Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cowboy Parenting

For the past couple of years, I've been inching my way through the long and consistently wonderful list of Newbery medal winners.  I'm midway through Will James' Smoky, the Cowhorse, winner of the 1927 medal, and I just came across this gem that brought to my mind some of the concepts behind compassionate parenting:
Will James was a French Canadian turned Wild West cattle rustler, who wrote and illustrated many books on horses and cowboys.  His characters of both Smoky and Clint, the cowboy who becomes Smoky's "pardner" are beautifully described.  James' deep compassion for horses and his entertaining use of cowboy dialect are making this book a real pleasure to read.

And, since I just can't bring myself to write a post without a picture, here's an old one of Ruben waiting for his grub from the chuckwagon:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Firefighter Birthday Party

Ever since Ruben's preschool took a field trip to the fire station, he has been very interested in acting out fire scenarios at home.  Although it isn't at all difficult to find a good preschool-sized firefighter costume, we didn't have one, so over the past several weeks I have sorted out a firefighter costume for him with things from around the house.  He wears jeans and a matching jean jacket with yellow electrical tape stripes on it, black boots, and a hat made from: newspaper, packing tape, a piece of red origami paper and the sticker that they handed out at the fire station.  His tools include an axe (spatula), hose (piece of rope wound on an old 16mm film reel), and phone for dialing 911 (stickers on the wall with numbers written on them).  We wave red bandannas to pretend there's a fire and he comes right to the rescue.  When the whole family gets in on it, he LOVES it.

For his birthday, we took it all to the park, and invited two of his friends and their parents to get in on the action.  We acted out the fire rescue scenario over and over, including trips to the hospital (picnic table) where we were treated for broken limbs and smoke inhalation.  He had requested a cake "shaped like a house on fire with snow on the roof," so I made a banana cake with cream cheese frosting and topped it with little people for him to rescue.

Just before serving, I poured some heated rum around the base of the cake and lit it on fire for a little flambé excitement.  (It sort of worked, but would probably have been more dramatic in a dark room.)  It did soak the bottom of the cake with rum, so that part was for the parents, and the kids got the top layer.  I'm pretty sure that Ruben loved everything about his little party.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I can't believe he's already four any more than I can believe that I've only known him for four years.  How does that work?  He is our treasure, and life in this house is so full of fun because of this loving, sensitive, loud and hilariously funny little fellow.  Happy fourth birthday, Ruben!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Photos From My Minivan

Street photography has changed for me since I moved to Los Angeles.  Now, there is often a bit of my rear view mirrors showing as I catch a glimpse of LA-style life on the streets.  Here are some of the many pictures that I took through the window of my minivan in 2010: