Creativity for kids, caffeine for mom

Parties give me anxiety. First I worry that no one will come and I’ll feel bad, and then I worry that someone won’t be invited and they will feel bad. Parties (and socializing in general) are a breeding ground for insecurity. But I want my children to be relatively normal with somewhat normal childhoods, and I want our home to be the house that teenagers don’t mind hanging out at (eventually).

So a couple weeks ago, Tara sent me a link about a PR promotion for Creativity for Kids, which makes craft kits for kids. I assume they do “boy” stuff too, but we got two huge boxes full of everything you could want to make bracelets, headbands, necklaces, purses, and mosaic trinket boxes. (Not that boys can’t glue opaque plastic tiles to cardboard butterfly boxes, but.)

We invited the little girls from our street (geographical discrimination seeming to be the least indefensible) over for a couple hours on Saturday and got busy cutting up watermelon and setting out rainbow fish crackers. I even decorated!

They were pretty serious about crafting.

At the party we simply opened the kits and dug in. I heard a lot of “I get to keep this, too?” and “This is the best party ever!” I’m sure our hospitality was stellar, but really, throwing a party with shiny take-homes of such inalienable appeal to little girls was like {nonviolent version of “shooting fish in a barrel”}.

Lucy takes after Tom in the smiling-for-pictures department.

While the kits were pitch-perfect for my girls and their friends, I did feel like at times that they required assembly rather than creativity, if that makes any sense. My kids begged to play with large cardboard boxes the supplies came in, for example, but really if you’re going to get craft kits in the first place, these are great ones to get. And if you have party anxiety to begin with, or if you’re low on the raw materials of conspicuous glitter-gluing, craft kits are the way to go.

My favorite Faber Castell product was the coloring books. Lucy especially loves to color, and the pages of each child’s book, including beautiful mandala designs, were so gorgeous compared to her usual generic princess book from the dollar store. The markers that came with them are not only washable but re-hydrate-able! (Not that I find lost marker lids in the bowels of the couch on a regular basis.)

Our party was a big success: a good time was had by all, loot of the finest order was appreciated and hoarded home, and Mom needed a tall Mountain Dew and a lie-down with The Last Detective to recover. I can heartily recommend Creativity for Kids for all your girl-craft-party needs, whether you’re fraught with social anxiety or not.

Everything you needed to learn on the way to kindergarten

We’re riding our bikes to school this year and even though it’s still quite warm (mid-90s) by the time afternoon kindergarten rolls around, I love the little extra bursts of activity I’m getting in my day. It doesn’t compare to Tom’s 18 mile each-way bike to work, but it’s a bit of fresh air. The low hills around our little valley, covered in drying grasses and small green tree-bushes against the blue sky and brilliant clouds remind me of an post-impressionist painting of Provence or something. It’s gorgeous outside, is what.

Every day I remind Lucy to look both ways, and to look up again after glancing down to get her feet aligned on her pedals. She’s still a bit wobbly on her big two wheeler, but she has relaxed her tense grip somewhat and she no longer panics (much) when other riders are within ten feet of her.

Today she pedaled right across the church parking lot driveaway without glancing to either side. When I prodded her, she said, “I was following you, Mommy. I knew you would look.”

Yes, Lucy, I will look for you every single day that I can, but you have to look for yourself too now.

Look for yourself, Lucy-goosey.


Tender mercies, lost keys edition

Several weeks ago I lost my keys. As in, I was ready to go through the stinky garbage outside, risking half-mouse bodies and putrid mummifying diapers to find them.

Tom looked, I looked.

I offered a dollar, then five, to any kid who found them.

Three days later they were neither here nor there, and I was bone-tired of opening the car manually, having only one clicker-fob, attached to the keys which were missing. #firstworldproblems

Tom asked if I had prayed about it.

Oh, I did not want to pray about it. You pray about it. God’s not going to answer my prayer, the mood I am in. Swear word, swear word, swear word. Where are my ever-lovin-mother-effin keys, I know one of those kids flushed them down the toilet.

Finally, in bad temper of the foulest sort, I knelt on my side of the bed while Tom put away his laundry or fiddled with something on the other side of our room. It was the perfunctoriest of prayers ever. But maybe a kernel of sincerity?

Please bless my keys, where are they, if you could just?

I got up from my knees, not waiting to hear or to listen, moving on to the next thing, which was the laundry basket I really should take up to the girls’ room. A clank in the side of the basket snugged on my hip.

My keys.


Teacher gifts, feminist edition

Yesterday we met Avery’s new teacher. She is the meanest teacher, like ever on the face of the planet. This does not dismay me, in fact she seems kind of silly, but maybe that is just a nervous, day-before-the-first-day laugh.

Avery is eager to visit with her teacher from last year, the wonderful Mr. C, who welcomed her late to his class after her forced trial of the charter school. I stand outside with the baby, waiting for Avery’s effusions to settle. Mr. C.’s window is decorated with orange basketball cutouts featuring this year’s students’ names. A border of athletic trading cards frames “Mr. C.’s MVPs.” I look closer. I look closer still. This is the first time I have scrutinized trading cards (playing cards?) in such scrutinous fashion.

They are all men.

The posters of athletes adorning his walls inside the classroom are all men too.

Later, Avery asks why this is a problem. She is blessed with a most enviable sense of loyalty. Mr. C. can do no wrong.

I say, why does he have those trading cards and posters up? Is it because he admires those players? Because he is trying to share one of his interests with you, trying to relate to you with something you might both like? Is he suggesting them as role models? Does he hope they will inspire you to try hard, never give up, be diligent and hard-working?

Do they not make trading cards and athletic posters of athletes who are female? (They do. I looked it up.)

She stonewalls me. What’s wrong with having all men up?

What if, I ask. What if all of the athletes were white and you were black? (What if they all were black and you were white?) What if they were all scientists and there were no women, no Rosalind Franklin, no Marie Curie? What if they were all writers and no Gail Carson Levine, no Shannon Hale, no Lois McMaster Bujold? All astronauts and no Sally Ride? Would it be easy to imagine yourself an athlete, a scientist, a writer, an astronaut?

I don’t think it would be easy at all, and I want it easy for my daughters to imagine themselves as anything.

2012 Topps US Olympic Team #26 Rebecca Soni Swimming ENCASED U.S. Olympic Trading Card!

(Giving Mr. C. some trading cards and posters of the female variety was Tom’s idea. Sometimes solutions are the best sympathy.)

image: Amazon

Blessings for Callie on the start of second grade

I prepare my oil. Coconut, not olive. Lavender for calm, peppermint for cool clarity, vanilla for warmth, ginger for spice. The oil warms my palms as I rub them briskly. I hold the back of her neck in my hands, sweeping from the top of her spine to the base of her skull. Breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly. Tense your toes, relax your toes, tense your calves, relax your calves. Breathe as slowly as you can. In and out. Tense your belly and relax, up and up until you tense your forehead and relax. I run my fingers up her scalp and tug gently on her earlobes. Then brush my hand over her forehead, smoothing her hair back from her brow. I love you so much, nigh-night, sleep well, breathe slowly.

Tom blesses with priesthood, laying his hands lightly on the top of her head, the lovingest of fathers. That she may remember who she is, do her best, understand what she is taught, be kind and friendly and helpful. I bless with love and soothing comfort. Anytime of day, she can stop and breathe deeply, in and out, as slowly as she can.

My daughter.

Geek Squad Academy

So on August 8-9 I went to Geek Squad Academy. You know, those Best Buy guys? It was really fun! We played on xbox, assembled a PC desktop tower, then raced to assemble one against an instructor- who was blindfolded. My team got the best time in the whole group- 3:12!!!!! We also did cool video programming, and awesome digital photography with stop motion animation. We made some really cool stuff. We also got to create our own digital music and save it on our cool flash drive we got, along with a cool tee-shirt, a cool backpack, a cool lanyard with a cool name tag, free lunch both days,-Chick-fil-a! awesome! cool? very cool!- for two days, from 9:00 – 4:00, for ages 9-14. It was held at the children’s discovery gateway museum, in Junior Achievement city. The instructors were very nice and interactive, and I made tons of friends, -one of which you should check out her cool science I am so going next summer!

I should explain the ‘cool’ thing. Every time an instructor said ‘cool’, we got to shout ‘very cool’ as loud as we could. That was definitely one of the best parts about it. We got to be as loud as we wanted!!!

What she hears

What you say:

Nothing is better than the priesthood.

Women are important in the church!

The boys are going to sing A Young Man Prepared because the priesthood is the power of God and the music sounds, appropriately, like SuperMan.

Breastfeeding in public is disgusting.

Being a mother is the highest, most noble aspiration a woman can ever have.


What she hears:

Boys at the age of twelve are trusted by God to act as His agents on earth, to officiate in His name and to eventually lead and preside at all levels in the church.

Girls have gross bodies that God gave them to have kids and be gross with, and that is awesome!!