Monday, 26 November 2012

So Lucky

I feel so lucky, so thankful, so fortunate, so privileged.

So, so, so.

And I'll go into details later-- about hanging out with Aloha, about exploring Honolulu, about muumuus, about sea turtles.

I will, because I have to share my pictures! Because it was the best weekend ever, ever, ever!

Sometimes I felt like my "happy" was too big to fit in Hawaii, and I was forced to jump into the ocean to give it more space to frolic.

It's not a bad solution, actually.

Monday, 12 November 2012


Last week, I got to witness two people, in separate situations, be brave.

It wasn't the kind of bravery you normally think of-- no cliff jumping, deep sea diving, or rescuing of babies and puppies from burning buildings. It wasn't a physical sort of brave, instead, it was the kind that wrapped itself around my heart.

Both of these women-- ladies who I liked before, but whom I respect and admire even more now-- opened themselves up.

That's the only way I can really describe it. They shared parts of themselves that were private and personal, made themselves vulnerable, were truly open and honest.

There is no avoiding it: when you choose to do that, you do so with the knowledge that others' views of you may change. In fact, it is almost unavoidable. In some way or another, people will think of you differently.

I do.

I think they are brave.

Friday, 9 November 2012


When I watched Obama's acceptance speech, I cried. If you know me at all, you'll know that this is not surprising. I'm a sensitive kitten, a delicate blossom, empathetic to a fault.

So it shouldn't surprise you that I cried.

But let me tell you why I did. 

I cried because this brave, dependable, determined man is still at the helm, and because I trust him to do his very best. I believe that nobody is perfect, but that he has all of our best interests in his mind and his heart. I feel safer, knowing that he believes in my ability to make my own decisions about my body. I respect him, because I know that he respects the American people, no matter what life may have doled out to various individuals. 

I cried because democracy works, that millions of dollars were shoveled into the gaping maw of this campaign, but that all of Romney's slippery money could not buy him the presidency. I cried because so much money was spent on this campaign-- on both sides-- when it could have been spent on our country. 

I cried because I cannot believe we are still fighting over whether women should be treated like second class citizens, and whether everyone should have the right to marry whomever he or she chooses. 

I cried because I was scared of losing my rights, because now I'm less scared.

Because I'm feeling hope.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Election Day

I voted for you, today.

I voted for me, too-- and for all of those who are too young to vote, and for everyone who will come after us, and for everyone who came before. I voted for all of us.

I voted for our rights, for our opportunities, for health, for jobs, for truth.

I voted for love.

I voted because not voting is unacceptable.

Because my voice has value, because my beliefs have worth, and because I live in a country that gives me the legal right to be heard.

Because people died for my right to vote, because even today some people are still trying to suppress voters.

I voted for all of us.

I hope you did too.

Monday, 5 November 2012

This is NOT a toy

There is a certain obsession with labeling various toys, tools, and household items with warnings. Be they pictures:
Or helpful hints about product usage:

Oh, thanks. I guess I won't shut the kid in a plastic box, or let the baby play with a plastic bag. Thanks for that help there.

My favourite label, though, hands down is:

And that's helpful enough when the item in question is not, actually, a toy. Like in the case of a plastic bag, for example.

But what about when it IS a toy?

But also, you know, NOT a toy...

Written, in bold, on the side of the box is "NOT A TOY." Thanks for clearing that up, Archie McPhee, but what is it then? A tool? 

And this:
This is a pool noodle that I bought at Costco. Very fun for use in the lake or swimming pool! BUT:

It is not a toy (certainly not!) and it's not a life saving device. It's a true mystery.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Special skills:

1. Finding the silver lining
2. Licking my elbow
3. Getting lost in an area I'm very familiar with
4. Scheduling
5. Organising things into labeled plastic storage bins
6. Twirling
7. Jumping in rain puddles
8. Going on adventures
9. Writing lists

Motivational tools:

1. Write it on the calendar
2. Make a list
3. Reward after work is completed
4. Put it on a list
5. Make sure the list has a space for check boxes
6. Embrace the list

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The iTampon, Take II

Remember that time I told you about my new iPad, and my on-going (not-so-funny) joke about the iTampon?  I was so looking forward to getting my fancy little stylus pen-- to avoid fingerprints on the screen, but mostly so that I could refer to it as the "iTampon."

It arrived in the mail a while ago, and it is everything I dreamed it would be:

I have been calling it the iTampon ever since. Even more gloriously, the children all refer to it as such as well. "Could you hand me the iTampon, Blythe?"
"Hmm, I'm trying to do this thing... wait, where's the iTampon?"

And so on.

Yep, I'd call this a success.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Questionable Product Names

I just... I dunno. I feel like maybe this product name isn't saying what they think it's saying.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thoughts on a Saturday Night

1. If you allow lots of time for parking, knowing how bad it can be, you will find a spot immediately. Consequently, you will be very early.
2. If you are very early, the people you are meeting will be stuck in terrible traffic, possibly on the wrong side of a drawbridge.
3. How does bowling work if people are also drinking? I look forward to finding out.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Are the Things I Am Doing contributing to the Person I Want To Be?

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Appropriation vs Inspiration

I have been thinking about something a fair amount lately, I wanted to share my thoughts with you. I'd be curious to hear what your opinions are, but no pressure. I need to share two little snippets of information with you in order for us to to get to The Actual Point, hokay? So bear with me.

Snippet the First:

About a year ago, a lot of controversy surrounded a line of Urban Outfitters merchandise that was based on Navajo designs/patterns/ideas.* Many people were upset by this blatant appropriation of Native American culture, and horrified by the cheap representation of meaningful symbols and designs on underwear, flasks, and t-shirts. It certainly didn't help that the CEO of Urban Outfitters is none other than a very rich, very White man. There is something very icky about someone who is so traditionally privileged benefiting from the appropriation and sale of Navajo-influenced pieces.

Snippet the Second:

At a recent visit to the Chihuly Glass Museum at the Seattle Center, I was reading a sign about some of Chihuly's earlier influences. It was very interesting to see from where he drew inspiration, and to note the designs that existed in nature and were replicated in his work. He has an absolutely stunning glass sculpture of sea life, for example, and another one of a whimsical garden. They are breath-taking. Before visitors reached this stage of the museum, though, we had the opportunity to view some of his work that had been inspired by patterns and designs he saw in Native American basket and blanket weaving. Unsurprisingly, the results were stunning in glass as well as in the wall of woolen blankets on display. The glass didn't exactly replicate the colours, designs, and patterns, nor did his pieces exactly mimic the shape of the baskets, but the influence was clear. He had been inspired by their art.

In the case for of the first example, hearing about and seeing the appropriation of Native American (specifically Navajo) art made me feel sick and sad. Since we ("we" the Europeans) first set foot on this continent, we have systematically destroyed Native American life and culture. We should be ashamed. We should be making amends. I include myself in this though I did not, of course, have anything to do with the earliest genocide of the Native Americans. A huge proportion of this country is White, living on land stolen from the people who were here first, who had (and have) a connection to this land that most of us will never understand. Doesn't it just seem to add insult to injury to start displaying their stolen culture on our review mirrors and thin cotton t-shirts (never mind on our underwear and flasks, for godssake)?

On the OTHER hand (and this is the one I can perhaps see as an argument, but don't actually agree with): Isn't fashion, to a degree, "art"? Now, I'm not saying that Urban Outfitters in particular is especially artsy or original, but just go with this idea with me. Clothing and household chotchkies are inexpensive, ubiquitous types of art. Not museum quality, no, but art nevertheless. Everyday art. And doesn't art always derive some of its influence and inspiration from the world around us? Of course Native American art is beautiful. I have never heard any debate over that. Isn't it understandable that designers (of clothing or anything else) might want to incorporate those designs?

And, after all, it is somehow acceptable (to me, at least), that Chihuly would use this inspiration in his art. Though I wouldn't go so far as to say that his use of the art is a "tribute" to Native American culture, I would at least certainly say that it respectful and not offensive.

So why do I see these as so different? Surely I'm not the only one, as there has been tremendous backlash over the Urban Outfitters merchandise, but not (as far as I know) over the Chihuly glass.

After all, they are both types of "art," are they not? More and less highbrow and meaningful for sure, but still art.

After all, they both profit financially from the creation and sale of these pieces.

After all, they are both produced by well-to-do White men.

And yet, one makes me super prickly, and the other does not have the same effect. Chihuly's art makes me think, but it doesn't raise my hackles in the same way.

While I recognise that other people have very different reactions to each of this situations, I can really only examine my own... at least, right now. I hope you'll chime in with your own gut-reactions or measured opinions.

*Urban Outfitters is far from the first, and certainly not the last, to be ridiculed for their appropriation of Native American culture. I don't think they are any better or worse than anyone else out there who has done this same thing, but they were the example I had on hand.

**ETA: I was at Jo-Ann Fabrics on Friday, and came across these fabric patterns (in micro-suede type fabric), wedged in between a whole bunch of different animal prints. Yep, you could get leopard skin, zebra stripe, cow pattern, and dalmatian (which... what? are we channeling Cruella deVille?)... or you could get "nebulously Native American." I'm letting this one speak for itself, in part because I am getting tired of throwing my hands in the air and stomping around, and in part because I'm very curious to see what others may say about it. (And sorry for the poor picture quality. My phone camera is not as awesome as I'd like!)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

New Experiences

With the mere click of a button, it is possible to go from Not Being in Debt at All (yes, I know, shut up already), to being in Significant Debt.

Oh, financial aid.

Oh, loans.

Oh..... education.

Monday, 24 September 2012


Have I mentioned recently that I avoid going to doctors and virtually all costs? Like, if my right arm were to fall off, I would probably seriously consider whether this was something I could fix myself. I would genuinely entertain the possibility that it might be self-healing. (I would, in this example, indeed go to a hospital. But I would do it under great duress.)

Anything less than a severed limb or cardiac arrest? I'm SO not going. I'll throw some ice on it, or take some IBprofen, or drink some herbal tea with honey. I remain convinced that nearly everything can be cured with herbal tea and honey. Nothing you can say, and no study you can point to, will convince me otherwise.

So I have band aids and honey... why would I ever need to go to a doctor?

Preventative health care, kids. They say it's important, and they aren't kidding. I went to the doctor the other to get a vaccination (I do accept that tea and honey will not ward off chicken pox), but before they would give me the vaccination they insisted on a Full Physical. Because, to be fair, I had not had one in over two years. BUT! STILL! So after I've been poked and prodded within an inch of my life, they gave me two vaccinations. In my left arm, I got the Tdap vaccine. In my right, I got the flu shot. Ok, ok, this is all worthwhile.

Then they brought out another needle, with the intention of retrieving enough blood from me to run a general blood panel, and find out if I'm immune to chicken pox already. I presented the inside of my right elbow, and after considerable astonishment at the size of my veins (smaller than the naked eye can see! almost), sufficient blood was retrieved.

Several days later, they called to tell me that my blood test revealed that I have an immunity to chicken pox already, left over from the vaccine I had at age 7.

Well, good.

Except that now I feel like I was tricked into going to the doctor.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Eggs, Pioneers, and Lunch

I just poached two eggs that I collected from the chicken coop this morning.

Yes, you MAY call me Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

How to Determine Your Budget

I will absolutely, definitely not spend more than $150 on tickets to the concert. That would be crazy.

Unless, you know, the tickets are $200. But no more than that. Certainly.

Unless, well, what if they were $250? It should be a really cool concert. I really want to see her perform. And think of what fun we would all have, coming up with costumes and dressing up outrageously.

Ok, definitely no more than $250.

Unless... unless they are $300.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


I keep memories like some people keep teacups, or shoes, or cats. They gather, in various forms, in all of the corners of my life. I have photographs stuck into the space between my mirror and its frame, or wedged into a picture holder. I keep them in closets, in frames, stuck between the pages of a book. I treat them with a certain off-hand reverence. Though I feel no need to look at them regularly, or even organise them, I can't imagine ever getting rid of one. (The advent of digital photography was fabulous for me. I take thousands of photos, and scrapbook my life in explosions of sticker letters and cut out paper.) I keep posters from plays in which I acted, programmes of performances I saw, ticket stubs, meaningful papers of every kind. I even have the receipt from the first legal alcohol I bought (bottle of rose, in London). They collect dust, these memories, just as I collect them. On one wall of my bedroom is a map of the world, surrounded entirely by postcards-- those I have bought myself, and those others have sent me. We have a dance, these postcards and I; I stick them up, they fall down. We repeat the process.

We're not talking about anything outrageous, exactly. I don't have mountains of flimsy paper memories, waiting to crush me with not only the the weight of their Extreme Emotional Importance, but also their physical mass. I'm not The Crazy Memory Lady, not yet. I just... like to remember.

It wasn't until fairly recently that I realised why I do this. Other people are capable of having experiences without needing to document every moment or save every memento. Other people pull out their cameras rarely, never save ticket stubs, return their programmes to be recycled. I don't. I could. But I don't.

In the past 25 years of my life, I have resided in 8 different cities. I've lived in 12 houses and apartments and 4 dorm rooms. I've gone to two preschools, two elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and one divine college. I'll start graduate school in just a few days. This life thing... it goes by fast, guys. The places that are so important, the people who make your world, they aren't there forever. Well, that sounds morbid. I don't mean they all up and DIE (though, of course, we all do eventually. HA now it's definitely morbid), just that we don't spend all of our lives surrounded by the people by whom we would love to be surrounded. That's not tragedy, that's opportunity, and adventure, and growth... but it still means there is room for Memories.

I treasure my memories of my growing up years, and I don't need photographs (or postcards, ticket stubs, and receipts) to remember a lot of it. But some recollections come back even stronger when paired with a visual. I know this. Sometimes I look around at my life, the one I'm living right now, and think, "I'll miss this someday." It's not sad, it just makes the moment sweeter. Nothing lasts forever. That's good; it means we have to learn to appreciate everything.

Nothing lasts forever... except, I hope, my memories.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

I'm keeping track this year

Total number of school days so far: 6
Total number of forgotten homework assignments (completed, but left at home): 3
Total number of trips I have made to the middle school to deliver these: 2*

*One assignment was left at home, but was remembered before we got all the way to school. Mad dash back to the house!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The iTampon, etc

Do you remember that time, a few years ago, that the invention of the iPad was announced? Some people thought it was going to be the Greatest Thing Ever in terms of convenience and fun, and others thought it was not only a Silly Waste of Money, but also had a Stupid Name. Some of those people made jokes about the iTampon being the next product produced.

Guess which group I fell into.

I thought that iPad was basically just a big iTouch (which, you know... it is), and was trying for the convenience and usability of a computer (which, again...) but not actually achieving it. I wondered why anyone would spend money on something that was somehow both an iTouch and a computer, and yet wasn't particularly good at being either. I made a few more jokes about iTampons. (I know, I know. Humour of a 12 year old.)

But then, guys, I played with one. And then I actually Used One for a Variety of Purposes.

And I thought, "Okay, so these are pretty fun. And certainly easier to use than an iTouch. But it still seems like an awful lot of money for a toy."

And then


I tried one with a bluetooth keyboard. And. I. Was. Hooked.

When you combine an iPad with a keyboard, it suddenly goes from Kind-of-Silly-And-Pointless to Powerful-Tool-Of-The-Future. At least, that's what happened to my perspective.

So, you know. I bought one. To use for grad school, because I actually think it will be super awesome and helpful. E-books! Typing ANYWHERE! Don't have to lug around my laptop! WOOHOO!

But just in case you were wondering if I'm any less juvenile, I'm not. I will be referring to the little stylus pen I ordered as the "iTampon."

Saturday, 4 August 2012

sad ice cream

"Take a picture of that ice cream, Blythe."
"Why, Mom?"
"I think there is a life lesson in there somewhere."

"I don't think I like that life lesson."

Friday, 20 July 2012

R, R, C, and P (Rest, Relaxation, Cats, and Popcorn)

Home alone on a Friday night.

With the cats.

About to eat popcorn for dinner.

I am some women's worst fear.

But I couldn't be happier with this particular arrangement right now. There's a time and a place for everything.

And now
Is the time
And the place



Wednesday, 18 July 2012


I'm doing a downright crap job of keeping this blog updated this summer. It's just that all of these pesky Other Things keep getting in the way.

Necessary things, like eating breakfast, like folding laundry, like rock climbing, like going to the lake to swim, like one-on-one time with the kids, like grocery shopping, like being a tour guide for my friend who is staying with us this summer, like takig Pom Pom to dance camp, like getting Clover to practice the violin, like Neptune practicing 2 or 3 digit multiplication, like watching Law and Order SVU, like writing up my papers for my portfolio for application to the grad programme I want (what challenges will teachers face? what are the strengths I bring to the teaching profession?), like, like, like...

And so the poor little blog, which is so often at the very bottom of my priority list, finds itself there once again.

Stay tuned, though. If you're super lucky, I'll post a picture of a salamander I met a few weeks ago. It was adorable.

Monday, 9 July 2012

And I made it so clear...

Me: What's that song? You know, the one with the ukelele? Once it was on the recently added playlist... Once, you know, not long ago. And I like it. And so do you. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Panda: Do you know what it's about? Who it's by?

Me: No...

Panda: Do you know kind of how it goes?

Me: No.

Panda: So basically, you know it has a ukelele in it, and that it was ONCE on our recently added playlist.

PomPom: Everything we have was ONCE on our recently added playlist.

Me: So you're telling me you can't help me out here?

Panda and PomPom: No.

The song, by the way, was Somebody That I Used to Know, by Gotye

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

"Lazy" Days of Summer, continued.

In case you've been wondering what we have been up to...

We've been making bugs out of plaster of paris

We've been eating vegetable dumplings

We've built a giant fort

We've made Gak

We made (and ate a ton of) inari

We made a HUGE mess with shaving cream

We silk screened team shirts

We ate lunch out of unexpected containers

You know, among other things. I love summer!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The 6 Best Things About Being an Adult

One of the most memorable conversations I've had with my mother was not about anything particularly meaningful... unless you consider cookies to be meaningful, which I do. I was about six at the time, and was commenting on the freedom of adults to eat cookies whenever they felt like it. "I think that must be one of the best things about being a grown up, to eat cookies whenever you want." I expected some kind of wishy washy reply about Health and Vegetables, but that's not what a I got. Mom considered this for a second. "Yeah," she said, "It's pretty great." 

So, with that introduction, I bring you-- the 6 Best Things About Being an Adult*

1. Cookies whenever you want: That is to say, your decisions are, to a great degree, your own to make. Now, with the big decisions, there are a lot of factors to consider-- namely, how your decision will impact other people, and your future. The little decisions, though? That's a free-for-all, and I love it. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner, just because I can. 

2. Freedom of movement: In my case, I drive-- but taking public transportation would be every bit as satisfying. I love that, when I want to go somewhere (and am not limited by my schedule/committments to other people), I can do so. Need more cereal? To the grocery store! Want to hang out with friends? Off to Portland! On a similar note, I also have travel plans for Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year's-- that I made myself, paid for with my money (or, ahem, a flight voucher from Delta), and will undertake Because I Want To. I actually think this also falls in the Cookie category.

3. Being in a position to be a role model: I love that I have the opportunity to teach kids by example, even if it is a fair amount of pressure. A health teacher I had in high school shared the quote "Everything we do teaches a child something," and I have loved it ever since. What responsibility, but what an opportunity. 

4. Hearing the truth: I understand the impulse to sugar-coat information for children, but I despise it. Even as a kid, I knew if I wasn't getting the whole story, but I never knew what the whole story WAS. Therefore, I would make up my own worst-case scenerio, which is invariably much, much worse than whatever was actually happening. I'm very thankful that people don't seem to feel the need to do that for me anymore.

5. Having lived through "it will all be ok": Now, I know that's not always true, but it often is. Sometimes things suck, but often (not always, but often) they do work out ok. That's always hardest to believe if you haven't lived through it, but having had a couple of very worrying experiences that have turned out to be ok (after more or less anxiety or painful effort) is very reassuring. 

6. Having all of the friends that I've made throughout my life this far (I know, I know, "awww...."). Seriously, though, I have lived quite a few places, known quite a few people, and my close friends now are, I feel, the very best. I know there are more friends out there to be made, and I look forward to meeting them, but I'm also pretty sure that the friends I have now can't really be improved upon. Added to, sure, but improved upon? No way. In a similar vein, I love having friendships with people who span a much larger age range than they used to. Remember when a 2 year age difference between friends was huge? Remember when a 4 year age difference was insurmountable? Yeah, me too. And I like it better this way. 

*Inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop

Monday, 25 June 2012

Lazy Days of Summer, you say?

Oh, guys.

You probably thought I'd been Kidnapped By Zombies, or maybe Hidden Away in a Hot Air Balloon, or maybe Sunk to the Bottom of the Sea. (You didn't really think that, about the hot air balloon, did you? I'm terrified of heights.)

But NO.

That's not it AT ALL.

It's just SUMMER, guys! You know those lazy days of summer? Yeah, me neither. It's over-rated anyway, I'm sure. Here's what we've been up to for the past weekorso.

I currently have all four of my kids (Panda and Clover just finished 6th grade, Pom Pom finished 4th, and Neptune finished 3rd. PAR-TAY!), and thus, chaos reigns supreme. They get along really well, which I'm thrilled about, and we have been having Many Grand Adventures.

Side bar: You know all of the capital letters I've been using in this post? I know there are a ton, and I'm sorry, I'm sure that is annoying, but it's Really Important, because I've had a Capital Letter kind of week-and-a-bit, k? Please bear with me. 

So anyway. School let out on Friday the 15th at 10:40 (middle school) and 11:00 (elementary). I gathered together all My kids, and a bunch of their friends, on a field at a local park for Bubblepalooza. Basically this was a celebration of All of the Types of Bubbles We Could Think Of (regular bubbles, pop up bubbles, DIY bubble wands, bubble foam snakes, bubble wrap, bubble gum, carbonated drinks... you get the idea). It looked like this:

Because, logically, the only way to Do This Right is to put each individual bubble-thing into a plastic bucket ($1.50 at Michael's!) and tie a helium balloon onto it, labelled with the contents of the bucket. I mean, obviously.

Most of my pictures are of the kids (unsurprisingly), but here's a fun one where you can't see identifying features. They made bubble wrap shoes, which the middle schoolers are planning to wear on the first day of school (pleasegodletthemforget).

So that was Bubblepalooza. Fun was had by all, and I highly recommend it, if you're looking for an activity. It's splendid.

The following week (last week, in case you're keeping track) was an endless smorgesboard of glorious activities. We bounced and played dodgeball at SkyHigh (indoor trampoline center, in case you're unfortunate enough to live somewhere without one), went on a beautiful hike up Little Si (and everyone was cheerful! and cooperative! and sang as we walked!), came up with a team name (the Bubble Mafia, or BuMa for short. I'm the BuMama, in case you were wondering), wrote a team song (sung to the tune of All Star-- stay tuned for lyrics), made a huge chalk mural, played at multiple parks, ate lots of ice cream, celebrated Panda's birthday (12! woo!), got dressed up Extremely Formally and went to get non-fancy teriyaki for lunch and and and and...

You get the idea.

Last week was terrific, and we're off to a brilliant start this week.

We ate lunch of out of unexpected dishes (I had pasta out of a crock pot, for example, eaten with an ice cream scoop), made plaster of paris bugs, went to a really cool playground in Seattle, and went bowling.

Phew! I hope summer is off to a wonderful start for all of you as well! 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Just. Trying. To. Breathe.

Last week of school.
Cookies? COOKIES.
Thanks, teachers.
Here are 131 chocolate chip cookies
And 83 snickerdoodles
Also, we ate some
They were delicious.
So thanks, for education
And an excuse to eat some cookies.

And because it made sense (sort of, never)
The last day of school was 2 hours long.
Which, between the elementary kids and the middle school ones means...
one. hour. without the kids, in order to
set up

Bubblepalooza, guys,

It sounded like a good idea in theory.
It was a GREAT idea in practice.

But oh my, what a project it was.

Stay tuned for more, on the Last Week Of School
And more importantly
The first hours

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Ghosts of Summers Past

Clover and Neptune are getting so Old. They turned 12 and 9 in February, and Clover is now in middle school. Yikes! The growing up process is Right and Natural and Good, but it is still also a little bit sad. I'm so excited to see the new things they can do, the new ideas they have, the ways they are developing to express themselves, their interests and goals. It is really, really fun. It has always been fun, though, and it's great to remember the different types of joy that we experienced through the years.

Little things can bring back a lot of memories, for all of us. Recently, we put on some of our favourite music from 5 or 6 years ago. At the time we were listening to Tom Chapin and Tom Paxton instead of Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, and Nicki Minaj. Those were lovely years, and while I may have gotten tired of "The Buddy Song" (actually called "Hi, Hi, I Love Ya") or "The I'm Sorry Song" ("Mikey Won't") played on repeat, they were most excellent days.

We hadn't listened to Tom Chapin for a very long time, but a week or so ago, we were having One Of Those Days. The kids were out of sorts, and my patience was not quite as infinite as I strive for. We were grouchily driving to tutoring, having entirely given up on conversation. The the car was unpleasantly silent.

I reached over and tapped my iPod a couple of times, and the cheerful, colorful music of a children's folk singer sparkled around us. Slowly, the mood in the car lifted. I sang along, and glanced in the rearview mirror to see the kids doing the same.

Tom Chapin, you have saved the day!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Choose Your Identity

When I go to write a comment on someone's post, blogger gives me the option to "choose [my] identity." I can go with Blythe, which I always do, or enter just about anything else I could possibly choose. What freedom!

It made me think about the choosing-my-identity process I experienced all through adolescence. Now, I know some things are pretty hard-wired (I am a delicate blossom when it comes to emotions, and there's no pretending I'm not. I'll cry at anything.), but other characteristics of mine are deliberate choices. I choose to find humour and joy in the tiniest of things, to blow bubbles, to jump in puddles, to laugh easily. I choose to guard memories fiercely, by taking thousands of photographs, by organising them and displaying them, by keeping notes, cards, programmes, posters. I choose to abstain from meat, which sometimes involves people "jokingly" arguing with me (seriously, guys, have you ever actually convinced a vegetarian to eat meat?), and often involves respectful differences of opinion (and, when in France, involves a LOT of fries and salad and "croque monsieur sans jambon").

I could go on forever, but the characteristics that make up who I am, but chances are you can figure a lot of these out for yourself. Some of them are unavoidable (please see: delicate blossom), but a lot were the product of a lot of experimentation. Oh, adolescence.

It's a bitch, isn't it? Your friends are becoming who THEY are, you are becoming who YOU are, and sometimes it's hard to figure out what they want, versus what you want, versus what you THINK you should want. I tried all sorts of things-- maybe I could be The Hippie One, and I wore long skirts, and went barefoot much of the time. Or maybe I could be The American One. After all, I was one of very few Americans at my school in Taiwan. I wore flag-themed t-shirts, and came to the defense of the US as best I could, at each moment. That was pretty short-lived. Our politics at the time were hard to defend, and the behaviour of our tourists is sometimes pretty outrageous. Maybe I was The Domestic One? I embraced baking (which I have always enjoyed), and made a point to remember Useful Household Tips. (Thinking back on this phase has been particularly handy at this point in my life.) I was never The Rebellious One, or The Risk Taker-- those didn't appeal to me, and still don't. Mostly I just rotated different aspects of my personality, and focused on each as the Main Thing.

It took me years before I realised that I could be ALL of these things, ALL of the time, or maybe NONE of these things, as I so chose. I wanted to be something definite, something easy, because continuing to figure yourself out is SUCH a process. It's one I have decided to embrace, though... largely because I don't have any other options. The more I explore, though, the more I enjoy the process of exploration.

That's one of the things that is particularly interesting about working with kids. I get to watch them choosing their identities, and finding what is hard-wired and what is optional. It's fun to see what they choose to emphasise at different times, and fascinating to watch what persists. It's a wild ride-- for them, and for me-- but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Why does no one consult me?

This is the question I've been asking myself on a daily basis recently. Actually, I've been asking myself (and anyone around) multiple times a day. After all, I have So Many Opinions, and I am more than happy to share them with you. Why does no one take advantage of this excellent service I am willing to provide?

Some things on which people should have consulted me, but did not:

Telling Princess Aurora that it was her 16th birthday, when the fairy godmothers knew perfectly well that this might draw the attention of Maleficent. Why wouldn't they just always celebrate her birthday two weeks after the fact? WHY DID NO ONE CONSULT ME?

Russian Roulette. Who on earth thought this would be a Good, Fun, Exciting idea? I could certainly have set people straight, if given half a chance.

The timing of school breaks. My brother's college (!!!) has winter vacation from about December 21st- January 22nd. Now, doesn't it make So Much More Sense for it to go from about December 15th- January 16th? That actually gives the students a chance to enjoy the pre-holiday season. It would be so convenient! Especially for those of us who want them home to help carry bags while Christmas shopping. Why does no one ask me about these things?

Friday, 1 June 2012


It occasionally becomes clear to me that children are savages, heathens, in need of civilisation. Sometimes the civilising process is a gentle one, with patient reminders and celebrations of accomplishments. That doesn't always work, though. The other day, I walked into the kids' bathroom, and realised that they have been wiping their hands and faces (their filthy, dirty, make-upped hands and faces) on the white shower curtain.
I was horrified. I reacted in the only way that seemed reasonable.

I'm not sure if this will have the effect I hope for, but at least it amused the children... and, more importantly, it amused me.

Monday, 28 May 2012

See No Evil

It is widely accepted that certain people in a child's life have the right to go against parents' express wishes, to a certain point. When they have the child in their custody, they are welcome to present cookies before dinner, buy toys or clothes the child doesn't need, and generally act in a deplorable (though harmless) manner. These people include grandparents, godparents/close family friends, and aunts/uncles.

Note that nannies do not make that list.

That's fine, of course. A nanny's job is to uphold the parents' wishes, not trample all over them. As a nanny, you don't work for a family with whom you do not agree on overall child-raising practices. So you never go against The Rules.

However, there is a beautiful grey area there. While I would never flout the family rules and expectations, I will happily involve the children in projects that fall in the "parents are fine KNOWING it happens, but don't want to SEE it" category. This can more easiy be summarised as "anything messy."

The other day, the children and I were playing with shaving cream-- squishing it, painting with it, dying it, you get the idea. It was a bit of a mess, friends, but a beautiful, fun, squooshy mess of joy. After everything was cleaned up and put away, K wandered into the kitchen. Spotting the [rinsed off, innocent-looking] shaving cream cans on the counter, he looked at me with apprehension.

"What are those for?"

"Don't worry," I quickly replied. "You already missed it."

Other things that fall in the "parents can know but do not want to see" category include:

Pollack-style painting

Hitting children in the face with pie pans filled with whipped cream
The dog thought this plan was pretty awesome

Papier mache
I cannot get this picture to upload the right direction. I have no idea why.

Enthusiastic cookie or cupcake frosting (which may or may not turn into frosting oneself) (This is not to be confused with demure cookie or cupcake frosting, which is an entirely different beast)

Equally enthusiastic baking

Body paint

Jumping, splashing, or rolling in puddles

Shaving cream shenanigans

Manners-free dinners (not pictured, because all photographs show the childrens' faces-- covered in food, but still visible. Also, they're kind of gross.)

Friday, 25 May 2012

A verbal tranche de vie

Overheard a few days ago...

Neptune (on a particularly chilly day): I wish we had a hot machine to make the world hot.
Clover: ...It's called global warming.

Neptune (referring to Dallas): If you go outside as a kid, sometime you are bound to get kidnapped. Or, if you're an adult, adultnapped.

Not only does that second quotation introduce a delightful word into the venacular, but also brings up some interesting questions about Dallas. While we were there, I assure you that there were people out and about. It's not as if folks just shut themselves inside for their whole lives. Where did this perception come from?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Job Description

Sometimes "nanny" seems like a convenient way to sum up a series of jobs.

Here's what I've got so far:

Chauffeur (in a car that is generally decorated generously with gel gems, of course)
Chicken Farmer
Creative Problem Solver (I solve creative problems as well as creatively solve problems.)
Dog Nurse
Errand Runner
Life Coach
Whimsy Provider
Windowsill gardener

It's often busy, usually hilarious, frequently exhausting, always fascinating, and worth every single second of it all.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

ApisMellifica, Then and Now

Ok, ok. I've been making lots of references to ApisMellifica recently-- let me actually introduce you to her. Here she is:
What? You thought I had been talking about an ADULT? Oh, wait, I guess you're right. Here's a more recent photo:
You'll have to excuse my confusion. I had not actually seen ApisMellifica (or, actually, had much contact with her) for about 12 years, and she was solidly 11 years old in my memory, up until about a week ago.

Have I mentioned how much I love Facebook? It was through this marvelous nugget of the technological age that we managed to connect again after many years. We had met when I moved to the small mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado when I was 11 years old, but I moved away again shortly after I turned 13. I was barely there for 18 months, but that is plenty of time to find truly good people-- and she was one of them. I was delighted to see what she was doing with her life! For a long time, we casually checked out each other's accounts, left short notes on the other's wall ("Wow, it's been forever!"), and clicked through the posted pictures. She also read(s) my blog, which meant that she knew a LOT more about me than I knew about her, which I thought was unfair. Convenient... but unfair.

Then she started considering the University of Washington as a potential graduate school.

So she decided to visit.

This almost caused my head to explode. She asked if I'd like to meet up for a beverage of some kind. I agreed, of course... but then I asked if she'd like to stay with me, instead of in a hotel. She agreed.

I was excited, and really looking forward to learning more about this girl I had liked so much as a kid.

Then, mere moments before we would connect in the SEA-TAC airport, I experienced a degree of hesitancy. I had been saying that "anyone who is nice in 6th grade must just be a Nice Person. Middle School is the worst." And I stand by that. And yet... I did not know this girl, not really, not anymore. WHAT was I THINKING?

And then we found each other by the baggage claim, and all of my worries vanished.

She's still nice, guys! We have so much in common, and had a grand old time while she was here. I spent the whole time trying to convince her to move to Seattle... and may have made some headway. But shh... don't jinx it.

I showed her Seattle, and we ate like kings, played like children, laughed often, and had serious conversations about things that matter to us. I am so proud of 11 year old Blythe for making a friend like Apis. I'm very disappointed in my 13-year-old self for not staying in touch, but can be nothing less than elated with whatever weird swirl in the universe brought us together again. Yeah, that falling out of touch thing? Not happening again.

Especially because I'm making her move here.

Then-- note the kickass sense of style I exhibit. (When I showed Clover my sixth grade school pictures, she smiled at it, then reassured me. "It's ok, you were a kid. You're... better now." HA! I'm not showing her this picture.)

And Now. Can you understand my shock when I first saw her in the airport? She's not 11, guys, and I'm not 12.