how spoiled am I?

caution–this post contains spoilers for Harry Potter 6–if you haven’t read it yet, you might want to stop here

I know that the release of the final Harry Potter book isn’t happening for almost another four months. But earlier this week, I came to the unhappy realization that we are going to be out of the country when that release happens. Not just out of the country, but in a place where English is not the primary language. So I ask you, how will I be able to avoid finding out what happens? Will I have to endure a media blackout for the entire time we’re out of the country?

When the Half-Blood Prince came out, I had pre-ordered it from Powells. I didn’t actually get the book for a few days–they mailed it the day it was released. I stopped reading any blog that even gave a hint that the author was reading Harry Potter. I avoided all newspaper articles, tv shows, other internet sites, everything.

And while I was in the middle of the book, I read a blog. A blog that had nothing to do with books, or children, or anything even remotely Harry Potter-related. It was the blog of a St*rbucks barista (now defunct). And in the middle of the entry, the writer wrote (utterly randomly) something along the lines of “I just want to go stand outside the Today Show and hold up a sign that says ‘Snape killed Dumbledore!'”

I was utterly crushed.

That’s why I’m sitting here, four months before my vacation, trying to figure out what the closest English-language bookstore is to the place that we will be staying. Sigh…

March 29, 2007. books for grown-ups, books for kids. 10 comments.

the streets of New York

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We went to NYC this weekend to visit my MIL, and the kids got to experience the joys of not one but two playgrounds in the city that never sleeps. Whenever we got to a playground in my MIL’s neighborhood, I’m struck by how obviously we are outsiders. Because believe it or not, the Potato was the only kid in this entire (crowded!) playground wearing shoes that had a cartoon character on them. Seriously, where do you buy the shoes, New Yorkers? How come they don’t have that kind of cute at Payless?

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The Bee proved herself mistress of the monkey bars, impressing all the younger kids in the house (or out of the house, I guess).

And I had one of those “I thought this was apocryphal, but I guess it’s real” moments when I heard the mothers of some two-year-old girls talking about whether or not their daughters would get in to Children’s Day School.

March 27, 2007. family life. 8 comments.

I name you

One of the many books that the Bee got last year was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. When she unwrapped it, I almost swooned with joy. I confess, I think the Bee is slightly too young for it. But I’m not.

If only I could find my own wrinkle in time, so I could go back to the point in my life when I had not yet read this book, just so that I could read it again for the first time, I’d be truly happy. Though since it gets better with each reading, maybe I should stick with the 15 or so times I’ve already been through it.

I say 15, but that’s really just a guess. I doubt that I could count the ‘dark and stormy nights’ that I stayed up too late, reading it over and over again. Oh Mrs Whatsit & Mrs Who, how I wished that you would come knock on my door one rainy night and take me off somewhere more interesting than the suburbs where I was growing up, somewhere fantastical.

March 25, 2007. books for kids. 8 comments.

books you can’t live without

I was over at the blogher site tonight, and saw this post about the 10 books you can’t live without, which led me to this list of the 100 books you can’t live without, and it made me wonder, what does it mean to say you can’t live without a book? Does it mean that your life would be different if that book had never been written, and you had never read it? Or that if that book ceased to exist on earth, you would stop living? I confess, I’ve read only 68 of the books on the Guardian’s list. Does that mean that I’m only 68% alive?

Tangentially, it doesn’t seem entirely fair that they list The Complete Works of William Shakespeare at number 14, and then Hamlet all by itself at number 98. Does that mean you have to read Hamlet twice? Or do you get double credit for reading it once?

March 23, 2007. books for grown-ups. 6 comments.

who makes you think?

One of my favorite things about having a blog is when someone leaves me a comment that lets me know I made them think about something differently. So I was delighted when Suzanne tagged me as a Thinking Blogger. I also really love writing that makes me think, particularly writing that makes me get outside the box of my own head.

There are so many bloggers who affect me. Some of them probably don’t even know I’m reading them–because sometimes after reading an affecting post, I don’t know what to say, and so I don’t comment. But it still touches me.

Suzanne took this meme to a new level, by not just naming the bloggers who made her think, but the specific posts that were especially “think-worthy.”  I’m going to follow in her footsteps, and award “Thinking Blogger” to the following:

Thordora, for her post Voices Carry

Michael Willis, for his post Total Raisin Bran

Angry Black Bitch, for her post Nasty Little Revival

Elle, ABD, for her post Mothers of Color

and Brett, for his post An Outdoor Experience That Changed My Life

March 21, 2007. memes, meta. 8 comments.

paper chase

Do you ever just get tired of all the paper in your house? Some days, I’d like to walk away from it all.

Landisdad and I finally bought a new car this weekend. After we made our deal, we came home to look for the title for the wagon that we were trading in, and I couldn’t find it in my filing cabinet. So we looked a couple more times in the same places. Then we looked through a bunch of boxes in the basement. Boxes that hold our combined history, plus the history of some other members of the family, too.

It made me wonder why we save so much paper, and who we’re saving it for? Will my kids actually ever read journal entries that I wrote during my freshman year of high school? Or notes from a class that landisdad took in grad school?

I realize that we have some legal obligation to keep our tax records going back seven years (or is it five?), but why am I hanging on to credit card statements that are that old? Needless to say, the shredder got a fair amount of use this weekend.

Our basement doesn’t just contain our ephemera–there are also the seven boxes of photographs from landisdad’s family that we’re supposed to be scanning, so they can be digitally preserved. Landisdad’s grandfather was an interesting, well-traveled guy–one of the pictures is of him and his wife with Yukio Mishima–and I can imagine that our kids and their kids would want to have that. But there’s a part of me that just wonders what we’re doing all this saving for.

For me, I know that part of the desire to save paper has to do with the dissolution of my childhood home. There are few things that were saved, when my mom and stepfather moved to a new house, and I moved in with my dad. For landisdad, the opposite is true–his childhood home was intact until the year that we moved East, and our house is full of furniture and books that came from that house.

I’d like my children to have some kind of a happy medium, although I do worry that I’m going to leave them with a huge mass of paper that they have to sort out when I’m 90, and ready to go into a home. I hang on to all kinds of work-related papers that I think are interesting–but what am I going to do, donate them to a university? Or perhaps use them for the basis of my memoirs? It all seems so improbable–sure they’re interesting to me, but will anyone else ever actually want to read notes from a meeting that happened 50 years in the past?

As for the car title? It never did turn up. Thankfully, the fine folks at motor vehicles were able to print us a new one this morning. But that’s one piece of paper we be hanging on to for another ten years.

March 19, 2007. memory. 15 comments.

learning to read, loving to read

The Potato has been learning letters at his day-care for about the past six months, but only recently has he gotten to that point where he’s recognizing them everywhere he goes. “Look, Mommy, ‘B’!” he shouts at me every morning, when reading the Honey Nut Cheerios box. “‘H,’ Mommy, ‘H!'” It’s so much fun. He’s also very into writing words, although still not entirely sure why exactly the letters have to be written on the page in a certain order.

Yesterday, when I was driving him to school, he spent about 20 minutes telling me all the words that he was going to ‘practice spelling’ when he got home from school. ‘Car!’ ‘House!’ ‘Cat!’ ‘Elbow!’ It was freakin’ adorable.

I remember when the Bee had the same mental explosion of understanding that those squiggly lines that she saw everywhere actually meant something. It’s akin to the language explosion when they both learned to talk, and when she actually started to be able to read words, and would spend all of her time reading random things off of billboards and magazine covers. It’s really interesting to observe this development up close and personal, and has to be one of my absolute favorite things about parenting.

In other reading news, the Bee’s school has been having a contest this month–each class is challenged to read for a total of 3,000 minutes. She told me yesterday that her class is the first one in the school to crack the 3,000 minute mark–and the month’s not half over yet. The Bee’s contribution to this achievement? I just added it up–she’s contributed just over half of that, with about 1,600 minutes all to herself. The other day, I asked her if she wanted to do something with me, and she said very seriously, “Mom, I have to go read. I want to win this thing.”

I read something in the most recent Bookwomen where a mother was talking about having to stop her daughter from reading, in order to get her to do other homework for school. Until very recently, that seemed like a pretty theoretical problem to me. Now that Harry Potter has grabbed hold of my daughter’s brain, it seems a lot more likely.

March 15, 2007. books for kids, growing up. 12 comments.

a view from the blue

I took the Potato to the playground alone yesterday. My brother and his family had taken the Bee to a basketball game, but they didn’t have enough tickets for both of the kids to go, so the Potato got some Mommy time. It was extremely crowded at the playground–the first nice weekend day in a while–and it made me realize how much I rely on the Bee to help me keep track of the Potato whenever we go there.

I had to keep bobbing around under and through the equipment, trying to keep an eye on his little blue hoodie. Becca had a post up recently about taking her kids to the playground, and being able to read a book, and while I’m not quite at that point, I do feel okay letting the Bee and the Potato play together without keeping a close eye out.

The playground that we go to most often is fairly large, with both a little kids’ & big kids’ section–and the Potato has gotten so used to playing on the big kids’ side with his sister that he turned his nose up at the little kids’ side this time. That meant I had to trail behind him, making sure he didn’t fall off anything that was too high, or slide down anything too steep.

It’s nice to be reminded, every once in a while, that having two kids isn’t always more work than having one.

March 12, 2007. family life. 7 comments.

I could look at this for hours…

have you checked out bloglines new image wall yet? I could look at this all day. It’s a constantly-updating series of images from blogs.

No, I don’t have a life.

Also, I’ve added new page to my blog–look up at the top, to the right of the header. It’s tracking what I’ve read so far this year. Pretty exciting, I know. Have I mentioned that I don’t have a life?

March 10, 2007. meta. 4 comments.

International Women’s Day? Why not a meme?

I saw this meme over at Figure:Demystifying the Feminist Mystique, thought I’d give it a shot. Name your five favorite things about feminism, and tag five other people:

1. Having access to childcare centers, and not having to rely on my mom to take care of my kids.

2. No more “pink collar” job ads.

3. Last year, I had a conversation with a coworker about a friend of hers who got kicked out of nursing school back in the 60s, when the school administration found out she was secretly married. Pretty glad that’s not legal any more.

4. I like having a credit card in my own name.

5. I’m happy that my daughter will have access to any kind of training she can imagine, from being a construction worker to a neurologist.

And now the tags:

Jim from Patriside

Narya from Dharma Practice

Chichimama from A Day in the Life

Jeff from Out With the Kids

& De from Sober Briquette.

Have fun!

March 8, 2007. memes. 4 comments.

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