An Homage

With Halloween fast approaching, I finally got around to donating the kids’ remaining outgrown costumes from years past. I don’t often form emotional attachments to possessions, but this lot has been hard for me to let go (as evidenced by just how many costumes I had available to donate). My mom hand-made each of these costumes for her grandsons (just like she did for me every year when I was a kid) so they were not to be parted with lightly. But saving them in an old plastic tub in the basement year after year didn’t seem like the best use of space–and they still all had plenty of trick-or-treat life left in them. So, new homes it was.

I used my local Buy Nothing group to find recipients for each costume, which made it feel more like handing down a treasured family heirloom to an old friend. And I dug up old pictures of (nearly) all of them, which I share with you here in homage:

Not shown: the cutest freaking skunk costume you’ve ever seen (because Riley wore it as a 14-month-old and that was so long ago it predates my digital camera ownership), plus some others that have either been repurposed or worn out over the years.

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10 (Adult-Friendly) Books for Preschoolers

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

So says Emilie Buchwald. It’s probably no surprise that I think she’s right, or that the bedtime story ritual has long been one of my favorite parenting activities. We read together a lot in this house. And while I think that reading itself is more important than the quality of what’s being read, especially at Avi’s age (4), I also get tired of reading utter crap over and over and over again (I’m looking at you, stack of Thomas the Train books). So, I thought I’d pull together a short list of some of our current favorites that both parents and preschoolers can honestly enjoy together.

One caveat before we begin: Warm, cheery, and simple children’s books are fine. They have their place. But I tend to agree with Maurice Sendak and believe that children are perfectly capable of handling bigger words, bigger ideas, and darker (more realistic) material. A few of these selections are along those lines, so be warned if that’s not your family’s cup of tea.

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From the Vault: The Birth Story

In an effort to collect all of my writing in one place, I will occasionally post previously published work here, under the heading “From the Vault.” Yesterday was my youngest baby’s FOURTH(!) birthday, so what better time to relive and reshare his birth with all of you.

It’s about 3:00 am when the first one hits. I’ve been having contractions for months, so I don’t bother getting out of bed to alert Josh. But I know. I’ve been feeling a little off all day, and even left work early that afternoon. And this contraction is just different; not stronger, exactly, but somehow more intense. But it’s late and I’m tired and I’ve been through this before. I know what to expect of the hours ahead of me. And I’m not ready. Not yet.

I sigh and roll onto my side, burrowing my head into the pillow and pulling the blankets tight around my shoulders. But I can’t get comfortable. I know it’s time. Even the air feels different.

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Not a Real Post

In a whirlwind of shrieks and exclamation points, he barrels into the kitchen.

“Mom! Mom! Mommy! MomEEEEE! I made the wrong mess!”

“You made a mess?”

“I made the wrong mess!”

“You made the wrong mess?”

“Yeah! ”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“I made a mess! But it wasn’t the mess I wanted to make. It is the WRONG mess.”

“Um, okay…”

“You should probably bring a towel.”

And that is how he tells me he spilled his blueberry juice.

Okay, yes, fine. You caught me. This is not a real post. Probably nothing I write this week will qualify as a “real” post. It is a bit of a bear around here lately. I have almost more freelance work than I can handle at the moment (which is a perfect state of being, really), I’m putting together a proposal for possibly even a bit more work, I’ve had board meetings to attend to, writing workshop assignments to half-ass, and, to top it all off, the kids continue to insist on being parented. But I rallied at the state capitol last week (and met the governor!) AND I had the porn talk with my oldest son. So, we’ll have plenty to talk about just as soon as I can get a moment. In the meantime, please humor me while I relay random conversations with my toddler.


This post’s song: Paper Bag by Fiona Apple

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The Absolutely True Story of Letting My Son Read Banned Books


I’ll be honest: I had already pegged Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as a potential read for my 12-year-old. Hearing that there are school districts considering banning it only makes me MORE likely to recommend it to him.

A bit of reflexive rebellion on my part? Perhaps. But there seems to be a pretty well established trend that the books parents try to get banned are the best ones. The most important reads. The ones that really SAY something. Something uncomfortable perhaps – but in my humble opinion, that’s precisely WHY they’re important reads.

Adolescent sexuality. Racism. Slavery. Evil atrocities (I’m looking at YOU, Hitler, and the moms who tried to ban Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl). Profane language. Drugs. These are things that to make a lot of parents uncomfortable. But these are all things that our children are going to be exposed to, and probably earlier than we’d like if we had our way. Isn’t it best to prime them? Isn’t it best to let them first experience these complicated subjects through the relative safety of a book?

I think so. I also understand age-appropriateness. But, I tend to think our kids are capable of understanding and handling far more than we give them credit for.

The complaints I’ve heard about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian center around profanity, specifically the author’s use of “the f-word” <gasp!> and talk of masturbation <gasp!>. Honestly, I find neither of these issues particularly concerning. I don’t know about your 12-year-old, but mine is well acquainted with four-letter words. And masturbation? Hardly a startling topic, in my opinion. But let’s not lose sight of the other topics covered. Native American life on the reservation. Disabilities. Poverty. Bullying. And, yes, adolescent sexuality (which I  happen to believe is a useful and healthy topic of discussion for a tween-ager). All written by a premier Native American author who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and just happens to currently live in my lovely city? How is that not worth a few masturbatory scenes and some f-bombs?

Of course, I’m saying all this having not actually read the book myself. Still, I have every intention of recommending it to my son and the news of potential bannings only reinforces my feelings.

I’ll report back if he ends up reading it (and will mostly likely borrow his copy and read it myself as well). In the meantime, have any of you read it? Would you recommend it to your children?


This post’s song: Indian Lover by Jude

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