This morning I was talking to Hazel about my coming to her preschool to read a Dr. Seuss book in honor of Dr. Seuss Week.  She knows I work at home, or really go to school at home, but that’s about all she knows.  So, I said to her, “Did you know I’m a writer too?  That’s what I do right now – I read and write, and later I’ll teach other people how to do that.”

“Really?  You just write?  I want to be a writer when I grow up, just like you.”

Thinking how sweet it was to hear that, I said, “I can’t wait to read your books.”

“Hmmm, what do you write?  What kinds of books?”

“I write things about other books; I read them, then I write about them for other people.”

Laughing, she replied, “What?!  Who would read THAT?”

She’s a perceptive little genius, she is.  This little exchange made my day.

 

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Right now I’m eating dinner, editing photos, watching the girls take a bath, and writing this post.  Busy isn’t even the right word; it carries no sense of imminent doom or driving impetus to finish work that more closely resembles the four horsemen of the apocalypse than it does motivation.  But look at this girl; I just had to share.

Moving Fast

Life moves so fast.  I remember being a kid, wishing away the boring hours in the Alabama country, taking very long, very slow walks and bike rides, meandering around. Even after I grew up and had Hazel, there were some afternoons when I could literally feel time stretched out long and thin like taffy.  Those days are past, friends.  I don’t know if it’s having Jules around too, or just me getting older, but I can never find enough time or sleep to do all the things I need to do, let alone all the things I want to do.  So, I’ve been sporadically updating, and that will probably continue for a while until we truly settle down in New Jersey.  Some of that is editing the 300 (I’m not kidding) photos I’ve taken since last summer.  I edit some, but most are just sitting there, leering at me.  One of these is below, a fun picture of Hazel I snapped at an art festival we went to in downtown Kansas City, when we thought we would get to live there forever.  A big part of that happens next week, when Hazel starts preschool.  She’s starting a real, awesome school, not daycare, and she couldn’t be more happy and reluctant to go.

Art Festival, September 2011

I’ve started school again, too.  After all this moving and putting my career goals on hold, I decided to begin again at Morehead State in their online master’s program.  I already had 15 hours there, and it looks like at least 3 of the 6 I took at UNA will transfer (maybe the other 3 too), and I just reached a critical mass with all this moving and stopping and changing and retaking, so I am going to plow through and be done by this time next year.  The online program has some drawbacks – missing professor interaction, classroom discussion, the spontaneous exchange of ideas with other people – and it’s a lot more work.  Yes, I said it – seriously, there are always more assignments, more papers, and more outside research and reading for these courses.  It’s so incredibly student-driven; you really have to be a serious student, committed to the work, to make it.  But luckily for me, I totally am.  So I’m taking two classes right now (The English Novel and Intro to Film Lit), will have a linguistics course in the summer (VERY EXCITING), and then I’ll write a big old thesis.  Seriously – THAT’S ALL I HAVE LEFT.  It feels awesome.  And scary.  But mostly awesome.

Reasons for Future Therapy

I’m not into human experimentation when it involves drugs and stuff, okay?  Let’s just get that out into the open before you read this.

I’m a big fan of this blog called Sociological Images.  All kinds of stuff is discussed on there, and since I have an obsession tendency with analyzing media, particularly that which is blared at girls/kids, I was drawn to this particular post about gift giving.  Basically, Jimmy Kimmel asked his viewers to give their children gifts they knew would not be well received (aka, that they would totally hate), and film the kids opening them.  The intent, I’m sure, was to see kids freaking out, maybe pitching a few fits, and to laugh at their crazy reactions.  The blog author focuses on what constitutes an inappropriate gift – it’s either something that I would consider trash (a black banana, half-eaten sandwich, or juice bottle that just has a little left) or “the gift is considered bad because the recipient is a boy and the gift is for a girl” (Wade).  This was particularly interesting, since the boys mostly showed disgust, cried, or otherwise made fun of the gift.  Mostly, the kids were at best very disappointed and at worst completely pitched a fit.

After reading this blog post and watching the video, I just kept thinking about why the kids were so upset.  I mean, I would definitely not be happy if someone gave me something that was clearly trash (who wouldn’t think they were being pranked?), but a lot of these kids were totally rude if the gift was something they just didn’t want, like a stapler.  A parent admitted it, saying, “Jimmy Kimmel told me to do it,” to which this 8-or 9-year-old boy said, “Well tell him to suck my balls.”  Seriously.  The kid said that, the parent still filmed & submitted the tape.  The issue switched over to materialism, the culture of deserving things, and parenting for me, so I just had to know – what would Hazel do if I did this to her?  After lots of thought, I decided her gift would be a package of dish sponges, clearly opened.  This isn’t trash, it’s not gender inappropriate (because there’s no such thing in our house), but it’s definitely not something she would identify as a toy.  Here’s the video:

I love my daughter.

So This is New Jersey

It’s been so long since I updated, so much has happened, that I am just not going to spend all that time recalling, in minute detail, all the stuff we’ve been doing.  I mean, most of it is common to anyone who’s been moving, anyway!  So here’s one of my preferred numbered lists:

  1. We packed, we lived in a hotel for a week (kind of fun, having a staff of sweet maids who tucked in Hazel’s Corduroy every time they made her bed), and then we moved into our apartment and started unpacking.
  2. I unpacked a bunch of stuff we didn’t have out in KC (picture frames, decor stuff, too-small clothes from pre-pregnancy), sorted it, and repacked some things into a smaller number of boxes that are currently lining our garage.
  3. I sorted Christmas, put up our tree, and wrapped stuff.
  4. I’m applying to approximately 100 of the 1500 schools in this densely populated area that offer a MA in English, so I’ve been doing a lot of transcript uploading and statement of purpose writing.
  5. I’m studying for the GRE subject test in literature, so I unpacked a lot of dusty books from my undergrad years and I’m currently sneezing my way through An Introduction to Literary Theory.
  6. We are researching preschools and daycares, which is only slightly less logistically difficult (with one car) than teaching yourself to hang glide with a broken arm.
  7. Amos goes to work, does secret Samsung stuff we can’t talk about, and comes home, shell-shocked from the intense traffic.
  8. Hazel and Julia run and army crawl through their super huge room.  We gave them the bigger bedroom because the smaller one has a bigger closet.

And so there you go.  I haven’t been doing a whole lot of photo-taking, but I do plan on taking some of our place/this cute little town so all you interested family can see.  It’s a curious mix; we live on a rather busy road, but if we walk east about two blocks on some dirty, small, cracked-up sidewalks, we go across a gorgeous river on an old wrought iron bridge and can walk through a couple of blocks of cute shops housed in historic buildings.  AND there is a yarn shop there, with a sort of cutely curmudgeonly proprietor who took away my coffee because “we’ve had spills before.”  One day I’m going to be like that surly old bird.

Overall, though, I think we all like it here.  Now that we’re getting settled, too, I plan to be back blogging like before.  To send you off here’s a hilarious video of Julia discovering one of the snaps on her diaper.  In the background you can hear the wonderful sounds of Hazel whining because she pitched a slapping fit and got sent to her room, by herself, until bath time (she was sitting on her bed, amidst all her toys and books, but was totally miserable because she was segregated from the rest of the fam…ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT).

Where Do We Play?

I know our time is limited in Kansas City, and I like to look at it like we’ll never be here again.  I’m totally taking advantage of our relatively cheap living expenses, nice location, and obligation-free lifestyle to act like we’re on this massive vacation.  Otherwise I might go insane, if I started thinking about preschools and grad schools and houses and…vacation.  We’re on vacation, baby!  SPRING BREAK!

So, as part of that, today I took the girls to their first play!  At Union Station, which is a real working train station, there are also lots of other attractions for families, including Science City, art exhibits, a theater, and a kids’ theater.  We joined a crowd full of other kids to see “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” a play based on the popular children’s book.  We got in just barely in time, thanks to my rather poor downtown navigation skills, and managed to score the absolute LAST two tickets, right down on the front row.  As we sat in the theater, practically onstage, Hazel kept asking things like, “Why is it dark in here?  Why are all these kids being so crazy?  Where do WE play?  Can I go touch that stuff?”  I found it tricky to explain what a play was, since my “it’s like a real-life movie!  With really real people!” didn’t seem to make sense to her, so I just told her to be patient.  When the lights completely dimmed, then a spotlight hit on first the boy, then the mouse, and then a cookie, Hazel was completely enthralled.  Julia even popped off from nursing to watch the action (and she didn’t look away for the rest of the show, either!).  Both girls were entranced with the play, which was so exciting and even had some music.  We had just the BEST time, and I was so proud and happy, watching them watch it.

It’s Never Too Early

With our current living situation (ahem – tiny apartment covered in white gray carpet that only currently houses about 1/3 of our worldly possessions), sometimes things to do evade both Hazel and I.  I’m nervous about messing up the carpet and having to pay for it, and I hesitate to set up any permanent play stations for several reasons.  After a while, crayons and washable markers, even these window markers I bought, start to pale somewhat.  We are outside everyday, for at least a couple of hours, jumping and swinging and sliding at the playground nearby, but our inside activities needed a boost.  Since Hazel loves to read, I decided we should try our hand at making a book of our very own.

I tend to become more regimented, organized, and clean when I’m feeling stressed, and our current situation stresses me out quite a bit, so I think Hazel sees me only in that role.  I’m constantly cleaning up this apartment; it’s just too small for any mess to exist if we’re going to walk around without breaking our ankles.  She’s too young to see my creative side; my taking photos and knitting are just things Mama does to her, I’m sure, and I don’t know how old she’ll have to be before she can understand the creativity that goes into the work I do at school.  It worries me.  I don’t want her to feel constricted, and so I thought this activity would allow her space to stretch her imagination, draw, work on numbers and letters, and help to focus her attention for a longer time on one activity.

She did not disappoint!  Her story evolves a bit over time, but the words are hers.  She is so proud of her little missive,   but not possibly more than I am!  This is SO going in her keepsake box.  I look forward to the day I can whip this bad boy out…maybe at her Pulitzer Prize award celebration or something 😉

Picasso!

I was having a little mama time (aka, knitting and having my coffee breakfast without otherwise holding a small girl child) this morning, and Hazel asked to use markers at the table.  I got her all set up, excited about the guaranteed 10 minutes I would get while she was distracted by coloring, and snuggled back up with my worsted wool & fancy coffee from Dean & Deluca.  She comes running over about 2 minutes later, and I have to admit being a little disappointed to see her.  Bad Mama!  But I was absolutely ELATED when she showed me this picture!

Can you see that?  That’s a picture of our family!!  And it looks pretty clearly like people!!!!!  HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS MY KID?!?!  She ran right over and hung it on the fridge herself.  I like a girl with confidence.

My Big Kid

Yesterday we went to an art fair at the Kansas City Plaza.  It’s this fancy area, with all these expensive shops, fancy restaurants, and ornate architecture.  All Hazel wanted to do, though, was walk down by the river to see the ducks and “walk on those cool rocks,” and all Amos and I wanted to do was walk with her.

 

Daily Hazel

When you take as many pictures as I do, you’re bound to end up with some crazy faces in the mix.  I think this one was a split-second reaction to me denying her request to take (more) pictures with my camera.  So funny/sad/cute ❤

Ms. Pouty McPouterson at your service

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