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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A zootiful day

It was a beautiful day to have our first day back to the zoo this season. We met a number of homeschooling friends and ventured into the Australian Outback and also looked at how the new African Journey area is progressing.

We spent a fair amount of time playing in the new mazes in a corner of the zoo, and trying to improve our time as we repeatedly tried it. Fiona tackled this project with real vigor, carefully considering her moves from the last trip and trying for her best option. Nora, on the other hand, simply screeched joyously and ran-- almost faster than I wished. It's as though she trusted her marvelous toddler Buddha belly alone to get her to the end fortuitously.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Changes & room rearranges for growing girls

This holiday weekend we took down the crib. Nora has been sleeping in the same bed as Fiona for over a month now, and we took the crib mattress out weeks ago so she'd stop pinging back and forth like a pinball between the crib and the bed at bedtime in order to stay awake longer. It was just time for it come down.

Today I moved some furniture around in there to make better use of a room that no longer houses a crib. The new layout should make it easier for the girls to make the bed; and besides, the change is refreshing.

Yesterday Grandma and Toot Toot brought up an old dressing table that I used as a child. The plan is to slap some white paint on it and give it a new lease on life. Between that and the addition of some more drawer space (we're reworking the division of labor, and trying to set up some organization that allows the girls to put away some of their own clothing), I think our little ladies can continue to grow into their little room for many years. What a great place to read and rest!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pre-dance recital

This isn't really the recital-- it's the running around onstage that happened BEFORE the recital began so kids could get used to the area.

The video was long enough that we had to break the it down into chunks. This segment is ready to go. More will follow.

Monday, May 26, 2008

An historic day

Well, OK,

It WAS Ian's birthday, and we did go to Cally's rockin' fun graduation party, and had a jolly time at Grandma and Toot Toot's as well. We had a great day, and a relaxing weekend. But here's the crux of the issue: today is the first day in the past two years and four months that I have spent the day with Nora and not nursed her even once. She never thought to ask.

This is a big deal. It's like Ian had the birthday, but I got the present. I love my daughter, and I have loved nursing her, too, but weaning can be difficult when established patterns are, well, established. We'll probably be back to square one by tomorrow, but I think we're headed in the right direction.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Finally: the Dance Recital videos

Here we go, no fancy stories, just the first video, because we're in a rush. The actual performance video will be up by Tuesday or so.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A vital organ

We had a chance yesterday afternoon to learn how a pipe organ works, so despite my uncertainty that I felt strong enough after that Big Evil Virus to be able to fully appreciate a field trip, off we went.

It was really worth the gamble, though. Phil, the organist, showed us pipes, keys, buttons, foot pedals, switches, secret doors, chimes and, literally, all the bells and whistles associated with that amazing musical instrument. There were so many knobs and buttons I thought it looked a little like an airline cockpit. Fiona didn't.

Phil played softly. He played loudly. He even played Bach using only his feet! It's amazing what an affinity for music and practice, practice, practice can yield. Hearing Phil play didn't make me yearn to play the organ, but it did make me eager to get our new-to-us piano tuned. Music is a beautiful gift, and definitely something we want in our family life every single day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Read it again, Mom

I haven't felt like doing much else today, so we curled up and powered through a little under half of Charlotte's Web, and finished it just now. After discussing it for a little while, Fiona looked at me with flushed cheeks and said, "That is the best book I've ever heard for the first time. Let's start over now."


No no, Fiona isn't sick anymore. I am. Fiona had a touch of this earlier in the week, and now I have a somewhat super-sized version. Just your basic fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea thing, but watching Ian go out the door to go to work this morning was somewhat frightening.

The day stretches before me like a nightmare in the daytime. What amusing stuff will we three do all day (using the least amount of energy)?! Please send healing thoughts. And go here if you think this comic is funny.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ohhhhh, it's magic

Our neighbor gave us a cherry tomato plant that someone gave her. It had been grown from seed, and was a pretty awesome gift, but she didn't have a good sunny place to plant it. We had been waiting until we had our garden bedsready for planting. Now we're ready, essentially, but the plant has developed some peculiar spots and some yellowing that make me a little concerned about adding it to the rest of our carefully selected seedlings.

This Utterly Novice Gardener got a little overwhelmed when trying to look it up in some tomato disease books and online, so I took a couple digital pictures, pulled off a leaf, and drove the girls to our local extension office after Nora's nap today. For $2, I was able to explain what limited information I had about the plant and I should get a diagnosis back within a couple of days. Awesome.

While we were there, we wandered the display gardens. WOW! All three of us concurred that we must come back to this place, and soon. There were already miraculous little buds and blooms throughout the garden-- I can only imagine what a riot of color and scent the place must be in the summer! It has woodland, culinary, medicinal, cottage, pastel, cutting, and children's gardens, and many, many more. I'm not the only one who was enchanted-- the girls were quite taken with the place and were planning the people they wanted to bring back (and proposals of when) before we ever left the place. They scampered and jumped and crumpled up into small heaps to be able to scrutinize tiny out-of-the-way details. They were as much a delight to view as the gardens themselves. One of their annual plant sales is tomorrow during Nora's nap. We may have to window shop a little bit more.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

God loves appetizers too

Fiona went next door to absorb some Montessori math with Dever this morning, and Nathaniel was playing here with Nora and me. We did some of our usual stuff-- reading, chasing, walking in the park, dancing, bubble blowing, listening to music, playing with toys, peekaboo. It wasn't quite time to begin preparing lunch yet, but I was getting classic hunger pre-meltdown signals from Nora, so I put on some water to boil for some Annie's Shells & Cheese, tossed some carrot sticks into a bowl, and began rinsing some strawberries and cutting up banana chunks.

Upon seeing this, both children began clambering up into seats at the table. Nothing I was preparing was quite cut and ready for them, so I handed each of them a honey wheat pretzel to tide them over. I asked Nora which meal prayer she preferred to say, since Fiona wasn't there to beat her to the punch.

Nora, whose mouth was already wrapped around her pretzel, was stunned. She stopped mid-crunch and stared at me. I thought she was shocked to be asked about her preference for grace. I said, "You like to sing the Johnny Appleseed prayer, don't you? Would you like that one?"

Apparently, however, that wasn't her issue. She processed for another moment or so while I stirred the macaroni in the boiling water and poured milk. Gesturing with the pretzel, she inquired thoughtfully, "Why do we pway for dese, Mom? Dey're not hot..."

Wow, when my child comes in to awaken me in the morning I simply cannot possibly fathom the curve balls either one of them might throw during the course of any given day! It was a pleasure to describe all the things we are thankful for-- not just warm lunches (although those are quite nice).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wetlands walk

We went on a really cool nature walk today. It was actually geared more for adults, but all the ramblers, as they're called, were more than happy to accept our group into the fold and teach us anything they knew about our local flora and fauna. And these people know a lot! We talked about deer tracks, canary reed grass, mama ducks, crawdad castles (photos above), jack-in-the pulpits, salamander counts, skunk cabbage, and much, much more. We even saw an old coot. No kidding!

We decided to walk through the woods before the mosquitoes become pesky this season, which turned out to be a great idea. Not surprisingly, we ran into some really mucky areas along the way, and it was really a lot of fun. I think those spots were called "boot grabbers" or something like it.

Kathleen, Fiona and Dever and I had a great time soaking up all the nature and information that surrounded us. Nora did too, but she had an additional treat-- she made a special friend named Dick who carried her on his shoulders and offered her a finger to hold as they walked together. Dick and everyone there hopes we'll ramble again soon. So do we!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Overheard recently

Nora is looking for her boots.


"Look by the coat tree."


Fiona is eating lunch. She walks a piece of hot dog across her plate.

"I think I'll go for a walk now. I guess I'll go this way so I can avoid the Eating Mountain." Then, as that plan fails: "Waaaaaa!"

Nora has gotten out of bed about half an hour after being put there. I often tell her not to get out of bed until I come check on her, in the hope that that will last until she falls asleep. It works about half the time. I hear her from downstairs - she's always very considerate and closes the door so that the cats won't get in and bother Fiona. I go up to look for her. I find her in the bathroom. She smiles at me.

"I was looking for somebody else." Not her mom, you understand. Just somebody else. Then, back in her room, where Fiona is fast asleep:

"Let's put you back in bed."
"I'll climb in."
"(Mumble mumble.)"
"What, honey?"
"I won't get out, Dad."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Fishing for broccoli and other fun stuff

Today was play day at Robert and Teresa's house-- hooray! This is exciting news, not only because we haven't seen Robert (or any other kids besides our neighbors, for that matter) since getting our floors done at Eastertime; but also because going to Robert's means getting to do exciting stuff with him like chasing, hopping, playing with different, exciting toys, as well as playing in the woods in the Springtime.

Helena, Ada, and Paul came over too, and all of us got to go down to the edge of the pond and use sticks to "fish for broccoli". That's what Robert calls it when he pulls pieces of green pond growth out of the water. It's easier to catch than fish, but just as exciting! It was a great day of play.

Nora and I had to head home for a nap shortly after lunchtime, but Fiona got to stick around for a nice walk, wildflower gathering session, and mushroom hunt afterwards. Thanks for the lift, Robert and Teresa! Springtime is a great time to explore with friends-- even when not one single morel can be found.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How could I?

The girls' first dance recital is coming this Saturday, and the dress rehearsal was this past Saturday. How could I have forgotten to share this photo with you, dear readers? So sorry!

Do meerkats vote?

I'm not completely certain, but I think these specimens are too young anyhow. Today's the first day I've ever brought the girls with me that I can recall. Fiona was interested in being even peripherally involved in helping choose our next president, and Nora was interested in the blinking red button and in the lady who was offering brownies.

It was a great day for a walk, and since our friend David was with us and sitting in the stroller, Nora was more than happy to oblige by sitting on my shoulders the whole way to the polls and back, bobbing up and down and singing nursery rhymes like "Horsey, horsey don't you stop".

Monday, May 05, 2008

Soaking up the great outdoors

The mulch that we ordered with our neighbors came in last week, and we've been working for days to eliminate over three years of weeds so we could mulch over them. This should be the tough year, and hopefully years hereafter won't be quite as much mulch or nearly as much work!

The girls have been enjoying day after day of outdoor time, and the weather has made it easy! They love to bury their faces in the deep purple lilacs that just went into full bloom. Today Fiona and our neighbor Dever also helped build some square raised wooden beds for our backyard gardening experiment. The wood isn't anything long-lasting, but if we decide we're good at it we may upgrade later when needed. It's exciting to see our backyard transform into something that could actually be halfway pretty!

We still have a long way to go, but nobody's complaining. We see a lot more of the bathtub this way too, so it's win-win all the way around.

Friday, May 02, 2008

3-2-1- compost!

Today's a day we've been working toward for quite some time-- we built our compost bin! The neighbors, who have been studying gardening topics with us for quite some time, helped us put it in. We're really excited and are looking forward to using our leftovers in a new way as much as we're eagerly anticipating the rich, black soil we'll get for our Garden Experiment.

Dandelion face paint and other joys of childhood

Clearly a greenhorn was at the helm, because not enough actual schoolwork got completed, but we had a wonderful day with our neighbors all day today while their Mom had jury duty. We kicked things off with pancakes and a little drawing and math homework, and then moved directly to pretending and, ultimately, gardening and outdoor play. We started a new chapter book together. We even got our walkie-talkies out and pretended we weren't virtually on top of each other already. They called it "undercover overcover spying". I think the idea was to keep me from knowing what's going on around me in the backyard. Or, perhaps I was being undercover-overcover spied upon. I'm not sure-- they're really good.

To top it all off, that same person drained by jury deliberations today made dinner for us (and her husband got it into the oven), allowing us to play longer at the park in the afternoon. It was a day of fun and cooperation all day long. There were so many things we wanted to do but ran out of time! We'll just have to try it again, but Kathleen says that she can't be called again to that court for another three years, so it may not be on a jury duty day.