Philosophy from a 7 Year Old

Posted on 11/26/2014 09:03:00 PM

My thoughts: 

Mommy's Little Busker

Posted on 11/24/2014 04:02:00 PM

is my daughter, who has made a jar that says "Tips" on it and is now playing viola in the driveway for the neighborhood afternoon traffic.

Finally, I can rest, assured that I will be taken care of in my retirement.

My thoughts: 


Posted on 11/10/2014 04:03:00 PM
I've been away for the last week and got home late last night, exhausted. The Shortlings were already in bed when I got back, so I put my feet up, laid my head on The KingofHearts' shoulder and stared at the television show he was watching in a sort of comatose, post conference stress disorder.  Things have not been going well lately and I've been cranky about it to say the least.  That's another post, but if anyone knows a new, miraculous way to stop time while we get a few ducks in order to meet a deadline, or maybe a few hundred thousand dollars they aren't using just now, I'd really love to hear about it. 

I looked over at the footstool and my foot was resting on a purple index card with The Caterpillar's handwriting on it.  

"What's that?"

"Oh, that's something The Caterpillar wrote while you were gone," said The KoH idly, "It's a poem."

"You told her to write a poem?"

"No, she just wrote it. I don't know why."

The Dormouse is working on a book of poetry for her write-a-book entry this year, so I asked, "Did The Dormouse help her write it?"

"No, she just did it all by herself. I just looked down and she was finishing it up the other day."

I picked up the card and read it.  It was full of seven-year-old's spelling-isms and not written in verse, but once I figured out all the words, I was floored by the depth of eloquence in her little brain.  

They fill up your life, these kids.


It is one of the most remarkable things.
When beauty rises with the colors of the sky, it makes the sunrise.
With all the colors of dawn it makes the morning 
filled with joy, happiness, beauty, quietness, 
but above all,

My thoughts: 

We Tank You for Your Patronagery

Posted on 11/10/2014 05:40:00 AM

My thoughts: 

Raising Awareness

Posted on 11/09/2014 07:58:00 AM
I think our Movember effort is coming along nicely, don't you?

My thoughts: 

Happy, Cheesy Kids

Posted on 11/08/2014 07:52:00 AM
These are photos from a talent show they competed in a couple months back. There was a story I intended to write to go along with these, but we've entered the season of Big Work Things and My Brain Is Mush (the two may be related). I do not remember it now.  What do they say?  A picture is worth a thousand words.

My thoughts: 

An Audience with the King

Posted on 11/07/2014 07:48:00 AM
Henry VIII, in fact. Let's hope he doesn't marry either of them any time soon.

My thoughts: 

No Excessive Spinning, No Excessive Fun

Posted on 11/06/2014 07:47:00 AM

My thoughts: 

Mommy's Little Circus Performer

Posted on 11/05/2014 05:52:00 AM
Last month, we took in this act at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair.  If you ever have a chance to see Circus Stella, I suggest you go, because they are hella fun. And because I'm considering leaving her with them so she can earn her keep and/or support us in her old age.

My thoughts: 

Performing Artists

Posted on 11/04/2014 08:21:00 AM
The Dormouse switched to playing viola in the school orchestra late last year so she's been playing just under a year. Playing strings for just over two years.  One of the reasons I encouraged the switch is because in middle school and high school, strings get competitive and mean.  The Dormouse has a friend at a different school, also in sixth grade, who got challenged for her chair and lost it.  It was devastating for her.  I know sixth grade is middle school here, but it wasn't for me and I feel like this age is too early to start turning a love of music into some dog-eat-dog competition where only the rich kids who have money for private lessons and professional quality instruments get to be on top before they've even learned how to work together in a group.  This probably sounds like sour grapes, and maybe it is, but it beats the love of music out of so many kids and they quit playing in middle and high school partly because it becomes not so fun anymore.

The Dormouse's school doesn't challenge for chairs, which is nice, but having her switch to viola means that there's a) less competition in future years and b) it puts her in a group of people that's a little more relaxed about things while still caring about making music.  I realize that's stereotyping, but I've spent a lot of years in orchestras.  Stereotypes don't apply to everyone but they are sometimes there for a reason.  Viola players are just less high strung (pun intended).

The other thing it did was give her a greater chance for stuff like this.  This county has a middle school, audition-only honors orchestra.  I heard that 160 kids auditioned on violin for less than 40 available seats.  I know 8th graders who auditioned and didn't make it.  But there aren't that many viola players, so my too-young-for-sixth-grade sixth grader won a seat.  

This is cool, but not for the reason you'd think.  Yes, I'm a braggart, as I was told thanks to the FacePlace after I made the mistake of not considering my audience before hitting "post."  I'm proud of her.  That's my job as a mom, so while that comment was hurtful, I'm not gonna apologize for that.  But more importantly, what this did for my kid who has yet to play anything in her particular school orchestra that was more than about twenty seconds of Hot Cross Buns-type material, was to give her an experience of playing above her level and making real music.  Of playing with a group of musicians who all cared about making good music as much as her.  Of seeing a possible future for this instrument.  I never saw that for myself until I started auditioning for county and state orchestras and heard the difference in the level of musicianship.

I wish every kid who auditioned could get in.  I know that's not possible.  I wish there could be two orchestras. Or three.  If I had a butt-load of money to donate, I'd make that happen so more kids could have this type of experience.  Because even if these kids don't eventually go into music professionally, they just had the experience of a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts, which is an amazing life lesson.

A couple of months ago I got to go to see Ben Folds with the Baltimore Symphony orchestra.  It was amazing.  He stopped the concert to talk to the audience about the need for cities with good, professional music and why that makes a difference to the overall health of the city itself.  He gave a long speech about the things he learned while playing in a group as a kid.  I could have hugged him (I actually did after the concert, but that's another story).  And then he said he had a short version of that speech.  Here it is:

"Some cities don't have a symphony orchestra... and some cities have bad symphony orchestras... and... those cities suck."

Here's to a county school district that doesn't suck.



My thoughts: 

Halloween Roundup

Posted on 11/03/2014 05:36:00 AM In:
Meant to do this earlier, but this month has been extremely busy. Here's a round up of our Halloween festivities. Minutiae style.

Pumpkin carving goes much faster with power tools.

Here's a roundup of the pumpkins that got completed that night.  Minus the Elsa pumpkin, which I never got a picture of due to it's labor intensive, three day, production schedule.

My pumpkin needs to be seen in the light for its proper effect.

Someone does a nice impersonation of a pumpkin.

 In all its forms.

Our costumes have really very little to do with each other.

But the phase "You killed my father, prepare to die" works for both.

This is Glinda.  No, not the one from the Wizard of Oz.  This Glinda. It was difficult explaining this to neighbors giving out candy.


This one went as RapunzelWitchCatWomanWithASpiderTattooOnHerFace.  It's high concept.

This game was followed by Halloween Pictionary.  We grown men and women really know how to party.


Halloween was a month long celebration at the Renaissance Fair.

My thoughts: 

Proof She Wasn't Switched at the Hospital

Posted on 11/02/2014 07:14:00 PM In:
"Gimme and L... 

"Gimme an A... 

"Gimme a Z... 

"Gimme a Y... 

"What's that spell? 

"Eh... I don't really feel like saying it."

My thoughts: 

Bewildering Conversations in the Car

Posted on 10/30/2014 05:27:00 PM In:
"Hey, momma!  Did you see those kids in that yard?  I think they were playing soccer... or maybe it was..."  

*looks back again at children kicking soccer ball around* 

"Yep, it was football."

Me: "Well, soccer and football are the same thing honey.  It's just that Americans say soccer while almost everyone else says fútbol."

*rolls eyes and sighs audibly*

"I KNOW that, mom.  I looked back to see if they were Hispanic.  That's how I knew it was football.  I was saying it Spanish-ly."

My thoughts: 

Ichabod Was Horror Struck on Perceiving She Was Headless

Posted on 10/27/2014 04:39:00 PM

My thoughts: 

To Gillian on Her 14th Birthday

Posted on 10/20/2014 04:00:00 PM
Fourteen years.

Life goes on and with one thing or another, fourteen years have passed.  

Is that even possible?

Your father and I have been married seventeen years.  In other words, if our relationship was a baby, that baby would be able to vote in federal and state elections next year.  That hardly seems to be possible either so I guess anything is up for discussion.

Some people say that losing a child makes you stronger.  It makes you appreciate your blessings more.  You don't take life and other family members for granted.  As I look around my life today, I wonder, Is that true?  

I don't know.  

In some ways, it's as clear and sharp in my mind as Japanese steel. If I think on it too long, it will cut me.

In other ways, I have to work to remember the date - on the date - instead of absentmindedly letting it pass by and noticing later because I've become so caught up in work and a thousand other things that need to be done. I have to remind myself that life is precious and wonderful and each one of these children that are running around in my living room, driving me nuts with their incessant chattering and making noise under their breath and disgusting habits at the dinner table, they are miracles which should be treated as such.  Even now, one of them is currently moping in the other room after a lost colored pencil and I really should get up and cheerfully help her find it, but I just want a minute or two to finish this thought.  I have to remind myself to be grateful.  The truth is, I don't always know if you've made me a better person.  I wish I could state the affirmative with more confidence than that.  Sometimes I think I have a different perspective on the world and I'm maybe more compassionate because of what you've taught me, but sometimes I'm not entirely certain.  

I think mostly people endure the pain of loss because they have no other choice.  And so people who don't understand that Loss look at them from outside of It and say, "Wow, he is so strong," and "I could never handle that like she has," but the reality is you don't get to choose and you don't know how you'd handle it unless you're handling it already.  It just happens and life goes marching merrily on and you don't get to say "Stop," or "I don't want to do this," or "Uncle."  It just is.  Yes, I know people can choose how they face a situation but the reality is life continues whether or not you want it to.  And so do we, with a few drastic exceptions.

I guess the fact that I'm not one of those drastic exceptions says something.  I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict and that might say something small about me.  The fact that your father and I are still together... we didn't drive each other away and are relatively happy after all this time makes us part of a small percentage.  The fact that we still retain some personal faith and spirituality might shrink that percentage even more.  But it also might just speak to the fact that we're just poor and too lazy to make any real changes or examine our lives too closely.

I know I've posted this before, but I've never come across a more appropriate description than this: 

Becca: Does it ever go away?

Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't - has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though.

Becca: How?

Nat: I don't know... the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right... that. Which could be awful - not all the time. It's kinda... [deep breath] not that you like it exactly, but - it's what you've got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh... it doesn't go away. Which is...

Becca: Which is what?

Nat: Fine... actually.

It's still as true for me today as it was when I saw that movie five years ago.   

Loss becomes something you just carry around as one of those pieces of yourself, stored by accident in the dark recesses of the couch.  Something that others only see when they're close enough friends to look under the cushions one day while they're helping you move. It's always there, informing the comfort factor of the couch in some small way, but only a few really know about it.  It's what you have instead of your child.  Which is... fine... actually.

My thoughts: 

Let Her Eat Cake

Posted on 10/18/2014 05:00:00 AM

Clearing off a few photos from my hard drive and I found this series of shots.  If you scroll through them quickly, you can pretend you're in an old timey picture show.

My thoughts: 

All I Want for Christmas

Posted on 10/17/2014 04:00:00 PM

The first one went missing a couple of months ago.  Then the second one just started migrating away from the others.  Either that or it's a drunk as she looks.

Until we started calling her Nanny McPhee.

It finally came out the other day and we learned that when we are out of town, the tooth fairy still finds us, but in other cities, she often brings paper money.  Probably because she didn't pack anything else.

Next up, get her to learn to whistle when she sings that song.

My thoughts: 

And So Begin the Tween Years

Posted on 10/15/2014 11:37:00 PM
When my daughter inevitably says to me one day in the heat of an argument, "You never loved me!" I shall show her these pictures of when I let her have a sleepover for her birthday party to prove my love for her.
Yes, I'm aware it says "APPY BIRTHDA."  That's eleven candles.  
You don't get extra.  Them's the rules

How awesome would it be if my GPS system could be replaced by a tiny piñata, telling me where to turn?

A sleepover was the only thing she really asked for and I feel like I say no way too much of the time most days, so as much as I hate the idea of sleepovers, I acquiesced and told her she could have a sleepover with three friends.  One couldn't come and that was just fine with me.

When all is said and done, eleven year old girls are pretty fun. We forced them made the suggestion to watch The Princess Bride, mostly because one of them wanted to watch The Fault in Our Stars and I kinda thought a movie about teenagers who get cancer and die might put a damper on the evening. (Also, I really didn't want to deal with questions about cancer, death, and teenage sex from two children who aren't mine.) [Also, because I read that book when I was trying to decide if it was appropriate for The Dormouse to read and it made me... feel things.  Which is clearly unacceptable.]  They watched the entire movie while lying like this on the couch: in rapt attention, but cuddled together, holding hands throughout.  It's like looking at an adorable puppy and I cannot relate to this in any way whatsoever.

I love her friends; they are great kids.  Smart and funny and self-assured and full of life.  But honestly, having all three of them in the house?  It was deafening.  I do not remember squealing that much when I was an eleven year old girl.  I do not remember having that much to squeal about.  I do not remember being an eleven year old girl when I was an eleven year old girl.  It was like watching a caricature of a stereotype.

After the movie, we set up a tent in a room downstairs, gave them sleeping bags and threw some glowing balloons into the room before shutting the door. I think they slept, but I have no evidence of it.  

The next day, we took two of them to a mall and let them troll the aisles of my second least favorite store, the Claire's, which is like the Justice, in that it still looks like a unicorn barfed glitter all over the store, but it doesn't look like the unicorn ate a sweater first.  

Because we are gluttons for punishment.

And also it made for an opportunity to film when when they were not looking and we are evil people who need good blackmail fodder for when they are older.

We had a good weekend.  

This year started junior high school.  We have a whole new set of challenges, but in a lot of ways, it's easier.  The routine of changing classes agrees with The Dormouse, probably, as I told her when she worried about it over the summer, because she only has an hour with each teacher and if that teacher is a pain, then just wait an hour and you get to go to a new teacher who's a pain in new ways.  I think the teachers do better with this format too.  I've only emailed the Principal once so far this year and I waited until seven whole weeks into the school year before doing so, which I think is a record.  She's taking Spanish and is really excited about that.  So much so that every time we go into a Mexican  restaurant, she insists on ordering in Spanish and but first I have to announce to the waiter (in Spanish) that my daughter would like to order in Spanish - to prepare them - and then she spends the first ten minutes sitting at our table, practicing under her breath the words she will say and double checking the grammar with us.  So far, all the waiters and waitresses have been incredibly patient with this.  I had to live in South America before I became comfortable ordering in a restaurant, so I think that's pretty cool.  She auditioned for county honors orchestra last month and got in, which I'm told, is pretty unusual for a sixth grader (but maybe less unusual for a viola player).   She also confided to me this year that she likes a boy, which is simultaneously wonderful that she trusts me enough to tell me that stuff, but also like a knife slowly plunging into my heart. 

I need to work on talking to her more.  We've paired down our lives as much as I can right now, but I still feel like our entire day, every day, is just moving from one quehacer to another and there's never any time just to sit down next to her and talk.  That's my goal for age eleven.  To hear her more and talk at her less.  It's not always easy because I really believe that my eleven year old, brilliant, capable daughter should be able to eat a meal occasionally without putting her fingers directly into the mashed potatoes and washing them off in her glass of juice.  Or use a fork to bring food to the mouth rather than placing her open mouth near her plate and shoveling food into it by tipping the plate while her hair drags through the food.  Or perhaps she could remember that she needs to get dressed AND brush her teeth AND put on shoes all before it's time to meet the school bus with oh... only three reminders instead of twenty-three and a handful of threats. When do those caring about how you look and act genes kick in anyway?  I'm gonna be pretty happy when that happens, but it'll probably just mean giving up a bathroom for the next eight years.

But even given all the tugs of wars, it's still pretty awesome getting to see her grow up and figure out who she's gonna be one day.  I think we'll keep her.  Appy Birthda, Dormouse!  Maybe next year, you get an H.

My thoughts: 


Posted on 10/12/2014 07:51:00 PM In: ,
We had a gottagetoutta town weekend and spent it in the bustling metropolis of Harrisburg, where we stopped by to see the capitol building before meeting up with some friends.

The fountain outside was died.  The KoH and I guessed it was red for Halloween, but The Dormouse, way more wise and logical than the rest of us, guessed it was in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.  

We looked it up on the Knowledge Box.  

She was right.  

My kids have officially surpassed me in pragmatism.

But you know what they haven't surpassed me in? Fun ways to use the panorama setting on my smarty phone.  I'm still the queen of that.

You might need to click to enlarge this one.

I'm not sure what I would do if there were four of her.  Perhaps drown myself in that pink fountain.

My thoughts: 

Minutae, Photo Edition

Posted on 9/29/2014 06:09:00 PM In:
Time to clean off the photos on my phone.  

But before I do that, a joke:  Why did the turtle cross the road?

Probably in some sort of dangerous hazing stunt wherein if he caused a white Subaru to run off the road and into a ditch while trying to avoid flattening a turtle, he would get into the turtle gang.

On the list of Reasons I Could Not Cook Dinner, I bet you'd never expect to see "Kitchen blocked by blanket fort."

Now to think up an excuse for the other three hundred and sixty-four days more. 

How do you make a log more convenient to carry home and put in your fireplace?

Or maybe it's a toy, who knows?

I desperately want this t-shirt.

Just too cheap to lay down $20.

When someone tries unsuccessfully to unlock my phone, it takes a picture and emails me a "possible theft alert."  Everyone be on the lookout for a serial phone stealer, because I've received this picture half a dozen times in the past month.

This summer, I got to watch this man improvise a piece for symphony orchestra on stage, then I got to hug him afterward. 

 Sometimes I really dig my job.

What's for lunch?

I don't know, but it's being prepared by an extremely creative sushi chef.

My thoughts: 

Me in 3 Seconds

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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