03 July 2011

T quotes du jour

T: Actually, I DO know how to make a mummy. Ms. Frizzle book tells you how, right here. But you probably wouldn't want to do it.... 'Take the brain out,' so, you know, pretty gross.

T: We had to make a pretty good deal to help it so we could stay good friends with each other. The deal was that I had to stop tackling him and that he had to stop big pushing me. S: Well, okay, sounds like a good deal. Did it work? T: Well sure, because the other part of the deal was hug until we laughed.

T: It's okay, Mama, I'm not playing guns or bombs like are not okay. I'm just playing that the characters are dropping dynamite.

T: This. Is. NOT. A. Good. Day. I keep using up warnings, losing video time for the week, and you are not saying yes to ANYTHING that I want! S: That does sound like a hard day. So, can we switch it to a good day? T: Well, if we could just do that, don't you think I would have DONE it by now?!

T: I really wish there could be Shakespeare this year. S: Yeah, me too. But you have a lot of years to do acting, and I'm excited for when it works out. T: Yeah... but being on stage, you don't have to guess what to say or how to move. But everyday life, you have to figure all that out on your own.

30 June 2011

peacocks, no electricity, & dragon logging

T: Mama, rare means not often, not usually, right?
S: Yeah, pretty much. Something rare would be something hardly seen, not common at all.
T: Like a peacock, I would think. Or like animals escaping from a zoo - that's pretty rare. Or like... Mama, the thing with humans on the earth is that we make a lot of bad choices.
S: Oh?
T: We use so many animals and so many plants and water and things, and we take something all good -that would be the earth - and make it about 3/4 good. And then we take the 3/4 and make it, say, half good. And then after that, things get rare. Like gorillas. Like polar bears. Like people with totally no electricity. Like peacocks.
S: I don't know if peacocks are rare, but yes, humans have used a lot of the earth and not always made good choices about how and what we use. But, we can do a lot, even just us, to make good choices. And we can take the best care that we know how to of the tiny piece of earth that we live on.
T: Yes, like we could choose to live with totally no electricity.
S: Ummm, well I was thinking more like make fewer trips into the village and so use the car less, and be smart about how we garden, what we eat and where our food comes from, use less water.
T: And don't cut trees down in our woods. Mowing the grass is still fine. And cutting back the salal is fine, because otherwise it would cover all of the paths. But no cutting trees. Well, except the ones that I've been noticing hints of dragon wings knocking down.

29 June 2011


As my mother mentioned (in the kindest of ways), I'm in the helicopter parenting stage. I hover, and it is the greatest challenge right now for me not to. Because T is the opposite of hovering. He is everywhere all at once. He is spreading out, out, out beyond anything I consider. And he is doing it "just fine, Mama, on my own."

This morning, the rain is coming down. I sip tea, pull on a sweater, fold laundry, and think of dragon stories, map activities, and egyptian indoor fun so that our day is not stunted by this "summer" weather. T provides a soundtrack of "dippty dippty dippty dooooooo! Woo woo woo woo. Ugha ugha bidop bidop. Oh! I'll go outside to play fetch with Tess, Tess, Tess! Are you my good girl? Yes, yes, yes, you are! Mama, can I do fetch? Bah bah bah, birdip birdip birdipty doo...."

I force a rain jacket and socks and shoes instead of flip-flops upon him, and then he is outside. His sounds are outside. And he is doing it just fine, on his own. And I'm here, in the quiet that remains behind, watching, listening. A helicopter idle.

20 June 2011

to egypt via dragon

T: Now that it's FINALLY summer break, can we learn about Ancient Egypt? When we aren't doing "wreck this journal," or playing outside, or when I'm not building, or reading hardy boys, or playing with friends, or all the other fun things, like swim class this week.

And so, T prepares for the journey. Packs his backpack with necessary travel supplies: books, binoculars, sketchpad, notepad, pencils & erasers, and of course a magic wand. Then we catch a ride on a friendly dragon, travel 16 hours, and arrive in Cairo in the morning.
Read, sketch, and search... T announces, "I'm going to focus on solving the mystery of Osiris' tomb and of the Rosetta stone, since we have that book." But, first, he scans the River Nile... 

14 June 2011

mad aspirations

T: If I'm not an editor like Papa or a chef or a furniture carpenter or someone who plans how to make different vehicles or something like that, I'll probably be a mad scientist.
S: Oh no! My son would be maaaaad!
T: Insaaaaaaannne!! (pause) But, actually, I really might be a scientist with my own lab that I plan and build, with computers to check on all the equipment. And I'd have assistants - also scientists, I bet, but they would be in my lab so they'd have to follow my safety rules. And I would invent things, but I promise I will never test my inventions out on people.
S: How would you test your inventions?
T: Mmmm, probably on mailboxes.

So, watch out, unsuspecting mailboxes...

13 June 2011

pronoun invasion

T: Since I believe that God is both male and female, it's hard to know what word to use. God means male, and Goddess means female, and there's she and he. But 'they' doesn't work because I'm only talking about one god.
S: It's true that we don't have a word that is both male and female in the English language for this kind of situation.
T: Yeah, we need a new pronoun.
S: That would sure make things easier, but, hmmmm, how to come up with a new pronoun....
T: And how would we get the entire country to agree to add a new pronoun?
S: Yeah, how WOULD we do that?
T: Well, the first step would be pretty easy - family. I think our family would be willing to help. So if we got our family to agree to a new pronoun, the next step would be our friends and their families. Then all of their friends. But once we get past people we know, I think it would be rude to ask strangers to use a new word we made up.
S: Maybe we'd have to use larger ways to communicate - to get the new pronoun idea out there.
T: Oh! We could have Papa make a piece of paper about it, and then we could put up copies on all the bulletin boards on Lopez. And then maybe on your facebook thing you do. And maybe we could get our friend, Josh, to announce it on his radio show. And I could ask to talk to the school about it.

So, watch out, because there may be a pronoun invasion in the near, or distant, future. T has yet to come up with said new pronoun, but stay tuned...

09 June 2011

bringin' the recess on home

T: Sometimes two-square and four-square have not enough rules or too many rules for me, so I just don't play.
S: Is that because one group of kids might make more or fewer rules than another?
T: No, the rules are the same, but it all just depends on how I feel about two-square or four-square at the exact moment of that exact time.
S: So what do you play at recess when you decide it's too many or not enough rules for those games?
T: Pretty much everything. You know, swings, climbing, tag, chase, hunting for bigfoot... though I'm done with that one. Because after all year of not finding bigfoot, and, so, coming up with great trap ideas that we never got to use, we had to give up. But, then, we also didn't have the money to buy all the things we needed for our traps.
S: What kind of things would you need to buy?
T: Cages and ropes that can hold cages. (pause) Recess is a lot of fun, but I can run around inside, outside, play ball, and, you know, look for clues and search for all kinds of creatures from my treehouse, at home.

06 June 2011

heavy light

Sometimes, when my son talks to me, he brings me along with his heavy then light stream of thoughts in a way that winds me nearly literally. Sometimes, it makes me grin so broadly that he and I match. Sometimes, it makes me stifle tears ready to slip.

T quotes du jour:
"What will it feel like to be dead? If I don't have my body, how will my spirit understand HOW to feel? Maybe it will be pretty funny... like, ummm, hello, I have no body. So, no, I will not be doing any work."

"So when you and Papa had me, I know that, because you're a woman, you got to have me in your belly. But why can't men have babies in their bellies? We all have bellies. (insert attempt at appropriate parental response) Oh, so it's the egg thing? And that word for women's bellies - uter... what? (pause) Was Papa sad that he couldn't have me in his belly? But, that would not be good for being born. It's not like a baby can squeeze out of a penis!"

"Do you think I'll ever be poor? (insert attempt at appropriate parental response) I just wonder because a lot of people don't have money for a house, food, and stuff. But, good thing is, I save my allowance. And try not to just buy junky stuff. Like that race car thing that was NOT what the picture on the package made it look like."

"Look at this book, Mama; it shows you right here how to build a treehouse that people live in. See, you just do this step and the next one and keep going. So, if we ever decide to live in the trees, I can build us a house. (pause) I think you should buy yourself a saw that you can use better than the one you used for when I built that table."

"Cancer is the worst sickness ever. I know people who have died from cancer. Like Papa's friend, Gabe. And I never even got to meet him. And Papa says that he's one of the nicest people he's ever known. And like Jaylie's mom. I think cancer is almost as horrible as war."

Round and round, the thoughts of a young child go. Ever curious, ever in balance. Ever heavy and light.

30 May 2011

I'm going to...

The sun is warming our tiny sliver of the earth, finally, and we are out the door as soon as the breakfast dishes reach the sink. All that spring energy, on edge, has been waiting, waiting, waiting for a weekend like this last one. A weekend that lets us go to it. From building a table, to a t-ball game, to hours in the garden, to smelt fishing, we went, went, went.

And all the while, T was saying things like, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a furniture builder. Not a carpenter who builds houses or large buildings, but a carpenter who builds tables and chairs and dressers and desks and bookshelves."
"This is the best Saturday I have ever had! I mean, can you believe that we got to do t-ball for so much of the morning? And then I'm climbing trees, playing fetch with Tess, practicing more t-ball... I'm going to try to keep having this much fun as I grow up."
"So if you want to help sort the fish, Mama, the smelt are these ones, and the herring are the ones with larger eyes and a blue stripe on the back. Watch out for the crabs, but they go in the bucket over there. And then look at your hands - see all the shiny scales stuck to you? I'm going to do this every time we can."

Our hands sticky, legs tired from the weekend, eyelids drooping, stomachs gurgling, I fry up a couple smelt. It's well past bedtime, and there's school tomorrow. But we eat the tender fish with a bit of sand grit that I forgot to rinse off. The sun is red, near fully set over the large island across the Sound. And I think, I'm going to do this - this life - every time I can.

20 May 2011

family myth

Reading my grandmother's letter to T - her reply to his letter asking about her "old country family" - I get to the part where, yes, my great-great-grandfather, between two wives, fathered 23 children.

T: WHAT? Twenty-three kids?! I don't think that's even possible.
S: I know it seems crazy, doesn't it? But, it's true, Abraham had eleven children and then that wife, Sarah, died and he married another woman and they had twelve more children.
T: I know that my great-grandma would not lie in this letter, but I'm thinking this has to be a myth. You know, like greek myths, but this is a myth about way too many kids!
S: It's true that if someone had 23 kids it wouldn't seem real. What do you think is a more usual number of children to have in one family?
T: I won't have more than two or three kids, because if I had even four, then I could end up with maybe 14 grandchildren and that's just too many to remember.
T: Holy cow, Mama! So, Abraham. This is even more amazing than all the kids!
S: ... What is?
S: Ooooh, no, we aren't related to Abraham Lincoln; we just happen to have a long-ago relative named Abraham.
T: Are you sure? Did you check the names in the letter?
S: I'm sure - here, you can look again. Now that would be some family myth, wouldn't it?
T: Yeah, better than the greek myths for sure.

16 May 2011

in my mind

After non-stop talk, on the drive home, about video games/birthday party/balloons, I told T that we were now officially done with that topic.
T quote du jour: "Okay, but it's still happening in my mind."

13 May 2011

dragon challenge

T and I head to the beach. The sun is springlike warm, the breeze is easy, and the tide is out enough to check on the dragon caves. We clear the bit of trash that's found its way into the caves. T rearranges a nest protection blockade that he put up last month. I pocket a piece of light green beach glass.

Then T exclaims, "Mama! A present from the dragons! It's a real dragon master's staff! See the darker wood here? And see the important curve?" It's not long before we are sandy-boot deep in dragon focus. Sticks with runes, signs of battles, signs of celebrations (I learn of their parties for the single scale they each shed once a month).

And then the challenge appears - a tire barely visible beneath the sand. "Mama, this is the dragon challenge. We must unbury this tire so that we can lift it. Only then will the dragon master's staff gain its first level of power."

And unbury it we do, with small pieces of wood to dig with, hands to scoop with, and 'uffdas!' to exasperate with. The final lift is a two-person job, and we tug and dig our heels into the slippery sand. But it's up, and the challenge is won.

We walk back up to the house, T's staff in one hand, a small piece of driftwood graced with dragon runes in his other hand. "You know... dragon challenges are very hard. Not everyone can do them. Just like not everyone even believes in dragons. The dragons must know that I'm one of the ones who can do this. Who can believe and take the challenges."

11 May 2011

monster writing

It was a letter-writing morning, and writing is most fun when you use at least two, preferably three, styles of penmanship. And it is best to understand what types of writing best fit which recipients...

T quote du jour: "Writing gives us so much - cursive, regular letters, block letters, bubble writing, and monster writing. That one's my favorite, of course. It's maybe not the best for writing a letter to a grandma, and dragons won't be able to read it, but it works for being silly at home and for writing to elves or goblins."

09 May 2011

old country food

S: Sometime soon, would you like to make some food from an old country that's connected to us?
T: Sure! That would be great! So, like sushi?
S: Um, well, no, we aren't from Japan.
T: I know that, but we used to eat sushi in Eugene. Oregon - that's our old country, right? Because we moved from there, where I was born, to here, where we never lived before.
S: Oh, I see. Well, an old country, like we've been reading about, means where the first immigrants came from. So in our family, from Papa and I, that would be Norway, Sweden, Germany, England, and such.
T: Oh... Okay. Still, maybe sushi sometime?

family life

T and I are still studying early, european immigrant life. Reading about pioneer family life, T quote du jour: "So, we are different because you don't cook - Papa does. Well, and you don't really sew, and not late at night. And it's more for us that reading is the center of our family life, not food from an old country. But we're the same in that you do pretty much all of the housework and take care of me most times, and Papa does most of the big outside work. We all do the smaller outside work and take care of the dogs. And I help with sometimes housework and sometimes outside work."

And it's true. The differences are perhaps more subtle than we think, even as we fade ever further away from those early immigrant times and from the land they worked.

07 May 2011

that crazy imagination

T quote du jour: "Imagination, to me, means happy and tons of creation. I mean, so many crazy things can happen to you if you just believe your imagination. And I do. Believe my imagination."

So many crazy things... including the allusive "goss-n-caw" that we spy walking through the house. And the slimy, secret power of Madrona blossoms.  

And we do. Believe our imaginations. 

05 May 2011

dancing and singing no matter what

T quote du jour: "When I get angry, my body is still so frustrated that it doesn't usually do the calming down the right way. (pause) I think beastie boys would really help with that. Body movin', brass monkey - that funky monkey, whatcha whatcha whatcha wan, whatcha want... because then I'm dancing and singing no matter what."

03 May 2011

pirate magic

T quote du jour: "It's important to me to work on my magic. So, I'm thinking of getting a magic book, a cauldron, and attachments for my wand. Maybe also, at some point, a small pirate sailboat. I've told you, you know, that I plan to travel to places of the world when I'm an adult. That includes the high seas. Pirate ships are pretty much the only thing to handle the high seas."

With a double-flip of the wand, the pirate call is abated for the time being. But the magic work is just beginning...

02 May 2011

long life

T quote du jour: "I am so happy that I am still alive! Because, I mean, I have been alive a long time, and I am STILL a kid. It's not like 2 years and that's it. Humans get to live a really long time."

And it is true... a life of magic, of tradition, of friends... a life-long journey.