Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are we making life harder than it has to be?

flipped for Flip

I'm not sure why I'm so fixated on these stories.

Another one hit the media stream this week.

Fear. Distrust. Jealousy. Anger. Rage. Meanness. Inexperience. Faulty thinking. Hopelessness. All mixed together with the immediacy, seeming anonymity, and enduring nature of technology, what we end up with is a society that can neither understand nor protect its own privacy.

I don't think I can comment on these individual cases anymore. I can only express sadness for such a senseless waste of life.

And while I'm opposed to laws that make "bullying" a crime, I'm not opposed to trying to prevail to humankind's better nature.

As soon as they get into school, kids start seeing differences in each other. They have their likes, dislikes, frustrations, irritations. They start to feel the pain as well as the power of exclusion.

These days, as I visit the classroom and meet my kids new friends, I can't help but look at their faces -- some laughing and smiling, others startled, worried or homesick -- and want to hug each and every one.

What is it that I need to teach my kids? Certainly they can't be friends with everyone. We all know we have our limits of patience and tolerance ... They won't be able to make everyone happy. No one will be able to make them happy, it has to come from within.

But we don't have to make another person's life harder. We may not be able to make everyone's life easier, but that doesn't mean we have to make anyone's life harder.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When a simple 'no' would suffice

When a simple no would suffice

I called the number on the birthday party invitation ...

fully expecting to decline the Saturday afternoon party.

The RSVP date had already passed.

I'd waited to reply for no good reason, merely forgetfulness and dread.

Saturday is filled with things to do. A mid-day party would put us over the top and over extended.

Yet, when the mom answered the phone I inexplicably accepted.

What's another couple of hours? Another present to purchase? It's not as if we COULDN'T make the time.

I should really work on saying "No."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A 'Special Day' indeed

First "Special Day"

Today was his first Special Day at the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children.

He washed his hands after painting 'the town' red.

Marilla was pleased.

I washed the fruit in fruit wash.

And Marilla was pleased.

I put the "bikes" where they belonged.

And Marilla was pleased.

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this school stuff.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Change of Seasons

Change of Season

No more changing infant diapers.

No more late-night feedings.

No more la-la cries.

It only took seven years ... two hours and 45 minutes.

But it's gone now.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The baby's perfect ... the gift doesn't have to be

Basket Case

As it turns out some long overdue babies we know may have been waiting for us to get back into the sewing groove to finally make their arrival.

Because as soon as we got the new machine up and running, the happy news started pouring in.

Seeing as how we only had pink and white cuddle fabric in supply, we're a little relieved that the takin'-their-time sprogs were of the girl variety.

Along with the taggie blankets we made for the last batch of bairns, we added a not-so-cute but extremely cuddly bunny to our baby gift repertoire. They were super easy and nearly painless to make.


* 1/2 yard of white cuddle (minky) fabric
* 1/4 yard of flannel
* White thread
* Snippet of ribbon
* Fabric scissors
* Pins
* Poly-fill

THINGS YOU DON'T NEED but may be helpful ...
* Sewing machine
* A non-perfectionist's viewpoint on sewing (The baby is perfect so the toy doesn't have to be ... pay no attention to the atrophied arm.)


Cut two each of these from the cuddle fabric ...


Then cut two each of these from the flannel ...

BabyBun Legs


* Piece each set together so the outside faces in
* Sew the ears and arms and legs around on three sides then turn right-side out ... Fill the legs with stuffing. You can fill the ears and arms loosely with poly-fill or leave them floppy. I left mine floppy, but I sewed a little channel around the inside of the ear to give a little more depth.
* Turn the head/body fabrics so outside faces in
* Place ears and arms in between the two layers, pinning them in place.
* Sew around three sides, leaving the bottom open.
* Insert legs into bottom opening, turn fabric edges inward and pin shut.
* sew straight across the bottom.

You can tie a ribbon around the neck, or leave it in its birthday suit.

And ...

Well ...

That's it.

Painless, so long as you don't stick yourself with a pin.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Questions and Answers


Dear Ittybit,

I know I seemed frustrated with you as you fidgeted in the dentist's chair.

How many times had the hygienist asked you to "keep your hands on your tummy?"

Too many to count. I ended up sitting by your side, holding your hands.

Just. Sit. Still.

Less. Talking.

More. Listening.

Words spoken over and over again, like a broken record.

When it was the dentist's turn to probe and poke, though, I have to admit an admiration for your brave and inquisitive ways.

As the dentist examined your teeth she dictated her findings to her assistant, who noted them on a computerized chart.

You listened as she recited numbers ... then letters ... and a declaration of healthy without comment.

However the word "erupted" concerned you when she noted it for the record.

"ERUPTED! What does that mean?"

"It means your tooth is growing in, honey," the dentist explained and continued on with the examination.

"Malocclusion? That sounds bad!"

"That just means your teeth are a little misaligned."

Some more words I don't even understand make their way to the computer, but don't compute with either of us.

I am relieved when she immediately asks for an explanation:

"Oh, that' just means you have a little freckle on your tooth. It's nothing to worry about."

It's so impressive to see a child of mine ask such questions. Especially since I find myself to be the deer in the headlights when it comes to such things.

I go to Dr. Google and make myself crazy. You go to the source and get immediate understanding.

I hope you never outgrow the bravery it takes to admit you don't know something. I hope you never grow into fearing the answers.

With love and savings for orthodontics,


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How very retro ...


Too bad they're not retroactive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adoption clinic ...

Mama's got a brand new bag

Oh ...

Hello Kitty.

How sweetly you purr.

Witness my crazy: Our Ittybit's sewing machine has been broken since June when I *coughOVERTAXEDITcough* by making gazillion super capes for The Champ's birthday water slide party.

I promised Ittybit I'd replace it but agonized about tossing the machine.

Then, last week, I decided to bite the bullet and have it repaired.

Yet, before I even sent it back to the manufacturer, I impulse ordered the machine (phoned-in) above ... for no other reason than I am crazy.

Friday the new machine arrived.

And ... Oh. ... How I lurve the new machine. (Like a pet, that's how much ... Like I may NOT allow it to sleep in Ittybit's room, that's how much.)

Anyway ...

The projects are coming soon.

Please feel free to send me ideas. I have no idea what I'm doing, but we can learn together. *Or you could just laugh at how I translate your craftacular dares.*

Friday, September 17, 2010

Humor through the hemorrhage

It would appear Time magazine is hoping to put it's circulation back on the straight and narrow.

I hope it works for them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hang ups ...

Illustration? Seriously. If I were a *real* designer I'd be a little miffed at how Photoshop did this in one click. #talentlesshack

Have to admit, I'm a little sad that the baby days are behind me. The not having a fundus to measure makes every annual visit that much more bleak.

But that little hang up isn't really what I'm kvetching about today.

Today I'm interested in the picture at the top of this post.

I took this with a camera phone, ran it through Photoshop and voila! Instant illustration. While I'm amazed and excited about this discovery, I'm also a a little terrified at what it heralds. The devaluation of true talent by technology.

A few years from now the guy who repairs the car will be doing heart bypass surgery as a lucrative little side business.


What's your Hang Up?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The writing is on the wall ...

Writing Like his sister

But I'm trying to get them to put it into journals.


School is back in session, and with it comes lunchboxes filled with nutritious comestibles and love in the form of sickeningly sweet puns.

Today's Lunchbox Joke of the Day:

What does a penguin use to wipe his mouth?








I know. I need help.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Viva La Evolution ...

Dear Champ,

It wasn't until you stood on the front porch, headed for the storm door, that I realized what was happening: "My baby was going to school."

My baby ...

Going to school ...

The Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children.

It's a place with a lot of history for me.

The place I'd attended as a tot.

It's even a place I lived (in the tenant apartment) for a brief time in my 20s.

The place you'd been toted as an infant while your sister was a student.

You wasn't nervous in the least. We'd been talking about it all summer. You'd been there before. You remembered the rice table, and cleaved to it like a long lost friend.

I knew you would be fine without me. You're not the type to cling and demand my attention. You are a play-by-yourself kind of guy.

It's the play-by-yourself feature that makes me worry about how well you will eventually play with others. There's a part of me that hovers, knowing that it is possible for the fierce in your nature to come out.

Three other students join you at the table. You are the smallest, though not the youngest. I notice your shoulders sink down even lower and hear the smallest little growl. You want the table all to yourself, but you know school isn't really your kingdom just yet.

No one else could hear your frustration.

"Sharing," I bend to whisper in your ear, "is part of being in school. You will find that playing is much more fun when you share with friends."

Soon the table was crowded with children. You kept playing side by side.

I told you I was going to work, and you stretched to kiss me. "Bye, Mom."

"Is he going to be OK with you leaving," asked his teacher, I headed for the door.

"Oh, he's already kissed me goodbye," I told her. "He's all yours now."

But you're still my baby. No matter how tall you grow.

Love and happy learning,


Saturday, September 11, 2010

We can't inflict pain and expect to heal

Amazing Grace

Ordinarily on this day, I return to a letter I wrote in 2006 to my daughter who was attending preschool for the first time.

It talks about how I saw the country change in the years since Sept. 11, 2001 and how I hoped we could overcome fear and find true strength.

Today, and for months, it seems everyone in the mediascape is talking about a Christian pastor who has made a name for himself by threatening to carry out a very anti-Christian act – burning another religion's holy text. (Of course given the history of the Church of What's Happening Now, it may very well be in keeping with the many, many atrocities perpetrated in the name of Christ throughout time.)

Some folks believe this story has been blown out of proportion, and that he is a brand of nut that shouldn't get a crack at international exposure. Does national outrage take place when citizens of the world burn our flag or our presidents' image in effigy?

Whether true or not, the 24-hour news cycle will debate that, too. The media loves to analyze, interview experts and make pretty graphics to keep us all tuned in.

In this country, the freedom of speech protects this person't right to engage in racist rants. It protects his ability to destroy something held sacred by someone else as long as he hasn't stolen it from them. It also protects our right to be outraged.

The real issues aren't about this man and his ignorant threat. It's not about an Islamic cultural center's location two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

It's about tolerance and how little of it we as human beings have for each other. It's also about fear and how it can only lead us to destruction.

A mosque needs to be at Ground Zero, not just two blocks away. It needs to be there because American Muslims suffered there. Because American Muslims lost their lives there. Because American Muslims are serving this country in its war against terror. And most of all because American Muslims are part of our future as a nation. They are part of us.

When we soothe those who hurt we help them heal. When we help others heal, we heal ourselves.

For anyone who asks themselves “What Would (INSERT DEITY HERE) Would Do” if they come up with an action as hateful as this pastor, they are not in legion with a higher power.

Friday, September 10, 2010

... but until then, the rule doesn't apply

I'm not going to be a jerk when I'm big

"When I'm big I'm not going to be a jerk."

I guess he means I'll have to wait until he's big before I get my "nice boy" back.

On the other hand, this morning he did tell me: "I don't hate you."

I swear, you could have knocked me over with a Nerf gun. Maybe he's growing up.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The muted midway


Every year we try to impress upon our impressionable children that the "games of skill" at the county fair are really just a rip off.

We try reason:

"You spend more trying to win the prize than the prize is worth."

We try bribes alternatives:

"If you don't play any games at the fair tonight, tomorrow we'll visit the toy store."

And every year our arguments fail to be more impressive than the bark of the midway shills and the colorful rows of chintzy toys they're hawking.

This year was only slightly different.

The midway seemed quieter. The kids were lured to play fewer games.

hawker ... texting

Technological addiction, as it turns out, has its rewards.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Open mind

new shoes

Dear Ittybit,

In a thousand years, I would never have picked these shoes and run with them.

But you are not me.

And that's a good thing, I think.

Unlike me, you are attracted to things that shine and sparkle. Things that are pretty and dainty and flouncy and feminine.

If anyone had said those things about me I would have been insulted.

But you ... You see all that is beautiful in the simplicity of something lovely.

Something I would have overlooked.

I am reminded how different we are every time I turn on the radio and scan for songs. I always stop for the gritty rock and punk icons that lit up my world. You want to push on for the digital effects and rolling harmonies of today's happy pop songs.

It occurs to me that in the grand scheme of things, we are what we seek.

So I push on. And I listen. And I remind myself that it's never too late to learn new things.



Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Last fling

I know everyone's going to school today. I just couldn't resist posting a few shots from the last gasp of summer ...

*And that first one IS Ittybit swimming UNDERwater. Huzzah!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cheek to cheek

daddy's girl

Dear Ittybit,

You don't mind hanging out with dad, but you prefer activities that don't involve grease and grime.

You're looking more and more grown up lately.

You've started asking me to check your face for remnants of food or other smudges. "Is anything on my face? Are you sure?"

The fight over combing/washing/taming your hair is over. You find the brush and you sit as still as I wrestle snarls and snags. I imagine soon you won't need my help to make your hair silky and smooth.

How many times had you gone to school last year with errant hair and a breakfast-marked face?

I didn't fight you to look presentable. We aren't really presentable people.

But you are noticing now. Determining not to look disheveled.

I see you studying your face in the mirror. Looking for imperfections.

People are starting to tell me that you and I look a lot alike. She is like your Mini Me, they say.

I recoil a little, and tell them I don't see it. I remember thinking how I reacted when I was a teenager and people told me I looked like my mother. I didn't want to see it. I was NOT my mother.

I know that in too few years, she won't smile when someone makes the comparison.

But it's impossible not to feel humbled inside. And it puts the flaws you hold as self evident when someone tells you your daughter, who is beautiful, looks just like you.

With love and European kisses,