A merrier hour was never wasted there

Best Books for a two-year-old (aka the books my son is making me read over and over ad infinitum right now):
1. Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
Blue Hat, Green Hat
We've read this so many times Nugget can "read" it to me. He screams with laughter when we get to the "oops." "Silly turkey!" I say, and explain why it's silly: "His pants are on his head! His shirt is upside-down! You can't go swimming in your clothes!" "Kurkey!" Nugget yells and falls over laughing. Every. single. time.

2. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (with lift-the-flaps)
Dear Zoo: A Lift-The-Flap Book [DEAR ZOO 25TH ANNIV/E-LIFT]
The flaps on our copy are battered and torn, but it still holds its charm for Nugget. This was a favorite even a year ago, when I sought out and bought ever lift-the-flap book I could find because it was one of the few ways a book could hold his attention. Now as we read it I ask him to name all the animals and we talk about the sounds they make.

3. Biggest Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever!
This book is bigger than Nugget, and he loves to sit on top of it on the floor while we use it to teach him new words. Also to walk and jump on it and turn it into a tent.

4. My First ABC by MOMA
My First ABC

I have been dissatisfied with a lot of alphabet books because they don't use enough easily recognizable pictures, but this one is pretty good (with some exceptions, like "ex" for X which is really dumb and "zigzag" for Zwhich is a little absract and "ox" for O because even I don't know the difference between a cow and an ox and how hard is it to find a better picture for O?). The uppercase and lowercase letters are at the bottom of each page so I can point to them and say the letter and then ask Nugget to identify the picture. Plus I get to look at some art, which is never a bad thing, especially when you are reading the same book every night for months.

5. Machines at Work by Byron Barton

Machines at Work
We have every board book about trucks that exists, and this is Nugget's favorite right now. It shows several different kinds of trucks and how they are used, and takes you through the workers' day from starting work in the morning to lunchtime to going home for the night. We like to add sound effects and bang on the book to act out the wrecking ball and jackhammers.


It is an honour that I dream not of

Everyone is happy but Kiara.

Now on to Foe #2.

While I was in the alley doing my rat paparazzi thing I hit on a pithy comment about gender to write about here and now it is totally gone. Which means I can continue to believe it was extraordinarily witty and insightful, so that's just fine with me. But it also means I am back to feeling I have to write a long-overdue, thoughtful post on work-life balance issues, supposedly the main focus of this blog and something I haven't written about in forever. Forever as in, since before I stopped posting here for several months because I was too busy working. Heh.

I went to the dentist today (sidenote. I shouldn't admit this but I go to the dentist so seldom that they keep putting my chart in storage. that's work-life balance for you, folks.) and during one of those mostly one-sided conversations one has with dental professionals I had this classic encounter with the hygienist.
Her: You look tired. What do you do for a living?
Me: I'm a lawyer.
Her: I'm so sorry. What kind of law do you practice?
Me: I help big companies sue each other.
Her: Ohh, I'm so sorry. You don't have kids, do you?
Me: I have a two-year old.
Her: Oh god.
Me: ... gargle
Her: What does your husband do?
Me: He's a lawyer.
Her: Oh my god.

Afterward I headed over to my son's daycare since I was done with work early and Trent was on his way there. The director of the day care center commented that they'd been seeing me more lately. I explained that I'd been working less and she said that's great.

So. I'm trying to recall why I felt so judged in both these conversations, and I'm not finding any evidence of judgment in what was said. Which doesn't mean it wasn't there, but does probably mean that how I felt had a lot more to do with me than anything they said.

Yesterday I was discussing working vs. being a stay-at-home mom with a (childless, female) friend, who had floated the idea (can't remember if it was hers or from a book she'd read) that women often become stay-at-home moms because work gets hard, and staying home seems like an acceptable alternative; whereas a man might just stick it out. This seems plausible to me, though unpleasant. I also think this difference in expectations may be why women seem to have a harder time with the things they're missing at home because of work. Men seem to shrug it off more easily, perhaps because they never thought being home was a real alternative for them. Men are supposed to bring home the bacon, so they don't worry about whether they're doing the right thing when they miss baby's first steps because they're off on a bacon hunt. I'm not sure that makes the "male" attitude about it right. On the other hand I am increasingly convinced that any inclination I have to stay home is more for my benefit than my son's. Which is kind of a whole post in itself. (copout.)



From Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle:
For a while I wanted to be an opera singer. Even though they were fat they could wear extravagant costumes, nobody laughed at them, they were loved and praised. Unfortunately I couldn't sing. But it always appealed to me: to be able to stand up there in front of everyone and shriek as loud as you could, about hatred and love and rage and despair, scream at the top of your lungs and have it come out music. That would be something.
(What is dogeared?)


O Cæsar! these things are beyond all use, And I do fear them

This is terrifying.

It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.


Yes, you read that link correctly. This is from Forbes. Not Rightwing Extremists' Weekly. Not even Fox News. Forbes. I am really frightened for us.


ho! A foe to tyrants, and my country s friend

I am considering renaming this blog "Ratquest: The Resistance" or "The Bureau of Rodent Control: A Case Study in Ghost Payrolls of the Chicago Political Machine" and using it to chronicle my vain attempts to get the city to bait the rats that have colonized my alley. My alley is like Eden before the fall, if Adam and Eve had hairless tails: vacant lots full of weeds and restaurant garbage that has to be violating multiple city codes.


In other news. One of my webmail accounts was hacked, for the second time in like two months. Is it paranoid that I think someone is cyberstalking me? Is it ever normal to be paranoid?


Also, I seem to be doomed to romantic entanglements with men who obsess with DFW. What is it about me that appeals to men who love self-sabotaging hyper-intellectualism? That is certainly not me, self-sabotaging part aside. Maybe it's my footnotes.



My nemesis. One of many. Gross.


Enter Hymen

I don't understand why the deus ex machina gets such a bad rap. I could totally go for some contrived, unconvincing, and gimmicky resolution right now.

***Please combat the recidivism of youth offenders in Illinois by voting at http://www.refresheverything.com/TabulaRasa for my nonprofit to win $250K from Pepsi to build a transitional living center for teens leaving jail!***



From Jonathan Franzen's Freedom:
She was a grave and silent little person with the disconcerting habit of holding your gaze unblinkingly, as if you had nothing in common.

As she talked on and on, he found himself admiring her determination to survive without success of the sort still plausibly available to him.

He could see this person so clearly, it was like standing outside himself. . . . This wasn't the person he'd thought he was, or would have chosen to be if he'd been free to choose, but there was something comforting and liberating about being an actual and definite someone, rather than a collection of contradictory potential someones.

But nothing disturbs the feeling of specialness like the presence of other human beings feeling identically special.
(What is dogeared?)

***Please combat the recidivism of youth offenders in Illinois by voting at http://www.refresheverything.com/TabulaRasa for my nonprofit to win $250K from Pepsi to build a transitional living center for teens leaving jail!***


All is but toys

Best birthday gifts for a two-year-old boy or girl who is obsessed with firemen, trucks, trains, and construction:

1. Sand table, big enough for trucks but small enough for our balcony

2. Fire truck, with working water hose

3. Train Table Set, compatible with Brio & wooden Thomas

4. Fire Rescue Playset, complete with lounge chair, basketball hoop, computer, and--is that a barbeque?

5. Ride-on Exacavator, so your spoiled child can dig his way out of the mountain of toys ...