Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Balancing Act

Flipper isn't happy with much right now. She doesn't want to go to school; doesn't want to stay for nap, doesn't want her dad to pick her up on Tuesdays and keep her until dinnertime. I am caught between wanting to MAKE her understand that lifeisfilledwiththingswehavetodo and sheneedstosuckitup and trying to really figure out what she NEEDS right now in terms of home-time/mommy-time/school time and daddy-time. She has no interest in sleeping in her adorable antique bed with the sand dollar sheets, oh no! At night she presses close to me (I find this maddening) and when I ask why she wants to sleep in my bed she says, "I need to be close to you." She doesn't want to go to the playground; she wants to stay/be at home. The afterschool nap program is really what she hates. Part of me thinks, Well, school is a month from being over, make her stay, and the other part of me thinks, Well, school is a month from being over, let her drop out of it. She really DOES NOT like it, and yet I need the extra hour at work. I am done every day around 1:30, but she doesn't get out until 3. Regular kindergarten gets out at 12:30. If I could get her at 1:30 or 2, it would be perfect. But I can't. I fully realize that parents everywhere-and their kids too-struggle with this day-in and day-out. But that doesn't solve MY problems right now. Tomorrow is May Day at the school, which means that the kindergartners will dress in all white and frolic about the May Pole, and then we will all eat lunch in the meadow in front of the kindergarten. Last year she came home with a 102-degree fever. I have a little sneaking feeling that she is also working on getting sick; she hasn't been sick for a long time, and she looks very pale to me. Oh, I hope not!! Now I have 2.5 more hours to decide if I am going to pick her up at 12:30 today or leave her until 3.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Camping Wrap-Up

Have returned from the wilds of camping with Flipper. It was great. She loved it, and I was heartened. How can I hope that she will take of the world in the future if she isn't out IN it now? Pics below. More words tomorrow. I think.

Waiting for us!! I love the phonetic spelling of my last name,
were we in Italy. Which we're not. (Unfortunately).

An empty site...

magically transformed...

into home away from home. Kind of.

A quick walk to the lake, then back to camp for...

Dinner!! Which required a FIRE!!!

And also required A LOT of tending!!!

Time for bed! (she slept 12 straight hours!)

We slept great...all 3 of us!! this guy was under Flipper's pillow, so we practiced a little catch-and-release in the morning.

Nice, fresh, organic, shade-grown, bird-safe heaven-in-a-cup.

A lloonnnggg hike around the lake...

and a new friend. More catch-and-release.

A quick rest, then MORE NATURE!! the form of a teeny tiny bird's eggshell. Blue with little speckly speckles on it.

More food, then home.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

And...we're off!

Fearless Flipper...forever?
Tomorrow afternoon Flipper and I are heading out into the wilderness to camp for two days, sleeping under the stars, living off the, not really. Try driving to the Uwharrie National Forest, sleeping in our huge new tent, and eating out of our cooler, not to mention drinking our morning coffee freshly brewed in the bathhouse. That is a free little tip, people. Take your cheap Mr. Coffee (an ironic name if I ever heard one, since I bet that it is mostly sleep-deprived WOMEN that brew about 97% of the coffee consumed out of a cup that IS NOT made out of paper) traveling with you, and plug it in for fresh coffee in the morning.

Many years ago, I spent 6-7 weeks driving around America one summer in an ancient Volvo station wagon with my equally ancient dog in one of my many attempts to "find myself." This is a trip I recommend HEARTILY to EVERYONE. And why the Volvo, pray tell? Well, once you fold the back seat up against the front seats, you have a little over SIX FEET of room to stretch out and sleep. If you are 5'6" like me, this is PERFECT. Anyway, I drove many hours each day, stopped at nice little family campgrounds and KOA's at night, mostly because they were happy to have dogs there, and in the morning I would wend my way through the RV's and truck campers to the bathroom, whereupon I would plug in my 14.99 Mr. Coffee and brew a full pot, while the other occupants of the bathroom stared at me. Enviously. I even did this in a few gas station bathrooms as well. Then I poured it into a carafe, and hit the road. Day after day. I would drive, and sing, and talk to Martha (the dog) and stop at random sites across America that caught my eye. Believe me, there are MANY.

I wonder, often, two things: Will Flipper do this one day? Spend many many days, months, years cruising around America, (usually chasing some band), sleeping wherever, having a good time, and a few scary times as well? Will she inherit the wanderlust that my dad, my sister and I all have? Or will she be more of a homebody like my mom and Flipper's dad, enjoying vacations, but not just driving and stopping and driving again? The second thing I wonder...will I actually be able to let her head out and not worry? Or, rather, not worry to distraction? How did my parents DO this? Let us, at times together but usually alone-just...go. Before cell phones, before the Internet. Collect calls from pay phones and very very cheap, cinder block motel rooms. I think they really believed we could take care of ourselves, and deal with any problems that arose. They were right.

How did they get this confidence? By providing a fair amount of freedom to us when we were growing up. Walking to school. Exploring the acres and acres of woods near our home, woods that are long gone now, razed to make way for the explosive growth near 54 and 55. Banning week-end visits home while we were in college, aside from official school breaks. (Though, truth to be told, I could not imagine why ANYONE would want to go home after tasting the glorious freedom of college life). Can I do this with Flipper? Do I even want to? Selfishly, I do not. The worst, most awful part of me totally gets those helicopter parents, the ones that call their kids every ten minutes or so while their kids are in college. I want us to be as close as we are now, just the two of us, living pretty happily together, both physically and emotionally very very close and connected.

But the other part of me, the logic-driven part, wants her to be free, to WANT to travel by herself, to NOT describe her mother(me) as her "best friend" as I would hope her best friend would be a bit closer in age and a little more risk-taking than I am now. The other part of me knows that I might not want to, but I have to. And, then, hopefully, she'll return. Safe and sound. So this week-end, we start. When we (I) first kicked around the idea of camping, she wanted to know if her dad or Grampy would be going with us. I avoided my knee-jerk Ms magazine reaction: WE DON'T NEED SOME GUY TO GO CAMPING WITH US, FLIPPER!!-to actually, thoughtfully, asking her WHY she wanted them to tag along. Answer? She's worried about bears. Where does she GET this stuff?? The irony is that while my dad, the Eagle Scout, could easily create a four-room condo out of a tarp and a roll of twine, Flipper's dad never went camping while he was a kid, and on the last "camping" trip (really an overnight, outdoor party) he threw the tent on the ground and slept on top of it. Why would we bring them? They can outrun us, I tell her. We need someone slower than us to 'protect" us from bears!! p.s. She doesn't get it. Yet. But she will!!
I sense our "adventure" will make for some highly amusing future posts and pictures. That alone makes it worthwhile!! never mind the Life Lessons I hope to impart from my lofty perch of wisdom...

*True story: I have seen some serious wildlife in my many traverses around this great country of ours, and coming unexpectedly close to a bear in Colorado was, by far, the scariest encounter ever. They are not afraid of us. They are indifferent to our presence. And my dog? Just a potential appetizer in the bear's mind.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


When Flipper started school, one of the hardest things for me to get accustomed to was the week-or longer-breaks that are scheduled every six weeks throughout the school year. It drove me crazy. Scrambling to find childcare for that week, a week out of sync with the public school systems, a week that I was convinced she spent pining away for her little friends. But I was wrong. Of course!! We are in the middle of one of those weeks right now. She is so happy, so content to be with me, her dad, and my parents for these days that perhaps the school is onto something. She seems, the older she gets, to really need that break from school. The last week school was in session I remember thinking, wow, she really needs a break. I'm getting it! Being a parent at this school, or really, ANY school is at many times a lesson in shifting perceptions and expectations, and, even more, trust. That the teachers know what they're doing, trust that this somewhat "alternative" educational system really does have a reason, a good reason, for doing things the way they do. . But really, a break from what? It isn't exactly Harvard over there, you know.

So what DOES Flipper need a break from? Waking up when I need her to-as opposed to when she wants to. A break from the constant teeny tiny endless negotiations among her friendships and relationships with all the other children and the two teachers. A break from eating when eating is scheduled, as opposed to when her body wants to. A break from wearing appropriate clothes to school, one of her biggest struggles. Just...a break. As a result, this week (so far) has been heavenly. She has been in the best mood day in and day out, helpful, cheerful, happy. I am starting to put her to work, as she has no regular chores (yet). When asked if she wants to do the same chore every day, or just help when I ask, she invariably wants to do what is asked, perhaps because it ISN'T the same every day. So feeding the dogs every evening went out the window. Her NEW chore is helping with dinner; she loves to make salad, and yes, she uses my super sharp Henkel Twin-Star, with nary a lopped off finger insight. Yet. Because one day she WILL cut herself, but that's OK too. She likes to peel the carrots, cut the grape tomatoes in half, peel and chop cucumber, tear lettuce leaves, and then artfully arrange croutons on top. She sets the table, and must clear it afterwards. She used to load the dishwasher, but I have gone back to hand-washing in the new house, a chore she loves to do.

I don't even pretend to understand this, but am filled with grateful pleasure at how harmoniously we work together in the kitchen. Filled with pleasure because I know, as surely as I know that the rain will never stop, that this easy phase will pass, and one day she will hate helping out, preferring to whine and cry about how small her allowance is. And she will be counting the minutes until she can return to school and her friends, away from our small family life and routine. But until then? Slice away, Flipper!
Hard at work washing dishes (and wasting water) at the old house.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chatter chatter, toil and matter

After a few weeks of peace and quiet, I have had to start putting the smackdown on the incessant chatter again, much as I did when Flipper was around 3. Currently, she likes to stand in front of her bathroom mirror and talk to herself as she (messily) brushes her teeth; when we are eating dinner she turns her head to gaze raptly at her reflection in the window, even when I am talking to her. I feel like everything is some dreadful prelude to adolescence. Her new thing? Watching herself cry in the nearest reflective surface. I mean, who does this??? And, perhaps more importantly, why?!?!?!? I find it MADDENING.

LOOK AT ME WHEN I AM TALKING TO YOU!!! (See I told you it was a prelude to teen-agerdom!)

And speaking of teen-agers, Flipper loves them. The girls, that is. I don't think she registers that boys can even BE teen-agers. Her awe and amazement knows no bounds. My co-worker has a 17 year-old daughter that likes children, and is looking for babysitting gigs. We all met at the big Weaver Street for breakfast a few Saturdays ago so Flipper and I could meet her, chat for a few minutes, etc. I told my co-worker that Flipper would be struck dumb, unable to respond to even the most basic of questions. She didn't really believe me, but it is exactly what happened. If you have ever been near or in close contact with someone really famous, that is what Flipper felt. And, as a result, she acted like some sort of star-struck fan. Sat silently beside Katie while we ate. Flipper, of course, was too awe-struck to eat at all. Silently followed her to the bathroom. Returned, never taking her eyes off her for more than 5 or 6 seconds. It was precious. Why? Because she was silent.

The same thing happened when I took her with me to the salon to get my hair cut. Flipper was mute, again, in the face of a Real Live Grown-Up Place. My hair-person is from Quebec, and has a strong French accent. She is witty and sarcastic and I love her. Plus, she is great with hair. Flipper was silent, hovering beside my chair. Lynn, my hair-genius, was so thrilled that she maintained a monologue about Flipper's cuteness and silence for the entire 20 minutes it takes to cut my hair. It went something like this: (don't forget to add your own heavy French accent here)

Oh, you are so cute (except it sounded like "coot")
What do you eat to be so cute??

(tiny whisper from Flipper: Raisin Bran.)
Which is a total lie, she has had Raisin Bran once in her whole life!!

Oh, I need to get some! And eat some so I can be cute like you! And you, you are so QUIET!! I like you because you do not talk! I like little children that do not talk because they all talk and they drive Lynn crazy! You so cute and you so quiet, I will give you little present!! Do you want a little present? Do you? Good! Here is your little present for being SO QUIET!! (some plasticky light-up wand-thingie). Flipper handled it as though it were the Crown Jewels. Tiny whispered "thank you."
Then we left. She was silent the whole ride home, gently and lovingly fondling her plastic wand-thingie, and then it ended and she talked for about 10 straight hours to make up for the 30 minutes she was silent.

I didn't have the heart to tell Lynn that she was quiet only because we were doing something so grown up that she was awed into silence.

Her chattering really comes as no surprise, as I got in trouble in school for talking more than anything, or really, anyone else. In second grade Mrs. Hardy gave us all little cartoon Valentine's. Mine was that crazed shark, JabberJaws. Perhaps the apple is landing very very close to the tree after all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Day in the sun

What a good week-end! This will be picture-heavy, by the way. On Friday afternoon, Erika and I took the kids to the Shakori Hills Music Festival to recruit new cult members. I mean students. Really, I do!! The weather was spectacular, and although I had set my expectations neither high nor low, I was very very very pleasantly surprised at how very well-run the whole thing was. Plus, Natalie came by our booth and said hello. Thanks, Natalie!!

Typically, I cringe at things that tout themselves as being "family friendly" since it reminds me too much of some sort of frightful Disney-led experience, but this whole event really WAS family/kid friendly. And the kids had more fun than I could possibly relate here. They ran around, blew bubbles, played with crocheted Frisbees, tried to hula hoop, scaled the climbing wall, ate ice cream...I could go on and on, but I won't. We were lucky enough to watch some truly professional hooping near the main stage by Vivian Spiral. Google-search her name if you want to see more. I felt perfectly happy letting Flipper pretty much "run free" without me breathing down her neck, making sure she was in sight every minute.

Our booth!!

I am trying very hard to let go of "stranger-danger" paranoia, particularly since it is so very very rare. And yet, like shark attacks, even though we know how rare it is, the fear persists. It affects almost everything we do with our children, where we go, how we watch them, what we let them do alone, or, rather NOT alone. This is something I think about a lot, and preparing for a longer post about it soon. Would love to hear other parents thoughts about this topic, so email me or leave a comment if you have some thoughts/feelings regarding "stranger-danger." Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Flipper with her face freshly-and beautifully-painted.
Flipper checks out some onstage action.

Happy Waldorf kids, playing with one of the big silks we had. Sidenote: this is an excellent example of an "open-ended" toy, meaning that it can be used for many, many things. Kids LOVE silks of all sizes and colors.

Flipper with the same long rainbow silk, attempting to become some sort of butterfly. She spent almost 30 minutes tying and retying it.

Flipper and Diana on the climbing wall. ALL the kids LOVED the wall, the cool guy that ran it gave them multiple turns for their (my) money, was really relaxed, called Flipper "cutie-pie" which I loved, just great!! Flipper would climb about 8 feet up, then let go and swing out. You can see her looking at the cool guy that was running the wall on the left. He was great.

Sound stage at dusk.

Friday, April 18, 2008


The OTHER harbinger of, not allergies, no, not pollen on the means that it is time once again for...

Locopops. If you've not yet experienced one, do so. If you have, no explanation necessary.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Glittery glitter and the glitter that loves glitter

I ordered new shoes for myself a few weeks ago. Note: I enter malls only 2x a year, when Talbot's and JJill might be having big sales. I buy what I came for, then flee. I buy almost EVERYTHING online. Anyway...they came. Flipper loved them!! She was struck dumb, speechless at their beauty. "They're beautiful!! Will you give them to me when I grow up?" Cute, wasn't it? Precious that she recognizes nice things, has an opinion, blah blah blah. But let me tell you, when she said she liked them, my heart fell. My first thought was, "If she likes them, they must be hideously tacky." Why? Because everything she likes is hideously tacky. Or covered in some sort of glittery, sprinkly mess.
Every few weeks or so, she drags her barstool (bought for the sole purpose of providing her a means to get things without bothering me) into the kitchen, climbs up, balances precariously, and gets down my copy of I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence by Amy Sedaris. Why, pray tell? So she can take the dust jacket off, and gaze, raptly, at the centerfold-like spread of Amy on the inside, clad in some sort of invisible underwear, covered with icing and millions upon millions of tiny rainbow-colored cookie sprinkles. This would be Flipper's very own fantasy-come-to-life. So when she said that she liked my shoes, I panicked. I then polled about 80 friends to make sure that the shoes fell safely into the classification of Fun but not Too Youthful/Tacky.
Once, Flipper and I and one of her little friends took a walk to pick dandelions. the girls blew the white fluff, thereby helpfully scattering yet MORE destructive dandelion seeds through a neighbor's yard, and made a few wishes along the way. The other girl, a true innocent, provided a precious wish, one that would make any parent proud: "I wish the sun would shine and make more flowers." Then it was Flipper's turn: "I wish the whole world was covered in glitter." Wow. How...thoughtful. How nature-friendly. How...tacky. Yet another way in which I am reminded that she is related to me...kind of. Glorious, are they not? Nice, grown-up hippie shoes.

Flipper's fantasy, come to life. She will gaze at this for hours, hours I tell you! Perhaps I should get a TV after all...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Notes

This will be FAST and FURIOUS so I can get back to my real job, one that doesn't involve Celebrity Baby Blog and other oh-so-important websites. Yesterday I had lunch with the other women that are featured on the N&O's new website, . Drop by sometime, and check out the other blogs. Anyway, back to lunch. It was great! I had a fantastic time, which is to be expected since I am a pretty classic ENFP, and love meeting new people. We all talked, joked, listened; I could barely tear myself away at the end!!

On Friday, Flipper and I will be hippies for a day, out at Shakori Hills, promoting the school, and generally getting in touch with my inner, long-forgotten Deadhead self. I was going to take her camping in the Uwharrie National Forest that evening, to break in our new tent, but the campsite is full Friday night! I am going to book ahead for next week-end, and cancel if the weather looks icky. If you at Shakori on Friday, come to the non-profit area on Friday afternoon and visit me!!!!!!!!!!

And...she is BACK IN MY BED. Just when I was getting used to being alone, just me and Seamus, all curled up...SHE'S BACK. After the newness and excitement of her own bed, (something that faded rather quickly), she has decided that it is not a skill that needs any particular night-after-night practice like, say the piano. A friend that co-sleeps with her children mentioned that to sleep alone in a large bed must feel fairly decadent, and I am here to say that does. We read a chapter (currently plowing through Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic) and then she falls asleep. After an hour or so, when she is pretty much comatose, I ferry her to her room. But then, much much later, I can hear little scrabbling noises from the foot of my bed, and she very very carefully clambers up on the bed, making as little noise and movement as possible, and gets under the covers, pressing her small body against mine as tightly as she can. I am rather impressed with her silent sneaking abilities. About 10% of me is irked by this, but 90% of me is OK with it, and I'll tell you why.
A few weeks ago, I attended a communication workshop held at Flipper's school, the school that will no longer be referred to as The Cult, much to my sadness. Anyway, it was very powerful, and very humbling. I have been quite tempted to poke a considerable amount of fun at it, but have resisted (so far). Why was it humbling? Well, part of the premise is that we need to identify our our needs by practicing self-empathy, before we can make any request of someone else. This was extraordinarily difficult for me to do. I was, according to the leader of this workshop, quite good at identifying everyone else's emotions/needs, but incredibly bad at identifying my own. Great, I thought. I am a week from turning 40, single with a long line of failed relationships behind me largely due to the fact that I can't communicate well, and I can't even communicate with MYSELF!! Like I said, humbling.

If you have ever read my favorite parenting book (bad cartoons aside) How Talk So Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Kids Will Talk, the same premise of communication applies. I am fairly good at this will Flipper, when I remember. Which isn't all the time. But what I AM into, is how well she can articulate her needs, even with her somewhat limited almost-5-year-old vocabulary. How I pray this continues with us!!! Here is a prime example:

me: Why are you back in my bed?

flipper: I need to be close to you.

Well, there you have it. Pretty clear, isn't she? And because she is so clear at identifying her needs, I give them to her, when they are as reasonable as this one is, and when I believe-strongly- that her need for physical closeness after being away from me for most of the day keeps us on an even keel, and promotes better and better communication. There is a lot of pressure out there to get-and keep-her out of my bed. I am trying to figure out what wakes her up when she is sleeping alone, but when she is sleeping with me she never stirs, except to kick me in the ribs a few times.

me: Why do you wake up at night?

flipper: I just do. And then I get a sad feeling and need to come and find you.

I think most children can, and do, communicate clearly. But why do they stop? What happens on the journey to adulthood that makes so many of us poor communicators when we grow up? I am hoping to break this pattern with her. We'll see.

Sleeping Beauty

Note: this is not my bed. I only wish, as I love the padded headboard. Friend's vacation house in Blowing Rock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rainy Day Walk

Our daily route...

Up the hill...
Through the tiny graveyard...

Sad sad grave; a young Barbee, 18 years old. The line at the bottom reads: He Was The Sunshine Of Our Home. We leave little flowers there.

Past tons of "Mysteria..."

Down the big steps in the woods...

Along the single track bordering Bolin Creek...

Crossing the pipe...

And home again. My townhouse is the end unit to the right of the dogs. We do this loop every day. Anyone that wants a fun creek-walk; join us!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Food, glorious food!

When Flipper and I were living in Keith's house, I purged a fair number of books and other things from my life, and although it felt good at the time, I regret it now. Why? Because now I am living in a space with the largest number of cabinets I have ever seen before. Really. Even I can't fill them up. All of my kitchen things have been swallowed up in the banks and banks of cabinets surrounding the sink, the stove, and above and below the pass-through. It is incredible. Now I really regret tossing many things, like several cookbooks and a waffle iron. Where in god's namee is all of this going?? Well, one of the cookbooks I chucked was entitled (get this) The How to Keep Him After You've Caught Him. You may be legitimately wondering why on earth I owned (and loved) something like this, because love it I did. I would sit around, reading the many recipes that represented some truly terrible American cooking, thinking all the while that the REAL title should have been How to Kill Him Once You've Caught Him because you have never seen so many bacon-butter-cheese laden recipes in your life. Were there a way for the authors to deep-fry lard, believe me, they would have. It was hilarious. I have such a fascination with that 1950's-60's food. Take this example from said cookbook: "Wrap bacon around Saltine crackers. Broil until crispy. Let cool, then serve to your husband while he's watching the big game!" See? I TOLD you they were really trying to kill them! Food trends and fads fascinate me, perhaps because Flipper's diet is so radically different from mine as a child.
Why is this on my radar right now? Well, on Saturday evening, Flipper, my parents and I went to an excellent restaurant in downtown Durham, near the old ballpark. Durham, too, is undergoing quite the little downtown renaissance. Here is a link to the place: so you can get a look at the menu, which changes every two or three days. I could tell the waitstaff wasn't overly thrilled to have a small child there at all, but they hid it well. She ordered the beef and ricotta ravioli with the red wine and tomato sauce. It was apparently great, as she ate almost the entire plate. So then I started thinking about how we eat now as opposed to how we ate when I was young. Main difference: we never ate out. Maybe 2 or 3 times a year. This is not an exaggeration.

Once at the beach in the summer, the same place year after year, The Breezeway on Topsail Island. Someplace decent when my grandparents came to town, and that was it. Back then (the Dark Ages, aka the 70's) there were very few places TO eat out. The Triangle was pretty small, and still pretty white-bread. But I look at the options available NOW, and a piece of me still can't believe the change. Millions of great places to eat, tons of new kinds of foods. Artisan bread. Cheese NOT wrapped in pastic, slice after slice. Organic any and everything. Sushi. Pad Thai. Mexican, far far beyond crunchy Ortega shells. Fresh lots-of-stuff. Goat cheese. Mahi mahi. Tilapia. No fish sticks, ever. No more casseroles with a can of Campbell's Cream-of-Mushroom soup as a crucial ingredient. Roasted asparagus. It is amazing, is it not, the changes that food has undergone in a mere 20 or 30 years? And it will undoubtedly keep on changing as she growns up. Her palate is already more finely honed at almost 5 than mine was at 19.

Smokey, Sophie and Flipper eat lunch alfresco yesterday. Note new addition to family: huge fern purchased at roadside plant sale Saturday afternoon. I love it and now wish I had gotten two.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Several lucky times in my life I have experienced a Perfect Spring. Where every day is happy, every night mild and sweet. A few stick out in my mind, my senior year in both high school and college, the spring as I ended a difficult pregnancy, waiting what we were convinced would be a little boy, and a few others. I realized yesterday that Flipper is almost five, old enough to have real memories now, ones that will follow her into adulthood. The internal desire-the pressure-to make memories that "count" is something I feel a fair bit, even while acknowledging how utterly crazy and unrealistic it is. But count towards what, exactly? Hopefully, a sense of being loved and accepted, and feeling it, every day. yesterdays foray to Duke Gardens wasn't some sort of earth-shattering great time; indeed, I doubt she will remember it. But is was a good time, an easy time. Maybe a residue of that ease that we have with each other, and, blessedly, nature, will follow her into adolescence. Who knows? But one can always hope, and I hope Flipper has many many Perfect Springs.

"Mysteria" covered gazebo

Flipper checking out large turtle.

Same one. But an even bigger, in fact, terrifyingly large snapping turtle was in the middle of the pond, cruising around, looking for baby ducks or something.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Growing up is hard to do...

I find that my yearly resolutions come around my birthday, not the New Year. And so, one of my future goals was to take Flipper camping, to commit to it and follow through, and not let our week-ends get filled up with other things, as they do with increasing frequency in the spring and summer months. So...I committed. I bought a tent, a large, 4-person tent that is currently taking up about 9/10ths of the available space in the living room. See below...

Isn't it great?? Can't you see us, snug in our sleeping bags, gazing at the stars through our mesh ceiling, discussing how nice it is to be without the dogs for a day or two...or, more likely, discussing what is really on her poor little mind these days: the shifting sands of kindergarten friendships, and death. Dying. What happens to dead people. Why they can't talk anymore. Where she will be buried. How much she will miss me. And on and on. I wish I could blame the next-to-last chapter of Charlotte's Web on our recent morbid pre-bed talks, but I think it is just her age. That, and the small cemetery that borders our afternoon walk. Such cheerful pillow talk is only interrupted by other issues bothering her these days, that of friendship. For most of the year, she has played exclusively with one little girl. They adore each other, and play together for hours, just the two of them. But in the fall, that little girl will be moving on to first grade, and Flipper will not. I predicted that this would cause issues, and it has. The other girl is starting to play with the older girls, the other 6 year olds. Brief explanation: Waldorf kindergarten is multi-age, from young four year olds to six year olds. At her school, students cannot move on to first grade until they are 6 by June 1. Flipper, who will turn 5 on May 25, is one of the young ones. And so it is happening, the other little girl is trying to establish friendships with her peer group, the other rising first graders, and Flipper is being, at times, left out. Two nights ago she cried and cried about it, after telling us that she didn't want to go to school. So I wormed it out her, her hurt feelings, her disappointment, how hard it was to play with others when she really just wants things to go back to how they were a few months ago. Poor Flipper! But this is part of growing up, of life. Recently I have been reading a lot about fear-based parenting, about our desire to shield our children from ALL of life's bumps and bruises, and how, in the end, this doesn't help them grow inside, or develop coping skills. My mothering instinct is to call the other mom, arrange a playdate, do SOMETHING so she can be with her friend again. So I stay out of it, encourage Flipper to play with some of the other kids, remind her that you can't make someone play with you. But it is hard. On a lighter note, I have been encouraging her to set out clothes for the next day before bedtime. I think it backfired a bit, and unleashed a touch of the obsessive-compulsive that lurks within. See below.

Note the shoes, already tied. The reality of having to UN-tie them just to put them ON in the morning seems to not have occurred to her. Note the socks, with her pants legs stuffed into them, scarecrow-style. Where does she get this? And why?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Our friend Jody

Below is the back of the envelope containing a brithday card from Flipper with her drawing on it. Now, this fascinates me for several reasons. One, all of her "art" and I use that term loosely, is truly original, since at The Cult (sorry HER SCHOOL) there are no coloring books. No markers. No black crayons, in fact, not too many crayons at all, and none made by Crayola. Instead, beeswax-based rectangular crayons with no paper wrapper. They paint, in silence, "wet on wet" watercolors once a week, using one or two colors at a time in the beginning of the school year, then slowly adding other colors. So, as a result, she doesn't have any coloring books at our house, etc. etc. Although I love Magic Markers and she has about a million. So anything she draws fascinates me because I know that it hasn't been copied from anything....except, perhaps, The Amityville Horror. See the "person" on the left? The one that is supposed to be me? Does it not look like a pig?? Perhaps a pig named...JODY???? Am I the only child of the 70's that found The Amityville Horror BOOK, not the MOVIE utterly terrifying? I think that era produced some truly scary scary movies, namely Jaws, The Exorcist, The Omen, and Amityville Horror. They sure don;t make 'em like they used to!

I just cannot get over how porcine that drawing is, nor can I get over the frightful chandelier earrings dangling from the side of "my" head. Me, who wears only a small necklace and nothing else, in fact, I don't even OWN anything else. Or the smaller ones on HER head, she who ALSO owns almost no jelwely,and cannot get her ears pierced until she is 13? Moving on...note that her letters show a terrifying inclination towards some sort of cheerleader-ish, Tri-Delt kind of writing, what with the little circles on the ends of the letters. How does a four year old DO this?? And, perhaps more importantly, why???

What my co-worker snuck into my office and left on my computer yesterday. Yes, it IS real...and it was wet. Did I mention that I work with all guys?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!!

I simply cannot take the grey, misty, rainy weather one more day, although I am somewhat proud that it hasn't stopped our outdoor adventures at all. It is perhaps day number 9 (although it feels like day number 9000) of icky weather, and while I am glad that the reservoirs are full again, I MUST SEE THE SUN!!! I feel like this slice of NC has been lifted from Ray Bradbury's incredibly disturbing and sad short story, All Summer in a Day. Yesterday was my birthday, my 40th. I did nothing almost all day, besides go on a long walk with Flipper and the dogs along "our" section of Bolin Creek. We took some trash bags and cleaned up as much litter as we could. I hate people that litter; I cannot understand it at all, the disrespect for the earth, not to mention the sheer laziness of just tossing something out of the car when you just feel like it. Today Flipper and I are going back to get a small ironing board we saw abandoned down by the creek yesterday. Friday night I went out with two friends to dinner in Raleigh. It was so fun; and it was a huge revelation: Raleigh felt like such a REAL city. I grew up in Durham, way back before I-40 was built, and we never went to Raleigh. It was too far away. We ate at The Mint, on Fayetteville Street. An old friend of mine is the manager there, and brought us three tiny ice cream cones before dessert for my birthday. They were precious, and tasted exactly like birthday cake. The pastry chef there is quite bright. They were incredible. And so another year passes. I feel nothing about this supposedly "big" birthday; I was much more depressed when I turned 25. The whole "quarter of a century old" and all. Flipper gave me a card that she decorated herself, the two of us with lots of hair and long dangling earrings. Note: I have short hair, and haven't worn jewelry in more than 20 years. Perhaps some wishful thinking on her part. I have an entry forming about some reading I have been doing lately about fear-based parenting, but need some time. More pictures soon. Today's Cute-Note: Flipper refers to the lavender wisteria spilling down the highway banks as "mysteria." I cannot bring myself to correct her.