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Flowers & Shoes For Lottie

Two-year-old Lottie has an emerging clothing style:

-She doesn’t like dresses and is dubious about skirts. I only insist that she wear one of the two on Sundays, and she the only thing she absolutely refuses to wear is a grey, floofy, all-made-of-mesh-and-tulle-and-ruffles skirt. You know, the one that other girls insist on wearing every day, even when it’s torn and dirty. If I manage to get it on her while she screams, she shouts, “No like it!” and immediately pulls it off.

I keep it in her drawer for Sundays when she refuses to pick something and doesn’t want to wear anything to church. If I put The Floofy One on her, she’ll pick something after she yanks it off.

-Lottie is beginning to like what society deems as “girl” colors nowadays, but she’s still working on identifying colors as a whole. Yellow and orange are both “orange”. Pink and purple are both “pink”, but purple and blue are also both “blue”. Knowing this, I favor purple.

-When she chooses everyday clothes, she goes for blue and turquoise and teal when offered cool and warm colors. She doesn’t like play skirts or jumpers or jean skirts. She associates all jeans with Toby, since many of his pants are jeans nowadays, and she doesn’t want to dress like Toby. Just straight shorts and t-shirts for Lottie.

Lottie picked a pair of pink socks this morning on impulse, but then changed her mind and went with one black and one purple instead. Sometimes, she doesn’t want to pick at all. I’ll gladly pick for her. I still have to fight her to put on clothes; it doesn’t matter if she picks them or not. Telling her that it’s cute as we put it on her sometimes helps; then, she’ll look at herself in the mirror, nod once in satisfaction and say, “Cute”, and turn away.

-She doesn’t love dresses or skirts,  but she does love shoes. She loves to pick out my shoes, she loves wearing different pairs of shoes per day, and she’ll gladly put on shoes when she fights me about putting on anything else. Sometimes, she’ll wear a suede boot on one foot and a rainboot on the other, or a red flat and a plaid flat. I just laugh.

-Lottie is currently not fond of doing hair. We have three headbands and hair ribbons and hair ties for pigtails and hair bows on clips, but she’s not interested. She lays on her face in the middle of the hallway every morning to have her hair brushed.

-But she loves picking flowers. On a walk through the neighborhood to the bus stop, she’ll make a well-rounded bouquet of dandelions. She’ll hand me extras; on any walk around the block, our hands are all filled with flowers. And we juggle holding hands and holding flowers and holding toys like garbage trucks and wooden balls.

On any given day, you can follow our path by the flowers strewn along it. I favor flowers with long stems, but she hasn’t figured that out yet. When she hands me flowers that have no stem, I toss them beside me or behind me. Flowers are always in my hair, and the wilted ones end up on varied surfaces in our house and on shelves in stores.

money-is-like-manure-its-not-worth-a-thing-unless-its-spread-around-encouraging-young-things-to-grow-quote-1

Which reminds me of this quote.

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End Credits Bring Wild Abandon & Inventiveness

See the claim on the right sidebar that I try to post every week? I’ve had lots of guilt over that. I blame packing as well as washing my face more often than usual because I’m stressed about signing for our first house.

Let's Imagine It As The Sudden Appearance of Windy, Open Chaos Instead.

While packing, I rediscover books we have because I have to pick up each of them in order to put them in a box. (I do the same thing while unpacking, come to think of it) In one particular book, I found indignation in a word someone has invented:

“credidiots–People who linger during the credits on a movie, as if they are going to recognize someone (‘Look! Ed Kremetski was the key grip’).”

In the rare event that I went to movies with all my siblings and my parents, we often stayed for the end credits. It was a chance for us to burn off pent-up energy from sitting still for so long, and, I suspect, a chance for my parents to discuss the movie without interruptions.

We relished moving around in front of all the seats in the dark. We could prance or run or skip down the empty aisles. Sometimes I felt like a movie star or a model because I was walking down a slanted, lit runway. We could jump to try to catch the reflected words on our faces, or we could stick our heads and hands behind the movie screen and the wall.

We could be as wild or as random as we liked; we were still technically movie theater patrons until the entire movie ended. Sometimes we danced to the credit music or shouted out names we saw scrolling toward our heads. I’ve made up songs and impromptu nonsense stories with those names. Sometimes we tried to get the movie operator’s attention, and only then did our parents shush us.

Do you know what happens in a movie theater when the credits end? Do you ever stay that long? I have, for the tradition only stuck with a certain set of siblings; the lights come up and the employees come in the clean up the mess their customers have left behind. Only then do we feel obligated to leave.

I remember those movies in my childhood, and I also remember the most recent movie I went to with my immediate family. I went with the youngest in my family, and they stood up as soon as the end credits started rolling. I was dumbfounded; the reason I saw this particular movie was to enjoy the flinging of arms and using of strangers’ names at the very end. But even my parents gave me a strange look when I sat in my seat in the dark and protested their leaving so early.

There’s something intimate in sitting in an empty, dark theater, discussing the movie we had just seen in that very room. The same feeling occurs when having a thoughtful conversation in the front seats of a car that is hurdling through the dark.

Maybe it’s the lighting–the white letters and the white headlights against the dark. The simplicity of a familiar voice, listening intently to your voice. While walking out with my youngest brother and sister, I felt cheated of an opportunity to dance.

The Story of Growth: A Prickly Tree’s Hope Of Many Children

[Or, Christmas In July, Unintentionally]

As I walked down the street today with Toby in my stroller, I found two pinecones on the asphalt. They had obviously been sitting on the asphalt for awhile; they were busted up and half of each of them was broken off. I veered around them in disgust for my least-favorite tree and walked on, but then I stopped with a sudden burst of curiosity, then walked back a few steps to pick them up.

More wonder came as I examined them quickly, then tucked them in my stroller and went on.

My curiosity peaked and I could glimpse how pine trees spread their seed. I knew it was by pinecones, yes, but some pinecones are immature and fall but don’t do anything. They make excellent Sister Bombs; I’ve had pinecones thrown by brothers at me many times. They’re hefty, they’re slightly spiky, so they stick in long hair, and they’re light enough and common enough that no one thought twice when I complained about being battered by them.

I knew that pines do not produce seeds every year, or even every other year. But the pinecones I picked up were clearly fertilized; they looked very different than cones that first grow on pine trees–bigger and more relaxed.

I thought the broad blades of a pinecone looked like seeds that break away from the ball and leave finer blades that hold the seeds in, but that’s not true. The seed looks like it’s in the tip of the blade; the blade looks like it could be capable of catching flight, once broken off. In the pinecones still sitting in the pocket of my stroller, about half of each pinecone is disintegrated. But that’s not right, either.

Mature Pine Cone by Michael Shpuntov

Because these particular cones were along the street, I can guess that they got smashed apart by a bike, a car, or someone’s feet. The seeds might have been knocked loose by their fall to the asphalt from the high branches of the tree; that must be why pine cones grow on the tips of the branches and not further inside, where they could roll off pine boughs before landing gently on the ground. Here’s the answer to how pinecones disperse seeds: the cone that is open and on the ground is already spent. (The links here don’t directly relate to my topic at first, but they make the most sense in language and presentation, and they have the answers.)

After further study, I find that cones are also on the tips of the branches so they can reach each other and achieve the tree’s whole purpose in life: to grow. Just’In and I got to a point in our marriage where we realized something: our marriage was good, but it couldn’t grow into any other stage of progress without children. Plants are the same way; some of them end their lifespan as soon as they’re pretty sure that they have propagated. Their continuance has been reassured, and they live on through their children; they have grown as far as they can.

I definitely don’t plan on dying any time soon, but it was interesting to encounter something else’s attempt at progeny on the asphalt while pushing my own progeny. I hope the seeds that fell out of the cores of the cones found good soil, even if they’ll thwart some gardener’s efforts at order. They’re tiny, and they travel along the blade of the cone into chance’s hands.

I know how much hope I pour into my child; the hope is why I work so hard to ensure that he thrives. Consider how much hope a tree might have for the seeds it creates as it continues to grow on its own. This one creates a complicated thing like a pinecone, filled with hope.

An Abstract Concept: Kids & Overstimulation


(From One of Apartment Therapy’s Kids’ Room Tours here)

I have this idea in my head, this concept. It has to do with what I want my home to look like, but also with what kinds of toys my kids will own. Like all idealistic concepts that get formed in my brain, this one is probably unrealistic and fluffy. It formulated itself into images and phrases last week; it’s ready to be projected.

This funny idea has formed because I’ve babysat in people’s homes. I’ve seen what their living rooms look like. I look at how people around me allow their children to live. And I think it’s ugly. I also think it can be prevented. The best way to present this concept of how I want to live can best be expressed in disjointed images, so read along and bear in mind that all of these are connected.

You’re sitting in church, and you’re surrounded by children at various stages of development. You look behind you and you see an infant in a large, plastic carseat with a handle on the top. From the sunshade above the kid’s head and from the handle are draped lots of bright, cartoony stuffed animals. Not just bright and stuffed, but primary colors, plastic, and with the capability to light up and make noise. Several of these, hanging above the child’s head.

Another infant, sitting in a parent’s lap, is gnawing on a paper cup. You’re at a family reunion, outside, so the kid probably snatched the cup from the tabletop. The parent notices and pulls a brightly-colored, plushy plastic toy from a nearby bag and tries to distract the infant with it, but the kid likes the cup better and won’t let go. There’s probably an element of boring, familiar toy versus something new and exciting, and you wonder why the parent even bothers having the toy when everyday objects work just as well.


(From Etsy)

You walk into a home with several children, all under the age of seven. You can tell that the parents have cleaned their home to make it look as neat as possible. There’s no clutter that usually accompanies typical chidren’s play, the surfaces on the nice, cherrywood entertainment center are all clean and the furniture is fingerprint free. None of the glass in the room has streaks on it and the carpet is free of crumbs. It looks ready to receive company.

There’s also a pile of plastic children’s furniture in the corner of the living room, in front of the bookcase. A play kitchen in white and purple, a walker that is essentially a plastic feeding area on wheels, and one of those red miniature cars that the kid can sit in and move with her feet. You think little of it until you’ve been in the house for awhile: the backyard is covered in snow and the bedroom has toys neatly tucked onto shelves that fill the walls. The small house doesn’t have a garage or a shed, as far as you can see. The corner of the living room IS the storage place for the kid furniture.

There is an abundance of ugly, plastic toys out there. All of these incidents make me sad because they can be avoided. I’ve also got words like “overstimulation” and “unecessary entertainment” popping into my head; it appears that this idea’s conclusion is incomplete. It has to do with parents being aware of the toy purchases they make for their children, but it’s more than mere appearance.

I’m having trouble coming up with a tidy ending for this idea—the closest I can get is that I want to be able to tuck all my child’s toys into containers, bins, cupboards and onto shelves, to make my small space transition completely from play time to quiet time, from daycare to adult conversation, from a period of social interaction to a period of spiritual education that has no toys in sight.

Many plastic toys I’ve seen look unwieldy and bulky, but I don’t think it’s just the plastic: Legos are fine, as are dolls and toy cars. It could be my aversion to developmental toys that are intentionally big and brightly-colored—I prefer the aesthetics of simple wood and felt–but is it necessary to dangle them in the face consistently, from the carseat, the crib, the stroller, and the high chair? It is possible for parenthood to be graceful and physically manageable and appealing, right?


(From Nova Naturals)

Instead of a carseat lugged into the grocery store by a handle, I’d like a sling; instead of lugging a heavy stroller onto the bus and then going back for the child and the diaper bag, I’d like the transition from bus stop onto bus to be a fluid and graceful dance. And that requires the right equipment and a consciousness of its functionality in the store, at the time of purchase.


(From a beautiful store called Romp)

Hey, You Guys! TV For Kids Is Cool, Dontcha Know

We’ve had cable for the last three years. We lived in two apartments in the same complex, and the complex gave us a discount on cable. We juiced it for all it was worth: we recorded almost all the Voyager episodes from Spike, and we’ve gulped up as much of The Amazing Race as we could find. We watched lots of movies and had a binge on Fringe for awhile before Just’In got his new job. I ate up all the Food Network and HGTV until I’d taken as many notes of handy tips as I possibly could. And Just’In really liked Clean House for awhile there; I thought it was weird.

We decided that we wouldn’t get cable or satellite in this place, though. We’re cleansing our palates and enjoying the books we have. We’re concentrating on projects and job-hunting and moulding the apartment together. And we still find time for a little less TV than we did before. Lately, we’ve been enjoying the auditions of American Idol.

Just the auditions, mind you. We did this when we had cable, too; the auditions are the best part of the whole show, and we don’t bother watching the actual competition. After the initial shock of only having seven channels, we’ve remembered the old British comedies that come on at night. Right now, we love “Keeping Up Appearances” with Hyacinth, Rose, Daisy, and the horror that comes from just Hyacinth.

I’ve re-discovered my love for PBS. Yes, the kid’s stuff, too; stop gaping or groaning inside. There’s a new show that’s come on called The Electric Company. It’s started this month. It caught my eye because of its music video/High School Musical quality. But they’re rapping. And there’s that learning-how-to-read thing like Between The Lions. Only this is for kids who are older, it feels like. Like Between the Lions, it’s got very specific plots and then letter features that deviate from the plot but center around a theme (the teens are stuck in a spaceship and trying to get out, but the sound of the episode is the short e and the long a).

Maybe it feels older because the actors are mostly teenagers/tweens and adults. They’re Number One on the PBS Kids site. Click on Channels and then Top Ten. Like the users on this site, my second favorite is Arthur. I was just watching the music videos the other day.

Electric Company. Wow. What a cool combination of sound and video. It feels like it should be owned by Disney, but I’m so happy it belongs to Public Television.