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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fall fun

We can't wait for more chances to be outside during Autumn. It's my favorite-- and for good reason! We had a ball yesterday in the leaves near the red panda at the zoo-- examining them, heaping them up, tossing them around, wearing them, and, of course, modeling them for dear old Mom.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Zoo trip

I realized this morning as I lay in bed and heard the trash truck rumble past that we didn't get the big limbs we cut earlier into a trash bin in time for trash pickup. Again. They're too big for us to get expeditiously to the compost site ourselves, yet I hadn't felt good enough about trashing them to get around to doing that yet. Then it hit me: our friends Paul and Heather could burn it for kindling! And... maybe they'd even want to go to the zoo with us this morning when I called them at the ridiculously early hour that this entire idea hatched in my brain!

All of the above turned out to be true, so we sneaked in a little morning zoo trip before the place closes for the season in a couple of weeks. We had a nice time and enjoyed the weather and companionship.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Conversation with Nora

Shortly after I got home from work yesterday, Nora took my hand and said "Dad, my feet are dirty. Let's go upstairs and make my feet clean."

"Okay," I said.

"Only the bottoms," she added. "And the tops."

"I see."

"They have dirty stuff on them. So we need to clean them. In the sink. I will sit on the side of the sink and put them in the sink."

So we did. I love it when a plan comes together.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just hatched

We've really enjoyed our Painted Lady butterflies-- the girls and I watched one emerge with Fred, Kathleen, Sydney, Dever, and Nathaniel at lunchtime today. But if it's possible, Ivy has enjoyed them even more. Keeping our blue feline huntress away from them has been a difficult trick indeed.

Money, money, money, money

Here's the part I like about homeschooling that I thought I'd have to give up, but haven't: I can have a plan, but scrap it when something better comes along. This morning we had taken baths, made beds, and practiced piano. We were journaling about our newly emerged butterflies and I was cleaning the table off to be ready for our more traditional math curriculum when Nora 'broke into' one of my tote bags and found the kitty for a retreat we've been planning. It has some cash money in it, but is mostly chock full of change. We used this teachable moment to learn about coins-- something I've been meaning to do. (We also discussed getting into my purse. Again.)

Readers from the retreat should know that the cash value of the money bag remained the same, but that the money is MUCH more handled than it was at this time yesterday. Thanks a million-- I didn't have this much of my own change in the house. While I was at it, I topped us off, ladies!


Oftentimes Nora calls Fiona 'Fionn'. She's the only person I can think of who does it. I don't know why I find this so doggone endearing, but I do.

Butterfly business

We've been watching our Painted Ladies do their business since the box of larvae arrived during my first retreat on the 13th and 14th. They were pretty big by the time we opened the box-- I neglected to mention that they were coming and they were addressed to me!! Fortunately they weathered the wait and we've been talking to them, drawing them, journaling about them, and overall enjoying them ever since. Thank you Grandma and Toot Toot!

The first one hatched quietly yesterday, but was discovered with much fanfare. Our neighbor Sydney got in on the care and feeding of our newest little cosmopolitan insect.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Game on

I realized at the breakfast table this morning that we've probably officially unleashed a lifetime of voracious reading. The joy and promise of it made me cry.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Artists DO reply to fan mail!

Woo hoo! We emailed Justin Roberts to tell him how excited we are that he's coming to our library, and he wrote right back to us, dear readers! We are tickled pink. Of course he said to be sure to keep telling our friends to come to the free concert with us, so if you live in our area (you know who you are) come to the Main Library in the big, beautiful theater on November 7th for his 10:30 and/or 1:00 shows. We will be there with bells on. See you there!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The thrill of Gill

Jim Gill swung through town with him Family Room concert tonight. The girls and I have seen him before, but we were thrilled to be able to attend with our whole gang after a seriously abbreviated and patched-together dinner. We all had a marvelous time. The girls both wore the "spinniest" spin dresses they could find in their closet, knowing that nobody listens to Jim Gill without getting up and getting down. Nora was technically a little too ready for bed to be able to fully appreciate the concert, and as usual was quick to point out that the music was too loud for her. Nonetheless, we had just the evening we've been looking forward to for months now. He doesn't have a new album out-- we've heard all these songs before. And that's exactly what we wanted. It was just like our own family room, but without the fractured rainbow of Duplos strewn all over the floor.

We've included some pictures from our evening romp above. As you can see, we clearly must face the fact that Nora's binocular eyes are back! Also, be sure to check out this video in which even Mr. Gill himself is impressed with Fiona's spinning a la the washing machine.


Most people have heard of Neverland, but have you ever seen anything like the Deverland that Sydney, Dever, and Fiona built today in our neighbor's sandbox? Syd took the pictures herself.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back in black

Here they are-- our blurry girls are back at dance class again this fall! After a somewhat bumpy beginning last Saturday, both girls were back in the swing of things and ready to dance up a storm.

This year parents left the room both for the Ballet II class and for the Pre-dance session as well. I have to admit that the kids did react well to not having their parents lining the walls of the room. It was a little hard not to be able to watch their progress without peeking through a tiny window slice; but that's all about me, not about our kids and their seemingly complete ability to focus on the topic at hand and leap and learn and grow. We brought things to read between the Predance class and the Ballet II class to stay busy, and at least for now that is working out just fine. All the kids had a great day today.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fancy pants

Look who decided to wear panties for awhile today? Big girl!

And yes, she did opt for more clothing a couple of minutes later.

So happy together

Having spent Friday through Sunday at one retreat and Monday night through Thursday at a different one, I could not be happier to be soaking up my girls-- my whole family. The house is trashed, but we have each other and enough peanut butter bread to make it until I haul us to the store at some point in the indistinct future. We're reading and playing piano and painting like crazy. Life is really, really good!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More language development

Nora continues to express new and more complex thoughts, as evidenced by the previous post. Another happened on the way to the soccer field. We had agreed that since we were late, I would carry Nora from the car so we could go a little faster. As we were walking, Nora, carrying the water bottle, said "When we get to the field, then I will have a drink." Not earth-shaking, but I noticed the complex sentence construction. Also, I hadn't quite realized that she understood where we were going as "the field" - sure, it's how I think of it after half a lifetime of Ultimate Frisbee, but she just went there the first time last week.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I had been away on retreat all weekend, and there wasn't much sleep to be had at the retreat, or before it if truth be told. Today was wonderful in that I was back with the girls, and long because we were all so tired and kind of grouchy.

We were running an errand before Fiona and Nora went to soccer with Ian when the girls broke out into some uncharacteristically grouchy issues about not caring to share a plastic dinosaur. It may have been the sleep deprivation, but I was stunned.

"Whoa there," I cautioned, "That's not very loving talk back there. Holy cow! Your Dad and I don't use language like that, do we?" I was trying to figure out the model for that agitated, non-sharing sound.

Nora knew the answer, and she answered me reproachfully. "Yes, you speak this language. And sometimes it is not very nice."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Honk, honk!

Tonight we drove out to run an errand as a family before dinner, and on the way a semi driver honked the horn at us. Nora covered up her ears in horror, and Fiona asked us why that big truck honked at us. I assured her that he probably thought they would enjoy it.

"When I was a little girl I used to always try to get the semi drivers to honk their horns by pulling my arm down like this, as if I were honking my big rig horn," I assured her.

Fiona gaped incredulously. "Why?!" she asked. I wasn't sure I had a real answer, but guessed that it was because it was vaguely exciting to do so. I asked Ian if he used to do the same thing, and he nodded in assent.

Right about then Nora piped up from the backseat-- hands still over her ears. "When I was little, I thought it was too loud."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Does this make me a soccer mom?

Fiona took her very first soccer class today at our local university. They offer a free six-week program, complete with free shirt, shorts, soccer ball, and one hour lessons with university soccer players.

It was a little bewildering to watch a bunch of mostly-newbie soccer players get on the field immediately, but fun too. After a somewhat bumpy start, Fiona got rolling and even ended up with a head bonk complete with swelling as a souvenir of her first night's practice.

I had no idea what her feedback might be after the alternately-tearful hour, but lo and behold! Soccer is her favorite sport! She wishes she could do it every night! She has basically no idea how the game is played yet, or anyone's name save her coach's, but she loved racing around on the field and is completely starry-eyed about her new soccer ball and uniform. Life is truly good.

Now I guess it's time to get some library books so somebody in this house can figure out how in the heck to play soccer. This "soccer mom" has no doggone clue.

Minty-fresh math

Fiona and I were knee deep in number bonds this morning. Once we finished drawing some more ways to reach the number 10, we were going to use dominoes to "make tens" in a game with Nora.

In the meantime, however, Nora had amused herself by finding a box of Creme de Menthe Altoids that I had picked up for Ian as a treat at the grocery. I thought Ian might be amused by the new flavor; but as it turns out, Nora is almost always more captivated by treats than Ian. I have recently had to cull almost everything I need out of my purse because she can often find new and unusual ways to reach and get into it when people are otherwise occupied.

When she brought them to me, I figured the best way to keep her out of them in the future might be to let her taste one, so I offered one to each child. What I didn't anticipate was Nora immediately chomping down on hers, and Fiona following suit.

Nora continued to chew blandly for a good long while, but Fiona's eyes quickly began to water, and the corners of her mouth began to show subtle signs of distress. "They're curiously strong, aren't they?" I quipped. "Just swallow it once you've chewed it up, and we'll see how you're doing."

Fiona requested a drink of milk immediately, but I wasn't sure that was going to help her much, so I opted for The Distraction Method instead. By this time Nora wasn't looking totally sure about hers, either. "I think what you need to do to feel better is blow your minty dragon breath," I nodded sagaciously. Our math games were suddenly clouded by cool breezes of creme de menthe.

They weren't necessarily doing a whole lot better, but I upped the ante by adding, "And you know, I think our cats might really like creme de menthe. You should blow a little dragon breath their way and see what they think, huh?" Grinning, they raced out of the kitchen on a mission.

As it turned out, both Zelda and Ivy were completely nonplussed by creme de menthe, but at least it got both kids over the hump. Regarding Altoids:

Fiona: "I don't want to eat one of those ever again."
Nora: "Can I have another one?"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dinnertime zzzs

We had visitors for much of the day today, and Nora consequently missed her nap. This used to happen a lot at lunch time; now it's mostly dinnertime on a no nap day.

Finally, I had to give her a place to rest her head so she would let herself go to sleep.

Just Nora

Jen realized after the last blog post that there wasn't a picture of just Nora since we went blueberry picking, so she took some today. Here's a good one.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Nora was sitting in my lap yesterday reminiscing. She is doing a lot of 'reminiscing' lately; as in, "When I was a gwown-up, I used to wun awound." She also 'remembers' having a loose pointy tooth, just like her sister has had some loose teeth lately.

The memory she was describing in my lap yesterday was recent and bittersweet though. She said, "Wemembuh when I was a baby and I used to nuss?" I assured her that I did, and that in fact our very chair used to be one of our favorite nursing hangouts. "But we quit nursing a couple weeks ago," I reminded her. That relatively uneventful wean at age 2.5, just in time for school to commence, was smoother than I ever could have dreamed.

Nora was reminded afresh of this affont to her comfort. She yelled. "Yeah! Why did we do that?!" Her eyebrows were knitted in consternation. Her lip was pouty. Her arms folded haughtily.

I looked at her in mock surprise. "Well, you got big, of course!" All her irritation melted away. Ah yes. That's right. She was big.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

First day of school

Today is our "official" first day of kindergarten, though I really think kids learn things every single day in innumerable, "unofficial" and wonderful ways. After lengthy discussion with Fiona's therapist, we've opted for a more traditional schooling method than we'd originally planned for her due to her anxiety. I was sad and stressed about that for quite some time, being such a John Holt fan. But I think we've reached a happy medium that will work for all of us, and that will help her make a comfortable segue into some traditional school at some point in the future. For now, though, viva la home school!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Two front teeth

Fiona is now missing two front teeth. Life is getting very, very exciting!