Archive for April 2009

Crowded. Packed. Stuffed.

I save. I keep shoeboxes of letters, files of graduate school notes, baby books and photo albums and boxes with the tiny outfits the boys wore so briefly years ago.

I dump. I keep a box in the garage which I fill for a regular Goodwill run, recycle Christmas cards, send magazines to preschool for collages, purge closets of outgrown clothes.

Eli is a saver. More than that, he is a collector. He comes home from school with his pockets full: a scrap of ribbon, a pebble, a leaf. He arranges his treasures on his bedside table (pictured above) on which he also displays souvenirs acquired along the way (a model Eiffel tower; a photo taken at the Empire State Building; my Dad’s old pocket watch); art projects (a wood train engine he painted at a party; a shoebox diorama; a pottery cat); books (Goodnight, Moon; Frog and Toad; Maisy’s Favorite Animals); toys (a windup frog; a windup train; a handful of beads). He touches them carefully before naptime or bed, making sure everything is in its proper place, shifting them slightly to make room for a new addition. Luckily his little table has a drawer, which is getting full, but still has some room for whatever catches his eye. And although I do a regular sweep of the boys’ room to disappear ignored toys and toss torn drawings, I won’t touch his table. It’s an art project in progress.

Mama at the Movies: The Business of Being Born

A couple days after my first son’s birth, I walked down the street of our busy neighborhood with my baby in a sling, awestruck. Everybody I looked at, I realized, every child, every adult, had come out of a woman’s body. I walked home slowly, mind-boggled at the wonder of it all. I was still a little stunned by my short, hard labor, and felt like I had been initiated into an amazing new society; I wanted to tell my birth story to anyone who would listen, and wanted to hear other women’s stories. Now, nearly four years after I gave birth to my second son, I still often find myself in groups of women that drift into sharing birth stories; we commiserate over past pains, cheer for supportive attendants, and, as we tell our stories, come to a better understanding of this sometimes joyous, sometimes traumatic, always transformative event.

Better understanding is the impulse behind the documentary, The Business of Being Born (2008). Producer Ricki Lake, unhappy with the interventions she experienced during her first child’s birth, set out to research American birth practices. She and director Abby Epstein (who became pregnant during the filming) dig up incredible documentary footage and still photos to create an informative, gripping film that should interest anyone concerned with healthcare in the United States, especially parents and parents-to-be.

Click on over to Literary Mama
to read the rest!

In other news…

I once tried to write an essay in which I compared my writing to the proverbially ignored third child, but the analogy didn’t seem to hold up and I shelved the piece. And now it’s out of date; I can’t claim that my writing isn’t getting much attention, and I’m grateful for that. But now this blog is becoming that third child — the independent oldest, left alone for long periods while I tend to its younger blog siblings.

At Learning to Eat, I’ve been giving my muffin tin a workout, and offer recipes for blueberry, banana, and vegan banana muffins, as well as pizza. Browse around and you’ll find a balanced meal or two (and the drink to accompany them).

At Mama, PhD, I’ve been invited to participate in a reading at UC Riverside, and posted a video of our recent event at the University of Richmond. So go check them out and I’ll try to update here over the weekend.

Pigeon Postscript

A number of readers have asked for an update on the pigeon egg, while a number of others have simply marveled at my luck in seeing a pigeon egg, all of us city dwellers having lived a long time with the belief that pigeons spontaneously generate.

So in the beginning were two birds and an egg, and then we observed one bird and an egg, and then — after the UPS man noisily delivered a package — just an egg. It wasn’t getting any less attention after the bird left, honestly, as she had only sat on it for a couple minutes, but it looked pretty forlorn just lying there and the boys worried about it. So we scooped it up and gave it a cozier little home in the backyard, and I told them maybe the pigeon would find it, or maybe another bird would adopt it (or maybe — I didn’t remind them of this possibility — a rat like Templeton would come along and eat it.) It’s been a while now, and there’s no sign of the egg anymore, and the boys have forgotten it for now, but I expect the next time they see a bird’s nest one of them will “Remember the time?”

Math in the Car

Lately Ben does math in the car. He’ll ask, “What’s 83 times 12?” And Tony or I will say, “Can you figure it out?” And he does. His thinking through 2/3 + 1/4 occupied a good 15 minutes of a long drive recently, and that’s okay because he’s seven. I don’t believe his first grade teacher has even taught the kids fractions yet, let alone how to add them.

So now of course Eli wants in on the fun. The other day on the drive to school he asked, “What’s 3 divided by 2?” Before I could respond, Ben said, “Eli, do you know what ‘divided by’ means?”
“Well,” said Ben, “It’s a kind of math process; do you know what ‘math’ is?”
“Okay, well, math is numbers. 3 divided by 2 means, how many two’s fit inside three, and that’s one and a half. “
Eli was perfectly satisfied with that explanation, and for now I am, too. Maybe Ben can teach Eli long division, also…