Saturday, August 30, 2014

water, water everywhere...

We've had some hot weather the last few days. Our deck is a lovely way to be outside while being at least a little sheltered from the sun.

And water play is always a hit in the summer.

A little tip I picked up from my days teaching preschool: grab some paintbrushes, a bucket of water, and paint the driveway, sidewalk, or (in our case) deck with water. There's no mess, the kids enjoy it, and the worst-case scenario is that everyone gets wet.

Baby E didn't really paint much, but he LOVED stirring the paintbrush vigorously in the water.

The deck is very wet now.

Eventually we traded the water and the deck for sidewalk chalk on the driveway. This did not last long; it was too hot.

This is a wet spot. Baby E dumped an entire container of water from the deck. Sarah wanted to try the chalk in there to see if the colors would be brighter.

Sarah, the good little sci-fi fan, encouraging extra-terrestrial visits

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

song and dance

Sarah loves her ballet class. Even before she started taking it though, she and Natalie have had an interest in ballet. So far, we've attended performances of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and a Nativity ballet. Welll, we've attended Sarah's performances too, of course, but you know what I mean. 

Nelson and I sometimes joke that male ballet dancers are very secure in their manhood (they better be, because in some of those costumes, their manhood is pretty much on display for all to see). But they seriously are some strong dudes, lifting ballerinas on one arm while doing crazy arm flourishs with the other and never missing a step in their fancy footwork. It's really some impressive stuff.

A young man we know who plays football was informed by his coach that ballet would do wonders for his game. Upon hearing this, Sarah immediately quipped, "That's why male ballet dancers are so strong! They're all football players!" 


Natalie will never simply say the name of a TV show she's watching or asking to watch. She sings the title in tune with the show's theme song. 


Tying together singing and ballet--Sarah's class on Tuesday was practicing a new dance. This dance was set to Frozen's "Let It Go." 

The girls have watched Frozen approximately 57 times (or so it seems). And they sing "Let It Go" a lot. 

A lot a lot. 

Baby E can also sing a snippet of "Let It Go." The words aren't quite clear (definitely baby talk), but the tune comes through. He bellows "Let it go!" at random points throughout the day (pretty much on pitch, no less). 

Ordinarily Natalie, Baby E, and I hang out in the playroom of the center where Sarah has ballet class. But when the first strains of "Let It Go" began to play, both children immediately perked up. They knew that song! They went out to where the girls were dancing. 

Natalie tried to sing along and grew very frustrated when the teacher kept stopping the CD to teach new steps or go over the previous part again (the nerve, right?). 

Finally the students had enough of the routine down that the song could play out a bit more. It got to the chorus and not only does Baby E sing along at the top of his lungs, he starts twirling with the dancers.

It was completely hilarious and utterly adorable. 

(The song was playing at Wal-Mart last night too. I swear it's omnipresent.) 


Back before we'd ever seen Frozen but when all those parody versions of "Let It Go" were all over the interwebs, I stumbled across a really funny one by Arthur Darvill. For those not in the know, he played companion Rory Williams on Doctor Who. He sang imploringly to Whovians, "Let it go, let it go, I'm not on Doctor Who anymore..." It was brilliant, the lyrics spot-on.

But Darvill messed up partway through and said something he shouldn't have. Since the girls weren't familiar with the song yet, when Natalie tried to sing it she included Darvill's bit of language (she thought it was just part of the song). I told her that he shouldn't have said that and she shouldn't either. 

She didn't quite get what I meant. She asked, in all sincerity, if Darvill should have sung "Let it come" instead. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 1

We started school today! One fourth-grader and one kindergartner and one busy toddler. And we all survived. 

I can't say the day got off to the best start. My alarm clock malfunctioned, so I overslept. Then as I fumbled around with it after I finally did wake up, I knocked a glass off my nightstand.

Yes, the glass broke.

Yes, I nicked my hand.

Yes, it was my left (dominant) hand. 

Sigh. What a way to kick off the year, right?

But after that less than ideal beginning, things improved. Natalie was beside herself with excitement over doing "real" school. Sarah did all of her work without complaint (well, she complained once, but she got over it quickly. She declared by the end of the day that "Fourth grade is fun!"). 

Here's hoping the year continues to go well!

Some first-day pictures...

Natalie and Sarah were watching an art video on the laptop. Baby E was digging for a toy.

Sarah reading her science text.

Natalie was all done by this point. Kindergarten has much less work than fourth grade!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

oh captain my captain

I don't normally write or comment on news items.

But the death of Robin Williams has hit me hard. So I want to try to process a bit, if I may. (It's my blog, so I guess permission is implied. You also have permission to skip this post if you're more into the lighthearted.) 

Depression is a terrible, oppressive thing. A weight bearing down on you, keeping you trapped, making you feel stuck and helpless and hopeless. I hope the conversation surrounding Williams' depression does lead someone to reach out and get help. Even one. 

But it isn't always that simple. 

I get the posts begging people to ask for help if they need it. I do. I get the posts reminding people that they would rather have a 3 a.m. phone call than attend a funeral. I get the people who really do want to be there for family and friends who may be hurting and in despair.

But it isn't always that simple. 

When you are stuck, when you are lost in the darkness, when everything feels hard and terrible and hopeless, is it really likely you're going to "reach out"? If getting off the couch is difficult, how much more difficult is it to pick up a phone? Start a conversation? Or do something really impossible like talk to a doctor? 

I love a tweet I saw in response to people saying "Reach out!" She replied with the fact that reaching out was nearly impossible when one is in the throes of depression. Others have to make the effort to reach in

She gets it.

But even then, it's not always that simple. Sometimes people try to reach in. Sometimes they want more than anything to help. But sometimes they botch it and makes things worse. People say really idiotic things about depression (and other mental illnesses) sometimes.

And sometimes, even though they don't do anything wrong, it still doesn't help. Depression isn't logical. You can't reason someone out of it. And you can't always fix it, anymore than you can fix someone's diabetes.  It's not that simple.

An episode of Doctor Who actually dealt with it as well as anything I've ever seen. The Doctor and Amy Pond travel back in time to visit Vincent Van Gogh. It gives an honest portrayal of the demons Van Gogh faced. The Doctor and Amy end up being able to show Vincent how beloved he and his art became. Van Gogh is visibly shocked and moved and of course thrilled. 

And Amy is thrilled. She is convinced that when she and the Doctor return to the future, there will be more Van Gogh paintings in the museums. They will have prevented his tragic suicide. They've "fixed" him.

She's wrong. Van Gogh killed himself just the same. And now Amy's crushed. And she goes to the opposite extreme, saying they made no difference at all.

And the Doctor tells her it's not that simple. No, you can't logic someone out of depression. But you can make a difference. Sometimes it's enough. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you at all.

It's still worth it to try. It's always worth it to try. People need you to try.

After all, the fact that you can't "fix" someone's cancer doesn't stop you from being there and supporting loved ones when they face it. It may not even stop you from saying something stupid and insensitive (although hopefully we can learn from past mistakes and stop speaking in cliches and trite platitudes). But you make the effort, right?

This is no different. 

And if you're the one suffering? I'll echo the sentiments of so many others: please, please seek help. I know it seems impossible and even pointless. I know that. But I stayed stuck a whole lot longer than necessary, and I don't wish that on anyone. There is help, and there are people who care--people who do want to help, who would love to help. Even imperfectly.

We can all bumble along together while we figure it out.

This ended up being a very different post than what I had in mind when I started writing. I really intended to go an entirely different direction. Oh, well. 

Some articles about depression I liked: Ann Voskamp

Anne Lamott (I hope this one works. It's a Facebook link, but I'm assuming it's a public Facebook page. I hope it works--I liked the real, rawness of it).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Twitter tales

I haven't posted any Friday Phrases ficlets here recently. Except for the last two Fridays, I wasn't posting them on Twitter either. In the words of Adrian Monk, here's what happened:

The Friday of the Fourth of July, the prompt was "The quandary of the inebriated mariner" (aka "What shall we do with a drunken sailor?"). This prompt made me laugh very hard. It made me sing the song ("Hooray and up she rises!") over and over. It made me think of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" ("Water, water everywhere..."). 

It did not inspire ficlets. 

Then we all got sick. 

Then I forgot.  

But! I am back it. Here are two weeks' worth of Friday Phrases offerings. 

From this past Friday (prompt: The sky is falling): 

Her personal universe collapsed around her, and she screamed inwardly in rage & grief...and smiled at him and said, "I'm fine, thanks." 

He felt like Chicken Little, warning of some far-fetched impending doom. And when it all began, he wished he'd been just as wrong. 

Operation Get Out Now was a last-ditch emergency plan. It would never be needed
It went into effect with a text: "The sky's falling."

They called it the Poison Sky as it rained down its death, disease, and destruction on all of humanity. If only they'd listened...

From the Friday before that (prompt: reflection):

Everyone said she was beautiful, kind, funny, smart. She didn't see it. She only saw her flaws, magnified through the lying glass. 

She no longer recognized herself. Childhood dreams and innocence were long gone. Only brokenness remained--shards of a past strewn about. (This one actually got a "very nice!" from the Friday Phrases Twitter account, which tickled me to no end.) 

That's all for now. Anybody have a favorite?

Monday, August 4, 2014

school daze

Not really--we're not starting school yet. Public schools have all started here, but I'm just not feeling any need to start this early.

But when we do start school, Natalie will be in kindergarten, and Sarah will be in fourth grade, and Baby E will be...Baby E. 

His mother and I have been discussing options for keeping him occupied while I'm doing lessons. So today was something of a trial run for one idea. 

Baby E really likes play dough!

Sarah is intent on what she's doing. Natalie is hamming it up for the camera!

Now they're both posing.

I waffle between being nervous about the upcoming year and feeling pretty sure it's going to go well. I guess we'll see. I'll try to post updates throughout the year as to what we're doing and how it's going.