Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Today is one of those days where everyone (including the dog) has an appointment this afternoon. So before we resign ourselves to car seats and seat belts and the important going-ons of the day, we thought we'd settle in at the kitchen table, take a deep breath, and have ourselves a scribble.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. ~ Pablo Picasso
Monday, March 30, 2009
I'm not much of a planner. But daydreaming, well, I do that in spades. Lately, I've been garden daydreaming - thinking about colorful blooms, knee pads and dirty fingernails, trips to the yard rather than to the store. I have friends - go-getter friends, friends who make things happen - who have had seeds started for their gardens for weeks. Me? Still daydreaming. I meant to get going on this project over a month go. I did some research. I checked stores for seed cell packs (the plastic trays with domes used to start your seeds indoors). Jason and I had the "our expectations for our garden this year talk." Still, all talk and dreaming and no action.
Then, Friday at my Mom's group, I won a pellet greenhouse kit (a souped up version of the cell pack I was eyeing at the store) for drawing the house and garden closest to the specifications given, with my eyes shut. Just one more thing for which I have to thank my former high school art teacher, the greatly missed Mr. Berry, who made us do a similar exercise in class.
Today, Audrey and I bought a few packages of seeds (tomatoes, green peppers, and parsley) to add to the stash of herb seeds at home. Seeds in hand, pellet greenhouse on counter top, we thought we were finally ready for some action. We thought wrong. We filled the cell pack with the specified 32 ounces of water and waited, and waited, and waited for the pellets to expand. I assumed it would take several hours for them to expand the 1.5-2 inches required. We're still waiting. At 8:15 pm, I let Audrey (who was very excited about planting seeds today) look at the packages and touch the pellets one more time before heading off to pajamas and bed. Looks like we'll be daydreaming for a little while longer...
Friday, March 27, 2009
Lost and Found and and Proper Nouns:
On Monday, I found lamb resting comfortably in the box that normally houses my dictionary, thesaurus, and synonym books. Audrey likes to put her animals to bed inside various containers she finds around the house. Usually she covers them with something (a lid, book, dishcloth, etc.) to serve as a blanket. Luckily, I found my missing dictionary and its companion books unharmed, scattered across our desk.
Tuesday morning, I heard Audrey in her crib calling out, "Daddy, daddy." Unfortunately, Jason was no where to be found, having already left for work. Not knowing this, Audrey continued her attempts to call her Dad, each attempt more elaborate than the last: "Daddy!" "Daddy are you?" She finally resorted to yelling her version of his full name (swapping out Jason Correy for Daddy Paige since she thinks that everyone's middle name is Paige) as if he was not coming simply because she had not been specific enough and he was merely confused.
Two weeks ago, after Jason returned from his San Diego trip, he realized his watch was missing. It's not a watch Jason picked out for himself, and I don't know that had he been picking out his own watch, he would have selected this one. It was an award, given to the top sales representatives (based on performance and leadership) in the country. Jason won it his first year on the job. He only wears it when he dresses up - and he took it to San Diego. He said he thought he had remembered wearing it somewhere that seemed out of place, with short sleeves instead of a dress shirt. We searched the house. He said, "You know how many times I've almost lost that thing? It's amazing I've kept it this long." I called my parents. They searched their house. He said, "It's just a watch."
And it is. It's just a watch - some metal, gears, and glass. But as we continued to look, I wasn't thinking about the watch. I was thinking about that first year: Jason's first year at his job, a move to a new state, our brand-new marriage. I remember waking up one morning to realize that Jason had not slept, but had spent all night laying in bed strategizing about better ways to run his business. This happened several nights that first year. Often, long days were followed by working nights. At one point, I remember Jason being reminded by his boss to take his vacation days. I also remember the excited call from a hotel room in Chicago as Jason told me he had won this award and two others (and the audio tour that followed as he described every detail of a hotel room that he said he wished I could see). I thought about the trip to Hawaii (also part of the award) - the place I had been saying I had always wanted to go - and pinching ourselves as we ordered room service - ROOM SERVICE! - for an ice cream sundae and french fries. We spent the week meaning to relax, but trying to absorb every part of the island we could (hiking the rainforest, kayaking by sea turtles, me running along the beach) knowing that most likely, we would never make that trip again. So it is just a watch, and maybe a bit more. And as much as Jason tried to put its loss in perspective, I couldn't get it out of my mind.
But, time moved on and Wednesday we had plans to go to the Children's Museum with Jason's mom. During the week, I carry a big bag: a bag that things get thrown into more often than they get taken out. To go to the children's museum, I like to take a small backpack filled only with the essentials. I was grabbing a few items out of the behemoth bag (and talking to Jason on the phone) when I noticed a small glint of gold in the pocket I was rifling through. I gasped. The watch (which Jason had tossed in there unbeknownst to me and then quickly forgotten in his jet-lagged state) had been with me all the time.
The mystery of the watch solved, Audrey enjoyed a day at the Children's Museum with her Grammy. Normally, she is drawn to a few specific areas (the dinosaur exhibit, any exhibit that contains water, the carousel), but this time she found a new area of interest, plastic shapes meant to mimic the artistry of Dale Chihuly's Fireworks of Glass, his largest permanent blown glass sculpture.
Wednesday night, I woke to a sore throat, which sent me out the door Thursday morning en route to the doctor to cut any major sickness off at the knees. Upon seeing the exam table, which looked like some sort of jungle gym equipment from her vantage point, I'm sure, Audrey decided it was her doctor's appointment. When I informed her that it was mama's appointment and that she would not be climbing up on the table, Audrey took matters into her own hands. She introduced herself to the doctor (giving her full name, of course) three times. She also threw out other vital statistics, such as her age, all in an attempt to bogart the exam table. I did let her stop at the nurses' station on the way out to measure her height. She's an inch shy of being three feet tall! Three feet tall! We made it out of the doctor's office with a prescription, but not our sippy cup, which tends to be the item we lose most often.
Today, we made a quick trip to the library. Audrey loves to play with a train set in the children's section. Most days, we have the train set to ourselves, but today we were sharing it with another little boy around Audrey's age. Using their library cards a collateral, kids can check out Thomas the Train sets to use on the library's tracks. Audrey has never seen Thomas the Train, but the little boy she was playing with has. In an attempt to play with her, he scooted one of his trains close to hers and said, "Hi Thomas." She said, "No, I Audrey."
This has been an interesting week. Valuable things were found in places we wouldn't normally think to look. I had been hoping to spend part of this week working on Easter projects or
planning our garden. But I lost some of that project time and found some unexpected rest when my body declared a vacation day. As I settled onto the couch, Audrey at my feet, feeling a little guilty for letting her watch another movie, I saw these words pop up on the tv screen:
According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway. Because bees don't care what humans think is impossible.
- Bee Movie
Things are found in small and unexpected places. Even words of wisdom. Even when you are lying sick on the couch and feel like your swollen ears and tired eyes can't take them in. I hope you find something wonderful this weekend. Or even better, spend it not caring what humans think is impossible.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
You know, just your typical yard art. (Which Audrey tried to go introduce herself to). I love the vibrant green head of the first one and the patterned feathers of the second. Of course, my pictures don't do them justice. They were on the move, especially once a friendly two-year-old headed their way. I guess she didn't quite fit the bill.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Lately, Audrey has been on the outs with our dog, Emmy. Memories of having your tail pulled by an 18-month-old die hard, I suppose. Audrey has tried to overcome the past, offering toys for Em to play with, showering her with unwanted affection, and trying to feed her food from her bowl [a gesture which Em mistook as stealing and got Audrey banned from the laundry room (a.k.a. Emmy's room) for her own safety]. The fact that Em will fall all over herself to drop down by a child, any other child, and expose a warm belly for the scratching does nothing to soften the blow, I'm sure.
which is why some of Emmy's current dog treats are shaped like bats. Of course, our little marine biologist claims they are sting rays. Hmm...bats and bones, so very, Spring? Interested in making your own dog treats? Find a slew of free recipes here.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Jason loves breakfast. It's his favorite meal of the day. It's also the meal he never eats. To remedy this, I've begun serving breakfast for dinner one night a week. One night a week, we whip together our morning favorites and everyone sits down for a late night breakfast that no one has to rush away from - no work deadlines, no play dates, just end of the day dinner.
Last month, after choosing to make pancakes, again, we began reminiscing about waffles. We had owned a waffle maker once, about five years ago before it cracked, rendering it unusable. Somehow, we had managed to go five years without replacing it. Then the talks began - the talks about how great waffles are: light, fluffy, excellent vehicles for transportation of syrup from plate to mouth - perfect in every way, really, except the slight hang-up of needing a waffle maker to make them.
This month, we welcomed a new waffle maker (and the homemade waffle) back into our home. I found a VillaWare Petite Flower Gravity Waffler hiding on a clearance shelf marked over 60% off - that deal coupled with thoughts of Audrey's flour-covered hands and light and fluffy confections got me to the check-out line in a hurry. And yes, those are waffles shaped like sunflowers, daisies, and roses that you saw in the picture (hence, the petite flower part of our lengthy titled-appliance). Our dinner Saturday night was a bouquet of sorts, topped with syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. A little sugar and a leisurely breakfast dinner, well, that's what weekends are all about.
Friday, March 20, 2009
If Audrey were a hit single set on repeat, this week she'd be called, "Don't touch. Don't touch!" I reach for her as she tries her hand at the monkey bars for the first time: "Don't touch!" Climbing to the tall slide: "Mama, don't touch." Sitting on the big kid swing: "Don't touch!" Trying to dress her when she'd rather attempt it solo: "Don't touch." Wanting to explore the zoo on foot by herself: "Don't touch, don't touch, don't touch" (becoming quieter as she runs farther away, her words carried by the wind). Sometimes, she changes things up with a finger point for emphasis.
On Tuesday, we were visited by dear friends who live in Florida. Turns out, their three-year-old is a lady-killer who Audrey spent the evening showering with hugs and kisses (not that I blame her, it's hard to resist those blond curls and big brown eyes). But we had yet to see her take so instantly to a friend before.
Last night, Audrey tore down the hallway in the dark, right into a baby gate. Upon impact, she bit hard into her lip in two places. The pain, and tears, were instant. I cleaned her up, calmed her down, and sent her on her way, ice cube in hand to numb her broken lip. She came back moments later, crawled into my lap and said, "Mama, Audrey be ok."
Today as I began writing this, she sat beside me singing her own made-up songs and talking quietly to herself about things I couldn't understand. I realized that there are many things I can't touch without her granting me access: her thoughts (some that she desperately wants to share but doesn't yet know how), the connections she feels to others, and the roles she feels a responsibility to play (even if the role is as my comforter). As much as I admire her fiercely independent spirit and her plucky determination, I hope that she does grant me a little time each day to hold her close, squeeze her tight, and touch her heart. And a little bit of access into those thoughts she's having so I can know her better, well, that would be nice, too.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In seventh grade, I tried out for the basketball team. A head shorter than most of my classmates and as sturdy as a toothpick, basketball was not a natural fit. My skills with a ball didn't intimidate any more than my size. But the coach, Miss Traub, saw something worth developing. I don't know if she thought I had any abilities as an athlete, or just saw a kid who she could help. Regardless, she gave me a spot on the team sharing a uniform with two other girls so that she wouldn't have to cut any of us and could still keep her roster to the allotted number. I had never heard of a coach doing anything like that before, and I haven't seen another do it since.
As we traveled that winter to and from practice or games, Miss Traub had one requirement: everyone wore a hat. Today, we were halfway to the playground when I felt the wind's chilly sting on my ears and told Audrey she had to wear a hat. I remembered Miss Traub and the groans she endured each time she told us to grab our hats. I found myself dwelling on her as I spotted Audrey on the monkey bars, hoping that that season of basketball had been worth her time, because that one season was worth mine.
Despite Miss Traub's best efforts, I never turned into much of a ball player. But I am grateful that I was given a chance to share a uniform and Miss Traub's time. I hope that Audrey has a Miss Traub to show her that all of us (the most talented and the least) are all worth being told to put on a hat.
For those of you with warm weather, I hope you are out enjoying it. If it's cold where you are, bundle up. Put on a hat.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
When I was a kid, I spent hours watching - most often perched on the roof of our sandbox (not what my father intended when he built it, I'm sure). I watched whatever was present (birds, leaves, seeds), taking in the sounds and movements around me. I remember summer being a time to not keep time - a time for watching, playing, and soaking the sun in through closed eyelids.
Today, we had one wee hour to spend between the day's events. I set up the hammock and we headed out to the backyard to rest, to watch, to listen. The hammock rocked and we took in one peaceful hour, before story time, dinner, and the storm clouds rolled in.
We hope you get a little time to rest today, catch a glimpse of a good view, and just watch the day go by, if only for a little while.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Despite my many distractions, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley was never put aside for long. The book recounts Steinbeck's expedition across America at the age of fifty-eight to rediscover the land about which he had spent the last twenty-five years writing. His companion on the journey is his French poodle, Charley.
The take-aways from this book are many. I could spend the week writing about the observations that struck me, or the ones that resemble my own from my few travels. But for now, I will mention one that resonates with me this week: the need for rest.
Well into his journey, after reaching New Mexico, Steinbeck writes:
"And I sat in the seat and faced what I had concealed from myself. I was driving myself, pounding out the miles because I was no longer hearing or seeing. I had passed my limit of taking in or, like a man who goes on stuffing in food after he is filled, I felt helpless to assimilate what was fed in through my eyes. Each hill looked like the one just passed. I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings -- the stuffed and helpless inability to see more.
This would be a time to find a sheltered place beside a steam to rest and refurbish."
I have been on whirlwind trips, the ones where you try to squeeze as much in as you can because you know you may never pass by that way again. Once home, I struggle to remember how I spent the days, the memories postcard blurs at best. Had I spent some time resting during those trips, perhaps I would have seen more (or seen less, but experienced more). But, I don't need to be traveling to experience the phenomenon mentioned above. A week of dashing into stores and cramming in too many events can cause me to see a little less than I would like. But often we forget to rest. The art of rest is a lost one. And sometimes, it takes a passage from Steinbeck to remind me of why it is so important. The rest isn't simply for the break, but to regain the ability to see.
This passage came during a busy week (last week). Jason was in San Diego all week for a meeting and Audrey and I had filled some of the days, perhaps a bit too full, to consume some of the hours while he was gone. Today, Audrey and I spent almost three hours at the playground, ignoring the piles of laundry and the grocery list. While there were many bursts of play, there were also quiet moments, sitting side-by-side on the swings listening to the wind find the last of the crunchy fall leaves and not pumping our legs.
Next, I think I will begin The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (on loan from a friend). But first, some rest.
Friday, March 13, 2009
There was the first sandwich Audrey made all by herself: peanut butter and dried cranberry;
the celery that she thought served her soup much better as a garnish;
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Her creative way of being in the world and seeing things uniquely. Most likely, once she starts school, they will teach her that it is only snowing and not "raining snow" as she insists it is now. Someday she will try to think like everyone else. (Also, as I'm trying to clean the house, I won't stumble upon empty yogurt containers and bottle caps stacked to make "robots," which somehow makes the cleaning seem a little brighter).
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The tantrums (even the really ill-timed ones). There will come a time when I wish she would tell me anything, even if it comes in the form of screaming, because I will not be the person she turns to when she is in trouble.
Her incomplete sentences. One day she will speak perfectly and I won't have this constant reminder of her amazing ability to learn so quickly something so complex.
Monday, March 9, 2009
At times, I catch myself saying something like, "Won't it be great when she talks (walks, stops wearing diapers, can be reasoned with)." But more often, and at an increasing frequency, I find myself storing away images of all the things I will miss about this time and wishing I could slow things down and just keep swaying a little longer. So if you would all kindly oblige me, this week I'm going to focus on a few things I'm going to miss.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Do you remember this February walk I took with Audrey? Well, I have a confession to make. I had meant to take her to the zoo that day. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those put-together moms with an accurate planner and spare wipes in the car. Had I been one of those moms, I would have checked the Internet before leaving the house and discovered that the zoo is closed on Tuesdays during the winter months. Once at the closed zoo, I had to come up with an alternate plan for the afternoon - quick. I opted for a walk along a path close by and invented a little game unimaginatively called "Can You Find the Circle?" As Audrey and I walked, we searched for circles: those occurring naturally (the bottom side of a pinecone, a hole in some limestone) and manmade versions (a clock face and a "no swimming" sign). At some point, I began taking pictures of the circles we found. This made Audrey even more determined to find circles. Every once in a while, being a non-planner works in my favor. This accidental day turned out to be one of my favorite afternoons that we've spent together. It has inspired many more days filled with circle hunting and picture gathering. We've amassed quite the collection of digitally-captured circles. This morning we sat down with our artwork.
I found a bound book with blank pages that has been hanging around since my childhood. I think I bought it for myself at a gift shop while on some family trip. I'm sure I had some great idea in mind for what that book would become when I bought it, but obviously that idea never came to fruition. Today, we finally gave that book a job. (For those of you interested in a similar project, but unable to find bound books with blank pages, I found a tutorial on how to make them here).
We decided to create a photo journal of the shapes we find. First, I developed mini prints of our circle pictures. I backed them with colored cardstock. Then, Audrey used double-sided tape squares to attach the pictures to the book's pages, ordering them any way she liked.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Last summer, we grew our first family garden. We started late, in June, after most of our gardening neighbors had already begun to harvest greens and radishes. But, I had this dream of a little raised wooden bed and dreams die hard, especially when an empty yard is involved. Jason jumped on board, turned my sketch of a simple raised bed into a two-tiered Barbie Dream House of a raised bed and helped me build and fill it with what gardening center leftovers we could find. We planted sugar pie pumpkin seeds around the perimeter of the garden. To say they took root would be an understatement. To say they took over, well, that's a little more accurate. We harvested several small pumpkins. In November, I roasted a few, scooped out the baked insides, and pureed them in the food processor. I froze the pureed pumpkin with hopes of making pumpkin pies. Unfortunately, I've yet to find a pumpkin pie recipe that agrees with me. (So if you have a foolproof one - and I mean FOOLPROOF, send it my way). Regardless, no amount of kitchen blunders or lack of culinary pumpkin pie mojo could quell my desire to try out the fruits of our summer labor. So, today, Audrey and I donned our aprons and finally got down to business making some Maple Pumpkin Bread (you'll need to scroll down the hyperlinked page a bit to find the recipe).
I have used this recipe several times using canned pumpkin. It calls for three cups of mashed pumpkin, but I thought I'd give it a try with our pureed sugar pie pumpkin. The results? Well, this recipe and I get along just fine.*
But the best thing about this bread is that it reminds me of the our summer garden and the flowers that opened up every morning on the pumpkin vines. Seeing them from our kitchen window made doing dishes seem a little less like the drudge work it usually feels like. Sadly, in the afternoon they would close up like tight cocoons for the rest of the day. Jason and I often commented on how much we missed seeing them after their morning exhibition. But had they been open all day, would we have given them the attention they deserved (and would I have been drawn to do the dishes early in the morning rather than leaving them all day)? Probably not. Funny how so many things are that way.
*Warning: This recipe make a lot of bread. This has never been a problem in my house, but others may not suffer from our spiced carb addiction. Also, the bread is usually darker (and oranger) than the picture above. My pumpkin puree was a lot lighter than the canned pumpkin I usually use. We also took the bread out a bit early, as in, as soon as I was sure it was baked all the way through. We had to leave to make it to a story time on time. What can I say? Today was a practice in really poor time management, but really great bread.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Today, while driving to retrieve the repaired necklace from the jewelry store, we pulled up behind your run-of-the-mill car: a gray four-door, much cleaner than mine, driven by a white-haired man with a penchant for driving the speed limit. In short, not the sort of car that usually gives me pause. But this seemingly average automobile had a not so average bumper sticker. I wish I could have snapped a picture for you, but I'm not one to snap and drive (so you'll have to settle for the picture above, taken much later while stopped at a stop light). The bumper sticker read: