"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter Wonderland

For the purposes of blogging I'm skipping Halloween and Thanksgiving. I don't care. They were wonderful, and I was too busy enjoying them to document the fun for future generations. So let's move straight on to the Christmas season, which in our house began promptly on Saturday, November 27th. Since then we've had a little holiday music on at some point during every day, dined using Christmas dishes, downed two quarts of eggnog, and strewn yuletide decorations across most available surfaces in the house. The tree is proving to be something of a liability this year; Geneva is quick, curious, and not always overly mindful of the boundaries we set for her. Translation: she removes ornaments from the tree to get my attention, and if that fails she gnaws on them. Most of her activities and interests have me on my toes these days, but I love that she's interested in the world around her and that she has a strong will of her own. Those traits will serve her well as she grows up, and hey, I look good with grey hair.

I wish I had some wintery pictures of the whole family to share. It just seems especially appropriate this time of year. Instead, here are some more of our growing girl.

If you give a kid a cookie... she'll make this face.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beat It!

Many of you reading this blog probably know or have met my dearest friend, Kristen. I've been lucky enough to be buds with her for my entire adult life, and just last year we gave birth to our babies within two months of one another. I love her fiercely, and so when I found out this summer that she had stage four lymphoma I was terrified and heartbroken. I could hardly wrap my mind around the possibility of losing her-- the pain just loomed up too large, and my brain would shut off.

Her doctors were very optimistic and so I was hopeful that with a lot of treatment and a lot of time this disease could be beaten, but it turns out that my little best-case scenario didn't do reality justice. My amazing friend has completely beaten stage four lymphoma in eight weeks! She'll finish up this round of treatment with just a few more chemotherapy sessions, and then it's back to the serious business of raising her beautiful son, growing her beautiful hair and living her beautiful life. Kristen, you blow my mind. You're the strongest woman I know.

These photos were taken of Kristen's sweet son (and Geneva's buddy) Thomas at her parents' home in Bellevue.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh Boy, Part II

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new winner. My eyes were actually watering with the effort of holding in paroxysms of laughter. Today a very sweet old lady came up to Geneva and started telling her what a good, helpful little boy she was. Geneva was wearing a dress and holding a pink blankie, but here's the kicker:  

I was changing her diaper.

So folks, forget everything you used to know about the anatomy of little boys. Apparently that thing we all used to think was so essential is in fact more like an add-on. An accessory. An app. Men should stop getting so hung up on size because I'm telling you, my little "boy" gets along just fine with none whatsoever.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fickle Fickle

The scene: Bathtime. The Girlie, having been washed, is now playing in the tub. She stands up and reaches for me as if wanting to be picked up, then plops back down in the water and laughs. This goes on for a few minutes.

Me: Ooooh, you're fickle.

Geneva, tickling me under the chin: Fickle, fickle, fickle!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pardon the Mess...

I'm kind of wigging out. This week I will be looking after a three-year-old boy while his parents, who are artists, teach classes at The Seasons Performance Hall. Fun? You betcha! I'm absolutely looking forward to the experience with nothing but excited anticipation. No no, the reason I'm wigging out is that the parents, these highly successful, detail-oriented strangers are going to see my house. And it is a mess.

What is it with me? This is a continual battle I fight: anxiety over what others will think of my home maintenance skills. The weird thing is, I am not a fastidious person. I like things clean-- as in, scum-free-- and I like things to have a place, but when it's just me and the Girlie I am generally satisfied with a state of controlled chaos. Without anyone watching I think I strike a healthy balance between extremes. I do not spend all of my time whisking away evidence of human habitation, nor do I actively create a pig-sty environment (which, by the way, was my teenage rebellion form of choice. You're welcome, Mom. Seriously. It could have been so much worse). But oh, when visitors arrive on the doorstep... Sigh. I am suddenly caught in the iron grip of this crushing fear that-- that-- honestly, I don't know what I think is going to happen. Maybe that they'll take pictures of my laundry room and report me to CPS or something.

With a one-year-old in the house it's kind of ridiculous anyway. Children accelerate the process of entropy: it's a scientific fact. Look it up. Toys become one with the floor. Food becomes one with the tablecloth. The organizational structures of your drawers disintegrate and decay and fall apart until you find yourself looking for the can opener in the refrigerator. Who can conquer the forces of domestic collapse? Some people. Not me. But domestic collapse and I have an understanding. We're cool.

So you know what, highly successful, detail-oriented strangers? Come on over! I'll invite you in and say, in the words of Roseanne, "Pardon the mess, but we live here." I'll assume that you're not judging me, and you can assume that I mop occasionally. Just don't report me to CPS. And don't look in the laundry room.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Geneva's new favorite leisure activity has me breaking out into song...

Baby, you can drive my car.
Yes, I'm gonna be a star.
Baby, you can drive my car,
And baby, I love you.


Beep beep, beep beep, yeah!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Delightful Weirdo

Yesterday, Geneva baffled and amused me with the following activities:

  • Deliberately diving face-first off of the ottoman.
  • Picking imaginary things off of the cat and bringing them to me.
  • Peering at the world from between her legs for fairly long stretches of time.
  • Kissing the wall repeatedly.
  • Pretending to eat her food with a loud, fake munching sound.
She also astonished me with two heretofore unprecedented skills:
  • Eating a meal entirely unassisted, and I don't mean a finger-food meal. I mean a goopy, messy, use-your-spoon meal. A lot of food missed her mouth, but even more of it went in! Color me amazed.
  • Conversation. I had my first actual exchange of words with my daughter, and I'm pleased to tell you that it centered around produce. 
                       Geneva: What dis? 
                       Me: That's a tomato. Do you like it? 
                       Geneva: Mmm. Yep.

A day in the life, eh? I have the best job ever.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Tolerance

For this post, I will be deviating from the usual format of updates and family pictures. I should also mention that "the views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's alone and do not reflect the views of the entire family," or something like that. Oh yeah, and I'll be writing on a very personal and sensitive topic, and absolutely do not want to offend anyone. Basically, if you feel like skipping over this one, or leaving me a comment that disagrees 100% with what I have to say, I won't mind. I'm really just writing this for myself... I had some thoughts that were demanding to be let out.

I can't help but wonder how our world has managed to become so religiously intolerant. I do mean that in two ways: first, that many people are intolerant of differing religions, and second, that some seem to have made a religion out of intolerance, defining their faith in terms of who they are not like and who they do not agree with. They believe that only themselves and a relatively small group of others who think exactly as they do are in God's good graces, and that the rest of the rabble are misguided at best, evil-hearted at worst, and ultimately doomed in either event. Now, as an anthropologist I get it. I understand how cultures arrive at this point, but I struggle to understand why.

Every person in this world who has ever lived, or will ever someday live, has a path to walk from birth to death. There are no exceptions, and in this truth we are all united, every last human being. And yet with all these billions upon billions of eyes looking out at the world, no two pairs have seen the exact same thing. In this truth we are utterly unique. These are the forces that pull people together and drive them apart: that we are simultaneously identical and disparate. Talk about powerful stuff.

As individuals, we are all blessed with a mind that is entirely our own. No two people will envision divinity in exactly the same way, just as every thought a person conceives has the stamp of his or her own unique brain on it. This holds true whether the two people are absolute strangers living on different continents, or whether they have been married for decades and sit beside one another in church each week. And what does it matter, when the God each one of us sees when we close our eyes is really just a human construct? Here's what I mean: the words we say about that which is divine, the images we create, the voice we give it-- these things are not divinity itself. Divinity is something outside the possible experience of a single person, so to even discuss the concept we have to start framing the divine in our own mundane terms. Suddenly this abstraction, this beautiful gut feeling about life and the world we live in is assigned a name, a gender, a language, a form. This is not only understandable, but necessary. How else can we relate to something so all-encompassing as God itself? The problem arises when time passes and we forget that the framework of religion is only a tool for talking about something greater.

Many people, myself included, find some sort of meaning in the path of life. We see it all around us-- our fellow human beings struggling through life's ups and downs just as we do-- and we feel it deep within us. We seek to understand this sense of meaning, and we seek to share it with others, undaunted by the fact that, whatever idea of the divine we hold in our hearts, it is completely original. Out of this desire to share comes religion, an organized system in which a myriad of different perceptions of God can be blended, united, and called "one." But out of the desire to understand the meaning we feel comes faith, and that is personal. That is what we take with us on our solitary journey.

So the God in my thoughts looks different from the one in yours. Is that so frightening? Does degree of difference really matter when, as it turns out, we're all a little different anyway? Symmachus, a Roman senator from the Fourth Century, put it this way: It is reasonable to assume that whatever each of us worships can be considered one and the same. We look up at the same stars, the same sky is above us all, and the same universe encompasses us. What difference does it make which system each of us uses to find the truth? It is not by just one route that man can arrive at so great a mystery. I believe tolerance stems from the knowledge that no single person, no single religion, can fully understand divinity. It's simply too huge, too abstract. But we can gather our understanding in pieces, bit by bit, person by person. There is unity in that. Together, we are whole.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh, Boy

I realize that babies and even young children are pretty androgynous. I also realize that my child does not have a lot in the way of hair-- that classic indicator of femininity. So, I can't really take it personally that most strangers immediately assume that Geneva is a boy. Still, sometimes I look at my beautiful little daughter, and then at the doofus who is referring to her as "a handsome little dude" and wonder exactly how unobservant the average person is. Based on this unscientific study, my results indicate: very.

Here's a peek at some of the recently-worn outfits in which Geneva has been called a boy.

Perhaps the average stranger's reasoning goes something like this:
1) If you are wearing anything with pant legs, you are a boy.
2) If your clothing contains any "male" colors, like blue or tan, you are a boy.
3) If you are wearing a collar, you are a boy.
4) If you are not entirely saturated in pink, you are a boy.
5) If you are a girl, you are a boy.

More likely, the average stranger isn't wasting a lot of brainpower on the subject, which is fine. It's good for a laugh anyway.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

You Are Here

The woods are calling me back. I think it's safe to say that our camping season is coming to an end, with the nights cooling off and the yardwork piling up, but I don't feel done. I love sleeping and waking with the light, hearing the tiny sounds that are usually drowned out by the buzzing of lights and appliances, and knowing which way is north not by the directionality of the streets but by which side of me feels warm. I know that many people are put off by the discomforts that accompany outdoor living, but somehow that just adds to the allure for me. Feeling the cold and the wind, climbing up slopes and wading through rivers... these things are a constant reminder of where I am and what I'm doing. Every so often when I'm inside a building somewhere it hits me that I could be anywhere in the world and would have no way of knowing by looking at my surroundings; malls are especially creepy that way. In the woods you know exactly where you are. You know the season by the weather, the flowers and berries, the angle of the sun, the constellations. You know your elevation by the temperature and the texture of the air. You know what is growing around you by sight and smell.

More than just where you are, though, I think you see who you are. You learn which things are the things that matter when you're carrying them on your back. After all, if it's not important you won't bother to haul it up a mountain. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I deem worthwhile to carry. Obviously food and shelter make the list, but I routinely pack things like books, musical instruments, sketch pads, even a kite. Once I packed out a very large rock just for the sheer beauty of it. As for Geneva, bringing toys is a complete waste of energy, which warms my hear to its core. The girl loves sticks, stones, flowers and water. I would love to think that I'm teaching her something important by bringing her with me into my beloved woods, but I think all I'm really doing is not un-teaching her what she already knows: she is a part of this world on a fundamental level. She belongs. She is here.

Mt. Rainier, June 2010
The Zoglmans and the Ledesmas

Spider Meadows, July 2010
The Zoglmans and Nita Morris