The other day my daughters and I went grocery shopping at one of those warehouse type clubs that has a person at the door checking to make sure you have your membership card. As we walked in, my younger daughter said to the lady who was the warehouse club legitimacy checker, "HI! I like your hat!!"
The woman was wearing a 49ers hat. Because the 49ers are her daddy's team, our five year old can recognize the logo from a mile away and will usually go to great lengths to let you know she approves. She also recognizes the Raiders logo and will go to even greater lengths to let those fans that she does NOT approve. But I digress.
We continued walking, but the lady called us back. She wanted to give Charlotte a sticker for "being so nice", so Charlotte, Lily and I walked back over. As she pulled out her sticker stash, she kept saying over and over that Charlotte was such a "nice girl, sooooo friendly!" I watched how she was interacting with my girls, fawning over Charlotte, but avoiding eye contact with Lily, who at the mention of "sticker" walked back over with her sister for the prize. My heart started to beat a little faster, because something in her body language and how she kept going on and on and ON about how "friendly and nice" Charlotte is, was telling me that maybe she wasn't going to give one to Lily. I watched the scene play out and waited.
The woman pulled out sparkly, pink, scented cupcake stickers and both girls gasped and ooed and ahhed, because at 5 and 8 years old stickers are a Really Big Deal. Heck, I'm 34 and I thought they were pretty. Lily happened to be closer and silently pointed to a sticker she liked. The lady yanked away the stickers and motioned to Charlotte, "the friendly one" to come get her sticker, because "She was friendly!"
At that point I knew that the lady really didn't want to acknowledge my seemingly unfriendly kid, and she certainly did not want to give her a sticker. I told Lily, "be friendly, say hi", to which Lily waved and got the pained look on her face that she gets when she's uncomfortable and dosen't know what to do with herself. The lady, seeing her face, got exasperated and said, "well, now, don't throw a fit, take a sticker!" Lily happily choose her sticker and skipped off with her sister while I pushed the cart away in silent, seething rage. Never a good place to be where 20 gallon buckets of frosting can be purchased.
I was so angry at myself for chirping to Lily, "Be friendly!" as if she had done anything wrong, when she was just being herself. I was angry at the lady for thinking that because one of my kids is outgoing and the other one isn't, that one of them was "friendly" and the other one wasn't. I was hurt that she thought my kid was "going to throw a fit". Though to be fair, if she had denied her the sticker, there would have been fits thrown, alright, just maybe not from Lily. Mostly, I was angry and sad because it isn't the first time, nor will it be the last time that my daughter's aloof, quiet personality will be mistaken for unfriendliness.
Besides, as someone who was a very outgoing child, it ain't all it's cracked up to be. My energy and humor was usually too big for four walls. Extroverts are frequently called shallow or told they suck the life force from everyone in the room, especially introverts (didn't you that is really how Darth Vader got his power?). Yes, the world seems to reward extroverts, but all while thinking the extroverted are foolish and impulsive, overbearing and aggressive.
I may have been hungry or hormonal or both, but it took the bulk of my shopping trip to stop fuming. Thankfully, past the initial interaction Lily didn't seem to notice, and the stickers were probably lost before we got home. The biggest thing that bothers me is that one day my girls will notice the differences in their personalities and feel badly because of how they are wired, or worse, think that her sister is less than because she is wired differently.
I am 100% positive that if the lady was wearing a Raiders hat that this post would be titled, "The Plight of the Extroverted".
Friday, November 8, 2013
I asked her what her favorite color was and she gleefully replied, "Purple!" Yeah, uh huh. I was looking at a post in the archives and noticed this post from when she was two. History repeats itself. Also, this is why I love no uniform policies. My hot pink princess gets to rock as much pink as she wants, when she wants. AMEN.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
It's getting cooler out, so naturally I feel compelled to get out embroidery thread and fabric and more embroidery thread and stitch away, because isn't that what everyone does when the leaves turn? Embroidery is about as zen as I know how to get, the perfect activity for cloudy days and spicy apple tea and cozy blankets. Aside from the finished product, my favorite part of embroidery is the little pile of rainbow hued threads which I end up with at the end of a project. I have to fight my natural urge to burrow the little pile away for use another day, as if there was anything I could possibly do with a hundred one inch thread scraps. I'm pretty much a little magpie, saving (or resisting saving) every pretty, sparkly, colorful little do-dad I see "for another day".
We were at my Granny's house the other day doing "research" (hanging out) for one of Lily's school projects and we dug up decades of old magazines and catalogs. Granny would chuckle with slight embarrassment every time we opened a box or pulled something off the shelf. There may have been several 90s Spiegel catalogs, a 1979 Sears Catalog and some 70s travel brochures among the magazines and books.
Joy to my vintage loving heart! I showed great restraint by only bringing home what I have dubbed the "Hipster Bible" (the Sears catalog and there will be much more on that later. I promise.) and a 1976 Family Circle, which has a recipe for Italian Nut Balls that my kids (yeah, ok, me too) have been laughing about for dasssys. It's a cookie, I swear.
Seriously, I deserve an award or something for only taking two vintage magazines rather than every single one in the house. I left the 70s Florida brochure that had what I am now fairly positive was a drawing done by Herb Ryman (or heavily influenced by). I may or may not have considered going back for it every day since our last visit.
Wow. How did a post about embroidery floss become about Herb Ryman? Oh, right.... Floss piles. Pretty. Magpies. Collecting. Magazines. Herb Ryman. All that to say, I got my magpie collecting tendencies honestly via my Granny.
I had more to say about embroidery, I am sure, but the magpies hijacked this post.
Friday, November 1, 2013
Another Halloween, come and gone.
In all the years that we have lived in our house, we have never Trick or Treated in our neighborhood. There just haven't been enough kids in the 'hood to do it. There has been a bit of a resurgence of kids in the area in the last few years and, finally, this year we got to beg for candy in our own neighborhood.
As a kid, we always lived in areas that had lots of families, so Halloween was very much a pack activity. We'd all leave our houses just before dark and meet up with our friends just up the street. We would walk from house to house, my parents joking that they liked to peek into the neighbors windows and see how their houses were decorated. Now you know where I get that weird habit from. Yes, I' the adult craning over her kids heads to admire your living room couch.
The best part of Halloween is instituting rules like, "If you step off the sidewalk, I take a piece of your candy!" Just another holiday for me to be extra bossy during. It may have won me no fans, but I did get plenty of extra candy from the deal.
We only lasted a few streets (love that about my kids) and collectively only got one pumpkin head worth of candy (which I usually go through and toss the gross stuff ie tootsie rolls, smarties, pixie stix). This year was
a good year for chocolate, though, there won't be much to purge.
My friend, Nancy at A Cookie Before Dinner made a handy little list of suggestions for what to do with all that Halloween candy. I might consider some of the ideas if I don't eat all
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
If you spend longer than ten minutes on the internet, you are sure to come across something that will make you want to punch something in the throat. Yes, that is probably an overreaction, but you all would be lying to yourselves if you refused to admit it was a little bit true. Or, a lot true.
Today, social media had not one win, but TWO wins in my book. The first came from one of my favorite Facebook pages, eva, that of Humans of New York (HONY). Brandon, the brains behind HONY, walks around New York City taking pictures of people and chatting them up a little while he does. He is skilled at honing (no pun intended) in on the most poignant parts of their conversations and shares it and a photo with 1.5 million Facebook followers.
This afternoon, the Humans of New York Facebook page posted this photo, of Duane. It was the accompanying story about how he and his wife came to adopt their daughter from Ethiopia and how they are ready to adopt their son, but weren't "financially ready" to bring him home that touched everyone who read it. Adoption is expensive, internationally sometimes more so; this one would cost their family $26,000, making bringing their son home a distant dream. Duane knew that millions of people would see his photo and read his family's story and thought, "heck, maybe we can get a little help with this."
I cannot imagine he or his wife thought that they would raise the whole $26,000 in an hour. Or, double that in three hours. I spent far too much time refreshing the donation webpage with my jaw on the floor. I tried to donate, but the server had crashed. When I started writing this, the donations were over $68,000 (now they are over $72,000) but I went ahead and donated a tiny bit anyway, hit refresh and my heart flipped seeing the ticker got up by the tiny increment that I donated. All extra money is going towards their kids schooling.
The second win was in this sweet story my friend Ashlee shares about a recent afternoon and special Milky Way tradition with a little girl named Didi. Also, read the comments. Adorable times 1,000.
High Five for social media!
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Come October, when the air is crisp and cool, and the leaves begin to take on new colors, I start to think about heading up to Apple Hill. This time Lily and Charlotte and I went with our friends for a little girls outing. I am a creature of habit, usually hitting the same two or three places each and every year.
Always, always, we go to Rainbow Orchards for apple donuts, sometimes making the trip up just for a donut and driving home. I know that there are other places to get donuts in Apple Hill, but as far as I am concerned there is just one.
Another very favorite stop is the Larsen Apple Barn. I have to be honest and say that I don't think that I have ever eaten anything apple related there. I have a hazy childhood memory of having lunch, but usually we go to Larsen's to visit their family museum in the barn. To say that I love this place would be an understatement. They ask for a $1 donation to walk through. I can honestly say that I have been known to stand at the entrance longingly after buying one apple donut too many, thus not having enough money to drop into the bright red donation bin to go in to see the jumble of, well, attic and barn junk.
If you know me, you shouldn't be remotely surprised by my sacred love of other people's attic and barn junk. They have dozens of pairs of eye glasses from one Larsen's eyeglasses shop, curlers that belonged to a Mrs. Larsen of the 30s, old carriages and wagons and pick up trucks, several staged rooms from a farmhouse, the original cabin that the first Larsen's lived in (!), newspaper clippings and daguerreotypes going three or four or five generations back. In other words, Claire's Vintage Junk Heaven, made even more heavenly by the fact that none of it is for sale, so I don't feel the need to bring it all home (like at Claire's Antique/Thrift Store Heaven).
Usually when we visit, it's a weekday and we are the only ones in there. This last trip it was a Saturday and we were packed in with everyone else from Sacramento Valley. The trade off, though, is that on weekends some member of the family keeps vigil over their treasures as the masses look on. As we walked in, Mr. Larsen filled us in on who exactly was in all those family daguerreotypes and photos with pride. We oohed and ahhed and I kind of felt like I was meeting a celebrity. I mean, I had walked through his family's heirlooms for years. I asked him if he grew up on the property (he had), and then asked him if it was a little strange seeing all these people traipse through his home and stuff. He kind of chuckled and shrugged, not being a man of many words.
He told my kids that the crib in one of the staged room was his until he was five, "and my little brother kicked me out" and proudly said that his father had made all the wooden furniture in the room. The girls' eyes got wide and they ran back over to get a closer look. I snapped a few photos of Mr. Larsen before following the pack of girls on to the next adventure and those, oh, so important, apple donuts.
Friday, September 20, 2013
I am definitely a girl of absolutes. Words like "never" and "always" and "everyone says" frequently escape my lips much to the entertainment and chagrin of my husband. One would think, after 30+ years of having my absolutes thrown back at me and proven wrong, I would give the habit a rest.
I'm fairly certain that, even in this little space, I have made declarations along the lines of "I'll never homeschool." or "Homeschooling is not for me." or "If I ever homeschool my kids will be dumb because I won't actually teach them." The thing is, these things are all true, until they aren't, and usually that moment when they aren't is five seconds after I have declared, yet again, the impossibility of the thing.
Take, for instance, oh, homeschooling. School uniforms were purchased, carpools arranged, teachers met with, plans made. The thing is, the closer we got to the start of school, the more generally uncomfortable I was with our plans for Lily. It wasn't until the moment I told Aaron about my unease and he casually said, "You are fully capable of homeschooling her you know," that the heavens opened up and trumpets blared and I went ahhhhhhhaaaaa, like one does when the heavens opens and trumpets blare. Suddenly, the notion of homeschooling wasn't as freakish as it was .5 second before.
I swear. That is exactly how it happened. Ok, fine, we were at Disneyland and a parade may have been starting, but the timing was nothing short of heaven sent, so there.
Now, we are five weeks in, so naturally that makes me an expert. I even saw a friend at a coffee shop and declared "Homeschooling is so great, everyone should HAVE to do it for at least a year to get perspective on the school system!" You know, because I know sooooo much about the school system and the joys of homeschooling after a matter of weeks. I immediately hated myself for saying it and wanted to suck all those stupid words back in. When one speaks in absolutes very often, one also gets used to wishing one had a mouth vacuum. Or a muzzle. (I could think before I speak, but do you know how often things sound better in my head than out loud? Pretty. Darn. Often.)
In the last five weeks I have learned a thing or two about this homeschooling thing, so naturally I feel compelled to share. (I feel a new blog series coming on, who's with me?)
As a newly minted homeschooling mom I have discovered that you will spend more time defending your choice to homeschool to complete strangers, that you ever thought possible. Seriously. I actually thought it would be a non-issue considering so many people in our city homeschool, our area has lots of year-round schools (where kids get breaks at odd times) and, dang, people, kids sometimes need mental health days (or actual health days) off of school, too, so there are, like, literally, three reasons why a kid would be out and about during school hours.
I have decided that asking a kid "Why aren't you in school?" is as bad as asking a woman how far along she is when she's just fat. I now get why some moms are militant/defensive/aggressive about their choice to homeschool. They have had to spend far too much time engaging in ridiculous conversations with strangers who demand that you justify your choices to them in an aisle at the craft store (where, incidentally, you are buying supplies for your homeschool history project).
"Your girls are sooo cute!"
"Wait. Today is Wednesday. Why aren't you in school, cute little girls?"
The homeschooled daughter is giving me "the look" and walks away. She now has a "look" for these situations. Because in five weeks of homeschooling some version of this conversation has come up often enough to warrant one.
"Oh, the little one is sick today and the older one I homeschool."
Pause while nice lady's eyes roll back into her head and her mouth drops open and a barrage of questions spew out of her mouth. Maybe we are kindred spirits and can invent a word vomit vacuum together.
"You homeschool? How does she make friends? How is she socialized? Are you a teacher? You aren't? How do you teach her? Why do you think you can teach her? How will she be smart? Oh, do you go to church? She probably gets socialized at church, huh?"
Pause again while I decide if I am going to laugh, cry, or yell at the lady. For the record I laughed. But then, I felt compelled to actually answer her questions, to calm this poor lady who obviously loves and cares for the well being of my family so much that she deserves to have all her concerns about our schooling choices explained so she can sleep better at night.
"Well, I homeschool her because that was the best choice for her. We can take the time we need on the subjects she needs help with and move on when she needs to move on. She's in second grade and I have access to a calculator, so the fact that I don't know my times tables, either, is neither here nor there. We have an advisor who checks her progress often and she still goes to some classes a couple days a week, so she has plenty of friends. And we are only doing it for a year."
The lady is thrilled for us and even says something along the lines of maybe she should homeschool "Anthony" so he can actually get good grades in Algebra. My cute girls smile at her and we walk away, confident that we have informed another caring citizen about our personal choices and enabled her to sleep well at night.
Admittedly, not every conversation is quite as in depth as this one, usually it's a checker or guy in line at Starbucks making conversation. America, can I please challenge you to find better small talk questions? The weather is always a good standby, never lets you down, that one. A friend of mine said I should tell people she only has a week to live and we thought it would be silly to send her to school under the very sad circumstances.
I am considering using that.