Sunday, December 24, 2006
The low was spending--literally--five minutes in church one year (by myself with the kids of course because Paul is leading worship, and of course there is no nursery the one service of the year when you really really need a nursery) before one kid pooped in their diaper and the other two were screaming. I dragged everybody out, buckled them in the van and we drove through McDonalds. Fish fillet was not what I had in mind. I put the kids to bed and sat and watched tv by myself. I was pretty sad.
But, now I have come to peace with our Christmas routine. I have stopped comparing it to the Christmas of my youth because it’s simply apples and oranges..and this is the only sort of Christmas my kids know. And they love it. And I love it. It gets better every year because they are older and now are such good company. We’ve built our own Christmas.
Today we will hang out and clean up in anticipation of our guests who arrive tomorrow. Jon, Hope & the boys are coming from Iowa for a Scrabble showdown and will arrive after lunch tomorrow. Tom & Terry are driving in from Indiana to give some Oma and Opa love to the grandkids and will get in late tomorrow night. We can't start the festivities until the Pastors Dunbar (all three of them) have completed their Christmas worship duties. Ah, the extended clergy family.
This evening the kids and I will bake a birthday cake for Jesus; go to 7:30 Christmas Eve worship (which they can now participate in and enjoy and there should be no pooping involved); and decorate the cake (left to cool during worship) while we wait for Paul to get home. We have services at 3:00, 5:00 and 7:30, so he's usually gone from 2:00 until 9:00/:30.
(Now that we live in the parsonage, he can sometimes run home for a few minutes between the 5 and 7:30.) We'll start opening presents when he's home for good.
Tomorrow morning we'll haul the kids out of bed to go caroling at the hospital at 8:00am. I thought this was crazy the first year we were here. I thought no one would show up that early on Christmas morning, but we usually have 30-50 people come and it has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. How awful it would be to be sick and alone in the hospital on Christmas morning. It's a very moving thing to walk the halls singing hymns proclaiming glad tidings. The hospital serves us continental breakfast in the cafeteria afterwards and then we all head to church for 10 am worship. The Christmas morning service is also one of my favorites of the year. It's usually a pretty small, intimate gathering. I love it.
We'll cross the street back home and eat egg casserole and birthday cake for lunch. Then we‘ll finish off the gifts and wait for the Iowa Dunbars to arrive. And then we’ll catch up with family. And then we’ll eat hors deorves (cream cheese/crab dip) and drink cocktails (snowflake martinis!). And then we’ll have a nice big dinner (rib roast and twice baked potatoes!). And then, the next night, when everyone is here, we’ll have a LONG time opening presents.
It will be a Merry Christmas.
I hope you have one too.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
So, last night Phoebe said "Imogene Herdman took the Lord's name insane!"
Not, "...took the Lords name, insane!" Just "...took the Lord's name insane."
The commandments are forever altered for us.
FYI, it has been raining since about 11 pm last night. The trees here are beautifully heavy laden with ice. I heard the doomsday predictions and went and got batteries and milk and what not yesterday. The kids are in school because the roads aren't so bad now, but by the time school gets out I'm afraid it will be a mess. Snow is on it's way as well. I have a feeling they will miss their last day of school tomorrow, which means no Christmas parties, which means I am off the hook for the second grade class. The other room mother bailed on me and I have to fly solo...but maybe not. I will be sad if our Advent worship is cancelled tonight. It's our congregational hymn sing and I love me song Christmas hymns.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
About ten minutes after I revoked his genius status, the four-year-old started reading. Okay, "reading" might be too strong, but he was sounding out words like dots, mop, tap, nap, cat. Genius status: reinstated.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Last night was our Advent worship lead by 3 year olds through second graders. Good stuff. Very festive, very cute. Phoebe had a small speaking part and got to play the bells. They all sang and had class recitations. The event required dressing up and the boys were pretty excited about their ties. Oliver, of course, wore rain boots, but what do you expect? Phoebe's hair is cute, it just makes her look so old! Blessed Avent and merry Christmas!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
2. I kicked Paul's ass at Scrabble. We've played every night since Thanksgiving and until yesterday I had never won..NEVER. Last night we decided to play 9-tile Scrabble because our games take forever and we have children who like our attention. I played the word MINDLESS, which covered two triple word squares, plus was a BINGO worth 50 and one of the S's crossed the bottome of some other word making plural (I can't even remember what it was now, maybe "route"). All in all, that word was worth 178 points. Boo-ya.
3. Phoebe has been asking that we go get her hair cut. Yesterday she said "chin length and bangs." Not my first choice, but she knew exactly what she wanted. The stylist and I tried to go for soft, layered, swish to the side bangs and she said, "I want them straight across." And so they are. And she is so happy and excited about her hair. She couldn't wait to go to school. She thought maybe if she picked out a new outfit, her classmates might think she was a new student. And Paul and I are happy because she's so happy and we love her loads and we love that she is her own person with her own ideas (and goodness knows I've had my fair share of bad ideas and worse hair cuts...Dudley Moore, anyone?) but the haircut in and of itself....
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Also, I've been reworking an old song called Ohio and I was excited to unveil the updated version. I wrote it amost four years ago. It was the first song I wrote that I thought well enough of to want to play it for people. Someone asked me to play it last week and I did and I wanted to stop half way through because I was so bored with it. My friend Todd is alwasy reworking his old stuff and he challenged me to breath new life into that bad boy.
I've been working hard. I changed the tuning from standard to DAGAD. Instead of the simple strumming pattern I had, I now travis pick, playing the melody as an intro and between verses. I put in a bridge. I have vocal parts for two other voices--and not just straight one third up harmonies--but, in my own small way, vocal arrangements. I'm rather proud of how it's turning out and proud of myself for taking the challenge and running with it. I was pumped.
And then I was dissappointed.
I sat there trying in vain to put my finger on how I was feeling while everyone was playing. On the way home I wanted to cry, but held back. Finally when Paul asked me how it was, the tears came. And it took a surprisingly long time for me to come up with a label for what it was: my feelings were hurt.
The whole thing is just wierd to me. On one hand I think how silly to have hurt feelings. On the other hand I think why is having hurt feelings alien to me? Am I a wuss or a stone wall? I don't know. Maybe I'm not used to hurt feelings in this field. It's all bizarre. I feel very out of touch with my emotions.
I played my song (much anticipated in my mind) and everyone nodded their heads like, "yeah, good one." Then someone else played another midtempo song and the comment was made "if we keep playing songs like those we'll put our audiene to sleep." He had a point. Two downers in a row. But, it was dissappointing to be told the song I was so excited about was boring.
Then everyone played songs and jammed. They are all excellent musicians. We had four guitars, a mandolin, a bass, a banjo, and a snare drum (the fiddler couldn't make it). Those instruments got passed around with various people playing at different times (I can't play any of them but guitar). Arrangements were fleshed out with parts loosely assigned--"yeah, you play lead there" (I couldn't play lead guitar to save my life unless it was a memorized riff or solo that I had practiced dilligently) "and here, let's figure out a harmony part for you" (I can sing harmony, but there are others in the group who are much faster at picking it up and are known for singing backup). So I sat and listened and realized I really had nothing to contribute to the group. There was nothing I could be called on to do that at least three people couldn't do better.
Now, I don't mean to throw a pitty part. And I don't want you fill in the comments telling me that, no really, I'm great (though you are all very kind and I thank you anyway). I feel okay saying my talents lie in songwriting and performing. Those talents serve me well. Playing shows is fun. Writing songs is fun. Both are great outlets for me. But, I was excited to be a part of something new and something bigger than myself and my own songs and it was sad to find out that my skillset really really limits how much I can participate and enjoy it.
I felt sad for myself.
So, I'm determined to make the songs I, myself, put forward for this show are killer. I keep telling myself I have nothing to prove, but I kind of feel like I do. Maybe my challenge isn't a musical one but a psychological/emotional one. Maybe the challenge is figuring out my place in this group and how to play to my strengths within it. Maybe the challenge is taking a backseat--I have plenty of opportunities to share my music--and letting other dogs have their day. I don't know. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Ha. Plays out.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
First, let me explain one reason for being anti-Santa that DOES NOT apply to me. That is to say I am anti-Santa for reasons other than this. This is killjoy with a capital K. J.: Magic.
I'm a big fan of magic. Harry Potter? Check. Narnia? Check. Lord of the Rings (movies not books, I'm sad to say)? Check. Toothfairy? Fine. Made up bedtime stories about stuffed donkeys coming to life and my kids having crazy-ass magical powers? Youbetcha. I LOVE that stuff.
In fact, talk to me about toy making elves, flying reindeer and magical fat men in red suits in June and I'd rather like the idea. My main beef with Santa is timing. Why does he arrive the same night as Baby Jesus?
This is somebody who comes to us on December 25; he knows if we've been naughtly or nice; he rewards us accordingly; and when we get to be a certain age we stop believing in him, but keep pretending we do to keep up appearances.
Now, pretend you are three years old and guess whoI'm talking about: Santa or Baby Jesus? Or don't pretend you're anything--which person fits that description? There is confusion enough in the world about who Jesus is. We don't need Santa appearing on a cloud for every eye to see and mussing things up further.
If we need a little something to help explain who Jesus is and what He came to do...if we need an analogy of sorts...a friendly cartoon character to reflect Jesus' nature...I could get into that. But the fact that Santa comes at the same time and is so NOT Jesus...well...no thank you.
The other problem is one of American materialism and a sense of entitlement. This is such a big problem for me because it is my problem EXACTLY. I wish I had more money. I wish I had more stuff. I wish I had nicer stuff. It is my stray dog sin that follows me around and scratches at my door all the time. I pray about it a lot. I remind myself that my life would still be life with all it's joys and sorrows if I had $50,000 more or $50,000 les per year (though, frankly, the latter is a little hard to imagine). I refuse to let all this Santa business instill this in my kids.
What am I talking about, you ask? This question, that some well meaning stranger or friend asks my children at least once day, "What sorts of things do you have on your list for Santa?" I guess I did it when I was little, and my mom still asks me if there is anything special I want, but the idea of telling a child to sit down and write out all the things they want to be given? To walk through the toy aisles full of plastic crap they'll outgrow in a couple months and say, "which 10 of these things will make your holiday special?" It gives me the heebeegeebees. Because if those things (or some of them) don't show up on Christmas morning, then what? Do you really say, "you must have been naughty?" or make up some cock and bull story about Santa catching a flat or letters getting lost in the mail?
And then I start to think outside of my own family and at the community/world around me. When the poor kids in Phoebe's class say they didn't get anything...or not much...is the conclusion then that they were bad? That Santa doesn't visit the poor because they are bad? Does being poor make them bad? Is that the same thing?
And I think of all the hours each week Paul spends helping people who come into his office to get out of debt, or to manage their money, or to make ends meet. And I think about those people feeling like they HAVE to spend all this money at Christmas to make it Christmas and then spend the next 11 months digging themselves out from under that.
I know I'm getting carried away here.
I like presents. I hope to get some good ones. I hope the ones I'm giving are received with happiness and enjoyed.
My kids know who Santa is. They think of him, I think, like Mickey Mouse. He's in movies and books and everybody loves him and talks about him but why would he come to our house on Christmas? We've come up with this answer for when people ask if they are going to get lots of presents for Santa. They say, "I know I'll get some nice things from my friends and family." I worked really hard to come up with that. I don't want to be in your face shouting "we don't believe in Santa!" and ruin anybody else's good time. And I get wierd looks-o-plent with that reply, but the kids have to say something when they are asked, and boy are they asked.
It's this sort of thing that makes me want to be a pioneer wife. I could make cornhusk dolls for the kids and they'd be so excited. Paul would get me fabric so I could make myself a new bonnet and I wouldn't even want for more. I know a time machine is not the answer. And I know I've been through all this before on the blog, but sometimes I feel Amerian culture just dragging me under.
I know some people do St. Nicholas. Some people have figurines of Santa kneeling and praying before the manger. Some people with the same beliefs as me choose to do Santa and that's fine. There's no law against Santa. But we decided to not do Santa at all. It seems to get harder and harder to manage as the wide world becomes more a part of the kids' lives. Since they can't talk about Jesus at school, all they hear is Santa (don't get me started on public vs. parochial school) . But, we'll stick to our guns and pray and believe that these kids are God's children even more so then they are ours and maybe save a little money for later therapy if being anti-Santa scars them for life.
I wrote this song a year ago, played it once last spring and then totally forgot about it, which is weird because I really like it. It's up beat. It's chorus is "wooo-hooo-hooo" instead of words, which is unusual for me. The music tricks you into thinking it's happy song.
"Now time rolls by window, but leaves nothing at my door
'cept a string of days roughly the same as the string that came before
And I read this box of letters damn near every month
My star may never shine again, but here's proof that it shined once."
2. The Long Winter
I took the story from the Little House book of the same name. It's a fast fingerpick pattern with a built-in bass line. It took a lot of editing and re-editing and re-editing to pare it down to essentials -- I can't sing the whole book. I could, I guess, put it would be a very long song. I played it in Holdrege, NE but this was it's Listening Room debut.
"If you can't hear that whistle blow
then the tracks are blocked with snow
If the engineer can't make that engine roll
Then the train can't bring the coal"
3. Still There
A camp song. I totally ripped off two songs in writing this: Cheryl Wheelers "Further and Further Away" and Nora Jones "Those Sweet Words" (the chords in the bridge), and I'm okay with that. I started writing this after our Soaring Hawk reunion last fall and played it during the summer, but this was it's LR debut as well. You can read the lyrics and hear a homerecording (I play the accordion!) here.
It may have been against my better judgement to play this, as I finished writing it the day before and the guitar part was difficult and not exactly executed as I would have liked. But people liked the song. A couple people told me it made them cry...so there you go. I'd like to tell you about it, but it's a story song and writing a synopsis of a tale that's told nicely three minutes kind of deflates the whole thing. Hopefully, I will have the means for you to hear it by the end of 2007. * When I walked off stage Mark Erelli was standing there and quoted back to me the last two lines below nodding his head in approval. Yeah!
"Sunday dinners at Granny's house -- ham and peas and mashed potatoes
When we were all thorougly stuffed we'd settle into board games and old tv shows
And I'd skate down the hallway -- hardwood floors and slippery socks
I'd sit at Granny's vanity and look through her jewlery box...."
5. Prairie Christmas
I wrote this after our second Christmas in Hastings. It's my ode to Nebraska. People really respond to this song. I am always asked if I really wrote it. I did. As it is seasonal, I have to really milk it during November and December. Listen to it here.
"Now our kids are grown, each one to their own home
St. Louis, Chicago, L.A.
They drive their S.U.V.'s to bring home plastic trees
But there are somethings that simply will not change
Top the tree with a cardboard star, sing carols with the guitar
Every week light a candle on the advent wreath
Bake the Christ a birthday cake, give more than you take
And contemplate the season's wonder on your knees"
*I am hereby committing myself to producing an album during 2007. My enthusiasm waxes and wanes constantly on this, but this last show was a huge encouragement. The last few shows people I don't know have asked me if I have a cd for sale. Many people. That's a good indicator to me -- because of course my friends want a recording, they love me, but strangers only know the music. Mark told me he recorded his latest album of lullabies in his apartment with one mic. Then on stage he encouraged the community of Hastings to hound me until I had a record for sale. My friend Todd has a digital recorder that he has offered to set up at our house for as long as it takes. This is all good news as I have built up a whole pychological aversion to going into "the studio." So...now it's out there, publicly...I am going to do this (start panic attack....now).
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I have loved Mark Erelli's music from the first time I heard him on "Live from the Mill" on our NPR affiliate the morning before he played the Listening Room a couple three or four years ago. We hadn't been able to get a babysitter that night and weren't going to go, but then we heard him play live on "Live from the Mill" and so we went halvsies. Paul went to the first set, drove home at intermission and I went for the second set.
He gets better and better each time I hear him. He doesn't give the "album version" of his songs live--the songs are reincarnated each time. His songwriting gets better and better with each album. Each song has a pivotal line that just scewers the heart. He makes me want to lay my head down on the table--it's so piercing and dead on I can hardly stand it. That is good music, my friends. Click here to listen to a demo, recorded on minidisc in his apartment in Boston, of an unreleased song called Abraham. When that pivotal line comes, you'll know it. Make sure you've cleared a space on your computer table to lay your head down and cry.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I've never been much of a speller. For as much as I read and love all things language related, you'd think I'd be a natural, but I'm just not. I just don't have time for it.
When I write I try to to get things down as quickly a possible. Ideas are viscous, slippery things and if I don't punch the words into the keyboard pronto, they might slither through my fingers and dissappear forever. So I pound it out. I might write a sentance three times in a row different ways, then come back later and pick which one I like best, or cut and paste them together into one good version. It's always a race to the finish, not because I want to be done (though that might have been true in college) but because I get excited about where the essay/paper/letter/email is going and I want to get there. Then if I really like what I've written I want to get it up on the blog or sent off through cyberspace as quickly as possible so the recipient can read it.
Spelling falls to the wayside. Way, way to the wayside. I rely heavily on spell-check.
When Paul was in seminary I would sometimes type his papers. He wasn't a very good typer (times have changed), so he would dictate to me. This proved to be one of our first marital tests. Paul is the ying to my yang which makes for good balance and sometimes for crazy-making.
Paul's way of writing a paper is the dead opposite of mine. He writes one draft. Perfectly. SLOWLY. He mulls over each sentence, rolls it around inside his brain and when it is just how he wants it he puts it on the page...or in this case, would speak it aloud for me to type it out. I spent long intervals sitting at the ready, fingers on keys, waiting to type something. This made me long to go do other things besides help my new husband with his schoolwork.
But, as nerve wracking as it was for one used to barrelling through at a breakneck pace and tidying up later, this was a marvel to watch. He would craft each sentance with perfect syntax and punctuation and when he got to the end of the paper that was it. Hit print. Done. No revisions or spell-checking necessary.
He kicks my butt at Scrabble. Every time.
This why I hated Scrabble when we first played on our honeymoon. I remember sitting poolside in Jamaica (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh) with the Scrabble board between us staring blankly at my tiles....frozen. A resort waiter came and sat behind me. The longer I sat there stupid and unmoved the more figety he got. He finally reached around me and started rearranging my tiles and whispering to me what I should play. He was good, but I found this annoying and slightly humiliating. I imagine now that I got up and went for a swim while Paul and the waiter finished the game, but I don't think that's how it really happened. That just makes a better story. Really, I'm sure Paul and the waiter both helped me kindly, Paul won gracisously but I was mad and bored and never wanted to play again. And never did.
But I can now appreciate the slow strategy in Scrabble. It's a challenge for me. A good challenge to not just put down whatever word comes to mind first. It's a practice in patience and planning for me to look at the board and use the special squares to my advantage. It's a discipline to hold onto my "s" for good use later then to waste it on "is" early in the game.
I do get bored with myself staring stupidly at the tiles sometimes and will throw down a cheap word just to move the game along, but I'm learning.
In my writing I think I'll look for a healthy balance. I love getting to the end of a post (like this one) and find myself wrapping it up in a way I hadn't planned or expected. That is what makes writing fun for me---the discovery is in the writing itself---rather than being a record of what I've already discovered. But maybe all the Scrabble playing will help me to spell better and look at things a little more closely.
Please disregard any spelling mistakes in this post.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
He was looking over my shoulder and saying, "That says (j...jet) jet. That says (woah-man) woman." And I realized that he was reading the Scrabble board. He was READING the Scrabble board. This is my Kindergartener who only in the last month has shown any interest in letters and what sounds they make...it was like a little switch turned on in his brain a few weeks ago. And tonight he was reading the Scrabble board.
We have a set of books called Bob Books that are for this very very first reading. I bought them for Phoebe when she started Kindergarten and they were the first thing she read. They come in a box of ten tiny little booklets with texts like "mat, cat, hat" and pictures for each word. I told Mo to go find those and we'd read them at bedtime.
He came back a few minutes later saying he couldn't find the Bob Books, but did find Dick & Jane. Mo sat next to me at the kitchen table and slowly started reading, "Look, Dick. Oh, oh! Dick, look! See Sally? See Sally and Spot? Look, Dick. Look at Sally and Spot."
It was the most amazing thing. One minute: non-reader. Next minute: reader. I was totally transfixed by the workings of his six-year-old brain. How did that happen?
With Phoebe we worked on those books--typical first child stuff. We went over letters and we sat with those books long before she had any success with them. I mentally charted exactly what she knew. We'd try the Bob Books, which she initially found very frustrating (and so did I, because she wasn't ready) and I'd put them away for a few weeks and then try them again. And slowly...slowly...through force of will she'd make those letter sounds, haltingly, pronouncing each syllable correctly but unable to make sense of the word until finally she read. I say "finally" because we put a lot of work into it, not because she was by any means a late reader. And I don't think I was pushy about it -- I was just a little more involved than perhaps was ideal.
So, because of my first-child-is-always-an-experiment-tactics, Phoebe's reading was a reward for her efforts. Whsch is fine. It's great. She practiced and she read and now she's an amazing reader and gets as much pleasure out of reading and being read to as Paul & I do. Mission totally accomplished.
But Mo's reading tonight seemed like magic. Abbra Cadabbra See Dick Run.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The things I do do are so varied and scattered that they don't seem to add up to much. I baked at the bakery on Saturday. I've had some library business to attend to. I've had to plan ahead my Sunday School lesson and find a sub since I'll be in St. Louis. I've done some housework. That's all well and good, but you put it all together and you have....what?
My plan has been to wait until all the kids have been in school for year before I make a life change. It's been hard to imagine what it will be like when they are all out in the world. But, three months in to Ollie gone half days and Phoebe and Moses gone all day....and I can't foresee another year of staying at home without some sort of outside action.
So, I went online to look at the Masters of Arts in Teaching program here at Hastings College. It's a good school. That program is just what I want. But it's expensive. There's the University of Nebraska Kearney, but it's an hour away. There's an online program through Doane College (here in NE) that I have some friends going through, but I don't like the idea of online.
HC really would be my first choice. It's a beautiful campus right across town. I could ride my bike. I have several friends who are professors or work there in some capacity (though none in this program)--it would just be a nice place to study, a nice community to be a part of.
I filled out an online form to request info because there wasn't much on the website about the graduate programs. About 12 hours later the phone rang and it was my friend Darcy. She goes to our church. Her daughter and Phoebe are good friends. I knew Darcy worked at HC, but I didn't realize that she was the Graduate School Coordinator and when I filled out that form it went directly to her!
So, Darcy said if I can get a Graduate Assistant position my tutition is waived and I get a stipened. She looked up all the graduate assistant positions and the one for the learning center (where you go get help on papers) will be open come May.
I would have to apply, get two letters of reccommendation and take this Praxis test (in lieu of the GRE). Filling out the application itself is easy. And I can round of some letters of rec from good folks in the community with whom I've worked on various committees and things (which initially I was nervous about because I don't know that any of my college profs would remember me--I was a transfer and I graduated early--I was only at Valpo for 2-1/2 years). I wondered how hard the Praxis would be until I looked at practice questions. It's basically reading (basic comprehension), writing (they give you a topic and you write an essay) and math.
Ah, math. The practice questions looked hard to me. Most of them I knew how to figure out. I just don't know if I can do it within the time limit. There were a few geometry questions that were compltely outside my realm of knowledge. So, I will have to study math...but so what? I can learn math. I might not like it, but I can do it.
I'm really excited. I know that really it's just the first wave of excitement--the I HEARD ABOUT THIS YESTERDAY AND I'M GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE Excitement. But, euphoria aside, it looks like a really smart move. Especially if I can be a graduate assistant.
Ollie can start kindergarten the same day I start graduate school. And then when he's in third grade (and Phoebe's in sixth and Moses is in fourth) I can start teaching. That seems like a pretty good plan....?
And then I just skip on ahead to my graduation party. I remember my friend Rachel saying she threw a graduation party with a tent outside for Kyle when he completed his phD and I always thought that sounded fabulous. So, in three years you are invited to my graduation party...that is, if I acutally apply to graduate school.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Unfortuneatley, this is because my dad fell off the roof and busted himself up good. He is okay, by which I mean, it is not life-threatening. However, he completely shattered his left wrist and broke his right elbow. He's having surgery on both tomorrow. It sounds like there will be multiple wrist surgeries. He's been in dual casts from fingers to shoulders all weekend in a trauma unit. He also has a huge gash on his forehead and just generally roughed up. I haven't talked to him (how would he hold the phone?) but my mom says he's just mad as all get out that it even happened. But that's the nature of an accident, right? Something catastrophic that you didn't foresee, so how could he have known? Somehow, I don't think sharing that would make him feel any better.
Anyway, I'll be glad just to see him and hang out and help where I can. He'll be home by then, I think. So I can, at the very least, sit and visit and go get him a Coke Zero when he's thirsty and change the channel if he can't hold the remote.
I picked up my copy Saturday afternoon. I asked the children's librarian if I should lock myself in my bedroom before I opened it or cover it in brown paper so my own children couldn't see it. She just flashed a sly grin and said she wasn't going to say anything about it, that I'd have to figure out for myself what was objectionable.
The book is The Baby's Catalogue by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Apparently, when the Ahlberg's child was a baby s/he delighted in looking at catalogues. My kids still do. So they made a book that was very catalogue-like, but with baby-relatable images. There is no real text, only headings...like, "mommies" and "meals" and "bath time" or "bed time". Each page has a series of illustrations that pertain to the heading. The illustrations are small (five to ten per page, the book is only about nine inches square) and softly cartoony and pastel.
My copy of the book came through interlibrary loan. There is a sticker on the back that says, "This book is recommended for month 8."
Here is the so-called problem: under the headings "Babies" and "Lunches" there are illustrations of a baby breastfeeding; and under "Bath Time" there is a little boy sitting in a shallow tub with his penis visible.
I can only imagine the person who filed this complaint saying, "This is completely inappropriate! An eight month old has no business knowing ANYTHING about BREASTFEEDING!"
The illustration shows no bare breast, no nipple, no nothing. You see a mom holding a baby in profile, her shirt is open from the top and pulled to one side (the other side completely covered). There really isn't even the outline or shape of a breast, just flesh and the baby's mouth pressed against it. It is really a very sweet picture--the baby is fingering the mom's buttons in in one picture and a ruffle in the other, the way babies do.
As for the tub illustration. Does this man bathe his kids in their swimsuits? It is what it is: a baby boy sitting up in the tub, holding a duckie over his head, a towel hanging up behind him. It's not like it's an illustration of his penis. It's merely there, anatomically correct, where it should be, as part of a happy busy picture.
We will have no problem keeping this book on the shelf where it should be. If there is any dissent whatsoever, I'll just pull out the American Acadamy of Pediatritions recommendations on breastfeeding and the fact that boys have penises and no amount of cramming babies into swimsuits will change that. But, really...I can't imagine anyone really arguing this book should be banned.
Paul and I made a game of going through and pointing out "equally objectionable" illustrations. The weiners in the Shopping section are phalic, not to mention anti-vegetarian. There are two boys holding hands. There's a baby sleeping on it's stomach.
It's all a bit ridiculous. Much ado about nothing.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I was off the hook for a while. I sat in front of the tv and watched nonsense shows that I’ve never seen before and could hardly follow--so I’d flip back and forth between a couple of them. I don’t even know what they were. What’s on network TV Monday nights?
I went to bed at 9:30. I asked Paul to cook dinner. He put the kids to bed. On Monday morning he got up and got them breakfast and made their lunches! I slept until 8:45. Once I started the decongestant I was a little loopy--tired and then wired. So I woke up at 3:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep so I went and surfed the web and then listened to a book on my mp3 player until I fell back asleep. The next day I just napped.
Except for the feeling crappy bit, it was pretty nice. It was like a vacation.
In the summer of 05 my friend Angela and I went to the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. The year before Paul and I had gone with the kids. But in 05 Paul had used his vacation days elsewhere and we didn’t have the money for us all to go anyway. So I went with my girlfriend. It was fantastic. We listened to great music. Dipped in the ice cold creek instead of waiting in line for the showers. We listened to great music. We stayed up late sitting around campsites playing music and listening to some of the people we had watched on stage earlier, only unplugged and under a tarp at 2:00 in the morning. We walked to the coffee shop in town each morning. We started taking turns buying rounds with other Nebraskans who we shared our blankets and sat with at about 2pm. We heard Kasey Chambers and Patti Griffin and Peter Mayer and The Mammals and…. on and on. It was a fantastic four days.
That was the last time I went away by myself.
Paul sometimes goes on birding trips. He’ll hear that there is a rare owl in South Dakota and he’ll drive up, spend the “night” in a hotel, get up at some awful hour and look for the bird. He’s usually gone for 24-48 hours. I think it’s a bit nutty, but he loves it and I’m glad for him to get out there and do what he enjoys. Goodness knows he works hard enough.
But, so do I, right? And Paul would be more than accommodating if I wanted to get away…but where am I going to go? I’d love to go to some music-related event (a festival, a songwriting workshop, whathaveyou) but those cost money and are far away. Most things are far away from Nebraska. I find it hard to justify spending that kind of money (if I could find that kind of money) just to get away. Sometimes I think I should go visit a friend for the weekend--but again, who is driving distance from NE? And who would I visit that wouldn’t be saddened not to see the kiddos? And Paul?
I just answered a questionnaire on Melanie & Norma’s website that asked “If time could be stopped and everyone was frozen except you, what would you do and how much time would you need?” I answered “I'd go someplace beautiful--maybe drive to the mountains, maybe go camp out in a museum--and just hang out and play guitar and write songs and crochet until I was ready to start the world back up again.” But really, I don’t need time to stop to do that, do I? I just need to suck it up, make a plan and find a friend with a cabin in the woods…
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
2. Amoxicillin has made me and my throat very very happy after a long week
3. The election results have made me very very happy (not entirely on the local level, but nationally--yes)
4. Rumsfeld resigned
I should go buy some powerball tickets. Things seem to be going my way.
Or I could brace myself for the other shoe to drop.
But I think I'll go with the lotto.
I thought I'd try a purse. Even if a purse shrinks up too small, it can still be useful...put my keys in it...something, but my intention was to make a fairly large bag. I bought Lamb's Pride Bulky (which is spun & dyed right here in Nebraska and has become my favorite yarn...I just want to eat it! it looks like frosting or cotton candy) in sable and aztec torquoise--I'm into the brown and blue thing these days. I also went without a pattern. This is an Emily Dunbar original and this time it actually exceeded my expectations. Here's the purse(big and floppy with loose stitches) before felting:
And after two washer cycles in hot water with dish soap and 24 to dry stuffed with newspaper here is my Dr. Suessy, bell shaped, sculptural purse. I love it. It will always be a bit fuzzy, which I really like, but some of the excess just needs to be pulled off. HINTON FAMILY CHRISTMAS SPOILER: my mom is getting this for Christmas. I hope it's not too cartoony for her.
Since I can't in good conscience shell out the money for more nice wool to do another purse (though I'd really like one for myself!) at the moment, I decided to use up my stash of Red Heart acrylic yarn and try my hand at amigurumi. I'm making a pink elephant. I'll post pics upon completion.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I got an email today from our Library Director asking me to be on an ad hoc committee. Someone has asked that a children’s book be taken off the shelves. Intrigue! I’m so excited! It’s a weird thing to be excited about, I know, but won’t that be interesting?!
I’m not sure who else will be on the committee...I assume one will be a staff member…I represent the Library Board….maybe a member of the general public? We read the “offending material” and review our library policies and then make an official recommendation to the board as to whether the book should be taken out of the library or not. I’m thinking it will have to be pretty bad for me to recommend banning a book….but I guess I should go in with an open mind…but banning a book?!? I’ll keep you posted.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
And just how did those hats come to be? I'm glad you asked! I bought a two-piece fish and fry at Long John Silver's with an extra side of fried clams and then helped myself to ten pirate hats.
I had three half-cans of black spray paint (your guess as to WHY I had three HALF cans is as good as mine) and so I painted over the cheesey LJS design.
I then used an exacto knife to cut skulls and party hats out of fun foam (Friday afternoon at the Blue Moon Coffee Company while drinking a Silken Moon listening to the novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring on my mp3 player--and yes I did bring a whole bag of craft supplies and camped out for an hour or two). I hot glued the pieces onto the hats and wrote the kids' names with paint pen.
I also cut black skulls and party hats out and hot glued them onto treat bags. These bags filled with candy, pencils, skull straws and odds and ends were the booty they found at the end of a treasure hunt.
And now for the masterpiece! Phoebe had a doughnut cake for her birthday and Moses wanted the same. I thought I'd make his more themeatic, though. My original thought was to build the sculpture entirely out of doughnuts, but Paul suggested using styrofoam balls as a form underneath the doughnuts -- a strok of genius, I must say. I had envisioned this turning out cool...but I had no idea it would be THIS cool. Here's the form:I secured the doughnuts to the foam with toothpicks. I used choco doughnuts cut in half for the nose hole and tooth gaps, and halved powdered ones where whole ones wouldn't fit. Here is the skull doughnut cake...voila!
The kids loved it. We had doughnuts, fruit salad and punch (OJ, sprite & orange sherbet--yum!). The did a three-legged race and an over-under relay with a ball, then an impromptu game of freeze tag because they were really wound up. Then we went in and opened presents.
The final activity was the treasure hunt. I divided them into three color coded teams and gave them each their first clue in a color coded envelope. The clues were all photos I had taken of things around the yard (these are kindergarteners so they mostly can't read). They ran outside to find whatever was in their photo (the jackolanterns, the hammock, the duckhouse, the fire pit, etc) where they found another envelope with another photo clue. There were eight locations in all--the teams all went different directions--and at the last location were there treat bags. It was very Camp Soaring Hawk. The logistics acutally worked out (I was a little worried I had over looked some detail or had things out of order), it was challenging but fun, and they were all excited to find their treats at the end.
The one problem: the party was a half hour too long. At an hour and a half I was all out of material and they were done with any sort of organized activities so I turned them loose in the basement. Note to self: no two hour parties.
Okay, that was not the one problem. The REAL problem was that ten minutes before the party my neighbor (whose two kids were coming to the party) called and yelled into the phone "come get luke! the ambulance is coming for annie!" I didn't ask questions, I just hung up, ran across the yard and brought the kid back to the house. Paul was a church preparing for a funeral so I called him and he went next door to wait with our neighbor for the paramedics because her husband was at work. It was awful. So as all Mo's friends are walking up our driveway for the party, their classmate was being loaded into the ambulance next door. It was terrible! She came home a few hours later and is doing fine. We brought over her pirate hat, treat bag and a breakfast plate. Annie was more upset over having missed the party than her medical condition, bless her heart.
We had a bazillion other things going on this weekend and I am thoroughly exhausted. I hope you all had a good weekend!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I'm found some great sweaters which I'm going to felt up and make bags--possibly cell phone cozies?--out of. I'm not exactly sure.
Felting is when you take wool that is knit or crocheted fairly loosely together (like a regular sweater) and you put it in hot soapy water. All the fibers mat together to make a thick, tight fabric. If you've ever accidentally ruined a wool sweater--you felted it.
Last spring I felted up some sweaters and tried to construct slippers out of them...which didn't quite pan out...but I could see the possibilites of felting thrifted sweaters.
I also tried my hand at crocheting and then felting a hat. I did it twice, actually, and neither time were the results wearable. Once the rim of the hat was all floppy and rippley and the second time the form was better but it felted up too small. I figure with buying $2 I'm cutting my cost (by not buying exensive wool yarn) and effort (by not crocheting an object twice the size it will be after felting) so if these don't turn out (oh, but they WILL) it won't be so upsetting (I can chalk three botched projects up to experience and my "crafting journey"...but if it turns to four I might get pissed) .
So, I've tried my hand at felting before, but the November issue of Martha Stewart Living has some cute felting projects that made me want to try it again. I love Martha.
Here are the sweaters:
I also scored this killer postman sweater. It's 100% acrylic--so crazy warm--and that postal gray/blue with the USPS patch. I can't wait to wear it!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This was all sort of an after thought to the kids costumes, but it's still a fun costume. I made the crazy rainbow circle skirt and the silver shrug (this afternoon, just in time for the school parties). The socks are part of my new signature look (knee socks). The wig is made out of foam. I saw it at Walgreens and had to have it--the rest of the outfit was built around that ridiculous centerpiece. Somebody gave me the scarf for Christmas last year. I'm wearing my light-green lowtop Chucks, though I had originally planned on wearing rollerskates--big white clunky rollerskates--but I know we don't have the money for another trip to the ER this year...so Chucks it is.
Some say Rainbow Brite, some say Clown, some say Polly Pocket Hair (that was a first grader), some say Moron. I'm good with any of those.
Happy Halloween. Enjoy the slew of costume posts!
The hat, you know about (if not, scroll down a little ways). The shirt is a resized women's shirt; the pants are resized girls pants (they should be capris, kind of rouched at the bottom, but they are just short of normal length on him--I took in the waist), I got them both at Goodwill. I made the vest out of the same faux leather as the hat and bought the skull scarf (tied at waist) at Walmart. My brother gave all the kids one of those Nerf swords ages ago. Aargh.
Okay, I know he's my baby, but this kid could not be cuter. Ollie decided a year ago that he was going to be a mummy and he stuck to it. The costume needs little expanation: I ripped strips of white fabric and safety pinned it to a white sweat suit; then wrapped some around that darling little noggin.
And now, I bring you: The Lifeguard
I printed out the red cross and lettering on cardstock, then used an exacto knife to make the stencils. Phoebe helped paint a lot of it. I bought the sweats, tanktop and whistle; found the visor and bag at Goodwill (I added a ribbon and clasp to the bag to make it a fannypack); and used halloween makeup for the zinc on her nose (they only sell newfangled CLEAR zinc now). Needless to say, she was the only lifeguard at school, and such a cute one at that.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
So I scooped him up, extracted him from the fray and we sat on the couch. I rocked him and nursed his goose-egged head with cactus prickers sticking out of my foot.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I remember how hot it always was...St. Louis Sticky. I remember driving downtown, circling around for parking. There were only a few reasons we ever went dowtown: VP Fair, St. Patrick's Day Parade (and I think I went to that with my friends' families, not my own) and Cardinals games. So, it was very exotic to be among the big buildings and see the seedier parts of town that were as foreign to my life in Glendale as going to the moon.
I remember how as we got closer to Busch Stadium the crowds grew. So many people in red and white waiting at the light to cross; vendors hollering and selling caps and shirts and pennants; laughing about the Bowling Hall of Fame across the street; passing the big statue of Stan the Man (is that even right? how would I remember that?); handing over my ticket and pushing through the turnstile; and then starting our ascent around the outside ramps and escalators of the stadium to find our seats--the energy of those thousands of people, the worry that I might loose sight of the back of my dad's head as I followed my parents through the sea of fans.
There was always a last minute stop at the bathroom, which involved waiting in a long line, and being advised not to sit. Then meeting up with my dad and brother back outside and heading for the stands. We'd go from the wide open exterior of the stadium into a dark, enclosed hallway, as we went under the seats and then BAM! We'd come out the otherside into the blinding light of the stadium. The brilliant green field, huge lights, tiny seats across the way, advertising banners for Lou Fusz and Schnucks, but everywhere...EVERYWHERE was Budweiser.
The lynch pin memory of Cardinals baseballs games, for me, was the Budweiser song. Sure the call to "Charge!" is good fun, and the Mexican Hat Dance with it's claps of crowd-participation is nice, but the Budwesier song--King of Beers or Here Comes the King, I'm not sure which is the official title--is the end all be all in Busch Stadium organ music.
I kept waiting to hear it last night to no avail. I sang it for Paul and he didn't recognize it at all (Cincinati fan, whaddaya expect?). I searched around on the web and found that it's played at the end of the seventh inning (Take Me Out to the Ball Game is played during the stretch) so the commentators were probably yammering and cutting to commercial so I missed it.
It's such a great song. It's jaunty and catchy and I can just picture the Clydsdales pulling that wagon full of beer with a dalmation on the seat (is there really a dalmation or am I getting confusded with fire trucks?). I love that song. I found it here so you can hear it too. Melanie gets to hear it live tonight at Busch Stadium III (not the Busch Stadim II of my memory, but we can't stand in the way of progress, now can we?). So whether or not I can hear it on the broadcast I will sing it and clap along with myself.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
My kids used to be way into Captain Hook and Peter Pan, but mostly Captain Hook. That fell out of favor about a year ago. But they have a renewed interest and I KNOW it is because of the Pirates of the Carribbean marketing. They see Jack Sparrow's face on everything, think it's cool (and that he looks like Paul), and want to buy it all.
If you scroll down this blog a bit you'll see that Mo is going to be a pirate for Halloween. His birthday is four days later and he is having a pirate birthday party. We went shopping for party supplies and I told him he could get anything piratey as long as it doesn't actual say Pirates of the Carribbean on it.
Perhaps I'm kidding myself here. I know PotC marketing is the main reason he wants anything to do with pirates...that we've bought into it. But I feel like I'm sticking it to the man a tiny bit by not literally buying into it but by crafting our own piratey goodness.
We delievered the invitations last night. Since he's turning six, Moses was allowed to invite six friends. They are all from Sunday School or Kindergarten, but most of them are from both. There are four boys and two girls.
These are Frostie Root Beer bottles. The kids got to help empty those bottles, which was a party in and of themselves. I tied a red ribbon around them, cut skulls out of fun foam, wrote names in sharpie and hot glued them together.
I printed invitations on cardstock--I took a photo but it was too blurry to read. They said this:
A party awaits you if you know this:
They way to the cove of the Dread Pirate Moses
You'll find riches & booty & treasures galore
Just follow the map and knock on the door
Then it gave the party information. For "where" it simply said "x marks the spot."
I made the treasure map in Paint on Windows XP. I always thought Paint was pretty useless until I actually tried using it. I imported clip art and drew the rest with the program. According to the map the pirate ship with the X is our house. It is at the intersection of Shipping Lane No. Nine and the Mouth of the Chestnut River (aka the corner of ninth and chestnut); just east of the Steeple Volcano with cross on top (church); and due south of The Island of Learning (school). I converted paper grocery bags into 8-1/2 by 11 sheets with a paper cutter and ran them through the printer. Then I used a candle to burn the edges and blacken it up a bit.
I haven't actually planned much for the party yet. I think I'll go to Long John Silvers and snag some of their hats for the party guests. Ben Franklin is selling pirate hats for $4.50! I figure for the cost of a basket of clams I can grab eight hats and then alter them a bit. Should be fun. And I get to eat a basket of LJS clams. Yummy!