Monday, March 31, 2014

It's coming...

If you've been around these blogging parts awhile, you may remember that last year I participated in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.  In the month of April, lots of bloggers (like, thousands) write a post a day (Sundays excepted), each one beginning with a different letter of the alphabet.  Last year, I went the random route, sharing 26 little bits about me throughout the course of the month.

This year, I'm changing things up.  Rather than make it all about me, I'm just going to make stuff up.  For the next month, you will get 26 story beginnings, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet.  I will start each story, and whatever I have written after 30 minutes, I will pass on to you.  Some of it will likely be total, ahem, garbage, but it's a way for me to continue exploring my creative writing side.  If a particular story grabs your attention, please let me know in the comments, and I will take that under advisement when, in May or so, I decide which stories to finish and revise. 

Happy reading!  See you tomorrow at 7 am sharp.

Oh, and be sure to check out some of the other blogs that are taking the challenge, right on over here

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 23)

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I have notice that Isabel gets a lot more face time on this here blog that her dear brother.  I think this is probably a good thing, since I hear second children can be neglected in this department.  It's not intentional, though.  Rather, Elijah is anti-mamarazzi, and most picture that I have of him look like the one you see above.  But, given the climate around here this week, I felt this picture was appropriate.

By the climate around here, I not only refer to the fact that it was 30 degrees this week even though it is ALMOST APRIL, but also to the continued presence of streptococcus bacteria at our house.  Isabel is the latest victim, and although Kurt and Elijah have been spared thus far, I feel it is too soon to declare the epidemic vanquished.  Bummer.

One thing upon which Kurt and I will likely never agree is the value of artichokes as food.  I am pro, and he is against, which is just fine, as they are rather expensive and I don't mind eating all of them myself.  As I am doing right now.  And yes, that is butter running down my chin.  What of it?

The aforementioned artichokes came to us from the new Trader Joe's that is just a mere ten minutes from our house.  I don't think I'll be going there too much, as nothing can separate me from my beloved Aldi, but as Maryland does not sell wine in grocery stores and the new TJ's happens to be in the more booze-friendly DC, I do think it will be added to the rotation.  Also, the artichokes are pretty cheap.

I am always seeking out new ways to keep my mind from atrophying in the face of repeated readings of Cam Jansen and the Molly Shoe Mystery.  This weeks thank you in that department goes to my dad, for directing me towards a daily dose of cryptic crossword.  Not for the faint of heart, this little puzzles should keep my IQ from plummeting irredeemably in the next few years.  On a related note, if the family runs out of clean socks, they should feel free to blame my dad, as crosswords are definitely more fun than laundry.

If you've been saddened by my recent neglect of these here blog, don't forget to come back on Tuesday, when I make my second annual attempt at the A to Z Blogging Challenge.  I have something fun (for me) going on this year, and perhaps you will enjoy it, too.

Finally, I ask for your prayers for Ben Sauer and his family.  I found out about them through another blog, and their story just breaks my heart.  What is impressive, though, is there incredible faith in the face of such hardship.   Join me in lifting them up in prayer this weekend as they journey through this difficult time.

Have a blessed weekend, and I'll see you on Tuesday (or Monday...but probably Tuesday).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fe, fi, fo, fum

Elijah has always been a bit of a scaredy-cat.  A bit of a Wemberly, if you will.  So it is a bit surprising to me that one of his current favorite books is none other than the classic Jack and the Beanstalk.  As you may be able to see above, it is the first story that has carried over into his artwork (That's the beanstalk on the left.  Don't know what happened to the leaves.) We are reading this version, and it pulls no punches in the scariness department.  Three times, Jack nearly gets eaten by the big, mean Giant before the Giant finally meets his demise at the bottom of the beanstalk.  And because Elijah asks ten thousand questions each time we read it, I am pretty sure that he has at least a vague idea of what it would mean to grind someone's bones to make bread.  

Elijah chose this book himself, and mercifully we have reached our renewal limit on it, so it will soon be headed back to the library.  I tried to read him another version where the giant is not so much mean as misunderstood, but he would have none of it.  Halfway through, he said, "I want the one with the mean giant." What is the deal with this? 

 In college, my roommates took a class on Grimm's fairy tales, which are, ahem, quite grim.  Yet, they persist.  There is something about the battle of good versus evil that resonates even with a three-year-old.  Fe, fi, fo, fum, indeed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol.22)

Oh man.  If this blog were a container of leftovers in the fridge, it would be the one with the two-inch coating of fuzzy green stuff and a horrifying smell.  Sorry for neglecting you all, dear readers, but things have been downright exhausting around here.  Sickness + a late recurrence of winter = no blog posts.  I promise to (try to) do better next week.

One way that I will try to do better is by once again taking a swing at Blogging from A to Z during the month of April.  Last year, I went with a basic stream of consciousness approach, like I usually do around these part, but this year I have something else in mind.  Come back April 1 to find out what's in store.

This Monday is my last session of 6 Short Stories in 6 Week, which, thanks to a snow day, will actually have taken 8 weeks.  I have still have 1.5 stories to go, but here's the latest installment.  That's story #4 for those keeping track.

One thing that class has taught me is that creative writing is hard.  I hadn't done any of that since high school, and I could definitely feel how that area of my brain had atrophied. If I can get in a good groove and write for half and hour or more straight, afterward I feel like I am in some sort of altered state.  It will be interesting to see how much creative writing I make time for once this class is over, but I'd like to incorporate it into my life somewhere because it is just so different from anything else I do.

On an entirely different note, my friend Jenn sent me a link to this post, and I thought it was really beautiful.  Even if, like me, you don't home school your children, I think it resonates.  A lot of my frustrations as a teacher came from not being able to provide the optimal environment for each of my students to blossom.

Elijah has taken to watching videos of how drums are made on YouTube.  I will not link to them, because unless you share his fascination with percussion, you will find them rather mind-numbing.  I speak from experience.  However, I did learn one interesting fact: it takes 120 hours to make one steel drum.  Also,how Amazon can sell them for 189.95 is, I think, the real mystery here. 

Everyone and their mother (especially their mother) has linked to this video on their blog by now, but you know what?  There's a reason for that.  Watch it.  Love it.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Board books are not my friends

Isabel is in a book phase right now.  But while this is lovely and exciting, and I am certainly a big fan of literacy, especially at my own house, there is a problem.  Isabel has, through several acts of violence against the printed word (sorry Henry and Mudge, Francis, and that lady selling mangos), been classified as a CBD - certified book destroyer.  Fortunately, given time and attention, her chances of rehabilitation are strong.  For the moment, though, it's board books only for this little CBD.

While some board books are just plain bad (one of my first posts!  how far my photography skills have come), all board books share a common problem.  They are just so daggone short.  Which leads to parents being forced to read them over and over and over and over...

For some reason, perhaps fear of being labelled a CBL (certified book loser), I have been hesitant to get board books from the library.  And so, I read the same books to Isabel approx. 10,000 times per day.  And when that happens, I start to notice things.  Things that would perhaps not have been apparent in the first or tenth or hundredth reading of a particular book.  Disturbing things.  Such as:

Do you see what I am talking about?  No?  Let me make it a little clearer, with the help of my friend PicMonkey.

Yes, that's right.  This seemingly innocuous book filled with lovely photographs is teaching my child that sharks and killer whales are her friends.  Horrifying.  I can only begin to imagine the detrimental long term effects that these subliminal messages will have on her tender psyche.   I do not, however, have imagine the effect that board books are having on my brain.  I can feel it turning to mush with each turn of the cardboard page.

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 21)

I just finished reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  I will not tell you too much about it, as per the author's instructions on the back of the book, but I will say that I enjoyed it, but felt emotionally exhausted after reading it.  Do not read if you are in a sad mood already, or if you are in a happy mood and you would like to stay that way.  Really, though, it was good.  Just sad.

I realized as I was reading Little Bee that it is the third book that I have read in the past few years where one of the characters cuts off his or her own finger.  The other two, in case you are looking for that sort of thing, are The Mermaid Chair and Cutting for StoneIs this a common occurrence in literature, or have I just gotten lucky lately?  I mean, seriously, people, stop it with the self-amputation, would you?  You are grossing me out.

Another book I read recently, this one for my book club, was This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.  Unlike the others I just mentioned, it is quite humorous.  It reminded me a lot of The Royal Tenenbaums.  If you thought that movie was funny, you might try this book.  I will warn you, though, it is definitely R-rated.  

I considered making this a Saturday edition of 7QT Friday, but I think I am going to slip this one in under the wire.  Kurt and I just got back from dinner at Shaw's Tavern.   A big shout goes out to Tali, a member of our babysitting co-op, who tended the little Runge chickens while we were at dinner.  We got back at 8:45, so clearly we know how to live it up.  As I type this (9:05), I believe Kurt is already sleeping.   Which frees me up to run down these quick takes before I too fall prey to the curse of the Friday Night Parent.

What, you haven't heard of the curse of the Friday Night Parent?  This must be because you either a) do not have children or b) have children that love you enough to sleep past 6 am.  The way this curse works is that no matter how badly you want to make Friday feel like a weekend night by staying up late, you end up falling asleep at 9:30, which is just as well because your precious offspring have no respect for your need to sleep in on the weekend.  Cursed, I say.

Isabel and I went on an epic journey to get the oil changed today, and while we were waiting for that to happen, we engaged in a little literary tourism.  We stopped in at the Mount Pleasant Library in Columbia Heights.  If you live in DC and have a three-year-old and are unhappy with your library's selection of Easy Readers, this is your place.  Iz and I picked up four Mr. Putter and Tabby books that Elijah and I have not yet read.  So that's what I'll be up to this weekend when I am not...

...visiting the National Museum of the American Indian for some drum time.  Taking the train to go play some drums = Elijah's version of heaven.  Too bad it doesn't start until 11, by which time we will have been up for five hours already.  Oh well.  Seize the day, as they say.  

Happy weekending!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Four ring circus

Usually, on weekday mornings, it's just Iz and me, doing our thing.

Today, however, Elijah had a snow day.

Oh, yes, and I had agreed to watch Theo, so his mom could run some errands.

Then, Naomi's babysitter called in sick, and so I figured, what's one more?

Yep, we were a regular Brady Bunch up in here today.  Only temporarily, of course.  

Yes, it was a little crazy.  But, it was also a lot of fun.  So, who wants to come and play tomorrow?