reached his hand out with his fingers juuuust about closing around the string only to have the wind suddenly snatch it from his grasp and lodge the entire thing at the top of a very large tree and while we stood under it, considering whether that branch there might hold his weight if he climbed up, the string broke and the entire thing went sailing off into the neighborhood, never to be seen again. I imagine it would have made Charlie Brown pump his fist in solidarity.

The Dormouse hardly noticed the drama but kept a watchful eye on her kite thereafter.


The Caterpillar, however, was unfazed by all the drama and simply found another way to entertain herself: "Look! Dirt!"



At least it beat Kite Day.


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Notblue Bells

Posted on 5/12/2010 07:07:00 AM
My other favorite of the photos I took and submitted to a local exhibition last week. This also was not chosen. Are we sensing a theme here? Like maybe I should not be judging photography contests?


I don't know what this plant is. If you do, please tell me. These delicate little blooms are each about the size of a percocet capsule (don't ask me how I know that) and the color is so subtle it was almost an afterthought. I had to boost up the contrast and the saturation to make it read on film properly (well, not "film," but what else do you call it these days? They really need to come up with a word for that). I love that the stamen of the plant come in a color so complimentary, that I'd find them both on the same page of the PMS Swatch book, just on opposite ends. I want some for my front yard.

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Red Maple Seed

Posted on 5/11/2010 07:25:00 AM
For Mother's Day this year, I didn't get breakfast in bed, jewelry from Jareds, a trip to the spa for a pedicure, or even the undying appreciation from those who love me. But I did buy myself a ridiculously expensive camera and snazzy new lens so I'm gonna call it a win.

I submitted five photos to a photography exhibition last week and two of them were chosen. Imagine how much time I could have wasted for that if I'd had that camera then. Here's one that didn't get selected. Which is a shame really, because I think this one is my favorite of the five and clearly the judges didn't see it that way. But whatevs, I gots me a spot on the wall for something.


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Bad Case of Bed Head

Posted on 5/09/2010 07:49:00 AM
This is how she looks when she wakes up. Every. Day. The hair twisting thing might be getting out of hand.












It occurs to me that back when I wrote
this post, the dilemma was to cut or not to cut her hair. I am sorry to report that, lo, this many months later, we still have never given her a hair cut. She has so little of it compared to other kids her age, it hardly seems fair to take any away. So mostly I put pony tails in it and let her get her finger stuck in it. Interestingly, when I wrote that post a year and a half ago, I had no idea how appropriate that poem would become for her. It bears repeating:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.


Indeed.

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Weed

Posted on 5/08/2010 07:25:00 AM

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Ridiculously Pink Azalea

Posted on 5/07/2010 07:03:00 AM

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The Magic Flute

Posted on 5/05/2010 09:00:00 AM
Several years ago, The KingofHearts created a Kendo/Writers Group with some folks from church and the neighborhood. I mockingly lovingly refer to this as his "Little Circle of Friends." They meet once a week for a Japanese sword fighting lesson (there is actually a rationale for why these two things must be done together which I won't bother to poke holes in at this time) and then to gather around the proverbial hearth and talk about writing, read each other's writing, make suggestions and comments for improving their writing and just generally yank everyone's chains.

You might think that this would be something that I'd dig because, despite my often inept (sometimes purposeful, sometimes not) use of the English language here on this weblog, I am a not-so-closeted competent writing/grammar geek. However, there are four things keeping me from horning in on their fun 1) he deserves to have something that I don't meddle in and 2) I think I've explained before why I don't read much these days 3) I'm not much of a fiction reader anyway; I gravitate to non-fiction when I do have time to read and 4) they are are primarily interested in the fantasy and science-fiction genres and oh-my-heavenly-stars-above-in-the-sky, when I do read fiction, fantasy couldn't interest me less. Especially badly written fantasy and sci-fi, which I maintain, is about seventy-five percent of the work that goes published in the English language. (But not Plan 9 From Outer Space; that's just awesome.)

In general, I like to read my husband's work. He's a good writer; he has an interesting voice. I, personally, don't respond to the subject matter he digs reading and chooses to write. But because he mostly writes well, I can handle reading his stuff. But ask me to read other people's fantasy stories and, well I'm sorry, that's just more than in sickness and in health, for better or worse.

Once, many years ago, I tried to read Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series to placate The KoH because he loved it. I had to stop because the urge to walk into the kitchen, take a pair of chopsticks out of the drawer and firmly insert one into each eyeball socket in my skull just so I would have an excuse to discontinue reading nine more books was JUST TOO STRONG. Seriously, what is with that series? That dude is dead, and HE'S STILL WRITING BOOKS. He even beats Tupac Shakur for posthumous publications.

And now that I've offended possibly every person reading.

*grand curtsy*

The weekly meeting was originally held at our house, which Dormouse loved because, a room full of captive adult attention? HEL-LO! How could it get any better than this? I mostly didn't mind them using the house and occasionally joined in or just found something to do elsewhere in the house while they met. The problem with this was that The Caterpillar has a bedroom about ten feet away from the only room in our house big enough to hold a group of people and a bedtime which precedes the end of the meeting. So it often got loud - not drunken brawl in the hotel room hallway loud, but just too loud for her to go to sleep. So when another member of the group bought a house, the meeting moved there.

By this time, The Dormouse was reading and writing herself asked to go to the meetings with Daddy. And as she gets older, her natural precocious self wants to contribute more and more. So she sometimes writes some of her own stories and poems and brings them along to the meetings with The KoH. I don't really discourage this because a) I think it's good for her to be motivated to read and write more and b) it's her time with Daddy. She now refers to it as "My Writers' Group."

Last week, a colleague called me at night for a work related issue and, as she knows The Dormouse and is always very sweet and kind with her, asked to talk to her for a minute.

"Oh, she's not home," I said absentmindedly, "She's at her weekly Writers' Group."

And then I stopped cold because I just then heard the words coming out of my mouth and realized what a pretentious, aureate remark it possibly sounded that I'd told another adult that my six-year-old was at her "weekly writers' group" meeting.

Said kind colleague, "She's at her what?!?"

And then I had a conversation that sounded very much like previous several paragraphs I've written here, wherein I try to apologetically sound like I wasn't the pushy, overbearing stage-mother I'm sure I'm coming of as here.

To her credit, my kind colleague understood perfectly and thinks it's adorable.

"OK then," she said, "Tell her this is what I want. I want her to write me a story. But I want her to include one thing: there must be a flute in the story."

Always happy for a new challenge, this is what The Dormouse came up with:

Once upon a time there was a girl named Wendy. She wanted to play the flute. She ran over to the musical instrument store. She bought a big flute. It was a sliver glowing flute. It looked like the sun was always shining on it. It cost a fortune for the flute! It cost 300 cents! Then, she went home and played the flute for an hour on the piece of music called Chicophsciy*. She played it perfectly well even though it was her first time doing it. Dooo strumm laaa dummm... and so on. The next morning she woke up and went in to the kitchen. To her surprise, she saw a cake on the kitchen table in the dining room on a big, shiny table... instead of a little wood-disgusting table. The cake had a little glass plate that seemed to blend in with the table. There was a little card snapped to the plate. It said:

Dear Wendy, this cake and this plate are for you. Happy birthday! Love, Mom.

So, to her surprise, all her friends, family and neighbors all jumped out and said SURPRISE! Then they all ate the cake. And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

I'm never quite sure where the line between encouraging my children to achieve their full potential and try new things ends and once you cross over, you land smack dab in the middle of pompous snobbery. In our society, we constantly send out double messages. Have a healthy sense of self-esteem. Believe in your abilities. But don't get too haughty about it. We tell our kids they should be proud of who they are and their accomplishments, but when they talk about it, we tell them to be humble. I think maybe this is just my childhood emotional baggage. As I kid, I was always keenly aware of whether anything I was saying to someone else came off as bragging or, even if it wasn't, if someone else would interpret it that way. I was a smart kid in school, I excelled at music, but I always felt like I needed to hide those things from the other kids and I certainly couldn't talk anything like that because it might be perceived as showing off. They, however, could sure as heck ask me for help with homework and it was pretty much expected that I would, not because I had any affinity toward teaching or was good at tutoring, but because they felt I should. Society constantly tells children they aren't good enough, too ugly, too fat, too whatever, so we fight against that. But when they do excel at whatever it is they do, we tell them not to let it go to their heads. It's a delicate dance.

The Dormouse was recently identified at school to be included in an advanced learning track to serve her specific needs better. And look at me, still not even being able to say the words; out with it: she's been identified as "gifted." Whatever that means. We have the option of keeping her in her current school with specialized education or sending her to a different school entirely where there'll be a more comprehensive curriculum. But somewhere, in the back of my mind, there's this persistent, constant voice saying, "Well, just don't let her get all uppity about it." Which is probably not the first thing I need to consistently think about when considering my daughter's education. Even at work, where my colleagues are a bunch of therapists and totally get special educational needs of all kinds, I find myself not comfortable talking about this issue. Two of my colleagues have children with special needs on the other end of the educational spectrum and it just feels erudite - even though I know they wouldn't see it that way. So I sit mute when they ask me how school's going for her and mutter "fine" into my burrito from Chipotle.

I don't want her to go to this school just because it's prestigious. I want her to go because it's the right place for her. And it may not be. It may turn out that we don't even have the option of attending due to the limited enrollment which requires everyone to apply to a lottery for a spot. (Which -- don't even get me started on the whole having to be lucky enough to win a lottery to get the right educational placement for my child factor.) I'm secretly hoping that we don't win that lottery so it's not my decision anymore and I can blame someone else if I'm not happy with the results.

Until then, I'm just going to let her go to her Writers' Group.


*Chicophsciy = Tchaikovsky. It's nice to see that despite the mouthful that are most classical music composers' names, she still attempted this one.

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Well... There You Go Then

Posted on 5/04/2010 05:55:00 PM
Me, to The Caterpillar, who is digging in the diaper section of the cabinet: "What are you doing?"

*startled* "I'm getting a pull-up!"

"What for?"

*blank stare* "For my butt."

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Red Maple By Morning Light

Posted on 5/03/2010 03:54:00 PM


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Get Yer Tickets Here!

Posted on 5/03/2010 05:20:00 AM
In case you haven't noticed 'round these here parts, music is a big part of what I do and who I am, both professionally and personally. I am one of those hippie types who believes that creating and responding to music is a basic human behavior. Though I've looked for it a hundred times and never been able to find who said it, I once read a quote pointing out that from an anthropological standpoint, while there have been many cultures discovered that didn't have a form of written language, there has never been a culture discovered, living or dead, that didn't have a form of music and dance.

(Seriously, if you know that quote, please respond in the comments with the citation because I have been pulling my hair out for YEARS trying to find it. Also if anyone knows the quote by Plato or Socrates or someone back in olden times who said that the music of today was ruining our generation's youth, I'd love to have that too. That would have come in handy about a kajillion times over the past few decades.)


If you ever doubt music as a basic human response just watch your kids sometime. Case in point:



That's The Dormouse at fifteen months. I love this video clip so much, I'm going to have my will contain the clause that it shall be buried with me.

Here's The Caterpillar on her second birthday:



I love this part of being a parent so much - watching them discover and respond to things that make them dance or laugh. It almost makes up for the three pairs of urine-soaked underwear I had to change yesterday. Almost.

I also love finding local venues that give kids a chance to express and experience music of all types. I don't know, maybe there are lots of places like this in other cities, but I have to say that in the Washington area, access to that kind of stuff is one of my very favorite things.

This is all leading up to... wait for it... my very first giveaway on this blog! *blog... og... og...*

The nice people at MusiKids contacted me and asked if I'd like to promote their Moms' Night Out event on May 6th in exchange for two free passes to the event. While I love the idea of using this webspace for personal gain, sadly, I have a rehearsal that evening. Which makes it your lucky day.

Yeah, yeah, I know Official Delurker Day was way back in January, but... you know... I forgot... and stuff. Also: this is Underland, where things don't work exactly as they are supposed to.

So this makes it also: my very first shameless bid for comments! *omments... omments... omments...*

Comment on this post and tell me your favorite kind of music to play for your kids. Or comment and tell me your favorite music to play for other peoples' kids that drives those other people crazy. Or just comment and tell me U2 sucks. It's your opinion; I don't care. Comment as many times as you want. Just do it before Tuesday, May 4th at 12:00 pm (that's high noon). I'll randomly select one commenter by asking my cat to think of a number between one and one-hundred (I hope there isn't a flaw in that logic) and the winner will receive two free passes to the May 6th MusicKids event. Oh, and you need to provide me with an email address so I can contact you. But as long as you have profile with a email address linked to it, you don't have to include that email address in your comment.

Here's all the relevant information, in case you're a planner, unlike me. Or in case you aren't a winner, but still want to attend. You can do that, I'm pretty sure.

Don’t Miss Moms Night Out at MusiKids

MusiKids, the DC area's preeminent music & movement program, will host its first ever Moms Night Out at its Bethesda studio on Thursday, May 6 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Come sing, socialize and celebrate motherhood with MusiKids staff and other DC-area mothers.

In addition to tasty nibbles and refreshments from Thyme Out, the evening will feature:
  • mini massages from Be You Bi You Spa
  • mothering tips from the Center for Growing Families
  • beginner kitting lessons from Knit Out of the Box
  • andkaraoke to release one’s inner songstress.
Tickets to Moms Night Out are available for $12 by calling 301-215-7946 or e-mailing info@musiKids.com. They can also be purchased for $15 at the door.

MusiKids is located at 4900 Auburn Ave. in Bethesda. For more information, visit www.musikids.com.

It sounds like a blast. Maybe I'll change my schedule and rig the event to win myself. That's not wrong, is it?

Sorry for all you who read this and don't live in the local area. You're gonna have to get to Bethesda on your own power and/or dollar. I'll see if I can scare up some kind of giveaway that applies to out of state folks some other time. Maybe I'll give away my cat.

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Streaky

Posted on 5/01/2010 05:12:00 AM
The tulips are gone now and all that is left in their stead is an army of green, headless stems. Now we have to sit and wait for the next thing to bloom. But in honor of May Day, here's the last of the tulip photos.


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Me in 3 Seconds

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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