Thursday, March 26, 2009

Only use your powers to do good

In the car, Boo (age 6.5, Kindergarten) wanted math questions. As usual. She’d been talking about how if she bought a condo, she’d let her friends live there, too. I asked whether they’d have to pay for water and electricity and such, and she said, maybe $50 per month. I said, if they paid $50 a month, how much would they be paying a year? No hesitation, she answers $600. Flat out. I thought I’d have to walk her through the middle steps a little.

I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but mostly I’m just amazed. Kid’s got the mad math skillz, yo. And it’s not like we did anything to make her good at math. Or, more importantly, enjoy math. Beg for more math. Momma, more math questions, please! Crazy kid.

Photo of the Day

Peep on a Wire

Stolen from the Chicago Tribune peep photo contest page. Make a diorama with the kids and submit it today! Also, more funny peep photos to view there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's officially spring

It's been awfully quiet around here. Who is growing more vegetables this year than last? What new seeds/plants are you planning to try out? Have you started your seeds, or will you be buying your seedlings?
So far my zukes, beans (2 kinds), golden tomatoes, herbs, and eggplant are sprouting nicely. The cukes are still hiding in the dirt. Butternuts are looking good. I've planned out what goes where, for the most part. I need to get back to the store for my seed potatoes and Boo's onion starts.
Typical spring, really. Boundless optimism for the summer! Big plans! Lots of energy! We'll see how long it lasts.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What to say when your friend’s child has a developmental or speech delay

This post is a reflection of how I felt during the darkest part of this journey with Nea, around age 3. I feel a lot better now.

When I tell a friend or acquaintance that my child has a delay, the immediate response (from my experience) seems to be “oh, it’s not that bad.” A response meant to be reassuring. Unfortunately, when this is the trend of conversation after conversation, the effect is not reassuring, but dismissive. So eventually when a diagnosis is made (if it is made. Many parents go years or are left hanging indefinitely with no explanation of what is wrong with their child.), the gut reaction is a definite feeling of validation, along with the grief and other conflicting emotions. The
stages of grief that we usually associate with death are also applicable for divorce, job loss, familial estrangement, and accepting the possibly permanent limitations of one’s child.

Don’t say:

  • “Oh, she’s just a little behind. She’ll catch up.” This comes across as judgmental. It makes me feel like one of those hyper-helicoptering parents who can’t just let a child develop at her own pace and feels compelled to “fix” them.
  • “When she gets a little older the other kids will notice more and won’t play with her.” Gosh, thanks. I wasn’t worried about that yet. I feel much better now. Not to mention that this has absolutely not been a problem with the super-social child I have.

Never bring up:

  • Welcome to Holland
  • Einstein’s nonexistent syndrome
  • Some kid you heard about once, the friend of a cousin, blah blah, who just suddenly started speaking in full sentences one day when they turned 4.
Nea isn't Einstein. She won't suddenly just start talking. And I don't give a rat's ass about some kid you heard about. The phrase y'all are looking for is "That must be hard for you."

Now you know why I started playing
the game.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hot hot art at the Art Institute of Chicago

So, the 3 Art Institute exhibitions I hobbled around were:

Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth (February 14–April 26, 2009)
An especially nice exhibit because it shows Munch’s work with that of his contemporaries, making it easy to see how much artists of the period were working on the same or similar themes at the same time. (Cue music*)

Yousuf Karsh: Regarding Heroes (January 22–April 26, 2009)
For a guy who did photos that
we instantly recognize, Yousuf probably needed a better agent or something. Neither N nor I knew his name going into the exhibit, and we both consider ourselves fairly knowledgeable photo buffs.

The Bill Peet Storybook Menagerie (August 23, 2008–May 24, 2009)
Another artist whose work was familiar but whose name didn’t ring a bell. We ended up buying two of his books (Bill Peet: An Autobiography and The Caboose Who Got Loose), and I left the exhibit with my usual depression regarding my lack of drawing talent.

goes up in May, so make a point of going sooner. If you do want to see Munch, you might just as well get a membership. Special exhibits are expensive.

Wow, a little link-happy today, hmm, Bluestem?

Let no one else's work evade your eyes
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
So don't shade your eyes
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
Only be sure always to call it, please, "research"
-- Tom Lehrer

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How not to kill a spider

Our next book club book is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Or view his last lecture on his web site. I just read half the book in the bathtub while on Vicodin and would like to say what probably is said in all the reviews: “Surprisingly upbeat!”

And why am I on Vicodin? I threw out my back while killing a spider. Yesterday morning before dropping the kids off at Oma and Opa’s for an overnight trip. Yeah, I’m a great date night killjoy. Nea pointed out the wee beast and expressed some unhappiness regarding the location (under her bed) and her safety (cue giant black dripping fangs of death) and well-being of her future sleep habits (all indications point to poor) if it remained there. So, I picked up her bed so I could access and destroy said spider. “Ow!” I exclaimed. The spider, however, did not survive the encounter. My child's happiness comes first.

To think I’ve been faithfully doing my 30 minutes of My Fitness Coach at least 5 days a week for the past month. Saying to myself, “Gosh, my back has really improved! Back in the day (ha), this would definitely have been too much for me.” Bah.

Gosh, I wonder if this makes sense. I’ll save the part about going to the Art Institute and viewing three really wonderful exhibits despite the pain (and only on Ibuprofen) for next time.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Brother, can you spare a burnable DVD drive?

I thought, incorrectly, that my Shiny New Laptop had a burnable DVD drive. And now I'm in the middle of a project, the end result of which requires burning the thing to a DVD. Anyone live near me that has one I can borrow for a few hours?

Am willing to trade for recent issues of Smithsonian magazine, potty training books, vegetable seeds, or, um, well, there's a lot of stuff around here I don't really need. I'm sure we could come to some agreement. Also, have New Glarus beer of various types.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

King Corn and Queen Other Veggies

If you’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and enjoyed them, you’re just the audience for King Corn. Not only an enjoyable documentary about two Boston boys who decide to grow an acre of corn in Iowa, but also a quirky little movie. I like quirky. But the extras really make the movie shine. Watch all of them – each a gem.

Speaking of growing stuff, I bought seeds and then my auntie sent me seeds and I have seeds from years past and OH MY GOD I think I’ll be growing stuff in the middle of the lawn this year. I’m thinking a nice bean tunnel for the kids to play in. Wouldn’t that be fun? A 9 foot long trellis tunnel with bean plants covering it? In the middle of the yard?

And also, I’m going to mend my harvesting ways this year. No more throwing whole tomatoes into ziplock bags and freezing them. Well, I’ll still do that, but less of it. I want to make my yummy tomato soup, salsa, and plain ole diced tomatoes and freeze jars that way. It’s easy to say that now, of course.

Anyway. Soon it’ll be time to plant the cannas and elephant ears in pots in the basement. Haul out the seed starting stuff, and then take out paper and pen and figure out what goes where. Oh happy day! And to live where there are seasons!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Photography, Part II: Inspiration and Resources

Flickr has some great ways to explore other people’s work. Here are some recent photos I enjoyed.

Also, are you into photography more from the historical perspective side? Check out the new Flickr Commons area. I warn you, it may be addictive. Ellis Island alone yields 89 wonderful results. Then there's lots of Library of Congress stuff.

I also enjoy arty blogs. Lots of great resources in the sidebar there, too.

Some other resources John recommended: