talk about it more

a virtual baby book

When she was two, Fiona regularly said "Talk about it more!" to express her desire to know more about whatever we were discussing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Performance time!

The kids have been really enjoying their classes this semester at the dance studio. Me too-- they're fun to watch. May have to try one myself one of these days!

The video below only has Nora and Fiona's dance, but there were many, many acts from 3-year olds to adults, and many styles of dance. Festive!

Monday, October 26, 2009


This morning Nora and I were looking at the back of the Raisin Bran cereal box. There are people walking in a field in one picture, and a man running along the beach. I said, "Looks like the people at Raisin Bran want us to think that cereal helps us be active."

Nora focused on the back of the box for a moment, then said, "Is that how that guy can walk on top of the water? Can people really do that?" I looked. He was running on the beach where the water lapped up over his feet.

I tried explaining how the water comes in over the beach a couple different ways. She clearly was NOT getting it. The last time Ian and I were at a beach, it was in Galveston where we were visiting with toddler Fiona. Clearly, our Nora needs to see a beach in person. Below is the last time Fiona saw the beach.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Finding our stride

It's not that we've forgotten about blogging. Really! But with Fiona in traditional school, it just feels weird. A huge chunk of our time with Fiona has been given over to the school system. We miss her, and Nora and I are still figuring out what our rhythm is. I have a couple of back-posts yet to do, but I don't want this to turn into Nora's blog, which it easily could because she says more and more things that come straight from Nora and less from her best friend Fiona's influence.

We'll figure it out. Until then, we're working on finding our stride.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Honey... honey... LION!

Just like in our beloved book Honey... Honey... Lion! Nate, Nora and I saw both honey badgers and lions when we visited the zoo this morning, but the badgers were busy making baby badgers like they are every time we visit, so we left them to it without photos.

Bill, on the other hand, was lounging very close to the viewing area. Actually, he couldn't have gotten any closer if he'd tried.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another doozy

Nora: If you put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, you can make little spit bubbles.
Jen: That sounds a little distasteful to me.
Nora: No! It doesn't taste!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I couldn't make this stuff up

Nora: Mom, you don't have to worry about other people's air in your mouth.
Me: Why not?
Nora: Because it's just air.

Photo from an unscheduled, delightful romp with Robert on September 3.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Home sweet zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Nora's home from a delightful week of special time with Grandma and Toot Toot all on her own. She had a great time, but boy is she beat. I managed to get a piece of toast into her before she fell asleep. Well, I almost did, anyway.

Thanks for the week of fun for Nora, Grandma and Toot Toot! We got a lot of work done in our basement this week, and a fair amount of mudding and sanding on the walls, too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy cat, happy family

Yesterday afternoon Animal Care and Control called to say that the bat Zelda caught last week did not have rabies, and our cat was free to come out of quarantine. We're all so relieved-- especially Zelda! She purrs when we simply come near her now.


I brought Fiona to her first afterschool Taiko program this afternoon. It was so much fun! We learned about Taiko drumming, and also how the year-long free class will work. The instructor, Allison, made it easy to follow directions, and her engaging manner held the kids' attention for the entire hour and a half we were there. We even met up with some friends there whom we didn't know we'd get to see! Now we're itching to practice on something at home between lessons.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First festival

We went to a local festival today for the first time. It wasn't just the first time for this city's fun, but really the first time either kid had been to anything like a fair. Ian had to work, but we girls did it up big-- face painting, horse and buggy ride, rope ladder, "merry go round," and games like ring toss and duck pond. Top it all off with a little festival food and we were on cloud nine. Both kids crashed when we got home. Now we're primed for some fall festivals!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11

Over dinner, we took turns telling about our day. Nora went to the zoo with a friend, Fiona talked about her school day, Ian did some household chores, and I made a lot of angel food cake and tiramisu to take to a dinner tomorrow. Suddenly Fiona remembered something.

"Oh! Do you know what else happened today?!" She was suddenly bursting with information. I told her I surely didn't know, and she would have continued to say, "Yes you do!" had Ian not stopped the loop. "Two planes crashed. Actually, CJ said it was three!" Once we got past the detail that today and eight years ago today are different concepts, we were able to go on.

Ian and I told both girls what life was like for the two of us on that fateful day. There was no Fiona, no Nora. We lived in a different house in a different town. Gracie Dog was still alive and could even sort of hear and see back then. Most people didn't get late-breaking information from the net, and Ian explained that the first people to hear about it were colleagues who were watching TV news.

I have been thinking about September 11th and all the horror that surrounded it all day today. I've been thinking about how hard it is to send a child out of the home for weeks now. I've been thinking about what home, safety, and truth mean.

Fiona said her teacher read a book called September 12 We Knew Everything Would Be All Right, which was written and illustrated by first grade students in Missouri. "It was sad Mom, but not totally sad. I liked it." A little dose of hope can take us a long way.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Just batty

Animal Care and Control didn't believe Fiona's leg looked like it was bitten yesterday, but more like it was scratched. This means Zelda didn't need to go into quarantine-- until today when she caught a bat in the basement.

We haven't known about a bat in our home since the one pictured at left. The bat from 2005 surprised me by hanging on the pot I had used to boil spaghetti the night before. It was the only dish I hadn't bothered to wash before bed, and after running some soapy water in the left sink the next morning, I reached for the pot in the right sink and wondered-- even while reaching for the handle-- what the brown stuff was on the rim.

But I digress. This time I didn't want to get a handful of bat (or worse) so I didn't try to take any photos of Zelda and the bat. Instead I called Animal Care and Control immediately. The same officer appeared on my doorstep and apologized for jinxing us by asking yesterday whether Zelda had caught any bats. He caught it in a wink using a small lidded coffee can and walked me through quarantine procedures.

Over the next ten days, Zelda may be scared when we'd expect her to be affectionate, or lethargic when we'd expect her to be active. She may cough as if she has something stuck in her throat. Most alarmingly, however, she may display unprovoked aggression and bite for no reason. When I put on Ian's sneakers to go in and feed her the first night, she pounced on the loose shoelaces and made my heart stop, but she was just hungry for attention, movement, and play. She is, after all, a Mighty Huntress.

Had Zelda not been up to date on her vaccinations, she would have been removed and euthanized immediately. There are more rabid bats in our county this year already than all of last year, and the fact that they've been found in our nearby downtown is unsettling. Bats are usually only solitary when they're ill, and their bites don't hurt or fester, so we just have to wait. Hopefully ten days from now Zelda can be reintroduced to our home.

Come skate away with me

Fiona's school sponsored a skating party, and we decided to go even though Ian had to work. We didn't stay long, but managed to get around the floor in a relatively painless fashion.

Nora was convinced she wouldn't need my hand. "I learned all about balance from Mirette on the Highwire, Mama." Balance indeed.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A serious misstep

Yesterday I moved Zelda's food and water dishes out of the basement landing and back into the kitchen. We think Nathaniel is old enough to stay out of the water dish, and it's easier to monitor there.

At feeding time Fiona forgot I made this switch and changed her steps too quickly, stepping on hungry Zelda. She got a bite on the leg as a reward for her trouble. It wasn't a puncture wound-- more like a tooth scrape, but I did see a tiny bit of blood so instead of taking her to the first night of religious education, Fiona went to a rapid care facility. She didn't require antibiotics, but I did just get a call from Animal Care and Control. We'll get a visit tomorrow from an officer who can show us how to quarantine the cat to make sure she doesn't have rabies. I can see why it's important, but it does seem a little over-the-top for a cat who lives inside and has all her shots.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

That's not in my vocabulary

We had a weird kind of day-- some morning time spent together, then got a family portrait, then I volunteered from 12-4. After that Ian took us all out to dinner and ice cream, and we had a walk before heading home to bed.

On our way home from dinner, we were talking about our favorite parts of the day as part of our nighttime ritual. Fiona mixed it up tonight, asking anyone in the car who cared to answer what was the funniest thing that ever happened to them, or the most boring, the farthest away from home we'd been, etc. I said I'd been to Mexico. Ian said he'd been to Scotland.

Once establishing which of those was farther away, I asserted that our whole family would visit the British Isles together someday. Ian's eyebrows arched as he drove. "Hmmm... maybe," he said.

I told him we just had to think positive. And even if we never got there, our kids would know that it was our aim. "Mom and Dad never got us to Disneyland, but knowing that they always wanted to was enough for us," I said.

Fiona hadn't missed a shred of this conversation, but she didn't exactly know what we were talking about, either. Suddenly she inserted herself in the conversation, asking, "What-eyland?"

Keep it up, Fiona. We like it like that. Keep your fairy stories unspoiled by old Walt.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Night out/night in

Fiona was invited to a movie with Tessa, Elena, and Janet this evening, leaving Nora at home for some quality time with her parents. The problem was, Nora wasn't particularly seeing it as "quality time" to stay home while her sister attended a movie. At least she wasn't until she saw the surprise that was in store for her.

Fiona can't sit in bubbles for health reasons, but while the cat was away, the mouse soaked and splashed in one of her very first bubble baths. Fiona came home happy and found a cheerful sister there as well.

Nora explains herself

Nora won a sticker at the neighborhood block party last night. She chose a big, shiny, Celtic-looking rainbow cross. She stuck in on her arm like a tattoo last night, and picked it off her bedsheets to wear it again about half an hour ago.

On our way out the door to pick up the kids at school, Nora stuck her sticker onto the kitchen table, saying, "I don't want the kids at school to think I'm a church person."

I asked her what she meant, and she said, "I mean, I go there, but I don't like to sing." She's an enigma wrapped in a mystery.


Kathleen and Nate invited Nora and I next door to see the cicada emerging in their garden before it flew away. Sometimes nature is so intricate and perfect and amazing that it's hard to believe it's real at all. But this was real-- real cool.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Block party

In the end we didn't wait long enough to jump in the "jump house," but we girls had a fun time at our neighborhood block party while Ian was at work. Snowcones, fishing games, popcorn, music. . . Lots of excitement and sugar right before bed. Yes, sometimes I marvel at my own brilliance.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enjoying the sugar, Daddy

Both kids really loved those Sugar Daddies, Grandma and Toot Toot. Next time you should give them that sort of fun at the beginning of their trip to your house! ;-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New friend?

Today's highlight:
Fiona enjoys the company of a classmate named Treasure. Next week is a back-to-school night. I hope we get to meet her!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A new beginning

Fiona walked right into that class and got to business. I, on the other hand, am a mess. It's part anguish, part pride, part worry, part love. I guess that equals "parenthood."

Friday, August 21, 2009

They took her out to the ballgame

Addison, Korrigan, and Tinea invited Fiona to a baseball game tonight, and she just got home. There were supposed to be fireworks afterward, but it got rained out. Again. She was all smiles after her late night out, though, so she had a good time regardless and did not melt.


We joyously pulled carrots today. According to their seed packet, they should have been ready a week ago, but we held off because they still seemed so small. Then today we decided that we like baby carrots anyway, so we picked a flowerpot-ful of them. Cute, sweet, crunchy carrots! Our garden is full of stuff it's not supposed to have and not terribly full of things it is supposed to have, but we're enjoying it a great deal anyway-- two bite carrots included.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just hangin' at the pool

Or the sink basin, anyhow. That Ivy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chess Tournament

Fiona entered the children's chess tournament put on by the library today. It's a just-for-fun tournament with certificates for everyone and trophies for many. Fiona got four draws and one loss, which was good enough for the 6th place trophy in her division!

The organizers have a pretty hands-off attitude when it comes to making sure the kids play by the rules of chess. If no one is unhappy with how things are going, then pretty much anything goes, at least at the beginner level. So it's important to note that the following conversation wasn't Fiona trying to get an unfair advantage - it's just her (and her opponent's) idea of how chess works.

Opponent: Check.
Fiona: I'll capture your bishop.
Opponent: You can't, you'd be in check from my queen.
Fiona (taking second move in a row): But I can just move out of check.

In the top picture, Mary is explaining that even though Fiona promised not to take her opponent's queen, there doesn't seem to be a legal move that would allow the queen to remain uncaptured. But the kids had the final say!

All the kids that I saw were having fun. Fiona was laughing and talking with her opponents throughout the tournament like they had always known each other. And that was the best result of the day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One smart car

Ian's 15-year-old car is slowly expiring and we really do think we're going to have to replace it, but while this Smart car (thanks for noticing it's not a Fit, Andy) is very fun, it is many seats shy of what we're currently considering. The girls did enjoy riding around the car lots in a golf cart, though!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Oh yeah, we have a flickr account! I just dumped months of photos in there. Click the Flickr badge in the top right to see some pictures.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rhyme time with Nora

Fiona and I were folding clothes while Nora read to herself on the spare bed. She was reading Play Day by Bruce MacMillan, and having read the book before she remembered the concept: rhyming words were written on one side of the page and photos illustrated the words on the opposing page.

I wasn't really listening, but I knew when she cheerily chirped, "Mud, blood!" something was definitely wrong. Clearly she's using the photos and not paying a bit of attention to the first letter cues here!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sprinkler Party

I didn't feel up to food, party games, and the whole nine yards for Fiona's birthday, but she's never had much more than a gathering with immediate family for her birthday, so we decided to have a casual gathering near her birthday-- sprinkler/outdoor fun and cupcakes. What a blast! Tons of kids came, and we could have probably invited tons more had Ian been home to help cohost. It was a total blast.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Just for Toot Toot

Grandma and Toot Toot came to visit today, and Toot wanted to see Fiona in his hat. Unfortunately I took the photo when he wasn't standing there, so this post will have to do.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

So tough

Cleaning out that basement was tough today. Fortunately, so were my helpers and these tough temporary tattoos we found down there.

Adventures in gardening

While Fiona finishes up her last day at vacation bible school, Nora and I are tackling some gardening projects. Notice that the dog vomit slime mold continues to proliferate.

Next we'll try organizing the messy, messy basement. Maybe Fiona would like in on that, too. We find wonderful "treasures" when we go through that process.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Shoes and socks

Nora wanted to wear sneakers, and delightedly selected her own socks.

New friend

I took Fiona to the vacation Bible school at our parish. It's a scaled-down affair-- lasts three days, has stories, crafts, games-- typical stuff but shorter and less costly. Mostly I was looking forward to Fiona getting practice meeting kids she doesn't know for a couple of days and interacting a bit.

On the way home, though, she shocked me. I asked her what was fun at camp today, and she said, "I made a friend." Hooray! It's not that Fiona is unfriendly or friendless, it's just that she doesn't necessarily notice the kids around her much when she's in a class. She may sit in the same place, and chat a bit with whoever's there, but doesn't usually know anything meaningful about them later.

I asked her her friend's name. She told me. !!! Then I asked her last name. She told me that too! I asked her what they did together, and she ticked off a couple activities. "I guess she's just the right age to like me." It sounds mutual.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Happy birthday, early

It's not Fiona's birthday yet, but this weekend we've been celebrating with Uncle Eric, Aunt Carrie, James, Luke, Grandma, and Toot Toot. We went to a local park for a picnic and splashed around a little, but it wasn't a warm enough day to counteract the icy water so the kids largely romped on the playground. Tons of fun.