Take me out, baby / I want to go sail tonight :: Friday links!

Thursday I had one of the most energetic and lovely days, but now it’s 2 AM on Friday morning and I’d better get my links up!

1. Spousal unit Ralph updated his design website, favoring pink. I think it looks great!

2. From ricedaddies: “Who Loves More: Parents or Children?” This piece includes an analysis of a childhood book – a pretty funny analysis I think- and then delves into even more thoughtful territory.

3. Mexican Pointy Boots. This was seriously nine minutes of my life well-spent:

 

4. Katie Makkai – “Pretty”:

(Also, do read Tami Harris’ thoughts and the comments, at “Not a pretty girl.”)

5. From friend and reader Kat: “What Happened When I Chased Down the A**hole Who Slapped My Butt on the Street” at alternet. Good for her.

6. “A Black Woman’s Plea for ‘Justified’ – The Red State Western You Should be Watching” at Racialicious. This is super-smart commentary on American television and the typical (and atypical) treatment of race relations (specifically black/white race relations).

7. “AED Guidelines for Childhood Obestity Prevention Programs” from the Academy of Eating Disorders. This? is stunning. D’you think our First Lady will take note? I sure hope parents, teachers, and other adults do.

8. So, I’m not going to link to the deplorable article by LZ Granderson entitled, “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps”. I don’t want to contribute to even one blog hit, although by all means go read if you can stomach it. Ostensibly about the sexual exploitation and objectification of young girls and young women, it was also a hot mess of oppositional sexism, patriarchal attitudes, adultism, slut-shaming, sexism, victim-blaming, and misogyny (so: nothing we haven’t heard before). Yes, this was aired on CNN. A few good things came out of the piece: namely, on-point rebuttals. Here are four:

From PostBourgie: “Sexism, What About the Children?! Edition”. At Shakesville: “This is so the worst thing you’re going to read all day.” From Pigtail Pals: “Did You Just Call My Daughter A Prostitute?” And from Amy Bradstreet, a friend and reader and supporter and awesome-lady: “Shame And Blame Where It Belongs Regarding The Objectification Of Children”.

As always for complex or socially-heated subjects showcased by rather long pieces, feel free to add your comments to source articles and let me know – I will happily link back through here.

9. A Derrick Jensen quote, which I take as a refutation of “well, that’s human nature” / “it’s natural for people to act that way” of those I consider pro-status quo apologists, as posted by Idzie.

10. “Being acceptable in the eyes of society”: people would do well to read what it’s like to be a mother and/or mother-identified.

11. Make: sent to me by my brother’s lady J.: Herb Stenciled Easter Eggs. Beautiful!

11. “green snake”, a photo anthology (a tiny bit NSFW). I keep wanting to try absinthe, but I’ve thus far been too lazy to try to get ahold of some.

12. And finally: the best ballon dance I’ve seen, and that’s saying something:

a daughter is a gift of love

My daughter is “only” nine, but she’s becoming a young lady before my eyes. It’s a subtle change, but not imperceptible: those closest to her – namely Ralph, Nels, and my mother – are also noticing. I am, in this time, her confidant, and this pleases me to no end. Yesterday after lunch out with my mom (Happy Teriyaki droooooool) we briefly stopped for a $6 bang-trim at a walk-in salon. Ralph told me later how calm and comfortable our daughter was in what she immediately inferred was a female-oriented space. The stylist asked Phoenix questions about her age and her interests and soon the young woman’s eyes flickered back and forth between my daughter and I. “You’re so cute… you’re just so sweet.” this woman told my daughter. “Thank you,” Phoenix replied levelly – and she thanked her for the hair service as I paid. The other stylists watched too: all eyes on my daughter during the relatively quiet transaction, an occurrence I have come to recognize as it is relatively frequent. Children often get ignored or talked over in public; yet Phoenix has a lot of presence.

Tonight at Ross (I found the most perfect. jeans. ever. for $16) Phoenix found the junior-size dresses and became interested. After asking her father if we had time for her to try them on, she pulled several off the racks. In the dressing room she invited me in and I helped her, holding her slightly tangled locks off the nape of her most-precious neck and tugging on straps and belts, after which she assessed herself. Still a little girl, some cuts of the junior’s size zero fit well enough and she commented on the color and cut and fabric of each. Finally, “I like the striped one and the bright blue one. If you say the striped one is best, that’s good enough for me!” She pulled on her little Dickie’s t-shirt and folded her hoodie across her arm and we checked back out, the $10 soft summer jersey dress in hand, to where her father sat waiting in the aisle.

Earlier today: in the kitchen she pulls her hair back and washes her hands thoroughly and sits up at the kitchen counter, cutting a couple quarts of peaches, carefully holding them in her hand and slicing directly into her own palm, for this week’s restaurant fare. Now while the home-restaurant was of my son’s inception and each week is driven by his insistance, he only helps with a bit of the cooking (today, however, he greeted and talked with customers quite well). Phoenix on the other hand is a genuine and consistent help, a bit to my surprise. She’s learning quite a bit about cooking too, although I maintain my children will know a great deal about food variety, preparation, and competence, just by growing up in our home – no direct instruction particularly required.

Speaking of that, the cake I made to wrap up and take to the hungry at the Mission, we instead sacrificed as a neighbor gift to the new move-ins across the street. For one, I like to do this sort of thing; secondly, the seven year old of the family heckled me mercilessly for a slice last night and I finally figured to give the family the whole dern thing. It was a beautiful and – dare I say it – professional-looking confectionary of chocolately awesomeness. And now I’m left to consider what to cook for the Mission this week. I’m thinking sweet and fragrant cornbread; an anonymous donor gave me a whole lotta canned corn and that’s the best thing I can think to use it in (relatively cheap, too, in cooking and donating to others). I’ll probably be pulling that out of the oven tomorrow when the kids get up; we’ll share breakfast as it cools and wrap it all up and take a bus over to deliver.

For now, for tonight – our resultant peach cobbler:

Southern Peach Cobbler

Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend: Friday links

Today’s Friday links are shorter than usual; I took a media break halfway through the week (this meant, among other things, I would click over to my Google Reader, scan briefly for any of my friends’ blogposts to read – then close my eyes and click “Mark as Read” ON EVERYTHING ELSE while crying). OF COURSE I still got some great stuff for you all – never fear.

At What Tami Said: “Sexism and Saturday Night Live”. “When faced with hard discussions about sexism or racism or homophobia, etc., people are often quick to a) minimize the past and b) celebrate just how “post-ism” we are today.” Yup, you said it.

School: I mentioned this in last weeks’ broadcast: “The Worst Bullying PSA Ever”, a critique by author Rosalind Wiseman. The critique is great, of course, but what I didn’t mention last week and what I wanted to mention this week is an alternative work she cited: “School Bullying: What You Haven’t Heard”.

Regarding school – and was pretty upsetting (but not surprising) to read – from Voice In Recovery “BMI, Education & Extra Credit for Weight Loss”. The phrase “bad idea” cannot be overstated.

On the lighter side: h/t to friend and reader Jasmine, for a Monty Python classic, “Argument Clinic”…

as well as another classic: “Phonetic Punctuation”, by Victor Borge:

But here’s the video I’m hoping many people will watch. Regarding film, television, and media and the critique, analysis, and projects associated: “Geena Davis on the Effects of Gender Inequality on TV and in Movies” at Rice Daddies, featuring a 15 minutes of FANTASTIC as follows:

In the food department: on FB my lady Flo posted a recipe for Bacon Egg Pancake Cups. Let me tell you, I hate breakfast foods Times One Hundred, but the rest of the family loves them. Oh also: I will rock these the very first time I make ’em.

Ending on a transcendent note: friend and reader Medrie wrote “Fear Not”. I’ve mentioned her work many times; she is the blog I read that always has my heart in my throat. I can imagine many mothers and erstwhile children could relate to this piece.

friday lynx

Hey, I just realized I completely and totally used to have far fewer featured items, and more of my chit-chat, in my Friday Links. Welp, not sure what I should do about that, if anything. There’s just TOO MUCH AWESOME SHIT on the internet, you know?

History
“Of Spaces Familiar and Not-So Familiar” at TNC of The Atlantic’s blog. We just had the anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I remember watching this – live – as a third grader. I also remember studying the o-ring failure in some fancy-ass chemistry class at UW.

Tech
“Game Written by a 14-Year-Old Passes ‘Angry Birds’ as Top Free iPhone App” at School-Survival.net

Health
“Dear Self Magazine & Her Campus” from Voice in Recovery. ViR is becoming a much-beloved blog.

“Walmart Plans to Sell Anti-Aging Makeup to Tweens” at Womanist Musings. Yes, this is for real. There’s nothing I need to add to what Renee has said.

“Medical Diagnosis in Pregnancy”. “Obstetric care for pregnant women is indeed focused on seeking out deviant results in an otherwise symptom-free patient. That’s why ‘regular’ care in pregnancy includes this huge battery of tests (well, that and the fact that these tests mean big business for hospitals). This is quite different from any other medical speciality. Generally doctors don’t seek out illnesses, unless they manifest.”

Aussie dust-up re: fat acceptance and health. Try: â€œUgh. Look at how fat that kid is.” by Dr. Samantha Thomas at The Discourse (the comments are good, but Kath’s kills me a little inside), “Let’s Get One Thing Straight”, posted by Elizabeth, and “Introducing Dastardly Donut” by Natalie. Hm, given all this, should I write a UB piece about “The Biggest Loser”, given one of my kids’ friends (who with her mother watches the show regularly) two days ago repeatedly snuck chocolate out of my cupboard (I would have said Yes if she’d just asked), then twice queried my Phoenix about her weight, then when I said, “Well, people’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes, right?” said, “Yeah”, and when I asked, “So is it OK to be fat?” responded, “Yeah. Because then you have to get skinny.” YIKES

Parenting
“House Rules” by Anna Brown. They don’t really work. A piece from consensual living, reminded to me by reader Annie.

“The Magic Word” by Jeff Sabo:

“Traditional parenting often focuses on foundations like church, school, team sports, perseverance, and a host of other ideals that, they hope, will prepare their children to succeed in the real world. These parents believe that they can see the future and build a person who will succeed within it. It’s almost like a 20 year engineering project – meticulously planned, brilliantly executed, but perhaps without either passion or the ability to morph as the future becomes more clear, like building the perfect desktop computer in a world of iPads […] [W]e try control a variety of things – TV, food, sleep times, educational choices, friends and lovers – with generally positive intent, but often negative results.”

Hard to pick, but this (also by Jeff, who took a writing break but is thankfully back) is probably my favorite link this week: “The Beauty of HALO”

“People?” at Every Moment is Right. “[W]hen do we start treating children as people? When they start walking? Talking? Go to school? Leave the house? When we need their help?”

Culture & Pop Culture
“Asian Americans Still Largely Missing From Hollywood” at Colorlines

“Last Meals on Death Row” at howtobearetronaut

Debbie Gibson and Tiffany Singing “Don’t Stop Believin” Together from TheRetroist. Less “rock”, more (dino)CROC, ladies!

Guess what’s guaranteed awesome? Weird Al’s children’s book.

Race and Class
“Where is the Kenyan Crocodile Hunter?” at What Tami Said. OK seriously, points for the first person who names a popular USian nature show with a host who isn’t a white male. I’m racking my brain, but then again my brain isn’t so hot sometimes.

“Let’s Talk About Pendleton” at Native Appropriations. I was just thinking about Pendleton in terms of appropriation the other day. The article is good; the comments are as well.

Make/Craft
“Monster Valentine’s Cards for the Classroom” at makeandtakes; these won’t be as awesome as our Valentines, but they’re still pretty dern good.

Chinese New Year recipes; vegetarian steamed dumpling? 100 to yes.

Updates and News from DIY Life Zine – I highly recommend anything Idzie is working up. (& expect a zine announcement from yours truly soon as well)

Laffs
“17 Images That Will Ruin Your Childhood” from Cracked

The New Terror Alert from TeamCoco. How I fervently WISH this were the case.

Today in 1983: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank premiered on television. Trigger warning for anti-anteater propaganda.

O_o

Love the one you’re with

Pristine

I’m a bit disturbed that in my once-yearly visits to Port Townsend I continue to be beset by ugly thoughts and feelings – each time I visit. Yesterday and today, in fact, I experienced the strongest negative feelings and thoughts so far. All my baggage, sure and whatever, and maybe I’ll write some of it out sooner or later, but that’s not my point. The oppressiveness of it all threw me for a loop. It was like my brain had all this static noise.

And I didn’t have much time to process. Within about five minutes of driving into town I was at a party and spent almost every waking second after this around other grownups. I didn’t have time to defrag. I did my best to be present for my friends, who along with their children are deeply precious to me.

The friends, the kids? AWESOME. I felt high as a kite to be around them. That might have been the Stumptown coffee, too.

Darts At The Undertown

After hot chocolates and hot coffee we walked down to the beach. The children played and played and played, showing no boredom and only a total interest in the beach and one another.

A Place of Interest, #3

And they agreed to assemble so I could take a group picture. This is because guess what, tomorrow they will all be about six inches taller and with more or less teeth and telling different stories and doing different things so we wanted to get them, just grab them RIGHT NOW.

Preparing...

Assembling...

Almost There!

El Grupo

El Grupo[grimacing]

At some point some of us had to move onto a warm place with hot food. At this separation, Phoenix cried mightily. But in the way of small kiddos she was very happy only moments later on our way to lunch, stopping for a comically incorrect-sized kiddie ride – one she used to ride on as a tot that is, I suspect, not much longer for this world.

Triumph

The kids sat at their own table and Cynthia, Jodi and I got to catch up. I ate this huge-ass chile relleno. I’d hoped for the Noodle House but that was not in the cards. Maybe next time.

Like The Punchline:

As we ate it got darker, and colder, and darker…

So my daughter and I said goodbye to our friends and to PT and warmed up the car to hit the road.

On the way home, the little girl fell asleep (“Mom, may I take a snooze without interruption?”). We’d sung the entire drive up (Jazmine Sullivan and Justin Bieber, volume at 11) but it was nice to have time to myself on the drive back and I was glad she got some rest. In fact, both drives were very pleasant for me and I usually hate having my ass in a car.

Andrew Bird, and the twisty-dark of Highway 101:

Ode/Speed

On The Way Home, Phoenix

24 hours and there-and-back.

I’m ready to take a hot bath at home and cuddle up to the warm and beloved bodies in my life.

Port Townsend Gloom

Beach
(Small Stone #21*)

Beneath my feet, deathly chill, the shock traveling up through my legs.
Today I don’t mind.
I’m one with the elements.
Cold and fierce.

24 Hours
(Small Stone #22*)

My son puts his arms around my neck and buries his face in my breast.
“You were gone such a long time!”, he sighs.

Small stone project

humbuggery

The Christmas I was six years old we lived in the bus and I remember worrying how Santa would visit us – we owned no chimney. Even then I’d begun to observe there was something goofy about this whole Santa business. But I remember the shiny, new, and lovely gift I got that year – one of only a handful, and by far the most beloved – Twink, a stuffed-animal (of sorts) from the Rainbow Brite meme. Beautiful, soft, brilliant white and friendly and chosen just for me. I can assure you I believed in magic.

Ralph and I were active in the Christian church a dozen years ago, but I gradually lost the stomach for institutional attendance – for now, at least. Today I’m an agnostic theist who finds great meaning in practices of Christianity and Buddhism and who (still) believes in Jesus’ divinity. As for parenting, our home is probably experienced as one of belief-friendly humanist ethics. So given that, of course, when it comes to this time of year it’s been no trouble to have the, you know, “There is no Santa, kids!” kind of thing going. I copped to my parents’ role in the Santa business soon after Twink and I remember feeling kind of irritated at my mom and dad’s amused smugness over the whole thing.

But over the last decade I’ve also found that children in my life, occasionally my own, like the Santa story and want to believe… Their delight in such a mystery has made me reconsider just why mysteries are good things. Observing the magical thinking, the deep compassion, the free generosity, and the in-the-moment joy of children has humbled me and at times astounded me. Santa will probably always irritate me, but I am beginning to soften. The story of the saint (and other figures like him) is not based in logic and it’s not really a two-dimensional fairytale and it’s not really about greedy consumerism, either.

So even my curmudgeony ass-heart melted a bit when I read this story about the origins of NORAD and their tracking of Santa Claus (the audio is a brief and lovely listen, too), specifically this bit:

“Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.”

This little story brought my inner-Scrooge up short. I’m often saddened about how many adults are deep-down terrified of children and quite limited in their competence and compassion regarding children’s needs. And here this morning, reading this article, I’m reflecting that many grownups are still trying to hold or maybe even reclaim a tender heart.

Ralph and I are fortunate in that our children truly want for nothing material; we have food and clothes and a warm home and all the security one could hope for. I know these are temporary conditions, but corporeal circumstances of relative ease allow us the gift of one another, if we are wise enough to allow that experience. It is true our children want for nothing, but all children need nurture; they are built for it and designed for it and seek it out as instinctively as a new kitten crawls into one’s sweater for something more than just warmth and a heartbeat. This morning I feel entirely grateful for my children because they have taught me so much about the value of compassion and tenderness, practices many in this hardened world are too frightened to commit to.

Behind me my kids sleep in a tangle of arms and legs and weighted down by the massive furry paperweight of kitty Harris; the lights are low and the stockings stuffed and Ralph folds laundry and we await my mother’s arrival. I know under our yuletide tree there will be gifts for me chosen by family and friends; an expression of love in the language of giving. I look forward to these wonderful comforts; more so even I look forward to the experience of my children and the magic they have all through their very Beings.

Beauty Curl by Richard Hudnut

friday metaphors

I’m sure most of my readers are tucked in with family doing holiday awesomeness. But I rarely take a break, so here are my Friday links as per usual!

Seasonal
“Acceptance, Not Expectations” by Wendy Priesnitz
I’ll bet this post of hers will save many from a lot of suffering and holiday-hangovers. I hope you read it!

Personal
“My Middle Name” from Jim at The Busy Dad Blog

“Making Major Life Changes: Five Trans Suggestions for Non-Trans People” by Matt Kailey, featured at womanist-musings

Childhood
“As grim as Grimm: Robert Paul Weston on why children’s books that terrify are the ones kids love the most” at NationalPost
The article doesn’t actually go into this… and there’s this goofy subtext being a child author is inherently “less than” writing for grownups. Still, who else remembers the twisted stories we liked so much as kids? Good times.

“Temper Tantrums” by Rue Kream
I’ve come to believe most of conventional espoused thought on “temper tantrums” is incorrect, illogical, fear-based, and inhumane. Rue Kream’s article is a great 101 to begin to see things another way.

Culture
“A lil bit of twerking and lifting” from Twisty Faster
Ah, Bridalplasty. What fresh hell is this?

Music
This video’s a few years old but I’d never seen it; Tuesday one of my tweeps commented on the increased creepiness of the aging members of Duran Duran leering over hired baby-girl models (one is forced, upon viewing, to fast-forward thirty years and view the mental videotape, made even funnier as this 2007 song appears to be a regurgitation of 1993’s “Ordinary World”).

Let me get this out of the way and say I like a lot of Duran Duran songs (vintage ’80s, of course). This video is like a parody of itself. Besides the fact that these fellows seem to be stalwartly opposed to aging with dignity or bringing something even slightly original to the music video seen (ORLY, the wildcat crazy-sexy lady with boudouir hair?), the whole bullshitty hospital ethos and the crooning and be-eyelinered bandmates overcome with ennui by all the damaged hotness. Plus there are so many supermodels. Like buckets. “Pour more hottie ladies on, quick!” I can’t even give a C for “nice try”, but I will be listening to “Decade” today while I’m craftin’.

Make/Craft/Cook
“How to: wrap gifts with yarn” at Craft

Great Bento Ideas: Christmas Bentos at justbento.com
Adorable!

How To: Pretty Gift Presentations at CRAFT
(Anyone doing any last-minute wrapping?)

Bowling-style shirt for kiddos, an e-book from The Scientific Seamstress. Unisex, sizes 6 months to 8 years. This looks FTW!

Local/Global
I just discovered local doll-maker Barb has done 11 area Toy Drops and counting. What is a Toy Drop? Only something wonderful. Seriously.

Random Excellence
“Our Favorites from 2010” from Awful Library Books
Do not say I didn’t warn you; your eyes may very well bleed upon looking upon these monstrosities.

Good for post-holiday dieting:

(thanks Jeanne!)

And finally:
Vintage Ad: Beauty Curl by Richard Hudnut

You know what, alcohol-based hairsprays really are like a soft-focus Chinese dragon breathing behind a lady who’s had a few too many martinis with her quaalude. In all serious though, AquaNet wasn’t really the preferred aerosol solely on the chola-bang heights we could achieve, but also used on the bottom of our shoes to (supposedly) give us more traction on the basketball court.

***

Merry Christmas!

friday journey into hyper(link)space

History
“Faces of War” at Smithsonian.com
An incredibly sad, touching, and interesting story, including photos and video almost a century old.

Human Rights
“Spanking Traumatizes Children” by Laurie Couture
If there’s any link here I’m hoping my readers read, it’s this one. Whether you have a growing child, a grown child, or you do not have children, it is deeply relevant to our human condition. Moreover, it is probably the best piece I’ve read regarding spanking (and our concepts of “abuse” vs. socially-supported oppressive tactics on children). In fact it’s so good I’ve been intentionally curating this Friday links post to be more brief than usual, in hopes readers give this particular entry the consideration it deserves.

“Child Abuse is Not Funny & Cartoons Are Violent” by Wendy Priesnitz
I’d read many snarky opinions on the supposedly worthless venture of changing one’s Facebook profile pic to raise awareness of child abuse. Wendy’s piece is excellent, inclusive, intelligent, and doesn’t snark for snark’s sake. It’s perfect.

“The Disservice of a ‘Rigorous’ Education” by Steve Nelson at HuffPo
“At each end of the economic spectrum, we are pressing children harder and harder in the service of a ‘rigorous’ education […] Mariposa is not simply 37 pounds of raw material that wants a certain processing and finishing before she can be shipped to market and considered to have value. She is of value now, and if she dies of a disease or accident when she is 12 years old, the sixth year of her life will not as a result be robbed of meaning.”

Pop Culture
quick hit: how to meet ‘girls” IE respect the cock at Underbellie
I totally wrote this!

Soul-Sucking Science “Study” of the Week
“Pop psych mag cites evolutionary evidence for female fickleness”; Twisty has a great response to the recent Psychology Today piece “The Double Life of Women”. Still, as brilliant as Twisty is and as much as her words are like soothing nectar to my parched women’s lib pinko throat – I must offer a trigger warning with regards to the cited article: misogyny and rape-apologism; warnings also for unabashed oppositional sexism, mansplaining, and evo-psyche inanity.

“Here at Spinster HQ we were unable to locate any research on, for example, the fickleness of female flatworms. Maybe they like to sport around in spandex when it’s that time of the month, but published studies omit to mention it. So this guy, in his attempt to science-ize an enormously detrimental sexist stereotype, grossly mischaracterizes the scope of the planet’s animalian diversity to further his own anthrocentric worldview.”

Craft
Stick Weaving at Craft
Why is it I can picture so many of my crafty readers making some lovely stuff? I think this would be particularly pretty to have a group get together and adorn a tree thusly!

The Pocket Tissue Pack tutorial posted at Sew Mama Sew looked rather fun – quick, attractive, yes hardly a “must-have” needed item in one’s life but that’s okay too. Using two pieces of 6″ by 7″ fabric scraps is just my speed as, given how much I sew, I often have a lot of scraps. I donate many to a local charity shop at a low-income apartment complex, but I have a fair bit in my own supplies.

Food Dresses! ’nuff said.

Tweet of the Week
From @micwatt:
“I bet a duck could outrun me if I was chasing it, but I also think that if a duck was chasing me I could outrun the duck. Isn’t that wild?”

My brother explains: “It’s not just casually philosophical.  I think this is a very logical assumption.  It’s a psychology thing.  If you’re being chased by something you suspect wants to eat you, but they don’t really, you’ll try harder to escape than they will to catch. If you’re being chased by something you suspect wants to eat your soul, but they don’t really, you’ll try harder to escape than they will to catch and use their little bill to suck out your essence through your ear.”

Finally:

For those of us who celebrate this time of year, I wish you peace and joy. Well, I wish that for those who aren’t celebrating too. My family celebrates Christmas / yuletide. It’s a wonderful time of planning and lots of creating (less buying). I can’t post much of anything because of prying eyes. This picture should suffice!

Editor note: Lately after I put tonnes* of work into the Friday links it seems readers have been coming along and posting a brief (or not) completely- or mostly-argumentative point to just ONE aspect of ONE of the articles without even a friendly handshake or reference to points of agreement, or other links. No one’s getting spanked and it’s just a whiff of a trend I’ve observed. I don’t want to turn off the comments on my Friday link posts. So as a measure to prevent that, may I suggest that if there’s something about an article that sticks in your craw and the only thing you can think to write here is a rebuttal to a specific aspect of one of these many articles I did not write, you can post your points in a separate blogpost of your own (which I will happily link to) and/or comment at the source instead (you can send me your comment link and I’ll post it here too). I’d like to keep the conversation interesting here and less niggle-y.

* see, in the metric system. That means it’s even MORE work that you might be thinking!

scattered leaves

My mother brought us over two stuffed chairs for our living room for some indeterminate amount of time. She needed more space in her cluttered living room. The cats, of course, took to the new furniture as if it had been gifted just to them. Wrestling, grooming, play-fighting for a time and laying tangled in one another’s legs with slack jaws fastened on necks, lazy.

It was one of these chairs I sat in at a few hours ago and watched my kids play and wrestle and hug and kiss – much like our kittens, come to think of it. The kids were waiting for Ralph to take them to their destinations tonight (separate sleepovers). My babies are growing … so fast. Nels stands tall and slim, belying the little tot he still is in my mind at times; he’s grown right into the coat I made him ten months ago that I smugly thought would fit properly next winter. He is thinner than ever, no longer my roly poly breastfed baby, and the feelings this brings on are deep and sad and scary but also incredible, awesome, joyous.  My daughter is older-looking even still; regal and sophisticated in comportment and vocabulary, then suddenly silly and clowning like now with her brother. She rarely allows me to clip her nails or brush her teeth or clean her ears or even wash her hair, preferring to do it all herself. Tonight she is packed for an overnight stay with her friend M. – M. is eleven, older, like most of Phoenix’s close friends, and Phoenix fits in well with these preteens even though she’s only eight. From what I tell they get up to a lot of drawing and singing and bike rides out to the beach and fort-building and Justin Beiber (yeah, I said it).

Watching my two children, now, and thinking of them out the door in just a few minutes I feel a dull depression. Sometimes I think my kids don’t “need me” and sometimes I’m not ready to have this be a reality. I still find myself often startled in daily discovering how well the children thrive now we’ve reduced management and interference and increased support and deep, nurturing practices. The children make friends and navigate their social circle, visit the library and check out books, do their own grocery shopping (meaning those important extras like candy, ice cream, and small toys), seek us out when they need love or want to tell us something; they come and go with us as they please so every time we go somewhere together it’s willing on their part (except for the times we make mistakes) and this means they are a pure delight to spend time with. I used to find parenting kind of exhausting and pinched; now I find it the best kind of daily life I’ve ever experienced. I mean shit happens now and then but mostly it’s just daily incredibleness.

Nels originally planned to stay with his grandmother and Ralph and I, with kids out of the house, originally planned to – well. Anyway. Nels came home about 10:30 and I was happy to see him. I don’t get to decide when he’ll want affection and time to cuddle but I appreciate when he does more than I can say.

We do not possess anything in this world, least of all other people. We only imagine that we do. Our friends, our lovers, our spouses, even our children are not ours; they belong only to themselves. Possessive and controlling friendships and relationships can be as harmful as neglect.”

Tonight at dinner Ralph told me he feels like he hit a fork in the road with parenting and marriage a while back and he made a choice, and that he’s never been happier.

I feel the same.

Where do we go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear?

Last night Ralph and I were invited out to the pub where, unbeknownst to me, it was Trivia Night. Do not get me started in a trivia contest. I wouldn’t say I’m competitive because I can’t be assed to care if we lose – but I am rather good and I get hyper as hell (seven years of Nerd Bowl, most of them as Team Captain). Which is incidentally how I was during our wedding day too – hyper that is, I have it on film. So last night was a version of Name That Tune and I nailed about 90% single-handedly, “Love Plus One” by Haircut 100 and Gary Numan’s “Cars” and a handful of relatively obscure Bruce Springsteen songs and some old live Stones and Stephen Stills and Roy Orbison for good measure. And I had to do a little dance every time I got a song right (don’t worry, I varied the dance, for the legions of fans). I was a complete dud for the handful of new country songs that were played – fortunately a few other ladies on the team knew those by heart. We placed 3rd, 1st, 1st, then 3rd and won a shitload of candy which of course I had no interest in.

Today was kind of a little gift, a reminder of just how amazing people are who deal regularly with sleep deprivation and function at the same time. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have a solid six to eight hours under my belt; today I managed on about three and it hurt. My son and daughter spent the day hugging me and asking how I was doing. We had a friends’ kid over in the afternoon (and a sidewalk-chalk note from another girl who stopped by while we were out); in fact our little informal ritual of having from one to four extra kiddos during the day/evening/night is really a wonderful one for me. Today we took a late Thai lunch and I ordered for the kids and they were happy with my choice. They were such delightful mealtime companions; I don’t know if I’ve had better. Sun-dazzled and beat I drove home and had to ask them a few times to repeat themselves. My brain was a bit sluggish.

Ralph taught class tonight so I was on my own with the kiddos until about 9:30 PM. Tired as I was, it was a delight to sit in the car knitting and watching my daughter play quite energetically on the soccer field while my son wooed several other children on the playground. I waited for as long as the kids wanted to play. They were the last off the playground and we came home for a late dinner and a night in. Too tired even to knit, or maybe even drink.