Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dress up time

Cora has two ways she likes to dress up. One is getting to pick out some part of her own outfit, as when she chose to replace the white tights Momma picked out with the much more exciting orange and blue striped tights to complete this outfit (also accented with Elmo slippers above):
Then there is the treasure chest of dress-up clothes her Grandpa got her for Christmas. Now, well do I know that the Disney princesses and their marketing juggernaut are pure evil, but for all Cora knows, these are just clothes that come with pictures of girls on them. And, there is no escaping the princesses anyways; I just hope to be able to make some inroads with the real Grimm tales, too.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wisdom from the Queen

One of the (library!) books I've been reading this month is Margaret Atwood's Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose 1983-2005. I love Atwood's writing in any genre - novels, stories, poems - and one thing that always impresses me is that she can be so witty and entertaining no matter what she is writing. Her voice is so distinctive, such a pleasure. So often, when I read her nonfiction writing, I find her saying exactly what I needed to hear.

Here is an example, from the essay "Nine Beginnings":

A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason. Think of it as the altar of the Muse Oblivion, to whom you sacrifice your botched first drafts, the tokens of your human imperfection. She is the tenth Muse, the one without whom none of the others can function. The gift she offers you is the freedom of the second chance. Or as many chances as you'll take.

It's a beautiful paragraph, but what I really love is this idea of the tenth Muse, Oblivion, who might sound forboding, but is perhaps the most generous of muses. And while I have certainly made many, many sacrifices to her, I would say I have not made enough. I'm not saying that I think I need to cast my work into the wastebasket. I'm saying I don't think I've taken as many chances as I'm offered. I haven't failed as often as I could have....because I haven't tried as often as I could have.

I've written about this before, about how I am trying to change this. I picked a difficult time of year for this, with the sickness cycle and the sudden return to harsh midwestern winters, but I also know that it doesn't matter. There will always be a dozen readymade excuses for not doing something. As the fog of FluFest 2008 lifts, I'm ready to jump back in.

Just above the paragraph I quoted is this: "Girls should be allowed to play in the mud. They should be released from the obligations of perfection. Some of your writing, at least, should be as evanescent as play."

Squishy Art Project

A while ago I got a terrific book of art projects for toddlers out of the library. I rediscovered the joys of the library about a year and a half ago and have been a steady patron ever since. Of course, the problem with the library is that you always have to give the books back! So, last fall I bought my own copy of MaryAnn Kohl's First Art. Last weekend I did one of the "squishy art" projects with Cora. It was a day when nothing seemed to hold her interest, she was squirmy and whiny and frankly a pain in the family neck. It seemed like she needed something new, something very different, something amazingly fun. And perhaps just the slightest bit educational. (I know. I just can't help it.)

Luckily, I had the requisite packets of unflavored gelatin in the cupboard. So I made the gelatine, a bowl of red, a bowl of blue, a bowl of yellow. Chilled them (it took a little longer than the book suggested, but Elmo helped us out with the waiting time). And then with (seriously) the last three sturdy two-zip ziploc bags, I made up the squishies. You can guess how the colors were paired up.

And then Cora and I sat at her table and squished away, every once in a while holding a bag up to the window for a different look. Chris snapped away with the camera.

It was like magic. She calmed down, she sat as still as a baby can (i.e. not very, but that's okay), she laughed and had fun. We did this for probably about 20 minutes, which proved long enough to break the scary downward spiral we'd begun earlier in the day, and the evening was much more pleasant for having done this small activity.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February: Finding new ways to kick my ass

February has always been a tough month in our household, though usually in financial respects. This year, with the finances not as horrific as usual, February has had to find a new way to wreck her havoc on us.

Don't you think February must be a she? A kind of icy, glittery Snow Queen? One of those fairy tale figures who seems so beautiful, and yet is so cruel? I think this is a northern notion.

So, we have been sick, instead. And by we, I mean the adults. Cora has been unaffected by the stew of germs she lives in (a pause to give thanks), but Chris and I have managed to trade off being sick every week since the third week of January. This week we finally managed to sync up and get sick at the same time, albeit not with the same sickness. Chris got the horrible sore throat and voluminous phelgm. I got the fairly sore throat, fever, and chills, and general weakness. I even had to cancel class!

So, here's hoping that we reach the end of this ridiculous tag-team dance soon. If only so that one day we may have the strength to do the dishes and straighten up the house.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day 2008

A delicious breakfast...
Cora's first donut with SPRINKLES!

Sometimes donuts make you tired. Sometimes you're just pretending.

First playdough! Fun!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And sometimes it's just perfect

Tonight, after dinner (quesadillas with dipping sauce - mild salsa), Chris left for choir practice. Cora was still eating her little piece of mint chocolate she got at dance class, and with each bite she said, "mmmmmmmm" and put her hand on her heart and wiggled in her chair. In fact, before he left, Chris asked if he could have a bite, and she said yes, but then looked at her chocolate so sadly, that he decided not to take a bite.

The problem is always, at this point, how do you get the baby into her jammies without a big showdown?
First we put lotion on our hands and arms at the table. We agreed it would be hard to do legs at the table. So, we sat on the rug and put lotion on her feet and legs, and then a new diaper, and jammies. We read a new book from the library - Binky - then we found Cora's binky and baby Tidoo. We went upstairs and read What's Wrong, Little Pookie? and then Yummy, YUCKY, and then The Mitten. We sang "The Riddle Song" ("I gave my love a cherry that had no stone..." aka the cherry-chicken-story-baby song).

I asked her if she was ready to lie down with Tidoo and Buddy Dog and her pillow, and she said yes. I laid her down in the crib and covered her up and said goodnight and stepped towards the door...and she popped up, saying, "Mama!" My heart sank. This is usually how those 45 minute singing marathons start.

But she just stood at her crib and lifted her face up. I said, "Do you need a kiss?" She nodded, we kissed, and she lay back down!! I covered her up again and said good night and that was it! She's asleep! No crying!

So, what was the secret? The lotion? The chocolate? The stories? The order of the stories? Oh, if only I knew!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What passes for religious instruction...

The following conversation actually took place about a week ago, at dinnertime.

"Cora, would you like to give up whining for Lent?"


"Would you like to give up crying at bedtime?"


"Would you like to give up saying no?"


"What would you like to give up?"

"A poopie!"

Twenty-one already! (months, that is)

Here you can see Cora all packed and ready to go, should Elmo ever call and ask her to run away with him.

A three-headed baby?! No, just dinner with Cora and two of her very closest friends, Tidoo and Ivy.

We are experimenting with barettes. This one stayed in for about two minutes before being pulled out for closer examination.

New furniture for the kitchen. Cora no longer wants to sit in the booster chair and watch me cook. We're hoping she might consider sitting here and coloring or having tea parties.

Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm it!

Nora, Tycast Team co-captain, tagged me!

There are 5 rules to being tagged:
1. The rules are to link the person who sent this and leave a comment on their blog so their readers can visit yours
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Share 7 strange/weird facts about yourself
4. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and link their blog
5. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Now, I can hear every member of my family thinking "only 7 strange/weird facts? How will she choose?!" Let's see if I can surprise even them.

1. More geeky, perhaps, than truly strange, but I have kept a list of every book I've read since 1993. (I was surprised to discover that last year was actually a high for the past ten years - how is I am reading more with a toddler than I did without?).
2. I have a true weakness for the two worst kinds of movies: monster movies (true monsters! No psychopaths!) and dance movies (how embarrassing - but I think Cora shares this, as when we caught the last bit of Save the Last Dance this weekend, she was trying to copy Julia Stiles' ballet-hiphop moves)
3. My friend Cara and I discovered that in high school we were both so inspired by the movie Chariots of Fire, but both such geeks, that we did not take up running, but did both check out a copy of Eric Liddell's autobiography from the public library - one of us in CA, the other in NJ.
4. I have actually encouraged Cora to throw up into my hand rather than down my pajamas. Ick. This is exactly the kind of fact that would have made me gag two years ago. I'm sorry if you're gagging right now. I really am.
5. 9 times out of 10 I would rather make up some scrambled eggs than eat leftovers.
6. Chris once made me a little book, with his own illustrations, of the strange things I have said to him while half-asleep in the morning (my favorite? "Put me back in the bottle!" or "Are you a bad alien?")
7. I often cheerfully and sincerely greet my dinner - "Hello, little chicken!" - but I try to do this only at home, where Chris is the only one to be unnerved. And he's used to it now.

I don't think I actually have anyone to tag...but if you want to leave a strange, weird, or geeky fact about yourself in the comments...I wouldn't feel so alone in geekdom.