Monthly Archives: July 2015

Outside Looking In

Here’s a hypothetical situation: Let’s say that you and your two “hypothetical” children come home from the pool, exhausted, a little sunburned, but happy. The oldest gets in the tub to rinse off the chlorine, the youngest you strip down to a diaper–he is next in line for the tub. Then you step outside for a quick moment so you can hang all of the wet bathing suits, pool toys, and wet towels on the balcony to dry. (You’ll be back to the pool tomorrow, and everything will be dry by then).

You close the balcony door as you go out (wouldn’t want to waste that glorious air conditioning, you’re on a budget after all). Once everything is secured and blowing in the breeze, you take a moment to consider what to make for supper. After deciding on “breakfast food for dinner”, (thankfully, a family favorite), you go to open the door, and find it is locked . . .

On the "line"

Staring back at you is the cutest two-year-old that you have ever seen. He resembles a little naked garden gnome. And he is SO proud that he finally figured out how to get the little lever to go down on the door. You never noticed how soundproof balcony doors are until this moment. You find yourself shouting, doing wild arm movements,  along with over-exaggerated hand gestures  and sign language attempts in order to get said garden gnome to lift the lever up. But he stares at you blankly, wondering why you aren’t coming in to fix supper.

It’s time to change tactics.

“GO GET DADDY!”

This is followed by more knocking, more pointing, more laughing. The laughing is strictly coming from the mostly naked 2-year old, thinking we’re playing a new silly game.

“GO–GET–DADDY! MOM–NEEDS–HELP! HELP MOM!”

The little guy runs away, comes back, runs away, comes back. Each time he is grinning, or playing peek-a-boo from around the corner, or behind the couch.

“GO GET DADDY”

You try this method several more times, each time with the same result. There is one more person in your apartment, so it is time for Plan C.

“GO GET YOUR SISTER!  TELL HER MOMMY NEEDS HELP!”

Once again, he runs away and comes back grinning. What seems like an hour goes by, but it’s probably only fifteen minutes.

Finally, you see your husband. All this time, he’s been cordoned off in the bedroom/office/art studio with ear plugs in, working on homework for his online class.

Ah. Rescued at last…or not.

He doesn’t immediately come to the rescue…?  He’s talking to your oldest child, who is still in the bathtub, calling for mom. Then he looks at you, on the balcony, giving you a look that says why are you out there on the balcony pondering life while your children clearly need you?  You can see frustration in his eyes, wondering why that kid is only wearing a diaper, and why that one has been hollering at you for the last ten minutes.

You point at the door latch, distinctly, three times.

And then you see it–the “hypothetical” light bulb. Twenty-five minutes later, you are free!

Thank God for husbands who (eventually) come to the rescue.

There’s probably a beautiful metaphor here about seeing your family from the outside, but I’m really just glad that there was eventually someone to unlock the door. It was REALLY hot outside, and I might have been “hypothetically” wearing my swimsuit.

That being said…

In honor of my truly awkward moment, my book review this week is Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. In this new telling of the classic tale, Shurtliff makes the villain of Rumpelstiltskin into an unlikely, and very awkward hero.

There are a ton of fairy tale retells out right now (new and old, and in varying genres), Sister’s Grimm, Wicked, The Lunar Chronicles, etc. I’ve read a lot of the YA and Middle Grade ones. Rump did little to break the mold, but I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I really enjoyed this book.

There was a simplicity to it that didn’t overcomplicate the original story with needless extras just to prove that this “new” version was better than the last. Shurtliff included other fairy tale characters in varying degrees, including Red (Little Red Riding Hood) as Rump’s only friend. There were also many traditional fairy tale creatures such as pixies, who were a bit like gold-obsessed bugs, and gnomes, who were the message delivery service of the time.

If you don’t LOVE fairy tale retells, then Rump will probably do little to change your mind. However, if you are like me and enjoy the familiarity of old characters in new situations, you will not be disappointed.

http://lieslshurtliff.com

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The Organized Pack Rat

For $5-$50/100 you can purchase a delightful egg!
For $5-$50/100 you can purchase a delightful egg!
Just some friends enjoying a show!
Just some friends enjoying a show!
This one was never quite finished . . . I guess everyone had to go to the drive-in!
This one was never quite finished . . . I guess everyone had to go to the drive-in!

No purse is safe . . . No box untouched . . . And I don’t even want to talk about Walmart bags! My four year old is going to be the end of me. Why, you ask? She is an organized pack rat. The only problem is that her organizational skills only make sense to her. I’ve finally given up on keeping a “tidy” home. Instead, we have a once a week “sorting party” where we empty every box, purse, bag, tote, basket, and drawer into a giant pile on the floor and commence to sort like mad. It’s nice when it’s done! But it only lasts for about five minutes, but it puts a little order into our chaos. I need that little bit of order.

Seriously, I need it.

Giving her “talents” a name started me thinking about free play. It’s something that I don’t think kids get enough of these days. As we were sorting her bags and piles, she would say things like, “Mom, that’s my store!” or “My stuffed animals are at the movie theater!”  Then there was “Mom, you can’t clean my mermaid pond!” It was a blanket on the floor with random toys thrown on it–one toy from each of our recently sorted bins. They were “seashells”. So much imagination for someone so small!

I recently read an article about why it’s important for kids to be bored (http://bit.ly/1DBQEAY), and I mostly agreed. Being bored gives them time to use those brains that we sometimes think have been misplaced. The article had a giant Boredom Buster Jar list that included things from build a fort to writing Grandma a letter (or an email). My favorite, though, was read a book. In our family, that translates into reading a giant pile of books.

So now I try very hard during every sorting party to remember that all of these toys, in their random strange places, are actually hours of free playtime that are building one little girl (and her brother, too) into a child that can think creatively and work independently.

In honor of sorting parties, my book this week is Kelly DiPucchio’s Mrs. McBloom Clean Up Your Classroom:

This book is about a teacher who is retiring, and hasn’t cleaned her classroom in 50 years! She challenges her class to “Come up with an idea to get Room #5 tidy, lickety-split.” The idea for the book is very sweet, and Mrs. McBloom is likable enough. I love the idea of community, and that if everyone takes just one thing the room will be tidy “lickety-split”. The illustrations are fabulous, and all of the insanely crazy items that they find are hilarious. The book is a bit wordy, and my four year old’s interest wavered at about the 3/4 mark. I don’t think it will make the check-it-out-every-other-time-we-go-to-the-library list, but still a great read.