Tuesday, December 21, 2010


We have a Christmas tradition that I think is a good idea though it admittedly can make me crabby when all is said and done. After Halloween, the kids each have to earn money that is used solely for sibling Christmas presents. That sounds great until one realizes 2 things: quite a few worthwhile jobs need to be created and once the money is earned, quite a few things need to be purchased.

Today was the day. We went to the mall. We divided and conquered. We drank coffee and divided and conquered some more. The kids did a terrific job. They bought thoughtful presents. They are excited about the gifts they are giving. There's a wahoo in that, but the Wahoo Title comes from a time that Emma was walking with Lizzie in the mall.

A woman stopped Emma and asked who did Lizzie's hair. If she had stopped me, I would be instantly sweating, instantly apologizing for being white, instantly agreeing that my daughter's entire life's worth of self esteem was riding on the look of her hair and of course I had fallen short.

Oh, but Merry Christmas to me. The woman, a black social worker, said, "Is your mom biracial? She did a really good job." This Germanic/Danish/Other Things White Mom is celebrating a cross cultural victory.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Children's Books to Avoid

I think I have just read the official winner of the Worst Book in the World. I checked it out from the library because of the cute wind up soldier on the front. I will return it tomorrow because of everything that comes after that.

Summary of "I'm Number One": Soldier makes everyone else wind him up. Soldier makes fun of all the other toys' things so that they give them to him (a hat, a scarf, a backpack). Soldier mocks all the other toys. Other toys start repeating and changing the mean things Soldier said: "We're the no so bad, the no so worst, and the so no good," said Maddy, laughing. Then the soldier laughs, gives back the things he manipulated away from the other toys and announces that he is now "one of the gang."

I think Maddy the Goose, Sally the Doll and Sid the Pig need some counseling. I'm not a big believer in self esteem but honestly. The soldier needs a big ole spanking but of course that isn't in the book.

In contrast, is one of my favorite series: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. In this book, kids are selfish, slow, sassy, forgetful, etc. In the chapter I'm reading to Levi, Dick Thompson is shamefully selfish. His mother watches him hit another child with a bat and hoard peppermint sticks. His mother calls his father and has the following conversation:

Mrs. Thompson said, "Herbert, this cannot wait another minute," and she told him about the candy and the baseball bat.

Mr. Thompson said, "Why not give him a good hard spanking? Tell him that you are going to give him something that he can keep all to himself."

Mrs. Thompson began to cry, partly because she felt so humiliated over Dick's selfishness and partly because she knew that crying was one way to get action out of Dick's father.

Dick's father said, "Now, now, dear, tears won't help. Let me see--shall I hop into a taxi and come home and thrash Dick?"

He doesn't, but the fact that he offers is so completely refreshing. Hooray, hooray for books written in the 1950s.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recent pictures 2

Emma is returning to Ethiopia in February. She sent out this picture with her support letter.

Sadie has teeth and can eat an entire gingerbread man.

Emma was Candy Giver Outer for part of Halloween.

Zeke was either a pirate or a patriot. After an hour, it didn't matter. He had to put his coat on.

Emma and Grace followed the Button Rules for Costumes: you can be whatever you want (with, you know, the normal sorts of boundaries) as long as you can find whatever you need in our house. Hence, Liz the Princess who also needed a winter coat very early on.

I do have other children who don't seem to ever get fairly represented in pictures. Sorry Eli, Grace and Levi. When it's not almost midnight, I'll look through iphoto a little longer.

Christmas Presents

I've been trying to stay ahead of and out of the Christmas present hysteria. To that end, Joel and I went out on a casual shopping date to Target. We picked out two toys. We put them in our cart. We picked out stocking stuffers. We put them in our cart. We got to the check out. "Are these gloves yours?" I ask Joel. "No, I don't know where those came from." So, we unload the cart, give the cashier the gloves, pay for what is pretty much the last of our shopping and go home.

We unload the bags. There are no toys. I search the bags. I scan the receipt. I read the receipt line by line. There are no toys.

When did we exchange carts with someone who wanted to buy large black gloves?

*Sigh* I'll try again tomorrow. Maybe our cart will just be sitting there waiting for me to come back.