Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alternative art

Fingerpainting might just be the bane of my existence.

Most projects that can hold my toddler's attention for longer than a nanosecond are a welcome blessing. I relish any opporunity to engage Madelyn in a purposeful activity where I feel that her mind and/or motor skills can develop. But I am often more selfish than a mother probably ought to be, because the most appealing aspect of such activities is the collateral benefit allowing me a few minutes to work through my to-do list, make dinner, or read a book.

But fingerpainting, for a two-year-old at least, demands among the highest levels of parental attention and focus. We go outside. We put on grubby clothes (or not, see photo). The paint is washable. Yet I still can't bring myself to leave her alone because the moment she loses interest in her paper canvas, the patio chair or Hardiplank siding might become her next work of art realize the need to intervene. Maybe when boredom sets in, she'll simply come and find me, but how many painty fingerprints might ardorn my walls by the time I hear that she's come inside? In such cases, the free time afforded by the project is swiftly cancelled out by its disastrous consequences.

Also, Madelyn has a hard time squeezing the paint out of the tubes, but of course is determined to do it by herself. I believe in allowing children opportunities to try the tasks that challenge them in order to improve, as long as I'm not particular about the outcome and no danger is imminent. Those circumstances apply here, but when Madelyn finally gets paint out, it splooges half of the bottle onto the paper and it really bugs me. So then my control freak side and my patient, loving mother side endure an internal struggle.

Then there's the fact that Madelyn doesn't really "get" fingerpainting. And that it takes about as much time to clean up as it does to complete a dozen works of art. Oh, and having to set the papers out to dry all over my kitchen table because it's too windy outside and the paint takes forever to dry since Madelyn doesn't "get" fingerpainting and all the globs stay in pretty much globular thickness and therefore need a couple of days under the heat of a thousand suns to solidify.

So, when the daily inquisition regarding the possibility of getting out the fingerpaints recently ensued, I brilliantly fashioned the perfect alternative.

One white plate.
One bristled basting brush.
Two colors of applesauce in wide-mouthed cups.

This painting project satisfied Madelyn's artistic cravings longer than fingerpainting ever has. The novelty of it was surely exciting, plus the fact that she was able to literally enjoy the fruits of her talent (being apparently unable help herself from eating Play-Doh, this is a natural progression). The kitchen table is just a stone's throw from my workspace, and the inherent risks of fingerpaint just aren't present with this new medium. I diligently worked nearby, delightfully attuned to the sounds of a happy toddler, not only expertly painting but essentially licking up her own mess as well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Last night I made dinner twice.

Damn dog.

While Tillamook's Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar melted over the sizzling bean and grain burgers, I carefully spread mayo and salsa on 2 and half toasted whole grain buns. A sprinkling of lettuce and they readily accepted the warmth of wholesome black bean patties. Two Bartlett pears sliced, then divided among the plates. Water glasses filled and arranged around our little table alongside each plate. Dinner was ready, looking equally pretty and delicious.

I was hungry.

My daughter, however, was entrenched in the clever plot of the Leap Frog Letter Factory, and I knew the pleasant dinner I envisioned was certainly more likely if I didn't pull her away before X, Y, and Z. So I snuggled up with my golden-haired cutie and quickly read a chapter of my book while awaiting the final bars of "Every Letter Makes a Sound" to be complete.

Just as I suspected, with the movie over, Madelyn made her delightful way toward the kitchen calling for her daddy: "Gehhhweeee (Gary), dinner ah weddy! Come on!"

When we emerged from the hallway to look upon my lovely, nutritious feast, I immediately noticed one glaring difference from the scene I had left there a few minutes previously. A minor thing, really. Each plate remained innocuously centered atop its place mat. It was just that these plates, upon which I had carefully arranged our dinner, were now EMPTY. This I could see from my vantage point 25 feet away. No evidence of the mass destruction that had recently--and very quietly--taken place remained. Nothing but crumbs.

My heart sank as I loudly groaned, "" Even before I took 3.2 seconds to scan the room, looking for some evidence that maybe I was indeed insane and had not in fact cooked dinner and set this very table, I knew that the dinner I was anxious to devour now sat barely chewed in the pit of Loki's ravenous stomach.

From the other room, my husband grew very concerned and ran out to see why I was so distraught. I showed him the empty plates and effectively pointed at the abominable Siberian Husky licking his guilty chops a few feet from the table. His sister had been lying on the bed with Madelyn and me, so there was NO QUESTION about the culprit's identity.

I had to allow myself a few minutes to just be angry before I could re-make our entire meal. There wasn't enough left to feed us all, but thankfully I had cooked all four burgers (intending to have leftovers). So I sliced more expensive cheese, reheated the patties, prepared take-2 of the buns, and we all shared one and a half bean and grain burgers and the one remaining pear. Actually, my sweetheart allowed me to eat the whole burger and took a few bites of Madelyn's half plus fixed some leftovers from the fridge. How generous!

This morning I only fed Loki half of his usual breakfast. Despite what I might wish, I know he will not make any connection between his paltry serving size and last night's despicable behavior. But I figure that his naughty binge provided plenty of additional calories. And I felt only slightly satisfied with my act of righteous indignation.

Alas, I still love the damn dog.

Zeroing in on a half-eaten PB&J at Donner Memorial
June 30, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aw, crap

I'm wondering if that is what some residents of Battle Mountain, Nevada said to themselves after their town's pride was honored by emblazoning its initials onto the side of a big, brown hill. This tradition is common among small towns, especially in the Rocky Mountain area, it seems. But for some towns, maybe some additional consideration to the big picture should have been given.
That's a BM to be proud of.
Isn't it great that I can't find time to write any intelligent posts for over a month, and then I return to you with a poo joke?


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