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, April 30, 2008

The Great Fire

No no, we didn't have a fire here. But we did have seven children here to discuss the nonfiction book The Great Fire by Jim Murphy for a couple hours today. There had been a snow day on the actual day I was slated to have the original discussion with 8-10 year olds, so we decided to have a make-up session at our house this afternoon.

We pulled watery questions out of a fire bucket, and Sydney even shared an amazing fire cake. Even though Mrs. O'Leary's much-maligned cow really had nothing to do with the Chicago blaze, we did make some lovely luminarias. We guessed the identity of photos of molten artifacts from the Chicago Historical Society too. Although the discussion was primarily for older kids, Dever and Fiona were able to participate a little as well. It was a more somber topic than we usually discuss at our homeschool book discussion group, and not our usual venue, but we had a truly enjoyable time.

These photos show the kids either posing with a conflagration cake (made by Sydney and decorated by Fiona-- good idea, Kathleen!) or being filched by Nora. We had sent her inside from the backyard to grab something; but the something we were imagining was not the library stool which enabled her to eat all the M&Ms off the other cake!

Let's pretend

About a half an hour ago, Fiona claimed to be famished. I told her that she could go downstairs to get a banana immediately; or, if she preferred to wait for me to finish with the vacuum sweeper, I'd make a different snack. Now, once the toast is ready, I hear Fiona calling down from where she and Nora have been playing hard saying that she'd like to close her door because the two of them are pretending to be cats, and they'd better not get out right now.

This is kind of interesting to me-- not because Fiona is pretending to be a cat, because she's had an affinity for cats and pretending to be one for years now-- but because of the high-powered pretending. Fiona is, in some ways, a rather serious kid. She likes to hide, she likes to try to tell jokes, and she thoroughly enjoys listening into adult conversations. She can play with other kids, loves to curl up with her parents or other grownups, and even enjoys time amusing herself, but she is not a huge pretender. It's not that she doesn't do it, but I'd wager that her imaginary world is the size of a suburb, not the kingdoms she reads about in her books.

Why? Is it nature? Is it nurture? Are lots of kids this way? Does it really even matter? Is it even true or is it just MY imagination? Who knows, but I think it's pretty awesome that I have a piece of toast ready for each of my kitties when they're ready to come downstairs for them.

Jacuna and Bacati

Nora was in my lap as I was helping her into her clothes this morning. She can put some of them on herself, and for others she needs a little boost. I was about to help her with some socks when she raised her left foot in assistance and whacked me right between the eyes.

Seeing stars, we both recovered a little bit and Nora repeatedly insisted "Jacuna!" while waving her left foot. When questioned a bit further, Nora explained that her left foot was her friend named Jacuna. She was just introducing us, though I'm guessing neither she nor Jacuna intended such a forceful introduction.

I asked her whether her other foot had a name, too. She considered it for a moment, then said decidedly, "Bacati." Now I look forward to seeing whether she remembers the names and whether Jacuna and Bacati have any further adventures together-- aside from getting Nora from A to B, of course.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

While coloring

Fiona and Nora are writing and coloring. Both are working diligently. Fiona is drawing using lots of bright colors with her twistable colored pencils, and has begun reverting back to "Nora language" (scribbling) again now from time to time since she's noticed Nora doing it lately. It's very fast and fun to do. Nora is simply using a pencil to scribble names and pictures.

Out of nowhere, Nora crooned to herself, "A LUUUUna moth sails troo da night" a la The Very Quiet Cricket. Childhood is so very charming sometimes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Delightful whipped cream

We had strawberries and "whipped cream" (from a can) for dessert tonight. Seeing the whipped cream coming out was very exciting, and eating it wasn't bad either. In Nora's words: "This is delightful!"

After the strawberries were gone, Fiona suggested that maybe now she could have bananas with whipped cream. At that point, Nora said "I want just whipped cream." The rest of us broke up laughing at our own personal Winnie-the-Pooh ("Both ... but never mind the bread"). The look on her face was even funnier, seeming to say "I don't know what you people are laughing at, but I'm serious."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nightowl Nora

Nora has been, for the most part, sleeping in Fiona's bed. At this point we are trying to start calling it "the big bed" instead of "Fiona's bed" to mark the subtle trend. She also found a 'counting sheep' nightgown that Fiona used to wear in yesterday's Spring clothing try-on fiesta, and since it was clean when I last packed it I went ahead and let her wear it last night before I gave it another wash. It made her look so grown up!

Last night around midnight as I was getting ready for bed, the bathroom door clattered open and Nora stumbled in, eyes bleary with sleep and excessive light. She looked as if she was being guided to me by her round toddler Buddha belly, which took on a slightly oxymoronic look against that big-girl nightie. Her little bare feet, still chubby with baby fat, slapped the floor with resolute intent.

It didn't take Nora too many nights to figure out that a bed without crib rails was mighty convenient. Freed from the bonds of her crib, Nora looked up at me with her sleepy brown eyes and crooned, "I need to nurse, Mama-cat." Somewhere between the use of the pet name and the wild upswept tornado of damp curls, I lost my no-night-nursing resolve.

Ian-- who does the lion's share of the nighttime parenting for just this reason-- entered the bathroom at about this time. He took a highly dissatisfied Nora back to her room and, within minutes, had her contentedly tucked back into bed. I wish I knew how he managed that!

We talked for a little while about her transition to a bed, and about her readiness for weaning. Mainly, though, my mind continued to circle back to that big girl we have who sometimes wears a nightgown now-- just like her big sister.

Wash day is now

Despite the fact that our whole house could have used a once-over, the girls and I decided to do some fun stuff together on our first day as a trio in about a month. After two weeks of fun with Granny and almost that long at Grandma and Toot Toot's house during the renovation, we're experiencing kind of a letdown now that the travel and visiting has come to an end.

So yesterday besides helping me color my gray hair "blackberry", the girls also enjoyed a huge fashion show with the clothes in the guest room closet. Now the closet looks pristine and the guest room looks like a natural disaster; but we made good progress, and it really was fun. Fiona and Nora got to see clothes that Fiona herself used to wear, and clothes that Mia, McKae, Sydney, and some friends from church used to wear, too! Because of the seasonal timing, I went ahead and tried some 4T clothes on Nora. Lo and behold, both 3T and many 4T items fit. I'm glad we'll get good use out of them before Nora possibly outgrows them by next Summer.

Because we've been blessed by so many handed down gifts, there was actually a fair amount of Spring and Summer wear for Fiona to try as well; and since many skirts have shorts built in, even our tall Fiona can still wear a lot of them! And Nora, who has the benefit of not only hand-me-downs from friends and extended family but also Fiona-wear from our own Dual Income Days, could probably almost wear something different every day this Summer.

We'll have to hold onto some of our cooler weather clothes for another little while, but hopefully their closet can contain the sherbet-colored wonders that we unearthed in the guest room closet yesterday. It was a grand way to liven up our quieter household. Now to get to those litter boxes, the sinks, and the tub. Getting back to the daily grind is tough stuff.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Goodbyes are hard

Throughout these past two weeks, Granny refused to let a back injury-- or even the flu-like illness which she'd hoped she had inoculated herself against-- get her down. There was too much family to love around her to have time for it!

In honor of Granny's tough cookie-ness, we're trying not to be utterly heartbroken now that we've tucked her back onto a big airplane to go back home. But it feels mighty empty here now. The kittens aren't even as bouncy this afternoon, and how can they even try to sneak into the guest room now?

We love you so much, Granny, and we're so glad you were able to come see us. Even when we're far away, we're with you.

17000 a day?!

Not 17,000 different words a day. Thank goodness. We just need to talk a lot. I think we're probably pretty close already. We won't be measuring this way - it's not in the budget. Here's the link for the LENA device.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Front porch fabulous

Today we hung out on the front porch with Aunt Lynn and enjoyed a marvelous day. Besides catching up on good news, we played with sidewalk chalk, got a little bit wet in a drizzly rain, and went out to see the local strip mall that Aunt Lynn has been working with at her job. Sadly, she couldn't stay for supper, but we dropped by one of our favorite Mexican restaurants on the way home to round out a delightful day. Pleasant travels, Aunt Lynn, and thanks for coming!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hanging with Uncle Mike

Uncle Mike came in late Sunday evening, and we had too much fun with him to have time to blog about it until after he left. Sadly, Fiona didn't even get as far as breakfast on the first day of his visit before catching a case of the pukes and missing an entire day with him, but the rest of us made hay while the sun shone even as we tended to poor Fiona. She perked up by his second day and made up for lost time.

It was great to catch up with Mike-- whether it was taking a walk, playing a board game, chatting at the kitchen table, or simply watching the girls light up as they played and laughed with him. Uncle Mike knows hilarious magic tricks that only much-beloved uncles share. Fiona is now trying to repeat them for anyone who will watch.

We wish you pleasant travels for the remainder of your time in our fair state and homeward as well, Mike. Thanks so much for coming!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Big girl time

Fiona gets "big girl time" after lunch while Nora takes a nap. Sometimes this means time to read books or begin prep work for dinner. Other times it means work on Big Girl Projects. Today was one of those days. Fiona wanted to get out the fabric paint, so we found some old t-shirts and she and Granny indulged got creative. Check out Fiona wearing the same paint smock that my sister and I both used in kindergarten! I don't know how long it will take for those shirts to dry, but they look very different now! It's enough fun that, of course, Nora really wants to be a big girl too.

Speaking of which, Nora is mostly logging time in the big bed now. It seems too soon to take the crib down, since she doesn't sleep in it exclusively... yet... But she does like the big bed, and she also enjoys napping in the big bed with a cat or two. Surprisingly, the cats enjoy it too!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Zany like David Weisner's Tuesday-- but substitute an earthquake

about 5:39 a.m. Eastern Standard time. . .

Aunt Ruby, who up until that moment had been sleeping peacefully on an air mattress in the newly refinished dining room, heard the house creaking and the huge windows rattling lustily. She thought that a helicopter must be flying alarmingly low.

Nora, whose biorhythms normally tell her to awaken around this time and whose senses told her something was up, began to scream hysterically for her mother.

Ian-- who does much of the night duty to aid the cessation of night nursing-- glanced at the clock at Nora's first cry, and heard the house creaking as he attended to his wailing child. He assumed a large wind but surprised when no more sounds came.

Jen, similarly awakened by Nora's howling, felt the bed moving and figured that the cats were vehemently attacking the scratching post at the foot of her bed. Kittens. . . always up to something. . .

Granny, unsure whether was the movement of the house, the rattling of the windows, the racket from Nora, or the combination of the above that woke her up first, tried to go back to sleep.

Fiona, who slept blissfully through the entire thing, didn't experience the sound of rattling until another shakeup at almost lunchtime. She had, up until that moment, been forced to use solely her imagination to guess what all the fuss was about.

It's very exciting that a 5.2 magnitude earthquake near West Salem, Illinois can shake up sleepy people for such a vast distance. Some vacation excitement can't be planned!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do you know the muffin man?

It doesn't really matter whether you do or not, actually, because we have enough muffin women around here to keep you in muffins for quite some time. Granny, Aunt Ruby, Fiona, and Nora made some corn muffins today to go with our sweet potato curry soup. It was a delicious end to a beautiful day. Most of us have cold symptoms in one way or another, but if soup and muffins can't cure us, they can certainly cheer us plenty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hooray for Aunt Ruby

Aunt Ruby arrived around lunchtime today, and life has been so, so good. Along with Aunt Ruby and Granny we've played, had a nice time at the park, learned how to use the spool knitter, enjoyed some really cool stories, and even had dinner with the next-door neighbor. We can't wait for tomorrow!

Mission accomplished!

Guess who slept together peacefully all night long with no nighttime interruptions at all last night (besides their blissful parents?) Bah-- crib. Who needs it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fashions by Granny, fashionistas by Ian and Jen

Granny strained her back, so we've been cool cats at home lately. This gave the girls some time to give a fashion show of some knitted wonders that Granny sent earlier in the year. Check them out on the catwalk! Nora was showing everyone how her vest looked while holding and eating a marshmallow. Fiona, on the other hand, was feeling a slightly more bold fashion sense.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Back porch drama

Or thriller, really, from the cats' point of view. Though Zelda and Ivy weren't too quick on the uptake about what was happening (cats don't understand pointing), once they realized what the excitement was, it was very exciting.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


It's rainy today, and we're all a mite sleepy, and some of us are coughing. Nonetheless, we managed to squeeze in a fair amount of fun and some time to just play today. We began our day with dance class, and Granny enjoyed watching the girls show her what they're learning. Between being out of town and scheduled cancellations, we haven't been to class for about a month now, and it's great to be back!

In the afternoon we dressed up, played board games, and made cookies. Granny, Fiona, and Nora were also able to get outside for a walk in the park before it got too wet and cold outside. Rainy days certainly are more fun with a grandparent!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Black Grace

Granny, Fiona, Nora and I just got back from a sampler of Black Grace, a contemporary New Zealand dance troupe that's currently here in town. We can't attend the big performance, but we were thrilled to see two excerpts from their lineup and hear questions and answers with the dancers afterward.

Nora found the music to be loud enough to need to be in my lap, but both girls were mesmerized during the performance, as were Granny and I. I anticipate Black Grace-inspired influences in the girls' dancing, but only time will tell whether we'll actually see any.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Granny made it!

It's not really a photo-opportunity-- planes have failed us and luggage is nowhere in sight, but GRANNY IS HERE! We are ever so glad.

We weally wike Justin Woberts

Justin Roberts has a new album out on April 15th called Pop Fly, so we were watching some of his videos on YouTube, and we discovered some songs from an older album we haven't heard yet. The girls are completely charmed by the song and video "Willy the Whale", which features "underwater footage" which had to be thoroughly analyzed, and many 'w' words which aren't weally 'w' words at all. Which is funny enough for us to be doing it at least all morning, I'm guessing. Our neighbors would call this type of speech "Wenglish". Hey Sydney and Dever, Tinglish has made it big!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Keeping Grannies from their little ones to save a dime should be un-American...

... also un-Delta, un-Southwest, un-American Eagle, and un-United, for that matter. This is the guest bed where Granny should be unpacking her stuff for her annual visit right this very moment. Instead, thanks to the recent FAA scrutiny and flurry of flight cancellations, Granny is still time zones away. We fervently hope to see her tomorrow, if the airline can keep any promises at all. If we had to choose, though, we'd take a waylaid Granny over a possibly less-than-safe Granny any day of the week.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Great New Experiment

Fiona has a full-size bed. Both girls have been eagerly awaiting the moment that Nora gets to sleep in the big-girl bed with Fiona. We're not really punishment/reward type of parents, but we have been telling the girls for quite awhile that we figured when Nora began keeping panties dry at night regularly it would be a good time to start talking about sharing a bed. From a practical standpoint, it just seemed like, well, the driest idea we could invent. And believe me, Nora is nowhere near panties yet.

"Never say never" comes to mind, though, because lately a number of factors have been leading Ian and me to think twice about this arbitrary benchmark. Not only has Nora been climbing into Fiona's bed and attempting to put herself to bed for months now, Fiona is also almost completely welcoming of the change. She is a little concerned about how the noise factor will affect her, since Nora is somewhat vocal about her needs and has all the immediacy of a two-year old. However, Fiona considers Nora to be her best friend, and looks forward to sharing the bed with her. They have shared a room-- this very room where Nora was born-- all along. We hope a bedmate might lessen some of Fiona's nighttime anxieties as well. And when I think about the fact that I myself wouldn't want to sleep any other way, it seemed like time to try The Great New Experiment.

During our recent eleven-day visit with Grandma and Toot Toot, Nora stopped sleeping in their crib and switched to a toddler bed; and tonight she spent her first ten minutes in bed with her sister. It was so hopelessly exciting that, at least for tonight, it clearly wasn't going to work. But it took around three days of adjustment at Grandma and Toot Toot's too, so only time and continued interest will tell.

As pleased as I am to see the girls working on this happy milestone together though, I can't help feeling a little misty about it, too. Once Ian and I pack it up, that crib won't see the light of day again until someone we know needs to borrow it or our own daughters bring a grandbaby over to nap in it. At the very least I should say that is the plan, as far as those can take you.

Considering I didn't even really want to use that space hog, I can't believe I feel this attached to the crib. It's just a piece of reasonably-priced furniture, after all. Nonetheless, I can't help but feel a mite relieved as I check on Nora sleeping sweetly in it tonight.

Disorganization is dismaying

There are about 200+ pictures I'm dying to dump and use in our camera, which is lying around here somewhere in the piles of things-not-yet-put-away. Has anybody seen it lately? Anyone?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Dolefully behind

OK, people:

Let me be up-front with you. We left town-- for almost a week longer than we even meant to! And rather than tell the world "Can't blog, we're packing/leaving/just plumb gone" we just didn't blog much at all. Now we have a smart shiny refinished floor and we're all back in town where we started, trying to move our furniture back where it belongs and get our lives back into rhythm.

But I have a little problem. Very fun and exciting things happened while we were away from our beloved blog. We still remember them. We captured many of them on film. We probably still COULD backdate them. Right now it will feel weird to do it, but much later when the kids flip through and look at themselves it will look about the same to them, and I guess that's the main idea of this virtual baby book.

So don't be surprised if you start seeing the slightly more distant past on the blog (a couple posts down) for awhile. It's just me, trying to catch up with the girls.