Thursday, May 26, 2016


This verse never resonated with me until now: 
Like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Although I might rewrite it to say, "Like newborn infants and insistent toddlers..."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


19.5 months

Little ​L​eopard can't say his name, but when I ask him what his name is, he does say, Chester, which is a silly nickname I often call him.

His cute renamings: he calls sticks, trees. He calls giraffes, neck. Both make sense to me.

It's amazing to me how seamlessly the imagination develops. Little Leopard h​as alw​ays imitated imaginatively, pretending to drink from a cup, pretending to eat non existent food, p​retending to play with a toy that he sees in a book​. He turned an old orange juice container into a bubble container and uses a plastic fork as the bubble wand. Then he holds up the bubble wand to his giraffe ('Big Neck") for him to blow. Talk about imagination!

N​ow we're on to verbs!​

​I swear at dinner he said, "I want some more." ​

​Now he's just chattering and chattering--a running monologue while he plays, telling us stories we can't understand. ​

We visited the geese at the pond and he started imitating their ​honks--and he was pretty convincing. 

He's started saying, "Ohhhh nooo!!" with a lot of dramatic voice intonations--I think he's copying Francisco and he's got it down. He also says, "Yay-star-yay-star-yay-star" whenever he sees a star, because he's so happy about it. It's also very cute when he says, "Hey Mama! Hey Mama!" (Although sometimes he teases me by calling me, "Mommy," since he knows I don't like it.)

20.5 months

This was one of his worst sicknesses--I misunderstood the nurse (or she misspoke)--re​gardless, I didn't take him to the doctor till day 4 of fever and by then there were two ear infections and inflamed lungs. So we started on two medicines. The antibiotics didn't work so we had to go in (once again, the doctor didn't seem to want to see him, but this time I forced them to) and get another kind. After 10 days of fever, it is finally going down. I feel bad for my baby and for myself--loads of night wakings and dealing with a fussy baby really takes it out of you. Thankfully the semester had ended. If the kid has to be sick, at least he has good timing.

He's been speaking in full sentences for a couple of weeks. He's been saying his name, too. He can even say, "I love you," while crossing his arms on his chest and swaying. It is darling. 

Everything I ask him at the moment, he answers in the negative, although two seconds later, he changes his mind and agrees to my suggestion. I think that his will is just a new-found phenomenon and he likes exercising it. 

Tonight at supper, the kid told us about his day--that he painted butterflies (three syllables! turns out he meant dragonflies, but close enough!), that he fell and hit his head. Incredible the linguistic leaps he's making. Mind-blowing to have a conversation with the kid at supper. Truly unimaginable (I mean, if I had a better imagination I would imagine that it would happen someday, but that it happened already just baffles me). 

He's very into possessives now. Everything is Little Leopard's or Mama's or Daddy's or "my's."

He's finally better from this sickness after two full weeks of family suffering. I'm so happy again now that he's happy. He's delightful and charming and we are all full of renewed affection. Life is infinitely better. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

More Movies

Eye in the Sky

Didn't like it. I guess it's a revealing picture of modern (global, technological, bureaucratized) warfare. But it reminded me of Twelve Angry Men--such a slow, slow suspense.

Blade Runner

Set in the far, distant future of 2019, Blade Runner depicts a politically-vague but constantly surveilled future that isn't bright. It's dark and shabby and poor and run-down (except for the giant, probably evil corporation). It asks us what it means to be human, in the face of the need to control and eliminate the very human-like replicants (who only lack emotions, and it seems they can put their own together after a while) created by the corporation. Maybe in the future government will only exist to mop up the problems created by businesses?

We watched the Director's Cut, which I think was a mistake--I think next time we need the Final Cut. But our confusion wasn't entirely our own fault, since there are seven cuts.

Also, it was observed that Harrison Ford was quite good looking in his youth. Oh honey, he ain't never stopped looking good.

The Hunger Games

I think that this is the most disturbing premise for a movie I've ever encountered. I suppose Katniss comes out with most of her honor and even games this system a (little) bit. But the whole thing is pretty sick and makes you feel one of the viewers without whom such a horrible spectacle would not exist.


I like Gattaca. It explores the possible tyranny of science over us. As our technological abilities grow, how will the predictions that we can make based on our genes attempt to control our behavior. And where is the space for passion and spiritedness in distinguishing ourselves and achieving excellence?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Random Assortment

~ Nick Offerman: By the Book

~ On raising a child with special needs. (Via Hopkins)

~ Nuns who mapped the stars. (Via Hopkins again)

~ A whaling logbook exhibit.

~ On a correspondent of Flannery O'Connor and Iris Murdoch:

Eric handed me a jar of California Girl artichoke hearts containing the last of Hester’s ashes. “Welcome to Southern gothic,” he said.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Possum and Some Drugs

Last night after I switched the laundry at 9 p.m., I went to fill my husband's prescription for Vicodin, carrying the wet clothes that must lay flat to dry. The first pharmacy didn't have the correct strength (and refused to give me a different strength), and the second one could only cough it up after half an hour of hunting. In the process I nearly followed a possum into the CVS.

Someone has a lot of anxiety about his health, and since having one wisdom tooth removed two days ago has been in constant fear that a possible side effect, dry socket, would develop. As far as I know, continual anxiety does not decrease the possibility, so I'm not sure why one would worry.

In Someone's defense, the dentist did promise a quick, painless extraction, and instead wrestled with the tooth for half an hour, while Someone sat there, awake and defenseless. Hence, the Vicodin prescription. Anyway, after some worrisome shooting pains two days later, I was sent to fill the prescription.  Our regular pharmacy was of no help, so I continued walking down the street in my pajamas, slightly worried that I would be taken for a person in search of a fix.

The second pharmacy was packed with only one lonely employee on duty. I resented the crowds. One woman was in an extended discussion with her husband over whether or not to purchase the medicine, which the insurance wasn't covering, for $324. Another man wanted to talk to the very busy pharmacist about why the money you owed for medicines varied depending on your insurance. I wanted to get rid of these people. But I finally did get the Vicodin, just in time to pick up the dried laundry.

Anyway, the possum. I saw him out of the corner of my eye in the shadows and thought he was a rat. Upon further examination, it was much bigger, following the protrusions of the building in and out until he walked over the sensor in front of the doors and the doors opened. (I can't imagine why sensors need to be so sensitive as to admit a small rodent. Or there 10 pound people who sometimes need to be admitted to CVS? Small babies, perhaps?) He went inside. I debated: I needed to get the Vicodin and go home. Should I take my chances and walk past?

I had almost made up my mind to do so when a couple of young guys inside began to try to persuade the possum to leave. The possum moved over another sensor and the door to the inside of the store opened. But instead, the possum decided to leave the way he came--darting toward me with an unexpected speed. You can believe I made way for him.

Someone never ended up using the Vicodin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Home Life One

I don't do a lot of pleasure reading these days, but Home Life One was just my speed. A year of Alice Thomas Ellis's clever, sarcastic, funny magazine columns about domestic life are collected into a volume. (There are four.)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Random Assortment

~ Getting enough sleep is a movement? I've been preaching sleep for years. I guess my problem is that I haven't started enough movements. (Or alternatively, what we need is more common sense and fewer movements. But common sense doesn't sell books, I guess.)

~ This made me laugh out loud: A response to meternity leave:

8. You must rub sandpaper over your nipples until they are red and bleeding. Once this is achieved, you are required to tug on them 15,000 times a day. You may opt out of this but you are required to feel like a terrible person.
~ "The Cost of Caring: The lives of the immigrant women who tend to the needs of others" is really good and raises some of the problems with buying care:
Mothers and daughters leave their families so that they can do the type of “women’s work”—caring for the young, the elderly, and the infirm—that females in affluent countries no longer want to do or have time to do. They function as what MarĂ­a Ibarra, a professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University, calls “emotional proletarians”: they “produce authentic emotion in exchange for a wage.”
During meals in Chappaqua, Emma sometimes felt guilty and lost her appetite. “If you are a mom, you want anything you eat to be shared by your kids,” she said. Sometimes, as she dressed the girls in the morning, she cried as she imagined her youngest children preparing for school with the assistance of the helpers. One of the helpers had a young son. Emma asked her children who cared for the boy while his mother was at their house, but her daughters didn’t know. Emma imagined a chain of mothers parenting other mothers’ children around the globe.
There's a similar problem, I think, with daycare workers who are also parents and feel forced into the job.

~ On life with Alzheimer's (highly recommended):

Outside, people with Alzheimer’s were looked on as broken. In the groups inside these walls, though, everyone had it. Alzheimer’s was normal. In Memory Works, she felt protected. Unhampered. One of the others called it a “safe place,” and that felt right to her. “There is nothing like being different with your own people,” is how she would put it.
More than anything, people with leaky memories came to this sanctuary to find affirmation that they were still a presence in the world, that they were still valid. Ms. Taylor found renewed meaning by being among others like herself.
She knew some people with Alzheimer’s wanted their lives ended. Not she. “I have a major philosophical difference with that,” she said once. “I see myself as part of an organism that is the family. I’m part of this connection. I don’t just say, Lights out, that’s it. If I just sit and hum tunes and that’s it, well, that’s still me.”
She and her friend wanted to see strategies identified and shared for navigating the everyday mundanities, wisdom to wrench survival out of this disease. Since they were the ones who had it, they felt they were the authorities. As her friend would say to her: “We can contribute. We don’t have to just sit there and take in things.”

Happy Mother's Day

Sadly, not my picture.

Happy mother's day to Mama (now Nana) Leopard, who read to me for innumerable hours, a joy that I now get to pass on to my son.

And, of course, to all you other mamas who sadly don't get the day off just because it's Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


Oh my goodness, Jess and Cece watch Anne of Green Gables for Cece's bachelorette! Ok, so they're also high...

Children's Book Blogging, Not Recommended Edition

This book is made by some manufacturer of children's stuffed animals, basically as an advertisement.

Green is my favorite color, and this really butchers green.

At the beginning, the stuffed animals are accompanied by a word that describes what kind of animal they are.

Then the game gets switched up, and we get, "sweater,"

... "ears,"

... "spots," and "hair."

"Duck" really clinches it. Even Little Leopard knows that's a goose.

And these multi-colored toys page is really torture.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Children's Book Blogging, What We're Reading Edition

This had a good review in the NYTimes and was about Jesus, so I had to request it from the library. So glad I did--it's really well done (although some of the miracles are out of order).

The story focuses on two things: language and fish. The disciples are fishermen, who follow Christ to become fishers of men. Christ is the one who provides fish and bread to his followers and walks on water. He also performs miracles just by speaking--this captures the creative power of language, practiced by the one who created language.

The most wonderful illustration is Jesus healing a leper--he puts his arm around him. What a moment. And the author notes, that now the boy is no longer a leper, and can have another name.

The other great moment of the book is when Jesus kneels in front of a little girl and asks her to give her basket of bread and fish to feed the whole crowd.

The first time we started to read this book, Little Leopard got creeped out and made me put it back on the shelf. Now he likes it. A gift from Sayers.

This one we have read many, many times. And I find philosophically interesting.

Another favorite. It's always been a pretty tedious book to me.

I bought this book years ago in order to cut out the pictures and use them on nursery walls (the book is a little ripped up so I thought it wouldn't be good for reading). Well, I never got around to framing the pictures and Little Leopard likes it, so it's part of our library.

This was a surprise in the mail from Hannah--illustrated by pictures by Matisse! Little Leopard especially likes the goldfish.

Children's Book Blogging, Not Recommended Edition

This one tries (ineffectively in my opinion) to tie colors to a Christian tract.

But if I can identify one book that has consistently driven me mad, it's this one. A Thomas the Tank Engine book that is utterly irrational. Nothing in it makes sense. The story is that Thomas is driving the judge to the train show and encounters certain obstacles along the way.

One is a cow, which Thomas slows down for.

Another is mud: But for this obstacle, Thomas cannot slow down. WHY? He slowed down for the cow. It seems like he could slow down for the mud, he simply chooses not to. Why not explain why he chooses not to slow down?

Then he goes past a dog in a field.

Then we recount the obstacles that Thomas has passed: A cow, a log...

...Mud, a dog. Now, the formed three things did indeed seem to be obstacles. The final thing, a dog, was not in any way an obstacle, it's just something that the train passed. And it happens to rhyme with log. This sloppiness is infuriating.

And the final lines by the judge, "I like all the trains. You all are so fun. But the little, blue, muddy train is my favorite one." Fun? Is that what the judge is judging? How could one even judge their fun-ness just by looking at them? Nope--it's just a cop-out word to rhyme with one.

Lazily done, people, lazily done. It's these brand-name books that really can't be trusted.

Also, this one fell into (or was thrown into) the toilet several times, so I really don't like reading it.