Saturday, December 28, 2013

I.E.P. for dolls

Miss C received two new dolls over Christmas and has been very busy incorporating them into her already established classroom.  It's hard to get new students mid-year, especially when you've set the classroom up in the bathroom.  There are just so many interruptions, like showers.  Each time I want to take one, I find a new note taped to the door, "DO NOT ENTER EVER thank you."
And then when I want to empty my hamper, there are 14 Barbies sitting on top and the teacher is so pissed that I'm interrupting again.  How are these kids ever going to learn anything? 

Today, I cleared myself out of the bathroom for an hour and after she'd been up there stomping and banging (I think she uses corporal punishment), she left the classroom and asked me to help her move a large easel from the basement to the bathroom. 
"I have to work with Ayla during recess.  She's behind and needs to catch up."

I lifted the easel up the stairs, saying, "Sounds like Ayla needs some help."  As I'm noticing all the space in the basement that could serve as a perfect classroom.  But what do I know.

Miss C clarified, "It's not that Ayla has special needs.  She doesn't.  She's just very stubborn.  Not extremely stubborn, but very stubborn."

"Ah," I said.  "Very stubborn."  Grunting as I maneuvered the easel through the door, placing it---as directed---in front of the toilet. 

"Perfect.  Now," she said, turning toward Ayla, who as I studied her face, did seem to have a bit of an obstinate look to her. 
But I tarried too long.  Miss C took my arm, gently but with purpose, and led me out of the classroom. 

"Being very stubborn is not a special need," she  repeated, "But.  It can make learning hard.  Thank you for the easel." 
The door clicked closed and the dedicated teacher returned to her pupils with varied needs. 
I took leave to the janitorial closet, presuming I'd be called in again when one of them puked on the floor or a desk needed fixing. 

It takes a village to teach one doll.  And some extra help for those stubborn ones. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Laps, Not Apps

Every year, the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood gives an award for The Worst Toy of the Year.
Often the award is tongue-in-cheek, pointing out the insane marketing or terrible ideas some companies will use to sell a product that stretches the meaning of the word toy.

This year, they gave the award, then had to update it, because of this product:
the iPad bouncy seat.

If this "toy" strikes you as just one stroke past ridiculous, there is a great letter you can sign that takes 10 seconds.  It is a petition to let the creators of this product know that it's not educational for infants to be plugged so early, as backed up by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here's the link to sign.  Sometimes a quick response from consumers can have a powerful impact.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I have a confession to make: I saw Frozen and I loved it. 

I have another confession to make: I saw WADJDA and loved it too.

I have another confession to make:  (I don't know what it is but everything sounds more interesting by adding that preamble).

Two completely different films, but with great fodder for discussion afterwards.

C and I saw Frozen with Nana and C's friend.  And it led to some interesting chats about "what is an act of true love?"  The script has expanded!  That's all I'm gonn say. 

And Wadjda.  Just lovely.  Here's a trailer.

Monday, November 25, 2013


We like to write our stories around other people. It’s hard not to. Relaying responsibility is the easiest and most instantly gratifying thing. We like to make ourselves the side-stories, the parties affected by the main characters. 

This is, of course, pretty universally applicable, but especially to girls, who are conditioned to be perpetually pleasing someone else. We often forget to make the narrator start telling our story, not who we are from the perspective of other people.

Love, especially when it’s genuine, serves best to bring up the unhealed parts of you. In itself, it won’t fix what’s broken in the first place. 

Came across this beautiful essay by Brianna Wiest, titled Why You Need To Be Your Own Heroine

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

best Arthur episode ever

Do you ever find yourself watching a children's show, and when it ends you think, "Whoever wrote that had a lot of fun in the writers room. And possibly a toxic amount of espresso."

I was watching Arthur with Miss C today and I don't usually love this show.

But this episode had an appearance by Neil Gaiman, and then this falafel maker who dispenses deep thoughts on life, and a concept of round people versus pointy people (pointy people always need to make a point!) and I wanted to rewind it and watch it again.

If you are a fan of falafel, or Neil Gaiman, or have an inner-critic when you'd rather have an inner-Neil, or are writing your first graphic novel and need a boost of support, I share with you, Falafelosophy:

If you don't want to give 9 minutes to this, I'll give you the edited version, in print:

"What you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.”

---Neil Gaiman, from Instructions

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Men Need Women

"At work, we sorely need more women in leadership positions. We already know from considerable research that companies are better off when they have more women in top management roles, especially when it comes to innovation. Professors Dezso and Ross have recently shown that between 1992 and 2006, when companies introduced women onto their top management teams, they generated an average of 1 percent more economic value, which typically meant more than $40 million. "
         From Why Men Need Women, by Adam Grant

        Terrible title but a fascinating read. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Retitled Disney Films

"Here's a funny series of posters for some of Disney's classic animated films that gives us a brutally honest title based on the themes of the story. They highlight the content, stereotypes, and tropes of the films. The posters come from Christine Gritmon and Nick Nadel of TheFW."

Brutally Honest Posters For Classic Disney Animated Films 

Thanks to Leslie for sharing this one. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Birthday Gift

Fiona is a neighborhood teenager who babysits Miss C.

Fiona will be turning 16 and her mother is giving her an incredible gift.  It's such a neat idea that I wanted to share it. 

She is asking those that know her daughter to write her a note or letter answering these three questions:

What do you wish you knew when you were 16?
What strengths and positive attributes do you know about Fiona?
What unique gifts and abilities do you see that Fiona possesses?

What do you wish you knew?

I wish I knew that many of the things about my self I judged as odd or idiosyncratic are some of my most colorful qualities.  That I could celebrate these instead of trying to sand the edges of them and make them fit a tiny black and white puzzle that I'd created in my mind. 

I wish I knew that asking questions is okay, and making changes based on the answers to those questions is okay. 

I wish I knew that making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn, but also that yesterday's lesson never applies to what I need to learn today.  It belonged to yesterday and today has something entirely new for me to learn.  

I wish I knew that relationships are meant to heal us and teach us about ourselves, and heal us and teach us some more, repeat, forever. 

I wish I knew that there is no there.

I wish I knew that doing something that inspires my heart is one of the fastest and funnest (yes I know that's not a word )ways to learn more about myself and the world.  And will always lead me to the next funnest (now I've used it twice) or interesting thing that I need to know.

I wish I knew that God was bigger than the religion I thought s/he belonged to.

I wish I knew that reading other people's lessons was not half as valuable as learning my own specific lessons.  

Finally, I'm glad I didn't know all these things then because it gave me something to learn from age 16 to Current Sage. 

Now back to Fiona and the other two questions.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Well Fed

My mom used to have a tin sign that hung in our kitchen, "To school well fed on Grape Nuts."

I think it was all about the giant dog pictured, a St. Bernard, since my mom once loved a St. Bernard.

And you know what they say: Once you love a St. Bernard, something something Grape Nuts. 

I know a woman who says Anyway twice.  She never says it once.  When she transitions, she says, "Anyway anyway."  It's rather endearing.

Anyway anyway.

There is a blogger and life coach named Rachel Cole who writes about living a Well Fed Life.  Not just in the sense of physical food.  But feeding the hungry parts of the self.
She describes herself as a "fierce advocate for women feeding their truest hunger."  She asks other women how they conceive a well-fed life.  I love reading these guest posts.    This one caught my mind and anyway, anyway, I'm sharing it.

Enjoy the feast.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Glorious Reason (as if we needed any beyond Pure Delight)

"...individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels. A 2010 study by Dr. Mar found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television. (Dr. Mar has conjectured that because children often watch TV alone, but go to the movies with their parents, they may experience more “parent-children conversations about mental states” when it comes to films.)"

---from Your Brain on Fiction, by Annie Murphy Paul

So pick up that novel, or children's book, or scooch together for a family movie night and profound post-discussion with your kiddo.

It's good for you. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I am in the kitchen peeling hard boiled eggs and listening to The Maytrees by Annie Dillard. 

His fondness for humans did not extend to girls, who were less interesting than frogs, and noisier.

C enters and stands in the doorway, listening.

Girls had no higher wish than to get old enough to wear make-up.
 C: "Who is saying that?"

I tell her it's a story, and that this part is about a boy.

"How old is this boy?"

"He's 11."

"But what he's saying is his opinion.  And it's fiction."

"It is fiction," I say.

"And his opinion.  Because you do other things besides wear make-up."

"I do."

"Lots of other things."

"So many."

"Like, you make make egg salad."

Then she leaves the kitchen and I'm left making egg salad.    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy Birthday

Two notable women  born on February 3, back in dem 1800s.
Deets on them, and of course, the children's book version.

(I made bold anything I found particularly funny.  Oh history!  How much we learn!)

1.Elizabeth Blackwell
It's the birthday of the first woman to graduate from medical school, Elizabeth Blackwell, born on this day in Bristol, England, in 1821. She wanted to become a doctor because she knew that many women would rather discuss their health problems with another woman. She read medical texts and studied with doctors, but she was rejected by all the big medical schools. Finally the Geneva Medical College (which became Hobart College) in upstate New York accepted her. The faculty wasn't sure what to do with such a qualified candidate, and so they turned the decision over to the students. The male students voted unanimously to accept her. Her classmates and even professors considered many medical subjects too delicate for a woman, and didn't think she should be allowed to attend lectures on the reproductive system. But she graduated, became a doctor, and opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.
---from Writer's Almanac

The First Woman Doctor: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.
The First Woman Doctor, by Rachel Baker

2.Gertrude Stein

It's the birthday of writer Gertrude Stein (books by this author), born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (1874). She spent part of her childhood in Vienna and Paris, but grew up in Oakland, California.

Stein left Oakland for Radcliffe College, where she took classes from the philosopher William James. Then she moved to Paris, where she met and fell in love with Alice B. Toklas. Alice moved in with Gertrude, and she typed up Gertrude's manuscripts, got up early to clean and arrange the dishes, cooked and shopped, and ran the household. Together they presided over a salon in their home at 27 Rue de Fleurus — Gertrude had first lived there with her brother, Leo, but he did not share her passion for cubism and avant-garde writing, and moved to Florence. Young writers and artists flocked to 27 Rue de Fleurus — Picasso, Matisse, Ezra Pound, Georges Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire; and in later years, Hemingway, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In 1933, Stein published The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which was not by Toklas at all, and it was a bestseller.
Gertrude Stein said, "I always wanted to be historical, from almost a baby on, I felt that way about it."
----from Writer's Almanac
Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude
Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude, by Jonah Winter

Sunday Review

The Boys at the Back, by Christina Hoff Sommers

"A few decades ago, when we realized that girls languished behind boys in math and science, we mounted a concerted effort to give them more support, with significant success. Shouldn’t we do the same for boys?"

War Games, by Nana Asfour

"My stepson's battle was virtual.  But the one I experienced was real."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sunday Stuff

Okay, so it's not Sunday, but these are two articles from the Sunday New York Times Magazine. 

1. Cover Story: The Price of a Stolen Childhood, by Emily Bazelon
    This article examines the notion of restitution for victims of child pornography.
    "Usually, we try to help survivors of child sexual abuse make a very strong distinction between the past and the present.   The idea is to contain the harm: it happened then, and it's not happening anymore.  But how do you do that when these images are still out there?  The past is still present, which turns the hallmarks of treatment on their head."
----Joyanna Silberg, forensic psychologist

2. The Feminine Mystique at 50, by Gail Collins
'The Feminine Mystique' is 50 years old.  But if you want to understand the journey of American women, from Doris Day to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you still have to start with this book.