Monday, December 05, 2005

the nightmare of a three and a half year old

this morning, a bit after 5am, my older daughter woke up very suddenly and screaming. she sleeps right next to me, so i immediately started trying to comfort her, but she was having none of it. she was so hysterical that it took me a while to figure out what she was yelling about, but she seemed to have had a nightmare about her bedtime routine, as she was trying to tell her Abba (who wasn't in the room) that she did not want to brush her teeth. at least that was what it sounded like.

i tried explaining that it was a dream, but that just made her more angry. she really can't tell the difference, and with dreams like that, who can blame her? it isn't like she was dreaming about something that doesn't happen every day. so i tried explaining that she had already brushed them and she needed to go back to sleep. i tried comforting her with cuddling, but she was too pissed off and freaked out to care. then i realized she'd switched gears, and was screaming that she did want to brush her teeth. well hey, that's easy. we got up and brushed our teeth. yeah, me too. why not? the dentist would be proud of me.

so that is how i found myself brushing my teeth at about 5:20am. she fell asleep easily after that.

parenthood is often not what i expected.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Not that this is important, but in a world as small as wizarding Britain, how can there be so many professional Quidditch teams? Especially when they hardly ever recruit kids who've just finished Hogwarts? Do we know of anyone who's gone off to play professional Quidditch from Hogwarts (in Harry's time, anyway) other than Oliver Wood?

I recall reading about the Chudley Cannons, the Holyhead Harpies, the Falmouth Falcons, the Tutshill Tornados, Puddlemere United, the Montrose Magpies, the Wimbourne Wasps, the Kenmare Kestrels and the Pride of Portree. Then the HP lexicon also lists the Appleby Arrows, the Ballycastle Bats, the Caerphilly Catapults, and the Wigtown Wanderers. That is thirteen teams, which means between them Ireland and the UK have a minimum of 91 professional players. More if they have reserve players on staff.

That just seems, unlikely. I mean, there were only 40 eleven year olds who entered Hogwarts in Harry's first year. I guess it could work if the slow aging of wizards and witches means that they can play professional sports a whole lot longer than a muggle could, but I would love some sort of reasonable explanation. I don't expect one, of course. :)

Monday, November 28, 2005

weird tidbit you probably didn't know

the cool new slang compliment from the kindergarteners in my son's class:
"you walk like a rock star!!"
apparently they said it to their principal. i'm sure he took it in the spirit in which it was intended!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

well, that settles it

"Ima, we don't need any more babies in our family".
Zora 11-10-2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Tooth Fairy

Who knew I could be so sentimental?

Don't answer that.

I picked my son up from school today - exactly one week before his 6th birthday - and after several minutes of playing on the playground, realized he was missing a lower front tooth. When I asked him where it was, he told me it was in the garbage! He'd never indicated that it was loose, so I'd never explained that he should keep it when it fell out.

I used to wonder why parents told their children about the tooth fairy. What purpose does the myth serve? Now that I am in the position myself, I finally know. I want that landmark! I want that memento! I want it enough, as it turns out, to pay for it.

As it turns out, instead of telling him about the tooth fairy, we treated the whole clan to pizza. And, it seems, invented a new tradition. Lose your first tooth, we all eat pizza. I can live with that. Now I just have to hope it convinces him not to throw away any of the other teeth.

He looks adorable, by the way. And we found the thing, at the bottom of the garbage pail in his classroom. It is safe in a plastic bag in my "save these baby things" drawer.

Motherhood. It changes a woman.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

my son just said ...

"I came downstairs. So it's a better morning!"

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I've been meaning to write this particular post for some time. I need to return this book so I have to just get this out or I’ll never return the book.

Anyway, I recently read _Freakonomics_ by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but I was struck by a large flaw and had to comment on it. Part of the book discusses the "mistaken belief" that parents can positively influence their children by raising them well. They go into more detail about what studies have shown to work and not to work, but clearly, the authors believe that peers and genetics and maybe wealth have a lot more to do with successful child-rearing than good parenting.

Then, in the next breath they say that good adoptive parents can have a good influence on their adoptive children. Genetics aside, adopted children do seem to grow up to have better jobs and be happier people with better lives than children raised in poor, single-parent, etc., etc., homes.

So which is it, folks?

The problem, as I see it, lies in relying too heavily (in the first place - with the first argument) on the criteria measured by a lot of studies. Those studies are not proving that parents can't have a positive impact on their kids with attentive, good parenting. They may well be proving that this sort of parenting doesn't raise public school or SAT test scores, but I’m not raising my kids to be tested. Those tests will affect their lives of course, but it is their lives I am raising them for, not someone else's standardized test.

When they examined a study that measured the general lives of adults (not scores on the tests that minors took) they saw that parenting does matter. Which frankly, makes sense. Adulthood isn't about test scores. (Thank heavens.) Adulthood is about jobs and relationships and creating and striving for personal goals. It's about being a part of a marriage and a community and raising one's own children. Or at least, those are the things that adulthood is about for the vast majority of Americans.

So I suggest that the authors of this otherwise very engaging book reexamine this chapter. I think they need to take another look at the baseline assumptions underlying their point. Basically, I think they goofed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


so i was talking about politics, katrina/new orleans and the iraq war with friends the other day, and i found myself quoting george orwell and 1984. "we have always been at war with eurasia"... and Joy said something like it is scary how often this president inspires folks to quote george orwell.


i'm not sure why this blog hasn't inspired a single political post until now, but here it is. i'll just be clear for anyone who doesn't know. i voted for kerry and i'd do it again. the knowledge that women voted for bush because they thought we would be safer under him makes my jaw drop.

sadly, i find that writing well is a great deal harder than it feels like it ought to be. i hope this llnk: remains viable for a long time because this NYT op-ed columnist said it much better than i can.

Monday, September 19, 2005

slightly wrong word

my son doesn't understand that the word "born" is not the word "boring". here's a gem from him. he just said this a minute ago.

"Zora was boring here, I was boring in a hospital!!"

sudden flash of insight (many years ago)

You know those rare instances when someone tried to get the better of you but you got the better of them, instead? I have no idea what triggered the memory, but for some reason I was thinking about one of those this morning.

I was in high school when this happened, and was definitely not one of the more popular kids. One evening I got an unexpected phone call. I immediately recognized the voice. It was Randy York, who I'd had a few classes with over the years. He said "Hi, this is Marvin." I said no, you aren't Marvin, you're Randy, I recognize your voice. You don't sound anything at all like Marvin. Well, we went back and forth a few times, as he insisted he was Marvin and I insisted he was Randy.

Finally I gave up and said ok "Marvin", why are you calling? Of course, I was pretty suspicious at this point. Indeed, it wasn't about finding out the pages we were supposed to read or which math problems had been assigned. No, "Marvin" was calling to ask me out on a "date".

So, I heaved a huge fake sigh and said that I really appreciated his offer, but I just couldn't accept. You see, I exclaimed, I have a huge crush on Randy York.


And that, my friends, was the last time Randy York spoke to me. I recall that a year or two later we had trigonometry together, and I was desperately searching one day for someone with a watch. I can't remember anymore why I wanted to know the time, but though Randy was wearing a watch, he wouldn't tell me what it said. So I had zinged him so bad, apparently, that two years later he literally wouldn't give me the time of day.

I have a bad habit of dwelling on the moments in my past where I made a fool of myself or someone else made a fool of me, so really, it was nice to remember this moment instead.

Friday, September 09, 2005

delightful things my children have said

"The opposite of Aladdin is Jafar". - Zora, 2 years old
"Cheetahs bite their own food!" - Razi 7/15/05
"I gave Boo bread. That was kindful." - Zora 8/11/05
"Monsters are scared of trains! They are GOOD!" - Razi 8/23/05
"Bodies are for dancing." - Zora 9/8/05

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

another harry potter prediction

Ok, at the beginning of book 5, a bunch of folks from the Order of the Phoenix come to the Dursley's house to get Harry. Why so many folks? I predict that they will all serve a purpose (some of them already have, of course).

Prof. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody - very important to book 4 and shows up often after
Prof. Remus Lupin - very important to book 3 and shows up often after
Nymphadora Tonks - a character in books 5 and 6
Kingsley Shacklebolt - a character in books 5 and 6
Elphias Doge - can't remember him being mentioned again
Dedalus Diggle - mentioned a few times here and there since book 1
Emmaline Vance - horribly murdered "between" books 5 and 6, murder mentioned in book 6
Sturgis Podmore - arrested and sent to azkaban in book 5
Hestia Jones - quite sure she isn't mentioned again in book 5 or 6

Here's my prediction. Elphias Doge and/or Dedalus Diggle and/or Hestia Jones will figure into book 7. i'm rooting for Hestia Jones. She has a cool name. ;)

Monday, September 05, 2005

another harry potter post

A prediction.

I hereby predict (sound pompous enough? ;) that book 7 will end, or Voldemort will end, anyway, in the "always locked" room in the Department of Mysteries.

I also believe that the archway that killed Sirius and those flying brains will be important in the final battle scenes and/or whatever final scenes end Voldemort.

Having studied JKR's style a bit too obsessively lately, I see that she leaves hints for the future in certain ways. Rereading book 5 I am a bit stunned at how often Montague (whose sojourn in the broken vanishing cabinet gave Draco the crucial information he needed to get Death Eaters into Hogwarts at the end of Book 6) was mentioned. She just casually throws Montague in several times, just to remind us of him. His angry parents show up to talk to Umbridge, he's in the hospital wing getting medicine from Madame Pomfrey, etc. I didn't notice that the first time I read the book, or the second, either. I had to read book 6 and THEN reread book 5 to notice.

With that sort of writing style in mind, I see the experiences that Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Luna and Harry had in the Department of Mysteries in a new light.

I was really struck by the way only some of the students were drawn to the arch that later killed Sirius. Harry was fascinated by it, but Hermione knew it was dangerous, and explicitly labeled it as such.

The flying brains are also mentioned several times. Ron tries to play with them when his brain is addled from an unknown spell. Then the brains apparently come close to killing Ron.

The door that melted the magical knife is probably the "always locked" door that has behind it the power of love. Dumbledore tells Harry about this on pages 843 and 844.

These things were all emphasized to no known purpose in book 5 (or book 6, for that matter), and so I feel they are very likely to be very important in the last remaining book.

Prediction made. Now I have to take care of a crying 1 year old. ;)

Friday, September 02, 2005

parenthood is sleepy

the other night my spouse and i both fell asleep while putting the kids to bed. my spouse fell asleep in our son's bed, and i fell asleep between the girls. we both woke separately in the middle of the night and wondered why the other hadn't woken us up! there goes watching a movie together.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


My oldest child started full-day kindergarten last week. He seems to like it. His teacher is 22 years old and fresh out of college. As a friend of mine who teaches elementary school in another state told me, I could get the one who takes this year to figure out that this is SO not the profession for her, or I could get a natural. We'll see, I guess.

So far she neglected to look in his backpack for a lunch and just assumed I sent neither lunch nor lunch money. On the other hand, she bought him a lunch.

Her description of where my son should be at the end of the year academically is discouraging in numbers/mathematics. He's past there already.

He's past where the class will be starting with reading, but he doesn't really know how to read yet. (He reads a few dozen simple words right now.) I assume this means the classwork will quickly catch up to where he currently is.

He likes kindergarten as far as I can tell. And happily, he already knows a few of the kids in his class. They went to preschool together. I hope he has a good year. I plan to do everything I can to make it happen.

Monday, August 15, 2005

a birthday approaches.

well, my youngest child is about to have her first birthday. our intention has long been that she would be our last child, so i occasionally get a bit misty about never having another baby. especially as this baby prepares to leave official baby-hood. indeed, she is working hard on learning to walk, and is using more "words" now than just a few days ago.

but i still feel, deep down (probably in my hip bones, they haven't completely recovered from my last pregnancy) that three kids is the right number for this family.

so i need to plan a birthday party, whether i feel ready or not. i think this party will be pretty small. heaven knows this child doesn't need more toys or clothes - though i think the party itself will utterly delight her. she adores getting attention. what third child doesn't? but i don't want the house overrun and i don't want to make a really big deal out of this transition. i want her to be a baby a while longer.

for me, that's the funny thing about parenthood. it is simultaneously about my children and about me.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

more harry potter thoughts

in the first book, when snape realizes that quirrell is trying to get the stone, why doesn't he tell anyone and try to get help with stopping quirrell?

i adore harry potter, but ...

i adore harry potter, but there are things about it that bug me. maybe some of these criticisms will be answered by the 7th book, i hope so.

for one, wasn't the philosopher's/sorcerer's stone safer before harry went down in there to "save" it? he got it out of the mirror, quirrell couldn't. if harry hadn't gone down there, presumeably quirrell would have spent a lot of fruitless time nattering to himself in front of the mirror of erised, and then d'dore would have come down and caught him and been done with him. harry was wonderful and brave and all, but what he did, in the end, served no real purpose.

and i want to know how voldy got his wand back. he says to his DEs that he couldn't hold a wand after his attempt to curse baby Harry backfired. no one takes credit for getting it back to him. he gives no one credit for it, either. so will the wand deliverer be revealed in book 7, or did JKR just mess up?

another thing: If D'dore didn't really believe that the prophecy was "truth", ie, it wasn't Harry's destiny unless he chose it to be (and he says so in HPB), why did he wait so many years to reveal the prophecy to Harry?

I've long thought that prophecy thing was the weakest part of OotP, maybe the weakest part of the whole series so far. If Harry had just known the prophecy (and D'dore could have told it to him at any time, or let him stumble across it in the pensieve if he didn't want Voldy looking at him through Harry's eyes) then in essence the whole book wouldn't have happened. And, not unimportant, Sirius wouldn't have died, either.

and who cares if voldy wastes time and energy going after the prophecy? what mattered (to me, to harry) is that HARRY went after it. sirius went to the dept of mysteries to rescue harry. the prophecy had nothing to do with why sirius was there, except that it was why harry was there. if harry hadn't tried to "rescue" sirius, sirius wouldn't have died. just what voldy was banking on, really.

if instead harry had been told, say 3/4ths of the way through the book, what the prophecy was, he wouldn't have gone to the dept of mysteries that night, it wouldn't have mattered that snape stopped giving him occlumency lessons, and voldy would have spent (wasted) lots more time and energy trying to get the prophecy.

i just think it's weak.

cute things children say

I went to the zoo with my kids and had this conversation with my 3yr old daughter:

We look into the elephant area and she says with authority: "Elephants can't hurt me."

I don't want to scare her but I want her to be careful, so I say something like "Well you know, they are very big, and they could hurt you without meaning to, if you got too close ..."

This really upsets her, and with a tear in her voice she exclaims: "But EEE-muh, elephants can't hurt me! They don't have STINGers!"