Archive for January 2009

Once Upon a Time, By Eli

A book recently dictated by Eli to one of his preschool teachers:

Once upon a time I made a book.

Once upon a time I was at school and Daddy was not. I made a book.

At the end of the book I said, “It’s a pretty good book.”

The end.

May he always have such confidence in his writing!

And now, for something different: Man on Wire

Man on Wire was the best film I saw in 2008, and Philippe Petit’s appearance on Colbert Report the other day was a total pleasure:

A Sign of Change!

I had to tear myself away from Inauguration coverage today to work lunch duty at my son’s school, but seeing this sign in person made it all worth it:

Happy birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr.!

In school the other day, Ben made an image of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, DC. His teacher emailed to tell us that Ben created a text box to quote MLK saying “I have a dream that little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and girls and walk together as brothers and sisters.” “He wrote the quote from memory,” his teacher reported, “and everything was spelled correctly and he used quotation marks. Wow!”

I’m not so surprised by his accurate use of quotation marks, really (he didn’t live through the copyediting of a book for nothing), but pleased that he knows the lines and understands what they mean.

We didn’t participate in today’s National Day of Service, as we had hoped, because Ben was still too sick when we would have needed to sign up, but we’ve been talking about MLK, Jr. a lot around here and this morning Ben drew another picture, this time with no text, in honor of the day. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with after we watch the Inauguration tomorrow.

Rules to Live By

We have a computer in the kitchen which is essentially our stereo (thank you, iTunes) and which Ben uses to compile important airline facts, look at airplane designs, and occasionally do some writing. The other day I saw this on screen:


1. No one near the stage, otherwise the puppets will be scared and the show will stop immediately.

2. The theater is not a play area.

3. No screaming or yelling.

4. If the intermission is longer than expected, no saying, “I wonder when this awful intermission will be over?”

5. No running.

*If you hear a whistle blow, one of the rules has been broken.

I think I’ll go out and buy a whistle.

Good Thing It’s Free

Mariah has arrived and the boys are delighted, as you might be able to tell from how they decorated her bedroom door: a couple airplanes, a cable car on the Mariah Street/Gruner Avenue line, and many, many bows. They are still surprised by the sleeping habits of a teenager, curious about her vegan eating habits, but most of all thrilled by her presence and the excuse to use Skype now to chat with her family. What took us so long? We can also Skype with friends on sabbatical in Paris, and if/when some other friends move to Delhi, we’ll work out the time difference and Skype with them, too.

I just hope at some point the novelty wears off enough that we can talk without the boys jumping up and down and launching rocket ships across the screen.

Recent Writing

I’ve been busy this December, with a good week’s vacation in snowy Connecticut with my entire family (some pictures here) followed by three days at the annual Modern Language Association convention, reporting on the proceedings for Inside Higher Ed. You can read those articles here:

MLA Realities: Then and Now

The Quest for Balance and Support

Caring for Children and Their Parents

In the midst of all that, I watched an incredible documentary about how a group of Muslim and Christian women worked together to end Liberia’s fourteen-year civil war. Here’s an excerpt:

Ben and his friend were in the bedroom playing war. Because they are the kinds of boys they are, the game involved Legos and negotiation of the rules but very little discernible war play. Still, because I am the kind of mom I am, I suggested some other more friendly narratives in which to involve their Legos. Then three year-old Eli, who had been listening attentively to all sides of the conversation, shouted out his peace plan:

“All war, go home! Have dinner! Go to sleep!”

We laughed (me a bit ruefully) at Eli’s naiveté, but when I saw the new documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell (Gini Reticker, 2008) I reconsidered Eli’s approach.

You can read the rest of the column over at Literary Mama.

Highlights & Resolutions

Every night at dinner, we take turns talking about our highs and lows for the day. Last night, with sushi and champagne to ring in the New Year, we asked the boys about their highlights (no need to think back over the lows) and their resolutions for the year.

Ben’s highlight: visiting France
resolution: to get a response from the people at Boeing when he sends in his designs and seating plans for a new 797 plane.

Eli’s highlight: visiting France and making his beloved pottery train in preschool
resolution: to visit a new city

Eli’s resolution will come true in April; we hope the folks at Boeing might feel sympathetic toward on an enthusiastic kid and send more than a form letter… stay tuned.