Friday, May 2, 2008


Joshua says, "Wren is a fierce player of soccer."

Its true. During Frost's soccer games he loves to run along kicking the ball up and down and if another child approaches he stops and picks it up protectively.

Josh and Frost are going to the Brazil vs Canada Soccer match this month.

The Animals were frisky at the Zoo

This morning Wren and I waited at the Zoo Gates at opening time. A group of elderly people in the Zoo Walkers program did exercises in a..

[aside: I am in some awful spot between English English and American English. I NEVER know when to use a Z vs an S and invariably make the wrong choice. You Americans... what is the principle? Why is it exercise surprise but organize or realize? I used to be a good speller but now I am just confuzed.]

... circle, waving their arms and raising their knees slowly in time with the zoo exercise trainer.

A group of kids and grandparents from out of town all wore matching red sweatshirts proclaiming something biblical. I could hear the siamungs hooting in the distance as we paid our $4 for parking. Wren was very excited at the display of stuffed flamingo in the shop window. The flamingo exhibit will open on the 24th of May and everyone is anticipating the birds.

I don't know whether it was the early hour, feeding time or destiny but we had the best zoo visit ever. I had meant to stop in for half an hour but so many animals were so exciting that we stayed for an hour and a half and Wren passed out asleep almost as soon as I strapped him in his carseat.

This is what we saw:

  • The African Wild dogs were standing in a row at the glass viewing window with their ears wide. They were on alert. We stood right there by them before realizing they were looking past us at ..

  • the new Lioness who moved into her enclosure 2 days earlier and was looking at the wild dogs through her window. The wild dogs were very anxious until she turned and..

  • walked all around in her enclosure, hiding in the grass, going down to the water, peeking out behind logs. In short.. moving more than most lions move in the daytime,

  • The sun bears were galloping around their enclosure with one chasing the other. They appeared to be fighting but it could have been mating behaviour. They have very fierce looking teeth and the dominant one snarled at the other, chasing it into the ditch, up a tree, down a log, over a cliff. They just went round and round, their claws slipping and scratching on the logs as they climbed and dropped after each other.

  • The budgies at Willawong station sat on my arm and tried to land on Wren's shoulder

  • The grizzly bear jumped into the salmon pond, splashed about, then lay there for a nap. Wren said "ish ish" about the salmon.

  • The snowy owl (ookpik) was sitting right out on a log.

  • All THREE tapirs were right by the glass eating. After finishing their food the single tapir (enclosed separately to the other pair) started walking around and came right within arms reach of me over the wooden rail fence. Then he startled at a crow/child screech and frisked off and then came back. The tapir is a startlingly lovely and big animal. I wish I had seen a wild and free tapir too.

  • The Giraffe were waiting by the fence, hoping the gate would open to let them out into the savannah.

There was more, but those were the highlights.

I am keep to return to the zoo another morning and see whether the animals are often this active early in the opening day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Seattle Symphony or "Who is playing the Bassinette?"

On Saturday, Frost and I attended the Seattle Symphony Series for young people. The theme of the performance was Peter and the Wolf although there were a number of other pieces performed.

I was concerned about taking Frost to the Symphony and he started complaining as soon as I mentioned it that morning. He wanted to play video games. He wanted to stay at home. He WAS NOT GOING. He was fed up with me being "the boss of" him. "You are not the boss of me!" and I had apparently promised he would not have to leave the house on the weekend.

We arrived in time to join the convoy of minivans entering the Beneroya Hall parking garage. I felt svelte in the Subaru. Our seat was in the 8th row and Frost was interested to see the huge kettle drums and the String Family warming up.

Throughout the performance (between pieces) there was narration, encouring the kids to listen for certain moods, sounds, instruments and techniques. Frost was very attentive although he squirmed, slumped, slouched, fell to the floor and took his shoes off rather than sitting as I expected Good Kids To Do. I could not help but glance around at the other, often younger, girls sitting quiet and still in their flouncy dresses.

Despite his aerobic activity, Frost was very moved by the music. He kept asking whispered questions and thumped his body along to the tempo of the music. His head banging in time made the whole row of seats shudder so I had to ask him to stop it.

Afterwards he commented "didn't you think I behaved well?"

He was so sincere that I had to agree. He had been listening because since then he comments on violins, classical music and the different kinds of instruments in an orchestra. He is curious about who pays a musician to perform and whether they practice or just learn.

I want to play around on a violin but I don't want lessons
Frost and I had two arguments at the Symphony. The first, is a recurrent one which is that since Frost visited a music store with Josh, he has decided he wants a violin. We have said that is a possibility but that he would need to take lessons.

"No, I don't want lessons"
"Well, you need to have lessons if you are going to get a violin"
"No, I will just play it myself and learn like that"

[I am too weary of the discussion to go over it again. Perhaps I am wrong? Is it unreasonable to expect a child to take lessons if they have or rent an expensive instrument? Frost has this strong aversion to pedagogy and while I respect the self-taught thing in Joshua it is less appealing in my 6 year old. Neither do I want to get in the situation of dragging a reluctant child to lessons and bribing or threatening him to practice. Its just a setup for failure.]

We ended our argument with a "lets talk about it later".

When we came home Joshua dusted off the Cello from the basement and despite its missing g-string Frost took great pleasure in making noises on it. He kept saying "don't you think I'm doing a good job on the cello?"

He said he might even do lessons if he HAD TO DO LESSONS TO GET A VIOLIN. Or he might learn the cello.

We kept quiet.

The other argument was a short one. Frost said "Who is playing the bassinette?" I looked around the stage for a moment with my mind going tick tock. Finally, I figured it out.

"There isn't an instrument called a bassinette. There's a basoon and a clarinette"
"there IS a basinette!"
"No, there isn't"
"I heard them say BASINETTE!"
"Oh, there is a basinette that babies sleep in!"
"Oh, that's what it is. Well, who is playing the basoon?"