Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pictures and a book report

I haven't posted pictures for a while, so I will scatter a few throughout this otherwise non-picture realted post!

The book I meant to write about earlier is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Unfortunately, I returned it to the library without remembering to copy out the quotes I wanted to. Rats! But, it is okay, because eventually I am going to buy my own copy, because I LOVED this book. Why do I love it? Here's the list:

* It is by one of my favorite fiction authors, and she brings the same gifts to her nonfiction writing: humor, honesty, kindness, and thought-provoking intensity

* It tells the story of a grand experiment: she and her husband and daughters live for a year on food they either grow themselves or that they can buy locally - the term locavore is more widely known now than when they began.
* They are not over-the-top fanatical: yes, they have a lot of good land to farm in a Virginia hollow, but they aren't willing to give up coffee and non-native spices but they find an acceptable way to buy these things (via fair trade sources).

* The book itself is a family effort, with her husband contributing sidebars on scientific and biological ideas, issues, and resources; oldest daughter contributing short columns and recipes; and while the younest daughter doesn't write for the book, she is clearly just as involved in the experiment as anyone else (I loved the stories about her hen flock and her business acumen).

* What could have been guilt-inducing was instead inspiring. I don't have land to farm, the knowledge or inclination to do so, but there are indeed many ways I could adjust our buying habits in order to bring our food purchasing and consumption more in line with what we believe.

To this last end, we've decided to frequent the farmers markets more often - there's one we can get to quite easily on Saturday mornings, and one downtown on Thursdays. Also, more locally grown and organic produce and meats. On our last trip to the grocery store we really noticed the prices being higher than, say, a year ago.

Trying this experiment of our own may not save us much money - though the more we can resist out-of-season produce the better chance it will - but at the same time, maybe I would rather we are good food rather than cheap food. I don't like that this is the choice so many people are faced with in this country. I don't like it that the cheapest food in the grocery stores is the highly-processed, not-good-for-you food!

At the very least, we will do our own grand experiment and see how it turns out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm It - and you can be too!

Nora tagged me for the “10 years ago meme,” but it's taken me a while to piece together the answer to the first item because I don't really remember things by date. So, Chris reminded me of a few things, and then I checked my book log. (Here is where I out myself even further as a big geek because, yes, I write down the title of every book I read and I have since 1993. Every time I catch myself wondering if I should write down magazines and articles too, I know I am about to tip over the edge of obsessive and I take a careful step back.). Armed with this new knowledge I can say with authority that...

10 Years Ago: I spent most of my days in a dark little place, figuratively speaking; literally, it was well and flourescently lit. I'm not sure what exactly I was doing on June 26, 1998, but since it was a Friday I know I spent a good part of the day with Fury, Apathy, and Cynicism (not really nicknames for my co-workers). I was working my corporate job then, it was a good five months before I became the manager of my department, and it was a peak time of disillusionment and dissatisfaction. 1998 was an all time low in terms of reading in my adult life – only 18 books (compare this to last year's more average 90), and in June I read Ursula LeGuin's The Dispossessed (a choice I know find highly symbolic) and just beginning to reread the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (cue the nostalgia and yearning). I think this might also have been around the time I dreamt that I married the devil and we went to Texas in the 1840s for our honeymoon. Consider that this I considered a pleasant dream, and not at all a nightmare. Wow. I really like 2008 a whole lot more!

5 Things on My List Today: Go to Curves, pick up DV camera from campus to borrow for the weekend, stop at Barnes and Noble for a birthday present for Cora's friend, wash up the dishes from yesterday that somehow includes almost every glass we own, type up some poems out of the writing journal.

Snacks I Enjoy: String cheese, okay any cheese, peanut butter toast, berries, brownies, ice cream (I know, not really a snack food, but I think ice cream is actually more enjoyable in the middle of the day than at night, though I'll eat it then, too). I confess I do not like crispy, crunchy food – nuts to nuts, I say.

Things I Would Do If I Were a Millionaire: Oh I am so boring – I would take Chris and Cora and my parents with me to Italy for a month – the rest of the money would go to a cat sitter (just kidding - about the cat sitter). I would give money to my all-time favorite charitable organization, Heifer, which does such good, good work in the world – I've always wanted to give an Ark. I would seek good investment advice so that we could live a long time without ever feeling on the brink again, and so Cora could have the education she desires (hoping, of course, this is one of her desires).

Frankly, I don't know who reads this. If you want to do the meme too, you're officially invited! You can even do it in the comments if you like. Or just do the part that speaks to you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Insanely and dangerously good

I blame my friend RobbieD for ever introducing me to the decadent delights of Lurpak Danish Butter. It is the dessert course of butters. It is what all devout cows believe their milk will become if they are good cows all their lives (well, okay, some are more of the Hagen-Daz school - every species has its schism).

I told Chris that I can't wait to sit down with a fresh, hot piece of his homemade bread with Lurpak on it.

Apparently, this is the raciest thing I've ever said.

Even if you don't want to run out and buy some, you have to check out the FAQ page. Specifically, the answer to that age-old question: Can butter be used for frying?

(These must be questions Danes have. No one in Minnesota has asked this question for seven generations.)

Edited to add: Also check out the home site's FAQ's - not as odd as the LurpakUSA site, more informative. Yes, as you would expect, Lurpak is all-natural, non-GMO, antibiotic-free from grass-fed herds. You can also learn (lurn?) what on earth a "lur" is.

Who doesn't love the spa treatment?

I wish I had photos for you to go with this story, but you will understand why I don't.

Last night, Cora had a hard time falling asleep. It started with her being upset about not being allowed to take a bath in the green tub (really, a tub for your iced beverages!) on the deck after dinner. Granted, she was smeared in ketchup, chocolate pudding, dirt, sunscreen, and whatever they had for lunch at daycare. But, it was getting late for her to be starting a bath, so it was a washcloth only night. Not a popular decision.

But, eventually we got the pjs on, the teeth brushed, the baby upstairs with daddy for stories. Lots of stories. And some songs. And some crying. We let it go on a while. It got to the "clearly I have lost control" stage and I went up with a cuppy of water. Sang some songs in my scratchy summer-cold voice. Said goodnight to the many pictures on the walls. Then Daddy tried again. Another cuppy of water.

Then it was my turn again. I didn't want to pour another cuppy of water into the girl, but I did think she might be getting overheated, what with the warm day and the crying. So, I took up a cool washcloth. I washed her face and arms and hands and legs. I kept wiping her forehead and she was starting to look a little sleepy. Chris had already turned on her CD of Portuguese lullabies (why Portuguese lullabies? Because I didn't know they were all in Portuguese when I bought it, but they are pretty, and there are worse things than growing up making a connection between Portuguese and sleep).

So, I folded up the washcloth and laid it over her eyes and we sat there listening to the music, Cora quiet, thumb in mouth, me rubbing her arms and legs softly. Finally, I thought she was asleep, so I peeled up a corner of the washcloth. Only to find her awake and smiling. She looked up at me and said “Moooore!”

I put her in bed with the washcloth over her eyes and she went right to sleep.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hell Week Postmortem

It was not, of course, so bad. Wednesday was tough, with the no nap situation and the rain all day situation and the one-car-that-Daddy-took-to-the-library-all-day situation. But, on other days we went on a picnic to a new playground and walked at the very windy and kinda chilly lake (where we saw a guy jogging without his shirt, prompting Cora to point and exclaim "That man naked!").

We had a really nice playdate (well, after the first hour of the "mine! mine! mine!" territory setting). We went to the art place and made, well, art. We put up wall decals, which Cora definitely loves - just last night she pointed at the lion and said "Lion sticker! Mommy made it!" Basically, if you touched it or presented it, you made it. The difference between buying a new shirt and making one is, in Cora's worldview, rather subtle.

And then it was back to school this week (and early bedtimes! Boy, that playing with a pack of other kids outside in the sun really wears you out! And makes you filthy dirty! Hooray!). Tomorrow is Chris's book deadline. I have bibliographied my way into a stupor tonight.

I wanted to post tonight (and yesterday) about the book I am reading and loving right now...but I think the little fingers have had it with the keyboard. It is time to go upstairs, lie in bed, and think about all the mosquito bites that I really shouldn't scratch. Not even once. Not even really, really lightly. Not even an inch to the left. Or the right. Or accidentally by scraping my leg along the edge of the bed. Nope. OK.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Mini Makeover for Cora's Room

Before she was born, we painted Cora's room yellow - well, actually, long before she was even an idea we painted that room yellow, back when it was my sewing and writing room (and reading and sulking and evading writing room). And when it was transformed into a nursery we left it yellow. One wall has two very nice prints on it, one has a framed State Fair poster from the year Cora was conceived, one has a window, and above the crib it has always been blank. We've always wanted to have something there, and on the two weird triangular walls created by the dormer, but never got around to it.

Until today! Because this week I found something wonderful! Now her walls look like this:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The conventional phase

Here is a picture of the three bears Cora currently likes to sleep with. (Don't worry - no one has been kicked out of the crib! Cora is clearly more of an additive personality.) She decided early on that the pink bear is the mommy bear, the little cream-colored bear is the baby, and she was a little at a loss until she spotted the sweater-wearing bear in the music room and decided he would make a fine daddy to go with the other two.

While Cora is clearly most devoted at this stage in her life to the mommy-baby dyad (it is okay to go to bed without the daddy bear, but it is very much NOT OKAY to be without the other two together), she also likes to keep track of the daddies. She wants very much to know where they are, if they are not immediately visible.

And so we found ourselves a few weeks ago at a park with a little pond, complete with a mother duck and seven ducklings. "Baby duckies!" Cora shrieked with delight. We counted them. We talked about the mama duckie leading them around the pond. We talked about dibbling ("Oh! Where duckie go?!"). Then Cora asked the big question, the one I suspected was coming:

"Where daddy duckie?"
"Well, maybe there isn't one."
"Where daddy duckie?" (Sometimes Mama doesn't hear right the first time.)
"Some animals don't have daddies that stay with them."
"Where daddy duckie?" (Mama seems more dense than usual. Maybe more volume will help.)
"I don't know"
"Mama, where daddy duckie?" (Let her see you're serious!)
Sigh. "Maybe he's at work."
Knowing smile and nod of approval. "Teacher. Daddy duckie teacher."

She at least has it down pretty good now that Peter Rabbit's mama has gone to the store and his daddy is in a pie (though I doubt she really gets it). She doesn't ask about the cats' parents, because they aren't baby cats. Arvo is a daddy cat and Emily is a mommy cat. Anything male and not clearly a baby is a daddy. Anything female and not clearly a baby is a mommy. She seems to have an intuitive grasp of what puberty does to the reproductive possibilities.

But, I do wish she weren't quite so conventional. Granted, most of the families we see come in the variety she currently finds most predictable, but not all. We know some two-mommy families, we know some no-daddy families, we know some adoptive families, we know some two-person households that we really really hope might one day be allowed to get legally married and maybe even become two-daddy families, too (not even necessarily in that order - we're not picky when it comes to our friends' happiness).

I suppose this part of being two and trying to figure out how the world works. And that there is comfort in finding the configuration you know replicated other places. (I remember the consternation of our friends' oldest girl when she spent the night at our house, at about age six, and realized that in our house the woman does the cooking! In her house, it is almost always the daddy who cooks dinner.)

As Cora becomes more aware of all the families we know, and all the ways families come together, I hope that her question to kids she meets will be something more along the lines of "Who's in your family?"

No Nap Wednesday

Instead, she gave the baby a bath.

These are Cora's current favorite pants. And her favorite sandals, which incidently came with a size 9mo outfit almost two years ago. Thankfully, on this day she allowed as how she might change out of her dinosaur PJ top (not the case on Tuesday).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do you already know about this?

Over at Under the Mad Hat and a few other blogs, a couple of women put together a monthly list (posted the second Tuesday of the month) called Just Posts - a collection of posts from various other bloggers on various social topics big and small, global and personal. You can find the list from May here.

I enjoy the list; I've found my list of blogs I read expanding a little every month. This month I really liked the one about "whatever as a pay scale" and how the seemingly small topic of whether young girls who babysit feel comfortable (or not) stating their hourly rate is part of the larger topics of self-esteem, gender pay equity, and knowing your own worth.

Cool stuff.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


We watched a bit of the French Open final today. Federer missed a big shot and the TV camera caught him swearing, though without the sound.

Daddy: I think he just said a very bad Swiss word.

Mommy: Sacre bleu! (Okay, not Swiss. At all.)

Cora: Sacwe Bue! Sacwe Bue! (In that same scary gutteral voice she uses to drone the words "no bone" when we sing her The Riddle Song.) (I'm laughing now, thinking about it, but at night in the dark in her room it is some scary shit.)

I'm afraid all travel to French-speaking destinations is now impossible.

Beginning of Summer

Every once in a while my laptop simply refuses to download pictures from our digital camera, leaving grandmas from California to Hamburg gnashing their terrible teeth and rolling their terrible eyes and making snippy comments, which as we all know is even worse than the teeth-and-eyes business.

But, it requires waiting it out and catching the laptop unawares so that it just downloads the pictures without a fuss. You know, the old "Let's see what people are saying at PostSecret today...OR WE COULD DOWNLOAD PHOTOS!!!"

But it finally worked - two weeks of photos! Whew. So, here is a brief recap of summer thus far (which, for the record, not so much like summer, weatherwise). And then I'll tell you about Hell Week.

The princess dress-up clothes are still well-beloved - what I think is noteworthy about this instance is that all on her own, Cora has paired the Cinderella top with the cinderella skirt with the broom. She has never heard the story or seen the movie.

Cora, in the car, removing her shoes and socks - a pretty typical sight for us. This is on the way to her "dance recital" - the music and movement class, and the creative movement classes for the 4-6 year olds, put on a separate performance at a local park. When we were leaving, Cora put up a big protest about the car seat. Back into the house. No picnic. No performance. Sitting in the time-out chair thinking about what we want to do. Back out to the car. Into the car seat without incident. To the park...

We arrive in time to see her classmates finishing up the Teddy Bear dance. But, we still get to sit and watch the older kids, have our picnic, ride in the surrey bikes, see the waterfall, get ice cream, play in the rain, and see some nice dogs...

and a rainbow, too. As an English major, it is hard not to read too much into an evening like this one.

Cora in her little play tent.

Cora with her new set of dinnerware from her Colorado cousins and aunt & uncle. The cuppy had to be washed and filled with juice immediately, and the plate was used at dinner that night, which actually resulted in a huge amount of food being eaten by miss "oh no thank you, I had a strawberry for lunch and couldn't possibly eat another bite." Sweet!

In the next three photos, you see Cora with her new bath dolly from her cousins, aunt and uncle in Sacramento. Does she like her mermaid bath doll with the REALLY long hair? Well, let's just say...YES!

OK, so about Hell Week. Remember that week in college when you had a test in every class at once? Yeah - me neither, because I was an English major, but I heard about weeks like this from other people.

Chris is in the homestretch of his book (which is good, because his deadline is in two freaking weeks), I volunteered to type for him because his deadline is in two freaking weeks and he is a freaking Luddite when it comes to writing (and I mean that in the nicest, most supportive way possible), week Cora's daycare is closed for vacation week. I like that they give everyone on staff a full week, I think that is humane and laudable, but I wish it were, oh, a week in July, say. So, Cora and I will be spending the week in various other activities and outings and such and while I know there will be many lovely and fun times, I also know that all in all it will be extremely exhausting. While we may go for walks in the park, it won't be a walk in the park, if you know what I mean.