Monday, November 17, 2008

closed for the moment:

Thanks for stopping by. Right now all the action's over at, where I have already failed the NaBloPoMo Challenge but am still concentrating in efforts.

Such as they are.

Friday, October 24, 2008

obilgatory pumpkin pics.

guess i'm a mommyblogger.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

guess where we went.

this probably doesn't ring any bells

nor this, I imagine.

this might do it

or, in context....

guess what can be purchased there? Quite inexpensively.

we like museums.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Everyone's a critic.

me: Come on, get in the car, sweetie.

him: NO! I don’t want to ride in your car! I want to ride in Daddy’s car!

me: Sorry, dude, not today. Hop in.

him: I don’t want your car! Mommy’s car is SCARY!

me: Scary? (wtf?) What could possibly be scary about mommy’s car?

him: All the bad songs.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

You sure are.

Incidentally, I can vouch for this.

And now, I present 3 scenes, two from today, one from a week or so ago.

1. Ian the Comedy Writer
Scene: Our station wagon. Ian is strapped into his seat; Eric is driving, I am in the passenger seat.

Ian: Knock knock!
(eric and I exchange a look that says, hmmm, this is new.)
Eric: Who's there?
Me: Um, piney? Piney who? (subtext: What? Piney? what the...?)
Ian: A PINEY! And it REALLY SCRATCHES!! (hoots with laughter, which is so contagious that we also start laughing.

It's been more than a week, and we still have absolutely no idea what it means.
And it's gotten a whole lot funnier.

2. Ian the Performer (a monologue.)
Ian and I are at the lakefront in our town. We've eaten our sandwiches, played on the playground for hours, and are now (with more than a modicum of resistance) making our way back to the car. Ian detours up a ramp and onto the huge concrete stage at the lakeside bandshell. I accompany him, to make sure he can't take a header off the front.

Ian: (stages just off-center, all the way downstage, his eyes raking the empty hillside) I am a magic magician! And I am doing a magic show! Which of you kids would like to come up on MY stage?
(Turns to me) No one is coming on my stage.
I shrug - sad but true. Some nights, it's just like that, kid.

2. Ian the Naturalist
A little closer to the car, Ian spots of ducks standing on the shore, a foot or so from the water, grooming and conversing. He steps toward them, and I catch his arm.

me: Not too close, honey.
Ian: But I want to meet the ducks! Can I pet them? They have furry feathers!
me: I don't think they'll let you, Neen. I'm sure they'd jump in the water to get away. They're scared of people getting too close - they're wild animals, after all.

Ian: (pauses to think. Then:) But I am a wild kid!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Read this lovely brokenhearted reflection about being a new parent.

It's weird. I am very happy. Right now, I am blissfully happily married, breathless with happiness about my work, happy as a mom, happy with where I live, pretty happy.

And I know a lot of brand new parents, and I often have a chance to talk about what Ian's infancy was like.

During Ian's infancy, I was not happy. Not happily married. Not happy where I lived. Having zero fun, which was hardly surprising, but thinking that might be a permanent state of affairs. And - this made me feel most hopeless - having lost any scrap of joy in my work. Exhausted, about to capsize on a wave of bad chemicals, desparately in love with my kid. Just overcome. You know, the usual.

And I wonder why I can't sugarcoat that. Not even a little. I cannot bring myself to tell little white lies about that first year; I'm not even tempted. Am I just mean? Selfish? It's not to make myself look good - in these stories, I am not a hero, and not a helpless victim either.

Do I just love a good story that much?

Friday, July 18, 2008

And all I can say is: Exactly.

I complain a lot, on both my blogs, especially about being a parent. I tell stories about horrifying behavior (like the underpant drill team incident) and moan about having to adjust my internal pace to that of the Dead Worm Patrol. Whine whine whine.

Antonia thinks she does too. One never minds when Antonia complains on her blog Whoopee, since it's always snortingly funny and creative, and accompanied by photos of her daughter in huge costume hornrim glasses or Billybob teeth.

But some people must mind, because Antionia has written a response to a reader whom she has frightened - "Poor em.s read my post about Blogher that bemoans how boring and tedious it is to be a parent. Em.s is 14 weeks pregnant, out of the first trimester and ready to get excited about the most wonderful journey life has to offer, and I come along and tell her it's going to be AWFUL." So she says this:
...Because I have Esme, I can roll down grassy banks in parks without feeling silly. Because I have Esme, I can walk through London making monster noises. (One day last month I inadvertently made a monster noise at respected no-neck media personality Sandi Toksvig, and you can't put a price on that.) Because I have Esme, strangers smile and start conversations with us, strangers who would normally walk by with grumpy faces.

I can't put into words how good the good times are - I can't do them justice - and I don't feel the need to write about them here. I just enjoy them. [...]
And all I can say is:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

greetings from the cincinnati zoo

the sort of bird that rides on rhinos

the sort of bird that looks like a drag queen

the sort of lion that looks like a display at FAO Schwartz
(alternately, Aslan's standin)

what we've been doing

enjoying treats

hangin' in the great outdoors

Friday, May 02, 2008

Last week

Last week, a bunch of people from our congregation spent a Saturday morning on various helping projects - some helped renovate houses, some did landscaping or stream cleanup, and about 10 of us went to a retirement home to visit the residents.

There were quite a few kids on our team; I signed us up for this one because I thought it would suit Ian. He's friendly, he's a good talker, he can sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

Okay, seriously: I signed up because I'm on staff at this church, and I need to be living out the vision of the church and modeling wholehearted participation and MAN ALIVE DO I NOT FEEL LIKE DOING CHURCH STUFF ON A SATURDAY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. So that's the full extent of my suffering for the kingdom - spending a couple of hours visiting old folks in the day room. Yes, I am a fine, fine example. I felt like I had to sign up for something, and so I found something that I could do with the kid. Nice, eh? Why yes, I am quite saintly. I am one saintly mother.

And may I just point out, my little tiny ridiculous suffering is NOT particularly compounded by the fact that it was a nursing home, on account of my mom's long stay in one. So no credit is due me for overcoming nursing home squick.

Anyway, here is my point. The group took nosegays to some residents, and those were well-received. We found a quite corner, pulled out the markers and made some greeting cards to pass out. That was fun.

And then the group kind of split up, and we found ourselves visiting some ladies in another common room. Each was in a wheelchair, kind of wheeled into random positions, not to watch TV or look out a window or converse. One woman was parked on the linoleum, and someone from church was chatting with her, and she was clearly distressed, shouting. And I thought, okay, we'll be fine over here singing for the unresponsive patients for the rest of the hour. No way we're visiting the shouter.

But I do have some small sliver of heart, and it got the better of me. I saw the distressed woman gazing at Ian, and I couldn't conscience staying away. We can over and said hello. Ian took her hand. She frailly stroked his hair.

Ian cracked out the A material: from "Hi! I am Ian!" through "I am talking! To you! We are talking!" and even a quick verse of "Home on the Range". It's a great program, really. A surefire hit.

As the program went on, though, the woman became distressed again, and started shouting - "I'm sick!" "I want to go home. Can't you please take me home?" "This is an awful place, I would never come back here." "I'm dead already." She was weeping.

Krista and I fell into a silence. Ian looked at the woman, the looked at me.
He cocked his head and said "That lady says she is sick."

Yep, I said, that's why she's here, so doctors can take care of her.

"She wants to go home," he said. His heart was breaking, just beginning to crack.

Yes, she does. You know what that's like, huh?

He stared at her for a long time. "She is very sad."

Yes, she is. You're right, Ian. She is very sad.

Ian put his head on my shoulder.

Eventually I pulled myself together a little, and we prayed, with Ian holding her twisted finger. We stayed with her for a while. Eventually we went on and said hello to some more people. Ian was a little shyer over the next hour.

In the afternoon, his father woke his up from his nap. He looked up from the crib and said "Daddy, are you happy?"

"Yes, I am, Ian. How about you? Are you happy?"

"Yes. I am happy."

If I tell him I don't have all the answers - if I tell him that I, his mother, the person who explains things, doesn't know why some people are desperately unhappy, and there's nothing we can do to solve their problems AND YET God expects us to be with them and hold their hands for their sake and God's sake and I will never in this life know why...

...does that make his world more frightening, or less frightening?
More sad? Or less sad?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

it's been a while since we've had a photo so

Recent Events

1. Ian recently tried to hypnotize us at the dinner table. He asked for a treat, and when we refused, we gazed calmly across the table at us and began to rock very slowly and subtly from side to side, whispering "but yesssss....cccinnamon rolllllll.....yesssss......"

2. In the living room the next day, Eric did a magic trick for Ian that climaxed with the revelation of a small silk rainbow streamer. Ian picked it up from the floor, laid it gingerly around his neck like a stole, and smiled at Eric: "Now I'm a princess!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wrong about the Baby Jesus

Another day, another art museum. We found ourselves at the Walters today.

It's a rare gem. Though it is not usually open Mondays, as private museums tend not to be, it was open today, the huge golden doors swung wide onto Charles Street. It's quirky and weird, reflecting a personal vision about collecting and art and what's valuable. It's small and managable, close to free street parking and cheap lunch counters. It's free. All the time.

PLUS over the past few years, they have devoted tremendous resources to making the museum a real family place, with events and activities and interpretive materials for kids as young as pre-school. (This was not true when I lived a few blocks away from the Walters, but then, I didn't need it to be, did I?)

Ian went to the Walters for the first time when he was almost 3 months old.
We go several times a year, and some of the staff recognized us today. (Granted, we are hard to miss, the World's Cutest Toddler and his purple-haired aging hipster mom. We tend to make an impression.)

This morning, we went directly to the playroom in the basement, and played with blocks and puppets for an hour. The puppets at the Walters totally rule over all other hand puppets on earth. The playroom has a slight Heraldry/Chivalry theme, and so the puppets include lions and griffins and dragons, as well as camels, skunks, rats, bunnies, and whatever else the FolkManis people were making that season. Yeah, I know, they're retail puppets - you would think that I would reserve this sort of enthusiasm for one-of-a-kind works of art - but on the other hand, they seem to be surviving rough toddler play and baby gnawing awfully well. Nothing to (ha ha) sneeze at.

Anyway, after about an hour, I was able to lure him into the elevator and get him upstairs to look at some pictures. He wasn't interested at first, but then some temple statues got him, and we went on our traditional hunt for animals in the artworks. We saw bears, horses, monkeys, peacocks, dogs and bunnies. And lions.

This wandering from work to work led us into the 18th Century galleries, where there is lots and lots of Baby Jesus.

Pictures of Baby Jesus are interesting to both of us (I can only feign interest in horse paintings for so long) and so we talked about each one: how does his momma look in this picture? Does she look sad? "NO! Is HAPPY!" She looked kinda tired to me, but maybe I was projecting. What color is his blanket? Does it look soft? What animal is he petting? (There's a whole room of huge paintings of Baby J hugging the Paschal Lamb, by the way. While this symbolism isn't new to me, it hit me square in the chest with a kind of meanness today.)

We came upon a smallish painting of a naked, sleeping Baby J, and I hoisted Ian up so he could get a good look. Ian looked at me with a concerned face.

"His diaper, Mamma!" he whispered, shocked.
"Yep, his diaper's off. Maybe he took it off after his mamma put him to bed."
"But Mamma! His diaper! Is OFF!"
"Yes, it is. I wonder if that made his mamma mad."

Later, we're on the main floor, stopping for a juice box before leaving. Ian grabs my hand and says "Change! muh diaper! Mamma."

I get him into the ladies and strapped onto the changing table. He identifies the figures on the international safety label: "Is baby! Is momma! Is leaving!" He's not alarmed, merely reporting on the content.
"Yes, that's what the picture is, but you know I won't leave. I'm right here."
"Changin' muh diaper!"
"Yes! Changing your diaper."
He stares off into space for a long moment.
"Mamma, I was wrong about the Baby Jesus." (Yes, he said it just that grammatically, and yet it somehow sounded more like Scooby Doo than Ellen Page.)

I asked him what he meant, and he wasn't quite as clear in explaining, of course. But he did get across that the diaper - Baby J's missing diaper - was still bothering him. He may have trouble sleeping tonight, thinking about it. As we were leaving the museum, he stopped to discuss it with the woman behind the membership desk.

"Well, yeah," she said. "Sometimes babies take their diapers off. It's okay. See, Baby Jesus was just like you!"
"No," he said firmly. "Baby Jesus."
"Yes," I chimed in. "That's kind of the point, that Jesus was a person."
"Not a person. Baby Jesus."

He'll get it eventually.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

the dreaming continues

we're playing on the bed this afternoon. I lie down
He lies down with me, face to face, and shuts his eyes.

Me: Are you dreaming?
Ian: Yes! I am dreaming!

we lie still for about 20 seconds, making the sleeping sound.

Ian: Mamma, get up! You are! dreaming too!
Me: Yes I am. I'm dreaming too! What are you dreaming about?
Ian: Wheels. What are you dreaming about?
Me: Fish. I always dream about fish. (True.)
Ian: NO!!!!
Me: Well, you asked. I'm just telling you. I was dreaming about fish.
Ian: NO!!!!!
Me: Occasionally I dream about babies.
Ian: NOOOOOO!!!!!! No babies! No fish! Dream about animals!
Me: I guess I could try that.
Ian: Giraffes. Giraffe animals.
Me: Okay. Let's go back to sleep. I'll try to dream about giraffes.

(30 seconds of pretend sleep.)

Ian: I was dreaming, but now I wake up. You dreaming?
Me: I was. I dreamed about giraffes.
Ian: Good.
Me: Baby giraffes.
Ian: (very satisfied) Good.
Me: What were you dreaming about?
Ian: Wheels. And fish.

(Incidentally, the internet is very obliging - I typed 'dream fish' into google, and up popped this page, which informs me that certain species of fish can be enjoyed for their halluncinogenic qualities. In the pacific, says the page, these are called Dream Fish.)

Monday, February 04, 2008


1. We're playing in the living room.He rolls over into my lap and closes his eyes. He does his fake sleeping noise, which is somewhere between a shhh and a snore.
I stroke his forehead.

"I'm dreaming," he says, almost whispering, his eyes still closed.

"What are you dreaming about?" I whisper.

"Wheels," he sighs back, in rapture.

20 seconds later he pops up and runs over to the wall.

"Now I'm painting," he informs me, and sure enough, he makes florid gestures with a clean watercolor brush, with the wall as his pretend canvas.

2. This is a picture I did not take: a puddle we played in today. What it doesn't show is two tiny soaked shoes, having landed in the center of the perfectly round, ankle-deep silty puddle, and the 30 or so sets of concentric circles spread out over its surface, each a different size, one for each drop of the splash that was made when he landed. (This is my lame little tribute to the beautiful Unphotographable, which I saw via photojojo.)

Lest you think it's all soft focus Johnson&Johnson commercials around here, let me also tell you this one:

3. he's standing on a kitchen chair, and begins hopping up and down.
I explain to him why this is not a good idea.

My husband chimes in "Oh, that's great. We'll be checking into the emergency room, and he'll be holding his skull together, telling the nurse "I deserve this!"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Why I smiled when Ian cried today

...because he was crying bitter tears, really wailing and struggling, upon BEING TOLD THAT HE HAD TO LEAVE THE ART MUSEUM.

The Visionary had a free admission day, and I thought this was perfect - we could plan on an hour or so of museum-going before his nap, and if he happened to hate it and lose patience and begin the Display of Antisocial Behaviors, we could just leave. Because it was free, and I would not have to regret not getting my $12 worth.

He LOVED it. He could not get enough. We spotted animals in the Rumi collages, babies in the All Religions exhibit, and ourselves in the many mirrored surfaces. A couple of hours? No problem!

His real favorite was the giant cast-bronze-and-stained-glass Icarus that falls in slow motion through the main stairway, and rises and falls again all day long. He
twists down at a barely percievable rate towards the mirrored slice of sea on the floor below. Ian was riveted. I could not believe it. We climbed the stairs to get close - we followed him down. The sunshine glints from the skylight through the colored glass feathers. He has marbles for eyes and a red throng that's a mosaic of mirrors.

This photo from Gregwar at, which has many many cool photos, as does his Flickr.

Anyway, I acknowledge that this may not last, and that looking at pictures (or even giant winged men on cables) will almost certainly grow stale at some point. It never has for me, but I didn't start at 2. Trips to art sites will one day mean much eye-rolling. I know. I know.

But he cried! He tried to get away! He was stunned when I suggested that we leave the paintings behind! He would rather stay and look at art than go run up the hill, or eat lunch, or even see Uncle Sandy!



Sunday, January 13, 2008

There are worse thing I could do...

I need to save this link, so that the next time I am kicking myself about being a crap mother (ref. "SEE?!?!??" from the last post) I can think about these excellent stories.

I'm still kind of an amateur. I've only been at this for 2 years, after all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Happy Tale of a Boy and his Lobster

My darling child stayed home from daycare Wednesday, at the suggestion of his day care provider. Since she was the one who had to clean vomit off his socks and shoes on Tuesday, we thought that was a fair request.

As usual, the throw-up was the first and last symptom. Immediately upon clearing the offending stuff out of his tummy, Ian feels FABULOUS!! and wants to play!! Usually something involving wrestling!! And I must say that being a mommy has stripped away most of my squeamishness - while it wouldn't occur to me personally to wrestle a barfed-on baby (or kiss him on the lips, another fav of his), the ideas isn't as upsetting as it used to be. (I can also watch snakes on TV - great huge fangy snakes!! - without my skin crawling.)

Anyway, my point was, no vomit, and unseasonably warm sunny days, and me and the kid at home. I didn't want to take him anywhere crowded, in case he did have something contagious, but our neighborhood's playground is deserted for most of the day, so we went out to play. Me and Ian and his lobster.

See, our Christmas tree is still up, but the branches are a tad droopy, so some stuff has dropped off. We put all our unbreakable (and un-chokable) ornaments on it, so the fallen stuff doesn't matter much. One of the ornaments is a wooden lobster, which I think we got to commemorate our honeymoon trip to the Canadian Maritimes. I do believe it used to sit on a little wooden lobster trap.

So Ian has taken a shine to this little lobster. He carried it around for much of the morning, watched Elmo and Bob with it, showed his sippy cup to it (but did not offer it any Pedialyte), set it carefully on his little desk so it could watch him work a puzzle.

And then he took it to the playground. I offered to hold it several times, and was rebuffed every time.

He sent it down the slide before him.

He walked it up one of the climbers.

He balanced it carefully on the playground equipment when he needed to run in circles.

He carried it in his fist when we went for a walk around the neighborhood and gave it a breathless audio tour ("Wind! Chimes!!") ("Tismas!!! Lights!!")

And then he threw it down and broke its claw off.

When Ian breaks things, it forces me to a moment of decision. Routinely, it is something about which I have just said 'Don't ______ the ________, you might break it by accident." (Don't gallop the camel from the nativity set, don't drop the clay frog, don't throw the lobster.) When he does, it takes every fiber of my meager mothering to not say "SEE?????"

He didn't throw it down in anger. (It's not that the lobster had offended him in some way. Or pinched him.) He threw it down because he wanted to feel what his body feels like when he throws. He likes it. It's like jumping. As a matter of fact, it usually includes some jumping. He's learning about his body and its limits and what its good for.

About a third of the time, I actually do say something like "See? What did I tell you?" Maybe a quarter of the time. Maybe less.

Whether I say it or not, I remember all the things I broke by accident when I was a kid. They come flying past, like the doors and pocketwatches in the beginning of the Twilight Zone. A colonial inkwell. The carved back of an antique chair. A gold chain that has been my great-aunt's. A very large reverse painting on glass. German glass Christmas ornaments from the 20s. Plates and glasses and serving pieces far too numerous to mention.

(This is why I can't watch Antiques Roadshow. It makes me queasy.)

And so, yesterday afternoon, I gathered up about 6 things, and Ian and I had a gluing party. We re-attached the camel's leg, and the frog's leg, and the heads of two resin cat refrigerator magnets. And we glued the lobster's claw back on. (And I glued my fingers together, and somehow got a glob of glue on my lower lip, but I did manage to keep Ian from gluing himself to anything.)

I think we will have regular gluing parties.

I had really a good childhood in nearly every way, but at some point I got the message that I must never make mistakes. That the mistakes I made were terrible and irreparable, (and also to be expected because I'm kind of a screw-up)...and pretty much where shame came from.

And, yes, I know that glue won't solve everything. And that he has to learn limits and discipline. And he is, and he will, honest.

But I want him to see that lots of mistakes - his and other people's - aren't tragic. That reparation is real, and most mistakes really aren't the end of the world. Not even the end of the lobster.