Monday, January 31, 2011

Words, pictures and ideas that are bigger than any of us

Biography


She received an IlluStory for her birthday, which is the perfect gift for a kid who wants to write (and publish) her first book before she's forced to blow out even 10 candles on her cake ...

No.

Wait.

That was me ... (never mind).

Although she has told me she wants to be a writer, she hasn't revealed any timetable that's breathing down her neck.

Where was I?

IlluStory.

This is essentially a story writing kit that helps you outline and create a book that you send off to be printed and bound into a book of your own.

Amazing times, huh?

Anywhooo.

Ittybit unearths this creative gem from her pile of presents that she's slowly savoring and decides she'd like to make it a biography, which happens to be the first suggestion on the instruction sheet.

Being in the news business, I suggest that she might want to interview one of her grandparents and write her book based on those interviews.

For a second I had this flash ... She would ask all the questions people wish they'd asked but never got the chance ...

She shook her head. And that second ended.

Nope. She wanted to write her biography about Martin Luther King Jr.

I can't say I wasn't surprised ... I would have guessed she'd have chosen someone in pop culture - Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift - but I knew MLK Jr. had been a topic of study in preparation for the celebration of his birth in January and Black HIstory Month in February.

So I asked her how I could help.

"You can help me find interesting facts about him," she said pointing to the computer as she sharpened a pencil.

As I Googled, she came and sat on my lap to look at the screen.

"When was he born?"

"Where was he born?"

"Who were his parents?"

"Where did he go to school?"

"What's his most important accomplishment?"

After we'd finished collecting information to use in her book, she uncapped her markers and went to work drawing his likeness for the cover.

She asked me to write the words so they'd be neat, and got to work on designing the first page, a picture of a family in a living room - a mother holding an infant and a father looking down at the child from his seat next to them on the sofa.

It wasn't until after I'd convinced her two pages was enough for the first day's work and was rummaging through her book bag for homework that I found the stapled booklet of coloring papers she'd brought home from school: "He Had a Dream."

I brought it to her and held it up: "Hey ... maybe we could use this to research your biography."

She looked at me in horror, like I'd lost my mind.

"No! That book doesn't say anything about Martin Luther King other than his name in the beginning, it's all about people he brought together.

"He needs his own book."

Friday, January 28, 2011

My mother used to call me 'the scientist'

Special Day at school



But, ah ... gravity.

The only thing I really know about it is ...

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snuffleupagus

magic nose (goblin)


My son goes to the same preschool I attended as a tot.

I even lived in the apartment above the school as a young adult, nearly fresh out of college.

I remember the first winter I lived there I picked up every virus left behind on the front doorknob.

I think my son must be a lot like me.

He's gotten about 14 colds this winter. ... One for every day at school.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lights out

stocking stuffer


I keep thinking I should bundle up and go outside one of these nights.

As the kids go off to the Land of Nodd, one or the other has trouble finding the way.

Usually it's The Champ, whose Santa-supplied rechargeable flashlight has given him a stage-effects-like power over the night sky.

From my room I see its light dancing across the hall with seizure-inducing speed.

I imagine the effects from the outside are just as dazzling.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snowmenly

snowmenly


From the snow day archives, courtesy of Lori AKA "The Other Mommy"

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

*The cardboard tubes of toilet paper or paper towel rolls
*White paper
*Colored construction paper
*Crayons or markers
*Egg carton
*Glue
*Stuff to affix with glue (such as ribbon, buttons or sequins

WHAT YOU DO
*Cut white paper to fit length of cardboard roll and glue
*Cut out a cup from the egg container and glue to a construction paper "brim"
*Decorate as desired.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Polar opposites

eyes closed shut


I remember the hill I used to sled as a child.

It was behind the grade school I attended, within walking distance of my house.

I remember one of the sleds we used to own, a silver saucer, and wanting to use it instead of the new red plastic toboggan.

I couldn't tell you why.

I don't really remember the act of sledding itself ... other than cold air numbing my face and the sensation of speed. Trudging back up the hill must have been effortless, because I don't have any recollection of it either.

You sled ... you run ... you wait your turn ... you sled again. That's what I remember.
That and laughing about tipping over or turning around or crashing into the kid who had left the top before me.

I certainly don't remember being told how to steer ... or even knowing there was a need to do so.

It wasn't until I had children of my own to maim in polar collisions did the question even enter my radar.

Honestly ... just seconds before I was hurtling myself and my second born down a steep hill.

"OK ... Try to steer to the right after that first turn," my husband said as I was about to let go.

"Don't you just point yourself in a direction clear of trees and traffic and just ... well, Go?"

My husband looks at me with that special look ... that, lets face it, doesn't really make anyone feel very special.

"Really?! Didn't we already cover this?"

It wasn't until after I'd grown up and my own children reached the age of wanting to plummet down hills and ill-advised speeds that I even thought "there might be a wrong way to do this."

And even then ... time has a way of erasing information I don't use regularly.

"Listen ... If you are heading for a tree to the left put your right foot out to turn away from it."

"I suppose I should have known, opposites attract."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Glancing ...

Cat fountain


He thought he'd accidentally dropped a sweater in the toilet.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mother Superior



An excerpt on Yale professor Amy Chua's new memoir "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," appeared in The Wall Street Journal this month sparking national debate on so-called eastern and western parenting styles and how they may be shaping the future generation.

Chua offered herself as a lightning rod, portraying supermom-like will to mold her children into top-rate prodigies.

Among the topics her way brought up included abuse, achievement, defining success, self esteem, psychological scars, overall happiness and adult relationships with overbearing parents.

I especially loved David Brooks' answer to Chua's self-aggrandizing (and what I thought at first was tongue and cheek satire) essay. He called her a "wimp," saying that while she strong-armed her children into mastering the hard stuff she was protecting them from failing at the softer, more useful stuff that binds us as a society. You know ... like empathy.

It all makes for interesting debate, for sure. However, neither has a corner on The Best Way To Raise ChildrenTM market. Success in one area doesn't necessarily carry over into all other areas. You can be strict or you can be lax and neither will ensure your kids are successful at the business of life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He blamed the cat

He said the cat had done it ...


So I asked "Are you sure? Did you smell her breath for butter?"

And he said: "No, I looked on the counter for mouse droppings."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

X marks ...

herlist


... the things I didn't buy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What are your dreams?

my heart


I have a dream that our children will one day live in a world that has conquered its fear of others. That they will make a world that finds its strength in peace and not in war.

I dream that one day the struggle they face will be to do more for each other, not more for themselves. That they can be compassionate without being compensated.

I have a dream that when they discuss health care it won't be long waits that worry them, but whether or not the best of care is provided to everyone.

I dream that one day my children will measure their success is how well they've cared for others not in money or fame.

I have a dream that they will know equality by accepting and respecting that it is our differences that make us remarkable.

I have a dream that they will not follow in our footsteps, but that will fix our mistakes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Remote control

building remotely


I mean, really?

Isn't there some kind of prophylactic we can add to the plastic to keep them from multiplying?

How do you control your remotes?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We need to believe

hugs ... kinda look painful, don't they?


I find it interesting that people who complain about the national conversation that has erupted after the tragic events in Tucson on Jan. 8 are essentially saying there’s nothing to be done, move on. They're pointing fingers at pointing fingers.

I do not believe we are incapable of change. Sea changes can happen in the same instant a life is snuffed out. They can happen when we open our eyes and decide we are tired of the same story always told.

There are so many things we can’t control, it’s true. But there is also so much we can do.

We can’t control the weather … but we can stop adding to its fury.

We can’t control illness … but we can try and mitigate its effects.

We can’t stop bullets as they leave the end of a gun … but we certainly can stop selling them to people for the sport of killing other people.

We can choose differently.

According to the Center for Disease Control, American children are more at risk from firearms than the children of any other industrialized nation. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States.

Since 2000, 32 infants and toddlers have died in drop-side cribs, and the government bans them entirely. Seventy-five children are shot every day in this country and the government, thanks to a powerful gun lobby, shrugs its shoulders.

I am a mother. I am a citizen. I am a voter. I want change.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow day

Spent five minues shoveling snow INTO the driveway


The phone rings at 6 a.m.

No school.

My children are still in their beds, unaware that the day ahead is theirs to play with as as they wish.

The surprise is not mine. The seed for this day was planted in the forecasts. The talk of teachers.

I drive to work, nearly alone on the roads, missing the snow angels they will make and the snow forts they will build.

Childish things, perhaps, and still the road ahead seems so empty ... as if I'm on of the few who missed a gift that fell from the sky overnight.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The most cliched wish of all time

Even though he's always in his 'PeeJammies"


I really wish there was a spell that could harmlessly keep them little forever.

What do you wish?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just like them

bringing up the rear


He wanted to go with the "ofer kids."

"I just like them," he told me, despite having shorter skis.

And so we went. ... I figured we'd trail along behind ... but he was determined to keep up.

And so we did.

Friday, January 07, 2011

What would you like for breakfast?

last-minute waffle


"I don't want breface!"

"You have to have breakfast ... so-what'll-it-be?"

"... I don't want breface! ... I don't want Sheerios! I don't want Danola! I DON'T WANT NUFFING!"

"How about waffles?"


"OK."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I'm not listening, I'm not listening

Music. To his ears.


Words, words, words, words, words.

If someone tells me they think I'm doing a good job I tend to give them a glare-y eyeball and half-lip sneer. A part of my soul believes any praise foisted upon me from other humans comes from a place of deep surprise and low expectations.

Call me crazy. I promise I won't hold that against you.

I suppose this is why I had such a strong reaction to Liz's blog post about all the things you can't say to mothers, specifically the ones who work outside of the home.

There is nothing we can say to each other that doesn't risk the rolling of eyes or worse - the harboring of resentment.

You can't ask us what we do? Or if we worry about our kids? You can't say anything that could be considered even remotely critical of our parenting abilities ... such as wondering if we've chosen to work ... or has work been forced upon us. You can't even say anything about yourself in a proud manner, lest becomes an insult. Since, you know, we do things differently in our house.

There's always some knucklehead telling us someone else is raising our children. As if it's the worst possible thing in the world (I'm waving at you, iVillage!).

Of course that's offset by the neanderthals wondering why you, who stay at home, bothered to seek higher education. You're just wasting the tenured talents of others.

There's always some grandmotherly figure lurking out in the world telling you your kids need more protein or less candy or fewer toys.

Some stranger on the street is bound to question how you let your kid dress or how late you are out with them on a Wednesday night.

We might agree that most folks -- busy-bodies included -- don't mean to offend. But we can't help ourselves. We get offended. We keep licking at the wound and seeking solidarity.

We believe that if we talk about it. If we make the world aware of all the hurts they hurl at us with their ill-considered, off the cuff ideas (that have nothing to do with our circumstances and weren't solicited in the first place) the world would be a better place.

We could finally end the mommy war we keep fighting in our heads.

Until someone dares to ask you what you do ... as if any ONE thing you DO should define you ... and it all starts all over again.

We're all crazy.

I hope you won't hold it against me for saying so.

Monday, January 03, 2011

If I keep telling myself ...

planetarium


there are infinitely possibilities, maybe I'll believe.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

We celebrated the New Year yesterday



I celebrated the end of my 365 Days project today ...

by not taking a picture.