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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


This poster board started out as an amazing map by Fiona, with sand as land forms. Now it is still amazing, but rather indescribably so. Well, white paper doesn't last too long around here. It was just too tempting.

Nora doesn't need to run out of white paper to be interested in finding alternative canvases, though. She is very into body art. You can barely see that she just missed her right eye with a pink marker, and the only thing that saved her feet and legs from further adornment was that she was still wearing her footie pajamas this morning.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's a great pumpkin. . .

and we all worked on it together. Even Ivy looks interested! We had too many things going at one time to manage to roast the pumpkin seeds, but we hope to do that with some after-holiday pumpkins, too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New scratching post

Grandma and Toot-Toot made a scratching post for the kittens. Apparently, they like it pretty well! Zelda and Ivy thank you! (And so do we.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fond farewells

It hardly seems possible that Grandmpa and Mimi have been here for a week already! We've had a lot of laid-back fun, and were so wrapped up in the reading and the eating and the overall enjoying that the photos really don't do it justice. Darn it!

We still have part of today to soak up before they really must be going, so I'm going to post and run to go experience as much family as possible before we spread out again. Goodbye, Grandpa and Mimi. We love you dearly!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hooray for Grandpa and Mimi!

Grandpa and Mimi arrived on Sunday, and we've been kicking back with them ever since. We've enjoyed stories, songs, tickling, cuddling, games, and time at the park. Fiona and Mimi even baked a yummy cake together! Watch for more photo essay to come...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Please just don't tell Alfie!

We were getting as ready as messy people possibly can for the arrival of Grandpa and Mimi this afternoon. Fiona, having caught a glimpse of her birthday party booty in the snack cabinet was requesting candy before (as?) lunch, Zelda was trying to get into the dishwasher as I unloaded it, and Nora was pulling anything on poor Ivy that she could grab.

I had to resort to the spray bottle to get Zelda out of the dishwasher. It is a good thing that curiosity does not actually kill kitties or kiddies, let me tell you. Right at that moment, Nora wrapped her chubby fingers around Ivy's tail as a follow-up to my reminder not to pull kitty feet. Oh, how we've gone round and round trying to get Nora to leave those poor kittens alone! We've read stuff, we've read stuff with the kids, and spoken to the animal shelter and the pediatrician. We model positive pet practices, watch her as closely as we can, and give the cats breaks by putting them in the bathroom alone to chill sometimes. I don't know, I suppose only time will tell.

Anyway, I truly cannot explain exactly what happened inside me at that moment to make me go diametrically against the philosophy of our beloved Alfie Kohn, but in that split-second after squirting Zelda and seeing that Ivy was still getting antagonized, I turned and zapped Nora's shoulder with a squirt from the spray bottle, along with the gentle "No" the kittens also hear under just such circumstances. Even as I write I am still kind of wondering who that Other Jen of the Operant Conditioning was who did such a thing.

Nora stopped yanking. She looked at me in surprise, as well as at her slightly soggy shoulder. She exclaimed, "No! Zelda!" pointing indignantly to Ivy (she still names the cats somewhat randomly). I told her that Ivy wasn't doing anything wrong, but that she was, and that I had asked her to leave Ivy's tail and feet alone, which was what I wanted her to do right now. Stunned, she toddled out of the kitchen to go play in the living room.

Each new day is a fresh start. Each new day is a fresh start. Each new day...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friends help each other

Fiona is helping Abby learn more about babysitting. Abby is helping Fiona learn more about chess. It's like Jack Sprat without the fat-- I love it!

It's red hot, mama

There was a frost with unfortunate timing this year, so our apple picking season ended almost as it began this year. It was especially sad to me because this was the year our family had actually decided to go apple picking together!

But we were set on applesauce, so we went to the grocery store while local apples are plentiful and inexpensive and loaded up a cart full of Galas. They slowly cooked down on the stove, then finished their magic overnight in the crockpot. It's really amazing how that stuff cooks down, actually. We thought we'd have more applesauce than that. One would hope so, what with all that peeling and coring! Ah well, a small price to pay for no preservatives.

Anyway, we woke up to warm, brown, aromatic applesauce, which felt very autumnal. Next, just for fun, we stirred in a handful of Red Hot candies just like my maternal Grandma used to do. Mmmmmmm! Both Fiona and Nora approved of this addition, and Fiona even labeled one of the bags of sauce. To my amusement, however, "Red Hot Gala applesauce 10-20-07" didn't fit when Fiona wrote it, and instead her applesauce looked more like a rockin' party prepackaged in a bag-- "reD HOT GaLa". We try to avoid commercial media with our kids, but that child may nonetheless be born for marketing!

Friday, October 19, 2007


It should probably be illegal for a librarian mother to let her child get to almost 21 months of age without getting her to an age-geared storytime, but that's exactly what I did. I simply couldn't get buy-in from Big Sis to attend one, and since I figured that we were doing storytimes at home anyway Nora wasn't really the wiser.

But I had already resolved to take Nora today, and that's exactly what we did. After an hour of library volunteering, we headed into the program room together. While Fiona wasn't at all in favor of the idea before the storytime began, the program itself more than changed her mind. Big books, bells, singing, dancing, board books of our own to share together, and lap games were surprisingly engaging even for a five year old. It was a full program, and felt a little like a Toddlerpalooza when we all got up to do a Silly Dance Contest together.

And Nora's reaction? "Wow," she said in the car on the way home. "Dancing, Mama."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making a mermaid

Fiona decided that this year she wanted to be a mermaid for Halloween, and from the looks of things it has become a large group project. Fiona, Nora and I went to the fabric store together to select fabrics and notions, and then our entire family drove to Grandma and Toot Toot's house so I could help Grandma sew it.

As it turned out, however, I was too sick from wisdom tooth extractions to do anything but help myself to and from the bathroom, so Saint Grandma took over. The costume, which was a bit of a bugger, looks fabulous! Now I just need to finish hand-sewing the bling.

While at the fabric store originally, I picked up two skeins of cheap eyelash yarn, thinking a seaweed scarf might be just the thing. I asked my friend Lynn about a refresher knitting lesson, and she said that I probably didn't want a refresher lesson in cranky $1 eyelash yarn, so she'd be happy to crank it out for Fiona and give me lessons later on more pleasant yarn with less of a deadline crunch.

Am I glad I took her up on it or what?! Take a look at the "potato chip" scarf she created-- a real thing of beauty! Any mermaid worth her saltwater would be pleased as prawns to have this thing around her arms. Lynn's husband aptly suggested more "dangly stuff" from the edges of the scarf, making it even sea-weedier-- yesss!

Also oceans of thanks to Edith who sat next to me as I cussed the trim last week and gave me helpful tips on how to make it look much, much better. Now I really MUST get going on MY part of this project!

It's not even complete, but Fiona wears this costume every day. It is, originally, a Halloween costume, but it is safe to say that it will be the springboard for a sea of pretend play for a long, long time. We thank you fine ladies!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I love my teacher-- she's my Mom.

This morning, Fiona and Nora went to play with Helena, Ada, and Paul while I facilitated a library program. After we got back home and our whole family had lunch, Nora went up for her afternoon siesta and Fiona and I enjoyed Big Girl Time.

Today we decided that besides a bit of cleanup that goes best while Nora's sweetly sleeping, we'd also have some fun with markers, scissors, and glue. Definitely Big Girl Stuff. (I still haven't posted a photo of Nora with marker all over her lately, have I)?

Sure, Fiona's barely kindergarten-aged now, but it's amazing to me just how easily and joyfully we can access the scope and sequence of kindergarten standards at home just by being ourselves! Reading, cooking, pretending, games, art and dance are all daily experiences here. And really, aren't we all learning all the time?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Robert voyages

They said they were sailing from New York to England this afternoon, but that so far they've only gotten as far as Pot Top. Granted it might be the dearth of sleep lately from Nora's night wakings (teeth?), but simply writing "Pot Top" has me laughing out loud all over again even as I type.

I don't know exactly what they've moved on to now, but I just heard, "Ready for liftoff?" I think I'll head back in there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A simple question

Why are the most fun, interesting clothes for kids? Check out those Neapolitan ice cream tights!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Yesterday was party-time. Fiona had solo trips to and from the bathroom all night long, and she tucked herself back in all on her own. We celebrated her milestone with a family outing to one of her favorite science emporiums. It was Ian's first trip, and seeing him experience it with the girls was as rewarding as the experience itself.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Career forecast

As some readers know, I've spent a fair amount of time in a dentist chair lately. My wisdom tooth extractions are coming right along though, and I think today's visit should be my last for awhile.

On the way to the office this afternoon, I was talking about the logistics of what Fiona and Nora were going to do while the dentist worked in my mouth for a couple minutes. Fiona took the chance to tell me she was glad we were going to the dentist, and to remind me that she'd like to become a dentist someday.

"Sure!" I said. "You like people, you know that good health is important. You enjoy math and science. And you yourself like going to the dentist. You might really enjoy being one."

"Yeah," Fiona agreed, "but I really want to work in other people's mouths. And I really love all those tools."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Boom boom boom!

I guess if you're gonna team up with your next-door neighbor Dever to build Duplo weaponry and shoot space aliens who are threatening your oh-so-charming kittens, it should probably be done in a dress-up dress.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Which came first, the chicken or the pumpkin?

The girls and I went to a farm this morning with friends Helena, Ada, and Paul. We saw a flower and produce market, fall decorations, goats, ducks, and LOTS of chickens and pumpkins! The girls went round and round in a pumpkin maze, and also searched until each found "the perfect pumpkin". It was a delightful morning. The only real surprise was looking at pumpkins in mid-eighty degree weather!

Friday, October 05, 2007


...if only for a moment. I went out to see a documentary this evening, and I hear that she had another very "hands-on" type of evening. I think we need an improved action plan.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An innocent mistake

I haven't been cooking right ever since I got those darn wisdom teeth out almost a week ago, and for the past day or so our meals have gone something like, "Well, we could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk, except we don't have bread. Or milk." We TOTALLY needed to go to the store.

But a dental checkup filled my morning opportunity, and our good friend Sara stopped by for an absolutely LOVELY serendipitous visit this afternoon. Therefore we ended up going after "dinner" tonight.

Part of me knew this was a mistake, but I didn't want to wait another day only to try to have cereal, toast, yogurt, milk, bananas, or some other breakfast food that was completely gone. We piled into the car for a huge grocery marathon.

It was just past bedtime when we returned. The only thing I really wanted to do while the girls changed into their jammies was to put cold foods away properly. I thought things were going at least as well as could be expected when Nora presented herself to me, with poor, poor Zelda's little skull in her chubby hands and a tabby body dangling alarmingly, announcing proudly, "I holding!"

Oh. My. Gosh. Every single nerve ending shot into overdrive or something. After rescuing the kitten, I wondered aloud how many times one has to explain and show proper kitten procedures to a toddler before they really sink in.

I feel horrible for that poor little cat! Fortunately, Zelda seems none the worse for it physically or mentally. I only wish I could say the same for myself. Oh. My. Gosh.

Body art fan

This is undoubtedly the sixth time this week I've mopped Nora up after she "decorated" herself with paint, markers, or both. That child LOOOOOOOOOOOOVES body art. Wish I'd photographed her before I carted her off to the bathroom this time. Oh well, I'm sure I'll get another chance tomorrow.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Introducing our two newest members of the family...

Our family went for a trip late today to a local animal welfare agency to pick up our two kittens, "Muffin" and "Sweetie". Ian came home a little early from work because I was still feeling rather puny from the Wisdom Tooth Thing at lunchtime, but by the time I actually ate something, took a shower, and got a little rest, I was feeling downright chipper on the way to the agency. That is, until halfway there when my jaw began to throb and I realized that I missed my completely routinized medicine dose.

Of course, the agency was running dolefully behind schedule. That being said, once they realized I was in a bad way they were quite accommodating, and in short order we found ourselves riding home with two of the happiest feline travelers we could have ever rescued.

On the way home Fiona asked, "What are they called?" Ian explained the difference between their shelter names and their actual names, which we would decide as a family. Around that time, Nora requested one of her favorite books, Gossie and Gertie. Ian tried to signal me covertly, and I finally made out that he was whispering "Gossie and Gertie" and pointing at the two cats. Following the picture book character theme, I suggested Zelda and Ivy, one of our beloved "sister" book series by Laura Kvasnosky.

We all considered other storybook pairs over dinner-- George and Martha; Frog and Toad; Pooh and Piglet; Trixie and Knuffle Bunny-- but nothing had the same ring as our two favorite fox sibs. Besides, our tabby's personality is clearly Zelda-like. Just watch for videos. You'll see. And the blue-gray one is definitely laid-back yet loving like Ivy.

According to our friend Janis, cats will tell you their names if you ask them, and neither Zelda nor Ivy did anything but purr in response when we queried them, so we're pretty sure we got it right. We put the zippy red collar on Zelda and the bright green collar on Ivy (green for Ivy, get it?) and that was that. Zelda is undoubtedly busy "doozying up" Ivy's tail right now-- you can see her trying to snag it in one of the pictures above as well.

Dry socket, wet Fiona

Fiona, Nora and I were supposed to go to a local park for a Bird Migration Hike with friends Robert and Teresa this morning, but since I am still recovering from wisdom teeth removal (and post-op meds toxicity and a dry socket from the messy complications thereof) our wonderful friend Teresa is taking Fiona along with them instead. Here what our little ornithologist looked like on this wet October morning right before she left. Check out her hand-decorated paper towel roll binoculars!

Thank you, Teresa and Robert. We know you'll all have a great time. And goodbye, birds-- see you next Spring!