Sunday, December 31, 2006

All Quiet on the Holiday Front

Well, things have been really quiet here in blogland. We spent 7 days in New Hampshire with Grammy and Grandpa, which was great overall.

However we all got some sort of stomach flu, so that at any one point in time at least one of us had either vomiting or diarrhea. Luckily on Christmas day everyone felt OK, and we were able to fulfill SillyBilly's wish to cut down our own Christmas tree.

I had true intentions to post here while on vacation, but it never happened.

On a completely different note: anyone have any opinions on blogging with WordPress?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What I'm doing instead of wrapping presents...

I found a link to these incredible Goddess dolls on Strollerderby. I've never seen something so original in "Waldorf" style toys.

Whoever can make a cool little doll out of Kali (complete with skull necklace), Tethys (with tentacles and cowries) or Boudicca (torc, woad and all) is simply awesome.

I've been thinking a lot about how the Waldorf world is a bit stuck in convention and dogma (another future post), so it's refreshing to see someone branching out a bit.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yet another meme...

I'll have to add memes as another reason to blog! This one courtesy of White Thoughts.

Yourself: wheezy

Your partner: unsettled

Your hair: shiny

Your mother: silly

Your father: happy

Your favourite item: shell

Your dream last night: lonely

Your favourite drink: coffee

Your dream car: biodiesel

Your dream home: tidy

The room you are in: stuffed

Your ex: none

Your fear: inadequacy

Where you want to be in ten years: farm

Who you hung out with last night: Anthropapa

What you’re not: slim

Muffins: chocolate

One of your wish list items: space

Time: naptime

The last thing you did: breathed

What you are wearing: angora

Your favourite weather: cold

Your favourite book: magical

Last thing you ate: chocolate

Your life: transitioning

Your mood: curious

Your best friend: Anthropapa

What are you thinking about right now: blogging

Your car: surviving

What are you doing at the moment: breathing

Your summer: green

Relationship status: working

What is on your tv: dust

What is the weather like: cloudy

When is the last time you laughed: 11:30

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What's a Blog For?

I've been trying to figure out why anyone blogs. Here's what I've come up with:

1) To keep in touch with friends and family, especially with pictures.
2) To express their opinions.
3) As a creative expression.
4) To disseminate information.

Those are all nice reasons, but what's missing for me is true dialogue. I love reading comments on this blog (LURKERS: please quit hiding and tell me what you think! I know all those ClustrMap hits mean something.) I love posting comments on blogs of friends and strangers alike.

Maybe I'm just missing something about the technology, but blogs don't seem to engender real dialogue. Perhaps threaded messages work better, I'm not sure.

The Blogger function where I get an email every time someone comments here is great, except unless I have that person's email address already, I can't respond to them other than commenting in my own post.

O ye 3-4 readers, what do you think? Why do you blog?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wasting time instead of making Christmas presents...

Congratulations. You are 38% dork.

Almost, but not quite, entering the realm of dork-dom. You know that computers are capable of some nifty stuff, and you've even tried to partake in it. Ultimately, however, you enjoy natural lighting too much to really clinch the title of 'dork'.

The dork/nerd quiz
Quizzes for MySpace

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2-year-old non-sequitur land

We like to expose the Huntlings to many cultures and religions, so they're familiar with Jesus and Buddha (I have to read up a bit more on Mohammed), Christmas and Hannukah, etc.

Yet the following comment from Napoleona still amazed me:

We're sitting at the dinner table, talking about nothing in particular that I can remember, when all of a sudden we hear a little girl voice say

"The Buddha said, life is suffering."

Whoa nelly, we've got a live one.

Monday, December 11, 2006

...On a stack of Bibles?

I just read about the incoming Muslim Congressman who is already under fire because he wants to carry a Koran at his swearing-in ceremony. I can't help but comment.

Asking a Muslim to swear an oath on a Christian Bible would be completely illogical, because the Bible is not sacred to Muslims.

Now, we here in the US have a powerful cultural image of our politicians taking oaths on a Bible. However, as the Monitor points out, this is actually a cultural image (from the swearing in of the President) and not an actual requirement of office.

Au contraire, it would actually be a violation of the US Constitution to require anyone to swear any religious oath: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

I feel that I have to quote Dennis Prager, something I would not normally do, in order to most aptly express the opposition to Keith Ellison's consitutionally protected religious expression:

"Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."

Last I checked, America has about 300 million people. Saying that "America" is interested in only one thing is ridiculous. Does Prager think we work on absolute consensus here?

I agree that a nation can have shared values (shared by a majority and/or historically in that culture). And I agree that the Europeans who first colonized this country were Christians.

However I disagree that for the US the Bible is the only religious document that expresses our values. President Bush's first campaign focused on "compassionate conservatism." What better to teach us about compassion than the Dhammapada? Where can we find a better guide to ethical, generous charity than in the Torah?

Prager again, in a more recent response: "The Bible is the repository of our values, not the Constitution ... and I'm asking him to honor that and include the Bible along with the Koran."

Last I checked, things like freedom of speech and religion, both protected in the Constitution, were American values.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Books We Love

As we are surrounded by gifts at this time of year, I have been thinking about one of my favorite things: books. We are a big bookish family. SillyBilly, who is 4, wants to read but can't yet. We're not pushing him, but if he wants to, he will (I learned when I was 4 as well).

So, I've been thinking about desert island books. The ones we couldn't live without.


Anything by Shirley Hughes
These books are marvelous for young children. Alfie and Annie Rose happen to be just about the same ages as my children, so we delight in reading about their adventures. The books have a lot of humorous situations and detailed illustrations. We love Out and About for its seasonal poetry and images.

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
These stories are very funny for kids and parents, and are short enough to be good bedtime reading. Frog and Toad are sort of like amphibious toddlers: they can't stop eating cookies, they have tremendous misunderstandings, and they love both a good walk outside and a warm bed at night.

Seasons books by Gerda Muller
We especially like these books because they have no text; we can make up stories and talk about the detailed pictures afresh each time. They are large board books so that they are sturdy yet not too "babyish" for big brothers to read!

Anything by Jan Brett
These books have very detailed illustrations and are full of good humor. Often there are little surprises, like the animal-shaped mountains in Daisy Come Home, or the hedgehogs that appear at least once in almost all of her books.


Any fiction by Wendell Berry
The stories about the fictional Kentucky town of Port William make me laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page! The characters are so well developed that I believe these are real people that Berry knows. The stories are beautifully intertwined and reflect a deep love for traditional farming communities.

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
I keep coming back to this book time and again. I love how the characters are so richly drawn, written with both humor and sympathy for their foibles. The three protagonists could not be more different in background and personality, yet they forged friendships that lasted decades.

Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea

This book is full of Irish myth and legend in a contemporary setting. Some of the characters are unforgettable: a talking earwig who thinks he's Napoleon, and the gods Angus Og and Brigid disguised as tinkers Patsy and Boodie. The plot is full of adventure and good bit of horror for a "children's" book. I also like the beautiful and tender way the older brother looks after his little sister.

Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
I have read this, along with the subsequent Green Mars and Blue Mars, again and again. I'm not a huge fan of techie science fiction, but these books balance the science with intriguing socio-economic ideas and enough plot to keep things going. I'd say the first book of the trilogy is the best.

Belinda by Anne Rampling (Rice)
Pure, unadulterated escapism. An erotic/romantic suspense novel about rich artists living in Italy, San Francisco and New Orleans. I read this when I don't want to use too many brain cells to enjoy myself.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Equal time for goofballs

Because little girls can be just as silly as their brothers...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Random goofy pictures of the boy...

because he's been away with Grammy and Grampy for a week and I miss him!

A boy and his dress

I just finished reading this article on gender confusion in small children (from a link at daddytypes).

Wow. What to do? I'm torn between the idea that a young child should be supported emotionally, and the idea that as parents part of our job is to teach our children about the culture in which we live. What's the happy medium between self-esteem and social ostracism?

My son has expressed the desire to wear pretty clothes, including his favorite red flowery dress. However he doesn't say he wants to be a girl, and most of his other chosen activities are typically masculine (as defined in our culture) such as playing with tools, toy cars, going to Home Depot with Anthropapa, and trying to sneak in gun play whenever he thinks I'm not looking.

We decided to compromise on the dress-wearing thing. I told him it was for "dress-up" time only, when he and his sister put on play clothes, fairy/butterfly wings, funny hats, etc. And the other boundary is that we only play dress-up inside the house. I feel like I'm protecting him from negative social judgments, while giving him a safe boundary in which to express that part of himself.

However, I have also made a point to tell him gently that "where we live, usually only girls wear dresses." (We did know a man back in California who would regularly wear sarongs, but I don't think SillyBilly remembers that!)

I feel like I'm helping him learn what is expected in his cultural milieu. But am I making him feel bad about himself at the same time? The NY Times article said "Studies suggest that most boys with gender variance early in childhood grow up to be gay". I've felt strongly from before his birth that I will support and love him in whatever paths he takes -- though we joke that we won't support him being a pimp, killer-for-hire, or right-wing Republican : ) -- but am I subtly telling him that wanting to be more feminine is wrong?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Holiday traditions

It's that time of year again. The time when I struggle to create traditions for our family.

I struggle because there are too many conflicting sources of symbolism, ritual and custom to choose from. I grew up with a completely secular Christmas celebration. Now my mother celebrates Hanukkah, and in the Waldorf community many people celebrate both Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas/Holy Nights.

One year before the kids were born, we combined Advent and Christmas by putting up a live (in a pot) Christmas tree at the beginning of Advent, and each week added decorations based on the kingdom for that week (mineral, plant, animal, human). That was nice, but impractical now.

With the kids we've started having an Advent calendar, and on their nature table I will be adding the kingdoms each week until it's time for the Nativity figures. We're not religious, but the Nativity is such a basic image of life, birth, light, family, etc. that we've chosen to incorporate it.

The symbols of Christmas are so rich, and so full of ancient wisdom. I love to sing old songs like "Green Grows the Holly", "The Holly and the Ivy", "Deck the Halls" for the kids because they are so full of winter images, pictures of the triumph of life over death. And then the more religious songs are wonderful too. Rebecca sits oh so still and gets a far-off look in her eye when I quietly sing "Silent Night" to her. Even if she doesn't understand all the words, the mood of the melody says something to her.

Then there's Santa Claus. Not an image that has remained unscathed in our materialistic society. However someone once reminded me that he could be seen as a visitor from the spiritual world, flying about the starry heavens bringing gifts from above. So for now, Santa brings the little things in our stockings, and the presents under the tree are gifts for each other. When the kids get a little older I'll bring in the relation to the gifts of the Magi a bit more.

Now that we live in a cold climate, we've started to focus more on snow and winter. Last year we made borax snowflakes, a very cool craft. Candles and strings of lights pop up all over the house to drive back the darkness of the winter.

Another part of the struggle is that we have been away from home every Christmas. We're always with one set of grandparents or another, so it's hard to feel that the home celebrations are complete. We're not home for the last week of Advent, or the week after when I would put the Holy Family and the Three Kings on the nature table. The Advent calendar goes unopened, unless we bring it with us. We've not had a Christmas tree since we're not home to attend to it (and it would just become a big, messy cat toy.)