Thursday, January 27, 2011

Checking In

Yep, we're still here. I haven't had much to blog about of late, and today is no different. This should hold us over until I'm feeling more inspired:

Behold, our seven year-old teenager.

Also, Willem reads now. He totally reads. Which is great and amazing to me, but it's hard to get used to.

Willem is in a phase in which he follows me around the house from room to room. All day. And when I sit down at the computer, I can't tell you how disconcerting--and annoying--it is when he sidles up alongside me and starts reading aloud from the monitor.

Of course I wouldn't have it any other way. But I do miss the days when I could take a quick jaunt through the lingerie department at a store without Willem pausing to puzzle out a word and then asking in his most confident, ringing voice, "Mom, how do you say BRA?"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Books and Movies

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point I stopped reading books. There was a time in my life when reading was so important to me that to say I stopped reading books would be like saying I stopped breathing. But I started reading fewer and fewer novels (I've always been a fiction girl and a bit of a plot junkie) until finally, when I had my first baby, I just about quit books entirely.

I couldn't not read--I subscribed to a bunch of magazines and journals, because I knew I would be able to read to the end of something and put it down when duty called. Duty called often and with a very screechy voice.

Well, not long ago, Shaun took up reading in his spare time in a way that he hadn't ever done before. And I saw him sitting down with his book, and I thought how has this happened? How can it be that I don't read novels anymore?

So I started in. And now I remember. I picked up Little, Big by John Crowley and it took me a while to get going, but once I did, I was back to my old habit of staying up all night because I couldn't stop turning the pages. And despite the book's shortcomings, it was so successful at creating its world that I got crabby when I finished the book and it was time to say good-bye.

Because Shaun was so enthusiastic about it, I read Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses next. Well, that was different. The first several pages were hard for me to get through; the language felt suffocating and I seemed to be reading with the lights out. After a bit, though, it opened up and I was sucked right in. The whole deal; up too late, mad when it was over, trying not to talk like a cowboy.

I haven't dared to pick up another novel this week; I've been reading some short stories and my new issue of First Things. I guess I will have to institute a strict bed-time if I'm going to let novels back into my life. Self-discipline is not my strong suit.

Weirdly, I have also stopped watching movies regularly in the past several years. I used to love to watch movies. In the past two weeks I've seen four movies. Between those and the books, I feel like my head might explode.

Shaun was in a western mood, so we watched Rio Bravo. And I liked it. Who knew Dean Martin was such a good actor? We also watched the movie version of All The Pretty Horses. It was interesting to see what they did with it, but I didn't think it was worthwhile apart from that.

Departing from our theme, we took the boys to the cheap theater ($3 tickets!) to see Despicable Me, and for maybe the first time in the life of our family, all four of us equally enjoyed the movie. This review says a lot of things I was thinking about it better than I could. It's good fun.

Shaun's folks took the boys this weekend, so on Saturday we spent our gift certificate at Powell's (thanks, Nancy!) and loafed about at Clyde Common. The excellent Jeffrey Morganthaler was behind the bar, so we decided to stay put rather than rushing off to catch a showing of True Grit.

When we got home we watched Exit Through The Gift Shop. Is it weird that the narration was my absolute favorite part? Anyhow, it is an engrossing (and occasionally very funny) documentary that raises significant questions about art without being preachy or taking itself too seriously. You don't come across movies like that every day.

So, that's the year's worth (for me) of culture I've taken in in the past few weeks. I'm also reading The Borrowers (a book I somehow skipped when I was a kid) to the boys. Willem usually loses interest in books written at Nels's level, but the notion of tiny people grips him, so he's following right along. I don't think I'll ever count it among my favorites. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that I still find it hard to resist that perennial plea: Just one more chapter!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Catching Up

I would not have thought it possible for anyone with a googly eye stuck on his forehead to look so serious.

I did no pre-Christmas baking this year, so when Shaun got a hankering for holiday cookies he had to fend for himself. I found him a recipe for "Christmas Nuggets," which was the only thing in the house we had all of the ingredients for. They tasted much better than their name suggests.

The pre-school Christmas program was better than it has been in the past, but I'm glad it was our last one. Nels played games on Shaun's iPod until he could no longer control his audible outbursts ("Oh man, come on!") and we had to cut him off.

Saddest Christmas kangaroo ever. (Yes, the kids sang a song about Roo Roo the Red-Nosed Kanga. Yes, they're wearing reindeer antlers. No, it makes no sense.)

Shaun built us a lot of nice fires in December. Willem settled down alone in front of this one. Sometimes even a five year-old needs some space.

We had a great Christmas with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa's. I like to call this photo "Unusable Signal."

Now this is a Christmas Eve outfit.

Boys are great, but we definitely enjoyed having a little girl around.

No shortage of Christmas cookies here.

Somebody stole the curlers right off Grandma's head.

It wouldn't be Christmas for Shaun without krumkake.

And here's our little cyclops again, slightly less grim this time and wishing you all a happy new year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

For Those of You Not on Facebook and Who Therefore Missed This Announcement

My very short story Rainy Day was published at the online Journal of Microliterature this week. Fiction is not my forte, so of course it's all just real-life stuff rearranged and condensed to 1000 or so words.

Thanks to friend of the blog Oleg, whose friendly short story contest prompted me to write it.

Happy New Year!