Sunday, March 14, 2010

Great Performances.

Preschoolers sing Christmas songs much longer than the rest of us. My preschooler also loves to watch herself sing, preferably in a full-length mirror. She is loudest and clearest if elevated, either atop a table, kitchen counter or stool. I try to video her, but she catches on and stops the show. No flash photography either, I guess. So, from my memory, here is a new out-of-season selection from Norah:

Baby Jesus was born in a little stable.
And He was in a little trouble.
Because He was going to die.

(Chorus, you would recognize the tune)
In the Shelstien's stable.
In the Shelstien's stable.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barn, Part 1: Avian Shanty

Our barn is large. To me, it feels oversized.
The former owners transformed one section into a basketball court. I think of it with hope. My children's hands are yet small for basketballs, but they should love this open stretch of concrete for bicycles and rollerblades. As their father has worked to repair/rebuild the basketball rims, he must also be thinking of the fun his children will have.
Should love, will have.
I speak in hope because we do not see much use of this court, for balls or wheels. Winged squatters have appropriated this sheltered expanse of air for an aviary. With convenient roosting beams and a shortage of predators, they have declared adverse possession, and set up several generations of nestkeeping. They have also dropped poo all over the smooth cement floor, with no thought given to free-throw lines or boundaries.

"No more!" declares the man of the house, and he scales impossibly high ladders to plug tiny holes in the eaves.
I imagine the birds circling outside the barn in confusion, like a weary shoppers who have lost their cars in a full lot. Like an alternative, hopeless Mary Lennox who never finds the secret gate, these birds fly up and down the roof's length, duck under the overhang and smack hard into solid wood. I smile at that picture.
At one time, I thought I liked birds, but husband dearest has fostered an ugly hatred for these Starlings. He has taught me that these pests are an invasive species, not at all native to North America. Being introduced to this continent several years after this house was built, I do not feel they have a right to live in our barn. They can have the trees if they insist on inhabiting this 6 acre patch of ground. (We planted 13 more trees last summer; let them roost in one of those. But they must leave our raspberries alone.)

I just hope the birds do not realize that I have lived here far less time than they. I hope their beaks are not equipped to create entrance holes. I hope my children can use this barn for their own recreation, not just BB gun practice.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ignore the Snow

Swathes of snow can still be found in our yard. Not one green sprout has been sighted. March 20 is eleven days away.

Still, we're acting as though Spring has arrived.
We pore over seed catalogs.
We plan Easter outfits.
We hang laundry out to dry in the almost warm air.
We consider the windows that must be washed, outside repairs that must be made, porches that must be painted.

Mostly, though, we play in the mud.

Can you see how tall my boys are becoming? I'm not old enough to have tall children.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not What I Was Going to Say

At one point in today I had Something I wanted to write that was, perhaps, meaningful.


My head and ears hurt, and I am slightly tired. I want to sleep, but really should tidy up a bit, now that the children are washed and abed. Strange, I find this soothing. Before bedtime, the children and I spent about 30 minutes back in the 1970's. What great clothing, what happy faces, what smooth dance moves.

I think we're going to start our own musical family group with groovy choreography. After I feel a little better maybe.

Otherwise, I'm reading a Very Good Book and listening to another Fairly Good Book. Check them out. The Very Good selection was one that my aunt was reading to my grandmother in the last few months of her life. Piki didn't get to hear the end of this sweet novel, but I can easily imagine her enjoying it. I happened to catch an author interview of the Fairly Good, and this made me curious. This book won't make my top 25, but it is a diversion while doing dishes and other importantly mindless chores, should the Jackson5 not be available.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Family Matters

You can tell the world all about your favorite relatives. Those that praised, teased, hugged and paid attention to your obnoxious middle child self, these you can celebrate. Indeed, you must celebrate. But that auntie whose biting words and ridicule cut deep into your nine-year-old heart, keep her between yourself and your therapist.

Unless I am that auntie. Tell me where I've hurt you, because I am
And I want to make it right somehow.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Doomed to Repeat

"Mom, can we get a wii?"
"I don't know, Sammy..." I was distracted, and not really focusing on framing any arguments against the gimmes.
"But everyone else has a wii!"
"Well, Sammy, Mommy and Daddy don't like being like everyone else. Haven't you figured out we're weird?"

Wait. What has happened to me?
It's not that I'm against video game systems. It's not that I don't want to give my kids things. It's just... did I really say I don't want to fit in? Is weird my new cool?

Growing up, I chaffed against being "different." Home-schooled. Big family. Hand-me-down clothes. Tour-bus-sized family vans. I inwardly cheered when my parents bought a minivan. Mind you, I was an adult and SUVs had stepped past minivans in coolness, but after a childhood transported in vehicles of enormous proportions, a minivan was a giant leap for this family.

I love my parents and never told them that I hated feeling like a geek. I believe they knew it anyway. Their decisions on our family's lifestyle choices weren't driven by what would make their children happy, but what they felt would make their children better. Looking back, with the eyes of a parent, I think my mom and dad had it right. At least, I hope they did, because I am OK with being different.
At least, I hope I'm OK with it.

Sammy will probably get a wii eventually. And I don't wear my older sisters' hand-me-downs anymore. (And really, I still think it was OK for me to hate wearing them as a child. They are so much older than me, the styles were all wrong.)

Monday, March 1, 2010


Country Living, as we have now discovered, includes copious amounts of mud. Listening to the weather forecast, I realized that we will be facing snow melt (and thus even more mud) this week. Oh shoot! I had forgotten to order those boots for the boys.

I am not one to spend money without thinking; the beauty of online shopping is that you can carry merchandise around in your virtual shopping basket for days before you decide on the best choice, the greatest bargain, and google coupons for the biggest discount possible before finalizing your purchase. Of course, this lengthy deliberation can backfire: a decisive stranger can snatch that maybe-perfect item out of your cart while you sleep.

Today, I was happy to see the boots I wanted still in my cart. They cost a little more than I really wanted to spend, but less than I've seen rain boots going for in stores. I'm trusting that the brand will prove to be durable, as I have two not-so-little boys that are pretty tough on footwear. Now I just hope that Sammy will like the available bright yellow that I chose.

Does anyone have ideas for reducing the mud traffic? Yes, I can wash my floors as easily as I can the boots, but isn't one goal of living inside a house to keep the Great Outdoors, well, out doors?