Saturday, May 30, 2009

A nearly three-year-old who never watches TV is the ideal audience member for Pixar's new movie "Up" because no suspension of disbelief is required. There is no disbelief. Charlotte was really and truly convinced that everything that happened on the screen was, in fact, actually happening. Dogs really flew biplanes. Houses really soared above the clouds lifted only by balloons.

Obviously, this has its drawbacks. For one, the scary scenes (and there were a few) were actually terrifying to her, not entertaining. And at one point, Charlotte was so convinced by the animation that she exclaimed in terror that "the theater is moving, just like the house is moving!" Poor baby thought we, the audience members, were also hurtling through the air, headed straight for the ground at frightening speed.

Charlotte was not the only child frightened by the film, and she wasn't the youngest in the theater either. Both of those things made me feel a bit better about taking her to the movie. That, plus the fact that today she can only talk about "Up," about what happened in the movie, and what this character said, and what happened then, etc.

On the drive home from the theater yesterday, Charlotte said she'd like to see the movie again. "But...maybe when I'm a little bit older," she added. "Like maybe five."

Good idea.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oh, summer. Don't ever leave.

I'm enjoying my summer vacation so much. And I think I can attribute that enjoyment to two things: 1. the vacation part (you know, being off from school); and 2. the summer part (as in, the season).

The first reason is obvious. I have time now to do all sorts of things I didn't have time for during the school year: taking long walks with the kids. Playing pointless games with Charlotte. Puttering around in my garden. Cleaning my house (!). Finally putting away my winter sweaters. Leisurely grocery shopping. Baking and cooking. Getting my haircut (finally). Coaxing Sam to roll over (still no repeat performance on this one).

And the second reason...well, summer is best for a lot of the things we're doing with all this extra time. Things like walks, and playing in the inflatable pool, and gardening, and baseball games. I think I'm getting lots of Vitamin D these days, and I feel better for it.

We spent this weekend with Jeff's parents, and it was the ideal Memorial Day weekend. Long walks, visiting the farmers' market (is that right? I'm never sure about the apostrophe in that one), grilling steaks, planting tomato plants, soaking in the wading pool. Yesterday we went to KC for Sam's first major-league game. The stars aligned for us: not only were the Tigers in town for the Tigs' visit, but they were playing an afternoon game on Memorial Day (better timing for the kiddos), it was a promotional game with $5 tickets, and it was Dollar Dog day. The rain held off until after the seventh inning, by which time the Tigers had already secured their W.

Hot Dog tally: Jana--2.667 dogs; Jeff--3 dogs; Charlotte--1.333 dogs; Sam--fiercely eyeing everyone else's hot dogs (time to start solids?)

Ah, summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Charlotte and her Grandma T. are playing a guessing game.

Nana: I'm thinking of someone with hairy legs...
Charlotte: Who is it?
Nana: He has hairy legs, and not alot of hair on top of his head.
Charlotte: Who is it?
Jana: Who do you think it could be, Charlotte?
Charlotte: It's Sam!

(P.S. It was Papa T.).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scene: Charlotte and Jana are sitting at the table, eating egg sandwiches. Charlotte sniffs her sandwich.

Charlotte: This smells cheesy! And...hammy!
Jana: Hammy! (laughs)
Charlotte: You should write that up on your blog!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Around two p.m. yesterday, did you hear something you couldn't quite identify? Something sort of...breathy? Like a gigantic, huge sigh of relief? Well, that would have been me. Sorry if it blew your hair back or anything.

Yesterday afternoon I went onto campus with Charlotte to hand in my final seminar paper. My first year of my Ph.D. program is OVAH. If I knew how to insert audio clips, I'd place the Hallelujah Chorus here.

This year has been really, really amazing. Having an entire academic year off from teaching proved to be an enormous boon. I love teaching, but being able to devote myself entirely to my own studies and paper-writing, particularly this semester after Sam was born, was so helpful. Perhaps even essential. I must admit I'm more than a little nervous about how things are going to go next fall when I'm teaching two courses and taking two as well.

I have so many things I want to do this summer during my time off. I am taking a summer course (that looks to be amazing) from July 20-31, but until then I'm completely free. Well, not entirely. My to-do list grows daily. But it's a fun list. In addition to polishing and revising some of my essays to submit for publication, I have several art projects planned. There are places in Kansas City I want go as a family. Outings to parks, swimming pools, museums, baseball games. Plus I'm going to work on running again (check out See Tig Run for more on that) and will actually start cooking for my family again, too (see Tig Eats for details, there).

In addition, two days a week Jeff will be leaving the house bright and early to get in a full work day. One thing that has made this past academic year not only workable but actually pretty good was the fact that I have an amazing husband who stays at home with our kids while I am in school. I love that we don't have to pay for (and find!) daycare. I love that our kids get more daddy time in one week than some kids do in a month.

But Jeff has his goals, too, which have been put on the back burner while I'm in school. I know how hard it is to get work done in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed, especially after a long day spent caring for those kids. I hope that having some dedicated work days this summer will allow him to write and submit his poetry in a way he hasn't been able to this year.

Summer break! WOO!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm breaking radio silence to regale you with what will no doubt be a mish-mash of seemingly unrelated tidbits, because that's how I roll when I've been laboring over seminar papers nonstop for what seems like weeks. My critical texts have started entering my dreams. Last night in my dreams I was having a conversation about Anzia Yezierska with two dead theorists over cookies. At least the cookies were tasty.

So, Tulip Time was this past weekend. I have much to say about it but like I said I'm saving my coherence for my paper-writing, so all you get is this picture:

Oh my word, the Dutch cuteness is overwhelming me. Also, my baby has fat little feet.

And this one:

This last one deserves a bit of an anecdote. My kids are pictured with my cousin Amy's adorable son and stepdaughter Jack and Joclyn. While we were all gathered around snapping picture after picture, we were attracting a small crowd. Several random tourists wandering through Scholte Gardens were also taking pictures. Of our children. To whom they were not related. I was so busy trying to get the perfect shot that I nearly missed Jeff carefully dictating the kids' names and the spellings of their names to an old lady whose husband was snapping away with his Nikon. She wrote down the names on a tattered envelope above a little map she sketched of the kids' locations in the pictures. I can only imagine my children making their way into this random woman's scrapbook of her trip to Pella for Tulip Time 2009.

Will my children attain fame as archetypal Dutch kids? Only time will tell.
Also, today is this joker's birthday:

That would be the joker at the top, not the dejected-looking sweaty blond joker, or the fat sleeping baby joker.

Happy birthday, dad!

I'll be back as soon as I can crank out some academic genius. Now, to find some cookies and dead theorists...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

She looks impossibly small, suddenly, next to all these other kids. Although they're only a year or two older than her, they seem to tower over her, all gangly arms and shrieking mouths and long legs. They clap along with the singing and punch each other in the arms and giggle and act like kids. I look down at her, at her rounded baby-cheeks, her wide blue eyes taking it all in. Her hand holding mine tightens as she looks around in awe.

We visited Charlotte's preschool yesterday. It's official: she'll be starting in the fall, three afternoons a week. The visit went really well. I loved the school (it's run by our church)--the teachers we met were very friendly, the facilities were new and clean and organized, they have special art and music classes, and even do YOGA (I want to go to preschool!).

But I had that moment...that cliched, Hallmark-card moment when I looked down at my baby and realized she's not a baby. Even though she seemed all round belly and toddler-face yesterday, I know that by next September, she'll be taller and leaner and more capable, and she'll be the little girl in braids hugging her friend spontaneously as they walk to their classroom. She'll be the one learning and painting and singing and making friends. That moment when I thought of her little hand slipping out of mine and into one of her little friends's as they walked down the hall...well, I got a little teary-eyed.

She'll love it, of course. I remember how excited I was for school when I was a little girl. She's been begging to go to school like our neighbor boy for months. September, to her, probably seems like an eternity away.

But for me, it'll come so quickly.