Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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Still dreaming about Giraffe

Sugar here. Remember this? And this? Well, I’m still working on it, veeerrrry slooowwwly. Here we go with pages 2 and 3 from my story about Giraffe:

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Giraffe had a ticket to the city. He wanted to live a glamourous life.

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So, Giraffe left home.

Coming next, a scene inside the train, as soon as I figure out how to draw a cricket wearing cat eye glasses.

When I was a kid my mom’s best friend and my “fairy god mother” was a children’s book writer and illustrator. I loved getting new books from her. She gave me a book called Hello Irina when I was very small. In it, a horse takes a boat and then a train from Russia to the coast of France to be with the wild white horses she has heard about. I stared at the picture of the horse on the edge of the field dreaming about leaving home for what felt like hours. (Now that I know a two-year-old, I realize this was probably more like 10 minutes.) I didn’t realize it until I was home this summer and saw the book again, but Giraffe’s story is a lot like Irina’s. The Bean loved Hello Irina when he saw it at my parents’ house this summer, so I have hope that he will like Giraffe.

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And Now We Are Two

Also, we came down with a cold about two hours after our birthday party. Let’s hope the Bean wasn’t just Typhoid Mary to his assembled friends.

The Bean wanted to read this book, one of his favorites, to you, our Internet friends. (That last, cut-off word is “friends.”)  It was a bit less garbled when he read it to Bear the other day, but big audiences can make a person nervous.

Thank you all, for keeping us (relatively) sane so far.  Onward to three!


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Bookish: The Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

Hi, internets. Sugar wants to go to bed awfully soon, because for some reason she isn’t excited by the prospect of the time change meaning Graham will want to get up for the day at 3:30. De gustibus non disputandum, amirite?

This storm business…it’s so strange. Here we are, high and dry, living pretty close to our regular lives, and yet I feel so upset and stressed out so much of the time. It feels ridiculous and self-indulgent to say that while we are FINE and others are so very not fine, but it seems nevertheless to be the case. Partly, I suppose, it is the sense of vulnerability, partly the isolation I have mentioned before. It’s unsettling, and it’s easy to get sucked into doing nothing but mainlining news reports.

This afternoon, in the interest of maintaining sanity and all that, we took the Bean out for a walk in the Botanic Garden and the small zoo in Prospect Park. The damage at the garden was real but not horrifying, and the zoo was pleasantly normal. The Bean pointed out the geese, studied the red pandas at length, and seemed rather taken aback at the size of the goats, after requesting to see them. He’s been talking about goats (or “gooots”) a lot these days, but off the page, they are uncanny creatures, what with their horizontal pupils and all.

We also visited the monkeys and a pair of small African owls. I love to hear the Bean say “owl.” He gives both syllables a solemn weight, OW-WUL, which seems to suit their regal bearing, the way their eyes inspire true awe, the paralyzing kind, such that looking at them, we remember for a moment how it feels to be prey.

At bedtime, we read parts of Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s The Dark Emperor and Other Poems of Night, a magnificent book of poems and gouache’d linoleum prints of the natural world at night. I’m linking here to the Google Books page, so that you can get some sense of the illustrations. They are even more lush and intriguing than they appear on screen.

The Dark Emperor is an owl, and the poem devoted to him, a hymn of almost religious terror in the voice of a mouse, who begs the owl overlook its teacup of a heart. (Is that the line? I’ll have to check tomorrow; the book is with the sleeping Bean.  ETA: It’s “tiny hiccup of a heart.”  That makes more sense, but I liked my invented metaphor, the mouse’s heart delicate as china, shaking, threatening to spill the tea.) It is one of my favorites, a rare shape-poem that is such a good poem on its other merits that I only tonight noticed the words forming themselves into the omnipresent shadow of the owl.

My favorite poem in the book belongs to an orb-weaving spider, who delivers methodical, liberating life advice. I didn’t realize until searching for it online tonight that it feels so familiar because I read it first on Unwellness. That Briar knows what she’s about, I’ll tell you. Rather than copy and paste it here, I’ll direct you to it on her page, so that you may discover both a deeply satisfying poem and a great blog, in one click.

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Imagination Library

Hello, internets. How the heck are you?

Things are good here. The Bean continues to not have molars but not Not have molars, either, which is something of a trial to him. Non-integer numbers of teeth are problematic. We are also, I think, in a non-integer nap phase, which is mostly a trial to me and Sugar. I’m all for his dropping a nap, since it has meant that the remaining nap is of a humane length, but these days, I haven’t got a clue when he does or doesn’t need a nap, which means lots of false starts, extra nursing, and frustration. I am beginning to be Over nursing him before naps, but I can’t figure out how to deal with phasing that out when I don’t even know when the dang things are supposed to be happening. So.

Then again, maybe the nap confusion is partly that thing that happens to sleep around developmental leaps, because, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have Walking. Not much of it, but at least a few hands-free steps, every day for the past week. Exciting stuff. Maybe the child can wear shorts outside this summer after all.

The Bean had his fifteen-month doctor visit, which I love because, as previously noted here, I adore the Bean’s doctor. I want her to be my doctor. And my neighbor. And maybe my best friend. Ahem. Boundaries! Anyway, she says the Bean is in working order and, while sort of tossing a screening questionnaire she clearly didn’t care if I ever filled out in my direction, “definitely not autistic.” He is still a tall drink of water, at 53rd percentile for height and a whopping 5th for weight. He got a slew more shots (yay, science! so much better than diphtheria!) and, as at his one-year visit, seemed bothered by them only at the time — so much nicer than the fever and wailing that characterized the days after vaccinations in his first year. Which was still So Much Better than diphtheria.

ANYWAY. I meant to be writing the rare (mostly) non-ranty post, mostly because I found these outdated but very cute pictures and wanted an excuse to force them on you. So.

Do you know how much I love Dolly Parton, internets? I just…a lot. I love her a lot. I was looking her up on Wikipedia just now to give you some reasons besides smile and sass and accent and wit and supporting gay marriage and playing the autoharp and found out she’s been married for 45 years to a shy fellow she met at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat, and damn if that doesn’t make me love her even more. He owns a paving company and writes poetry for her.

These days and maybe forever, though, my favorite thing about Dolly Parton is the Imagination Library, a program she started to give books to children in her home county in the Tennessee mountains. Any child, age 0-5, can get a free book in the mail every month. Any child. This isn’t a program for only poor children or only children in certain risk groups or whose parent are in some program or other, which is part of what I think is so wonderful about it. It is about reading and learning, not about pity or deserving.

In places outside of Sevier County, the Imagination Library will provide the infrastructure if local groups provide the funding. (There’s a great page on their site about how to get the program started in your area, if it isn’t there already.) NYC has it — although I have heard that some friends who try to sign up recently had trouble, so maybe there’s something changing — and the Bean has been getting books for a while now.

I felt a little strange at first, signing him up. We may not have much extra money around, what with living in an expensive place and my working part time for peanuts — I mean, for all the noble rewards of teaching, which, paired with two or three dollars, will buy you a cup of coffee — but we can afford a board book or two, we live near consignment stores and stoop sale sites and a heck of a library, and we have parents who are not likely to let the child go without the printed word, however dire things get otherwise. But the program is very clear on the idea that this isn’t meant to be only for kids who otherwise get no books nor is there some cap on the number of kids getting books, and I decided ultimately to take them on their word, figuring that we would give away any books we didn’t want or read anymore, and therefore our participation in the program would mean more books in some kid’s hands, not necessarily just ours.

I am so glad we did. For one thing, we have gotten some wonderful books out of the deal. Some, like Renata Liwska’s Red Wagon, I might have had the sense to want on my own, had I happened across them in a store. Others, like a Spot the dog flap book, I might have been too big a snob to like and in that way missed seeing how much the Bean loves them. I suppose he is allowed to have his own taste in his books, as long as he’s not attempting to defend Twilight.

There’s also just something magical about a surprise in the mail with your name on it, and the Bean already knows that. The books arrive wrapped in clear shrink wrap, and if there is one waiting by our basement mailbox, he insists on having it right away, before we even get upstairs.

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He loves them, and with the exception of a couple of flaps in the Spot book that have required repair, they are treated with all the care a very young person can muster. I would swear he in some way knows that they are especially just his.

So thank you, Dolly Parton. Nine to five, that album with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, and all those marvelous tit jokes would have been enough, but for this, I will always love you:

New book!