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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

What a fun Halloween we had!

I started off the day by heading off to school with both the kids -- BJ as an astronaut, BB as Rapunzel, and I dressed up this year as well. It's like I met them in the middle! When your son is from outer space, and your daughter is a princess, they intersect at..... Princess Leia!


They were pretty pleased with how their costumes turned out. And the weather was perfect, so they didn't even have to do the turtleneck under the costume thing. (Or as my new friend M described it over the weekend, "the Midwestern Halloween Costume" -- you wear a big ol' parka and have people guess what you're dressed like underneath!) None of that needed here!


Of course BJ wanted to be sure to wear his helmet, but he was glad not to have to wear it all the time. Like on the way to school.



BB was so proud of her looooooong hair!

Here's the other princess all by herself... (Not too bad, eh? The costume was 3/4 thrift store plus new go-go boots, so quite economical all told. It's my own hair, too, with a little help. The hair made the look for sure.)

BB and I hung around at BJ's school long enough to watch his grade go through the Halloween parade.


Then BB and I went to her preschool. There were four Rapunzels in her class!


Enjoying a sweet after the trick or treating part of the parade...

With her friend M, who was (fittingly enough) Darth Vader. I saw a lot of Darth Vaders today, and I had lots of fun with it. (Though the most clever one was the kid in a Darth Vader costume, inside a cardboard mock up of the tow truck from Cars. Darth Mater. They were impressed enough with my costume to ask me to pose with their kid, which was fun.) I also told many people, "May the Force be with you," much to their delight. Happily, M was a friendly Darth Vader with no evil intentions.

We went to the carnival at BB's school, where her favorite thing was the temporary tattoo station. She definitely looked like a 21st century princess, with all the body art!

After a picnic, where we got lucky enough to see S as he walked by on his way to the office, we headed over with our friends for an ice cream Halloween treat (because there wasn't going to be enough sugar in the schedule, apparently?) which was enjoyed by all. Especially since it was dollar scoop Monday!

After school, I enforced a viewing of "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" just to give myself 20 minutes of downtime! (You KNOW it's a busy day when I ask the kids if they want to watch a video!) Then our friends L and T came over at dinner time to see the kids in costume. They couldn't stay long, but it was sweet of them to want to stop by. Right after dinner, we lit the jack-o-lanterns and headed out trick-or-treating!

It was fun for all of us to be dressed up -- S was doing a popular costume repeat, Steve from Blues Clues.

There's that hair again! (Actually, it held up pretty well throughout the day. Mine did too, thankfully.)

After about an hour's trick-or-treating, the kids decided they were too worn out for any more. Besides, their candy bags were full! (A definite advantage to using the very reasonably sized ones that my mom so kindly made for them a few years back. No pillowcases here!) So we headed home with two tired kids.
It was a very Happy Halloween. Hope yours was too!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Almost Ready for Halloween!

It's been a crazy week -- full of preparations for Halloween as well as getting things organized for a big SF Etsy event. (Which came together very nicely, I'm glad to say! You can read about it here.) So I have lots of catch-up to do, everything from a crafting backlog piled up on the sewing table to laundry and dishes and blog posts!

So here's what we've been doing to get ready for Halloween!

Visiting the pumpkin patch...

"Here's the one I want, Mom!"

BJ picked a nice plump one.


The kids with their pumpkins! (Yes, we are learning what it means to "Smile for the camera!")


This little school-sponsored pumpkin patch is our family tradition, and the kids definitely remember it. (We had a special surprise of running into some old friends from BJ's playgroup while we were there, which was fun!) BJ was rarin' to go to check out the "haunted trail" and headed off on his own to explore. Here he is, way on the other side of the loop!

BB still likes to stay close, holding Daddy's hand.


On Sunday, we carved 'em up. BJ was surprised to find a sprouted pumpkin seed inside his pumpkin, pretty neat!

S and I did most of the digging out of the insides, then the kids drew on the faces.

I followed their lines with the carving. They helped by showing me what kind of expression they wanted the pumpkins to have.





Looking forward to tomorrow!

Etsyblogger Style File

Congratulations to those who have been featured at the EtsyBloggers Style File!

This theme was a "Ghoul's Night Out" (how very Halloweeny!)

The "Ghouls Night Out" collection features:

Celebrating one of my favorite holidays and buying handmade... what could be better?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Courage

I was brave this week. Those who know me know that I'm a worrier. (I'm working on this, but this trait goes deep.) BJ's class had their biggest field trip yet -- an all-day excursion to Natural Bridges park to learn about butterflies, view the monarchs, and play at the beach. Sounds wonderful, right?

It so happened that this trip was scheduled for a day when I couldn't be one of the chaperones, because I had to be home with BB. Yes, I was nervous about the idea of him going so far, without me there. (I was more than nervous, in truth. I was actively and fiercely fighting massive anxiety about the trip.) I was especially concerned about the idea of him being at the beach without my supervision. The kids were going to be allowed to play in the water -- yes, in October! And traveling highway 17 is nerve-wracking enough when it's me behind the wheel; imagining what could go wrong with a car full of kids.... shudder.

But I was brave. I didn't fuss or (s)mother him with my worries about the trip. (I don't think I even let on to S about just how worried I was.) Yes, I reviewed basic beach water safety: no going in over his belly button -- after all, the kid can't really swim yet -- and emphasized the importance of staying with the group, but I'd do that anyway. I also worried out loud a little bit to some of the other parents, when BJ wasn't around, and asked them to keep an extra close eye on him. Which they'd do anyway.

As I dropped off BJ on the day of the trip, I gave him a hug and maybe held him a wee bit longer, but I was brave. I realized, yet again, how much I trust these people, the teacher and the other parents in the classroom. Day after day, I'm able to walk away from school after dropping off BJ, and not a quiver of concern goes through me. I know he'll be fine. That sort of trust is huge, and it's one of the basic reasons I'm so thrilled with our school.

The day of the field trip, sure, there were some more factors in play: the long drive there, the experience of being in the water. But the trust was still there. I trusted that he would be okay.

Trust and courage. The twinned tools that allow me to chip away at the shackles of worry which weigh me down so heavily sometimes. Especially since becoming a mother.

I always knew that being a parent would involve a lot of worry. A LOT of worry. My mom was a worrier when I was growing up. Worry seemed synonymous with love at times. Isn't that what it meant to be a mom? To worry about your kids?

And along with that worry, I knew that there would be times as a parent when I would just have to trust. Trust myself and my instincts, trust the child, trust other caregivers, trust the world that it was a good place (for all its random hazard). Trust that it would be okay.

I also knew I'd have to be strong. That's what parents are, right? Especially to the young, small child. Strength and shelter, security and safety.

But I didn't anticipate how being a parent would take so much courage. Not overtly, anyway. Letting go of the one you love so much, letting go little bit by little bit -- you gotta be amazingly brave to do that. You only start to realize how brave once the baby is born, once that fierce amazing love is fully and irrevocably rooted in your heart. I witnessed both of my parents being brave like this (and in sum total, quite gracefully, I might add) and yet: I hadn't really placed that piece of the puzzle.

For the past few years, S has been teaching a course on heroism, and he's writing a book about it. We don't often talk about his work, but when we do it's always fascinating. I'll find myself musing on the questions and topics at unexpected times. What does it mean to be a hero? Is it more than just being brave, being courageous? And what does it mean anyway, to have courage?

Ever notice that when kids are asked about their heroes, a large number of them will say that their mom or their dad are their heroes?

Perhaps it's more than just the simple fact that parents have so much influence with their children, are such strong figures (metaphorically and actually). They are indeed a natural choice when asked about such an important role. But perhaps it's more than that. Perhaps children unconsciously recognize how much courage it takes to be a parent.

Perhaps I'm making that conscious, remembering that, now.

Recently, my mom and I were talking about worry. She shared a realization of hers that has stuck with me quite profoundly. She was telling me about being up late, worrying about my sister (this was back when my sister was still living at home) and as my mom was getting into the imagined list of catastrophic possibilities, she realized: IF a terrible (and unlikely) turn of events comes about, I will have the rest of my life to figure out how to deal with it. Why take the time and energy and stress to go through all those imaginary possibilities now? Why on earth should one do that?

Why on earth indeed?

When BJ came back from the field trip and told me how much fun he'd had, I felt like he was growing two inches taller right there in front of me. He'd gone in the water! He'd used his binoculars to see butterflies, he'd played in the sand, he'd changed out of his wet clothes into dry, all by himself! (And he hadn't lost the binoculars, either!) My heart felt so good for him, for the fun he'd experienced and for how this was one more little step on his path to independence. That takes courage, too, doesn't it? To see that, and to celebrate it.

I was brave this week. I had courage. I don't think it reached the level of heroism, but that's okay. I'm feeling lighter, less shackled, because of it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SF Etsy Craft Swap and Networking -- You're Invited!

I'd like to invite all my local readers to the SF Etsy team's First Annual Craft Swap and Networking Event!




(Thanks to Katy Atchison for the adorable flyer design!)


Where? TechShop SF




How? RSVP here and then show up with crafty stuff, potluck items, and $5 donation at the door. Read on for more details!



SF Etsy Street Team (for which I'm the team captain!) is working with the support of TechShop, GoGoCraft and S.C.R.A.P. to present The First Annual Craft Swap & Networking Event For Sustainable Craft Making. Along with an afternoon of inspirational craft and networking, we are inviting everyone to bring their craft items that they no longer have a use for to share with other team members in a Craft Swap!

How does it work? The Craft Swap promotes the reuse and recycling of items and sustainable craft, as well as having FUN. All you need to do is bring a potluck item and craft materials that you no longer have a use for to donate to the event. After that, it’s a trading free-for-all! Do a little spring cleaning and refresh your crafting inspiration by taking out the old and bringing in the new! Don’t forget to bring an extra bag to take all your new free-cycled goodies home with you! Our friends from S.C.R.A.P. will also be on-site with a donation box for anything you want to send to a new home.

This is an SF Etsy event open to the community to support local craft activity that is also considerate of the environment, minimizing waste and maximizing fun. During the event TechShop will be providing tours of their facility, and will be doing demos on some of their equipment.

The SF Etsy Street Team has roots in Etsy’s beta grassroots marketing and was part of the original “street teams” concept for spreading the word about Etsy and handmade to folks on the street. (I've been part of it since 2006!) Like the San Francisco Bay Area in which it is located, the SF Etsy Street Team is a vibrant and diverse community, full of creativity. We strive to support and promote local Etsy sellers by sharing expertise and advice, hosting local shows and events, and providing a valuable network of local talent and resources.



TechShop is a membership-based workshop that provides members access to equipment, and instruction. You can think of TechShop as a craft gym for artists and makers but with tools instead of weights. During the event TechShop will be providing tours of their facility, and will be doing demos on some of their equipment.

GoGoCraft will be leading us in making SF Etsy Banners for your Etsy shop and event booths. GoGoCraft is a mobile crafting workshop for crafters of all skill levels and interests.

S.C.R.A.P will be providing some craft materials from their organization - SF Etsy Team can depend on S.C.R.A.P as a place to find all manner of materials for all our creative projects. S.C.R.A.P

We are asking a donation of $5 at the front door which will be used to facilitate this event.

We also welcome volunteers to help and ask folks to bring something for the potluck. We have two sign up sheets. One for the potluck where members bring a potluck item for the event and the other where you can volunteer to help out. All assistance is very much appreciated.

Potluck Sign Up

Volunteer form

Note: Because of the access to tools and craft at this facility please do not wear open toed shoes during the event for safety reasons.



Location:

TechShop San Francisco
is located at 926 Howard Street, just 1 block from the Moscone Center. It’s 3 blocks from Powell Street BART station. Private parking lot at the TechShop building with a ten dollar per day charge.


If you're able to come, please be sure to say hello -- I'd love to see you!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

See-Saw Days

Today and yesterday have been see-saw days for sure. (Sometimes it feels as though that's what motherhood is: ups and downs and ups and downs, and you can't get off because the person on the other side of the see-saw needs your weight!) Yesterday, BJ stayed home from school with a cold. Actually, he came home early on Tuesday from school -- S had been working in the classroom that morning, and he nearly brought home BJ with him at lunchtime when the volunteer shift was over, because BJ was feeling less than 100%, but the kid said he wanted to try to stay through the day; I had a hunch that wouldn't work out, though, and sure enough when I arrived at school (about 30 minutes early) I turned on my cell phone "just in case" and a few seconds later I got a call from the school secretary saying BJ was in the office and not feeling well and wanted to come home early, proving my mom-hunch correct. Hated to see the kid not feeling well, but satisfying to know that my instincts were on target.



BB had a cold as well, so all Wednesday was a tired mom plus two sick kids, not the best equation. Things seemed to have resolved OK by bedtime, when they were reading and looking at books quietly together in BB's bunk, but all of a sudden there was a negative multiplier, resulting in two tired kids going to fisticuffs in bed! BB got a bruised temple when BJ whacked her with his bedtime cup and BB scratched his face. Sigh. Tears, scoldings, apologies, consequences -- loss of screen time for both kids. (Two days worth for BJ, because he wouldn't take responsibility for his actions: "She made me do it!!!" Double sigh.)



Thursday BJ was feeling well enough to go back to school, and so was BB, thank goodness. Sick days at home are bad enough. Sick days at home when absolutely no screen time is allowed -- I shudder at the thought! By design, the kids don't get much time in front of screens (admittedly, there's been more since I received the iPad for my birthday) but when you're not feeling well sometimes a screen can be exactly what the doctor ordered. Yes, before it was shown the kids were well enough for school, I had some moments of doubt about our parental wisdom in the choice of our consequences. But not hitting and taking responsibility for your actions are what we expect of mature kids, and in this household only mature kids are allowed screen time, especially the use of my coveted iPad, so it's a logical consequence. (It just can have consequences for Mom and Dad as well!)



After the long Wednesday, I was really welcoming a change of pace. Up swings the see-saw! S and I had a nice morning together: we've been trying to get more exercise lately and have taken to swimming laps in the pool. We had some sweetheart time together since he was able to stay home through lunchtime before heading in to the office. Then I spent the afternoon sewing until it was time to pick up the kids from school. I completed two more wristlet bags (pics of this new project coming soon!) -- quite satisfactory!



We had a very nice walk home -- walking to and from school with BJ is often one of my favorite times of day. Alas, as soon as we got home and BJ remembered that he wasn't going to be allowed to play Angry Birds, he had a total meltdown. He was still sobbing about it when we had to leave to pick up BB from preschool, which made things rather challenging. (Ouch! The see-saw swoops suddenly down to the ground.) BB was in a great mood, thankfully, and once we got home she even helped BJ cheer up a bit. Who wouldn't feel a little happier when confronted by the Purple Haired Ladybug Fairy?



Thanks to her fairydust (or something) BJ got himself on an even enough keel to go to his Thursday night science class. BB wanted to wear the entire getup when it was time for us to leave, but we compromised: normal clothes, plus ladybug wings, plus wig and yellow flower headband, agreeing to take off the wings when in the carseat. Needless to say, we were the source of many smiles while running errands during BJ's classtime!


Dinnertime and bathtime went well, with both kids in great moods -- BJ came home from his science class eager to continue some of the experiments (they'd been exploring density, seeing what floats and what sinks, making tinfoil boats and discovering how many paperclips they would hold -- his reportedly held 115 paperclips!) and BB was along for the ride, so I allowed them to bring a lot of non-bathtime toys into the bathtub. (Cue elaborate game involving numerous fairy figurines, plastic skillet boats and other floating objects.) Unfortunately, BB lost it when it was time to stop the game. She refused to let her fairies air-dry overnight and insisted on drying each off herself. OK, I said, but that's going to take a long time. You won't have time for a bedtime book. (I could all but hear the crash as the see-saw swung down again.) Tears, defiance, even sticking out her tongue (we know it's serious when that happens) and more tears. We'd settled things a bit by the time S got home from work (he's back to working late on Thursday nights, sabbatical how I miss thee) but it was definitely Not The Way I Wanted The Day To End.


I'm ready to get off the see-saw now! Who wants a ride on the merry-go-round?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BB's First Field Trip

Yesterday, BB's preschool class took a field trip to visit one of the physics professors on campus. BB had been very nervous about the idea of leaving school without me, so when they asked for some more chaperones I was glad to be able to volunteer. We had a really good time!

We learned a little bit about the crabs that Professor J is studying:

BB wanted to know why they didn't move very much. "Good question!" replied the prof. And all the kids were very concerned that he shouldn't get pinched by the one he's holding. (He didn't.)


We got to see "lightning" made by the static electricity generator (didn't manage to get a pic) and heard what physics is all about. (BB knew what gravity does! Think she's been paying attention to some of BJ's lectures!) Then, the highlight of the visit: making ice cream, the scientific way!

We added the ingredients to a big metal bowl...


Then stirred it up.... then added liquid nitrogen! Oooooh! The kids were definitely impressed.


Here's BB tasting her portion. Vanilla isn't her favorite flavor, so she didn't care for it too much and I got to finish the rest. Pretty yummy!



BJ was kind of jealous of the whole thing -- "Why didn't they do scientific field trips when I was in preschool???" -- but I thought it was really great that BB got to do something special like this. And while she clearly was glad to have my company, I think she would have been OK without me there. Here we are, stopping by the fountain on the walk back to school.


She's really at a much better place at school these days, and I'm sure this field trip will be one more good step along the path towards feeling completely comfortable during her preschool hours. Hooray for that!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Thousand Words

Even if I used a thousand words to make the attempt, I don't think I could fully capture the feeling behind the picture I wish I'd been able to take today:

BB and BJ, side by side in the rollercoaster car in front of me, both of them with their arms in the air.

It was definitely one of those "Mama's Mental Snapshot Moments" (MMSMs are for me the intensified parental equivalent of a kodak moment). Folks who know our family well will probably be aware that BJ has been a rollercoaster fan for quite some time. BB, not so much. So when we headed over to one of our favorite local amusement parks today to meet our friend E, it was interesting to hear the conversation in the minivan between BB and BJ. While I was driving, BB was talking about how she might try the rollercoaster today. BJ was telling her how much fun it is. BB was explaining that she might be able to do it because she would have E there to help her be brave.

And sure enough, E's presence did seem to help BB feel less timid. She climbed all over the enormous "redwood" play structure with E (and BJ) -- something that until today had been too intimidating for her. She even went down the really tall tube slides, first in E's lap and then by herself. So sweet!

Then, surprise: we get to the rollercoaster, and E decides that it's too scary for her. (She's worried that the car trains will fly off of the track. Apparently, this is a longstanding fear for her.) E makes this declaration when we're all getting into line, and so I pause to see if BB still wants to go. A moment's hesitation, but then she says she does.

She and I ride together with BJ in the car ahead of us. BJ is delighted. BB is nervous and wants my arm around her. She's clearly tense as the ride begins, but a few moments later, she's giggling and then laughing! Then we're getting off the ride, and she's telling E, "That was FUN!"

So then E decides to give it a whirl. Her grandma (who was with us for the day as E's chaperone) wasn't really wanting to ride it, and E wanted to go with a grown-up, so I asked BB if she would be OK riding with her brother. A moment's hesitation, but then she says, "Sure!"

And that's when the "MMSM" happened. I was sitting behind BB and BJ, with my arm around their friend E to reassure her. There they were, my own two children in front of me, thrilled and brave.

There's a poem in there. It has been quite a while since I heard the knocking of the muse so clearly on that particular door. It will be interesting to see if I'm able to answer in time to write something worthwhile, a thousand words of it or not. For now, I'm cherishing the image in my mind.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Highlights, With Parentheses

I suspect that S and I might be crossing into "old married folks" territory (after all, we have been married 14 years, and known each other since 1990). Last night's rather impromptu "date night" consisted (quite satisfactorily) of a dinner (using a coupon) and browsing the thrift store for treasures (used kids books! a future ren faire costume for BB! season 1 of the Little House on the Prairie DVDs!) followed by the "let's drive around in search of pie" game. (We've actually played this game before, back when we were in Arizona, but I believe this is the first time we've played it in California. Though I do have vivid memories of playing "let's drive around in search of donuts" when we first arrived in this city, over 11 years ago now.) Closest thing to pie that we could find last night was lemon tart at Sugar Butter Flour in the Pruneyard. (Yummy, but not quite the Platonic Ideal of Pie that I'd hoped for. Then again, that ideal was formed by the little cafe on Mt. Lemmon that no longer exists.)


What I really would have liked to do was go swing dancing with my sweetie, but there was no way we had enough ducks in a row to pull that one off successfully. (In fact, I doubt we even had so much as a single duck, much less two to begin a row.) Mebbe someday.

Other fun from the weekend: BJ and I counted up the money he's been saving for his whale adoption fund, and he's at $96! I was amazed and he was downright shocked. He has only $29 to raise to reach his goal. (And a lovely side note: on Thursday, he took up his kindergarten teacher A on her offer to have him come do some chores in the classroom to earn some extra money -- a few weeks back, she'd heard about his adopt-a-whale project, donated $10 towards the cause, and made the offer -- so he cleaned tables and helped pick up the classroom for a whopping $2.50! Considering the kid makes a buck a week in allowance, that's not too shabby. And so sweet of A! I love her so much.)


Today we had a nice time at the girls' soccer game (plus our team won!) with lovely weather and both kids enjoying themselves.


Unfortunately, BB has a bit of a cold so has been kind of cranky today. But she was in a good mood at the game. Really, what's not to like when at the same time you're eating a churro? Especially one that as BB put it, "is bigger than my head!" (And yes, BB's and BJ's were the same size when they started. BB had maybe had three or four bites when I took that pic. BJ, considerably more, and his mouth was quite full when I took the picture!)

Both kids were feeling cuddly too (maybe the fact we were sitting in the shade had something to do with it) so we got the sticky-fingered snuggle time for sure.


I'm not much of a sports fanatic, but I've really been glad to go to these games. And today was especially fun -- It's really cool to see young women so strong and physically competent. That really is a change from my generation to this one. (See there, I really am feeling like an old lady tonight, talking about "My generation" and all that...) The goalie kept shouting "Aggressive! NO FEAR! Aggressive!!!" and it was a welcome counter-chant to the ultra-feminized gender stuff-n-junk that has been bugging me lately. Does my heart good, and interesting to observe that every single one of the members on "our" team (and most of those on the other team, too) had long, lovely hair (pulled back in a ponytail). So affirming to see obvious markers of femininity plus athletic strength is a do-able equation for these admirable young women.

Today's move night pick (BB's turn to select): The Lion King. The kids have probably seen this a dozen times now, which is a heckuvalot given how little media time they get. (We don't do TV.) Percentage-wise, it is now up there with the Herbie The Love Bug series. (Eclectic choices, I grant you. And just wait -- MST 3K will enter the picture at some point. Perhaps sooner rather than later -- the kids were asking about it today. "Mommy and Daddy, what's this movie?" Try explaining Joel and the Bots to a 4 yr old and a 6 yr old. Just try.)

Random for the record (because going from MST to The Onion is not that far of a leap, really): this totally made me think of BB and her walks along the beach. (Also S and that one time we were at Rehoboth Beach after a big winter storm and scored dozens and dozens of gorgeous shells. Was that really almost twenty years ago? See, I told you we're bordering old married folks territory....)

Last fun detail for tonight: tonight BJ got his first phone call from a "girl who is a friend." His friend E was calling to invite him to a playdate tomorrow during the inservice day off school. Very sweet. S answered the phone and it took him a good two minutes to figure out who E was and to understand that she was calling for BJ. This is actually the first non-family member to call for one of the kids ever. And of course E wanted to talk with BB too (this is the same E who had the sweet habit of picking BB up and spinning her around whenever she'd see us, much to BB's delight). We're very much looking forward to seeing her tomorrow, since we don't get as much of her company as we used to (she and BJ are now in different first grade classes).

Here's hoping the week is a productive one. I have my first (and so far, only) holiday craft show of the season in five weeks, and not nearly enough to show for it! Yikes!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vanity

Yesterday before bath, it was time to take out BB's elaborate post-Ren-Faire braids. In some ways, I think she likes unweaving the braids as much as having them put in. She adores the waves and fluff that result from having her hair braided.

BJ was at his evening gym class, so BB and I had lots of uninterrupted time to undo the updo and brush it out. BB wanted to do this while standing on the step stool in front of the bathroom mirror, so that she could watch, and once everything was taken down she wanted to do the hair brushing All By Herself. It was pretty danged cute to see her watching her reflection as she smoothed the brush through her tresses. (I would have taken a picture, but I didn't want to ruin the moment by running for the camera. Plus, I wouldn't have shared it here anyway -- she was undressed for bath, and I don't post naked pics of my kids.)

She was especially gratified to see that her hair was "really long, Mommy!" She bent down so that her hair was at the level of the countertop. "Longer than this!" (I had to smile -- I well remember growing my hair out for the first time, tilting my head back as far as it would go so that my hair reached down my back. It felt so long!) She kept brushing and smiling. "I have beautiful hair, Mommy," she informed me. Utterly un-self-consciously, she said, "I have beautiful, golden hair. My hair is the color of the sun!"

For a moment, I was tempted to give her a bit of a talking-to about vanity. (I like to think that I'm not an especially vain person. I know that I clean up pretty good, and I am fortunate to be fairly photogenic -- but I mostly don't worry too much about the way I look. These days, anyway. It took me a long time to get there. Most importantly, I don't want to raise a girl who believes that her appearance is of prime importance. Yes, I have recently viewed the Miss Representation video that is all over Facebook, and as I write this I'm certainly thinking of that, but I came to such conclusions long before. Feminism 101, and even before that.)

I wouldn't call BB vain. But she has already imbibed those mainstream, misogynistic spirits -- the ones that insist, intoxicatingly, that to be a girl means to be pretty. She wants to be pretty. To be beautiful. She tells me when she feels pretty, when she feels beautiful. Mostly, so far, this feels innocent. Sometimes it doesn't. (And don't get me started on the princess thing.) Granted, she is a beautiful child -- though I say it myself. (Truly, all children are beautiful. Truly. For BB the features line up nicely with the social expectations for beauty. Blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned...) But there are too many social pressures at work for beauty to be a simple virtue for her. (For any girl in this culture, alas.) So when she starts talking about how beautiful she is, my reaction is always, always complicated. The temptation is to start analyzing and to share that analysis with her.

Then, I decided, nah. Let it be. She's four! (Actually, as she will tell you, she is four-and-two-thirds. Ahem.) She will have plenty of time to have plenty of influences convincing her that there's something wrong with the way she looks. Let her be beautiful. Let her feel good about the way she looks.

And just as I was coming to this conclusion, BB turned to me and said, "Mommy? You know what? You have beautiful hair too.... " I could hear there was a "But" coming.

And sure enough. "But your hair, Mommy? Your hair is the color of dirt."

Nothing like a kids' perspective to bring it right home for ya, every time. No need for analysis there!

And wait, it gets better.

Because at dinner, I was telling this story to S. (Who thought it quite funny, but we'd both been told by BB that it was Not Funny, so we shouldn't laugh.) While I bit the inside of my cheek, S decided to step right into it. He asked BB what was the color of his hair.

She looked at him, considering. (I'm thinking, oh, this is gonna be good. He's gonna be told it's the color of rocks, or gravel, or maybe asphalt. Or silver, if she's feeling especially kind. After all, hers is golden.)

Then, she pronounced, "Daddy, your hair is the color of love."'

At which point, if I had been drinking milk, it would have come out of my nose. (As it was, I nearly choked on my baked ziti.) S isn't a particularly vain person either, but you can be sure he won't be forgetting his daughter's opinions on hair color anytime soon. And neither will I. Perhaps this is one more reason for me to be glad for the ever-increasing numbers of white hairs on my head. (I certainly don't have enough vanity in my character to worry about coloring my hair. Or perhaps that's just laziness.)

At any rate, I now plan to tell myself -- I'm not going grey. My hair is simply turning the color of love.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ren Faire 2011

Must be fall -- I had my first taste of pumpkin ice cream at our favorite ice cream shoppe on Friday. (YUM!) Also means it must be time for our family trip to the Renaissance Faire! This year it was the fourth annual trip for us and for the first time, all four of us went in garb. We always have a lot of fun at the faire (you can see previous posts here) but I think this one was the best time yet!

Dressing up is so much fun, and finally we had enough of the essential costume elements for the entire family. BJ donned the outfit from last year's school play (still fit, barely!) and BB was by far the fanciest of all of us in a gorgeous gown that Grandma C found for her (thank you so much, Grandma C! She LOVED it!)

I wore the same stuff as last year, S had his fine lookin' boots and a fancy new feather for his cap. (He's had that shirt for as long as I've known him, which is saying something.)
And this year, the kids took pictures of us! A little blurry and off framed, but not too bad!

I love how this has become such a family tradition for us. The kids definitely have their favorite things to do. BJ did the Fool's Maze with S. No pic this year, though -- they didn't have the camera at the time because it was with me and BB. I was introducing her to my favorite thing to do at the faire: the hair braiding! She was so excited that I'd deemed her hair long enough (not to mention her amount of patience for sitting still) that she could do it with me. Her double french braid got done before mine (I'd told the gal to just "have fun" -- and she did!)

Turned out well, dontcha think?

The only things BB liked more than the hair braiding were face painting and meeting fairies.

Waiting to get her face painted...

Ah, a beautiful rainbow! Exactly what she wanted!

It was fairy weekend at the faire, so there was no shortage of folks with wings. BB was absolutely delighted by this, and she decided she wanted to meet as many fairies as possible. So almost every time we saw a person with wings, she'd ask, "Mom, can we go meet the fairy?" Happily, she was cute and sweet enough about it (and danged cute in her dress) so that everybody was very friendly. One gal sprinkled "fairy dust" on her head, and another (talk about prepared!) had a little sheet of stick on "jewels" and gave her one as a "fairy wish" -- telling her as she stuck it on the back of her hand that she should make a wish and when the jewel came off, her wish would come true!

The petting zoo area was popular as ever...


Last year, BB got to meet the queen -- this year, BJ got to meet Sir Richard, a very friendly knight who even let BJ try on his helmet and hold his spear! (Wow!)

Of course BJ remembered the maypole merry-go-round and wanted to give it a go. Thank goodness S doesn't mind getting dizzy like I do!
(And as in years past, except for her first visit, BB didn't want to do it at all, so we watched and she did her own spinning.)

Along with many old favorites, they did have something new -- a bungee trampoline station that fascinated BJ. Here he is getting hooked up with the harness (and looking perhaps a bit nervous?)When it was his turn, he was all gumption. He had a blast, giggling while he bounced up and up!


This year, for the first time, we stayed almost until they closed at 6 pm. Of course before we left, we had to have the kids do the traditional Lady and Knight picture:


Then, BB wanted to switch and be the knight! BJ was a good sport about it, too.


Huzzah! Can't wait until next year! (Though by then, they will have both outgrown their costumes -- mebbe that's just the motivation I need to whip my sewing skills into better shape. We'll see!)