Friday, September 30, 2011

When the Mormons Meet...

This weekend is General Conference.  Over the course of 2 days the Prophet and leaders of our church speak to us. It takes place in 5 2-hour sessions (which is daunting if you have an 18-month old--that's a lot of church) and it's broadcast all over the world and translated instantaneously into more than 90 languages.  We'll be watching it from the comfort of our home as it streams live over the internet (I like to call this pajama church which if you are anything like me is the best kind of church). The instruction is good.  It's mostly lots of the same things--be kind, help other people, be grateful, take care of your families.  Nothing ground breaking but always a spiritual experience and always lots to learn.

If I had to make a biblical comparison for understanding sake, I would ask you to imagine that Moses and Aaron were planning a weekend of instruction and they'd asked everyone to gather and listen.  That's pretty much how we feel about it--burning bush and all.

So I've spent this week praying that my heart will be open, that I'll be ready to hear the things I need to hear and that I will be ready to change my life. Consequently it's been a pretty tender week. 

Today I heard this story from story corps which made me cry (like really cry, while I was at the gym--wasn't pretty).  Father Mychal Judge was the first casualty of September 11, 2001.  The story is an interview with the Father who was asked to give the homily at Father Mychal's funeral.  The story is beautiful and you should really listen to it but if you can't here is an excerpt from the homily:

Mychal Judge’s body was the first one released from Ground Zero. His death certificate has the number one on the top … and I meditated on that fact of the thousands of people that we are going to find out who perished in that terrible holocaust … Why was Mychal Judge number one? And I think I know the reason. I hope you’ll agree with me. Mychal’s goal and purpose in life at that time was to bring the firemen to the point of death, so they would be ready to meet their maker. There are between two and three hundred firemen buried there, the commissioner told us last night.
Mychal Judge could not have ministered to them all. It was physically impossible in this life but not in the next. And I think that if he were given his choice, he would prefer to have happened what actually happened. He passed through the other side of life, and now he can continue doing what he wanted to do with all his heart. And the next few weeks, we’re going to have names added, name after name of people, who are being brought out of that rubble. And Mychal Judge is going to be on the other side of death … to greet them instead of sending them there. And he’s going to greet them with that big Irish smile … he’s going to take them by the arm and the hand and say, “Welcome, I want to take you to my Father.” … And so, he can continue doing in death what he couldn’t do in life …
And so, this morning … we come to bury Mike Judge’s body but not his spirit. We come to bury his mind but not his dreams. We come to bury his voice but not his message. We come to bury his hands but not his good works. We come to bury his heart but not his love. Never his love.

Somehow this felt like the perfect way to kick off this very important and spiritual weekend--a reminder that the good we do in this life lives on, that it does make a difference.  That when we are each returned to the dust of the earth those we love and serve will come to bury our bodies but not our spirits, our minds but not our dreams, our voices but not our messages, our hands but not our good works, our hearts but not our love...never our love.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

And that's what we call a milestone

Oh the growing up we've been doing around here is pretty incredible.  These days you're more likely to find her running along side me with her hand in mine than you are to find me carrying her.  On Monday we went to the beach and for the first time ever she didn't want to hold my hand as we ran in the waves.  She wanted to play with the other kids and follow them as they ran up and down the beach.

Then, on Monday evening I was cleaning off the table before dinner.  I finished cleaning off the table, told Claire to get ready for dinner and went into the kitchen to put food on plates.  I turned around to this--three matching place mats (her favorite) all on their way to the table.

This photo does not capture the pile of place mats on the floor next to her which she had sorted through to find the ones she wanted.

Ahhhh job chart territory.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big City Life

When people who are not from San Diego ask me where in San Diego I live I say, "Have you heard of La Jolla?  (it's been in the news lately because that's where Mitt Romney is quadrupling this size of his vacation home)"  When they reply, "Oh yes.  It's so beautiful there."

I say, "Yea, I live in La Jolla's ugly step sister--just a few miles east but a world away."

My neighborhood is high rise apartment buildings (all 1 to 2 bedrooms) set down right next to 10-story office complexes. It's a hot spot for young families and retired couples--more affordable than La Jolla, still close to the beach but without the constant partying of some beach towns.  We love it here.  We love walking to the park and the library but there are some things that are less than desirable.

Our local grocery store has 2 isles dedicated to pet products, 2 isles dedicated to wine and spirits and 1/2 of 1 side of 1 isle dedicated to baking (which also includes boxed cake mixes).  You can buy flour in 5lb bags but nothing bigger.  This makes things tricky if you are trying to live on one salary and consequently have to cook 99% of your meals at home.

All of my neighbors who were not born in the United States (mostly Asian and Indian in this neighborhood) swear by a place called North Park Produce.  It's kind of far away but they swore that you could buy flour (whole wheat even!) in 20 and 50 lb bags and any kind of spice mix you can think of.  Today Claire and I made our way there (we're out of flour after making all of that Artisan bread) and North Park Produce did not disappoint.  It's small and crowded, has almost no parking and we were the only native English speakers there. Even though it's about 1/4 the size of our grocery store it carries a whole array of products that the local Ralphs does not.

We bought a 20 lb bag of what we hope is whole wheat flour (it's hard to know if it's white or red wheat and how finely it's ground because it's from some country where they don't use the same kind of letters we do but the pictures of the flat bread they were making looked like things we'd like to eat.  I'll let you know how it turns out.) They didn't carry unbleached AP flour in bulk so we're still in search of that.  If anyone has ideas let me know.

We also bought spice packs and some strange frozen ravioli (from Russia--which was weird but they looked good).  We bought carne asada, naan and all other kinds of delicious things.

The one thing we didn't buy was candy.  (I'm not sure how we resisted this face)

But my experience is that besides the rare exception of chocolate from Switzerland, Germany and Belgium no one does candy like America.  Sure Mexican sweet cookies are delicious but you know what would make them better?  Covering them with caramel and chocolate--oh wait, that's called a twix bar and it rocks.  Combining some form of baked good with caramel, chocolate, nuts and really anything else you could think of?  That can only happen in America people.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My name is Sallee and I.....

I don't know what it is but every time I see any kind of article that talks about health and diet I have to read it.  I'm the reason that yahoo headlines are littered with stories of people who lost lots of weight and why there is an article about the 10 best "insert food here" every time you turn you head.  Sorry. 

So last week at the dentist office when I saw the TIME magazine from Sept 12 with a cover of Dr Oz saying "What you should eat now" I latched onto it.  I started reading it as I was waiting for the receptionist and I carried it with me through the appointment and only finished while I was waiting for them to print up my bill. I did consider taking it with me but decided that would be dishonest.

TIME doesn't publish full articles online so here is a contraband link and here's a link to a good summary (do not read the comments--it turns into a vegetarian and vegan free for all).  The article didn't tell me anything new (they never do).

The main points are as follows.
  • It’s not necessary to restrict ourselves to low-fat foods.
  • It’s OK to eat eggs, whole milk, salt, fat, nuts, wine, chocolate and coffee — as long as we don’t overindulge.
  • The only fat accepted as “bad” is trans-fat, and that has been stripped out of most foods.
  • Dietary cholesterol is less important than we used to think and is irrelevant to some people who have good genes.
  • Excess salt is dangerous mainly for the minority of people with salt-sensitive high blood pressure.
  • Foods labeled “fat free” don’t taste as good, so manufacturers add more salt, sugar, and thickeners, and people tend to eat more calories.
  • Fad diets work by restricting food choices: they result in fluid loss and decreased calorie intake, and the weight lost comes right back when people stop the diet.
  • The low carb diets change nutritional balance in ways that may not be desirable (and they give you stinky breath)
  • The paleo diet?  Maybe not ideal as it is tailored to people who only lived to 40.  But they did look good.
  • Weight loss is hard. To maintain a healthy weight, calories consumed must equal calories burned.
  • High fiber foods augment satiety.
  • One study showed that the foods most associated with weight gain are French fries, potato chips, sugary drinks, meat, sweets and refined grains and the foods most associated with successful weight loss are yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • There are no elusive “superfoods.”
  • Exercise is important but it doesn't give make it so you can eat anything you want.
Wait.  Let me see if I've got this right. You're trying to tell me that people who eat French fries, potato chips, sugary drinks, meat, sweets and refined grains tend to gain weight and those that eat yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables lose it?


I never would have guessed.

TIME magazine, you dedicated a cover story and 8 pages to that?  Didn't Michael Pollen sum it up a little more concisely when he said, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants?"

But here's the kicker.  I ate it up.  I hoarded that magazine and read the whole dang 8 pages.Why do I keep searching and scouring the internet for articles about what to eat and the caloric content of things? I already know the answer:

Eat food (not food like substances.  Pollen says that if your great-grandmother wouldn't reconginze what you're eating you shouldn't be eating it--twinkies I'm looking at you), not too much, mostly plants.

So what are your internet pitfalls?  What articles can you just not pass up?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some rules are made to be broken

We don't have too many parenting rules at our house. I like to think that kids have a pretty good sense of what they need and we try to let Claire make mistakes so she can learn from them (I'll let you know in 20 years how that's panned out for us).  At our house kids eat sand and sometimes crayons.  Claire climbs on things only to fall off them and if she wants to eat so many blueberries that she gives herself diarrhea she gets to.  I figure she'll learn. 

But there is one hard fast rule that we do stick to and only break in the most dire of circumstances--Never Wake a Sleeping Baby.  The doctor tells me to wake up my two-week old baby for feeding and I just ignore him.  I schedule appointments around nap time and I've been known to make the hubbs come home from work (he can work from home and he just works around the corner) if it looks like we're going to have to wake her up for me to go somewhere.

That being said, this week I broke that rule.  Claire has been sleeping from 7 pm until 8 am.  Which is pretty awesome except.....(I know that I'm about to complain about a baby who sleeps for 13 hours straight so feel free to stop reading here if you'd like) that she's only been taking 45 minute naps during the day.  And I'm not talking about two 45-minute naps during the day...just one. One 45 min nap during the whole of the day.  And it was killing me.

Last night we kept her up until 8 and this morning I walked into her room at 7 am and I broke that cardinal rule which was scary because it's kind of the only one we have. 

We're already at 1 hour and 45 minutes of nap time....oh let the clock keep ticking, let the clock keep ticking.

**Book Club.  This month (actually for the next 2) we're reading Moby Dick as suggested by Joan.  Get psyched to dig into a classic.  I've just started and it's slow-going but I'm enjoying it.

***Remember when Gilderoy Lockhart made the test for the first day of school to test if the kids had read the assigned books over the summer and it was all full of questions about him?  What's Gilderoy Lockhart's favorite color? What is his ideal birthday present?

Don't you think it would be totally hilarious if that was the next Facebook/blogger trend?  People making quizzes all about themselves to see how carefully you're reading their blog/facebook page? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thank you Thank you Thank you

Dear Auntie Melissa,
Your gift arrived on Monday and it has been such a HUGE success--there are already track lines around the kitchen table and down the hall.  You seem to have a special gift for knowing just what kids need.  The good news is that if your career as a highly sought-after English professor don't pan out there is always a children's toy buyer.  We'd give you a great recommendation

Thank you again,
Claire and Sallee

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Randomly Enough

These days it takes us 5-10 minutes just to get out the door.  We live on the first floor (up one flight of stairs--21 to be exact.  I've had lots of time to count them recently) and Claire now insists on making the trip up and down all on her own.  She has one hand firmly on the rail and I hold the other.  She still teeters and falls and I have to catch her a couple of times going up and down.  It would be frustrating except that every time we do it I remind myself that I am just getting closer and closer to my dream of packing her with a little backpack so that she can help lugging the groceries up that narrow staircase.

Do not buy this book unless you want to

1) Make amazing artesiean bread in no time and with little to no effort.  Delicious bread with a thick crunchy crust (On Saturday we ate it with homemade yogurt and it was like being in France)
2) Make the best pizza dough I have ever tasted and I have been to Italy more than once
3) Step on the scale 2 weeks after having the book arrive to find yourself 3lbs heavier than you were when it arrived.

Consider yourself warned.


So remember when I went to the dentist and he drilled into my tooth and a stench like you would not believe filled the room?  And I was diagnosed with periodontal disease?  Well, this week I went back to the dentist for my checkup and things are going well.  Turns out my gums are reattaching themselves to my teeth.  It does show the sad state of things that I'm calling it a successful dentist appointment because the only super duper gross thing that happened was they jammed a slow release antibiotic under my gums to help with the reattachment.


Two nights ago at 2 am when Claire was up for the 4th time and screaming and screaming and the only thing that would calm her was rocking and singing I busted out another and perhaps the most brilliant piece of my brainwashing repertoire.  For those of you who are not going to watch the video I'll just put the lyrics right here for you to commit to memory.  Somehow singing this as a lullaby makes 2 am way easier to stomach

First thing I remember knowing,
Was a lonesome whistle blowing,
And a young un's dream of growing up to ride;
On a freight train leaving town,
Not knowing where I'm bound,
No-one could change my mind but Mama tried.
One and only rebel child,
From a family, meek and mild:
My Mama seemed to know what lay in store.
Despite all my Sunday learning,
Towards the bad, I kept on turning.
'Til Mama couldn't hold me anymore.

I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole.
No-one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied.
That leaves only me to blame 'cos Mama tried.

Dear old Daddy, rest his soul,
Left my Mom a heavy load;
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes.
Working hours without rest,
Wanted me to have the best.
She tried to raise me right but I refused.

And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole.
No-one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied.
That leaves only me to blame 'cos Mama tried.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I don't really know what to's our first fight

Ladies and gentlemen I hoped this day would  never come.  I hoped that I could to through the rest of my life with just the lovey-dovey feelings I've told you about but the day has come and I don't know what to do.

24 Hour Fitness and I are in a fight.

Let me tell you what happened so that you can commiserate with me and leave me comments about how insensed you are too.

On Monday as the hubbs and I were getting Claire ready so that we could take the hubbs to the airport the hubbs leaned over to me as he was putting on her shoes and said, "Have you seen this?"  He then points out a little thing that looks like a pimple on Claire's ankle.  I had not seen it but as I'm looking I notice that she has another one on the side of her foot.  We talked about it for a minute and the hubbs says, "sometimes I get little blisters like that when my feet get too hot" and we continue on our merry way to the airport.  After the airport Claire and I head straight to the gym where we stay for about an hour.  After we're home I take her shoes off and notice another little blister on her other foot.

I panic.  I then carefully examine her feet and find three little red marks on the sole of her foot.  A couple of our friends have recently had hand, foot and mouth disease (HFM) and I know that it's making it's way around two of the housing complexes in this neighborhood.  I hit the internet and look up pictures and sure enough, the little marks on Claire's foot look like the pictures on the internet so we buckle down and I get prepared to spend a week at home.  I call a friend who's kids had it and she tells me exactly what her Dr told her.  It's a virus and there's nothing you can do and they are contagious for 48 hours.  I email anyone who has had contact with Claire to let them know they should be on the lookout and then I call 24 Hour Fitness to tell them the same thing and tell them that they probably need to Lysol down the kid's club to be safe.  I also canceled a Dr's appointment and the babysitter and hunker down for the week.

Well the week rolls on and nothing happens to Claire.  The 3 blisters on her feet and the 3 red marks on her sole don't expand--there aren't more of them, she just seems fine.  There's a chance she had it but really I think that she just had a heat rash on her feet--though to be safe we stayed away from kids for the 48 hours that HFM is contagious.

And here's where the fight begins.  Today I got a call from one of the managers at 24 (who is a very nice girl and who I really do like) and she says, "So, how's Claire." I just say that Clarie is feeling better because getting into the whole false alarm thing didn't seem like a great idea. And she says, "great.  I'm so glad.  So...I was wondering, do you think you could bring a Dr's note to the gym when you come back to tell us that she's okay?" 

I told her "No Way" and I start getting mad.

She said, "well...we're just trying to figure out how we can not tell everyone who it was."

I then explain to her that it is a common childhood virus and that there is nothing a Dr can do.  I tell her that it is contagious for 48 hours and that we have not been back to the gym in 4 days just so that we could be sure.  She sort of mumbled and said, "okay.  See you tomorrow."

I've hashed through this a couple of times with my mom (oh my poor mother having to hear this insignificant story all day long) and here's why I'm mad.

I was really trying to be responsible.  I didn't have to call to tell them what happened but I was trying to keep the other kids safe.  Then, after I had tried to be totally honest and responsible she calls thinking that I'm going to try to sneak Claire into the gym before she's totally well.

When I first hung up the phone my thought was, "That makes me not want to be honest and tell them when Claire is sick."

My second thought was what kind of witch-hunt is waiting for me when I get back to the gym.  I imagine all kinds of parents thinking there is some conspiracy and getting ready keep their kids from getting anywhere near that mom who would take a sick kid to the gym.  Really that's not what happened.  It was an honest mistake and I tried to take care of it the best I could.

So here is what I am going to tell myself before I go to bed and before I go to the gym tomorrow (where I will not take Claire just because if there are witch hunters waiting with pitch forks I'm much more nimble when I don't have her on my hip)

The Paradoxical Commandments*

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

- Kent M. Keith

Be honest and frank honest and frank anyway.

*a copy of these hung in Mother Teresa's Orphanage and thanks to a kind friend they also hang in my living room

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You can just call me a computer genius

I am complete idiot when it comes to maintaining computers and my MO until this point has been to just get a new computer every couple of years.  Every time my computer starts slowing down or has trouble starting I just head out and for $400 get a brand new one--works like a charm.  This last couple of weeks my computer has been annoyingly slow.  It's 3 or 4 years old, missing the 'm' key and the battery is shot but it has served me well.  The trouble is that thanks to what I like to call, "the plumbing problem that can not be resolved" there isn't $400 in the budget to get a new one. 

And things were starting to get serious.  I have not been able to watch netflix at all while other programs are running for a week. The agony.

So today I took matters into my own hands. I removed old, unneeded programs, I made sure that there weren't any unneeded programs starting automatically at startup, I defragmented the memory and I did something else that I don't even know what it was but it told me that it freed up memory space.  I worked and worked.

Don't be too dazzled because I'm quite sure that I could not recreate the effort. But it worked.  Like some kind of computer miracle I am watching Netflix and blogging at the same time. 

My small victory has inspired me.  Maybe I don't need to buy a cheap laptop every couple of years and instead I can just learn to take care of this one.  It's good for the environment, good for my brain and good for my pocketbook.

My next project is to see if I can get more RAM and install it.  Let the researching begin.

I'll have to take a lesson from Claire who at our trip to the San Diego Mission insisted on reading, carrying and interpreting the only map they gave us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Crafty Friend Call Out

Which one of my crafty friends wants to make these with me.

Anyone?  Anyone?

And just because it's been way too long since I tortured you with my incredibly stellar cinematography here is a video of Claire singing her favorite song.  Check out the morning hair (not to mention my morning voice).  I love the way her little arms flail out when the popcorn in popping.  I love the proud look on her face because she knows she is doing something well and the flair--oh the flair.  I just love it all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New Friend

My trip to Washington DC was amazing and it allowed me to feel, for a couple of days, like I was dabbling in a life that wasn't my own--leisurely walks to the farmer's market, a lazy Sunday brunch followed by the New York Times book review.  It's a life that I sometimes covet and is very far removed from my own.

A couple of friends from New York were there and I grilled them about living the artist's life in New York City.  From what they tell me it's almost as nice as I imagine it (except for the fact that one of them got hit by a car last week.  YIKES).

One of the New York bunch was the wedding photographer, Dallas (Dallas is not actually a wedding photographer but Frances is VERY persuasive).  I've had an internet crush on Dallas for a long time and I met him at a party once but we were never really friends.  He was seated at my table for dinner so I was finally able to get to know him in real life.  He is charming.  He is the kind of person who when you tell him that you are a stay-at-home mom will put his arm around you and tell you that you are doing the most important work in the world.

(And even though it would be the perfect moment to drop the bomb he will not tell you that he writes children's books.  You'll hear that from someone else.)

Needless to say, when I got home I immediately started re-stalking Dallas and ordered his book.  It is charming.  You can read it online for free but you're going to want to order it because you are going to love Red Fred and the Jolly Troop and their New York City life.

Red Fred also has a blog where a new story from the troop is published weekly and every Friday they have downloadable coloring pages.

The troop is pretty adventurous.  Their stories made me a little nostalgic for New York (which is odd because I have never lived in New York and have never even been there but I missed New York somehow--maybe it's just the dream of that artist's life)

Here is the troop at the Alexander McQueen show

They recently went camping

And, thankfully, the whole troop was able to stay safe during hurricane Irene.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Picture Perfect

The wedding was perfect.

And Claire had a good time at home with her dad. (this is the picture the hubbs texted me on Sunday morning--yes, those are q-tips)

A lovely little weekend for everyone.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A year ago....

A year ago this weekend we picked up our little family and moved to San Diego.  That next day my mom flew in to help me unpack and get adjusted to life in a new state. On our first trip to Trader Joe's my mom bought me a pineapple fern which we loved and which died a couple of months later.   In my traditional lazy-lady fashion the dead plant has sat on my porch since then.

Just two weeks ago it started sending forth little shoots.  And now I know that we have a perennial on our hands.  Lucky thing I didn't throw it away.

Today I am flying to Washington DC to celebrate the marriage of one of my favorite people.  It is the first time I am leaving Claire over night.  It's hard to say who's more nervous about the situation.  Of course, I have a couple of long flights where I'll be able to read, watch movies and relax and the hubbs has two days with a busy little lady.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All ye that labor

This year for labor day we labored to relax.  We went to meet baby Adam who had arrived in the world less than 24 hours before we met him, and then headed to San Juan Capistrano.  We hardly ever leave San Diego County so even if the Mission turned out to be boring it would have been a worth-while trip for us just to get out and about.

Lucky for us the mission is 100% awesome and you should absolutely go there. (It rained on and off the whole day so please forgive the fuzzy hair.)

A couple of our friends from the OC told us that after our trip to the mission we should cross the street and go to eat at Pedro's Tacos (something of an OC institution I guess.  We were a little suspect.  We don't like In n' Out Burger (another California institution) at all so when people tell us that there is a California fast food joint that we have to try out we sort of roll our eyes).

Pedro's was amazing.

So Pedro's and your cheap and delicious Carne Asada burrito, we'll see you soon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Claire's Book Club: Nudist Edition

We have two books that Claire loves these days.  Oddly, they both have bare bottoms in them.  I'm going to assume that it's nothing more than coincidence.

No David

This book provides Claire with the opportunity to do one of her favorite things--point at people, wave her little finger and say, "No!*" which she does every time we turn a page. She LOVES this book and wants to reread it again and again and again.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More

We found this book at the library this week and it has been a MAJOR hit.  It provides Claire with the opportunity to do two of her favorite things. 1) Point at people, wave her little finger and say, "No!" and 2) have different parts of her body pointed out and tickled as we read. I have literally read it 10 times today.

The pictures are wonderful and the cadence and rhyme of the words are perfect.  Somehow at our house this book is always read in a southern accent and even while we're around the dinner table the hubbs will say, "Ah what the heck gonna paint my neck."

*Claire's favorite word these days is, "No!" She repeats it over and over all the time.  Several mother's have mentioned to me that their kids didn't ever do that.  They thought that perhaps that was because they didn't tell their kids "No" very often.

 The truth is out. Claire get's told "No" multiple times a day and in all kinds of ways.  She gets plenty of love and there is also a lot of "Yes" but she'll certainly be able to make her own "No Claire" book very soon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Club: The Shipping News

Reading the Shipping News made me terribly sad that we aren't a real book club who gets to meet together and eat snacks and talk about things because there are so many things I want to discuss about this book. This was one of my favorites that we have read so far. 

So instead of one thought explained you are getting a list of the things I want to talk to someone about. Think of it as book club but without so many delicious snacks and comment away.

1) Cousin Quoyle: 

Cousin Quoyle and his story-line were perhaps, my favorite parts of the whole book. I loved the white dog who terrorized Bunny that no one else believed in who turned out to be real.  I loved the knotted pieces of string.  I loved when Quoyle went to go visit his cousin.  Quoyle had lived in fear of his cousin, felt like he was being harassed and worried that his cousin would put up a fight for the family homestead but when he got to his house, cousin Quoyle was a pathetic, poor, old man who did not have much life to live.  I love that idea and metaphor--how many of the things that we fear and dread are really poor, pathetic old men dying in the corner.

2) Pulitzer Prize Winners

Reading the Pulitzer Prize winners has been more depressing than I anticipated.  I understand that deep and thoughtful writing has to examine the deep and thoughtful things of life but by golly....these books have been hard--kids shooting up their high schools, the misdeeds of war, the cruelty of other people, slavery.  The Pulitzer Prize winners have it all. 

In this book I kept expecting things to go wrong.  I kept expecting people to take advantage of one another, for their home to be taken away...for something to go horribly wrong.  It didn't.  People, on the whole, are kind to Quoyle and his family.  He finds people to care for his children, he succeeds in his job, he makes friends.  Sometimes life does turn out.   

3) Hope

I loved the signs and thoughts of hope in the book.  Jack Buggit coming back to life was perhaps my favorite of them all.  I loved the final lines of the book.

For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat's blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, and that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.

4) Life and Progress

I loved reading about life in Newfoundland.  I grew up in the suburbs and now live in the city.  The life they describe in the book is so far removed from the ones I know.  I really liked reading about the way modern life is creeping in.  I didn't have to feel guilty that Walmart is making us all stupider, the way that they addressed what's happening was so much more gentle. I loved this quote from the book.

"There's two ways of living here now. There's the old way, look out for your family, die where you was born, fish, cut your wood, keep a garden, make do with what you got. Then there's the new way. Work out, have a job, somebody tell you what to do, your brother's in South Africa, your mother's in Regina, buy every goddamn cockadoodle piece of Japanese crap can. Leave home. Go off to look for work. And some has a hard time of it. . . . Now we got to deal with Crock-Pots and consumer ratings, asphalt driveways, lotteries, fried chicken franchises, Mint Royale coffee and gourmet shops, all that stuff"

I also very much enjoyed the descriptions of the old way of doing things.  The fishing, the sailing, the dragging of the Quoyle family home across the frozen ocean.  I appreciated that even though Quoyle was new to Newfoundland he was taken in by the people and they showed him what life had been like.

5) Change

Along the same vein of life changing the characters of in this book grow and change in the best ways. Quoyle, who has never been successful at anything finds his nitch.  The Aunt who has lost love gets to find it again--people get to change.  So often I pigeon-hole myself and others.  I say, "I'm not good at so and so." or "She is like x."  This book was a nice reminder that life isn't really like that.  We're not just one thing or another.  Even if I am x I don't have to stay that way.

So what did you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Weekend

Or should I call it garbage truck day.  We spend every Friday morning anxiously awaiting the arrival of the garbage truck.  Claire says, "truck," runs to the window and the nice garbage man waves at her.

I know that today is the day we should be discussing The Shipping News by it's Friday, Labor Day weekend and a friend from Salt Lake just arrived.  We also have just procured a working key to the pool in our complex and we are going to celebrate this weekend in style.  Shipping News on Monday so get your thinking caps on.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

These days I get a lot of "help."  Claire seems to have a spidey-sense and even if she's all the way at the other end of the apartment ('s not that far) she can hear and comes running if she hears the dishwasher or the laundry machine open.  I used to be able to prepare dinner by myself while Claire played with her dad (she REALLY loves her dad--even more than she loves me) but not anymore.  Now she wants to be right in the middle of the cooking action, helping to crack eggs, stirring and examining every ingredient.

I wish that I could say I was always a good sport about the "help" but I'm not.  I've been known to smack her little hands away and evict her from the kitchen just so that I can get things done. I could turn every moment into a teaching moment, helping to tell her about chores and cleaning up and why we do what we do but I don't.   I am sometimes in a hurry and am frustrated by little hands spilling and creating mess.

Sometimes when I talk about the things that Claire and I do I worry that I sound like I'm presenting my perfect life and mothering skills.  I want to assure you that is not the case.  When we make cards, she crumples them up and I have to chase her around the house trying to steal it from her death grip which makes her cry.

Claire helping me fix the tire of the Bob

This is how we do all of our vacuuming these days.  She hates the vacuum and she screams and screams if I don't hold her.
So my friends, just a reminder that we're always keeping it real around here.  No perfect lives and perfect teaching moments but some perfect moments and just as many evictions from the kitchen while the baby kicks and screams and just want to help.