Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Grace’

Rock paper sawdust

April 7th, 2008    -    8 Comments


The other weekend my daughter implored my husband to help “her” build a trundle dollbed for her “sisters”. She was about to take possession of yet another doll, a doll she didn’t need and had nowhere to put but that “she” had duly earned. More about that later.

My husband, being the creative type that he is, “helped” her draw up plans and set up shop in the garage. When I came in a few hours later, Georgia was “working” on the construction from behind the walls of a corrugated “house” loosely assembled with the 24 empty cookie cases we have laying around. Less about that later. Mounds of sawdust had been swept into a landscape. She’d laid a “carpet” of rag towels and discarded sheets, and she was curled up in her cozy make-believe, casually supervising the ongoing carpentry. And she wouldn’t come out. All day, she wouldn’t come out. She was in bliss. And I thought to myself,

Oh my, I have made this childhood thing far more complicated than it ever needed to be.

Thus I was inspired to offer the first ingredient in my personal program to cultivate childhood creativity:

Ingredient Number 1: Paper

One of the things I feel so self-satisfied about is the investment I’ve made in drawing pads for Georgia over the years. (Target should feel good about that too, but the last time I checked, they weren’t yet satisfied with the sum total of my purchases.) A surviving remnant of my daughter’s preschool days is the crate of writing and drawing supplies that resides by our dining room table. It ends up collecting a lot more than writing supplies, but I cull it at least once a year and feel self-satisfied about that too. Here are kept the rubber stamps, stickers and pens, the paper and glue sticks, the maze and puzzle books, the crayons and colored pencils we still use every day, and a veritable landfill of Happy Meal toys.

Georgia is a terrific reader and writer, as I’m annoyingly quick to boast, and I like to think that I contributed cleverly to her early literacy.

But now I see that a piece of paper – the fundamental building block of my personal program of creativity – doesn’t have to be a piece of paper. It can be a box. Or a rock. Or an old towel or sheet. It can be sawdust. It can be string. It can be just anything.

Just anything is the one thing that I consistently withheld from my daughter in her formative years. I never wanted her to use just anything, and I seldom allow it still.

Let’s say I’m a creative work in progress.

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I’m making a mound of sawdust out of creativity this week. Here’s what got me started.

Setting Tom straight

March 30th, 2008    -    8 Comments


Mommy, last week in class we were supposed to give each other compliments, and do you know Tom, the boy with the dark hair?

Uh-huh.

He told me I was short.

What did you say?

I told him, “That’s not a compliment! That’s a threat and an insult!”

Spoken with the force of nature that topples a wobbly head and rules a steadfast heart.

The girl will be OK.

Where the going gets good

March 28th, 2008    -    14 Comments


I’ve been doing a little bit more running lately, because a little bit more than nothing is a quite a little bit more. The reason for all of it will roll around soon enough. My friends on the road thought I needed a touch of optimism to shade me from the harsh realities.

This morning I put on my new hat and my daughter saw it for the first time.

“Oh,” she said, accustomed to a world encapsulated in logos, “you must have gotten that at the Life is Good store.”

Yes, honey, I did. I got a lifetime supply at the Life is Good store. Let’s see how long it lasts me this time.

Art imitating potholder

March 12th, 2008    -    25 Comments

After days weaving strands on her classroom’s loom, losing hours of sparkling daylight to an indoor obsession, missing recess and skipping lunch to feed her creative fever, more impressed and impassioned as completion neared, she only reluctantly brought it out of her backpack when it was done:


Mommy, when I show people they say it is pretty but I don’t think they mean it.

The artist’s life.

Sign language

March 11th, 2008    -    5 Comments

My daughter came home from Spanish class one day last week and plastered signs all over the house. Seeing them everywhere has really shed some light on things.


Over at my friend Shawn’s new review blog, The Chunky Purse, she talks about a Spanish-immersion DVD set for teaching language to young children, and it sounds pretty neat. Eight years ago, we didn’t have that, we had something else.


One of Georgia’s first words was “awa” for water. Whether she was speaking Spanish or speaking English, who can tell. We congratulated ourselves for the clever good fortune of having a babysitter who could not only put Georgia down for a nap, but speak Spanish while she did it.


How we all wish we could lock-in these predispositions. We see the astonishing development of our babies and toddlers – their seemingly effortless learning – and what we might overlook is the amount of practice they put in. From where I sit now I view it all a bit differently than I did then.


Every day from birth to age one or so they practice mobility. Every day from age one to two and beyond they practice language. Without maintaining that level of constant practice, nothing gets very far off the rug.

Now I can see that if Georgia acquired any Spanish aptitude at all during her toddlerhood it wasn’t because of the words her nanny spoke, but because of the love in that sweet woman’s mother tongue.


I’m tired of having cards taped all over the house, but love is one language we could all use more practice speaking. And for that, the signs really help me.

No particular order

March 8th, 2008    -    23 Comments

If you need a little inspirational company this weekend, keep scrolling or take the short cut to my interviews with Jen Lemen, Sally Dworsky and Wendy Cook.

Perhaps it would interest you to know that, through random acts of kindness, Lorianne won the Jen Lemen poster, Phyllis won the Sally Dworsky CD and Andrea won the Wendy Cook button bracelet.

But no one is excluded from these riches. Here by their own inclusion are this week’s initiates into the order of soul sisterhood, an order that naturally has no particular order:

Sandra Jena Strong The Whole Self Mama Zen Lorianne jessamyn denise Shelli Busymomma66 Jessica Girl con Queso Moanna bella Phyllis Sommer kathryn Shawn nyjlm Jennifer marta ladybug-zen Barbara Wendy Jenell Shurn Joan jen lemen Janet Thompson Megan RocketMom Missy k Shalet blissful* Susan shanspec Kyran melody is slurping life Jennifer/The Word Cellar Michelle Shannon Haley andrea scher nina bagley Robyn Mika Someone Being Me Anna and the earliest bird under the wire, Kirsten Michelle.

Looking back, I can say that this was one of the most delightful weeks of my life, and I’m so glad you were here to share it.


But why would I want to look back?

Spell d-i-s-a-p-p-e-a-r

February 20th, 2008    -    8 Comments

F-a-d-e to i-n-v-i-s-i-b-l-e. Step b-a-c-k and a-v-o-i-d becoming a p-e-s-t. After my s-n-e-a-k-y p-l-o-t to t-e-s-t her l-i-s-t for this Friday’s spelling bee she did not d-i-s-g-u-i-s-e her c-r-y. “Mom, you are taking over my life!”

Editorial Note: G-r-i-n. H-a-p-p-y. H-u-g. L-o-v-e. T-h-e-s-e are more than words to m-e-m-o-r-i-z-e.

The future in a rear view mirror

February 19th, 2008    -    11 Comments

This is the only way to see where I am going.


Editorial Note: Spend your day hauling a posse of second-grade girls and you won’t know whether to look forward, look backward or squeeze in-between.

Illustrated guide to life planning

February 18th, 2008    -    8 Comments

Sometimes, what to do next becomes quite clear.


Editorial note: Keep a goldfish alive for three years and you might one day find yourself in this position.

Going postal

February 15th, 2008    -    4 Comments


It’s not fair! Everything happens when you don’t expect it and at the very end when you want it the most!

This was my daughter, yesterday, at that hysterical place where well-laid plans go postal. Dear friends from Texas were about to board the plane for a weekend at our place when the flu bug arose in that most irrefutable indication up out of your gut and onto your Air Jordans. Our friends are now where they should be: still at home and on the mend. That’s where we are too, on the mend, facing a few days suddenly free and undone. She and I will find it, too, the fresh direction in just the two of us, holding hands, nursing root beer floats and indulging in what will be no small amount of retail therapy.

Friendship is like that, so reliable and yet still so unexpected. Pictures arrived in the mail of my most beguiling baby Claire Georgia, all smiles and growing up before we dare blink; please go see. As I write I’m playing the angel voice and sacred songs sent forth by my friend Sally Dworsky, who wrote her love hymns as our children romped in a shaded schoolyard like a litter of kittens, pure life and joy; be sure you have a listen. And then a secret heart, a handmade valentine arrived in the post from Beth, so faraway and yet her magic is today here in my grip; it is my ticket and I am using it right now, sending love to everyone, everyone by return mail, and with this solemn pledge.

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Love the one you’re with.

A floss of a different color

February 7th, 2008    -    13 Comments


Some things said are not to be forgotten:

So last night my husband stuck his head into the office where I was filling out the Scholastic Book order form and all such things I like to do in my spare time said, “Did you get Georgia some different floss sticks?” Then she wandered in holding up the offending specimen and said:

Mommy, these are really hard to use.

I whipped my head around to look at the both of them and said YES I GOT SOME DIFFERENT ONES BECAUSE I DIDN’T MAKE A SPECIAL TRIP TO TARGET.

The thing is, I’m conscientiously avoiding Target for incidentals since they usually extract $200 or more from me before I leave. I’ve written about the peculiar devotion I have for flossing, and my wicked bliss to see my daughter favorably habituated toward dental hygiene because of our early introduction of candy-colored flossing sticks, but criminy guys, HOW ABOUT TRANSITIONING TO SOME NEW FLOSS STICKS BECAUSE I DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TIME TO MAKE SPECIAL TRIPS TO ALL THESE SPECIAL PLACES FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED THINGS LIKE SPECIAL FLOSS STICKS THAT THEY DON’T SELL AT THE GROCERY STORE.

And Georgia looks at me and says:

Mommy, these are really easy to use.

Rinsing off the zen

February 6th, 2008    -    13 Comments


Some things said are not to be forgotten:

“Mommy, make your next book not about Zen. The whole idea of Zen is bogus.”

Pause here before you rush in to soothe my bruise; to bolster my case. There is no purer truth than what she uttered here. No finer precision, nothing clearer. If only I could do it, really do it, then I would earn my place as the dimwit ancestor of the wisest, choicest, sassy ass eight-year-old Master of the Milky Way.

You go, girl! Show me the back door straight out of bogus, as you always do. Truth is more beautiful than beauty treatments.

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This is Not to Be Forgotten Week on the Road, where we share Some Things Said.

An outbreak of peace

February 5th, 2008    -    10 Comments


Some things said are not to be forgotten:

Mommy, I’m OK with it.

These four words, I’m OK with it, which jarred so offensively on first hearing, sounding so preternaturally teen, can be useful when the mother in question buys an overpriced jacket from a mall retailer with disturbingly oversexed girl’s clothing, washes it once in cold and extracts its shrunken form from the dryer’s delicate cycle, then shrewdly purchases an oversized and durable black nylon replacement which is worn to the weekly “Totally Girly” after-school club where daughter cultivates self-confidence through the liberal application of nail polish, then arrives home with a streak of non-soluble color down the front of her new jacket, an adornment that proves resistant to her mother’s gasps and shrieks as well as to heavy dosing in acetone, detergent and full-blown maternal hysteria, unleashing a noxious cloud of fear, shame, sobbing and mutual post-traumatic regret.

I’m OK with it. Honest. The alternative is too savage for anyone to bear.

“If you really understand the condition of emptiness that underlies all phenomenal existence, you will be content no matter where you are and no matter what you are doing. This contentment itself is to be Buddha. The real meaning of attaining enlightenment is to attain this state of mind.” – Yasutani Roshi

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This is Not to Be Forgotten Week on the Road, where we share Some Things Said.

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