Dec 31 2012

happy new year!

from us, to you.

(more on our holiday adventures soon.  as soon as i’m healthy from this plague i must have caught on the plane and the tree is down and i eat just one more cookie…)


Dec 23 2012

seeing the reindeer

a lunch date with meera and anne to see the reindeer (and camel! of course!) at a local nursery.

(why yes, that is a bagel jam pickle sandwich that my daughter is eating.)

Dec 21 2012

THIS is why we send her to preschool

holiday parties that include small children singing together:

and, of course, this:


Dec 18 2012

hanukkah: a primer

josephine and her classmates have been studying and celebrating holidays from around the world. today they made latkes and learned about hanukkah.  here’s her report, verbatim.

me: what did you learn about hanukkah today?

josephine: we had some pinecones we were pretending to be people and a cloth was their land and some other people came and said you can’t do this anymore.

me: can’t do what?

josephine: they couldn’t stay on their land anymore. there was one candle. we put it on a little thing that looked like a mushroom only it didn’t have those black things. and then there was lots of candles put in that thing that looked like a mushroom. and ms marion lit all of the candles with a candy cane candle. and then she put the work away.*

me: what happened when the people had to leave their land?

josephine: they were afraid. they left and they went back to their home.

me: how long do you celebrate hanukkah?

josephine: you celebrate for five and one week and the candy cane candle lasts for one week. they lived in the desert. it was very cold in the desert at night.

me: is there something about a lamp in the story? or oil?

josephine: there is something about oil. the candle lasts for one week. there’s not enough oil in it. there’s only one drop of oil. and it lasted for one week.

me: that doesn’t sound like enough oil to last for a week. how did it last?

josephine: i don’t know how.

me: what were the people called?

josephine: juden people.

me: jewish people?

josephine: yes! jewish.



*josephine’s school is montessori and they call the classroom materials “works.”


Dec 15 2012

alive together

josephine’s been grappling with the concept of mortality lately.  one morning during breakfast a few weeks ago, out of the blue, she asked, “mama, are you going to die?” i hid my surprise well, i think, and told her i would but that it would probably be years from now. she wailed, “but who will take care of me??” i reassured her that there will always be someone to take care of her.  and that, most likely, i’ll be around until she’s a grown-up and has a family of her own. a pause, distraction from the conversation by the idea of herself as a grown woman, then, “mama? am I going to die?” i told her, calmly, that she would. we talked about living things, how they all begin as nothing, grow, live their lives, and then die. we talked of fish and trees and flowers and pets, of the avocado pit we’re coaxing to sprout. and we talked about people. we talked about how it feels so sad to miss someone and that feeling sad is ok. we talked about charlotte in charlotte’s web.  we read that book together last month and, although i approached the sad ending with trepidation, josephine didn’t flinch as i read of [spoiler alert] charlotte’s death with a tear in my eye.  perhaps she was letting that chapter marinate for a few weeks before connecting charlotte’s end with the eventual end of those she loves.  she’s brought it up a few times since that talk over breakfast. we were brushing our teeth a few days ago and she said, “can you talk to me about dying again?” i can see her turning it all over in her brain, attempting to make sense of something fairly impossible to comprehend.

yesterday’s school nightmare has brought all of her swirling, unformed fears into sudden, harsh focus. she has no idea anything horrendous happened, of course. we’ve declared a moratorium on having the radio or tv on during news time and i did my weeping yesterday silently, turned away from her while she was playing, and after i was in bed. i don’t want to keep reading about it, but it’s so hard to look away. a friend and i talked briefly about it yesterday, trying to speak abstractly as we both had young children nearby. she said she didn’t want to know more about it, didn’t want to have the ability to create a mental image. but not much more than a headline or two is needed for our minds to start buzzing with awful, unwanted thoughts.  the what ifs and the how coulds.  i know, logically, that the chances of something similar happening to josephine or to any of our young friends are off-the-charts low, but it doesn’t matter.  it’s another thing to add to my list of nonsensical things to be terrified about. and it will make it harder, next time josephine asks, to calmly talk about how far into the future our lives will stretch.  i will tell her, again and again, that every day we have alive together is such a gift.

if there was one spark of a silver lining to yesterday’s amazingly grey day, it was that, when it took josephine a long time to fall asleep last night and she kept calling out for us to cover her up again and again, i didn’t get frustrated. instead i relished the chance to rub her small back again and kiss her soft hair again. and my heart broke a little more each time for the families who didn’t get that chance last night.

i’m sending out love and light today. it’s not much but it’s a little bit of something.

Dec 12 2012

holiday storytime

pour yourself some eggnog, get a plate of cookies and gather ’round.  josephine has a story about old saint nick to tell you.  actually, this poem is read by a small and extremely bright baby raccoon named bliss.  he’s reading for his mama, avila.  enjoy (and, seriously, sit back. it’s a long one.)

can you guess what we’ve been reading a lot of?  one of my favorite things about this are the quizzical looks she gives me when she doesn’t remember the next line.

Dec 10 2012

lights ablaze

we’re trying to get out and enjoy some of the holiday events happening around town.  last night we walked in the rain to the nearby street where all the houses join forces and turn their street into a lit-up christmas explosion (but a very tasteful and enjoyable explosion). saturday morning, we went to the sugar plum faire at a local waldorf school and picked cookies off trees in the magical cookie forest (and on the way there we chanced upon this!). that evening, we walked to the lake and enjoyed the pathway of lights — luminaries placed along the path around the lake.  the park was packed and it is always so strange to experience big crowds in the dark, especially with a three-year-old to keep track of.  there was music and a flotilla of lit canoes and people and dogs wearing christmas lights. josephine loved dylan’s lights and she would have stayed all night listening to the ukelele/trombone combo.

what are you doing to get in the holiday spirit?

Dec 6 2012

december?! what the…

how the heck is it december? everyone’s talking about december and christmas and i keep thinking, “wow, they’re really on top of things, to be planning so far in advance.”  ha.  as my friend anne recently wrote me in an email, “my one consolation re: how fast time seems to be moving right now is that it only means downton abbey starts sooner.”  amen. (january 6th, if you don’t know.) anyway, i need a new calendar because it’s almost a new year and that means i’m out of calendar pages in t-minus 25 days.  i keep telling josephine we will make a paper chain to count down to christmas eve/when we leave to see her cousins and, if i put it off much longer, we’ll only have to make about three links.  the good news: our holiday cards are back from the printers and we’ve addressed a few. and today i got stamps so we can actually send them.

i was out running errands this morning while josephine was in school (i bought some stocking stuffers! i’m SO AHEAD OF THE GAME!).  i got to listen to my dorky food-loving self’s idea of a good time: the spilled milk podcast.  i had a few things to return at the swanky mall near our house and i slumped through the mall feeling, as i always do every time i’m there, like the biggest fashion outcast.  one should never wear… well… anything i wear on a daily basis to this place or one will feel very uncool.  anyway.  all this is to say that while i was enjoying my morning to chores, josephine was enjoying her morning at school.  she has been excited to go lately and this makes me very happy.  she skips away from me when we arrive instead of clinging to me tearfully.  and when we leave (she does a half-day and most kids do a full day), the rest of the kids are playing outside and the teacher prompts them to say goodbye to joey and there’s this sweet chorus of little voices bidding her farewell and offering high-fives.  i love that place.  i love that it’s mixed age so that josephine’s getting cared for by older kids who know the ropes and i love imagining her in a few years getting to be that big kid.  and, let’s face it, even in my schlumpy jeans and my extremely uncool shoes, i love having some time to myself.

what else?  oh, we did a slew of socializing this week.  in addition to having dinner at a friend’s house on sunday (happy birthday, megan!), we had two families over for breakfast on sunday.

on monday morning, josephine and i hosted a play date.  theo looked cute, desi and brixton pretended to be seaweed monsters (even though i vacuumed right away, i’m still finding little seaweed bits around the house) and the kids showed off their funny faces.

that afternoon, we got to meet dylan’s canine cousin (her mom’s sister’s dog. that’s her dog cousin, right?). josephine was mainly delighted/ partly terrified and has renamed toto (who is actually a stuffed tiger, poor thing) after her.  toto is now known as rosalee.

but before any of that, we got a christmas tree.  we couldn’t find our very small stash of ornaments the night we brought it home so we improvised with some of my grandma’s old spools of thread and some strings of popcorn.  the tree helps me remember it really is december. already.


Nov 28 2012

services available

anyone needing to name a child or pet might consider asking josephine.  in the bath this morning, she named a raccoon in a story we were telling “avala bliss.”  isn’t that the best name ever? also, she told my sister she should name her baby “cup.” which, when you think about it, actually sounds really nice.

[full disclosure: avala bliss’s brother’s name was “blah.”  blah bliss.  they can’t all be winners.]

Nov 25 2012

just call her georgia

josephine’s friend dylan is a very talented artist and i’m beginning to think that hanging out with her and seeing her friends at school draw is starting to inspire some more complex drawing. here are a few pictures of her and dylan’s work together and then a few of my recent favorites.

here’s one from school featuring rose wearing sunglasses.  josephine and rose have been dancing lately and you can see rose’s little red arms reaching up for josephine’s long red arms (on the left) to swing her around.

this is santa.  he’s wearing a red hat and has a “whiskery beard.”  he’s saying “ho ho.”  his arms come out of his head.  joey’s signature is on the left side.

this one is from today and is, i think, my favorite yet.  it’s a picture of fella (her doll) saying “waaaah!”  she’s opening up her mouth and showing her teeth.  this one was drawn while josephine was wearing her halloween costume, so dorothy signed her name to the left.