Monday, June 29, 2009

Spent a rainy Saturday indoors, just me and the kids. D was at a pool tournament and so the kids and I had lots of time to work on puppets-their latest fascination. A favorite destination of ours is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where there is a wonderful free-play area for kids. Among the many things my kids love to play with are the "puppets" they have in a basket under a large sprawling oak tree. The puppets are nothing more than slices of trees, round discs of tree, cut thinly. Kids can use pencils to draw faces on them or just let the design of the wood be a face. There is a stage which they can hide behind to perform puppet plays. For the longest time J delightedly referred to every piece of fallen wood he saw as a "puppet!"

This weekend, however, the puppets became so much more elaborate. Fueled by excitement from having seen a puppet show in a friends' yard (community theater at its best!) the kids wanted to make their own troupe of characters. We got out the pipe cleaners, pom poms, styrofoam balls, and I weilded the glue gun (at L's precise direction, of course) and by the time the afternoon was drawing to a close, we had a lively bunch: an octopus, a "quad-pus", a cat, and several butterflies. I was treated to several exciting puppet shows as the weekend wore on. None of the kids felt inspired to make a human puppet. (oh, they are so my children!)

Something else I'd been meaning to make with the kids that we finally tackled: treasure boxes. These are simple decorated boxes for the kids to keep their very special items in. Our house is filled with clutter and toys, and we needed someplace really special to keep our nature treasures. The kids each got a plain cardboard box with lid, and decorated it with crayons. L put her growing feather collection (which now amounts to three feathers: a woodpecker, cardinal, and turkey feather--this last one a souvenir from the puppet show), her favorite rocks and a couple of shells she scored on our last trip to the St Croix River. I'm not sure she needs to know that the shells are from Zebra Mussels, the highly invasive and absolutely harmful species that is taking over Minnesota's waterways.

For now, she's delighted to open the box and tell me the story of each treasure inside. And I'm delighted to listen.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


this morning J and I stopped at the "dandelion fountain" --a place I remember from my own childhood (though, I'm not sure why...we rarely ventured into the city when I was young. Hm.) The kids have been fascinated by this since they first saw it earlier this week when we were driving around killing time, waiting for L's preschool program to start. As soon as we dropped L off at school J started requesting a trip.

It rained early this morning, one of those wonderful, early summer rains, dumping buckets of fat raindrops all over, with the low rumbles of thunder urging me out of bed. I love summer thunderstorms. By the time we dropped L off at school the rain had stopped and the sun was out. The grass in Loring park was wet and the sidewalks were steamy.

We walked around the fountain and watched the water pour from one pool to the next. We felt the spray of mist on our faces. J watched a pigeon land and we listened to its wings, like crisp fabric flapping as it took off. Another bird landed on one of the drain thingies-and J was intrigued as it munched bugs and bits of seeds, then flew straight through the mist from the dandelion and off to a tree.

"Bath! Bath! Bird took bath!" he yelled.

Then he noticed the rainbow. The morning sun was shining through the droplets of water just so, and we were treated with a long, wide rainbow. J reached out eagerly. "Grab, grab" he said. "Touch rainbow"

"We can't touch the rainbow, because it's made of the sun hiding in the water." I told him.

"pleeeeeeease" he begged.

We watched the rainbow a few times, then the church bells started to peal in the distance. I'm not even religious but it was a moment I will never forget. A perfect moment with my sweet boy.

When it was time to go we walked around the fountain a couple of times, watching the rainbow disappear and reappear. "Bye rainbow," he said as we walked away, "lub you."

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Coaxing the kids through the back yard and into the car last week, I stepped on an ant. L stopped and crouched down while I was busy wrangling J and the ancillary "kid stuff" that seems to accompany us everywhere these days.

"Mama, why did you step on the ant?"
"uh, well, sweetie, I guess I just wasn't paying attention to where I was walking."
"But you squished it. It's not moving."
"Well, honey, I must have killed it. " I said sheepishly. "I'm so sorry." And I was. (Honestly, I really do usually try to avoid stepping on them.)

She gingerly picked it up and carried it to the car. I opened her door and she climbed in and set the ant ever-so-carefully into the cup holder of her booster seat. The girl was sad. I think it might be the first time L has seen something go from living to dead. I think she saw the finality of it: the ant was walking along, I stepped on it, and then it was dead.

We drove and drove, L asking over and over "Why did you step on the ant?" And me just repeating the same ol' thing, over and over. "I made a mistake. I'm sorry."

We've been in the car about a dozen times since this happened. The ant is still in her cup holder.