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
T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G.
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.)

Grateful

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."

Indeed.

(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 07, 2008

Change

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

Priorities

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

Vote.

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!)