Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Up First

I'm rarely up before these littles, so in addition to coffee and leftover pie, (thank you, Grandma Julie!) I've been researching. Well, more like Google stalking an illustrator, Betty Fraser. One of our dear friends in Brooklyn had this amazing book, A House is a House for Me sitting oh so casually on her children's bookshelf, as if it were just another, ordinary kids' book. I was asked to read it once when we were visiting and I had a hard time putting it down when the kids started to fidget away (reading at a play date never seems to last long.) You know when your heart does that little tumble and you feel like part of it has fallen out and landed in your hands? It was love.

The poem is fun to read, bouncy and musical and the subject (homes for various people, animals and things) is inspired, but what really caught my heart were the illustrations. They are wild and overgrown, colorful and carefree. They are so not-right-now (is anyone else becoming suspicious of our collective aversion to color? That's another post...) and they are alive.

So I found this book and I bought it and we read it and all enjoy it from time to time. But I want more of this magic in my life! We are broker than broke (yet another post I just almost wrote) so not only are we sticking to the "Something you want, something you need, one little something and something to read" rule for Christmas, most gifts will be secondhand or handmade. So I was excited to find another Mary Ann Hoberman/ Betty Fraser masterpiece on eBay: The Cozy Book. It's set to arrive Friday and it will take so much willpower to keep from sharing it right away, but Christmas will be here sooner than soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Now it's November

Here we are in November, neglected blog.
I didn't mean to skip October. Something happened and I joined Facebook again, after (maybe?) a blissful year away. It's funny how some social media outlets are just inherently better than others. Like, Instagram never makes me feel bad to my core the way Facebook can. Why is that?? Something about FB just depresses me. I would very much like to be rid of it again, but I had been having difficulty connecting with local parents and all the local parents seem to...congregate? No, aggregate over there. People here seem less interested in Google and Yahoo groups than in Facebook, so I thought, "when in Baltimore..."

I regret it. What a waste of time.

Anyway, I don't mean to whine. Here we are in November, with lovely leaves all around us, bread baking and stew stewing and there should be no room for nonsense of the depressing variety.
One of Baltimore's treasures that we have discovered, thanks to a field trip Alden's class took, is Cylburn Arboretum. Such lovely grounds, with little nature trails to crunch about, and quiet resting spots to sit and nurse the 20 month old who wants to nurse every five minutes. And it's free for all. Just drive in, park and wander. We live about a ten minute drive away, which makes it feel almost like our own, giant, perfectly landscaped back yard. I love it.

I blog so infrequently these days, when I do I tend to ramble...perhaps more than usual. I could go on and on right now about schools and living in the south and children's fashion and mice. But. I have some laundry to fold and a glass of wine to drink. And a tired Ian who brought ice cream home and who won't be awake to chat with for much longer.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sylvanian Families / Real Families

It's no secret that I've been guilty of blogging-while-down. I suspect it's not uncommon for people to spend more time online when they're generally unhappy, which actually, makes the proliferation of so many relentlessly cheerful blogs sort of surprising. Shouldn't those happy people be out doing fun things?? Except that eventually it becomes tiresome to feel married to the bog and so one must press on and toot their cheery horn on the interwebs, just to remind this side of the world that they can, indeed be happy. It's true! It's all about saving face now, isn't it? No! But, I digress...

Let's talk about toys, in addition to bad feelings. That's fun. Or maybe, about toys bringing on and then getting rid of bad feelings. A week or so ago, a blogger I admire posted a beautiful image on Instagram of wooden toys, artfully arranged with some choice silks and mentioned (or maybe implied) something about the superiority of such things. I agreed wholeheartedly and felt both a kinship with her and profoundly judged by her. I wondered how she was able to keep such a remarkably well curated selection of toys with actual children in her home and so I asked. And then felt extremely foolish and troll-like for asking. To family, I have gently suggested that I prefer non-plastic toys for the littles and my preferences have been sometimes taken into consideration, but over time I felt it was a losing battle and it was more important to me to model gratefulness than perfectionism. I don't say that because I think I chose the better path. If I felt good about it, I wouldn't be trying to have this discussion.

The fact of the matter is that I don't want to be the control freak I feel compelled to be, but I also want to feel good about what we purchase and why. I do not share the die-hards' belief that plastic toys are as corrosive to the soul as they are to our planet, but I do feel a bit of my own soul being pinched off when I think of the islands of garbage taking over our oceans and my own complicity in this. So. So we love Legos and we love Calico Critters/Sylvanian Families. We love to build! We love tiny, anthropomorphic animals in charming dress! I also love eBay, where I realized I can find all sorts of tiny, plastic wonderfulness that needs a new home.

I recently scored a huge box of these critters and their accessories. It is such a large collection that I've sent a few off to our dearly missed Brooklyn friends, distributed a few for play now, and set the bulk aside for Christmas. I love the idea of giving pre-loved toys as gifts. A few years ago I was given a huge secondhand collection of Duplos that is still serving us well. Actually, that collection is how I am able to type this right now! Alden never knew or cared that they weren't in a box. If a box and brochure is there, he will definitely be more into those than the toy anyway, which is always kind of a bummer.

The possessions are still an issue and still a work in progress. I am against simply throwing out (donating) their toys, as is usually the suggestion and as I have done in the past. Alden has a remarkable catalogue in his mind of everything he has ever owned and still eyes me with suspicion when something is missing. It feels cruel to make judgement calls on their "friends" but I am hoping that soon he will be mature enough for a real discussion and understanding of our choices and the impact they have. Right now that just feels way too heavy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Out of Balance

Skills to master this/next week:
  • Listening
  • Quieting the inner and outer voice
  • Calmness
Plan of attack:
  • Stop commenting on strangers' Instagram feeds and/or blogs
  • Stop feeling judged by every human and animal, plant and mineral on the planet
  • Focus on these two/three (sorry for cropping you out, Ian. The ice coffee cup was harshing the vibes.)
  • "Gratitude is about having a great attitude" (thank you poster on the wall in Williamsburg. If I ever get a tattoo, this will be it.)
This is not going to turn into a mental health blog. Yet. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014


When describing a person walking aimlessly about, Alden will say that they are "wondering around."
The two of us wondered around one day in late August, while Ian and the Sushi went grocery shopping, and found a hillside community garden, tucked away at the bottom of our neighborhood. Or maybe it was the top--I'm still not completely oriented here.

It was inspiration overload, with the organized chaos of late summer vegetation, scattered murals and tiny installations, chickens and laundry. A few days later, Ian's mom (with an amazing garden and chickens of her own) gave me some books on herbs and since then, I've been wondering away with thoughts of what our new little patch of front yard could be.

There is a fantastic little herbal shop in our neighborhood, with a tiny potted jungle of herbal bounty growing from the sidewalk out front. When Alden and I wondered in last week, the owner was concocting elderberry syrup in the back, surrounded by rows of jars filled with dried flowers and leaves. Real magic at work!

Do you ever get the feeling that what you want or need is camouflaged right before you? I'm collecting inspiration, but haven't been able to synthesize it just yet. The night sky is dense with stars, but I can't make out a single constellation.
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