Tuesday, March 3, 2015

An Igloo of One's Own

Virginia Woolf posited that one of the reasons that women were less likely to have been recognized as geniuses and less likely to have contributed to the life of the mind was because they didn't have space in which to think and imagine.  In order to remedy this, she suggests that women need "A Room of One's Own."*

I think that Margaret and Ellie have perhaps been reading my literary theory shelf when I'm not looking, because when faced with a great deal of snow, they immediately decided that they would build an igloo all their own.

They labored to make snow bricks.  Of course, they soon realized that it was a lot faster to have me pick up snow on the shovel and drop it into the boxes for them to pack, but they were still working.  Of course, Ellie wasn't clear that you needed to pile the bricks on top of each other for effective igloo construction, but they tried. 

And then they realized that an igloo of their own was a much more plausible goal if they got other people, people with more design experience, and larger hands, involved in their building project.

Of course, we only really built a pile of snow before they got cold (there's a difficulty with gloves; either they are waterproof, but you lose all mobility in the hand, or they aren't, and your hands get cold super-fast. If someone were to invent a glove for small fingers that was waterproof, warm, and had mobility, I would be very pleased with them).

And then we went inside and watched Frozen.  Because we were.

*Also money, but that's not really the point here, and if my children can become independently wealthy, that would be great.  Less likely than the plan of theirs that I am about to discuss, but still, an admirable aspiration.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Home Decoration

This weekend was cold.  Cold and wet.  Cold and wet and snowy and full of soggy mittens.

In other news, while Ellie is avoiding naps as if they will give her cooties, she is also has entered a phase where apparently the only acceptable clothing once she walks in the door of her home is pajamas.

As she is still struggling somewhat with the instructions she received when they gave her a bladder, this can become problematic, as her acceptable pajamas cannot keep up with her need of pajamas.

So on Saturday, we were at Costco, and they had a lot of pajamas.  I bought her another two sets, and that meant that she spent most of the weekend in her pajamas.  Both my children have, for reasons unknown to me, decided that pajamas are the best costume to wear under their snow pants, so that did add to the time she spent in pajamas, but it was ridiculous.

That afternoon, Leo and Margaret trooped off to the Art Museum to do a survey of which countries different works of art were from.*  Ellie wanted to stay at home because she wanted to take a nap.  I was right in my assumption that when she said "wanted to take a nap," what she meant was "wanted to put on her pajamas and do anything other than take a nap."

So that she then did.

I'm certain that disassembling the couch and then spending an hour leaping from couch to cushions while wearing pajamas is almost as good as a nap.

When she tired of this, she dug a catalogue out of the trash and perused possible bedroom furniture.

She has relatively good taste -- she wanted a twin over full bunked to share with Margaret -- but she lacks a good eye for space.  There's no way that bed would fit in their rooms.

*Seriously, they took a printed-out world map mounted on cardboard so that Margaret could note where everything was from.  It was ADORABLE.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Studying Hard

At the times in my life when I've imagined having school-age children, I've always thought I'd have the sort of job that would allow me to be home with them in the afternoons.  I had this sort of dream, that we'd come home, and all sit down at the table and spend an hour working on homework together.  I'm aware that this is the sort of pipe dream that people without school-age children indulge in, but there it was.

Anyway, although I got home at 4:45 yesterday, a little late to be starting homework (if the children had homework, which thankfully they don't), they wanted to play at being in school, and they congregated around the table in a tableau that made the cockles of my heart very warm.*

Margaret wrote a story, as is usual, about her family.  It began "My cousin Nathan is my favorite" and Ellie wrote a list.  It was a series of vertical lines, but she gave it to me to take to the grocery store, because that's where you need lists.

It was all very sweet and wholesome and made me wonder where my real children were.

*This was good, because the temperature was exceptionally low, and my cockles were rather chilled.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


One of Margaret and Ellie's favorite pastimes at the moment involves playing a game called "jump fort" which involves removing all of the cushions from the couches in the living room (heaven forbid that one of the adults in the house dares to sit on the couches; that's not why they are there) and jumping on them.  They usually just pile them, but the other night Ellie came up with a game that she called hotscoptch.  I think it must be related to hopscotch, in that it sounds like it, and is somewhat linearly organized, but really, it just involves her running up and down on a row of cushions.

I'm sure that this is contributing to the length of the couch's life.  At any rate, they seem to enjoy it very much, and it's mostly harmless.

Monday, February 23, 2015

At the Zoo

There was a moment this weekend when the boreal blasts momentarily ceased, and the mercury* climbed out of its basement accommodations.  So we did what we do when the weather is passable outside, but not so pleasant that people actually want to be outside: we went to the zoo.**

 Margaret managed the zoo map (because despite the fact that they can navigate without the map, our children feel it necessary to pick up the paper ones when they come in), and Ellie brought her small globe so that they could check where in the world the animals came from.

We went to the sea lions and seals, where Ellie had a fit when it became clear that Margaret wanted to share in the globe transport responsibilities, but Margaret accepted that Ellie was small and just learning to share, so we moved on.  At the apes, Margaret stopped to stick her fingers in the nose of a statue.

You really haven't visited the zoo until you've done that.

Then she stared excitedly at the baby orangutan which you couldn't see very well because it was completely camouflaged by its mother.

And then they rode the statue.

We went to both the reptile house and the butterfly house after this picture was taken, but they had passed me the globe and the maps and their coats, and so my hands were too full for picture-taking.  This means that I missed a picture of a shirt-sleeve-clad Ellie striding through the cold, shouting "the cold never bothered me anyway" over and over and over and over.  It amused me, and particularly amused the crowd of teenage girls who witnessed it.

*Not that we use any mercury-based thermometers, but I've been given to understand that this is an idiomatic way of referring to the temperature.

** We don't go to the zoo when it is actually nice outside, because that's when everyone goes to the zoo, and we feel that the company of our fellow human beings causes the experience to degenerate quickly.

A Tidy Pachyderm

One of the things that is most notable about Ellie is that she seems to be inherently tidy.  We're a little flummoxed as to where she got this -- we think that it might be a recessive trait, and it does appear that there are people who have it in both our families, so that's a reasonable hypothesis.  It's not that she always puts her toys away or anything, but she seems to have some sort of innate sense of order, and a desire that things be in the right places.

Not, sadly, an overwhelming desire to put things in the right places, but a desire for other people to fall in with her sense of what is right.

Sometimes, though, the people around her are unresponsive, and she does have to take things into her own hands.  This happened Saturday.  After playing for quite some time that she was swimming in the living room in her new swimsuit (which she adores), she decided that she was done with that game, and so she asked me to put her away.

I was confused.  I mean, I assumed that she didn't want a lengthy jail sentence (though you never know, with Ellies), and I couldn't think what else she would mean.*

She got tired of explaining it to me over and over at increasingly high volumes, and so decided to do it herself.

Margaret also helped, as she has an interest in Ellie being put away.

*Leo and I do occasionally refer to putting the children to bed as putting them away, but rarely in their hearing, and Ellie is not known these days for begging to take a nap.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow Day!

I hate snow pants.

I hate gloves.

I hate hats and coats and wooly things of all kinds.

Also, I'm rapidly becoming convinced that I hate the snow.

Boots I'm giving a tentative pass, but they should watch it; I may rescind that at any point.

In other news, we had a lot of snow yesterday, snow which is still on the ground and making me feel twitchy about things.

My school was cancelled, and Margaret and Ellie were off anyway because of President's Day.  My plan for the day was that we would spend it calmly inside, in quiet, decorous indoor pursuits, like building block castles which we would then immediately clean up, and having tea parties with toy elephants, and reading stories.

Ellie, who is recovering from a nasty cold, was on board with this idea, but Margaret wanted to spend all day out in the snow.  Ellie wanted to spend all day indoors.  This was the source of some tension.  I think I spend all day putting on and taking off other people's snow pants.

It was, however, enjoyable once we were out, and before anyone decided that they were freezing.

Ellie took on shoveling the already-shoveled walk.  She did a good job, too, once she got started.  She was very grateful to me that I was willing to share my shovel with her, and also very angry that I wasn't willing to let her shovel the stairs with an adult-sized shovel.  I managed to convince her that she should stay outside even if she wasn't going to be allowed to fall down the steps, but she was rather sniffly after that point.

Margaret came out to sled and sledded with a will.  Not with very much sense of self-preservation, because after a while she got the snow packed hard and slick enough that she was sliding out into the street.  I put a stop to it, first by standing at the bottom of the hill and blocking her, and then when my shins began to feel bruised, by confiscating her sled.  She didn't see the point in this.

She was not pleased with her sledding being curtailed, so I hauled one screaming (Margaret) and one sadly whimpering (Ellie) child into the house, where I stripped them down and threw their clothes into the dryer.  I coveted my mother's ground-floor utility room at that moment, or our neighbor's basement laundry/mud room, which put the taking off of the clothes and the snow in the same place as the dryer.  Luckily for Margaret, Leo took her sledding on a big hill after work, so that worked out for her.  I was rather glad to get back to work today, where I am not responsible for preventing frostbite.