Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Foreign Aid

This morning, while helping to carry the laundry basket back to my room, Clio discovered some money in the bottom that had shaken loose from our pockets, and asked if she could have it. I suggested that we put it in her piggy bank, which she thought was a great idea. After depositing the dime and a penny or two in her pig, Clio told me that once her bank was full, she was going to open it up and "send it across the world, to a place where they don't have money."

I looked at her and paused, wondering if they've been talking about Haiti at school; I've been struggling with whether to talk to her about something that is surely quite abstract for a 3 year old. Seeing my opening, I dove in, and told her that there was a poor island not too far away, and that they'd had an earthquake, that the earth shook and buildings broke and people were hurt and hungry. I asked if she had heard about this at school, but she told me no.

A little later, I told Dave what she had said, feeling very proud at her altruism. When I finished recounting our conversation, Clio said, "and now I'm going to send them my money, so they can put it down on the ground where it got broken, and fix it."

What we will likely actually do is to purchase extra diapers and give them to the elementary students at her school, who are collecting supplies for a local aid organization to send to Haiti. But I must say, I love the simplicity of the three-year old vision for foreign aid.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do my eyes look green to you?

The year I started this blog, my sister-in-law Maud gave me a great book for Christmas, called Best of the Blogosphere. This is where I discovered that not only were there a gazillion women out there blogging about their kids, but there was a name for us--mommyblogger--and some of us were famous.

This is where I first encountered Dooce, at the time listed as one of the top mommyblogs around.
Dooce is the brainchild of Heather Armstrong, who initially lost her job in LA when she was caught blogging about the boss (aka, she was "dooced") and gained popularit through her honest posts about the sever post-partum depression she experienced after her first daughter was born. Since then, she has completely exploded, and I have occasionally wondered what would have happened if I had gotten on the blog track sooner, yet I have never been jealous of Ms. Armstrong. Until today. And the thing that finally got me might be revealing.

I was never jealous of her hundred, even thousands of comments from the community on her blog, despite the fact that even begging and pleading does not procure comments her on mine. Or her regular presence in the video series Momversation. (So public!)

I was not jealous when she landed a book deal, wrote and published said book, or went on a successful book tour around the country. (Too personal a memoir!)

I was not jealous that she was able to quit her job to blog full time-- or even when her husband, too, quit his job to support the blog full time. (Could Dave and I ever work together? likely not! And those crazy endorsement deals!)

I was not jealous when Time Magazine put her on their list of the 30 most influential women in the media, a list that icluded Katie Couric and Oprah (OPRAH!), even though she was number 27, incidentally my very favorite number. ( of the realm of the possible!)

But today is another story.

Today I logged on while I innocently ate some chicken soup (recovering from the stomach flu) and discovered that the woman has LANDED A DEVELOPMENT DEAL WITH HGTV.

And now I am seething and green.

And I wonder, as I often have, if this means that i do not actually want to be a writer, but a designer. And not an actual, take clients and do-over their houses designer, but a TV personality designer. It hearkens back to one of my proudest moments, when my friend Sara F told me I should be the next Paige Davis. A tidbit I know I have shared on this blog once already.

Or maybe, as is so often the case, that is just one more version of my imagination getting the best of me, and my occasional forgetfulness about the vast gulf between the idea of something and its reality. Like: working on TV is boring. I know this from my days as a photo producer, where things on set move very, very, slowly. Like: being a TV personality is public, and I'd rather not have to wear makeup and smile and behave according to a set of expectations all the time. And so on and so forth.

Or maybe I just have a mean case of the sour grapes. I'm not even going to link to that other Heather's blog, even though I kind of love the way she made the announcement, and got all super excited about "H to the G to the T to the V," just like I would have.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Dictionary of Eleri

It's no secret that Eleri is a wee bit less verbal than Clio. In fact, we were just watching old videos on this blog last night, and were reminded that when Clio was just one month older than Eleri is now, she could identify and say the names for all the colors of the rainbow. When she was much younger than Eleri is now, she could tell us what she wanted, like in the video where she asks for strawberries, or the one where her desire for pizza is made clearly known.

One of the problems with comparison is that we sometimes fail to celebrate advances that a second child makes on her own timeframe. At our board meeting on Tuesday, we were talking about the need for each board member to make a financial contribution to the organization that is personally significant: it takes the external comparison out of the equation. So today I'll update the blog with Eleri's recent language explosion. Small fireworks:


Bath (pronounced Ba)
Beans (pronounced Bees)
Down (pronounced Dow, with a whole lot of pointing)
Hot (pronounced ot! ot! ot! along with some waving/shaking hands)
Milk (pronounced Mmmmi, along with the sign)
More (pronounced Mmmmo, along with the sign)
This (used generally, but also used to indicate Clio)
What's This
What's That
I want this

Hoo Hoo Hoo (monkey)
Moo (pronounced like a real cow: mmmmmmm)
and... squirrell noises (click click click click click)

I think that last one is the most personally significant to Eleri.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Photo by any other Photographer...

I love that someone other than me is now taking pictures of my kids somewhat regularly. In honor of this fact, and of Dakota, Noah, Amy, and Justin, I am adding a link to their flickr site over on the right there, with Clio's favorite links.

And because Dave did not have his camera on Friday when Clio and Dakota hit the ice (Clio in short overalls with tights, no less), here she is:

Still Life With Duckies

I will admit, when I came across this picture today, I asked Dave: Are you responsible for this?
Clio piped in: "No mommy, I did that."

The Next Generation

I heard a story on NPR this morning with conclusions from the census data about the shifting role of women: in the 1970s, marriage was considered the surest way to financial security for women, but nowadays women are likely to be more educated and make more money than their spouses, who now, reportedly (and yes, I'm paraphrasing), get the better deal.

How funny to watch Eleri tonight as she climbed up onto a chair, toting her baby and her laptop, and proceeded to "burp" the baby while pounding on the keys. I wonder if this next generation of moms will be far enough removed from their grandparents era that both waves of feminism will be a distant memory, and expectations around work and family life will have "evened out."

It's nearly impossible for me to imagine a truly "post-feminist" world, but it may be the one my daughters experience.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Outfit of the Week

Quite possibly the cutest outfit ever.
Enhanced, somehow, by Clio's insistence on wearing the coat as a cape.

I must say, Eleri may be a close second in this round.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Zoos (an annotated album)

In looking at my pictures from the Minnesota Zoo, which we visited with my childhood friend Carrie and her younger daughter Greta (dedicated readers of this blog may be glad to put faces to those names), it struck me that I did not capture many live animals (except the girls) and that you would almost think that we were at some kind of indoor playground:

(check out Clio hanging on Carrie's hood ties)

And if some alien race saw these pictures of Eleri, they might think that the zoo was a place to preserve (and gawk at) machinery, trucks and gear:

In Denver, the playground theme continued:

Though we did also look at some very live, very big animals, like Giraffes, Elands, Bison, Elephants, and Camels.

Which Eleri thought was awesome. (It took her a while to figure out that these big animals were real, I think: the first one she saw was a tiger, and instead of getting excited about the big cat, she pointed to a squirrel hopping along the very top of the tiger enclosure, and made her squirrel clucking sound with her tongue.)

Somehow, the kids seemed most taken with the common duck:

Which, I will admit, were actually quite mesmerizing in their feeding frenzy:

In the Tropical Zone, the Denver Zoo has a collection of komodo dragons, which the kids found fascinating. They just sat right down on the floor and hung out.

This one brought out the frisk in Eleri, though. Clio did a better job than Dakota of managing the hug attacks, but hey, these guys are sisters.... and Dakota has become terrified of Eleri's clutches!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On Being Female

Clio has these Sleeping Beauty shoes that my parents bought her: we were all in a Walmart together last fall when staying in Fishkill, NY, for my cousin Patrick's wedding, and they let her pick out a little something as a gift. She had been lusting after her friend Elsie's various Princess Shoes, so when we saw these there was no question what Clio would choose.

But upon putting them on for the umpteenth time tonight, Clio declared: These hurt.

Well then, take them off, I said.

But mom, they're so pretty! she said, and proceeded to limp around the house.

She may even try to wear them to bed.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Final Night in Brooklyn

[an unfinished post discovered in my drafts folder]

Throughout this last weekend, I had flashes of our history on 30th street, random, compressed, floating up to me in no particular order, anchored by particular spots or viewpoints in the house: standing on the stairs, I could see Clio crawling in the upstairs hallway; in the dining room, a flash of my 30th birthday party, post-appendectomy, and the crash of the Christmas tree that had just been trimmed at our seventh--and last--tree trimming party. But Lying in our bed in our old room in Brooklyn, the rest of the house empty, I couldn't help but feel that the bed was a raft, floating in this house but also in two before it, in Park Slope and Washington Heights, and a buoy in the river of time that keeps rushing past.

This is the bed where Dave decided to go home for Thanksgiving the year his dad first battled cancer, and where I talked him out of getting there by motorcycle.

This is the bed where I sat and cried after delivering a terrible presentation (on the philosopher Deleuze, the film Hirsohima , Mon Amour, and the planning process for the Hiroshima memorial!) in Grad School.

This is where I first told Dave, in a whisper, risking everything, that I loved him.

I sat on the edge of this bed, taking off my heels, just before Dave proposed.

This is where I sat to call my parents and, tearfully, announce that I was pregnant with my first baby. And again, less tearfully, with my second.

This is where I labored with Eleri, where my water broke 20 minutes before she was born, just next door, in the bathtub.

In this bed, both of our girls occasionally slept as babies; knowing you're "not supposed to do that," this is where we lay, too tired to put them back in the cradle.

This is where countless conversations took place about leaving Brooklyn.

I wonder how many tears have soaked this mattress? If material has a memory?

In the morning, too early, we struggled from this bed for the last time, and someone came to take it away, to give to an old lady who would later send us a message to "bless our hearts."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Clio Quotes

Unfortunately, I can never remember to write down the hilarious things Clio says. (If you want a does of hilarious kid quotes, visit my friend Lizzie's blog and scroll on down to November 11: her daughter Laila has a precocious vocabulary and a knack for the literal, and her son Owen simply has a unique perspective on the world). We've been in a major "why" phase for a while, which often ends in an exasperated "because" after explaining the same subject three or four times. Lately, though, Clio hass moved from a highly annoying "why" phase into a somewhat annoying but at least occasionally instructive "what if" phase.

It goes something like this:

Mom, what if you had no mouth?
Well, I guess you'd be in trouble, because you couldn't talk, or eat, or smile.

Well, what if you had a mouth on your elbow?
Then you would have to hold up your arm when you talked, so people could hear you.

What if you had an ear for a mouth?
Then I guess you would have to listen from your face.

The questioning usually goes along a theme, and Clio seems to come up with every possible combination of asking before she exhausts her subject. (I am serving up the abridged versions).

Mom, what if you lived in a house in a tree?
You would live in a tree house.

What if there was a house on a dog's house?
You could call that a dog house. But any house is reallytoo heavy to put on a dog's head, son't you think?

Mom, what if your house had no door?
It would be harder to get in the house, because you would have to come through the window.

Well, what if you had no door AND no windows?
I guess you'd be stuck outside. Or inside, as the case may be.

What if you had no home?

And this is where this line of questioning becomes challenging, because your child thinks she is making up impossible and silly scenarios: how, exactly, do you explain homelessness to a 3 year old? You might tell her that lots of people have no homes, that some of them are cold, that some of them are sad, that sometimes they can get help. You might picture the line of people that you drive by every night on your way home for work, waiting outside Denver's Catholic Mission hoping for a bed for the night. You might tell her that she's very lucky to have such a nice home as this.

And then, your three year old might get all existential on you.

MOM! What if you had nothing?

Yes. What if?

Making Good on One "Resolution"

Get outside more.

And then enjoy inside more.

(There is a nice fire in that fireplace, I swear.)

Not a bad way to ring in the New Year, in the end.

Avoidance Behavior (aka Status update)

Oh, hello there.
Happy New Year.
What's that you say?

Where have I been?

Well, to tell you the truth, I've been hiding out a little bit. As it turns out, the end of a year--to say nothing of the end of a decade--is a time for reflection, and I, quite frankly, haven't quite felt up to it. When you throw in the fact that a blog is a perfect platform for reflection, well... so long Clio Confidential! See you later, alligator! A traitor to myself, I have instead been blogging on my work blog, where personal reflection is of a more intellectual variety: you can read my posts here and here and here. And I suppose I did do some reflecting, when I put together a book of our year in pictures, which you can see here.

But following a bah-humbug moment around Christmas (more on that in another post, wherein I wonder: what does it all mean, anyway?) and a working New Year's week, I found myself in need of escape; my favorite mode? A good book. And so, in the past week, I read approximately 1200 pages of teen-vampire-romance. Most nights, I built a fire (after Dave taught me how- turns out, in some cases he does know the best method for things), then settled in with Twilight and a glass of wine. And read until the wee hours, like I was, myself, a teenager again. And as I write that sentence, I realize why this was exactly what I needed: my desire to escape, my problem with Christmas, my avoidance of reflecting on the decade, is all somehow wrapped up in my struggle with what it means to be a parent, to truly be a grown up.

Interestingly enough, when I emerged from my vampire and werewolf stupor after completing the second book in the series, I did not feel the need to delve directly into the third (though I had already purchased it); instead, I came out with the idea that reflection is not what the Petersons need right now: no. Not while it feels like we're still in unending transition. (I keep hearing that line from The Princess Bride in my head: "Life is pain, Highness", only in my version it goes "Life is change.") So. The Petersons need a plan. Amazingly, when I told Dave that we should get to work on a 3-year strategic plan for our family, he did not laugh. He simply looked me straight in the eye and said, well, it's a good thing we know someone who can make one then, isn't it?

For those of you perhaps a little slow on the uptake, he meant me. Oh, I love my husband.

And so, it begins.

We'll keep you posted.

Have a little patience, okay?