Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Knights family might be moving

I have been thinking about relocating the Knights Who Writes blog. Certain people tell me that I would like blogging on Wordpress better. Other people should comment here if they have an opinion.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Arlo thinks of his mom

I saw this interview-your-kid exercise on Facebook. I thought maybe I'd post it on Facebook, but since I've got this here Blogger machine hooked up to pipe my blog posts onto my FB page, I'm a-fixin' to kill two Internet birds with one stone.

What my kid thinks of me.
Saturday, March 21, at 3:43pm

Copy this note, ask your kid the questions and write down the answers exactly as they say them. Tag me back if you do this. I'd love to hear yours.

Here are Arlo's answers (he's 4 and a half):
Me: What is something Mom always says to you?
Arlo: "Be Nice."

Me: What makes Mom happy?
Arlo: Being nice.

Me: What makes Mom sad?
Arlo: Like doing things that I don't do for you.

Me: How does your Mom make you laugh?
Arlo: Tickle me.

Me: What was Mom like as a little girl?
Arlo: Being a baby.

Me: How old is your Mom?
Arlo: 60. Dad is a hundred.

Me: How tall is your Mom?
Arlo: Big.

Me: What is her favorite thing to do?
Arlo: Clean.

Me: What does your Mom do when you're not around?
Arlo: Go to work.

Me: If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Arlo: I don't know. Cause that would make me real real REAL happy.

Me: What is your mom really good at?
Arlo: Being a mom.

Me: What is your mom not very good at?
Arlo: No.

Me: What does your mom do for her job?
Arlo: Do work.

Me: What is your mom's favorite food?
Arlo: Veggies.

Me: What makes you proud of your mom?
Arlo: She makes pictures.

Me: If your mom was a cartoon character, who would she be?
Arlo: Word Girl.

Me: What do you and Mom do together?
Arlo: Clean.

Me: How are you and your mom the same?
Arlo: Like to do puzzles.

Me: How are you and your mom different?
Arlo: Nope.

Me: How do you know your mom loves you?
Arlo: Because you love me.

Me: Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Arlo: Home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How to Make Your Four-Year-Old Love You

Last night we served the kids blueberry pancakes for dinner, with banana slices and milk. Arlo requested that his have a happy face on top, so I made eyes and a nose with Cheerios... then I went to the fridge to look for something to use for the smile.

There, in the refrigerator door, was a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup (something we occasionally have in the house, primarily for the use of my husband, the primary sweet tooth in residence.)

I pulled out the bottle. Arlo saw what was in my hand and he started laughing maniacally.

"Who's the best Mom in the whole world?" I said, as I shook the bottle. (I felt like I might as well have been saying "Who's your DADDY? C'mon, say my NAME!")

"YOU ARRRRRRRRE!" he gleefully screamed.

I don't care what you say. As I squeezed a ribbon of chocolate across my son's pancake-happy-face dinner, I really did feel like the best Mom on Earth.

(P.S. For the record, they were organic multigrain pancakes, with real blueberries mixed in.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Originally uploaded by knights_writes
I'm a lazy/busy blogger lately... just thought I'd share with you this "springy" video, because it makes me smile. I know it would make Ted's parents cringe (because jumping on the bed is something of which they soundly disapprove), but they are not generally "online" people, so I think I'm safe in brazenly sharing with the world my laissez-faire approach to bed jumping. Enjoy!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Downer Alert: The Accursed Items, by J. Robert Lennon

I heard the following prose piece on a recent episode of "This American Life" on NPR, and really enjoyed wallowing for a few minutes in the stark and forlorn mental images it conjured up. Please be advised that this is not a feel-good piece--but it stopped me in my tracks because of the poignancy with which Lennon assigns such history and emotion to these objects: the accursed items of the title. I Googled the piece so that I may share it with you now:

The Accursed Items, by J. Robert Lennon

A bottle of pain reliever, brought along on a business trip, that proves, at the moment it is most needed, to be filled not with pain reliever, but with buttons.

Sneakers hanging from the power line, with one half of a boy's broken glasses stuffed into each toe.

A Minnie Mouse doll you found by the roadside, and brought home, intending to run it through the washer, and give it to your infant son, but which looked no less forlorn after washing, and was abandoned on a basement shelf, only to be found by your son eight years later, and mistaken for a once-loved toy that he himself had forsaken, leading to his first real experience of guilt and shame.

Love letters, seized by federal agents in an unsuccessful drug raid, tested in a lab for traces of cocaine, exhaustively read for references to drug contacts, sealed in a labeled plastic bag, and packed along with a plush bear holding a plastic red heart, into an unlabeled brown cardboard box, itself, loaded into a truck with hundreds of similar boxes, when the police headquarters was moved, and forever lost.

Nude polaroids of a thirteen-year-old female cousin.

An icicle, preserved in the freezer by a child, which, when discovered months later, is thought to be evidence of a problem with the appliance, leading to a costly and inconclusive diagnostic exam by a repairman.

A gay porno magazine, thrown onto a ball field from a car window, and perused with great interest by the adolescent members of both teams, two of whom meet in the woods some weeks later, to reproduce the tableaus they have seen, leading to a gradual realization that they are in fact gay, an incident, the memory of which causes one of the two, when he is well into a life that is disappointing emotionally, professionally, and sexually, to fling a gay porno magazine out his car window, as he passes an occupied ball field, on his way to what will be an unsuccessful job interview.

A biscuit, crushed into the slush of a Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot.

The orange tobbaggen, whisking her to her death.

A resume, that portrays its author as utterly unqualified for the position for which she has applied, but which, because it smells good, leads its reader, a desperate, experientially undernourished middle-manager at an internet-based retail corporation, to invite her into the office for an interview, which, although further portrays the applicant's complete unsuitability for the job, provides the middle-manager with a physical impression to complement the good smell, which impression is intensely exciting, forcing him to hire her as a supplemental secretary, much to the bafflement, chagrin, and eventual disgust of his extant secretary, who, during her employer's lunch hour, removes the resume in question from his files, and personally delivers it to the CEO, and is with the CEO when he barges into the middle-manager's office, and finds the unsuitable supplemental secretary standing beside him, crying silently with her dress half-off, while he sits in his reclining office chair, sweating profusely, and holding a plastic letter opener in a threatening manner.

The houseplant that will not die.

Fifty pairs of old blue jeans, found at second-hand clothing stores, and brought at great expense, on a trip to eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics, where rumor had it, old blue jeans could be sold for a lot of money, but where this was no longer true, as so many previous visitors had heard the same rumor, and done the same thing, creating a glut of old blue jeans, which were not even all that stylish there anymore, and causing the entire trip to be ruined by the necessity of hauling around these huge suitcases full of other people's jeans, which smelled kind of bad, as if those other people were currently wearing them.

The urine sample, produced for the cancelled doctors appointment, and forgotten in the back of the fridge.

My eyeglasses, covered with a thickening layer of dust that I never seem to notice, and simply adjust to, until, at last, I clean them out of habit, and discover a new world, sharp and full of detail, whose novelty and clarity I forget about completely within fifteen minutes.

Your signature, rendered illegible by disease.

(Jen again here: I especially loved the one about the icicle.)

Friday, March 06, 2009


(Disclaimer: I hate how hard it is to lay out photos in these blogposts. Please forgive the ad-hoc appearance of this post. I don't have time to make it look right--I tried--but I hope you'll enjoy playing "match the caption with the photo!")

Ted teaches a horticulture class at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids on Thursday nights, so I've gotten in the habit of taking pictures of what the kids and I do in his absence. I was enjoying the shots from last night--what a glorious springish evening!--and thought I'd share them with you, too. After all, most of you missed the fun too!

Racing the setting sun, we scooted over to Wetherby Park for a little fresh air and play time. Erika and Booker figured they could use some of that too--so they joined us for a short but intense playdate.

In this first shot, Mae is very excited about something up in the sky...

Yep, there it is. Zee plaaaane!

Here, E and Arlo and Booker (at least Booker's tail end) romp around.

Here's Arlo, running off some steam. Honestly, after an afternoon at Kinderfarm I don't know HOW he has any steam left.
This is when Arlo decided that he had played enough and informed me that "We'd better get outta here."
And back at home, Mae celebrates the onset of spring weather with some festive headgear (daisy headband courtesy of Gramma Mary).
After a gorgeous day yesterday, temps are still on the mild side, but we are definitely ready for more 60+ temperatures! This morning I noticed the tips of tulip foliage pushin up out of the soil by our front door, and just seeing that gave me a fresh burst of energy. C'mon, spring!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This Just In: The 5 C's of a Successful Lunch Outing

Cyndi Lauper. Cheese. Camaraderie. Crude Humor. Candy. Oh, and Cyndi Lauper again. These are the elements that added up to make my lunch outing today a real pleasure. And would you look at that--I had my camera right there in my purse. Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First Day of (Pre)School

First Day of (Pre)School
Originally uploaded by knights_writes

Arlo goes to Kinderfarm today!!!

In a few short hours, the "Rainbow Connection" van will be picking Arlo up from day care and heading out to the farm. The van will then return him to Tata's at the end of the day.

It feels so weird that I won't be delivering him to his first big day at preschool. I won't even be there to see him off, or to greet him upon his (we hope) triumphant return. I honestly believe that he will do better without having me there to cling to, and that he will have a wonderful day... but of course I'm also feeling a little disconnected and absent.

I'm wistful about my little boy growing up. It's all the more real now that he'll be shuffling off to the bus TO KINDERGARTEN at the end of this summer--and all the more apparent that he can operate independently in the world without his mom (in small spurts, anyway), thank you very much.

I'm also joyful about the splendid little man he has become. I'm excited for him to make new friends and enjoy socializing with kids his age, and to play really hard out in the sunshine and fresh air. I anticipate being amazed at how much he will learn, and how quickly he will continue to grow.

No matter what I do, I will never be able to stop this runaway train that is My Kid Growing Up--so I'm just going to try to relish it.

Have a wonderful day, Arlo. I can't wait for you to tell me all about it at the end of the day!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Stimulate Your Visual Cortex Today

As a fundraising writer, I spend a lot of my day dithering around in the region of my brain that handles language, logic, and persuasion. It's common knowledge that only a relatively small part of the brain is responsible for language processing. And that this region lies around the sylvian fissure: the deep fold in the brain lying roughly parallel to and above a line from the outside corner of the eye to the middle of the ear.

I mean, that's just basic everyday brain mapping, right?

(Just kidding. I lifted that info from a Harvard Medical School newsletter for the neurosciences, called "On The Brain." Anyway.)

I need--and relish--occasional breaks from the cramped quarters of the sylvian fissure of my brain. For that reason, I was tickled to find this on flickr:

Go here, look at pictures, breathe, then go back to work. Lather, rinse, repeat.