December 31, 2008

Deer Haiku

Image: Cindy47452 via Flickr

four more wait, watching,
while this one tests our brakes –
an unhurried deer

December 28, 2008


Since the beginning of the school year, Mr. D has been proclaiming, "T is the nicest boy in our class." For the longest time we've been wanting to invite him over and see for ourselves.

Finally, the winter break nudged the stars into alignment and we were able to get these two young men together for an extended playdate. First, a little outdoor action:

Then, a trip to Ice-Land! Young master T had never been skating before, and was initially skeptical about our offer. Mr. D worked his persuasive charms: "There's a railing you can hold onto. Wear double pants and that way if you fall down it doesn't matter so much. If you don't like it, we can just stop and get cocoa." Finally T gave in. And then, once he got out on the ice, he loved it! He fell over and over again, but was absolutely unbowed, and got better and better, little by little.

Here's T yelling, "I feel like I'm gonna fall!"

And here he is an hour later.
("I want to do this every day," was his parting quote.)
A good time was had by all.

(And we continue to think that Mr. D
has great taste in friends.)

Boxing Day

Boxing Day pretty much equals Lego day at our house.

My help is rarely required, these days.

Sometimes, I help anyway.

(Thanks to the Sassafras Santas
for this particular edition of Boxing Day delight.)


There's nothing quite so sweetly satisfying
as Christmas in your jammies.

Here's T holding up a postcard I made for her
of her "home course" at Anstruther.

Clearly she didn't need anything else. (Good thing, too.)

Mr. D was thrilled with his "big presents" (here he's showing off his much-longed-for Eli Manning jersey; yay, Grammy & Grampy!)

And also quite taken with "found" presents
such as this empty wrapping paper tube.

The surprise smash hit of the morning was
a bag from Santa full of all sorts of disguises.
(Disguise pictures have been removed
at the request of
He Who Prefers His Cover Not Be Blown;
leave a comment if you MUST receive
a disguise picture via email.)

(PS: The new camera seems to be
working out well so far.)

December 26, 2008


I believe in haiku.

I believe in moseying.

I believe in celebration.

I believe that images have power.

I believe in singing. Out loud. Preferably with a friend.

I believe that we should all be permitted to wear what we please.

This last from a gal who has spent the entirety of Boxing Day in her jammies. (When Mr. D and my partner came back from a bike ride into town and back today, he greeted me with a jaunty: "Hello, Pajama Mama!")

I am an opinionated person, with passionate and deeply held beliefs.

I would do well to remember more often that others feel the same way about theirs.

I believe in compassionate listening and reflexive kindness.

And I believe that we are all of us works in progress.

(Thanks to the women of
Sunday Scribblings, who this week
unwittingly gave me an excuse
to go poking about in old posts.
New pics tomorrow, maybe?)

December 25, 2008

Snow, then rain –

the geese arguing loudly


Image: Jacqueline-W via Flickr

(A few Christmas pics
will go up soon, I promise!)

December 20, 2008

Ongoing Traditions

Saturday morning wrestling: year three
(Here, Mr. D is trying to "post up" out of the down starting position.)

Neighborhood caroling: year two

Former neighbors returning for the caroling party: year one

Mr. D waits until hot chocolate cools down
without being prompted to do so:
possibly the first time ever!

(All photos taken w/ my brand new Fuji Finepix F60.
Indoor shots are a little grainy: I haven't used any flash modes yet.
I also haven't read the manual,
which is provided
as a .pdf document on CD.
Will consider the next week or so
this camera's "try out" period.
Stay tuned...)

December 19, 2008


We were going to be late.

And it had already been a long day.

I was pretty sure, having already been introduced to the features of multiple forts in detail, that I could live without a personalized tour of this one.

But as soon as I saw the tears well up in his eyes, I knew I'd need to reconsider.

I turned out that he'd saved the best for last.

This was his treasure shelf, full of things that he had found (or bartered for) over the course of the whole week.

It was difficult to overstate the specialness of each treasure. Each one had a story.

I stood listening, awash in memories of what it felt like to treasure the found.

And I let go of "late."

(Thank you to the women
of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

December 18, 2008

Real Life Conversations

Mr. D: Let Tama pitch. She's a great pitcher. She can throw it to heaven.

Then, a little later: Here, Mama, you can have this last bite. I know you like crusts.

Me: Thank you, sweetie, that's very kind of you.

A few minutes later:

Mr. D: You know, it's a little bit harder to be kind to the people in your family.

Me: Really? How so?

Mr. D: Well, you can't say things like, "So how was your day?" because you were with them, so it doesn't make sense to ask.

Me: So you mean that some of the ways of kindly showing interest aren't really available to you if you're talking about family members?

Mr. D: Right. (pause) But kisses and hugs do the trick.

Update: Yes, he actually said "do the trick." And yes, we are the luckiest moms ever.

December 16, 2008

Jay Smooth's take

(about 3 minutes)

It's not that I don't have thoughts of my own today.

It's just that I am grateful for his.

Interesting stuff.

December 10, 2008


A few years ago, I put myself on a lifetime t-shirt restriction. Simply put, I do not allow myself to purchase t-shirts. I have enough t-shirts that I could probably wear a different one every day all summer without repeating.

I do graciously accept gifts of t-shirts. And thus my problem continues to grow.

Just now, as I was wading through my RSS feeds, I came across this idea via the Alternative Consumer site... up-cycling! (Taking a used item and re-purposing it to make it even more useful than it was before.)

The picture above is from an Etsy shop that specializes in giving your old treasured t-shirts new life as a blanket.

So. Cool.

That's all I wanted to say, really. A girl's gotta get dressed for work, and all.

December 08, 2008

Funky Pretty Sale!

Every year, while packing for our two weeks of tent camping on Cape Cod, I "forget" my earrings. This creates a situation in which I need to buy new earrings, thus enabling me to bypass my naturally self-sacrificing ways.

Designer Deb Panish's work is one of the treats of my vacation. The buyer at the little shop on Wellfleet who stocks her jewelry clearly shares my aesthetics. And I've just received an email from Deb herself, telling me that she's giving wholesale prices to anyone who places an order of $50 or more.

So. Check out Deb's work via the teaser page here. And let me know -- via comment or email -- if you need the wholesale login info. Support an independent artist, make some folks you love happy, AND get a great deal! Woo hoo!

The Point vs. The Field

(It's an old picture;
I wasn't out in shorts today, I assure you!)

The pavement on our street is in terrible shape. And apparently the Township engineers have reason to believe that the pipes underneath it aren't much better. So tonight a bunch of us trooped down to the Twp. Municipal building to hear what's in store for us. I wasn't there. But T's notes look pretty comprehensive, so here's what I know:

The proposed project includes both reshaping, repairing, and resurfacing roadways as well as renovating our sewer lines.

A township sewer main runs down the center of our street. There is a 4'-6' copper pipe that runs from each house that they're not worried about. The longer pipes, or laterals, which run the rest of the way from the houses to the main are clay, with a life expectancy of about 25-40 years. They were installed between 1941 and 1943. Thus our little sewer project:

1) Install "cleanouts" on our lines to enable them to access it from outside the houses

2) Inspect laterals w/ a TV camera to assess for damage/degredation. (We'll be billed for about $150 / house for this.)

3) Most laterals are expected to be in need of replacing; concern is actually more about groundwater getting INTO the pipes than about anything leaking out. We are trying to reduce our inflow to the Stony Brook regional sewer system. Clay laterals will be replaced with thick plastic pipe, which is expected to last 100 years. (Of course, that's what they said about clay and galvanized steel at the time, too, but never mind...) Existing pipes will be removed via a trenchless, pipe "burst" method.

4) The Township guarantees the installation for 10 years.

5) In January we'll get an assessment (NOT a bill). This is just a statement to help the Township set aside the appropriate funding. When the fees are assessed, they'll be payable over 10 years. Estimated at about $110/foot.

Other notes:
  • The timing of this is probably in our favor; not many jobs going out for bid in this economy means that we'll get lots of competitive bids.
  • Sump pumps must not be tied into the sewer system.
  • We should start trying to teach our kids NOW to resist the urge to yank out the little flags the Township engineers leave poking out of the ground.
  • Work slated to start around April, should take 75-90 days to complete.
  • There will be a follow-up meeting with the selected contractor to address issues of access to our homes during the roadwork
  • Lateral sewer pipe replacement should take about 1-2 days/house
  • The sewer improvement should not have an impact on our taxes, although the associated road improvements might.
  • Curbing is an "all or nothing" proposition. If everyone on the street wants it, it runs about $26/linear foot, again assessed over a ten year period. But it's up to us to decide (as a street) whether we want curbing.
The most interesting part of the meeting? (For me, who wasn't even there.)

Our street joins another street in a kind of hairpin turn, and there's a section of public land where the two streets come together. Over here on our street, that land is universally known as "the point." But if you grew up on the next street over, you call it "the field." How's THAT for some extremely localized linguistic ethnography?!

December 07, 2008

Slice of Life

It's been a lovely weekend.

I've been baking biscotti and calling old friends. (If you're feeling starved for visuals, you can check out last year's post.)

My lovely partner and I took in a fabulous jazz concert last night and then walked home in the season's first snow.

Our son is downstairs hard at work at a mysterious elf project with his beloved Aunt Chelle.

And even though I wasn't able to attend writer Zadie Smith's talk at the NYC public library last night, I can listen to the whole thing from the comfort of my laptop.

You could, too, if you liked (click on her name below):

Zadie Smith (53 minutes; make a cup of tea)

(Hat tip to Heidi Durrow!)

November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

In some ways, the scene was the same. D & I, hard at work in the kitchen in preparation for our traditional (yet not) Thankgiving.

But careful readers of this blog (hi, grandparents!) will notice that young Mr. D's task list has expanded a bit. That's right. Not just potato washing, but also carrot peeling! My goal? Sitting on a stool directing the show by the time he's 17. :-)

The final guest count was 37. (Yes, thirty-seven; those of you who have seen our livingroom live and in person may now close your mouths, which would appear to be hanging open.) If you already know the story of our Thanksgiving (and if you don't you can read about it here), you still may be wondering, "Where do you put them all?"

Well, in the living room, for starters...

And then, up the stairs!

We had a great time. And the clean-up is now complete.
(Thanks for your help, C & L!)

PS: A bonus shot of D's Connect 4 Master Class is here!

(PPS: Thanks, too, to the family members
who played along as we sought to identify
as many words as we could in the letters
Would you believe 129?
See our list here.)

November 21, 2008

These Kids Today

(It'll take about two minutes of your time to watch the above story.)

The short version? Inspired by the mock elections at their school and the real elections that followed shortly thereafter, a trio of 10 year-olds drew up a proposal which they presented to their school board. They wanted to rename their school Barack Obama Elementary. The vote was immediate and unanimous. 5-0 for the change, effective immediately.

Whoa. Bet it's not the last we hear from these kids.

(Hat tip, aqualad08.
Plus, I'm grooving on the First Kids
going to a Quaker school. Of course.)


I ran into a friend in the supermarket the other day, and in the course of our catching up she shared with me that she was going through a hard time, as a beloved aunt of hers had recently died.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," I said.

And then I think I had a choice.

Image by goatopolis via Flickr

The desire to be of comfort to my friend warred with the desire to steer the conversation back to more comfortable topics as quickly as possible. And it was hard to feel that anything I might say could make a difference. I almost asked how old her aunt had been, knowing that whatever the answer, I could then make a comment about a life well lived, and then we'd be headed right back towards talking about health, and how much we have to be grateful for. Short and sweet. Safe.

But an experience I had earlier this year with a total stranger has changed how I think and feel about reacting to others' grief.

This stranger, who was visiting my school for the day, seemed surprised to be telling me that she had recently lost her father. She found herself quoting him and then caught herself, remembering. And I, not knowing anything about her, was surprised as well. In uncharted territory, I felt the usual, "I'm so sorry," stick in my throat. Instead, what came out was, "What was he like?" And this woman, this stranger, seemed so grateful to have a chance to tell a few stories about her father that it was a joyous conversation.

I am still unnerved to hear of another's death. I'm happy to spend many long days without a conversation like that being part of my experience. But I am less afraid than I was. I am starting to think that death gives us a chance to think about life in interesting and unusual ways, and I am grateful that I now feel better equipped to just be present to those who are hurting. Grateful, too, for the trust that their sharing represents. Standing there in the paper goods aisle, I had another wonderful conversation, this time with my friend about her aunt.

Don't rush. Don't push. Just listen. And yes, be grateful.

I hope I can continue to hold onto this lesson.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

November 20, 2008

Tough Choices

Our D-man is big with the forced choices.

"Mommy, besides sea otter, what is your favorite animal? Land animal. And not another kind of otter."

Answering, "I don't know, honey, I don't really have a second favorite," will get me a scornful look and a few seconds to regroup before the question is asked again in a slightly different format.

Image via Nick, on Flickr

Yesterday brought a re-viewing of a favorite dino movie, which in turn led to this forced choice conversation:

D: "Mommy, if you had to be either a longneck or a T-rex, what would you be?"
Me: "Well, I guess I'd be the T-rex, because I'd probably win any fight, but I have to say I don't really like the idea of chomping on another dinosaur."
D (after a slight pause, and in a gentle tone of patient forbearance): "Mommy, if you were a T-rex, chomping on another dinosaur would be natural for you, so you wouldn't mind."

And then, thoughtfully, "Although they also have dangerous tails, so maybe you could do most of your damage that way."


(PS: thanks for the shoutout, MemeGrl!)

November 16, 2008

Someone is Five Years Old!

Scratch Project

Mr. D and I had SO much fun making this today...
please click on over to our Scratch page for the live-action demo.
Two minutes, tops.

Happy Birthday, NBR!

November 15, 2008

Miracles and Comfort

Today the fabulous Princeton Friends School was holding a hands-on multi-faceted Math Day. We had to go. Grammy, you would have been as pleased as punch! There were 30 different workshops to choose from (!). Participants picked their top six and were placed into three. Of all the choices, the one that Mr. D was most interested in was this one:
#11) The Monty Hall Problem: We'll learn about a famous and tricky problem that even some mathematicians got wrong! We’ll learn about it through acting it out, and we’ll see how probabilities let you reason about partial knowledge.
Famous and so tricky it stumped mathematicians? And we could get it right?! So cool. After dinner tonight, our seven year old explained to his other mom how to think through the famous Monty Hall problem.

Image by Fiona B. via Flickr

Whoa. It was nothing short of miraculous.
These moments of wonder, which have been pretty much non-stop for us as parents, sometimes remind me of other sharply contrasting moments.

Like the moments when you know there's a baby growing, but you don't know yet if it will all be okay.
When we were expecting, we were so nervous. Such a huge journey to be embarking on!

T remembers feeling some of her anxiety lift the first time we saw Mr. D's still-forming spine on the ultrasound. Something about the perfection of that tiny little stack of bones was comforting to her.

Image by Filipe Ferreira via Flickr

For me, it was the ghostly but clearly discernible images of his little hands and mouth that made it all seem a little more real and possible.

Did some piece of your life seem miraculous today? Did you take comfort from something unusual?

(Thanks to Jem
for her continuing inspiration --
today it was this.
And don't worry, I'm going to
take some photos of my own again someday;
in the meantime, go enjoy some of Joel's, maybe?)

November 11, 2008

Hallowe'en Redux

Yay, Sassafras Mama has a Hallowe'en retrospective post up! Check it out here!

In other news, my niece Super T is featured in a CNN clip over here... also awesome!

(Bonus points for anyone
who can tell me how to get CNN's "embed" feature
to actually work. Fail.)

November 08, 2008

November 07, 2008


There may be a change coming.

To date, our boy Mr. D has been of the "live out loud" variety. Wears polka dot socks with abandon. Proudly claims hot pink as one of his top five colors. Talks his stylist into going for adventures like this:

Even with the latest haircut, when he knew he was likely to get teased for it, he forged ahead anyway, and proudly so.

Then his teacher sent an email to tell us that he and another boy in school had gotten into it over the composition of Mr. D's family. Our son's classmate couldn't quite wrap his brain around a two-mom family, and kept insisting that Mr. D's dad must be dead.

Needless to say, Mr. D got upset. But not, it turns out, for the reasons we might think.

Mr. D's main frustration was in not being believed. "I told him the truth, and he wouldn't believe me, even though I was talking about my own life!" he exclaimed indignantly to us.

He handled it perfectly, standing up for his truth and then asking for help when the other kid just couldn't let it go. Mr. D's teacher similarly did the right thing, both in supporting Mr. D and in immediately reaching out to tell us what had happened. And Mr. D himself seemed pretty unfazed by the whole thing, once it was over.

And yet.

We wonder if this kind of social interaction in Mr. D's life might mean that he eventually starts measuring the cost of difference differently. We've heard from other families that there is sometimes a change. A point at which an openness starts to give way to something more calculated. So will he change?

Or will he just keep speaking his truth?

(Thanks to the women
of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

That Friend Speaks My Mind

The amazing Paula Poundstone:

It is two days after the election, and I still feel like I’m walking around in a Burl Ives Christmas song. I’m pretty sure a guy doffed his cap to me today. People seem full of hope.

This is America, though, it can’t last. Pleased and proud as we are, it’s nothing compared to how happy the Europeans are. After all, Obama seems great, but he hasn’t been on American Idol. That’s why President Elect Obama needs to waste no time in harnessing this feeling, and ask something of us.

Obama could ask anything of us right now. We’ll collect rubber. We’ll wear sweaters. We’ll spend. We’ll save. We’ll do laps. He just has to ask.

My parents are a part of the greatest generation. My generation rode out the Beanie Baby crash, ran up credit card debt, brought us reality T.V., and the S.U.V., but it’s not all we can do. We’ve grown up collecting box tops. We’ve earned free donuts by getting our cards punched with every dozen purchased. We can do stuff. We’re the “a-thon” generation. We’ve jogged, walked, and pedaled thousands of miles, because someone said it would cure cancer. Just ask us. We’ll bring an unwrapped gift. We’ll bring canned goods. We’ll collect flip tops. We’ve adopted freeways, and been up all night with night feedings.

What do you need us to do, President Elect Obama? We could each take a shift at a bank. Our sheer numbers should do something. We could collect Band-Aids (not the useless little ones) and hand sanitizer for the health care system. The entire country could hold a progressive dinner party to feed the homeless. We could all commit to wear the same clothes two days in a row to save water, energy, and time. We can carry road mending materials in our cars and fill pot holes during traffic jams. We can put a wishing well on wall street.

So far our leadership has often told us that we have a long, hard climb before us, which I would welcome, because I love the outdoors, and could use the weight loss, but I have a bad feeling it has nothing to do with climbing.

I’m waiting. I’m punching my glove. It’s oiled and ready. Pitch it in here sir.

November 06, 2008

Marriage on Our Minds

There's been some heartache mixed in with the general celebration about President-Elect Barack Obama's recent victory. Most notably, we have seen multiple anti-gay initiatives affirmed, including Proposition 8 in California.

In addition to street protests and lawsuits, citizen activists have proposed taking economic steps, including moving the Sundance Film Festival out of Mormon-dominated Utah.

My friend JB, watching the election results come in, noticed one state in particular:

And then she thought, How about we get Nevada to re-write their constitution in support of gay marriage?

Part of why Nevada voted Democratic this year is that they're really hurting economically. Surely some creative legislator in the Silver State will see legalizing gay marriage as a possible gold mine. In one easy step, Nevada could be looking at an even larger slice of our country's 50 billion dollar wedding cake. Skeptical legislators could give their counterparts in Massachusetts a call, since that state has already reaped a significant gay marriage dividend. So how 'bout it, land of double rainbows?

Image: Beat Kueng on Flickr

Okay, so that's probably not going to happen. But you know what will for sure happen? The young people for whom banning gay marriage is a non-starter are going to grow up. As I've been saying for years, "I can outlast the dinosaurs."

(Hat tip to JB, of course.
For additional reading, this
discussion and critique of the
"Blame African-Americans for Prop. 8's passing" meme.)

November 05, 2008


We went into Mr. D's room together first thing this morning to share with him the news of Barack Obama's President-Elect status. He seemed pleased, although also concerned about the feelings of his good friend B at school, who was a committed McCain supporter.

At breakfast, Mr. D thoughtfully shared: "I would like, not to be President, but to be a part of that family."

"Really," we said. "Can you tell us a little more about that?"

"Well," he continued, eating his breakfast with a sly grin, "if I was in that family, I would live in the White House, and I would just keep calling down to ask them to bring up more doughnuts."

Okay then. Good to know.

November 04, 2008


Fun with playground toys...

This is what I was thinking about
while hanging out at my son's school playground recently.

Stay in line. Vote.

(I saw people crying tears of joy
at the polls this morning.

What did you see?)

November 01, 2008

Shrieks Were Shrieked

Let's just go directly to the pictures, shall we?

A headless accident victim and his alien friend

Headless boy tries valiantly to re-attach his head

Three neighborhood cuties,
including a friend of niece C's

Everyone had a great time. Tama stayed behind to do the tally (50 souls this year, up a little from last year), while Sassafras Mama and I took the boys around in search of loot. Tama caused several visitors to shriek with horror as she opened the door with our famous alien hands, and D & JT both got their fortunes told on the best Hallowe'en street in town.

D's costume was the source of much conversation, especially from other kids, who asked things like, "How can you see?" and, "If your brain is detached, how are you still breathing?" D was especially pleased when one candy-giver looked directly at him and said, approvingly, "Now that's what I like to see."

(After the boys went to bed (at 10:30!),
the mamas stayed up even later talking.
So there will probably be some more
great pictures up over at Sassafras Mama,
but maybe not until a little later today!)

October 31, 2008

Onstage and Backstage

Earlier this fall, the after-school program at D's school held a wee talent show. Since Mr. D had practiced The Star Spangled Banner for his Christmas Carol audition earlier this fall, he was ready to go. They started the show with his solo. I arrived at the school two minutes after he finished (they started early because of impending rain), and was temporarily devastated. But then I asked him if he minded, and he said, "No, it's okay Mommy, you've heard me sing that song lots of times." Gotta love that perspective. And a big "THANK YOU" to M for taking this picture and sending it along.

Now we're onto the next show. Tonight is Hallowe'en and we are ALL ABOUT IT.

Last year, as you may remember, D was a bloody accident victim for Hallowe'en. This year, he's upping the ante and aiming for headless accident victim. So first, we needed him to do his very best "dead face," which we then took a picture of.

Here's the head in progress...

and the pumpkin in progress.
(Thanks, Miss A, for all your help!)

Were people scared?
Tune in late tonight or tomorrow for a full report!

(Weather here is supposed to be
relatively temperate tonight;
we're hoping for a big ol' turnout.)

October 25, 2008

Getting Stuff Done

Today was a good day.

We figured out how to use Scratch. (Hat tip, Professor Kim!) (And yes, that's some homegrown gorilla sound effect action.)

We got a car inspected (free, no line, totally friendly folks, so great).

We completed and mailed off D's passport application (Belgium in 2010, you heard it here first).

We quoted Danny Kaye ("Get it? Got it. Good."), and a three hour play date ended with no tears having been shed.

We played Clue. (Young Master D won. Fair and square. We were all pleased.)

We made a dent in the gigantic 1,500 piece puzzle from hell. (Guess who's the puzzle grump of the family?)

We adjusted the the bicycle seat of a certain 4'1" someone. Upwards.

And now, this. You will love it, trust me. Go on. Get over there and click around. Totally intuitive and gorgeous.

(More good stuff tomorrow, including
First Day School mid-day potluck
at the Meetinghouse.)

October 23, 2008

Thinking About Change

I found this thought-provoking (and it's just four minutes):

(In other news, this just in:
surfing the internet
makes you smarter
I loves me some self-serving research!)

October 20, 2008


Last weekend's trip home to my parents' home was full of time for reflection and gratitude. A good opportunity to think about priorities.

"For where your treasure is...

... there your heart will be also.

The lamp of the body is the eye."

(excerpt: Matthew 6:19-24)

Tonight, I went to try to hear Cornell West speak about the upcoming election at Paul Robeson's father's church on Witherspoon Street. I arrived at the appointed hour, and the church was full to overflowing. More than 100 people had already been turned away. Walking back to where I'd parked, I met a friend who had also been turned away, and we traded hopes and fears. So I got to read bedtime stories after all.

October 16, 2008

Ideas of His Own

His hair is his business.
Our D-man described this haircut
to his special Miss M,
who has been cutting his hair forever.
And she made it happen.

He anticipated that he might get teased about it,
but was resolute.

Knowing about
the Founding Fathers' hairstyles?


(Tune in tomorrow for some
garden pictures,
Grandpa and Nana!)