Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Catch as Catch Can

I don't really know what "catch as catch can" means. Like grab whatever you can? Like in one of those machines that blows money everywhere?

Anyway, let's pretend that it covers the idea of a haphazard list. Here are ten things I've been meaning to tell you:

1) Zuzu has blisters on the palms of her hands that are turning to calluses from the monkey bars on the school playground. I just love holding her little hands and feeling that evidence of her playing so hard and pushing herself to get all the way across the monkey bars. I love that she feels like it's such a big accomplishment (and it kind of is... I'm not sure I could do it at this point!) and then I start thinking about all the things she's doing and accomplishing at school that I'm not witnessing. Her little palms with their weirdly stigmata-like calluses are like a combined symbol of childhood and independence and every time she slips her little hand in mine, it just makes my heart swell.

2) Coco has been putting on performances for us. Zuzu often joins her (and will quickly take over directing the action--Coco takes direction well, fortunately) but Coco really likes to do them on her own, too. It involves talking over a "microphone," which is actually the little microphone attached to a toy cash register that gives terrible feedback so it really sounds like she's making an announcement from the cash register at a nearly defunct K-Mart. (Related: They will be getting a karaoke machine with a real microphone for Christmas, which should improve the noisy feedback, but we may totally regret it...). She'll say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the show will begin in FIVE minutes!" She will usually go put on her ballet slippers, and then she does an elaborate thing where she tells me the curtain is down. She climbs on the fireplace hearth to flick the light switch on, then she runs over to turn on a lamp and then she announces that the curtain is up. Then she grabs the mic again and announces her name (usually things like, "Gleam" and "Sayla," which always sound to me like characters in The Hunger Games). And then she does some kind of song and dance show ending in an elaborate pose and we applaud.

3) Halloween costumes this year are Hermione Granger and a black kitty cat. Originally, Zuzu was absolutely certain she was going to be Ginny Weasley. She told Monica that she likes Ginny Weasley best because, "She almost died but she SURVIVED." But she's decided her hair looks more like Hermione (especially if she sleeps in two French braids and then we brush it out) so she's rolling with the more recognizable Hermione as her official costume. Coco is delighted to be a black kitty cat, which consists of black tights and black leotard that were already in her closet, a $3 clip on tail, $1 cat ear headband, and a black nose and whiskers drawn on with eyeliner.

4) We had family photos taken Saturday evening. I hope they turn out okay. Zuzu cracked me up because she had a lot of ideas for the photographer about poses that she and Coco should do. They think that poses for photos should be similar to the poses they did in their dance recital pictures and the way Coco ends most of her performances (lots of pointed toes or dramatically bent knees and arms in the air). Fortunately, they took direction pretty well and our photographer was awesome working with them.

5) You want a really delicious dinner that takes zero effort to prepare? Get creamy tomato soup from Trader Joes. Get a slice of good French bread. Put mayo on the bread, then some shredded sharp cheddar. Toast it in the toaster oven while you're warming up your soup. Delicious! (Don't skip the mayo even though it feels really counter intuitive--I promise it's fantastic!) (Let's all take a moment to wonder why I'm not a food blogger.)

6) You want pretty good muffins that take zero effort to prepare? Take a can of pumpkin puree and mix it with a plain yellow cake mix. It's literally just those two ingredients, though I would recommend adding 3 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (a mix of 3 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves, and 1 1/2 tsp allspice). If you're feeling a bit extra (which I totally was on Saturday morning) I used this recipe for pumpkin bread with cream cheese swirled and ate it for breakfast today even though it is decidedly a dessert.

7) A rare entry in a seldom-seen series I call Excellent Parenting Moments, on Sunday we convinced Zuzu to stay home and eat candy and watch the Harry Potter movie instead of going to another trunk or treat. She is one of those kids who is sensitive to input--television, sugar, big shifts in routine... She's a ton of fun in the moment but then it all kind of falls apart between 6:30 and 7:00pm. Rewatching the first HP movie was definitely the right call (and also it allowed me to exit a bit early without anyone minding so that I could get to a restorative yoga class... yaaasssss.)

8) Holiday Hands is starting at Momastery. I did not get in on this last year--by the time I was able to scroll through the wish list, literally every single one had been met. And yet I kept scrolling because it was life-affirming to see people cheerfully helping people. It's exactly the kind of thing I need to see right now, when the news continues to break my heart in a million ways. Today in a creative writing class I'm teaching, we were talking about writing about hard things and we went around and named a social or political issue that is heartbreaking. There was no shortage of these, but a student of mine from Honduras talked about the caravan of people from her country and other Central American countries who are traveling through Mexico to seek refuge here, instead will be greeted by military force--if they can even get to the U.S. boarder. What can we do in the face of that? VOTE NOVEMBER 6! And also help somebody in need. I'm trying to channel impotent rage into some form of good--personal or political.

9) Confessions of a Halloween grinch: I love pumpkins. I love Halloween decorations, which are often photos of my babies at pumpkin patches. I love skeletons made out of q-tips glued to black paper and las fantasmas made out of cotton balls glued to black paper and pumpkins made out of orange paper glued to itself. I do not love carving pumpkins. I'm happy to skip that tradition all together. David usually takes it upon himself to carve a pumpkin with the girls, but this weekend we were so busy celebrating Dia de los Muertos, taking family photos, and taking my MIL out to lunch for her birthday before browsing through downtown St. Charles for their Halloween festival, we just didn't have time for pumpkin carving. The girls haven't asked about it, so I think maybe we'll just skip it?

10) I'm going off the radar for the month of November. Not because I want to, but because I'll have to in order to do this NaNoWriMo thing. I'm committed to writing 50,000 words in 30 days, which means that I don't have time for blogging, facebook, or sleep. I definitely don't have time to grade papers, but somehow my students keep submitting them! I've already done some Christmas shopping in preparation of having zero time next month. But I've also found that I don't run out of words... the more I write, the more I want to write. So I'll try to pop in here, but if I disappear for 30 days, know that I'll be back in December... Oh, December. I haven't even let myself think that far ahead. I'm looking to November 30 and no further. Once I get there, then I'll figure out how to wrap my mind around eight years.

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