Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Winterly Update

My my my. My winter hibernation must have been a heavy one to allow an entire month to trudge by with nary a post. I'd apologize but it's only to myself. I do have a good excuse though.

Usually if you follow someone's blog and they don't post for a long time you start to wonder what's up.  Are they going through personal tragedy? A major life change or emergency? The answer for me is yes. And it goes by the name of:

 Winter. (ha ha, sorry for the disappointment)

Honestly, that's it. I've been getting through winter.  It started well, with high hopes, fire fed by desperation as its fuel.  I always get like that.  If you can't beat it, embrace it.  And I did, I tried. I spent a lot of days shouting "in the name of HYGGE!" over and over again, my new winterly mantra I clung to.  I spent hours cutting out the most ornate snowflakes I've ever seen because I practiced and practiced.  I played in the snow, broke all the bones in my body building the world's biggest snowman. Or at least that had ever graced our lawn. I went snowshoeing and mountain sledding.   I drank literal gallons of hot chocolate (though I would do that anyway).  You notice how I'm speaking of this time in the past tense? It's because for me, it's over.  I'm past it. (in case you'd like to know, "past" is looking like a complete non word to me right now. p-a-s-t? What nonsense)   As mentioned in my desperate tribute to the solstice, I gritted my teeth and loved winter so hard. Too hard, perhaps. Or too falsely. Or maybe winter is just too long. I think that's what it is. I didn't hate it this whole time, i swear. I would shovel snow with glee, put on my winter skin and walk as I watched the snow fall.  

But the love bred from hate felt a little too twisted, a little too unsustainable. A little too Stockholm Syndrome-y and while I could, for a time, convince myself my captor was actually my friend, in the end, the true colors of death shone through and the dementor, latent but sure, returned and I was slowly tapped of all cheerfulness on the subject.  This is how it always is.

January 31 was a day I really thought I would never see.  The week leading up to it was fantastically slow. I was shocked at the phenomenon taking place before me. But I did my best and that elusive February did eventually show its face.

The problem with that is that February is still February.  January's ugly, less charming sidekick. I felt myself starting to succumb. I lost the fervor, replaced by fatigue and a general state of just being really bored. Another factor might be what I call Suburban Suffocation. Have i mentioned this? Sean and I share in this feeling and it comes and goes. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, i think a flare-up coincided with winter and the result is my feeling extremely restless. Excitement-starved. An intense need for a shake-up. I told a friend the other day I'm this close to starting a fight club. But Valentine's Day saw us through, as it always does, and we have an upcoming what has been officially and SCIENTIFICALLY [by me] declared an "End of Winter Trip" planned so, let us rejoice.

To conclude, a bulleted list of everything I have done since I last posted. Everything.


  • As I said, made a million paper snowflakes. They were going to be strung up somewhere like a winter garland but I never got around to it. I think just cutting them was enough for me. Totally relaxing and a solid tribute to the Hygge.
  • Wore thick socks and sweaters and watched a heck-ton of TV.   So good.  This includes Poldark season II, Sherlock season whatever, Victoria, all other british series (seri?)  and more. Aren't we so grateful for TV? I feel like I could tack on "and watched TV" at the end of every bulleted item in this list.
  • Downloaded an app on my phone called Marco Polo. Apparently it's like Snapchat but since I don't snap, I can't be sure. Basically it's a simple app to send videos to your friends as text messages. There's not much to it.  But one of the best things to come out of this winter was when I casually made a group video chat called "Bachelor" where I added two local friends and one faraway friend who have since all become close through our detailed back-and-forth analyses of the finest show winter has to offer.  It's honestly been so much fun and it is a great way to feel more connected with people. You almost feel like you're having real conversations and does much to rejuvenate the soul. So if you want rambley videos of me at odd times, hit me up.
  • Visited friends, tried to get out with friends. Giving in to the Hygge (pronounced hue-guh, though I thought this video was extremely helpful and entertaining.) by definition means staying in more and embracing the solitude, but everyone needs to get out sometimes.   I did this by: going to dinner, chatting, snowshoeing, and playing high competition-level games.
  • Played a couple rounds of tennis with strangers
  • Read books, talked about books.
  • And very often, did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Another attribute of Hygge--embracing the do-nothing'ness.  And it felt fine. I was in hibernation so, in a literal sense, doing anything made me feel productive in my day.   And that's alright.
 As for blogging, I anticipate more frequency. My computer is located downstairs where it's frigid so that was a discouragement for me. But you'll be happy to hear I have commanded nature to bend at my will so it'll be warming up soon and that means I can blog more. Yay for everyone. 

What has kept you going this winter? Or to rephrase, what have you been doing to while away the time?  I am curious. Do you sit back and let winter be winter? Does it play an active role in your life? Is it a non-issue? Do you embrace it? Shun it? Endure it? Does life look the same for you whatever the season?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clue: A Story

Once upon a time I played what is for some strange reason one of my favorite games, Clue. I think it has to do with the pivotal game I played so many years ago.  I also like mystery and intrigue so I guess it's just a good fit. And, it seems like something ALWAYS happens when I play Clue. This story illustrates:

One restless night, I demanded that my friends come over to my house to play Clue. This was about three years ago. I insisted they come because i had just purchased this game and it's just not a two-person game. You can do it that way, as I've played several times with me and Sean with Julian on the team of whoever he thinks will win--a method he wishes he could suddenly alter whenever he feels he might risk being on the losing side.  But anyway, it's not the same.  So two friends came. Their names are Suvi and Suzie.  If you try you can combine the names, like Suvzie (and I always try).  These gals are winners because they're always up for fun and spontaneous silliness. They're always "game," if you will. 

The game was close. Or something. The tension grew. Ever one of the gals, Sean was there as well, so the four of us spread out like the detectives we were over that special anniversary edition of the game. All the rooms, all the weapons, all the suspects and hidden passageways. Who was it? With WHAT? WHERE???  As we collected our clues and made our deductions the race to solve the crime grew fierce.  Trying to get to a specific room without looking like you're really trying to get there is difficult. "oh, i guess I'll just go in here then and make a guess, why not?"  *shifty eyes*  But you start to sweat when you see others following and you're stressed but the thrill that you might be right goads you on. Come on, figure it out! THINK. What do you have left? Which one is it??

Come with me, if you will, into the murder mansion itself:


I can't remember all of the details. I believe I was fairly certain on the location (since we were all or close to all congregated there) and the murderer, but I knew EXACTLY which weapon was used as I had crossed off all but one. I then made my guess:

"OK. OK. I've got it! It was... IN the library... WITH the wrench... by PROFESSOR PLUM!"  (Must implement as much drama as possible when playing Clue)

Inexplicably, someone proved me wrong by showing me the wrench. What?! How can that be?? Stupefied, I explained that that could not be possible as I now had all of the weapons crossed off.  We were all so confused and made comments in the voices of nerd detectives, possibly with a British accent:

 I exclaimed, "What happened?  What's the third card?? Ok, I've got it. [someone sinister tone] The murder took place in the library... AND the billiard room!"  And Suzie chimed in, "...and he killed him by DRAGGING him, back...and forth...back...and forth...?" And we all laughed, giddy and nervous.  The tension at a breaking point, we had to open the orange envelope to solve this crime once and for all.

Turns out, we were correct. At the start of the game after shuffling each of the piles, I had accidentally included one person card and TWO room cards and, sure enough, it took place in those very rooms we surmised, a grisly death by merciless dragging to and from the library and billiard room.   Case closed. (Winner [and loser]: me.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Shoveling & Mean Jokes

The other day I spent the better part of a lost hour shoveling the snush outside.  Snush, as we all know, is snow that looks like snow, but is sooo wet it's all slush underneath that fine top layer. It's a trap of nature and utterly disgusting. I hate slush and snush. I should have known the higher temp would just melt away everything (which it ultimately did) but for some reason (meteorology) I thought the temps might drop and then we'd have a heck-ton of ice on our hands and if there's one thing you don't want on your hands, it's a heck-ton of ice.  As I'm sitting here, I can actually think of several things I don't want on my hands.  Moving on.

So I went out and back-breakingly shoveled the front steps and the sidewalk. We live on the corner so our designated sidewalk is vast.  I actually love to shovel snow because as a lazy exerciser, this is perfect for me. Plus I'm all out in the elements and start to feel alive and things.  Since it's a rule when you move to the suburbs, we bought a second car. The little black Honda (bless its little heart) is sitting in the garage this winter since we mostly use one car, the other one being a sturdier Pilot and can handle the harsh weather things.  It sits on the driveway. For the longest time we had both cars on the driveway because we couldn't understand why anyone would want to fill a garage, aka EXTRA SPACE with cars! When there's plenty of free parking right outside the garage door on the driveway! I still feel this way but got scared for the little car, that it might not make it if we left it out.

Anyway, the task was arduous. I sweated, I snotted. I hunched and worked at lifting from the knees, not the back. I tried other shoveling maneuvers since I don't really know the best way to shovel. For example, I started the "plow method" where you push the snow with the shovel and then sort of shove it to one side, never really picking it up. In fact, I just realized that's probably what a shovel is meant for.  A shovel = tool that shoves.  Anyway, it looks ridiculous and sometimes I try to slide on the icy snow while I do it and then get a shovel handle in the gut when the shovel catches on an uneven piece of sidewalk and I almost impale myself. It's a risky game.

By this time I'm hurting. So for the driveway, I shoveled one side pretty well, then shoveled the other side pretty well so that when we parked directly over the snow strip in the center, passenger and driver alike will get clean cement when exiting or entering the vehicle.   I finished up and went back inside. Sean would be home soon so I texted him and asked if he'd drive over (to mash down) a big snush puddle directly in front of the driveway which also would be a big fat time-waster as drivers would immediately splash a slush wall right back where it had been.   Oh well. This whole winter/ snow caretaking housework is all theoretical for us anyway. It's just another example of us at "playing suburbs," like when we "do yardwork."   As a game in the summer, I'd go out and "weed" for a bit. Everything is in quotes because it's not real, it will never be real.


Sean did that, parked the car,  and came inside.  We were in the middle of a pleasant conversation about something when I glanced out the window and was like, "WHA-- Why did you do that?? I specifically shoveled the driveway so there would be clean cement on both sides! Why would you DO that? That's just MEAN!"  Because what he had done was THIS:

asidufh;wiefalgkj


Now, if this incredibly mean joke had been intended t as such, that would have been solid. But totally mean. But he didn't even mean it to be a joke! His explanation? If he parked the car over to the side like that, there would be room for the little car in the garage to come out!  This makes 0% sense for the following reasons:

1) why would we, in these cold snowy winter months, EVER prefer to take out the tiny civic to snow-drive with and leave the big car home? Why. Why.  When. 

2) Sean works from home. He often goes many days without driving.  Me? I drive a bunch. I'm scraping the morning ice (happily, as it is a pittance compared to the old life). ME.  Him? Never.

3) If the little car IS needed, that means one of us has the big car--taken away, far away leaving the driveway wide and clear.

I was utterly baffled.  And for a while, just couldn't let it go. "I just.. why? Why would you.. I mean, you want me to tramp through the snow to get in the car??  And the whooooole driveway is open. Let's make me walk through snow?? Or what, enter through the passenger side?? WHY? WHAT? HOW? WHAT."   He laughed at my completely appropriate reaction and the grossness of his own foibles and with a bit of shame, vowed to go out and fix it.  But I honestly thought that would be the meanest joke to play on someone.  After all, it's the only scenario that setup would make ANY sense.

Funny times...

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

2016 Summation

I've decided to do the classic end-of-year bulleted list of key events for the 2016 year.  Now, there were big things like weddings and tragedies and trips and whatnot but I'm looking for the really important stuff.  The kinds of things that shapes a life.  Let's see what I come up with.

This year, I:

  • Finally made the transition from regular deodorant to not.  I mentioned this to a friend the other day and he said, "like... from using it regularly to not?"  HA HA.  No. I think I've reached an age where conventional deodorant doesn't really work anymore. My skin has built up a tolerance and i'm scared. Scared I've actually achieved a reconfiguration of my chemical make-up and I'm just not sure I want that. I also grow ever aware of the realities and commonality of cancer and I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that deodorant has chemicals (parabens?) and toxins that are linked to it.  SO.  I've switched.  Sean has been using Crystal for yeeears and swears by it. I finally tried it and I like it too.  I like it too! I also bought a fancy deodorant online that took like two weeks to arrive and it's nice too, when i want to smell like something. So, that's a pretty big deal.
  • Met a hair person (who does my hair) that I love and want to stick with. For my entire life I've jumped around getting my hair cut by this random person at that random place with this groupon or by a friend for free.  I met this new stylist at the Great Clips, of course, and she and I hit it off right away.  We always have the best time. Love chatting with her, love that she knows my hair and the evolution therein. I send her an SOS haircut text and she gets me right in. And she just gets me. And my follicles.  
  • Threw a backyard dance party with the help of a camp shelter, a disco light, and a top drawer dance playlist. Am thinking of making it an end-of-summer tradition. Dancing with children is my favorite and so cathartic. Highly recommend.
  • Downloaded Marco Polo on my phone.  I am app-resistant. Well no, social media app-resistant. I have what i like and I need nothing else. And then my friend who I trade 4-min. long voicemails back and forth with sent me an invite and now we can send videomails of ourselves back and forth.  It's simple and a lot like what's already out there but sort of specialized and separate and I like that.
  • Said goodbye to a bubble tea place I truly loved. There's not a day that I don't think about that avocado bubble tea. I happily drove the 30 minutes just for that. But now I can't because it just up and closed one day and I've never found a place with tea that compares and it is a true tragedy.
  • Read The Chosen, which little bit kind of in a big way changed my life.  I loved it so much. I feel like it's the best book I can think of to depict my own religion (which is not Judaism) to  and religiosity to non-believers. Or at least what I might aspire to. It was truly remarkable. 
  • Fell more deeply in love with someone very close to me-- our cat.  He is the softest, snuggliest, strangest, at times wildest little fur-buddy and I am so happy he is here with us.  Cats are the best. The very, very best.
  • Took a tennis class with a friend that gave me the breath of life.  I used to play daily when I was in college and everything was at my fingertips. I think Sean and I played one time in NY but there you had to reserve courts and probably pay a hefty sum of hush money or something and it was just too hard.  But here it is too easy and this class was AWESOME.  I loved being part of a class environment. I soaked in all of the helpful information my teacher gave us and even was the smart kid sometimes when he asked questions.  It was just a dream and I smiled like a nerd on crack the entire duration of each class. Just so happy to be there playing a sport I love. Nothing like it. I remember pausing one cool night on the college courts some 15-odd years ago, looking around me at the shadowy trees standing against the light of dusk. I was just so happy to be alive and playing, and I remember telling myself to soak it all in and remember that moment. And I always have. And the very same feeling finally returned. Bliss.
 I'm going to end here. Reviewing these major life events leaves me with a feeling of intense satisfaction at a year well done. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Creativity

I have to say, I love 25 Days of )en.   It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. It keeps the gears of my mind oiled, it gives me the sense of constant movement and progression, which I need in my life. I saw a friend the other day whom I haven't seen in a while and she asked if I got my hair cut. I told her, always.  One of the things I love about having short hair (it is dumb to be talking about my hair, I realize. But it's still a "thing," for women, you know?) is that feeling I get of constantly being in flux. I never know what I want my stylist to do when I get it cut because I never remember how exactly it was when I liked it because that phase lasted about three days. I should probably be taking more selfies (a philosophy that is certainly always true) and when I learn how to do my hair I have to stop and change the way I do it because it's different now. I like that. It's frustrating but I still like it. It forces me to re-think and adapt and again, gives me the sense of change and fluctuation, that life is moving forward and I am aboard that train.  And that's enough about my hair (in this post, anyway).  

That said, every year I am terrified to do 25 Days of )en.  Especially if I've been a little stagnant and haven't been posting often. I'm afraid I've lost my words, once and for all, and to force myself to find at least some of them for every day for almost a month is daunting to me. I'm scared I can't do it. But then I do.  In some type, in some form, of some caliber, anyway.  It just feels good to me that every 5th day or so I can choose to start digging and actually find something. On this subject, and the subject of creativity, I recently asked a question to a couple of my friends.  Here is the question, followed by their responses:

Would you mind thinking about creativity in terms of yourself? What it does for you, what type do you love best, how you exhibit it, etc?

My friend required a response to my own question first so I obliged by saying,

"I get an enormous amount of satisfaction when I put thoughts and ideas into physical form. Like the shaping and molding of clay (purely as metaphor as I cannot sculpt).  You know, the feeling of, where there was nothing, now there is something.  I LOVE that, and nothing makes me feel more fulfilled or productive in my day.  It can really be anything, but I often get this feeling from writing.  I feel like I dug into myself and unexpectedly found treasure.  Not that it's all diamonds, mind. But haven't you ever dug unwittingly and at least found like a cool rock? And you were like, that was there the whole time!"*

* it is weird to quote myself in my own blog. I once listened to a man giving a talk who said, "to quote myself..." and I was like {huge grin emoji}

My friend said, "any time I can create (put a piece of me into something) I feel enlightened! Whether it's teaching something--reading, writing, songs, etc, altering a recipe, designing a card. I think creativity is putting a piece of you in the world. And the world and you become one for just a split moment and together you sigh in the beauty you've created." 

I asked another friend this same question and she responded responded with,

"I feel like for me it's an outlet where I can put all my thoughts and ideas into something real. All the things in my head can be expressed.  Also it helps me to be me. Not just a "stay at home mom."  It's like my version of being a working mom.  I like when my creativity can be shown in something physical- like a quilt, a well thought-out gift basket, artwork, graphic art or some type of DIY project/craft. Anything visual!"

I attended a class where a portion of it was devoted to the creative process.  The woman lecturing asked the audience when they felt creative.  People gave some answers. She then asked, "what do you think about when you have nothing to think about?"  And I rubbed my hands together and said, now that's my kind of question! 

I think her point was to bring up the idea that there isn't enough in-between time for people and that maybe that's where true inspiration lies. That we don't give ourselves enough of a chance to let our minds wander.  I could not even list all the things I think about when I have nothing to think about.  But I loved thinking about this question. 

I recently listened to a podcast with John Irving, novels, who had spoken for some event and it was recorded in the Academy of Achievements (podcast is called What it Takes).  He talked about the writing process for himself and at one point he likened it to wrestling. Wrestling is a series of moves that you do over and over and over again until they become second nature. You maybe adjust your reaction time or whatever but in relation, writing to him is more revision and repetition, less inspiration.  You get better the more you do it. I like this and believe it to be true but I'm also a believer in the inspiration of a moment, sort of as experiment. I like sitting down and seeing what will happen, if anything. I definitely go back to things I've written (and again and again) but I love the thrill of what if I saw down here for a moment and something happened, new and interesting? It's rare, but what if?

Mr. Irving referred to himself not as an artist, but a craftsman, and that in writing his novels, he was building a house.  But what if it was a house with a particularly inspired foundation? Anyway, I'm rambling but my point is: to create is to live, to live is to create. I bet that's a famous quote from somewhere.  Thanks for reading, Internet pals, and Merry Christmas Eve.




Friday, December 23, 2016

Meat 'n Cookies

Cookies 'n Meat.  This could probably another term for Christmas.  Noel. Yule.  Cookies 'n Meat.  I'm just kiddin', I'm pretty tired and totally failed to post something for today.  Why? Because I was participating in Sisters Christmas Cookie Fest 2016 all the live long day.  We gathered and made THIS platter of cookies:

From left to right: 1) rugelach (apricot and black raspberry), 2)a coconut macaroon with chocolate ganache, 3)lemon-drizzle raspberry somethin' cookie, 4) Grandma's gumdrop oatmeal cookie, 5) lemon drop cookie with lemon rind, 6) pink macaron, 7) pecan butter cookie, 8) peanut butter truffle, and 9) a gingerdoodle.  Not pictured: almond butter pretzel truffle.


I made the oatmeal gumdrop, lemon drop, pecan butter, and almond butter pretzel thing. Stretched it out all week long. And Sean didn't help ONE BIT.  This isn't a complaint, it's a brag. A brag.  I know. I've grown so much. We made those lemon drop cookies a couple of weeks ago and Sean did the icing and lemon rind and of course it was so much prettier than mine. I snapped a pic:


Ahhh! They're so pretty. So tiny and lemony with perfectly curled peels. Beautiful.

Anyway, any cookie at this point makes me want to barf. Doesn't mean I won't eat it though.  All of them were delicious but I think Steph's rugelach are my favorite. I'm a sucker for jammy cookies.

Other important picture of late:

Julian being the Grinch. This mask and a green tee were the extent of his "Whobilation" costume party.
Slightly disturbing.

One of my favorite things to do is play games by the Christmas tree. This week it has been pure madness and we've had nary a night to spend together, so we finally made it happen last night. And speaking of the Grinchian, here he is last night trying his hardest to cry after he came in 3rd place in Chutes and Ladders.  Ha ha ha. Come on, Julian! You can do it!
I feel a little bad exploiting him like this. But he deserves it because that "cry" was really something else.

I went to a fancy dinner with some gal pals the other night. It was delish and so fun. Nothing I love better than to eat at a nice restaurant and then stay and talk forever. Long, drawn-out dinner. Yaaay. The charcuterie came with some thinly slice meat, a pot of honey, some mustard, crusty bread, some cheese and small pot of olives. Since the others hated olives I took them all for myself and they were varied and delicious.  They had provided a small bowl for the pits which I took advantage of. It wasn't until after some time that I realized how amazingly festive they can be! I mean, look at that rainbow! Weirdly, friends were not impressed. But look!

Ha ha. You're welcome for that. The one time a food pic would be acceptable.

On Thursday I stepped outside of my house and was smacked in the face with the sky on fire. I actually saw its reflection on the mountains out a window facing east and said to myself, "something strange is afoot..."   Lo and behold:



Whaaaaat. No filter on that, friends.  So shockingly beautiful. A bunch of moms were parked outside my house and as they pulled up I wildly gesticulated the majesty of the sky to them. I hope some of them caught a glimpse.

Lastly, tonight a delivery truck stopped by my parents' house where they unloaded the cut up and packaged carcass of 3 pigs, a cow, and some additional beef. It was an INSANE amount of meat. INSANE! It's like it rained beef and pork and my parents sorted it into boxes and packages for their kids as they do every year. This is an overwhelming gift and watching them sort was quite a sight. Also, my mom is the best:

Meat, meat, mo' meat.

Merry meat and cookies!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Truth and Lies

I walked through the halls of the elementary school looking at all the Christmas art and enjoyed myself.  The second grade corner had done a little beaded ornament cut-out with the line printed reading, "What I love about Christmas is..." and then the kids wrote down their answers.

As I observed I wondered if these were TRUE answers, answers they really believed, or answers they had been taught by others, or what.  A few here and there said "the presents!" which I believe to be the truest answer, but there were several that said things like, "being with my family."  "The love that we share!"  "GIVING!"  "sharing presents!"  "Being with those I love."  "All the together time."  Those are sweet answers and maybe I'm not giving these 7-8 year olds enough credit but I had some doubts about them.  But then, for some reason, this next one filled me with the most doubt of ALL:



Candy canes? Really? That's what you love most about Christmas? The worst, most over-abundant Christmas candy? Candy canes are fun for like the first twenty minutes of Christmas.  And then it's like, get out of my sight you filthy animal.  Remember how I'm a scrooge with neighbor gifts? Here's what we've received so far:

A pan of homemade orange rolls--WHAT. They were amazing.
A giant cone of caramel corn (say that ten times fast. This, too, was delish)
A children's Christmas book (A+) 
 A flipping THREE-LITER of Sprite. We'll see how long this sits on our counter.
A festive-looking bag of giant gumballs(?) 
And a case of candy canes. CANDY CANES.
 And this was like three days ago, a mere week before the day itself.  Obviously these people are just getting rid of their junk in their house.  I mean, a single candy cane would have been awful. I guess I'd accept it if it was dressed like a reindeer.  But a whole box?! What kind of friend are you??  It makes me give serious side eye to some people sometimes. I mean really, just what are you playing at. 

All mean jokes aside, it's super nice of friends to give us anything at all, especially because of who I am deep inside. If you're reading this, friend, I thank you. And also understand if you hate me now and give us poison-laced candy canes next year for a neighbor gift (not that I'd ever eat it--HA) But you know, if I view it as a craft item, it could come in handy. Homemade ornaments and things like such as.  So that's a bit better.  It's a craft! For decoration! Not meant to be eaten. Thanks, neighbor-friend! Thanks! (if you can't tell, this is my attempt to cover my bum in case this friend reads this and not come off as 100% jerkface jen.)

But back to the pic above--so obviously something is going on with that kid.  The only way it would be acceptable is if his name was Buddy and he came from the North Pole, because as we know, it's an important part of the four main food groups of elves:

Candy
Candy canes
Candy corn
And syrup.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

To the Solstice!

Every year for most of my adult life I've bemoaned the wretch that is winter. I've done it so much that it became sort of a hobby, maybe even an obsession. But somehow something happened along the way. It still may be underway so I don't yet fully understand, but it's almost as if I took all that hate and boiled it down to a rotten core, condensed and tough and black all the way through. It became my old angry friend who always arrived at my door reliably uninvited. And I took it in and carried that stone in my pocket for a while. But after so long a time, there was nowhere else for it to go so I twisted it and commandeered it and like some kind of desperate alchemist I transformed it into some version of, dare I say, love. But a weird kind of love, a love bred from hate. Or at least tribulation and suffering. Maybe it's just an appreciation or some attempt at mutual understanding, if for no other reason that to feign acceptance and a last-ditch effort to deflect defeat.  YOU WILL NOT BEAT ME I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. That sort of thing.  But then I finally escaped the dementor's presence that is the eastcoast winter (lame) and winter became hardly a thing again. It's long and cold and snowy but it's not how it was. It's never how it was. The hate has crumbled a bit and blown away without me even noticing.  And I realize I'm left there with something that feels the most frightening of all-- indifference. 

So today I'm going to put my confusing feelings aside and propose a toast:

Raise your glass and join me now, 
woven armor on frozen brow.
I've suddenly burst into spontaneous poem,
for that confounding friend or foe
(which it is, only you can know)
who on this day December 21st,
for good or bad,
for best or worst,
I concede, (for weeks indeed,)
shall have a home.   

To the solstice!

p.s. I heard this song the other day and liked it a lot. I plan to play it on repeat starting January 1.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Art Tour: The Bathroom


Good morning. It's Tuesday here in the Utah. The sun is peeking out over the mountain and shining the first rays of the day and it's a baker's dozen degrees outside.   This morning I thought I'd talk to you about some very important matters: The art in my bathroom. 

I have art that is such that a friend recently used the bathroom, took a pic of something on our walls, because she had a lot of questions.  You're really excited now, aren't you.  Here it is:

First, the lady holding the tiny man:



This was a piece of art given to us by our landlord of our last Bklyn apartment. He was from a tiny island in the Caribbean. I can't exactly recall how this took place. I'm sure it wasn't as straightforward as a friendly neighbor making a friendly gesture. This landlord was extremely paranoid and suspicious of us up until the very end. He would sit by his window looking down to the front of the building and watch us come and go. He would speak to us as if we were planning to rob him every day. It was a lot of fun.  Also his English wasn't 100% so that added to the fun. I once tried to give him some garden vegetables as a friendly gesture of good will and he wouldn't accept them. I even had tiny Julian helping me hold them, helping me do a good thing, and he wouldn't take them. I was like, "really? you really won't take them?" and finally his sensible wife accepted them. I think he thought if he accepted them he was signing some unwritten agreement, trading away his soul for some veggies.  Which is understandable.  So how we came to this painting is a big question mark for me. I could ask Sean, but that would take away the mystery, which I like.

Next up is a foamy digestive system puzzle:


I bought this at some dollar store, I believe, being a fan of the functions of the human body and something I wanted to teach to the boy.  This was fun, we actually played with it a lot, except if you look closely, I'm pretty sure some of those parts are made up. Duodenum I think I remember learning. But pylorus? Cecum? Are those the most integral parts of the digestive system? If so, why haven't I ever heard of them before. And the structure is questionable as well. What's surrounding the pancreas? Is it just floating around in space?  And something is seriously wrong with my small intestine. What is that? What a mess.  This diagram looks like it was made by aliens who were kind of like, ??? *shoulder shrug*  Anyway, so Julian and I actually played with this until Sean seized it to frame and I was like, ok I guess we're done with that toy.  It is quite appropriate though and an art piece I like to ponder while hanging out in the bathroom.

And here we are to the relief moon:


This thing is weird. I LOVE the moon and everything about it and the stars and space. I cannot recall from whence this thing came but if you look closely you'll see it is a HIGHLY detailed relief map of the moon. I had no idea every square inch of it was named and mapped out.  How? By whom? When? What do we do with that information? It's so detailed. A little too detailed, if you ask me.

And lastly, that brings us to the beloved strawberry clock:


Sometimes if I sit real still in the house I can hear the second-hand ticks of at least three clocks because I must have one in every room. Sean and I found this in a dollar store in Southern Utah on one of our hikescapades and I was like, "look at that strawberry clock! Ohhh you know who would LOVE that clock? This person, and this person, and this person..."  and in the end I gave it to ME.  Because nothing says Christmas like keeping presents you might have given to someone else because deep down, you know you'll give it the most love.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Television Evening

Every year in the wintertime, television becomes extremely important to me. Following the course of nature, it's all part of the hibernation process for me.  The colder the temps outside, the more TV I feel I can watch and feel completely fine and even productive about it.  It's wonderful.  It becomes a project and I monitor my progress and gather with others to discuss, philosophize, examine, even argue from time to time.    We don't have cable so all current TV we watch comes from Hulu. Otherwise it's random BBC serieses (well that can't be right. Seri??)  on Amazon and whatever catches you from your nightly descent down the Netflix rabbit hole.  There are a lot of other TV apps on our apple TV we might visit but rarely.  

I have learned that I am the dominant TV-watcher in our home. As in, whatever I want to watch is what we watch. This makes me sound like a controlling goon and I don't mean to be. I also don't think I really am. I'm not like, "if you don't like it, too bad!" But also I wonder, because sometimes I'll catch Sean watching the WEIRDEST stuff and I am sincerely surprised like, really? That's what you choose to watch when I'm not around? Have I stifled this in you? Is this a part of your personality you feel you can't share?  I don't want to be this way but maybe I do a little bit because sometimes I just don't know.  Also maybe we have our social TV shows and then our private TV shows, shows I would feel lame to watch with Sean but save for when I'm on the treadmill. First, second, third-tier shows. I know you know what I'm talking about. I also have a theory that Sean even might not know what he likes and I have to save him from himself. I think he's happy to relinquish the controls.   But maybe he's still on some kind of journey of TV self-discovery. I mean, aren't we all? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

One night I was working on something in front of the TV and refused to accept any control because I didn't care and didn't want to choose-- sometimes being Dominant TV-Watcher can be such a burden-- so he took the controllers and this is what I later recorded on my phone:

Sean puts on a fashion show from some obscure network included in our Apple TV. We both watch in wonder as models parade a certain fashion line of some designer and it is legitimately entertaining, though unusual.

JEN: The shows you choose to watch are so... interesting to me. I love it.

SEAN: C'mon, I could watch that all day. I would rewind just to see those colors together again...
*pause*

...I don't even like Valentino that much. Ah, Chanel-- now we're talking.

JEN: *laughter.*

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snowman Candles

Every once in a deep blue moon, I look up a craft for us to do. It's tough because I have to find that tricky combination of "something that Julian can do and will keep his attention + easy enough for Jen + also something worth having around, maybe."   I found it with snowman candles. Using tea lights, pipe cleaners, markers, ribbons and pompoms and a lot of scalding hot glue, we made a bunch as neighbor gifts. And even stuck on magnets.  All three of us working together on a cold winter's night.  Yay.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Santa Fam

The other night we attended a Christmas party at a neighbor's home. Santa was there and it was a bit eerie because there weren't a lot of people and it was very quiet and subdued. I realized that having a Santa visitor really creeps me out and when they enthusiastically asked if we wanted a family pic with him, I was hesitant. But I responded with a trying-to-joke-about-my-evident-reluctance tone of "suuuure!" Even though I'm not sure it translated, as all other people were quite happy to participate. Julian showed his own feelings of unsurety but coupled with intrigue. He himself sat on Santa's knee and I was dying watching him, for some reason. Probably because he's probably too old for it and looked kind of weird. But I think also because I was watching him wrestle between wanting to believe but being not sure why he should. And it was just really funny to me.  

Later, when Santa was getting ready to leave, Julian asked me, quietly, excitedly, where Santa's sleigh was? Was he going to call the reindeer and they'd come out of hiding to pick him up? He wanted to trap him. Julian said he had actually gone out to call them to see if he could find them but couldn't remember all their names. I told him, "well I know them, you should have come and gotten me!" So, theorizing that if we pretended to be Santa they might come out, we both went outside and gave it a try. Holding our bellies in a low "ho ho ho!" voice, "Well, that sure was fun talking to all those boys and girls-- On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer! On Vixen!"  And we waited. And waited. And searched.  

We never did see the reindeer and Julian went back inside to personally question Santa who easily explained they waiting on a mountaintop, an explanation Julian accepted as he watched Santa drive away in a red pickup truck.  He also mentioned he was sure he would get some Legos because he has told Santa, the first time he's ever done so-- ask Santa personally for a specific present. It turned out to be a fun and funny night twinged with magic and I was glad, in the end, to concede to a picture with the jolly old elf and to even snuggle up a bit. Because do I believe or don't I?  Plus the pic was sooo good, and I laughed when I saw it, in spite of myself:



Friday, December 16, 2016

Favorite Things: Music

T'is the season to put all of my many Christmas Pandora stations into circulation.  I like the idea of being able to acquire and curate one's own playlist as can be done through other music vehicles but I like Pandora because:

1) I used it way back in the day and for some reason I feel like we humans (or maybe just, we old people)  like whatever was the first.

And 2) I like the randomness. 

I like a startling surprise and even a horrible repulsion (Pentatonix-- or any a'cappella group, no offense).  One such surprise took place a few days ago and I've since done a bit of exploring and am enjoying it even more.  My new favorite Christmas band:

Future of Forestry

The band consists of one member, Eric Owyoung who hires on collaborators according to album and tour.  According to the Wikipedia page, it is described as a  "melodic ambient rock alternative band," which sort of made me laugh as I mentally checked off, a la Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, "me, me, me again..."  

I've only listened to two songs thus far so I guess my conclusions are fresh and not completely cemented, but the one song that gave me the startling surprise was Still Still Still.  Beautiful.  Nothing better than a beautiful falsetto with an edge.  (Watch it here, or scroll down for it.) The second song I listened to was Silent Night. Just as beautiful. Both songs from the Christmas album Advent.  I want to join this band.

Apparently it's both Christian and secular-themed music. I've never dabbled much into Christian music outside of my own particular realm of worship. I've always considered it a bit too cheesy for me (no offense. Remember, everything is forgiven if you just keep saying no offense), an opinion I hold including music within my own faith.  But I really don't have much experience. And, obviously the exception is Christmas music, where anything good is allowed.  But I read an interview with Eric Owyoung who believes in God and had started a band with his wife, whom he divorced 10+ years ago. After that he started this new Forestry band, named after a C.S. Lewis poem which I will display in a moment because why not? We could all use a little more Clive Staples in our lives.

But back to the interview I read.  (link at bottom of the page) Mr. Owyoung seems a very God-driven person and allows his life to be guided spiritually.  He describes the feelings he had when he was divorced, how painful it was and how he struggled afterward.  He described marriage as 2 becoming 1 but divorce is like 1 becoming 2 halves, and for a long time he felt like half of a person. Many years ago I heard this same description from a woman who'd also been divorced. I remember thinking, as she shared her feelings, how we must all feel that way from time to time. Not entirely whole.  Eric Owyoung shared his experience after the divorce, of driving, just driving, to find some answers or a sense of who he was, that he might discover he was who he claimed he believed he was and had taught to others, which is loved by God. Able to be loved.  He said he drove up the coast and ended up in the Redwood Forest. Surrounded by such an enormous presence of nature and godliness-- trees that had been around since the time of Jesus, Eric touched them, and felt a spiritual connection and the presence of God befall him.  He felt watched, he felt known, he felt understood, and he felt loved.  

He has since remarried and leans on his wife for support and reassurance, and states that the process of healing continues even now and probably will ever more. Which is probably just a synonym for life and the living of it.  The constant stripping and the healing, stripping and the healing. Filling in the holes, being remade again and again until one day we will be complete.

So here's the poem. Let's read it and let's listen to the songs and maybe feel a little more whole today. 

Future of Forestry
C.S. Lewis

How will the legend of the age of trees
Feel, when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
The country’s heart; when contraceptive
Tarmac’s laid where farm has faded,
Tramline flows where slept a hamlet,
And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from
Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over?
Simplest tales will then bewilder
The questioning children, “What was a chestnut?
Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk,
Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.
What was Autumn? They never taught us.”
Then, told by teachers how once from mould
Came growing creatures of lower nature
Able to live and die, though neither
Beast nor man, and around them wreathing
Excellent clothing, breathing sunlight –
Half understanding, their ill-acquainted
Fancy will tint their wonder-paintings
Trees as men walking, wood-romances
Of goblins stalking in silky green,
Of milk-sheen froth upon the lace of hawthorn’s
Collar, pallor in the face of birchgirl.
So shall a homeless time, though dimly
Catch from afar (for soul is watchfull)
A sight of tree-delighted Eden.


Still Still Still
Future of Forestry



Read original interview here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cards! Cards! Cards!

Once upon a time, I decided to try to do some good in the world. So I looked online and saw that some faraway center for seniors was looking for someone to make personalized birthday cards for their home-bound residents. They explained these residents rarely see people and are quite lonely so things like this would cheer them. "Well that's for me!" I declared. And then they said they already had someone to do that but could I do some CHRISTMAS cards instead?? And you I said yoooou BET.

When I was a kid, I thought crafts were the lamest ever. I hated that at girls camp we'd spend our afternoon doing silly crafts of things I wouldn't ever normally want to have around, and that at the boys camp they were doing things like rock climbing and axe throwing. 

Eventually, though, and probably right around the time I quietly confessed to my sister that I was ready to see Pride & Prejudice, I learned that crafts are actually KEY at girls camp, as it facilitates conversation and bonding time. Plus sometimes you can find some decent ones. But doing things with one's hands is sometimes the best thing for all of us, especially in groups of people, oftentimes mixed company.

So I signed on to do 100 cards.  This was in like, September.  I gathered a bunch of supplies, not really knowing how it was going to all turn out.  And then I did nothing.  And then in October I invited a friend over and we sat and made cards for about three hours. During this time she churned out about 15 or 20 and I had about 5 under my belt. It was then that I realized this might be slow-going for me, as I wanted the cards to be GOOD, and thoughtful, though I am no card critic.  But I was totally content to spend all this time on one card. Was it done? I didn't know. Let's sit and look at it for a while. 

So I put it off some more, put it off, put it off, until about a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving where I was like, SEAN! SOS. AAAH. And we started making some more.  By this time I had a giant box full of all my crafting equipment--cards, paper, glue, glutter glue, pens, markers, stickers, etc.  And I would take this box to various people's homes and make them make cards with me. Once again, doing stuff with your hands is the best way to dive right in to easy conversation. 

I ran into a problem and it was that I wanted to make these cards really something for these elderlies. Not just a card, but maybe something to read? And, as with all things, I REALLY wanted to make it personal, to include myself in it in some way but I knew nothing about the people these cards would go to, so I had to think of ways to include some Jen but not too much because, in the end I realized it's not actually about me.  I know, what?  My mom had saved a letter I'd written to her years ago and included some Christmas quotes just for fun.  I included these in the cards.

Also included was a short letter, a picture of me, Sean, and Julian, which is probably weird but oh well.  It was last year's Christmas card pic which is just a winner. Also was a folded paper with short, heartwarming Christmas stories I stole off of Buzzfeed and added to, myself. Folding, cutting, stickering, writing, printing.  And they're done. THEY'RE DONE.  I'm dropping them off today.  Let's look at some pics of my faves, because after all that, I've developed a close relationship with these cards. There are jokes involved, memories, and fondness all around. Also a deep, very personal love for chalk markers. You will see their magic in just a minute.

First, the quotes:

I am now noticing slightly racial undertones in Bing's quote that makes me a little uncomfortable.

First, here is the table of cards, and this is not even all of them:



Sean's.  Aren't these markers amazing???

Another of Sean's. BRICKS. I love this one.

And another.

I added my new font I created, "flame," which I developed during the most boring and-i was told-mandatory meeting EVER on thermal cookerszzzzzz. Happily one good thing came out of it. Except this font sort of looks a little hell'ish which isn't quite what I was going for with these cards.

These next two I did and I was quite pleased with myself. I copied stickers of ornaments and spent a good year on each card I made like it.



Sean's wackadoo "Merry Christmas."  Love it:

I guess I should just be putting all this commentary as captions. Oh well.  This next one was a stencil that I think was meant for spray paint because it was eternal but quite relaxing and rewarding: Oooo! Ahhhh!


Here's one my sister made that made us all bust, and I love it:


Ha ha ha. "Have a holiday! Whichever one, meh."

Sean does the most amazing things when he just sits and scribbles (with the amazing markers, of course).  I tried to copy him.  Good try, Jen. (obv, mine is on the left. Scraggle Tree.) Solid effort:


One of the early ones. This includes white glue for extra snow effect and again, was pleased with myself:


The last card I made:

There were many other cards made by many other people that I didn't even capture because I am a selfish card-making braggart.  Even Julian made a couple.  And I have a few made by friends' kids which was so great. Ahhh cards.   T'was a magical, magical thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Calvin/Julian

As mentioned some time ago, we've been reading quite a bit of Calvin and Hobbes lately. This is a wonderful example of having a love for something and then finally being able to share it with the small version of yourself. It's THUH best. I have a fond and kind of desperate love for Bill Waterson, author, creator. His elusiveness (I prefer elusivity but dictionary.com says no) and mystery make him all the more appealing, on top of his clear genius, i mean. I love this strip, and I know you do too.

As a kid, my favorite thing was to take a comic book and read it in some corner somewhere. And then as I got older, some of the jokes would make more sense and it got even better. The illustrations are a thing of magic-- the expressions, the details, the humor and heart and emotion. Aaah! Oh Bill. *silently crushing*  I haven't read them a whole lot since having a squirt and have begun to really dive back in only lately.  Julian is now in the first grade and we share the comic books. He will read them, then practice using phrases with us. He'll take lines, word for word, and say them to me:


"Mom, Dad keeps insulting me."


And I'll reply, "Learning a new word, are we?"  9 times out of 10, his weird thing that might pop out belongs to Calvin.

So, I don't know if it's because of his immersion or if it's happened naturally, but I've realized that Julian IS Calvin. We ARE this family, and I'm blogging today to break down all the many reasons why, with many pictures included.

1. He's the same age as Calvin and is precocious. Obviously Calvin is a little man child and uses words and identifies concepts no normal 6 or 7-year-old would, but still, Julian does the same in his way, and the semblance is real.

2. Julian has a feline friend that is his best friend. He has a relationship with him that no one else has. Our cat runs to the door when Julian comes home. He often pounces on an unsuspecting Julian who mightily swears vengeance and retaliation amongst tears and a shaking fist.  Kitty (Hobbes) finds every opportunity to dive into Julian's room and hide under his bed. And, whatever Julian's doing, Kat is there. Julian keeps getting new face scratches because Julian insists on nuzzling the furry soft kitty tummy. He pays the price but I guess it's worth it to him. It is very soft.

3. Julian has a bike but he really hates it. He fears it. Declares he never EVER wants to learn how to ride it but will give it a try every now and then, only to have all of his fears confirmed, and then swears vengeance and retribution mightily.  


4. Julian lives in a universe separate from everything else.  I may have shared this already, but one time we were in an airport between flights and in search of some food. We found some and Julian was doing his usual pacing. Have i mentioned this pacing?  He has this physical and mental need to pace, every day, multiple times. I don't know if it's his way of expelling excess energy or a way for him to deal with his creativity but he must do it. And he's intense about it. Back and forth, living in a story, creating things in his mind, adding sound effects.  He must be alone and not interrupted.

Except in the airport he needed to be interrupted when I asked him what he wanted to eat.  He got upset at me, as he does whenever he's interrupted, and snarled exclaimed he needed to get back to his pacing. I said, "you can. But sometimes we need to be in the real world! So tell me what you want to eat and then you can go back!"   And he cried and asked, desperate, "but will I have to stay in the real world forever??"  And I laughed and told him no, child. But he still had to check in from time to time. Also, he likes people, and likes friends. But he struggles with how exactly to be with them. Whereas he often feels quite comfortable in front of them, like as a teacher or storyteller.


Side note: Every once in a while Julian will tell me what's going on in his pacing.  Just this morning he said to me, "So in my pacing, Santa's sleigh is broken and I've taken over and am fixing a new, better one. I attach things to it, better engines and rockets and things that are cool and make it stronger and more powerful."   So that's fun.

5. Like Calvin, he feels the strong emotions. ANGRY!* ECSTATIC! JOYFUL! SAD.  Sad looks weird in all caps but still, it's true. He demands justice, he laments the injustice of the world as directly related to himself (as all injustices are), has good in him but chooses not to show it at times, preferring the role of the villain. I've had to banish "bad guy" talk, for example.  He's a pusher of buttons, not afraid to doesn't even consider that maybe he shouldn't speak his mind, ever (to whomever, it doesn't matter) and frankly, every single strip I read I'm thinking, Julian. Julian. Julian, Julian, Julian. It's nutty.


 



* emphasis on the angry. The other day I explained to him what having a short fuse meant. I used my own arm as an example: "let's say the string, the thing you light to, say, some dynamite or a bomb, is this long." *indicating length of arm*  "...with my shoulder being the bomb."   I then illustrated how long it might take for that burning fuse to reach my shoulder-bomb.  "Now, some people have a shorter fuse, like the bomb is at their elbow. YOUR fuse is about the length of my fingernail and my KNUCKLE is the bomb."  And then acted out the whole thing. "tss--BOOM!!!"  He enjoyed this, probably because I was talking about bombs, but hopefully he understood the parallel there.

I have another strip to illustrate this point:

This exact series of events has taken place many times. With regards to swings, legos, you name it.  

In terms of shouting out any and every thought:

He was at a birthday party once and yelled out, "BORRRRIIING"


6. He's clever and witty and calls me out on all sorts of things. He's also getting a bit of a mouth.  I half want to give him a smack, half want to high five him for a solid joke or burn. Maybe I'll just high five his face in a proud way. Ha ha. I guess it's not funny talking about slapping kids but it kind of is, and high fiving faces still makes me laugh.
But he has sass coming out of his ears and the sarcasm grows increasingly rampant. Responses like this are constant:

I'd punt him out the door if it wouldn't end up hurting me.

7. He is the pickiest eater alive. But mostly when it comes to dinner. Fortunately he doesn't merely prefer just garbage food. For instance, he'll eat a plate of raw veggies, no problemo. But basically every single dinner we attempt goes like this:

Making dinner was already a tough sell, but after nightly rituals, Sean and I look at each other with "nothing is worth this" on our faces. Which could mean why we cook less and less these days. But also, we now tell him to ZIP IT OR ELSE. It's helped.

8. The questions, oh the questions! Or even just comments. Ideas. Weird crap. Especially in the morning at breakfast. He has early school and I'm often rushing around trying to get it all together or even share a quiet breakfast moment with my son while I sip some tea. Not so. Julian is Chatty Chatterson in the morning, and the comments and the weird, sometimes disturbing things he says are incessant. And too much for me (and Hobbes) in the morning: 



"Mom, where's heaven? Is it up?"  "I dunno! Maybe it's all around us, we just can't see it."  "Oh I hope that's true! Then I could rob a bank and no one would know! HA HA HA."   "If you're robbing banks, then you probably aren't in heaven..."

"If you just take a million dollars and tear it in half you'll have even MORE money!" 

"I got to be a wise man at church the other day. My cape was red--the color of blood and DEATH. I was a the wise man of death!"
9. The way his brain works is just to amusing to me. And mystical. Remember his Christmas tree a couple of years ago?  Though he can now construct something identifiable, many of the original elements and ideas are the same.  For instance, I snapped a pic of a page from his thankfulness journal (which is super adorable).  Check out the hair though:


And the extremely cubist nature of the bodies and body parts. Rectangle here, triangle here. It's like that's how he sees the world, which sounds freakishly mathematical and Einsteinian to me. But the hair just makes me laugh. "And now the hair. Pink scribble here, here, and here. Hair done." 


This strip is so accurate. Why do it the way it was intended?? So boring.

9. And at the end of the day, Julian is just so very boy. This fact is good for me to remember. I think it's because I like to explain away all of the weird by just saying "he's a boy and boys are weird."   When he was about 2, I took two big lovely gingerbread houses we had decorated, put them on cookie sheets on the floor, gave him a hammer, and told him to go at it.  The demolition was definitely the best part of any decorating. He often helps Sean in his shop (garage), with various projects here and there, and it's pretty cute. But still, weird, like Calvin:

 










Julian loves bashing old toys. Some people donate them to make other children happy. We
destroy them into bits and pieces so no one can ever again.   Just the other day on our walk home he picked up a gross soda can, and after I made him wash it out, took it to his room and hammered the life out of it. He then asked if I had anything else that needed to be crushed. Trying to be more fun than Calvin's mom, I tried to think of things. Here's the sign that currently hangs on Julian's door:

Bedroom turned crush storage facility. You know where to go.

Working on this series has made me wonder if Sean and I were like Calvin's parents as well. We actually sort of look like them. I definitely feel like I'm more fun than Calvin's mom but I bet to Calvin, his parents aren't any fun at all even though they probably try. Sean and Calvin's dad are both nerds, rational, smart. I'd say they're pretty similar, actually.  Guess I'll be doing that one next.

To the boy and his tiger!