Friday, June 30, 2006

More Card Games for Nerds

Actually, what we've come up with is an ubercard game, named Calvincard. The rules are simple: you take a deck of cards, and after that you make up rules as you go along. A new rule can elaborate on an old one, but not contradict it flat-out, like the blessings of fairy godmothers.

You can start out taking turns making new rules, but even that will probably change as the game progresses. You keep going until you are either satisfied with the game, or it has broken out into fisticuffs.

The resulting game this week was rather fun, but I cannot yet report on it because DOB's last rule about scoring grew so complex my brain went on overload and I had to go take a nap. As fun or more fun than playing the game, however, was calculating out the probability of all the different hands to determine how they should be ranked.

OK, maybe we are hopeless nerds.

And on that note, here's a fun little puzzle:

The ants go marching one by one, two by two, all the way up to ten by ten. But the little one is always left out by himself. What's the smallest number of ants that could do this? Bonus points for a particularly simple process to find out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alphabet Game

Which I originally saw at the Equuschick at the Common Room, but then actually copied from Mama Squirrel.

A - Accent: People from Seattle don't have accents. It's everyone else who does.
B - Breakfast Item: Two eggs, minimum. Three on Sundays.
C - Chore you hate: Grocery shopping
D- Dad's Name: His Majesty
E - Essential everyday item: Something to get my hair out of my face.
F - Flavor ice cream: Mint chocolate chip
G - Gold or Silver?: Gold
H - Happy Place: Under a shady tree
I - Insomnia: Oh my yes. Very bad combination with newborns.
J - Job - Love or want to leave: Love, except potty training.
K - Kids: Two.
L - Living arrangements: 2 bedroom apartment in mega-complex, but counting the days.
M - Mom's birthplace: West Texas, I think. Unless it was East Texas. Definitely Texas.
N - Number of houses you've lived in: Six.
O - Overnight hospital stays: Three related to my children's births. I doubt I stayed overnight when I was born, so that's probably it.
P - Phobia: Grates in the pavement.
Q - Question: Wherefore?
R - Religious Affiliation: Christian, but after that not so sure.
S - Siblings: to borrow from my aunt, Wondergirl, Techboy, (Me), Toolboy, (Book)Worm, Rocketboy, and the brother who lives so far away he needs no online nickname.
T - Time you wake up: Far too soon.
U - Unnatural hair colors you've had: None, alas. Definitely want to try green.
V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: Cooked cabbage. I hid the cabbage soup recipe so my mother would stop making it.
W - Worst habit: Not paying attention to people who are talking to me.
X - X-rays you've had: Dental and chiropractor. Never for anything interesting.
Y - Yummy: Chocolate-peanut butter cookies. Garlic bread. Fried eggs, not quite set.
Z - Zodiac sign: Sagitarrius, which I know because I like to read calendars.

Does NOT work for me

Flipping through a women's magazine at the chiropractor's office (an activity whose usefulness corresponds with the amount of time I have to devote to it while keeping the ducklings from playing with the adjusting table), I spotted a brief piece on speed cleaning tips for a clean kitchen in five minutes.

Essentially, if you had nothing on your counters, you could wipe them all down in two minutes. Then a quick wipe on the appliances and a dab at the floor with a mop, and voila! A clean kitchen.

Not mentioned was the part about scraping globs of tomato soup out from under the toddler's table, washing the three pots from supper and a frying pan that never got cleaned after breakfast, or even the stack of plates and bowls. Much less were there any helpful suggestions on where on earth I could store my blender, crock pot, tea kettle, Kitchenaid, and grain grinder, all of which I use weekly if not daily and the last two of which I can hardly even lift, anywhere besides the counter.

So, if you only use your kitchen to order pizza, or if you just spent forty-five minutes cleaning it, you can clean it in five minutes. I feel so much better now.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I do not think that word means what you think it means

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming with a report on the curious language spoken by D1.

She refers to bandaids as "rubber bands."

Her ride-on Radio Flyer, which she received for her birthday, is known as a "mike." So is the piece of equipment Papa rides on for exercise. We don't know why she doesn't call it a bike, as she can certainly say /b/. D2 tries to keep up, although he hasn't figured out how to get on yet.

When one of we parental folk suspects that a visit to the ladies' room might be in order for her, we ask, "Do you think she needs a T-R-Y?"

So last night when she said, "D1 have T-R-I!" we dutifully took her to the ladies' room, whereupon by her protests she indicated that that was not what she meant. And she came back out asking, "D1 have T-R-I?" So we're still not sure what she thinks that means, but we're pretty sure she can't actually spell. Yet.

Mozart has nothing on D2.

We need a larger pool.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dropouts, Pt. 2

Some more thoughts on it: Mental MultiVitamin responds with some kind words and profound thoughts. Amy, a fellow lawyer-turned-mommy, on using stupid people to raise the next generation. Plenty of discussion ongoing over at the Choosing Home blog.

And some more of my own, typed with a finger on each hand that has been smashed in separate wrangles with the washing machine. Life at home is not without its perils.

There is one thing on which I firmly agree with Ms. Hirshman: Work matters. Work should be significant, meaningful, real. It should contribute to a flourishing life, not be a means to make enough money to go spend time somewhere else. I was blessed to have such paid work, and I hope to do something similar again someday. My husband is blessed to have such work.

Ironically, that is one of the reasons I am at home. I want my children to believe that, to be equipped to find work that matters to them, and the current public education system and its private knock-offs seem designed to instruct children in how to trade boredom for petty rewards.

If Ms. Hirshman is indeed concerned about how many people are disaffected with the world of work, perhaps she should stop and consider whether there isn't something wrong with our society and economy, instead of simply berating them to all get back into it.

I have an idealistic notion that any necessary work can be meaningful to the right person, and that in the perfect society, no one would hate their job. But whether we can reach such a state or not, I don't think we will ever get to the state Ms. Hirshman seems to desire, where people think their jobs are more important than their families.

She points out that Mozart would not, on his deathbed, have regretted the time he devoted to his work. Probably not. But Mozart's work was his ticket to earthly immortality--something that, regardless of their belief in the immortality of the soul, most human beings desparately want.

Most of us, even the "elite," are not Mozart, or Shakespeare, or Julius Caesar. We cannot commission marble statues. We know that no matter how high we rise, and how prestigious our position, two years after retirement, when we return to the scene of our triumphs to visit a former colleague, the receptionist will smile at us blandly and say, "Who shall I say is here?"

The vast majority of human beings can, however, reproduce, and by so doing leave a permanent mark on the world. Yes, it's the stuff of tacky wall hangings: "The world will be a different place because I made a difference in the life of a child." But it's the same drive that raised the pyramids, and it's not going away. People will find their families more important than their work because their families will remember them; can hardly forget them even if they try.

Ms. Hirshman also deplores women wasting their intellect and training on such a small group of people as their immediate family. By this bias, the star of a local theater is wasting talent that could get her a bit part on television; the teacher of a class of twenty is wasting time that could be used to teach sixty; a boutique shop is wasting space that could be used by a Super Walmart.

The size of our immediate audience does not determine the size of our contribution to society. Some things can only be done in person, for a small number. That does not make them small deeds, nor does it limit their impact.

Ms. Hirshman complains that some woman is languishing at home who might have founded the next Starbucks. I have nothing against Starbucks in particular, but I don't think our country is lacking in chain restaurants. What it lacks is people who can cook a decent meal and stop long enough over it to think and talk.

When someone grows an organic tomato in their backyard; when someone stops to really listen to a child's question; when someone reads a book that challenges their thinking; when someone gets out the good china even though it will mean washing the dishes by hand; the world is a better place, even for those who are not there.

This is work that impacts society at large. Indeed, if it were not, Ms. Hirshman would hardly have cause for concern.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Cake Fairy did visit

Behold the duck
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.

~Ogden Nash


The wave of dicussion sloshes around the blogosphere again, and this time, I'm inspired not just to taste the spray, but to wade in. Specifically, I'm inspired by this question, which refers to the notorious book by Linda Hirshman, an excerpt of which is here. (Dated, curiously enough, before the Norman Conquest.)

The question, which I think deserves a fair answer, is this:
What are the implications, personal and political, of the choice many highly educated women make to bend their (advanced) education to the primarily quotidian pursuits of child care and housekeeping?

To clarify further, Hirshman believes that that great goal of humans throughout the history of Western civilization, the flourishing life, can only be reached by choosing a lucrative and prominent career path and storming full-steam down it to the end of one's days. She advises women not to study art, nor the contents of their refrigerator, nor to take time off from their jobs, for this will limit them from pursuing the other Grand Thing they might be doing.

I cannot deny that achieving One Great Thing with one's life can be a satisfying and flourishing way to live. But I do question whether that is the only manifestation of the flourishing life. If everyone is off pursuing a single end in a single-minded fashion, there is no one left to tie the loose ends together.

Division of labor is a wonderful idea. But it can be carried too far. Imagine a world where our laundry is all done by professional laundries, our food all cooked by professional kitchens, our entertainment all supplied by professional entertainers, and our confidences all received by professional counselors. Oh wait; you don't have to imagine such a world. It is the one we live in. But though each one of these things can no doubt be done very well professionally, and from time to time any one might make use of the professionals, when they are all done by different people something vital to human life is lost.

The lost thing is, I believe, a sense of wholeness. A sense of connection; a sense of who we are and how we fit in the world. If everyone is off pursuing one thing, no one has time to stop and look at all the things.

That is what I do. I am the hub of the wheel. I am the wall on which the paintings hang. I am the station where the trains come in. I say this with all modesty, not to brag about how well I do this job, but simply to point out that it is my job, as it is the job of everyone who keeps the home.

I say this with due consideration, as one who has worked at the job I always wanted, a job that meant going around and influencing people on ideas in which I truly believe. (Never mind what Ms. Hirshman would think of the ideas themselves; it's my passion for the work that matters here.) And a large part of the reason I quit and chose . . . CHOSE . . . to marry a patriarchal monster who would expect me to take care of any children we might have, was because I was dissatisfied, not with failure, but with success.

I could go around and speak to different groups; I could write articles and books; I could teach a class of students for a year. Ten years later, would anyone remember or care? Would anyone's life be different? Very little, at best. My influence might be relatively wide, but it was so very shallow.

I wanted something different. I wanted depth. I wanted to influence people, not just by talking to them, but by living with them. Day in and out for decades. I wanted to build and maintain not just a home, but a community. I wanted to stand up for the value of the life as a whole, not just life as a fragmented part.

To answer the question at the beginning, the personal and political implications of educated women opting to stay home is the recognition that life needs its generalists as well as its specialists; that depth of influence is as worthy an end as breadth of influence; that there is much, much more to life than making money and making partner.

As to why women do this more than men, beyond such obvious details as the inability of men's bodies to make baby food, I think it is simply because women are better at it than men. Women, on the whole, are more likely to see how much these things--life, home, beauty, manners--matter. They find it easier to look after it themselves than to persuade the men.

Ms. Hirshman does not see that these things matter. I am sorry for her that she does not, but a blind person is hardly a qualified critic of the path chosen by one who can see.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Now we are two

I think D1 had a good birthday. I didn't do anything spectacular. She poured water, she sorted buttons, and she helped me make a cake and salad. We made her a new crown for the occasion. We're having the official party on Sunday at Grandma's house.

Since I don't have any normal cake pans, I used a largish cheesecake pan and a smallish casserole pan to make two different-sized circles. I'm hoping the Cake Decorating Fairy will visit me tomorrow and show me how to turn them into a fluffy white duck. She used to visit me often, but I'm not sure she has my new address. If not, perhaps we'll have a fluffy white snowman birthday, which is what the cakes look like now. We could use the cold; it nearly reached 100 today, or so I've heard. I certainly didn't go outside to verify it.

The only fairy visiting me today was the Good Fairy, reminding me not to bop any fieldmice on the head, nor any other small, adorable people who might be getting on my nerves. D2 was cranky from his immunization, and the only thing that would make him happy was bouncing up and down on my scar, slobbering on my nose. I did dishes every chance all day and still couldn't catch up, and that was without trying to reclaim the ones that had been carried all through the house. I was doing potty-training wrong. I was teaching letter sounds wrong. I was crabby and could barely keep my voice within normal decibel ranges.

My black mood broke with the thunderstorm that started as DOB came in the door. My sanctification must not have progressed very far to be so easily affected by air pressure, but there it was. Supper was good. The children were happy (well, D2 still was in a fragile mood). D1 asked to go and made it on time. We had a party of cake crumbs and milk and birthday cards. I finished all the dishes.

DOB hid the ball for D1 behind the hamper. "There's a birthday present for D1 behind the hamper," he said.

She ran to look, and pulled it out, exclaiming, "Ball! Ball!" with delight.

Then she paused, and with indignation and concern in her voice, asked "Where D1's present?"

We explained that the ball was the present, and all was well.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just before

Two years ago today, I was convinced D1 would never be born. A year ago, it seemed like she would never learn to walk. This year, it's potty training.

Somehow targets seem to recede in possibility the closer I draw to them. I could picture D1 driving away from home some day in the misty future, but it just seemed too hard for a baby who clung to the table for dear life to ever let go and walk. Before I had children, it was easy to imagine having them; having contractions ten minutes apart for three days was enough to convince me that giving birth was quite impossible. And on the 1537th run to the potty that comes thirty seconds too late, I become convinced that this new skill is likewise forever out of reach.

Growth and change are miracles that never grow old; waiting for them to happen sometimes does.

Anyway, in honor of D1's 2 year birthday eve, some favorite phrases:

Amazing--We are all amazing. So is she. And she'll be happy to tell you so.

No kiss, no squeeze--She has a strong sense of personal space, and sometimes she just doesn't feel like it when it's time to say goodbye to Papa. For thirty seconds, at least. (Interestingly, this is the only context in which she uses "no" so far. May it continue so as long as possible.)

Come another day--I don't know why she likes to chant that, but she does.

Today, tomorrow, yesterday and (cutest) tomorning--She's intrigued by the passage of time. She likes to talk about what things will come after other things, or what we will do first, or what we will do today or tomorrow or yesterday or on Sunday or Thursday. Maybe it's because I'm always talking out loud to try to remember what I'm doing. I look forward to the day when she can serve as my daily planner.

Booing--this is the game she and Papa play whereby one hides in the closet and jumps out at the other. When she is finished, it's "All done booing."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Ambitions

Not only will moving to the new house make me suddenly more organized, it's going to turn me into an organic gardening diva.

Instead of the wan and weedy stalklings of tomatoes poking out of the rock-hard soil at the old house, I'm going to have a fluffy, rich no-till bed with an imbedded deep watering system (all made from scrounged materials).

I still will grow tomatoes, though. I know it's conventional, but it's conventional because homegrown tomatoes taste good and grow well in small spaces. Our backyard is a little small for sweet corn, and I doubt that anyone would eat arugula.

It really should be better than last time. It seemed like I could never make it outside back at the old house, and our only growing spot was on the side of the house, with a bland strip of lawn the only place for D1 to play

Now there are two of them, and they always want to go outside. D2, in particular, is so desparate for dirt that he will crawl over to the pile of beauty bark around the tree in front, just to get his hands grubby. With a backyard complete with bare muddy spot under the trees, I foresee hours of children happily occupied in the dirt, while I have a few moments here and there to build up my garden.

Plus, it's too late to plant anything this year, but early enough to work on improving the soil. So I should have a head start next year.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Thanks to Devona's recommendation, I read The Disappearance of Childhood, by Neil Postman, and thought it would also be a good time to go on and read Amusing Ourselves to Death, which was one of those books I had always thought I should read but never gotten around to reading. Both were essentially on different facets of the same theme: That the printing press, when it was the main way people talked about important things, encouraged logical, abstract thinking; a division between children and adults; a respect for the past and permanence; and reason and facts as the basis for public discourse. That, on the other side, now that television has taken over as the primary medium, those things are being replaced by everything--religion, politics, science, education--being presented as entertainment, because television is only good at putting on a show.

Some resulting thoughts:

* We aren't getting a television. Not that we were before. Of course, that only helps so much, because the rest of the world is still watching and it still drives the culture.

* The television approach to the world is seen in books, now, too. Many books are now television on the page: all images and tiny snippets of information, with no effort at continuity or logic. This is true of books for adults and even more so of educational books for children. I don't know that it's possible or necessary to avoid this entirely, but it's definitely making me more circumspect about what books I choose. Certainly some books benefit from a lot of images--it's hard to learn to identify birds from a paragraph about the lateral tail feathers. But many times the pictures are taking the place of giving the child the opportunity to think.

* What about the internet? This book predates it. The internet is a hybrid; it's definitely more print-driven than television, but I think it's still for the most part controlled by the television model. Pictures outweigh words. Immediacy outweighs permanence. We scan rather than ponder. The very ease of using it makes us careless about what we say. Still, it's not as naturally hostile to thought and words as television; it is readily used for such purposes as reproducing out-of-print books, publishing magazines and articles, and even occasionally actually responding to what someone else said instead of dueling in soundbites. So I'm still willing to use the internet, albeit more circumspectly. As Postman points out, just asking the question, "What does this medium do to the message?" defuses much of the danger.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Adventures Day and Night

Last night DOB's cell phone received two wrong number calls in a row at 10 p.m. as we were about to go to bed. About 11:30, just as I was getting really soundly asleep, we got another--apparently the mistaken number calling back. DOB then turned the ringer off, which was good because another one came through a bit later. All this action awoke D2, who after some time convinced me that he was not going to go back to sleep without a full tummy.

You would think after that he would have had the good graces to sleep through until the alarm went off, but no, he awoke again at 4:30 and communicated the same information. (I keep thinking he's about to start sleeping through the night, but every time I'm sure it's about to occur he hits another growth spurt or cuts some more teeth.) I don't sleep well when I know an alarm is going to go off in the next hour, so that was the end of that.

So today I have been in a sleep-deprived state of grogginess and crabbiness, although I try to maintain calm for D1's benefit at least. When she is crabby for no reason, she has to go to her room until she can be happy, a process that usually takes 37 seconds. Yesterday I took away something she had gotten into, and as I put it away she stood next to me making curious "eh-hehh, eh-hehh" noises. Finally she decided to make it more explicit.

"D1 go to room?" she asked.

"Oh," I said, finally realizing that the noises were meant to be faked sobs. "Do you need to go to your room?"

"D1 happy now!" she said.

D2 also does his part to keep me from feeling dull. Many times people will counsel a mother with two close together that there need be no rush potty-training before the baby is born. "It's not that hard to have two in diapers," they say.

That is quite true. What they don't mention is how well-nigh impossible it is to have one potty-training while the other one is out where he can interfere. D2 is now indicating that he would like to go in the potty, too. Head-first. Fortunately his crow of triumph echoes a bit strangely in the bathroom, so I can tell where he is and rush to intercept.

I haven't come up with a good strategy for keeping him out of the bathroom while keeping it accessible to D1. I didn't have this problem with her; she just wasn't that interested in the bathroom, probably because at that time it wasn't a center of family activity.

Midway through the day I realized my fatigue was not being improved by a most uncharitable attitude toward the wrong-number caller of the previous night. "I should pray for him instead," I thought.

"Lord," I prayed, "please bless the guy who called us last night." And then a happy thought occurred to me.

"To be specific, please bless him with many small children. Maybe triplets. Amen."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Links at last

I've been most derelict at posting links to blogs for the simple and unjustifiable reason that it seemed unbearably tedious. And if I ever switched templates or somebody moved, I'd have to do it all over again.

But now I have discovered Bloglines! One simple cut-and-paste, and a lot of tweaking, and an updated list of blogs is ready to go! It can change and add as I do.

The color over on Introducing the World is still bizarre, but it's a lot better than nothing.

That and I'm always paranoid that I'll offend someone by not linking. Which is silly. Are people really that dependent on my good graces? I think not.

I better link DOB, though; he's someone who just might care. But if you're not included, rest assured that I tried, I really did, and the feed didn't work right for some reason.

Rest assured, also, that your position in the blogroll is based on Bloglines organizing everything alphabetically and has nothing to do with my true priorities. Those will remain a dark mystery. (Actually, I usually do things alphabetically because otherwise I lose my place.)

Moving musings

Current plans have us moving on July 15, scarcely more than a month away.

I should probably be packing up boxes of books and spare dishes now, according to schedules for moving. These moving plans are probably created by the same people who want you to start making up a guest list and shopping for a wedding dress a year in advance of the wedding. I just don't like being that prepared. I had scarcely met DOB a year before the wedding.

Besides, it was quite awful during the last move when we realized that all our books were still packed. We had to go out and get a library card first thing just to survive. We wouldn't want to prolong that experience.

What I do have noble plans of doing in the next week or two is getting all the boxes that never got fully unpacked consolidated back into their original boxes again, as their contents have gotten somewhat muddled while they sat in D1's room or in the closet.

Once again, I have great hope that moving into a new place will make me more organized. I know circumstances cannot change character. On the other hand, I have discovered that I really do like things at least somewhat neat and can get them and keep them that way provided I have a slight surplus of energy after everyone is fed, and I can organize things in my own way, which requires spreading everything out and stirring it around into different piles and boxes until I hit upon a satisfactory scheme.

At all of our previous houses, I have had nowhere to do this except in the main living areas. Such a mess in the main living area depresses me, so I never get it out. Further, although the ducklings no doubt mean to be helpful, their assistance in transporting things from one pile to another somehow never quite meshes with my own organizational schemes. So the sad reality has been that D1 has had one stack or another of boxes in her room since birth. And since the only time I could organize would be while she naps, and she naps in her room, it doesn't happen.

But this time, it is going to be different. I have an attic! And a basement! I can work on the projects while they are asleep. I can find a home for things! Make decisions and throw things away! Keep the boxes that go together, together! Maybe even put labels on all the boxes!

At least, I hope so.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Eating my words

I am, I confess, given to hyperbole. Dramatic understatements and, perhaps more often, overstatements, sometimes pass from a spice to a staple in my conversation.

Unfortunately, I now have a toddler who can repeat what I say.

So this afternoon, as I put a cranky D2 in his high chair for lunch, D1 knew what the problem was.

"D1 starving to death!"

In fact, it was a general problem. She stood and watched me spooning food into D2's mouth, cheerfully chanting, "D2 starving to death. Mama starving to death. Papa starving to death. D1 starving to death. Starving to death. Starving to death. Starving to death."

I finally got her distracted by singing "Five Green and Speckled Frogs," which turned her towards chanting "Nice and cool, nice and cool."

Meanwhile, our lunch was waiting on DOB finishing balancing the checkbook and riding his exercise bike. He did the first and went into the bedroom to ride the bike. Only first, he lay down on the bed to contemplate the meaning of existence.

D1 followed him, propped her elbows on the bed, and observed with approval, "Papa takes forever!"

Now where did she get that phrase? A little while later I had lunch dished up and went in to ask if he was almost ready.

"Just a few more minutes," he said.

"Well," I said, "uh . . . Don't take forever."

"And why not?"

"Because I'm, uh, starving to death."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Smoothing things over

I've noticed over the past few years that DOB prefers to smooth over potentially troublesome issues in certain contexts. Say a total stranger comments on the existence of our two children and inquires as to our future plans. (Why this is a matter for public inquiry, I've never understood.)

"Oh, we'd like to have a third someday," DOB will say, casually.

Or the lady giving away a toddler bed makes a disparaging remark about the area schools.

"Oh, well," he says, "We're probably going to do private or home school or something."

Is this accurate, I wonder? Technically, both statements are quite correct, rather like the fellow who said, "Not in English," when asked if he had read Dante's Inferno. Of course, we'd like to have quite a few more than three, and we hadn't even considered private schools, much less "something." But is this the business of total strangers? Would it accomplish anything to make issues out of our lifestyle choices unnecessarily?

DOB, being a politician and a salesman by training, prefers not to make any more enemies than necessary.

My mother, who was neither, approached these things quite differently. One time we had a flat tire on a country road. While we were considering what to do, she spotted a mother and daughter standing out by the road, waiting for the school bus. She sent me off to walk the half-mile to the nearest home of an acquaintace, while she approached the lady, discovered she had briefly tried homeschooling and given it up, and devoted the rest of the time until my brother appeared with the spare tire to exhorting her to reconsider. My mother also had a personality that could generally get away with saying astonishing things without making a great many enemies.

I suppose there's a place for both kinds of people in the world. I think there's some value in waiting until people know you and realize you're not a total wacko before they find out about your stranger behaviors. If it's a real matter of right or wrong or direct attack, I don't mind saying something. But not everyone needs to be a polarizing force.

Eventually we'll probably have enough oddities that our mere existence will excite astonishment. Already I have trouble when people try to make conversation with D1 on standard issues of toddler interest. I don't want them to think she's stupid just to be staring at them blankly, but I also don't want to make a big deal out of the fact that she's never tasted fast food and never seen a children's TV program.

Yesterday at the park another mom came with two little boys and we chatted a bit while the children played. I mentioned that I was from Seattle.

"Oh, I love Seattle!" she said, "I've lived sixteen different places, and this is the most conservative place I've ever lived. It's crazy conservative!"

"Sixteen different places," I said, "Wow, that's a lot of moving."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

WFMW: Ziplocs in the Diaper Bag

Although this idea is most immediately relevant to people who have children in multiple sizes of diapers, the general concept is helpful for anyone who ever packs anything:

Use Ziplocs.

When D2 was born I started keeping one Ziploc of diapers and any other necessary changing apparatus for him, and a different Ziploc for D1. Thus I could see at a glance how many diapers of each were there. Two more bags held the spare outfits for each. Yet another bag for a snack, if needed, or for blankies and nursing drape, and not only could I actually find things in the diaper bag, clean things stayed clean. Also, if they were going to different destinations I could easily split up their supplies.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bedtime for Bonzo

He did this all on his own. Once again a baby doll has turned itself into a young monkey. Try to dandle him on your knee and you'll find yourself a climbing post. Try to toss him in the air and you'll find his toenails digging into your collarbone. Set him down and he makes a beeline for the most dangerous item in the room.

He can wave bye-bye, at least sometimes. He is developing a sense of fear, although for reasons not clear to us diving off large pieces of furniture is perfectly safe, in his estimation, while the descent of the Good Fairy onto Little Bunny Foo-Foo is fraught with terror.

I put him on the rocking horse last week. D1 rocked him and they looked at each other and laughed and laughed and laughed.

D1 and I have a Theological Conversation (I Think)

D1 is at the stage of talking where she really can say quite a lot, and is obviously thinking about quite a lot more, and if you spend all day listening to her you can guess at a fair amount of what she's saying, but you're never quite sure. So this is my best guess at what went on yesterday, leaving out all the ramblings I couldn't quite follow:

D1 (flipping through her Bible and singing): Singing God.
QOC: Oh, are you singing about God? That's good.
D1 (after some more humming and mumbling): Another God.
QOC: No, there's not another God. There's only one God. You could sing another song to God, though.
D1 (after another interval): Two gods?
QOC: No, only one God.
D1 (holding up her index finger): One God. One God.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Crazy Week

So last week we had: two cars that wouldn't start. A family picnic. A trip to the new house to discuss cabinets, followed by a trip to the hardware store to make an appointment to buy cabinets and dinner out*. An impromptu all-day field trip to the art museum and conservatory to kill time until going to the hardware store to buy the cabinets. (The hardware store was by far the best field trip.) Company. (This actually helped, as DOB lent a hand with the cleanup.) A visit to a new church.

Which may not sound too bad, but you must remember all this was done with two small children in tow, one of whom is at a critical and labor-intensive stage of potty-training; and it was all done without ever breaking down and buying premade food.

Today I folded a lot of laundry.

*The cheapskate version of dinner out: a big bowl of clean-out-the-fridge pasta salad eaten at the mall food court if it's too hot or cold to eat at the park.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ten things about U

Which are actually ten things about me and what I think of the letter U. The game is, you get a letter and have to select ten words beginning with that letter. Then you must explain why you chose those words. And so, of course, when everyone else gets letters like "C" and "S" that allow them to say nice things, I get U. Hmmmm.

Ukelele--It's such a fun word to say. I'm pretty sure my mysterious antique four-string banjo is not a ukelele, though. It's just a weird four-string banjo.

Unreasonable--Being awake at 4:30 a.m. when I only got to bed at 11:30 last night and have to get up at 5:30. I think I'm being paranoid that I got food poisoning when in reality I just feel queasy because I haven't had enough sleep. But because I'm just a tad paranoid, I can't sleep. Vicious cycle.

Underwear--What should end up in the hamper, but too often doesn't.

Umbrella--I don't own an umbrella. I haven't used one since I moved from Seattle. Out here, you can usually just wait for the storm to pass. I don't really mind getting wet, either. And I don't have a free hand to carry one.

Ulaan Bataar--The capital of Mongolia. Mongolia is one of the areas I find particularly fascinating, along with Patagonia, Hungary, Basque country in Spain, Iceland, and Wales. Basically anywhere relatively exotic-sounding that isn't hot all the time.

Ucomics--We don't have a subscription to, so we have to check our favorites every two weeks or we can't read them. We missed two days this past time. However, we have a subscription to Daily Ink, because they don't have hardly any available for free. Our favorites are Calvin and Hobbes, FoxTrot, and Baby Blues.

Universe--It's such a fascinating place. I'm glad I live in it. I'm glad God made it.

Ulnar Nerve--This is the technical name for the funnybone, which I bang quite frequently.

Ultrasound--What I decided would be a preferrable medical intervention to a C-section about 20 minutes before I had a C-section with D2. I avoided the ultrasound, though!

Unity--I have mixed feelings about unity. On the one hand, it's nice for everyone to get along. On the other hand, it's quite boring. What I would like is for everyone to disagree, but politely.

Do you want to play? Of course you do! Leave a comment and I'll assign you a letter. Unfortunately (there's another U, but I've already done my ten), we don't yet have any magnetic letters, so you will simply place yourself open to my potentially-malignant whims.