Thursday, December 30, 2010
I wrote this letter to the school shortly before vacation, in about five minutes at 7 a.m. after M had nagged me for two weeks straight over whether I was going to pay for or return the photos:
Dear [giant school photo corporation] and ______ School:
Please do not send home unsolicited plastic photos of my children in the future. we try to avoid needlessly waisting plastic in our lives because it is unhealthy for our children and the planet. Polyvinyl chloride, the type of plastic you use to manufacture the magnets, is especially toxic to those who manufacture it and the people who live near those manufacturing facilities. When it is burned at the end of its life (as much of our garbage in Maine is, and at as these that I'm returning to you probably will be), it again emits dioxin, which is one of the most toxic compounds known to man.
If I want pictures of my children I will order them. I purchased pictures in the spring; these are perfectly fine and my kids have not changed all that much in the last six months. I will not ever order unnecessary and wasteful plastic junk--truly, how many magnets and key chains does a single person need? I already have more than I want.
I would appreciate it if _______ School and RSU ______ reconsidered its policy of inviting a corporation into the school twice a year to pressure parents into purchasing silly plastic junk they don't need I know many families in our town cannot afford such an expense. Perhaps there is a local photography company that could come in once a year and take pictures of those children whose parents request them, and then provide only photographs, not key chains and magnets?
It's frustrating for those of us who dodo not want or need this type of product, yet sending back the magnets and key chains gives our children the message we don't want picture of them.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
That part about my kids not changing much in the last six months sounds kind of heartless, doesn't it? But M said he'd be "proud to" take the letter in, which about made me cry.
This is the letter I got back from the principal:
Thank you for your letter expressing your concerns regarding school photos and our contract with [giant photo conglomerate]. Unfortunately, your letter expresses you r personal opinion and is somewhat political in nature , rendering it inappropriate for ______ School's involvement. We will keep a copy on file, however, with all due respect, we are returning the other copy to you for you to deal with as you see fit.
Because we need to have each student's photo for the cumulative files, all students have a photo taken regardless of whether or not parents decide to make a purchase. if you wish not to have your children's photos sent home, please send a note to the school office and we will refrain from sending them.
Once again, thank you for your concerns.
At first I thought this was your standard brush-off letter (remember, I work for the government; in my old job I practically wrote one of these every week: "Dear Mrs. Crazyinthehead. Thank you for your concern regarding the smog along I-295/the freakishly large dandelions in your kid's school playground/your thoughts regarding the global warming effects of airplane contrails. Blah-blah-blah-lots of concerned sounding meaningless gobbledygook with big words thrown in. Please feel free to contact me again with any further concerns on this matter. Sincerely, The Governor"). But now that I reread it, it kind of pisses me off. No place for personal opinions in school matters? Seriously? Has the man never been to a budget meeting? Anyway, this is the letter I had to write (before I reread the letter and got mad all over again) so that my brain would shut the heck up already and let me go to sleep last night. I may send it or I may just duck down and make up little 33 MRSA Section 1101 reminder cards to send in next time I get some of their crap:
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
My sister, though, decoupaged this ornament ball with fabric (the clay "peace" snowflake my mom bought from a local artisan):
And my aunt made this sweet felt aspen leaf on a golden branch. It made me all weepy and homesick for Colorado.
My dad made me this gorgeous cherry wood recipe box:
Now I'm going to need to get more upscale recipe cards and dividers (rather than my cheap Staples index cards and cereal box dividers).
For each of the boys he made treasure box for storing money and other treasures (where brothers cannot steal, "find" or otherwise abscond with the contents).
Each one fashioned a lock for his box (a splinter of wood, a twist of wire and a padlock borrowed off a diary). We finally made it to the hardware store today for real locks. You'd think it was Christmas all over again.
My mom made C a pair of snowflake mittens to go with the hat she made last Christmas:
And finally, she also made jammies all around. The boys can count on grammy-jammies every Christmas, but this year C and I lucked out too, which is a good thing, since I ran out of steam before I made the pajama pants I was planning for C:
So although I blame my Christmas makings and doings on other bloggers, it appears that perhaps it is a genetic trait after all.
Hope you too received many wonderous gifts this holiday season!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I think it's pretty awesome.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Winter Solstice falls on a Tuesday this year, a weekday, a workday, a school day. I consider moving our celebration to the weekend, like other holidays on the modern calendar, “Solstice, Observed,” but decide in the end to keep with the rhythm of the earth. I plan a simplified picnic--pigs-in-the-blanket made with a package of Tofurkey Franks I find in the freezer and no-knead dough I mixed on Sunday, rather than the time-consuming and not-well-received cheese pasties I made last year.
Solstice morning starts out downright balmy, with a spring-like softness in the just-above-freezing air and big downy flakes of snow swirling on the breeze. As the day wears on, though, the wind takes on a bitter edge, the sky turns dismal gray and the snow turns to cold rain. I leave work early, but my errands take longer than planned. We arrive home in darkness, and C has already started a dinner of leftover soup and cornbread, negating the picnic.
The kids are tired and cranky and don’t want to go for a hike in the dark. I consider postponing until Thursday, when I have the day off, but today is the Solstice and it has finally stopped raining, so after eating bowls of hot soup we find dry snow pants and boots and gloves, we venture out into the darkness. By lantern light of the, we hang birdseed ornaments and an old red garland on the spruce tree out front and fill the bird feeders--our tribute to the wild creatures who share this piece of Earth we call home--and follow the trail through the woods to the river.
Without the benefit of snow to lend brightness and contrast to our path, we move by feel following the golden orb of lantern flame. The children move forward boldly, unafraid of darkness or stumbling. This trail we know like we know the path from our beds to the bathroom in the night. They start out bickering and fighting--who will be in front, who gets hit with his brother’s walking stick. “Shh,” I say. “I think I heard our owl.” I say, referring to the barred owl who made it’s home in the trees over our driveway for a day not long ago. But the air holds only the swirling of wind in the hemlocks, the thump of boots over fallen branches and tree roots and the gurgling of the black river flowing between ghostly bands of white ice along the bank.
We build a fire in our usual spot, using dry wood carried from the house and settle around to watch the flames. The boys poke at it with their walking sticks until we threaten to throw them (the sticks, not the boys) into the river. I wonder if we should throw wishes into the flame, but decide to keep Solstice a holiday that’s not about things or wants or wishes. Just us together in nature.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
A Jolly Christmas at the Patterprints tells the story of ol' Lije Herringbone, the Tramp Rat's first Christmas.
Lije runs to the Patterprints' house when he becomes frightened by Santa in the woods.
When Santa comes down the chimney, he has an unfortunate encounter with a pot of soup simmering over the fire and mayhem ensues, but all ends happily.
Both the language and the illustrations are completely delightful. The characters lend themselves well to different accents, if you enjoy reading to your children with a lot of dramatic emphasis.
Written and illustrated by the mother-daughter duo Vera and Helene Nyce early last century, the book was not published until it was rediscovered by Parents' Magazine in 1971.
We found our copy when cleaning out C's grandparents' house after they moved to Florida several years ago, but there are at least two copies available on Better World Books for about $4 each. I definitely recommend you snap one up so you can anticipate reading this wonderful story all year, er, December, too!
Monday, December 20, 2010
One handmade holiday item I haven't had a chance to share with you is this lovely rainbow garland, inspired by Waldorf Mama. Remember all that finger-knitting we got started on last March? This is the result (except for Z's section, which wasn't quite done and somehow got lost in the shuffle of holiday decorating...it will turn up soon I'm sure). BTW the yarn for the garland is from Syrendell.
We had an extensive discussion around here last year regarding less wasteful methods of wrapping gifts, and while I enjoyed all of the suggestions (especially bath towels), I decided to go with fabric bags. I assembled some holiday fabrics that I had leftover from years past, bought some at Goodwill and a couple of yards of new fabric and sewed up a hefty little stack of bags this weekend. I originally planned to do a few at a time throughout the year, but who wants to sew Christmas bags in any month but December (I imagine there are quite a few people who don't even want to sew Christmas bags then!). They did give me a lot of opportunity to fiddle with my machine's tension and practice with my hemmer foot and try out new and creative swear words. But they are done and so pretty.
And many of them got put to good use right away. We loaded up two boxes with handmade gifts, farmer's market goodness, wild blackberry jam and some sweet treats and sent it on a trip across country this morning.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I was going to give you my second installment of the Christmas Cookie Countdown today, but something has come up and I need to talk about it. The Universe is trying to tell me something. Maybe several things. I think it's trying to remind me to "underdo" and let go.