Saturday, February 03, 2007

Movie Night...

We're just wrapping up another movie night and Liam is off to bed. Tonight, "Madagascar" was in the DVD player. I took the kids out to ye olde Blockbuster to get a couple movies, and to get them out of the house for a bit while Jen did some studying.

Movie Night has become a regular feature of our time here in Cambridge. And we've watched enough so that I'm running out of ones that we'll all enjoy. And picking out kids' movies is tricky. For instance, this last week, I put an oldie called "The Yearling" on our Netflix list to watch with Liam. Yowza. Has anyone else seen this G-rated bloodbath? I vaguely remember it, but like so many things I watched as kid, I had forgotten how violent "kids" movies could be.

The set up for the Yearling sounded innocent enough. A family living on the frontier. Their 11-year-old boy, Jody, is lonely and longs for a pet to care for. He adopts a baby deer and raises it. What could be sweeter, right?

Except, of course, living on the frontier means everyone carries guns. So that was problem number one. Then we learn the reason Jody is so lonely: His parents had about 30 different kids, but they all died. We learn this as the camera pans across the numerous gravestones behind their home. ("Daddy, what are those?" "Well, those are gravestones because people are buried there..." "Why...?" "Well...").

But the real kicker was the way Jody came to adopt his deer. Jody's father discovers their pigs have been stolen by their hillbilly neighbor, Clem. So he grabs his gun and Jody and they set off to get them hogs back. As they're walking, Jody unsheathes the 8-inch knife he's carrying. But as they're tracking through the woods, dad gets bit by a rattlesnake on his hand! So dad takes out his knife and starts hacking off the skin so he can suck the poison out. Jody's freaking out. ("Dad, don't die...!) They get up to run for help, when dad spots a momma deer. He whips out his shotgun and blasts the deer. Then he tells Jody to carve out the deer's heart and kidney.

Jody runs over to the deer, kneels down and digs right in with his big honkin' knife. Next thing, he's running back to his dad, with a heart in one hand and a kidney in the other, both hands dripping with blood. Dad puts the organs on the wound because they apparently suck out the poison. (Who knew? Holistic medicine frontier style.) Then he tells Jody to run for help. Jody runs screaming for the hillbilly neighbor. Except, just as he's about to run, he sees the baby deer, and immediately realizes they just whacked its mom. Later, when dad lives, Jody lays on the guilt trip and convinces his dad to let him raise the baby deer. Soft focus shot of happy boy. Cue the swelling music....And fade out...

I asked Liam if he understood what had just happened. And he said, "That baby dear is sad." And then he said, "Daddy, I want a pet." "What kind of pet?" "A baby giraffe." "Well, we'll have to see when we get back to Oakland..."

Fortunately, Liam didn't wig out. And that's a big shift because Liam went through an extended period of being terrified by just about any movie or DVD except Blue's Clues. ("Ya gotta find another paw print, that's the second clue...!") A couple years back, we tried to go to a movie theater to see "March of the Penguins" and he was so terrified, that it wasn't until recently that he was even open to the idea of viewing anything remotely resembling a movie or DVD.

But starting last fall, he became more open to the idea. We rented "Mary Poppins" and he loved it. And he loved "Willy Wonka." At the time anyway. Now he keeps asking me if I'm chewing gum and says that gum scares him. ("Daddy, I'll help you...I'll take you to the juicing room."). And along the way we've watched the standards: Toy Story, Nemo. We even went to the movie theater over the holidays and saw "Happy Feet." Stressful moments that used to send him scurrying out of the room now don't seem to faze him much. In fact, now he laughs hysterically through movies like "Madagascar." The current favorite, though, is "Curious George," which Liam quotes liberally throughout the day. ("You're going to want to put those cucumbers back..." "You lost me at lost...") Strangers, of course, just look at him like, "Huh?"

Friday, February 02, 2007

Diaper free

As I noted recently, the diaper free thing has been going great. Kalian often goes to the potty on her own. She insists on doing everything herself. Going in, pulling down her pants, wiping, and then dumping it all in the big potty. Not bad for 20 months old. But my favorite thing is what she now likes to do while she's going to the potty:

My daughter is now a 50-year-old man. Sitting on the potty. Reading the newspaper.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back to School

The blog went on hiatus for a couple weeks because I did, too. Jen started her Spring semester yesterday. The two weeks before that, she was on extended break. I got some much needed rest and relaxation. And of course, I only got a fraction of what I wanted to accomplish done. But there you go. Isn't life always like that? I'm packing my schedule with other crap when I should be taking it easy.

The time off was good, overall. It included a trip to Western Mass. to Kripalu, a yoga and meditation retreat. Jen has a big entry on this over at her site, so I won't bore you with more details. But it was a fabulous time, other than it being sub-arctic temperatures. Organic food, some great yoga classes, a little meditation. And a pretty setting. We came back Friday and already, Jen was gearing up for the start of school over the weekend.

Our weekend included a trip to the art museum, this time with the whole family. We were invited by a new friend, Francesca, who we met at Kripalu who does some work there. The museum had a kids' event Saturday morning which included mimes. The event was great, but as our friend, Francesca, noted, it may have been planned for kids by people who don't have children. To wit, the breakfast included two roving mimes. The mimes mainly seemed to be scaring the crap out of the kids. Is there anything freakier to little kids than mimes and clowns?

Liam had a great time. Toward the end, a sketch class full of elementary school age kids came into the gallery where we were sitting. The museum had given us a goodie bag with a little sketch pad and crayons. Liam pulled them out, and then wandered over to sit with the group and try to draw the statue they were studying. And then he kept showing his sketch to the teacher, who welcomed this little interloper. Given all the challenges we've had with Liam's development, it was great to seem him just jump right into the group and try to follow along. Even better to see him take an interest in something arts and craft related, something he's doing more often at home, too.

And so, Jen started school yesterday, which went fine on the home front. Though Kalian has clearly gotten re-attached to momma. We went grocery shopping in the morning. And when we pulled into the drive way, Kalian just kept pointing to the house and saying, "Mommy?" "No mommy," I said. And then the wailing began. It went on most of the afternoon. Though she was more relaxed today.

Time, as they say, is flying by. We've been here seven months now. We go back to Oakland in a little more than four months. I'm spending a big chunk of my free time applying to preschools for Kalian. It's an odd feeling, having one foot back in the Bay Area, at least in a mental sense.

Kalian is starting to spit out all sorts of words. And she's become increasingly independent. Today, after lunch, I was washing the dishes. She walked into the bathroom on her own, pulled down her pants, and went poop. Not bad for only 20 months. I've groused about the diaper free thing, but it has definitely worked it's magic.

As for me, I've been trying to put some time into thinking about my own career. After a year at home with the kids, what do I want to do? Officially, I'm on leave from the Mercury News. But when I go back, what do I want to write about? I have an idea for a blog, but do I want to live the blogger lifestyle (posting like a madman at all hours)? And so many people have the Merc since last summer...Sigh.

Well, stay tuned...