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posted by Elizabeth 10:41 AM

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Conversations with Alex #11 - And Someday We'll Get Good at Them

This morning, Alex asked me if we practice humans.

Which actually makes perfect sense...and shows he's been listening in church, where our minister every week says that, "Church is where we go to practice what it means to be human."

posted by Elizabeth 2:06 AM

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Conversations with Alex #9 - The Third Gender

Recently, Alex and his friend Gabriel were playing with Alex's toy cars. Gabriel asked if Alex's cars were male or female. Alex said his cars were male. Gabriel said his cars were both male and female. Not to be outdone, Alex said his cars were male, female and e-mail.

Conversations with Alex #10 - A Holiday Gift

(Much of the humor in these is scatological - for that I apologize. But when you're talking with toddlers and preschoolers, for whom toilet issues are a major part of life, it kind of goes with the territory.)

In December, Alex's preschool class worked hard at learning the Hebrew letters on the Dreidel (nun, hay, gimmel and shin). During this period, he and I were standing in the bathroom one morning and he looked over at the cats' litter box in the corner. "Hey, look - for Hanukkah, one of the cats made a 'shin' poop!" (Actually, it was a 'hay,' but I was laughing too hard to correct him.)

posted by Elizabeth 1:45 AM

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Books Are Back - Sort Of

I used to write lengthy book reviews here, every time I finished a book. Then I had a baby four years ago, and I haven't written once since. Oh, well.

The good news is, though, that I just found out about a fun site that lets you list, review and share your book lists, and I couldn't resist signing up. Just go to http://www.goodreads.com and search for "zilf" if you want to find me and my reading list. My reviews aren't as long as they used to be - usually just a sentence or two and a 1-5 star rating, but I figure it's better than nothing. (Oh, and if you sign up, please send me a "friend" request - I'd love to see what you're reading, too!)

posted by Elizabeth 12:10 PM

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Conversations with Alex, #8 - A Nice Way to End an Argument

Last night, Alex was very tired and cranky before bed, and resisted every step of our usual bedtime routine. As time wore on, that made me tired and cranky, too. It finally came to a head in this argument over which book we should read:

Me: You pick a book.

Alex: No, you pick one.

Me: But you never like the books I pick.

Alex: You pick one.

Me: OK, how about this one?

Alex: No. I don't like that one.

Me: Then you pick one.

Alex: No, you pick.

Me: I just picked one and you didn't like it.

Alex: Pick another one.

Me: No, you pick one.

Alex: No.

Me (getting angry now): Alex, you never want the books I pick, so if you want me to read something, you're going to have to pick one. Go.

He goes and gets a book.

I open it and I open my mouth to start reading.

Alex: No, stop. Close it.

He firmly closes the book in my hands.

Me: Now what?

Alex: I didn't like [the tone of] your voice. I just wanted to say that to you.

Me: OK.

Alex: Now you can read.

And we did.

posted by Elizabeth 4:24 PM

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Conversations with Alex #3 - Awareness of Hyperbole

As part of the remodeling rearrangements, we've moved some of our snack foods to an open shelf in our dining room, where Alex is sorely tempted by them all day. After asking for and being given several small treats during the day, we had this exchange when I said no to further indulgences:

Alex: But I want some!

Me: No, you've had enough.

Alex: Then I'll take all the snacks and throw them into the garbage. And then I'll throw away all my toys, too.

Me: OK, but if you do that, you won't have them any more.

(He thinks about this. Then...)

Alex: Well, I didn't really mean that. I just wanted to say it. The most important thing, though was that I wanted to throw YOU in the garbage.

Me: That was the most important thing?

Alex: Yes.

Me: Because you were mad at me?

Alex: Yes.

Conversations with Alex #4 - Too Much Information

For several months now, I've been promising Alex a weaning party (complete with chocolate cupcakes - his choice) to celebrate if he ever stops nursing. Well, he finally stopped a week ago, and at his request, we headed out to the store and bought the cupcakes. Before going home, we stopped at the hardware store, and as the security guard was checking our receipt at the exit, this came tumbling out:

"I'm having a weaning party. I haven't nursed for two, three, five whole days and I'm having cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles!"

The guard just smiled and nodded. (I hope it was because he didn't speak much English.)

Conversations with Alex #5 - When the Crime is/isn't Worth the Punishment

Since our new heating system was installed, Alex has been fascinated by the new grate in the living room, which hasn't been finished off yet and still features a gaping duct opening in its bottom. Yesterday, I saw him feeding cat kibble into the maw of the duct.

Me: Alex, don't do that.

Alex: But I want to.

Me: We don't put cat food into the hole.

Alex: But I want to.

Me: Do you want to go to the naughty chair? If you put the cat food in there, you'll have to go to the naughty chair.

Alex: For two minutes?

Me: For three minutes.

Alex: That sounds OK.

(He deliberately holds the cat food over the vent opening.)

Me: Maybe five minutes.

Alex: Five minutes is OK.

Me: Then maybe you won't get a chocolate cupcake after dinner.

Alex moves his hands away.

Alex: OK, I'll stop.

Conversations Alex #6 - How Things Work

At an ice cream store...

Simone: Alex, see that woman over there? She has a baby in her tummy.

Alex (whispering confidentially): When she eats her ice cream, the baby's going to get very cold.

Conversations with Alex #7 - Helpful Tips

To Simone, who's in the bathroom:

Alex: Be sure to shake off the very last drop!

posted by Elizabeth 11:21 AM

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Conversations with Alex, #1 - Too Much Information

After he'd been out sick for a few days, Alex's preschool teacher called to find out how he was doing. After talking to her for a while, I asked if she'd like to speak to Alex, since he was sitting next to me. She said yes, so I put him on the phone:

Teacher: Hi, Alex. How are you?

Alex: I'm having some quiet time and nursing on mommy's breast!

Conversations with Alex, #2 - Logic

On the way home from a birthday party last weekend:

Alex: I don't want to go home.

Me: Why not?

Alex: I don't like our house. I want a new house.

Me: Why don't you like our house?

Alex: It's too messy.

Me: And who made it messy?

Alex: I did!

posted by Elizabeth 5:31 PM

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Things That Should Be on the 'Net But Apparently Aren't Yet, #1

How to cut kids' hair. It's gotta be much easier - and cheaper - to cut your own kid's hair while he's sitting in a favorite chair, absorbed in a favorite video in familiar surroundings (rather than squirming in an unfamiliar, uncomfortable salon chair in an environment that's either too scary or too stimulating in its newness)...so why are there no sites that give instructions for simple kids' cuts? The closest seems to be http://wiki.ehow.com/Cut-Kids'-Hair, but it's just a "stub," and doesn't give any actual instructions.

posted by Elizabeth 11:57 AM

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Monday, March 27, 2006

How Far We've Fallen

On a whim recently, I picked up a copy of John F. Kennedy's "A Nation of Immigrants" and, among other things, was struck by this passage:

"A German farmer wrote home from Missouri in 1834:

'If you wish to see our whole family living in...a country where freedom of speech obtains, where no spies are eavesdropping, where no simpletons criticize your every word and seek to detect therin a venom that might endanger the life of the state, the church and the home, in short, if you wish to be really happy and independent, then come here.'"

How sad to see how far we've reverted on every one of these points.

posted by Elizabeth 12:10 PM

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Prepare Now or Pay Later

As the horrors of Hurricane Katrina contiue to be tolled, and the true lack of our cities' preparedness becomes obvious, two ideas occur to me:

1. Every incorporated city should be required to have several designated large-scale disaster shelter areas within its city limits (the exact number to be dependent on the area's population). These disaster shelters should be maintained and publicized - so that all
citizens know about them and know where they are - and there should be official plans in place for how to convert them, at a moment's notice, to functioning places of respite, complete with food and water supplies.

2. Every city that spends millions (or hundreds of millions) of taxpayer dollars to build a professional sports stadium should require that the facility's plans, from day one, incorporate elements that would allow it to be easily converted to a functioning disaster shelter (e.g. banks of seats should be fairly easy to remove, to create extra flat space for sleeping, if needed). With costs shared by the city and the sports franchises, there should also be storage space for emergency supplies, which could help service the initial wave of refugees until the city's disaster plan (see above) became operational to bring in fresh stores. And these supplies should be maintained and refreshed on a regular basis so they don't expire (the old supplies could be donated shortly before their expiration to the homeless or other deserving outlets, so nothing goes to waste).

At first glance, these measures may sound like they'd never fly...but as I recall, the bomb scares of the 1950s resulted in a vast network of well-stocked public fallout shelters...and this would be much the same, only much more likely to be used, especially in areas, such as the Gulf Coast and the earthquake-prone West Coast, which are obviously vulnerable to large-scale disasters. Also, the costs would be minimal compared to the stratospheric price (in lives and dollars) we'll pay now for the lack of such provisions on the Gulf Coast.

posted by Elizabeth 8:11 AM

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