V, reading Richard “Rich-it” Scarry’s “What Do People Do All Day,” on a rainy morning. • “This is Claire Bear. This is me!” she says, as she points to each character, choosing the cute bunny 🐰 pictures to represent herself.
Today was Talia’s first day of school. Her only hesitation was having to wear underwear, since she usually likes to run around with just pants and no shirt. But when I told her she could de-undie when she got home, her reluctancy faded.
“Daddy, I love you. Say, ‘I love you, Talia.'” – Talia
A: [Runs into the bathroom while I’m going] Dad, I have to go pee! Now!
A: I have to go right now! So stop your pee!
D: I can’t!
A: But I can!
A few days ago Micaela re-arranged the living room into Micaela’s Cucina. She brought all the food over to her serving station, and served all our dishes, and waited upon us like the most professional and courteous waitress. Thanks for the fun meal, Caela!
About a month ago I started learning Italian. I was inspired to get in touch with my Italian roots after reading The Godfather by Puzo. So I downloaded an app called Duolingo which has been helpful and fun. I also started listening to il vangelo secondo Matteo on Youtube, and following along in my ESV to try and pick up the proper pronunciation of words, which has always been challenging for me. For example, I can’t roll my r’s, and stuff like that.
There’s also an app associated with Duolingo called Tinycards, which are flashcards. It’s fun to have everything I need to immerse myself (more of less) in this language for 10 or 20 minutes per day.
I enjoyed reading The Godfather more than I expected. Puzo is a genius at character development, and immersing you into the character’s psyche in a such way that you find yourself empathizing with them. You feel like you understand why they do what they do, even if you disagree morally and ethically with their actions. He is a master of creating tension and letting the reader be left with questions. The genius of the book, I think, is that in after finishing it I found myself thinking about the characters for weeks afterwards. Their humanness had come alive.
In many ways, I found myself wanting to emulate the Don’s character. His kindness, self-control, and compassion. He was quick to hear, slow to anger, slow to speak. He was a loving and faithful husband, father and friend. Of course, there were many other things about his character I don’t want to emulate. But again, the genius of Puzo. Creating real characters with real strengths and weaknesses.
Micaela made this for her school math project. She had to create two animals out of coins that totaled less than $1.00. In picture two, the alert eye might pick up the use of a Canadian coin. This was a no-no. But I don’t think her teacher will notice.
I also started learning how to play Blackbird on the guitar. What a great song! Hard to sing and play at the same time. But having a lot of fun.
Rachel bought the Little House on the Prairie songbook, which has such well known classics as “Pop, Goes the Weasel” and “Polly-Wolly-Doodle”.
Another book I’ve been really enjoying is Alan Watts’ The Way of Zen. He does an outstanding job helping the Eastern perspective make sense to the Western mind. So many good quotes, but I’ll content myself with a few recent ones.
The perfection of Zen is to be perfectly and simply human. The difference of the adept in Zen from the ordinary run of men is that the latter are, in one way or another, at odds with their own humanity, and are attempting to be angels or demons. (162)
The basic position of Zen is that it has nothing to say, nothing to teach. The truth of Buddhism is so self-evident, so obvious that it is, if anything, concealed by explaining it. (163)
Of course, it only took 163 pages to conclude that!
The insight which lies at the root of Far Eastern culture is that opposites are relational and so fundamentally harmonious. Conflict is always comparatively superficial, for there can be no ultimate conflict when the pairs of opposites are mutually interdependent. Thus our stark divisions of spirit and nature, subject and object, good and evil, artist and medium are quite foreign to this culture. […]
This is a first principle in the study of Zen and of any Far Eastern art: hurry, and all that it involves, is fatal. (175)
Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world. […]
People in a hurry cannot feel. (176)
Rachel and I enjoyed listening to Rich Roll’s interview with Guru Singh. (The Rich Roll Podcast – from January 9, 2017.) In response to one of Rich’s questions about raising children, and changes that come over the years, new challenges that arise, Singh says, “Enjoy the new role. When you enjoy the new role then you’re living. When you don’t enjoy the new role, any time you’re with them, you’re not alive.”
It’s been so long since I’ve written anything on the blog that it’s hard to know where to start!
Micaela and Annie are still enjoying school. We met with Micaela’s teacher yesterday to go over her progress. Thankfully she’s assimilated quite well, and is mainly focussing on her spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and math skills. Everyday when she comes home she asks to do “Dreambox,” which is a computer program they use at school to practice math. She really loves it, and is not deterred by failure. She’s very persistent, and has a hunger and thirst for learning, which is encouraging and exciting to see.
Aside from wanting to play Dreambox, she’s usually pretty tired and hungry when she comes home, even though she just had a full lunch at school!
A boy at school asked her to be his girlfriend. She said yes, even though she didn’t understand what he meant. It’s funny navigating this as a dad for the first time. I, of course, tried to explain that dating at her age is unnecessary, in so many words, and what this boy might have in mind by the word “girlfriend.” She seemed to get it, though I haven’t heard anything since.
We’ve been turning on some funky jams at night to help the kids release some energy before bed. It doesn’t seem to work that well, but the dancing sure is fun.
Rachel and I bought running shoes. I went running (for the first time in years) yesterday. The hills around here make it ten times harder. At least that’s what I told myself after five minutes. Besides, it was like in the teens. Too cold. But I won’t give up yet!
Here’s a picture of Micaela and me on one of our recent walks up the hill. She seemed a little mopey after school, so we took a walk. At the end of the walk she said, “Thanks for cheering me up, dad.” Love it.
Emeth still is very engrossed in his Legos. Yesterday we built this together as I took a break from work.
And here’s a fun beet print that Rachel turned into a face.
We tried our hand at tapping trees. Here’s the kids saying “maple syrup!” We didn’t end up boiling any sap down to syrup yet. But now we can say we tapped some maples. The sap tasted good though. And when it froze, we “chumped” it up (Talia’s word for chunk) and ate the ice.
One recent quote that comes to mind is while reading the section in The Hobbit where the wood-elves capture the dwarves and put them in cells, Emeth says, “I don’t think the elves will eat them in the salad because I saw a picture later in the book where the dwarf-es were still alive.” Salad? Turns out he mistook the word cells for salad. This aural slip, along with many others like it make me wonder what sort of pictures he has in his head while reading.
Quiet, meditative, peaceful piano music recommendations: