May 11, First think in the morning

*I get up at either five thirty or six in the morning. I grab a shower, then head into the kitchen to start breakfast and make Is’s school lunch. Is usually gets up at twenty to seven and wanders into the kitchen soon after. Friday, I was standing at the sink, cooking Is’s lunch and drinking my tea. I hadn’t really used my brain yet; this is all automatic setting stuff I do in the morning. When I turn to ask Is what she wants to eat, I catch her standing in the middle of the room, in sun rays, wildly waving her arms. It’s that time of year when the sun streams through the northeast-facing kitchen windows before seven in the morning.*

“Um. Is, what are you doing?”
“There are so many of them!”
“Of what, baby?”

*At this point, I think, o shit, sugar ants… But no. She starts waving her arms again in the air, batting at invisible things like a cat does.*

“What is this stuff?”
“What stuff, baby… oh, oh, it’s dust! It’s just dust motes in the air. You can see them because of the way the sun is shining in here.”
“I want them out of our house!”
“Ha, dude, nobody has a dust-free house.”
“But what IS it?”
“Dust? It’s made mostly from our dead skin cells that slough off… and bacteria we bring in from outside, and stardust from comets and meteorites.”
“What? That’s crazy.”
“I know! But it’s true.”

*She runs away, I think to go to the bathroom, but she returns with the crappy little plastic microscope I bought her years ago for looking at leaves and whatnot. She holds the microscope in the air and looks through it.*

“Is, what are you doing?”
“I’m gonna see which is which!”
“Um…”
“I can’t tell!”
“Haha, of course you can’t, not like that. Okay, lets have breakfast and I’ll tell you all about how microscopes work.”
“Okay. Can you make me some oatmeal?
“Of course.”
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March 19, An Apple’s Way Of Life

*Every day Is comes home from school and has a snack, then does her homework, then she can play or do whatever she likes. Today, I was cutting up apples for her snack (she requested apples with peanut butter and some popcorn), when I noticed that the apple had a scar. Isobel had two long scars on her leg from previous hip surgeries- one along the bikini line from several open reductions, and one on her outer thigh from a femoral osteotomy and subsequent hardware removal. Most of the time she’s fine with her scars, but sometimes she doesn’t like them. I told her that scars are just a way that you can see how strong you are- that you were stronger than whatever gave you that scar, and now you’re healed. So I pointed out the apple’s scar.*

“Hey, Is, look at this apple- it has a scar!”
She looks. “Just like me!”
“That’s right.”
“Huh.”
“I’ll be done making your snack in a minute.”
“Should we eat it?”
“Sure, it’s fine. It’s just a spot where the apple rested on a branch or something, that’s why there’s a scar in the skin.”
“So it didn’t do anything to get the scar?”
“No, I don’t think apples don’t do much except grow, right?”
She smiles and leaves the room to put her homework on her desk. From the other room she calls to me, “Hey, apples don’t even have a way of life!”

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March 16, 2018, first thing in the morning.

*This morning, Isobel wakes up and doesn’t come right into the kitchen. I putter around, preparing her lunch for school for a bit. When she still hasn’t come in a few minutes later, I find her in her room, sitting on the rug, looking thoughtful.*

“Hey, babe, you okay? What can I make you for breakfast?”
“Mom, I’m thinking.”
“Oh?”
“Yes. I’m thinking about a giant eye test.”

*I get a picture in my head of a regular eye test poster, you know the kind, with the capital letter E facing different ways, but the poster is as big as a door, or the wall. Then I remember we’ve been reading a lot of fairy tales lately, so I wonder…*

“What do you mean? A giant eye test, like the test itself is giant? Or an eye test for a giant, like a test for Grawp, Hagrid’s brother?”
“An eye test for a giant. Like, ‘Can you see this house? Can you see this book? Can you see me? Or am I just a tiny speck?'”
“Isobel, that’s amazing. I wonder if anybody else has ever once thought about that.”
“Hmm.”
“Babe, we’ve got to get to school. Want some oatmeal?”

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This image is a photo of an opera stage, built for a festival in Bregenz, Austria. Read more about the fantastic stages here: http://twistedsifter.com/2011/08/outdoor-opera-on-the-lake-stages-of-bregenz/

February 6, 2018

*Isobel is getting ready for Valentine’s Day- a whole holiday made of love, glitter, hearts, candy and hugs? Forget it, it’s like the inside of her head. She’s got big plans to make Valentines for all her classmates.*

“Mom, I’ve got the class list! I can start on the Valentines. When is Valentine’s Day?”
“Eight days away.”
“So, how long is that?”
“Well, let’s look on your calendar- see, it’s here, on the fourteenth of the month. One week and one day from now.”
“Ohhhh! Okay. Well, Mommy, you better get all your work done early that day.”
“Hmm? Why?”
“Because I’m going to go to school and do the Valentines and then I’m coming home and going to hug you for the rest of the entire day.”
“Really? That sounds amazing.”
“Yes. I’m putting it on my calendar.”
“Okay, I’ll put it on my calendar, too.”

*I’m sorry I haven’t written anything in a long time. I just started college! I was feeling overwhelmed but now I think I’m hitting my stride- and Isobel said this to me today, and it seemed like the perfect thing to share with you. I’ll try to post a story once a week. Thanks for sticking around! ❤ *
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November 20, 2017- Family Flowers

*After school today, Isobel is sitting at the kitchen table finishing her snack. I join her with a cup of tea and we talk about our days for a few minutes, and then, apropos of nothing, she picks up this little Nutcracker ornament she bought the other day, looks at it thoughtfully, and says…*

“I think that families are like flowers. The petals that fall off are like the people who die, and are dying. And the petals that come on are the new people being born. And there are a lot of flowers in the world, and there are a lot of families in the world.”

*I’m silent for a moment, taking it in, turning it over in my mind, then I get up and grab a slip of paper and a pen and write it all down. I don’t want to lose this.*

“Is, I think the inside of your head is the most beautiful place in the world.”

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November 3, 2017- Sore throat

*Isobel is home today with a sore throat and ears. It’s not strep- phew! We took her to the doctor this morning to make sure, as she had strep four times last year. Everything’s okay, no fever. Her throat hurts when she swallows water, so I made her some blueberry tea with honey. What she really wants (and always wants when she’s sick) is a Pedialyte popsicle- but I think I’ve convinced her that it will only hurt her throat worse to have something frozen if cold water hurts…*

“Mom, this is disgusting.”
“Aw, I’m sorry, but you said the cold water hurts your throat, so the pop will make it worse, babe.”
“I hate tea.”
“There are like a million kinds of tea. How about some black tea with cream and sugar?”
“I guess I could try it…”

*She won’t have soup either, even if I put a shitload of noodles in there, so I try the black tea, light and sweet. It’s almost cake it’s so good. I give her a graham cracker and half a cup of tea.*

“Well, this isn’t so… oh uggghhhhhh. It tastes like air!”
“Air?”
“Like nothing!”
“Oh, well, maybe it’s…”
“It’s like garbage water!”
“Damn, Is, that’s harsh for tea. It’ll make your throat feel better though, if you drink it. Can you just try a little?”
“Maybe it makes my throat feel better, but it makes my tongue sick!”

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November 1, 2017- After her bath

*After Isobel’s bath today, she is drying off when she stops, looks up at me, and says…*

“Mom. If there were no girls, there would be no babies.”
“Right. But the girls still need boys.”

*Now, since the kid is only six, I’ve only explained the process of how a baby grows and is born- not how it actually got IN THERE. I’m sure that conversation is inescapable, but I’m not rushing into that part of the whole thing.*

“But why? Only girls can have babies.”
“That’s right. But girls need boys to start the baby- like remember, the egg comes from the girl, and the sperm comes from the boy, and they fit together, and then the baby grows in the girl.”

*She considers this a moment, her head tilted to the side, turquoise turban getting darker as it wicks water from her freshly washed hair.*

“Kind of like a puzzle.”
“What, a baby?”
“Yeah, the pieces fit together- to make a baby puzzle.”
“You got it.”

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October 18, 2017 – Problem Solved

*Isobel is in first grade. In class, the kids sit grouped together by fours and fives- there is one girl at Is’s table who, sometimes, just isn’t that nice. Today, Is reported that this girl grabbed a boy’s math work and threw it on the floor. Then she turned and said to Is, “Why are you always staring at people?”*

“Mommy, she always says I’m staring at her.”
“Are you?”
“No, I’m just looking around.”
“Okay, did it bother you that she said that?”
“Well, yes.”
“Huh. Well, you could really, really stare at her, like this…” And I stare at Isobel, really hard, and when she starts to smile, I turn my head a little, but don’t smile back, kinda creepy-like.
“But, Mom, that’s not how we do things now.”
“Oh?”
“No, when there’s a problem, we don’t just do something back to someone. Like when you were in school. Like in old times.”
“Huh. Like old times.”
“Yeah. It’s much gentler now.”
“It sounds like it. That’s nice. Okay, so what do you do now? How would you handle it?”
“I already told her I’m not staring at her.”
“Good! That should do it, right?”
“I’m not sure… she says it all the time.”
“Huh. Well, what else can you do?”
“Well, I don’t want to get clipped down, so I could just tell the teacher.”
“That seems like a good idea. Will you do that the next time she bothers you?”
“Yeah! Thanks for solving all my problems!”
“You really solved your problem, Is, if you think about it.”

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October 11, 2017, with ninjas

*We’re talking about family at dinner, and Isobel asks if there are people in the family she hasn’t yet met. Among others, I mention a cousin who lives in Japan. He’s an artist, does amazing cut paper work, and is also a new father. I jump up and pull a magnet off the fridge- it’s a picture of one of his pieces- a slinky black rabbit in motion, paper curling like smoky ribbons around his body. Is is impressed.*

“Mom, so, my cousin is an artist?”
“Well, he’s my first cousin, and so he’s your first cousin, once removed. And yes, he’s a professional artist.”

*Her eyes get big, and I can almost smell her thinking.*

“Mom. Wow.”
“I know! He’s amazing. He does all this work by hand. Pretty cool, eh?”
“It’s very cool! Hey, is he a ninja?”
“What?”
“A ninja. Because he lives in Japan.”

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October 6, 2017- After bedtime

*We’ve been reading Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. We’re just getting to the part (spoiler alert) where Dumbledore and Harry are in the cave, about to get the Horcrux. I’m a bit concerned reading this part before Isobel goes to sleep. I stop right before Harry puts the goblet in the water.*

“We’ll finish this part tomorrow, I told you, these books get scarier now. We can read it in the afternoon, we’ll do some Eloise or something else before bed, okay?”
“I think I’m going to have bad dreams anyway!”
“I hope not. Let’s do our good dreams on the monitor.”

*I hug her and stroke her nose a few times, like I’ve done since she was an infant, then go grab the monitor.*

“Want me to go first?”
“Yes!”
“Okay, um, it’s a three day weekend! So, no school on Monday!”
“Ooh! Really?”
“Yep. Your turn.”
“I’m too tired, you just do the good dreams.”
“All right. Let’s see. We got to see Grandma for dinner, that was nice.”
“Yes… …”
“And maybe we’ll go to the beach on Monday, it’s supposed to be good weather.”
“The beach! We can go to the beach, instead of school! I can play in the sand?”
“Sure, baby, it’ll be fun. So, dream about that, okay?”
“Mommy, I think we just came up with the medicine for bad dreams.”
“I sure hope so.”

P.S. She had GOOD DREAMS last night! Not one nightmare. The medicine works!

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