Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Wilder Life

I just finally finished reading The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure.  It was really one of the most perfect books I've read in a long, long time.  I loved the Little House books as a girl, though the later books were just never as good to me as the earlier ones.  I've so enjoyed reading the first two books with Elizabeth, and dream of a Little House tour to some of the homesites - even more so after finishing The Wilder Life.

There's one passage in the book that was just so perfect, I had to capture it here:  

In my mind, the world of the Little House books just went up in smoke at the end, their heroine disappearing into clumsy ordinariness and ignominy.  It had always trailed off with a vague, unspoken disappointment. It's the kind of story we learn over and over again about everything in the world: your life starts out as a wide open frontier that you explore until the forces of time or history or civilization or nature intervene, and then suddenly it's all gone, it all weathers and falls down and gets built over; everyone dies or moves away of becomes a grainy photograph, and yes, at some point you just get fat and fall off a streetcar.  Progress - it dumps you on your aging and gigantic ass!

Harry Potter has interrupted our Little House books, but we'll be on the bank of Plum Creek soon.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A girl's life

Last week, I walked a neighbor girl home after a playdate that ended in tears.  Another girl had been here too, and the Rule of 3 was at play.  It seems whenever 3 (or an odd number) of kids play at a time, it's all too easy for one child to feel left out.  And when it's 3 girls?  It's all too likely one (or more) will be left out at one point or another.

I explained to the dad what I thought had happened and he nodded, yep, the power struggle.

And I replied, this is exactly why I did not have that many friends as a child.

Seriously, the emotional manipulations at play are too much for me at 45, and completely overwhelmed me at 8.  I did have a few good friends growing up, friend with whom I'm still in touch today.  But a couple of them had a y chromosome, and the others were pretty calm, even-keeled females who didn't deal with a lot of drama.

Now I'm sitting in the quiet house - E has gone off on the second half of a playdate.  Another girl came here, along with a third friend.  The three were only here about 80 minutes, but I spent at least 60 of those 80 minutes talking variously to each of 3 girls, encouraging her to just play together with the others.  At any given time, one of them was arguing with the other two.  And if they weren't bringing their grievances to me, they were loudly arguing over who was in the wrong.  And it kept continually shifting over time.  It was exhausting.  How they stand it is beyond me.

Seriously considering imposing an only one friend over at a time rule!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

fandom, Andrew style

We've really enjoyed Andrew's love of all things sports, especially football.  It's too bad we took the extended break from blogging, because I'd like to remember when we realized that at a young age he could tell us which teams were playing and who was winning, because he figured out - entirely on his own - the score box shown on various networks.  Right now, he can identify almost all pro football teams, and a large number of college, though he doesn't entirely get the difference between the NFL and the NCAA.  His favorite team has been UVA, until this year.  Last year, he loved UVA's quarterback, whose nickname was Rocco.  Well, Rocco transferred, so Andrew ha been mad at UVA for "firing their best quarterback."  Miffed, he's varied his favorites over the season.

Because of his deep love for cardinals (have I never written about that?  In addition to sports, he enjoys birdwatching, and is really into cardinals), his new favorite team is the Arizona Cardinals.  We traveled to Arizona this past October to visit a friend and he's still annoyed we didn't go to a football game there.  But his second favorite team is often FSU, thanks to a great season and lots of opportunities to watch on TV (and a desire to please Mommy, too).  (His other teams are the Bears (to please Daddy), or sometimes the Redskins, again for Mommy.)

Anyway, Sunday night, at dinner, we had this conversation:

M:  Guess what - tomorrow night FSU is playing in the championship game!
A:  Really?  (munch munch on dinner)  Who are they playing?
M:  Auburn
A:  Is Auburn any good?
M:  Well, Auburn is really good.  I'm a little nervous.
A:  Auburn is going to win.
M: What?! Why do you say that?
A: You said they were good.
M:  Well, FSU is really good!
A: (munch munch)
M: FSU has the best team! Auburn has won two games on last second, weird plays! FSU has really good players!  The FSU quarterback won the Heisman!
A: (munch munch, unmoved by my increasingly strident arguments)
Daddy:  starts interjecting to also chime in that FSU is good
A:  (munch munch, completely unmoved)
M:  A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK FSU WILL WIN!  [the line, at that point, was FSU by 9]
A:  (completely flat tone)  I don't.

So, yeah, there was that.  I was pretty nervous that FSU could pull it out, and now completely convinced my 5 year old had predicted the game.

Monday night, Rich worked with Elizabeth on her homework assignment that we had all break to do but waited until the last night, and Andrew and I watched the game.

When Auburn went up 21-3, Andrew calmly observed: "They are crushing us."  And it was at that point that I decided it was time for him to go to bed.

(But when he came into our bed in the middle of the night, I was pleased to be able to tell him he had been wrong and Florida State had won the National Championship. So there!)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy new year!

Well, I lost steam for NaBloPoMo, but it's a new year and a new chance at blogging.  So here we go again. It's been a hectic holiday season - Rich and I both came down with colds right before Christmas.  My sister arrived, and we spent Christmas Eve here. Thanks to her and Meg, I achieve done of my major holiday goals - wrapping presents before Christmas Eve.  And we got good seats at church, so Christmas was a success!  After unwrapping presents Christmas morning, we headed to my brother's for more presents.  Then we drove to family in DE, where we received more presents, plus did a little post Christmas shopping.  Then the little guy got sick, so on our way home from DE we stopped at the pediatrician to discover it was strep, which meant we also stopped at the store for the prescription.  We dumped off all our new possessions and frantically packed because the next morning we took off for Florida, where we acquired still more stuff. 

So today, on the second day of driving home, we were all eager to see home again.  But knowing what was waiting  - a destroyed house, presents and packages everywhere, and not to even mention a dead Christmas tree - we weren't really all that eager. 

Over the busy holiday , I didn't even get a chance to crack open my book, but the title taunted me: Happier at Home. I would dearly love to be happier at home, but after driving 1000 miles over the past two days, we weren't that happy to walk into this:

And that's just one small glimpse!  We made a slight dent, and the kids were able to open some presents they had only admired thus far.  So it's going to be a busy week.  And maybe then I will have a chance to read and figure out how we can be happier at home.  

This post was inspired by Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin where she runs a nine month experiment to create happier surroundings. JoinFrom Left to Write on January 6 we discuss Happier at Home. You can also chat live with Gretchen Rubin on January 7 on Facebook! As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1st lesson

Tonight was Elizabeth's first piano lesson, and it went really, really well.  Even if the piano was in the middle of the dining room and the lesson means pushing back dinner a little.

One of Elizabeth's good friends on the street started piano last year, and initially I was going to contact that piano teacher.  But then a former music teacher at Elizabeth's school started giving private lessons as her main business, so without hesitation I contacted her the very next day after I bought our piano.

Last year, Elizabeth's school offered a free music class for first graders one afternoon a week after school, taught by her new piano teacher.  She seemed to like it a lot, which was great.

At one of the last lessons I asked Ms W how things were going and she said it was all great.  Elizabeth was a lot of fun to have in class.  Then she paused and added, she is going to be something as a teenager.

And of course, my mind immediately went to, omg, she is going to be a handful, she is so stubborn and determined and willful now……..but before I could say anything in response, Ms W continued, "she is a really cool kid, you can just see she's going to be a really fun, unique teenager.  Can't wait to see how great she's going to be."

And I was, simply put, floored.  That may be the single greatest compliment I have ever heard about Elizabeth.  We struggle, often, with our determined and fiercely independent and stubborn daughter.  But those very traits that exasperate us so much can also serve her very well in life.  Ms W gave me a great reminder of that, and I remain grateful for that reminder, something that I've tried to keep front of mind since.  It's not always easy, but it's important to remember.

There's a lot of space between the first lesson and being able to play the piano.  And we have a lot of practice time to get through.  But she's off to a great start.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


And this one did make it to Facebook - there are some benefits to dog walking.

I love our neighborhood and living in the city - most of the time.  There are some negatives - the cost, the crowding, how some things just simply aren't as convenient.  But those are more than balanced by the positives - the walkability, the things that are convenient, the ambiance of our neighborhood, and our community.  

There's just one thing that isn't fixable - I miss seeing the sky.  The entire sky, skyline to skyline.  When we drive to the Eastern Shore, that is still home to me - my heart is lighter because the world is just so much more wide open.  

The way our house is situated, the western sky is mostly blocked, which is really frustrating when there is a tantalizing glimpse of a perfect sunset.  But even a glimpse of this sky was a spirit lifter.  

And maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when we actually get a rooftop deck.  No time soon, sad to say, but eventually.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

parenting fail

One of the reasons I stopped blogging is because I really like Facebook.  It works for me, my whole family is on, and it's a quick and easy way to put things out there.  I meant to post this to Facebook this summer, but forgot, so a quick a easy blog post.

We saw a lot of movies this summer in the theater - it was a fun family outing on a weekend night, and there were some really good movies this past summer I'm glad we saw.

Anyway, standing in line to get popcorn one night, I noticed Elizabeth staring up at this very large promo poster:

Mommy, is that The Beatles?

OMG, Parenting FAIL!