Minutae, Photo Edition

Posted on 9/29/2014 06:09:00 PM In:
Time to clean off the photos on my phone.  

But before I do that, a joke:  Why did the turtle cross the road?



Probably in some sort of dangerous hazing stunt wherein if he caused a white Subaru to run off the road and into a ditch while trying to avoid flattening a turtle, he would get into the turtle gang.


On the list of Reasons I Could Not Cook Dinner, I bet you'd never expect to see "Kitchen blocked by blanket fort."



Now to think up an excuse for the other three hundred and sixty-four days more. 


How do you make a log more convenient to carry home and put in your fireplace?



Or maybe it's a toy, who knows?

 
I desperately want this t-shirt.


Just too cheap to lay down $20.

 
When someone tries unsuccessfully to unlock my phone, it takes a picture and emails me a "possible theft alert."  Everyone be on the lookout for a serial phone stealer, because I've received this picture half a dozen times in the past month.


 
This summer, I got to watch this man improvise a piece for symphony orchestra on stage, then I got to hug him afterward. 


 Sometimes I really dig my job.

 
What's for lunch?



I don't know, but it's being prepared by an extremely creative sushi chef.

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That Took a Dark Turn Rather Quickly

Posted on 9/25/2014 07:37:00 PM In:
Caterpillar: "Momma, what happens when you pamper a cow?"

Me: "I don't know.  What happens when you pamper a cow?"

"She gives spoiled milk."

"Ha! Did someone tell you that joke?"

"Yes.  But now I wanna tell you some jokes that I made up."

"OK."

"What goes up a hill and then eats the hill?"

"I don't know."

"A goat.  They eat everything."

*********

"What flies in the air and always falls into the sea?"

"I don't know, what?"

 "That guy? Whose father was a genius? And he made wings? And he made them out of wax? And then the guy tried to fly up to heaven and it worked and he flew and then he got really near the sun and the wax in the wings melted and he started to fall and he fell into the sea, whatwasthatguy'snameagain?"

"Icarus?"

"Yeah, Icarus."

*********

"What tells a person to jump off a cliff?"

"I don't know, what?"

"Satan."



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Freckles

Posted on 9/24/2014 05:53:00 PM
 The Caterpillar turned seven this weekend. 

We took a trip to Pennsylvania to meet up with some friends and eat dinner at an Indian restaurant and attend the Renaissance Faire.  It's what she wanted to do.

I mulled over things to write about the Year of Six in my head all weekend and I couldn't really come up with a lot.  I really liked age six; it's been fun.  She's been able to do so many more things.  Like me, she's an early riser, so she gets up in the morning before the rest of the house comes alive and sits next to me on the couch and we have these moments, these great conversations about spirituality, philosophy, the way the world works, why That Guy did That Thing on the tv, or just the latest jokes going around in school.  Plus, she is funny as hell, which makes life so entertaining.  

I said to her on her birthday, "You know, I don't really know if I want you to be seven.  I liked age six so much.  I don't know if you're going to be as nice when you're seven."

She looked up at me and gave me one of those Patient Looks parents reserve for their children when they ask ridiculous questions like, Why do I get wet when I put my hand in the pool, and said, "Mom," *heavy sigh,* "You haven't seen me at seven yet."  

We've been having some battles about homework and classroom behavior lately because she can't focus long enough to get it done in a timely fashion.  I worry about this because she is the youngest in her class and we are already starting to have some of the issues The Dormouse had at her age.  Her focus is on the short-attention-span-theater side -- probably due to being a little less mature than the other kids in her class. She talks a little too much in class -- probably due to having a little less impulse control than the older kids.  I'm wondering if I should have made her wait another year to enter school, but then again if I had, she'd be bored as all get out with the curriculum right now.  I know she can do this work, it's just a matter of will her teachers get that and be patient enough with these issues to be able to see it? and....  Sigh...  Same story, different kid. 

Probably because I'm sensitive to this, I've been riding her - perhaps a little too much - about sitting down to do her homework when she gets home and focusing until a task is done.  Twenty minutes of homework stretches into three or four hours when you can't sit in your chair for more than two minutes at a time.  It's exhausting because Momma gots stuff to do!  And because if she can't do work at home in a quiet house with no one else making noise, I know she isn't doing it at school with twenty-eight or so other kids in the room to serve as ready distractions.  We've had, ahem, a few arguments about this recently.

Today, I noticed that after about fifteen minutes, I didn't see her face back in the living room after I'd told her for the third time to sit back down and focus and I hadn't hollered at anyone in awhile.  It was quiet.  Too quiet.  I walked past and found her intently writing, so I leaned down in this quiet-for-the-first-time kitchen and whispered, "This is what I'm talking about.  This is how you focus and finish your schoolwork quickly.  Good job," and I kissed her on the head.  It was only then that I realized she'd written a full-page of whatever assignment she was working on (a lot for her - she tends to half-ass her answers because she doesn't like to write much) and she asked me if I wanted to read it.

They've been reading the Judy Blume book Freckle Juice in class.  Something I read when I was her age.  Here was the assignment:

Dear ______________, Freckles are the best thing in the whole world!  I had to have them, so I paid sneaky Sharon 50 cents for her secret freckle recipe.  I made it exactly like her recipe said and waited for the freckles to appear, but NO FRECKLES!  She had done this on purpose to trick me.  She knew it would never make me have freckles like Nicky Lane.  Do you have freckles and love them?  If you don't have freckles, do you want them just like me?  What would you do to get freckles or get rid of  them? Your friend, Andrew
They were supposed to write a letter back to Andrew. Cute, right?

It was her response back that I was not quite prepared for:



Dear Andrew,

I don't have freckles.  I don't want freckles.  I just want to be just like I am.  You should feel like that too.  You should like the way you are.  You know every body is fine the way they are.  Every body should have something special in them. You should be happy the way you are.

Sincerely, 

Caterpillar

This.  This!  This is what doesn't get counted on school tests.  This is what doesn't show up on behavior reports and green card and red cards or clip-ups or clip-downs.  This is what I want my kids to learn from school more than anything.  I want them to grow up healthy, whole individuals who think for themselves and are brave enough to make decisions and stick by them when they know they're right and change their minds when they realize they've been wrong and who like who they are and who have opinions and don't apologize for them.  These are qualities that everyone knows will serve them well as adults, but man, teachers sure don't appreciate those qualities in kids who happen to be in their classrooms.

I'm never sure if I've gotten this parenting thing right on any given day.  Most days, I'm pretty sure I'm nowhere near the area of Good Mom and the fact that I don't forget to feed them for more than a single meal at a time is maybe all I have going for me.  But this homework assignment lets me know that sometimes I'm at least in the vicinity.  Also that This Caterpillar that we invited into our home seven short years ago?  She's pretty fantastic.

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Fall Ombre

Posted on 9/15/2014 10:39:00 PM

It's all the rage right now.  That's probably why my tomatoes are getting into it as well.

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Teach a Kid to Fish, She'll Show You Up in an Hour

Posted on 9/13/2014 08:11:00 AM
Last week, The KingofHearts decided The Shortlings needed valuable education in the art of feeding themselves in case of a Zombie Apocalypse, so he schemed with another guy friend we know to create a local fishing trip when they were off school on Labor Day.

The are some nice little fishing holes within thirty minutes or so of our house and while you can't necessarily bring in a ten pound bass there, it is a good place for little ones to learn.  Most of the fishing here, unless you have access to a boat and can get out in deeper water, is catch and release because the fish you can find are too small to keep.  But that was fine for our purposes that day in the gorgeous weather we got.


We brought our fishing gear, small poles for the kids, some lawn chairs, lunch and met the friend who said he "liked to fish" at the lake.  What I didn't realize is that his "like to fish" is different than most people's and he showed up with a giant tackle box, four fishing poles (for himself) and serious philosophies about fishing and how fish think.  And he'd only brought the bare minimum of his fishing gear for that day.  It turns out he takes fishing very. seriously. indeed.

We spent the first few minutes of the day showing the kids how to cast.  Eventually, they settled into their own rhythms and techniques.  The Caterpillar's preferred casting method was to lie the pole down on her chair, open the reel, then grab the end of the line and wade out thigh deep into the water.  Then she'd throw the bobber at the lake with all her might and walk back to the chair.  It's probably not a surprise that she didn't catch anything that day.

The Dormouse picked it up quickly - as she does most things.  Then she tired of it quickly - as she does most things.  So she walked over to our friend who "likes to fish," who had moved from casting to a large fly fishing rod and was working his magic with that.  She began asking him how that all worked.  

I looked over a minute later and realized he'd pulled out his second fly fishing reel and had given it to her.

"That's not gonna end well," I muttered to The KoH, and mentally prepared myself to smooth over his misjudgement and untangle line for the rest of the day as a good faith effort of friendship.

Now, I have wanted to learn to fly fish for decades.  I've spent a lot of days sitting by the lake in my lifetime and I feel like I know what I'm doing with a traditional fishing pole, even if I admittedly have a different philosophy about it that the KoH. (I dislike chasing the fish.  He wants to change locations every ten minutes he doesn't get a bite.  I want to sit on the bank and stare at the sky with a line in the water and maybe read a book or just think a lot, while I'm waiting for the fish to come to me.)  But in the matter of fly fishing, I've never been in a place where I both have someone to tell me how to do it and access to the equipment.  It's never ended well when I've experimented with it and I've never even tempted a fish to try to nibble on my bait in this fashion.  But that little snot pulled two fishes out of the water with that fly fishing reel ON HER FIRST DAY. 



On the one hand, I'm happy for her.  But on the other... come'on!

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Just a Perfect Blendship

Posted on 9/07/2014 08:34:00 PM
It's so great to have a best friend.  Not sure I really ever knew that feeling when I was her age.


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This One Shall Be the Death of Me

Posted on 9/05/2014 03:30:00 PM
We met some friends at the park a few days ago and the kids found this piece of playground equipment, which is basically an elevated, more dangerous version of a merry-go-round, that staple of our youth that caused us all to throw up at least once.  Kids hang from it, someone else spins it and their legs go flying out horizontally in a sort of half centrifugal force experiment, half stunt from the movie Jackass.

I didn't think you could actually make it more treacherous, but this piece of playground equipment hadn't yet met The Caterpillar, who immediately scaled the thing, turned herself upside down and hung by her toes while the other kids spun it around like their own personal Gravitron.  


I don't have an actual photo of it because just after this was taken she let go with her hands and went spinning...



...and a certain mom on the playground nearly dropped the camera when she began yelling at her to hold on with her hands and chanting DON'TFALLONYOURHEAD. DON'TFALLONYOURHEAD. DON'TFALLONYOURHEAD.

I'm not sayin' who it was, but I have three more gray hairs now.

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Gig Number 2

Posted on 9/04/2014 11:12:00 PM
We went to say goodbye to our Cuban friends before they headed back to their home country and it turned into The Dormouse's second public gig of the summer.  They were singing in a local Cuban restaurant (one in which I way spend more time than I'd like to admit) and we popped in for dinner because she had kind of missed saying goodbye on the last day of camp.  They pulled her up and gave her another opportunity to sing.  Crowded restaurant.  No microphone.  Loads of strangers.  She was more relaxed this time and way more comfortable, so she actually performed that song and had fun with it.   I suddenly had a vision of her at age 20, singing in seedy nightclubs to make rent and college tuition and given my own experience in college, I'd have to say, it sounds pretty great.



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The Inner Workings of Alice's Brain

Posted on 9/03/2014 04:13:00 PM
We got a new postage machine at work and while the technician was giving us the quick version of how to use the machine (Hint: you put the mail in one side and then hit the "start" button), my mind began wandering off and I started to wonder why there were Egyptian hieroglyphics on the sticker on front of the machine.  My brain allowed me to ponder this for an embarrassingly long period of time.  Fortunately, I had the presence of mind not to ask out loud because a short time later my brain smacked itself across its metaphorical cheek and said to itself, "No, dumass, that's not an Egyptian bird, that's a picture telling you not to put your fingers in the machine.  Geez!"  


The sticker as it appears.

The sticker as my brain chose to interpret it.

My brain did not, however, alert me to the fact that pointing this perception out to my coworkers later was probably ill-advised, so now the machine has a name.
 



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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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