Archive for September, 2008

Regarding morality and politics.

This is long, but it’s worth watching.

Jonathan Haidt: On The Moral Mind.

It’s not very often I find something like this, that describes so well why I hate talking politics with people. Because to have good honest political discussion is impossible if people cannot grasp what this guy is talking about.

And because, so often, so sadly often, I hear both sides screaming the same exact things about each other. And they’re both right.


Days of rain.

It’s been raining, off and on, for almost 4 days here.

I love the rain. It was one of the things I missed most, living in Colorado all those years. These steady days of rain. This is a warm rain, warm enough to go out in for a while, when you get too stir-crazy. Me, I’m just about too old for stir-crazy. But my kids? They’re stir-crazy. They’re ready for some sunshine.

They’ve got more bumps and bruises than they had a few days ago, from wrestling with each other, and using my living room furniture as a gymnasium. Among other activities normally not permitted inside. But after all these days of rain, when even the excitement of umbrellas and boots has gone stale and dry, we’ve looked the other way more than usual at some of the shenanigans.

My living room is now littered with a smattering of Webkinz and Little People toys, magic markers, empty DVD cases, cheese stick wrappers, apple cores and unpopped popcorn kernels. There’s a pile of damp socks and discarded hoodies near the backdoor.

But tomorrow the sun will come out again. This mess of a storm will be gone, and I’ll send the girls out into September’s final warm days. We might skip a lesson or two in favor of an extra ten minutes on the swings. We might skip history entirely and just take a walk down to the creek and see what the storm has brought us. We might end up all muddy and in dire need of hot cocoa even though it’s not really all that cold yet. Marshmallows may be required.

We most certainly will not be stuck behind a metal desk for seven long hours, resenting the rainy weekend, and wondering when exactly everyone else will be finished with their math. We won’t worry about getting in trouble for tracking mud on the classroom floor, or having to sit uncomfortably in wet socks all day long because we don’t have access to our wardrobe.

Yeah… we homeschool. I’m not even gonna try not to gloat.

Pinata hat.

We’re still recovering from the festivities on Sunday, when about a dozen or so completely unsocialized homeschoolers and their moms descended upon us, and we celebrated the fact that my 7-year-old is now an 8-year-old.

She’s so damn big now, it’s not even funny.

Details of the party to follow soon.

What happens when you stop refusing the truth.

Out shopping for birthday gifts for my niece last week, I picked up a copy of Alice Sebold’s The Almost Moon. I finally started reading it two days ago, and I’m having trouble keeping myself from cancelling my 8-year-old’s birthday party tomorrow so I can hole up in my study to finish reading.

Right now, glancing at the front cover of the copy on my desk, I see the words haunting, searing, and brilliant  used to describe the book, and really — anything by Alice Sebold can be described as such. She’s got this utterly unique voice to her writing, a quiet voice that screams the truth at you on every page. Her other books, The Lovely Bones (a novel about the brutal rape and murder of a teenager and what happens to her family in the aftermath) and Lucky (a memoir of her own equally brutal rape and beating and its aftermath when she was 18 years old) are just as haunting, and just as honest. They are, for me as the mother of daughters, harder to read, but still worth it. Life isn’t always easy; neither should our reading material be.

In The Almost Moon, the subject changes to one that’s a bit easier for me (the relationship between a daughter and a mother who is mentally ill) but still resonates in a particular way. My own mother may not have been as crazy as the mother in this book, but it’s close enough. And in the end, it’s not having a crazy mother that’s the hardest thing to handle — it’s STILL LOVING that crazy mother no matter what she does that’s hard. Oh, how I understand that part. And oh, how I wish I didn’t. Here’s an excellent passage:

I walked to the center of my front lawn and lay down, spreadeagled. I looked up at the stars. How did I end up in a place where doing such a thing marked you for crazy, while my neighbors dressed concrete ducks in bonnets at Easter and in striped stocking caps at Christmas but were considered sane?

I let my shoes and purse fall from my hands. Only a few stars were out. The earth was cold beneath me. “There are children starving in China,” my mother had frequently said to me when I gorged on food.

“That doesn’t mean I’m not hungry,” I whispered now. I thought of her face when I had brought Jake from Wisconsin to meet them. He had been the first, and last, direct challenge to her power. She had welcomed him with a floor show so extreme that is was almost painful to watch. She forced herself to smile and bow and scrape as if he were the lord of the manor and she merely a lowly thing. Why hadn’t I seen the truth? She had a steely resolve that surpassed anything Jake and I might build. Our swizzle-stick empire was so fragile in the end. “The only thing you’ve ever loved is you mother!” he had yelled at me. I had refused this truth, brought my hands up as if to stop a blow. (pp. 88-89)

The novel is, essentially, a chronicle of the events of the day when she stops refusing this truth about herself. Or at least it is, so far. I’ve still got about one-third of it left to go. I could be completely wrong. But whatever it is, it’s still worth reading. Hell, I’d say it’s worth owning. And I say that about less and less books these days. And even if your mother’s not crazy, this book will still make sense. Because, crazy mother or not, haven’t we all had those moments of clarity — when whatever screwed-up thing about our lives we’ve been denying becomes suddenly undeniable? And aren’t those moments always filled with utter insanity?

That’s what Sebold captures for us and forces us to look at, and no matter how hard it is to face it, somehow she shows us that we can still land on our feet. That we’re brave enough. That we CAN do this. Pick up a copy of anything by Alice Sebold, and see if you agree.

Our lunch with RegularDad.

Me, calling from the kitchen: Hey! How do you all want your sandwiches cut?

5-year-old: The Great Pyramids, please!

8-year-old: Triangles…but big, like yesterday.

RegularDad: Two trapezoids and a rhombus!

8-year-old: Da-ad!

RegularDad: Just kidding. I’ll have an ellipse with an eccentricity of 0.8.

5-year-old: Da-ad!

8-year-old: Mom! Dad’s making up words again!

RegularDad: Am not! You know what an oval is, right? An oval is an ellipse. And an ellipse is a circle with an eccentricity that’s equal to zero.

8-year-old: Well…okay. But Mom won’t cut sandwiches into circles, you know. She says it’s a waste.

RegularDad: Oh, well. Okay. Gimmee a dozen rectangles, then.

Me: Rectangles it is…wait–what??? You can’t have 12 rectangles. I’m just gonna cut this thing in half for you, okay? And sweetie (glancing at my 8-year-old), those were real words. When you’re in high school in a few years and doing higher math, those words will make sense.

8-year-old: Yeah, but you still won’t be able to eat them for lunch.

Basic math for a homeschoolin’ mama.

   2 kids with colds

+ catching the cold from the kids

+ homeschooling the kids because they’re not sick anymore and they’re bored

+ taking kids to karate and swimming lessons

+ planning and leading very first Daisy troop meeting

+ the ubiquitous piles of laundry and dishes

+ trying to put party invitations in the mail for 8-year-old’s birthday party

+ poetry submission deadlines


= Not Much Time To Blog

I’ll be back in a day or two. 🙂

Gull in motion.

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