Friday, January 28, 2011

FFF: Your Choice

Nora's theme this week is "You choose!" I've been waiting all week to post this one (and then took all day to get a moment alone with the computer). Here is what you see when you casually announce that for breakfast you are making COOKIES!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Passing on the Narrative Addiction

I don't know what "playing barbies" is like in other homes. But, it is taken very seriously at our house, most especially by Cora, Master of Ceremonies, Chief Director, and Queen of the Narrative. She constantly surprises me with her storylines. For Christmas she received a vet's outfit (with cat) and a ballerina outfit for her dolls (not all are Barbies-proper; most are Disney princesses). She dressed up the dolls, assignment me the veterinarian dollie, and played the ballerina bringing her cat to the vet. When I asked if her cat was sick, she responded, "Well, yes, but really I am here to tell you that bad guys want to kill you." Oh. Well, that changes the story, doesn't it?

Last night, Chris was out at a concert. Our evening progressed normally. At bedtime Cora and I went to her room, put on jammies, and I read her several stories and sang some songs. At which point she jumped up and exclaimed that she had forgotten something! Barbie and Ken were supposed to go to a party! A ball! A Very Important Ball. She had to play with them for just a little bit. A little arguing (admittedly, my heart was not in it; I am tired of being the grumpy mommy), and we struck a deal that she could come back out to the living room and play quietly for a while if she promised to 1) let me do my own thing, and 2) be cheerful and not crabby in the morning.

The storyline, in brief: First the decorations had to be made and taped up in the ballroom (which might look like an ordinary cardboard box to you). And then there was the dressing (which involved going to the Target store, where the really pretty ball gowns are, natch). Finally, they made it to the dance, even though Ken wouldn't wear his shoes and Barbie was *really* angry at him. Then, accompanied by whispery songs the dancing started. Barbie and Ken did an awful lot of slow-dancing. Then, um, Barbie had a baby. A small polly-pocket sized doll just popped out from under her ballgown. How embarrassing. Ken is going to stay at the dance, but Barbie is taking the baby home to nurse it. Ken says he'll dance with his other wife for a while.

And that was the end of the story. Then Cora pulled her Dick & Jane anthology off the shelf, curled up next to me, and read several pages. Out loud. While I tried to continue reading my murder mystery. But, I can certainly forgive a little reading out loud.

I know what you are really wondering, though. What happened the next morning? Most weekdays, Chris and Cora get up earlier than I do. Today, as on several days, I woke up because Cora was upset about something. She wanted to play a computer game before they left for school. She was being very crabby indeed. On my way to the bathroom, I reminded her of her promise, and pointed out that she should have breakfast and get dressed and then see if there was time for games.

When I came out of the bathroom, she had stopped fussing. She went out to the kitchen, ate her breakfast, got dressed, and then asked nicely if she could play a computer game. She and I sat together and played some games on the PBS site, and then she went off the school. Cheerfully. *Whew*

Saturday, January 22, 2011

FFF: Peace / Piecing

Nora's theme for yesterday was "Peace" - and she was good enough to announce it ahead of time. Despite this, it seemed to be a week without much peace in terms of my inner landscape. Denise Levertov's bleakly beautiful poem "Zeroing In" aptly describes what I am talking about.

But today has been a good day, and I've found a nicer landscape waiting for me inside. I attribute this mainly to what I have done in the kitchen today (cinnamon rolls for tomorrow! meatloaf! crazy 1907 onion soup!) and also that I was able to sit in front of my sewing machine and experiment with some ideas. Here are the photos:

Friday, January 14, 2011

FFF: Hibernation

Nora's theme this week is hibernation - something we are quite familiar with up here in the northern midwest! But, really, what better time to hibernate than when the zombies are roaming the snowy streets? Cora has helpfully made a sign so that those pesky monsters will keep right on shuffling. While I am pleased to see that this zombie has kept its clothes on (she once told me, "you can't be a zombie because you are clean and you're wearing your clothes."), I am disturbed by that third leg.

So, lock your doors, get your flannel jammies on, and drink your cocoa in bed!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Times when a map would come in handy

When you live with a highly verbal preschooler, you soon realize that every conversation is actually a thin path bordered on each side by miles and miles of quicksand. And you, the parent, do not know the path at all. And your preschooler just happens to regard quicksand as her natural habitat.

I am thinking of the conversation Cora and I had in the car about a year ago, when I was explaining Memorial Day and why it was a holiday, and soon found myself facing the laser-beam gaze of a four-year-old asking, "Would you die for your country, Mommy?" 

Which brings me to the most recent episode. The one that got me thinking that Cora actually does know the path, but the path she wants me to follow her down is indeed overlaid with quicksand, and so long as I don't panic, we will be just fine. The thing about these conversations is that they always seem to come out of nowhere. Sunday evening, we were watching Nickolodeon after dinner - I am not sure why, but iCarly has caught Cora's attention in a big way - and Cora was also coloring on the floor while I caught up with some editing work. Then she asked me if the world started when Baby Jesus was born.

This was actually still sure-footing territory, because if there is one thing I am clear on, it is that the world existed for a very long time before that point in history. And I thought it would be cool to talk about evolution and dinosaurs and so on. But, she cut off the science talk to ask why the people "crossed him." We are nowhere near Easter! Where is this coming from?!

Cora might be much smarter than me, because I'm pretty sure that it took me another six years to realize that being nailed by your hands and feet does not kill you. And that was her next question: If they didn't put a nail through his head, why did he die? And this is where I thanked Mary Roach and her book Stiff for providing me the answer, which I delivered in short, relatively non-graphic language. (But, face it, once you are talking about crucifixion, you are in the graphic language whether you want to be or not.) And then we were back to why, and a discussion of Biblical-times politics.

How much of this has to do with amorphous knowledge of the Arizona shootings? Did she hear Chris and I talk about it? Something in the air? We don't watch news shows with her, and I don't think they do "breaking news" on Nick or PBS. Is it just synergy? Even though I often fumble my way through the theological discussions, trying to tread that thin line between cultural and personal assumptions and beliefs, I find the discussions of real-world violence harder. I would rather explain the mechanics of childbirth than try to explain war.

Which means I have my work cut out for me, because I have read, written, and thought a lot about certain world events, and one day Cora is going to be able to read. She's going to look at those collections of books and have some big questions about words like Holocaust, genocide, Rwanda, and others that she can find in our volumes of history, politics, literature, poetry, and graphic novels.

Really, it has already started, because she's seen The Sound of Music, and while you don't have to go into the whole WWII history, you do have to talk a little about Nazis. And, thinking she would love the dancing, I did show her some clips on YouTube of West Side Story, which turned out to require a primer on gangs and the politics of the "other". 

There are so few sure pathways!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fav Foto Friday: New...CrazySock!

My fabulous friend Nora is hosting Fav Foto Fridays - each Friday she posts a theme, and any blogger who wants to play along picks up the theme, posts a picture, and links back to her.

I am so tardy with photos all the time, and I hope that participation will both inspire me to post more often and also to take more photos.

Her theme for today is "New" and this is as good a time as any to introduce...CrazySock!

CrazySock was knitted, felted, stuffed, and decorated for Cora this Christmas. I had to work on it when she was around because it took FOREVER and I got a late start. Because the initial knitting is indeed a sock, albeit a gigantic one, I told her that it was a sock for Grandpa Dave. Amazingly, she had no trouble believing this. When I knit the ears, I told her they were decorations for the sock. When Grandpa Dave arrived for Christmas, I overheard her telling him that he was getting a crazy sock for Christmas.

The horse was finished in time, thanks to help from my mom, who knit the i-cord for the reins while I sewed on the eyes and mane and D-rings for the reins, and I carefully placed it in the very front of all the presents so it would be seen first - otherwise I knew it would be lost in the wash of other gifts. And CrazySock and the sled from Chris were indeed the first things she saw, played with, and fell in love with - pwhew!

(As usual, I wish I had thought to take more photos of the process. Something to remember in the future.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Brushing away the cobwebs

I intended to start off the new year easy, with a nice little questionnaire meme borrowed from The Fairly Odd Mother's blog. I didn't intend to make any resolutions this year - my mom had the idea of choosing a word for the year instead. Her word is BOLD! At first, I thought of joke words (FACETIOUS!) or dour words (SCHEDULE!). Ugh. I wanted a fun word, too, a good word, a positive word, a word that didn't feel like a chore. I thought about FOCUS...but I always focus. Sometimes too much. There are a lot of things I would like more of this year. More time, more reading, more making, more stability and resources. But MORE does not seem like a good word - too needy, perhaps.

So I am choosing ABUNDANCE. And I mean that sentence in both ways.

And I was going to leave it at that. But, as the day has gone on, and I have heard other friends talking about some of their resolutions, I have developed the resolution itch. I don't believe in setting myself up for failure, in making resolutions that are made for breaking. I like ones like "try to cook more new dishes" or "get into Indian food" or "learn how to knit socks" - those resolutions worked for me.

I'm still working on the ones for 2011. I'm also using the guidelines on The Happiness Project web site to develop them, but I am pretty sure at least one of them will involve cooking, and at least one will involve making and at least one will involve writing. I'll get back to you on those.

In the time!

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Moved to North Dakota.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes and no, to both questions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some friends had babies, yes, sweet babies!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My cat Emily – after 18 years, I think I can say she was indeed close to me. Close to my heart.

5. What countries did you visit?
Mainly the Kingdom of Crazy, where I reign supreme.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Hmm. Lots of things spring to mind. Stability would be a nice start.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I am not so good with dates, frankly. I’ll remember lots of events, but I doubt I will be able to match them to dates within a year. I’ll remember the opera finally happening, camping, the godawful process of selling the house, moving, Christmas with my parents.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not completely falling apart about #1.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not completely keeping it together about #1.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing that will leave a visible scar.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Markers for Cora. It seems like there was something else I was saying was the best thing, just a few days ago, but now I have no idea what it was. Oh - Chris says it was the slow cooker and the awesome slow cooker cookbook (The Slow Cooker. That's the title. Seriously.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My kind and thoughtful and accepting friends.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Bullies. All types.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Moving, definitely.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Knitting, sewing, cooking, finishing the Thumbelina poems.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I don’t think there is one, unless it is one from the princess song CD that lived in my car for nine months. Pocahontas, I think about you way more often than I ever thought I would.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Somehow, both happier and sadder. Not thinner, not with the bumper crop of stress 2010 brought in. And, financially, poorer. Alas. In some less tangible ways, richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing. Relaxing. Sleeping. Sewing. Reading. Eating out at favorite Twin Cities restaurants.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Packing! Worrying! Crying! Not-sleeping!

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With Chris and Cora and my parents – my dream Christmas companions.

21. Did you fall in love with 2010?
God, no. I think the last year I even had a strong crush on was 2008.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Was there a mystery in it? A dead body? A scientist or other brainy-type person? A good fight scene? An improbable turn of events? A modicum of clever dialogue? Yep - that was my favorite.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
I didn’t read as much I would have liked. I don’t remember a lot of what I read. I’m going to say Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars, because it is fresh in my mind. This is a good place to say again how much I love, love, love my Kindle!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

26. What did you want and get?
Help, when I was able to ask for it, or when someone caught me at the right time.

27. What did you want and not get?
Help; I was not always good at being able to ask for it and I often put up a better front than I should have.

28. What was your favorite film of 2010?
I think I saw two films in the theater, so I guess it has to be Inception or Tangled. Did I see other films? I have no freaking clue.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I will always remember that I spent my 40th birthday at a surprise party that truly surprised me!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A dream job for either me or Chris that allowed us to stay in the Twin Cities. Or, you know, afford to move to Santa Barbara. Ha!.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2010?
“Just get dressed.”

32. What kept you sane?
Cooking, drinks with Kristi and Nora, sewing.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

If by “stirred” I can mean “moved” and if by “political” I can mean “social justice” then I have to say the It Gets Better Project.

34. Who did you miss?
My parents, lots. Chris, when he was in ND. Friends in far and not-so-far places.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
I don’t think I could choose just one.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

I’m still sorting out the lessons I learned in 2010. There were a lot of them. Not all were welcome ones.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Some days take less, but most days take more
Some slip through your fingers and onto the floor
Some days you're quick, but most days you're speedy
Some days you use more force than is necessary
Some days just drop in on us
Some days are better than others

“Some Days Are Better than Others,” U2