Amy (old posts, page 27)

April Books

Trust Your Children: Voices Against Censorship in Children's Literature by Mark West (1997) is a collection of interviews with children's book authors, publishers and librarians on the subject of censorship. My local library had a display of books on censorship, and the title of this seemed in keeping with my parenting philosophy, so I picked it up. I'm pretty naive about censorship because I don't really see the point of it, so I don't think about it much. This book was a pointed reminder of how some people dislike some ideas so much they don't even want them to be mentioned. Back in the seventies and eighties censorship was largely about sex, but these days (well, when the book was written) more people complain about anti-authoritarian themes, books where the kids best the adults, books where kids question the rules, and even books where kids are portrayed as unhappy.

Judy Blume got more mentions, if I recall correctly, than any other author. I'm not surprised by that, but I am saddened; Judy Blume was a staple of my childhood. I never got The Sex Talk from my mother, but it was fine because between Judy Blume and the other books I read I pretty much knew what to do and what not to do when the time came.

A more subtle issue is that of self-censorship by authors and publishers. Honestly, what's the use of writing something if it's just going to be taken out, or result in your book not being bought by libraries? One of the solutions, and a flawed one to be sure, is to market your teen book as an adult book, which I was surprised to find actually happens. Apparently Judy Blume's first adult book, wasn't.

This is a valuable compendium of perspectives, with lots of history and context. It would be nice to read an updated version of this book - there are lots of references to the Reagan administration in the book, and I would love to know how the Bush and Obama administrations affected censorship of kids' books.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. (2006). Carol Dweck is a social psychologist who specialises in motivation, personality and development. Her mindset theory is hot in democratic parenting circles, and it deals a death blow to the idea that you have to constantly praise your children for any and all achievements. I was very glad to hear this behaviour has been discredited because I hate hearing parents constantly chirp, "good sharing!", "good swinging!", "good falling down!". (Unfortunately, most people don't seem to have heard that praising sucks, but I'm trying to spread the word.) As you might guess, Alfie Kohn refers to Dweck's work in his Punished by Rewards, so I thought I might as well read this book to get the full story straight from the horse's mouth.

Dweck's argument is that everyone walks around with one of two mindsets: the fixed mindset wherein you believe that everyone is born with a fixed set of talents and abilities which will remain constant for life, and the growth mindset wherein you believe that those talents you are born with are just the beginning; everything you do can be improved by study and practice. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you are what you are, and so your main motivation is to prove that what you are is fabulous. If you have a growth mindset you believe that you can always get better, so you don't have to prove anything, you just have to figure out what needs work and get on with it. Or not: it's your life!

The book discusses how mindset applies in business, in sports, in romance, and in parenting. It's nicely written for a non-scientific audience, leavened by plenty of anecdotes, some of which are about Carol Dweck's own journey from fixed mindset to growth mindset. The book also offered some concrete advice on how to change your own mindset, and how to help your children grow up with a growth mindset.

I think understanding the two mindsets is important to anyone who wants to understand their own mind and motivation, and reading this book is probably the best and most direct way to learn about them. You could probably safely skip the chapters on business or sports or parenting if they don't apply to you.

new day revolution by Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley (2007) is a book about how easy it is to make the world better, written, I assume, to convince those who might otherwise not bother to lift a finger to help out. And lifting a finger is about as much as this book asks: it proposes such strenuous tasks as "call someone you haven't spoken to lately", "learn your barista's name", or "watch a documentary instead of a blockbuster". They have a laudatory profile of a woman who gave up the use of her car... for one whole day. This book sets the bar so low that I'm fairly sure that anyone who would be interested in it would already have done the calibre of world-improvement activities they suggest. If you need the advice in this book, you wouldn't bother to pick it up.

Also there was a spelling mistake on the second page. Pff.

Gatekeeping

My kids are great. They really are, despite occasional outbursts to the contrary. Okay - here's what they do that's annoying: Cordelia dawdles in the morning when it's time to get dressed; Delphine whines when I ask her to clean up (or leave the playground, or stop doing whatever she is enjoying); while they do play nicely together, they are both often impatient with each other and often fight, usually about really stupid things. That's all! That's not much, really.

Okay, there's one more thing. The most annoying annoyance is the pestering: they pester me for television, and for candy, and for trips to the park. They pester me to let them paint, or go play across the street. They ask, I say no, (or later, or tomorrow, or "you already had your tv/candy for today"), and then they beg. They argue. They bargain. They whine. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, sometimes they get distracted by something else, but however it ends it's tedious and aggravating.

I don't control what they eat at mealtimes, I don't control what they wear, I don't control what they play with, so they don't pester me about that stuff. The things which they pester me for are the things which I control; the things for which I'm the gatekeeper.

It must be so frustrating for them, to want something and to have to get past me in order to get it. I really can't blame them for pestering. I know if I wanted a lollipop or to watch Chuck or something and someone was (apparently) arbitrarily preventing me from doing so, I would be pretty pissed off. I would do everything in my power to get what I wanted, even if the only thing in my power was whining. Indeed, the very fact that I couldn't have that lollipop would probably make me much more obsessed with it than I would be if I could just grab a lollipop whenever I wanted one.

I've tried to create some kind of external structure around these things, so that it's not up to my whim. For example, the girls are allowed two TV shows a day, and four a day on weekends. These are rules they helped create and which they agreed to. Even so, they manage to find all kinds of opportunities for negotiation: TV now or later? Which shows? How long are they? Does Pingu count as one show? No? How many Pingus count as a show? Ultimately all these decisions are up to me, which puts all the power in my hands and creates a very unpleasant dynamic where they are constantly supplicating to me and I'm in control of their happiness. This is not how I want my home to be.

So what to do? I guess we could come up with ever more specific rules: TV only after school; three Pingus equals one Dora; one Sesame Street equals two Doras; if Delphine watches something while Cordelia is napping then Cordelia gets to pick the next show... Augh. That way lies madness, and eight million rules.

The assumption underlying all this, of course, is that if I left these decisions: how much TV? How much candy?; in the hands of the kids, they would handle it badly. Is this assumption valid? If I let them watch as much TV as they wanted, would they watch it all the time? To the exclusion of doing other things? What about candy? If there were candy available all the time would they eat too much of it?

I can start to answer these questions by considering adult behaviour. (That's the logical extension of every parenting dilemma, isn't it? "He's not going to be in diapers when he goes to university." "She's not going to keep eating only white food for the rest of her life.") So, I know I have gone through periods when I watched too much TV. I know I have watched TV, even crap TV, to the exclusion of other, more valuable activities. There are plenty of people out there who inarguably watch too much TV, for whom TV has negatively affected their quality of life and prevented them from living up to their potential. It has taken a good deal of self-restraint (and some technological tricks) to reduce my TV watching to the level it's at now, and even still I could probably afford to watch less. I have to consciously manage my TV habit; perhaps it is asking too much for a five-year-old and a three-year-old to do the same, and it is appropriate for me to manage it for them. Perhaps I have to just suck it up and deal with their whining as a part of being a parent.

(I could write that whole paragraph over again for candy, as I'm sure you can imagine.)

Incidentally, I'm thinking of shutting off the TV altogether this summer. (Well, at least for the kids. I'm a giant hypocrite. Also there's no way Blake would agree to not watching TV.) I have a friend whose dad unplugged the TV every summer and I must say it sounds like a fine idea. At least it will provide me with a short and easy answer to any demands: "Sorry kids, no TV until school starts in September." It might even curb the whining. Maybe.

I don't know the solution to this problem. Maybe I need to keep explaining the importance of not watching too much TV. Maybe I need to be more firm when they try and negotiate (I think I'm pretty good at sticking to our existing rules but perhaps I could be better.) Maybe I've been blessed with particularly persistent children and I just need to be more patient. Maybe I need to try harder to distract them. Maybe I'll just keep trying things until something works. Or they move out and buy their own damn TV.

President's Choice Financial

Here's a letter I sent to President's Choice Financial Mastercard.

Hi,

I have a PC Financial Mastercard and I'm very happy with it. However, I just ordered a set of convenience cheques and I was dismayed to see that you included a plastic chequebook holder. The environment is a major concern of mine and I don't believe it's necessary to include a plastic checkbook holder every time a client orders ten cheques. Ironically, the cheques came with a note telling me how environmentally friendly they are.

To add insult to injury, I called the customer support number and the person I spoke to there ("Kevin") laughed at me when I expressed this concern. He said he would "put a note in my file". I asked if anyone would see it, and he replied that "someone might see it and have a chuckle". Perhaps he doesn't understand the gravity of climate change? Perhaps he doesn't care. But surely there is a better way to deal with a client's concerns than putting a note in their file so someone can stumble across it and have a chuckle.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Incidentally, I read the fine print on the "convenience cheques" and realized what a bum deal they are, so I'm going to go back to regular cheques anyway.

Oh Jesus Why?

This just happened. Delphine and Cordelia have been fighting all day, apart from some nice long breaks for Sesame Street and Dora. Finally the television ends and after some brief spats Cordelia settles down on the couch looking at a book, and Delphine comes to the dining table to colour.

After not three minutes of peace, Delphine says, out of the blue, with no provocation whatsoever, "You've been looking at that book for a long time, Cordelia!"

So I said, "She must find it very interesting." Trying to pretend we're all normal human beings who don't pick at each other for the sheer joy of it.

Delphine: "It seems boring to me!"

Yet more fighting ensues. Why? Why?! They were doing fine and then Delphine out and out picked a fight! I swear sometimes I feel like wringing their little fucking necks.


Delphine just came over to show me the picture she coloured in for me, with fish and a little pink bird. She's sweet. Her little neck is safe.

March (of the) Books, 2009

British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History by Colin Spencer. Yes, I know what you're thinking because every damn person who saw this book on my shelf had some stupid joke about English food. But guess what? English food was really cool and interesting until, I dunno, the Reformation or something. The reason that I only know about the cool and interesting part, and not how it ended, is that this book, while packed with information, was a bit dry, and in the end I gave up on it.

If you want or need to know what the British ate, and why, (and how they got it, prepared it and served it) this is the book for you, but if you're looking for a juicy read I would hold out for Eating for England by Nigel Slater, which I will write up as soon as I read it.

Between Ishmael and British Food, that was two books in a row I abandoned, making me doubt my ability to, I dunno, read, so I lobbed myself a nice easy ball with Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. My brother recommended Diana Wynne Jones, and you know I have this thing about reading books instead of watching movies that are based on them, so this was a shoo-in. And it was a lovely read, light and refreshing and escapist, like a grapefruit sorbet. Nice characters, good story, very satisfying. We'll probably get the movie for the girls sometime.

The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards" by Alfie Kohn. I continue my romp through the Alfie Kohn canon with a book which makes me think that Cordelia is currently experiencing the high point of her education. This is a book about how education ought to be, with Kohn's usual rigorous research and wry, readable style.

I'm glad I read it because I think it's important to know how things are when they're at their best, but I think it will cause me some grief to realize how far the TDSB is from the ideal. Although we're a damn sight closer than some of the lunatic school boards in America! Someone on Twitter posted about her kindergartener failing the entrance test for a gifted public school. Kindergartener, entrance test, and gifted public school are words that should never appear in the same sentence. (Except that one.) In fact the phrase "gifted public school" shouldn't exist all by itself. But anyway. If you have a kid in school, you should read this. If you're a teacher, you should read this. I think that pretty much covers everyone who reads this blog, some people twice.

Also I think it might be the only book I've ever read with scare quotes in the title.

How to Make a Garden: The 7 Essential Steps for the Canadian Gardener by Marjorie Harris. If there's any Canadian gardener who needs essential steps, it's me. I have 60 by 20 feet of garden (that's just the backyard) which I have been staring vacantly at for two years now, and I have yet to pluck up the courage to do anything more major than pluck a few weeds and plant a few bulbs. Fortunately Marjorie Harris knows what to do, and further she knows how to tell me how to figure out what to do for myself. This book is incredibly packed with information: how to design your garden, prepare and care for your soil, how to choose plants, how to plant them and how to care for them once they're planted. It's larded with lots of great plant recommendations, and it closes with a description of what tasks you should do in your garden in each season. I need to own this book.

March Books

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. If you have been paying attention here, you know how much I love Alfie Kohn. But I've been reluctant to read this, his parenting book, because I knew it would force me to raise the bar on my parenting, to really think about what's behind how I treat my kids. And I was right, this was a good read but a tough one. This isn't a book with a bunch of techniques or tricks for managing your kids (Alyson Schafer is your girl for that), but rather a discussion of how traditional parenting techniques put your kids in the position of having to earn your love in the form of rewards, praise and attention (or avoid your approbation in the form of punishment, time outs or "consequences").

Kohn's radical thesis is that children are human beings and deserving of love and respect no matter how much they fuck up, and equal love and respect (not more) when they get it right. He writes about "working with" children rather than "doing to" them.

Unconditional parenting is hard; it goes so contrary to popular wisdom which is all about praise and consequences. It's also, to be honest, sometimes hard to treat your kids like human beings when they act like maniacs, or idiots, or animals. You have to really try hard to see the human being inside that crispy exterior and try and respond to her. Which can be hard when you're tired or in a hurry or otherwise resource-challenged. (One of Kohn's list of recommendations is "Don't be in a hurry", which is great advice if you can take it.)

Kohn's arguments are, as always, compelling, well-researched and well-supported; the notes and references seemed to start about two-thirds of the way through the book. (That's one thing I missed from Alyson Schafer's latest book: it just ended. No index, no references, no further reading, nothing. Girl needs a new publisher.)

This is a must-read for me. I would buy this book if I weren't such a cheap bastard.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. Bill Bryson lived in England for a long time (Wikipedia says over twenty years), and he wrote this book after he decided to move back to America. For his last hurrah he did a whirlwind train tour around Britain and wrote all about it. I love Bill Bryson and I love England, and I love train travel, so I thought I would love this book, but I found it kind of sameish after a while. I can't put my finger on why, exactly. Although I can tell you that despite the fact I went to lots of different places when I was in England, my trip and Bill's hardly overlapped at all, so I missed that thrill of reading about a place I'm familiar with.

My favourite thing about this book is how Bryson gets all sappy and sentimental about England, because I love it too (although in a nice-place-to-visit way; I couldn't live there). I was a bit perplexed, though, by his insistence that Brits are so thoughtful and polite. In my experience Brits tend to be a bit mean and rude, if anything (sorry to generalize; usual disclaimers apply, some of my best friends, etc). They're hot on "manners" and behaving "properly", but not so much on actually considering others. Maybe I'm wrong - I was there in middle school which isn't exactly a hotbed of consideration on any continent.

Design Ideas for Home Storage by Elaine Martin Petrowski. Take a guess what this one's about. Yes! A useful book with lots of good ideas, and plenty of photos (some apparently ripped straight from the Ikea catalogue). What makes this one a keeper, though, is that it includes the dimensions you'll need to make storage design decisions: how high is a kitchen counter, how much room do you need to hang a pair of pants, etc. And last but not least there are instructions for a few simple storage projects you can build yourself, like a window seat built from store-bought over-refrigerator cabinets. Brilliant!

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Okay, my "friend" Ellen picked this book as our book club read this month. Our relationship might never be the same. When I found out the premise of this novel (a philosophy of sustainability explained through a telepathic Socratic conversation between a person and a gorilla) I knew I would hate it. I know, you're not supposed to prejudge things, but when you reach a certain age and you've read a few things, you know what you're going to like. And what you're going to hate.

I hated this. Generally I hate books that are discourses on philosophy disguised as a novel. I hated Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I hated Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Okay, that's not true, I guess I liked and found value in both those books when I read them (when I was much younger), but both of them left a bad taste in my mouth, like I'd been spoken down to. And maybe because I'm older and have a stronger sense of my own morality and philosophy, Ishmael was a thousand times worse. I felt like I was being spoon-fed something really quite simple: the whole message of the book could be delivered in a few pages. And on top of that the thesis of the book is ridiculously flawed: the author manages to lump all the subtlety and complexity of every non-Western culture into one group, the "leavers", and says that they're lovely and good people because they don't take more than they need, not like us selfish bastards. It's just all so stupid and patronising (to the other cultures this time, not to me).

Should make for a good book club discussion, anyway. (I'm pretty sure Ellen hates it too - I wonder how everyone else feels.)


Wow, every paragraph in this post has a parenthetical insertion. (Except this one. (Whoops!)) I think I have a problem.

Things I Want, Part MMXXXVII

I looked and looked for some cool gifts for Blake's birthday, and largely failed. (I ended up getting him a couple of books and some chocolate, always welcome around here.) However, I did find a whole heap of stuff I want! (This is the problem with shopping, and why I don't do it as a rule.)

Here is my Lee Valley wish list. Some glue to fix my wobbly chairs; some flashlights in case of a blackout (extras so the girls can lose a couple); some heavy-duty magnets to hold those giant construction paper projects to the fridge; a solar-powered radio (see above re: blackout); a sharpener which may or may not wreck my knives; a completely gratuitous gingerbread house mold I may never use but which represents the kind of Christmas Mom I would like to be; and of course the aforementioned mandoline. Nothing really cool for Blake though.

Then I checked ThinkGeek. They have lots of cool stuff that Blake might like, but we have a small house and stuff has to be really awesome to earn a place in here, and I just wasn't sure he would like any of the stuff enough. But I found some stuff I like: an MP3 player for the girls; an awesome keyboard (with clicky keys!); a gratuitous but cool alarm clock; more fridge magnets; another emergency radio; a clock to help the girls learn how to tell time (whilst also not being criminally ugly!); and a thing to tell us how much power we're wasting with our three computers and my stubborn refusal to light my home with greenish-grey fluorescent lights.

Apple Butter

Sometimes I write letters about stuff that isn't very important in the grand scheme of things. I sent this to the nice folks at Wellesley:

Hi,

I just wanted to let you know how much I love your apple butter! I am from rural Saskatchewan and some of my neighbours made apple butter when I was a kid, so I was excited to see it on the shelf at my grocery store. I was even more excited when I tasted it - I don't remember my neighbours' apple butter being so sublime! You have definitely figured out the perfect recipe.

Wellesley Apple Butter is now my gift for people who are visiting, or for when I go away -- maple syrup is such a cliche, but apple butter is perfectly local and evocative of Southern Ontario. You make it easy to eat locally!

Congratulations! Amy Brown

More Marvellous March Break

March break has been great so far but I keep thinking we've done more than just two days of it. We've crammed in a lot of excitement already, so hopefully we didn't peak too soon.

Monday morning we got up nice and slow, and then Delphine and I did some jobs around the house; we sorted and put away all the girls' laundry, we baked cookies from a mix she got in a party loot bag, and Cordelia joined us in cleaning the kitchen floor, which we did with two buckets of soapy water and a lot of cloths. Cordelia mostly splashed around but Delphine really helped. She was very agreeable company all morning.

After lunch Delphine went on a bike ride with Blake, and I put Cordelia down for a nap and then lay down on the couch myself. I read some of the Globe, then fell asleep and woke up in time for Cordelia to wake up and Blake and Delphine to get home. I really should have cleaned the kitchen at some point, but instead Blake suggested we watch The Sound of Music. So I popped some popcorn and the girls and I snuggled on the couch for their second movie ever.

Delphine loved it. She loved the songs, most of which she already knew, she loved the children, she loved the story. She even got into the romance, which surprised me.

She was really scared by the Captain at the beginning; she was petrified that the children were going to get into trouble all the time. She really doesn't like stern people, and she's petrified of authority figures, of getting in trouble, of doing the wrong thing, and of displeasing authorities. She gets it from me, and I'm not sure what to do about it. Anything? But we talked to her and got her thinking about whether all rules are worth following, and about whether getting into trouble is really the worst thing that can happen. We're so subversive.

Oh, and she was scared of the Nazis at the end. (Or the Nasties, as she called them at first.) I figure the sooner you learn that Nazis are scary the better.

Cordelia was a little bit scared of the things Delphine was scared of, and towards the end of the show she just got bored and started kicking people.

After the movie, which as it turns out is really really long, I was all logey and out-of-sorts, which was bad because it was 6:30. Dinner is supposedly at 6:00, and choir is actually at 7:30, so I had -30 minutes to get some food on the table and 30 minutes to eat and leave to get to choir on time. I nuked a bunch of leftovers (which was, as it turns out, actually the plan for dinner), ate, got out the door (with some uncharacteristic leg-hanging and bawling from Cordelia) and was only about five minutes late to choir, although out of breath.

Choir was only half-full and I got all cocky and sat off by myself. I was soon humbled by the realization that I don't know the piece half as well as I thought I did; without all those voices around me I missed a few entries and ballsed up a few intervals that I would have sworn I knew. Choral singing can make a person really lazy.

The piece we're doing has some really (really really) high notes and I was feeling very unsure as to how well I was singing them. Sometimes something sounds great in your head but awful outside, and they're such high, loud, conspicuous notes (the ones in the sixth movement, for those playing along at home (Dave)) that I really didn't want to be fucking them up inadvertently. So I sucked up my courage to ask the conductor how I was doing. I hoped he would say I was doing okay but I steeled myself to be cool if he had a problem, like if I was too loud or flat or something. I know logically that you can only improve by accepting negative feedback and working on it, but like Delphine I like to be perfect at things right away because I hate criticism.

The good news is that my high notes are fine, so now all I have to work on is the whole rest of the piece. Sigh. But I was pleased with myself for having the nerve to ask about it rather than make myself miserable second-guessing my high notes for the rest of the season. Now I can belt them out with great confidence!

I came home all fidgety and still out-of-sorts, happy because of the good feedback but unhappy about the number of mistakes I made, tired but too wired to go to bed. I read too many chapters of Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, and finally fell asleep.

This morning Delphine had a playdate at a friend's house - a really sweet, vivacious Grade One girl who was in Delphine's kindergarten class last year. They don't get together very often now, but they seem to maintain an affection for one another. So Delphine stayed there for lunch while Cordelia and I entertained a friend of mine and her baby. This is a new friend, one of the many lovely and clever and interesting people I've met in the last year or two. She admired my kitchen. I always appreciate people who admire my kitchen.

After our company left I managed to stuff some food into Cordelia and put her down for a nap before Delphine was returned home after her playdate. Delphine watched some TV while I cleaned the kitchen and did laundry. (Cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry seems to be more-or-less my default state.)

At 1:30 I roused Cordelia and we all headed over to the park to meet Auntie Morgan. The girls are thrilled to rediscover the park and explore all their new abilities, developed unwittingly over the winter. Cordelia loves to go down the big slides which scared her last fall, and Delphine can now successfully pump on the swings (although she prefers not to).

After an hour or so at the park Cordelia declared she had to go pee, so we walked over to my friend Tanya's house to use their facilities. (It's important to cultivate friends who live near the park.) When they heard we were at the park they thought it was such a sovereign idea that they decided to join us, and then we bumped into still more friends, and then the ice cream truck hove into view! The park is truly a wonderland of friends and unexpected frozen dairy treats.

I was the only person there with money, so I bought four little ice cream cones for various little people. I think I got shortchanged but getting that much happiness for under a ten-spot is still a pretty good deal. Plus I got to finish Delphine's ice cream. ("Mama, can you eat this ice cream for me? But don't eat the cone.")

When it was time to leave the park there was some confusion: Delphine wanted to go pee but didn't want to go home, so we all walked over to Tanya's place to use her bathroom again. I knew, of course, that there was no chance that Delphine would just pee and leave - she and Ursa got to playing and Tanya and I were similarly reluctant to part company. I tried to coax Tanya to come to my place for burgers and hot dogs, but she has been sick and was tired, and she had plans to meet her husband, but then it would be easier to come to my place than go out, and burgers are yummy, and the girls are having such a nice time... we dithered, we weighed options, we wasted a great deal of time. I think Tanya was just too tired to make a decision.

Then I suggested a sleepover and Tanya visibly brightened. She asked Ursa if she would like to go for a sleepover at Delphine's place, and the girls acted as if I had just offered them pink flying ponies with sparkly tails. So that was a go. The whole lot of us walked back to our place (desperately slowly, with several wipeouts) where I ended up making KD (it was too late to do burgers and anyway Tanya wasn't staying for dinner). Everyone ate a bunch of KD and edamame, and Tanya and I had tea.

And Tanya gave me a wonderful gift! She's a painter and she painted me a picture of the red Marmoleum floor that I originally wanted (with some broken eggs on it). It's fantastic and I need to figure out where to put it. And which way is up. (Since it's a picture of the floor, any way could be up. I get to decide!)

The girls finally got to bed after far too much foolishness, although they were still awake at 8:40. Hopefully this means that they will sleep in. (Hah.)