27 March 2009

7 Quick Takes

Annika needs glasses. She is significantly far-sighted. I have known this for a month and have put off actually going to buy the glasses. Mostly because, those eyes! I don't want to cover them. Yesterday in the commissary no fewer than three people stopped to coo over her. And every one of them said, "Look at those big eyes!"

But I need to get over it and help the child actually SEE with those baby blues.

Look, it's that blur who calls herself Mama!

It's not every day that your child gets off the school bus with blood stains on her shirt. And blood-sodden tissues clutched in her hand. "She's got a little bit of a wobbly tooth," said the bus monitor cheerfully, which right then confirmed for me the stereotype of the British understatement. "Look, Mama!" she said, and opened her mouth to show me the blood streaking from one of her front teeth and pooling in her mouth. "I heard a crack and then it started bleeding," she said. "I need another Kleenex." Yeah, I think so.

Well, obviously the bloody tooth needed to come out. So Katrina swished salt water around her mouth, I grabbed a paper towel. and we started a-pulling. It was the little tooth on the bottom to the right of the two middle teeth. It was small. It was slippery. It was NOT coming out. After a half-hour of swishing, spitting out blood, and trying to pull out the blasted thing, we gave up. It seemed to be anchored on one side, despite the fact that I could wiggle it almost sideways. A few more "swish and spits" and the bleeding stopped.

The next day, Katrina came off the bus with her tooth in her backpack. It had fallen out all by itself while she was on the playground.

But I'm sure our efforts loosened it up. Right? Right? (Ok, no picture for this one because the first teeth coming out are Epic Photo Ops. The fourth tooth, oh, drat, almost forgot the tooth fairy thing.)

We have done our part to help the economy...of Deruta, Italy. In November, we ordered a new set of dishes. Since shipping a set of hand-painted dishes from Italy to Germany was just as expensive as you might expect, we waited until the company came to the next bazaar in Germany...and then asked our friend who works in Stuttgart to haul them home for us. They were my Christmas gift and I think food looks so much better on them. Hubby likes them but also? thinks they are Just. Plates. Nuh-uh! Look!

We make even Jennifer's cooking look good.

On Sunday, I taught Children's Church, which sounds way more fancy than it is, since it was a last-minute thing. I read the story nearly word for word from the Sunday School curriculum, then had the kids do the enclosed pre-printed craft. But the lesson has been bugging me, because it misrepresented what the Bible actually said.

The story of the day was the widow's mite. Jesus was hanging out at the temple with his disciples, watching people put money in the offering jars. Rich people put in a lot. Then a poor widow approaches, and puts in two coins, worth less than a penny. Jesus said (ahem, paraphrasing) "Look! That widow put in more than all of the rich people, because she gave all she had." End of story, on to another one.

So, the curriculum asks, was Jesus happy that the widow gave all she had? (The kids chorus, YES!) NO, says the curriculum. Jesus wasn't happy that the widow gave all she had, but because she was *thankful* to God.

What up with that?! Are the writers of the Sunday School curriculum afraid the little kiddos might actually take Jesus seriously? Bring their whole piggy bank to church the next Sunday? Couldn't have a bunch of kids growing up thinking that they need to give everything they have to God...could we?

Hmm. I just now got the irony of juxtaposing buying new dishes with the widow's mite story. This Christianity thing is HARD.

I've read several good books lately that I keep meaning to mention. One is The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. I got this one out of the library. The book is essentially a series of stories about students in a cooking class,what their lives are like, why they came to the class, and how they intersect with each other over the eight-week course. The characters are well-drawn and the stories are poignant, but the writing itself is gorgeous, in an unselfconscious way.

Also, The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman. This one has many of the conventions of a Gothic mystery--an old historic hotel, a missing book manuscript, a daughter trying to uncover the truth about her mother's death 30 years ago---but takes place in present day. Of course I'd be drawn to a book about two writers: the daughter, teaching writing classes and trying to finish her English dissertation; and the dead mother, famous for writing only two fantasy novels of what was supposed to be a trilogy. Woven throughout is an Irish legend of The Selkie. Loved it.

Katrina is a strong-willed person. This is obvious to anyone who's spent more than, say 5 minutes with her. Plus she's easily distracted. So, mornings and evenings are often spent repeating the same phrases over and over, with increasing force. "Katrina, go upstairs and start your bath. Katrina! upstairs, please. Katrina, NOW." She resisted to the point of tears (hers) and yelling (ours) last night. When she (we) calmed down, I said, "Katrina, the rule is that you do what Mama and Papa say the FIRST time we ask. And when I ask you to do something, the correct answer is, 'OK, Mama.' And then you DO it. The FIRST time. Or you will get a time out. Do you understand?"

She nodded gravely and said, "Yes, Mama." She was silent for a moment, and then...

"That's a new rule, Mama. You never told me that before."

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