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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nora!

Nora and fam spent a fabulous birthday with our friend David. That little guy is a hoot and is always a pleasure to have around. Joyous little man, that David.

Nora selected a birthday meal of broccoli, peas, and homemade macaroni and cheese. We also ate cake and ice cream and met her new doll, Jenny Moon (I have no idea how that name was selected.)

Well child stats:

35# (85% and fine with height. Is expected to follow Fiona's curve and stretch that out over the next year)

37.5" (55% and normal as can be)

She can put on and take off clothing, chat chat chat, move in developmentally appropriate ways including biking, name shapes and colors, etc. Like many preschoolers her age (or little siblings in general) she angles for control but is learning to pitch in with the rest of us too. Yay Nora!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Simply Music: four month review

This is about where Fiona is in her Simply Music piano practice at the four month mark. It's not her complete repertoire; she actually can play seven pieces now, though she's still in the middle of learning Beethoven's Ode to Joy. She enjoys it a great deal, and we enjoy hearing her discover new ideas about music by playing daily. After having read Ingrid Law's Savvy she considers piano playing to be her own savvy. It's great to hear her plop down with no prompting at the piano to try her repertoire or try to sound out melodies she's heard. If I had to goad her, it would lose a lot of the power and joy that piano playing holds now. It's really exciting for the entire family.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The snowy day-trip

I had some business out of town this morning, and Ian had to work, so the girls and I made a day-trip adventure out of it. We celebrated Mass at a new location, and Fiona was looking at the stained glass quite closely since she is working on some drawings of stained glass in one of her art classes. Then we looked at snowy Lake George, did some one-stop shopping, and checked out the State Park.

We didn't go on the toboggan ride ("That thing is taller than our house!" exclaimed Fiona), but we spent over 3.5 hours in the Nature Center. We did games and puzzles there. We also scrutinized live and stuffed animals. We identified a number of birds at the large observatory window, including a very rare one- a leucystic something-or-other. Why didn't I bring a notebook along?! Aaron, one of the interpretive naturalists there that afternoon, even invited guests downstairs to see a Black Rat Snake eat the sparrow that had just hit the window a mite too hard.

We'd like to go back when the weather is farther above ten degrees. Until then, we have some great stories to share about this marvelous day-trip.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

All she wants for Valentine's Day is...

We have been reading and listening to Roald Dahl to get ready for a theater presentation we'll attend in February. We'll see James and the Giant Peach. Tonight, our family snuggled in to enjoy the first installment of Willy Wonka and the Choclate Factory, our first feature film together as a family.

Somewhere during our thirty-or-so minutes of viewing, Fiona was resettling herself in the chair with Nora when she bopped her knee into her mouth, further loosening that tooth that has been working its way out since Christmastime. I missed some of the action because our neighbors had called, but Ian, Fiona, and Nora went upstairs to see if it was ready to come out. The general verdict was 'No.'

Fifteen minutes or so past lights out, Fiona reappeared on the stairs stating that her tongue absolutely could not leave the tooth alone, so the two of us retreated to the bathroom to assess matters. Five minutes later, voila! Her face met mine with a big, gummy smile as she held her tooth in her hand.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nora update

Yes, I realize that these photos look a lot like Nora's usual, impish self: expressing dissatisfaction as only a two-year old can, and running away from further attempts at photography. But a nuanced eye might notice that Nora's bottom no longer sports the puffy look of a diaper. I have wanted cloth diapers since Fiona was born, and am relieved that we'll soon be finished with these disposables. She has worn daytime panties all week. Woo hoo, Nora!

I wish I could say we did something right-- something out of some innate sagacity or wise parenting book we read. Actually, Target changed their diapers and Nora does not like them. Ah well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Praise Song for the Day

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem for our forty fourth President Barack Hussein Obama, recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions:

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

We three watched the inauguration from the warmth and comfort of our kitchen table sipping cocoa and eating popcorn, talking about America's past and America's future. Fiona practiced drawing and printing during the buildup. Nora colored. History has been made today, and we were there for it. Life is good.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This is not Zelda

But it looks just like her ... and it's funny.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

We discovered Tchaikovsky

Our family enjoyed a delightful afternoon at the theater. Pre-concert activities allowed us to see some instruments up-close, some ballet costumes and to meet a dancer, try some science activities, and learn more about the characters in the production. Thanks to those tickets we won at the library last week, we had an interesting and hands-on afternoon.

We sat front center-- so close that Mr. Tchaikovsky actually asked our family where the character Eugenia (Jenny) Petrov was hiding onstage. Tchaikovsky Discovers America was a riveting experience that none of us will soon forget. We catch a number of exciting opportunities in town; but it was extra-special that Ian could come with us as well. Thanks, library, and thanks, Philharmonic Orchestra!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


This is how we come to the table for breakfast these days. At first the family teased me for wearing a scarf in the house. Now they're doing it, too! Happy winter, everyone.

Friday, January 16, 2009


These clothes, as it turns out, are about two sizes too small for Nora now. I guess that means that if I'm going to try to set this up I'd better hurry up and do it. Nora wouldn't do the picture in the same place, of course, but I think you'll see the similarity anyway. Fiona's were taken on Valentine's Day on our kitchen floor in 2005. Nora's pictures, taken on a kitchen chair, were taken this afternoon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chicken Payback

It's been years now, but every so often somebody or other from our family still requests this song from The Bees. Some things are just too funny to forget, you know? "All the animals together, break it down. Let me hear you!" is now a classic in our home. Thanks, Sara, for showing us yet another place where beloved chickens and monkeys can coexist together.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An historic day

Ian and I are, basically, library people. We met each other while working at the same public library; and when our colleagues there learned we were marrying, they suggested that our old bookmobile take us away from the ceremony. Of course Ian and I knew all too well that old thing was held together with bubblegum. We wouldn't have wanted to start our new lives together by rolling under it for repairs on the way to the reception!

At any rate, right before Fiona was born, some folks at our library worked themselves into a tizzy trying to figure out the 'best' time for our new baby to get a library card. On the way home from the hospital, perhaps? Or maybe even someone from Outreach Services should visit me at the hospital and create a card right away?

In the end, we all had a good laugh but we didn't follow any of those plans. We decided to wait until Fiona was old enough to understand the wonderful privilege of having a library card, and to sign up for it herself. Today, riding on the high of just winning tickets to the Philharmonic Kids Concert next week, we decided now was a good time. She's devouring Junie B. Jones and similar books as fast as we can bring them home, and she's been ready to sign for her card for a good while now.

Fiona doesn't mind me sharing her first book. It does, somewhat predictably,involve a feline. Right this very minute she is reading Alan Ahlberg's The Cat Who Got Carried Away to Nora, and they're both loving every minute of it. Congratulations, Fiona.

Quartet and more!

This afternoon we went to the library to hear a string quartet, and also to meet the character Tchaikovsky from the concert Tchaikovsky Discovers America. We had a marvelous time learning about the violin, viola, and cello and also hearing songs we recognized and songs that were new for the girls. At the end of the program, one family won tickets to the local Philharmonic Children's Concert. Guess who won?!

Monday, January 05, 2009

In tune

Our favorite piano tuner was here this morning to work over our old Hamilton. It's still a half tone low, but until we get a little more proficient it's not worth fixing. He recognized this and didn't bump up his bill by working on it, which is just one more reason we love him. He also remembered us from when he helped move our freebie in last year.

The girls and I sat at the table watching the fascinating work. Now when we go to our local science emporium to see the stripped down piano, we have a better idea of what we're seeing. It was so interesting! Now we're playing with renewed fervor, trying to see whether our ears can detect a difference.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy Spew Year!

I have always said that vomiting is Fiona's idiom, but I am the one who suffered from this bug first. Both girls followed me in close succession, so officially the end of last year and the beginning of this one were messier that expected.

We skipped some fun parties out on the town and just kicked back with our little ones this year. They stayed up a little later than usual and we had Board Game Bonanza at our kitchen table-- complete with snacks of saltines and water! LOL!

Happy New Year, friends. We can't wait to discover the wonderful plans you have for 2009, and we hope that 2008 treated you half as well as it treated our family.


We put up our reusable Christmas tree weeks ago, but between last year's Kitten Year and this year's Young Cat Year, it has fared rather poorly. Out of eight layers of prelit branches, only two layers lit up. We changed fuses, tested some bulbs, and finally had to admit that it was old by prelit tree standards. The 800 number for the tree hadn't had it listed for service calls for years.

Relatively undaunted, we left the tree up so that the cats could be "trained" to stay out of it. We made Jesse tree ornaments and considered putting them on the tree during Advent, but we didn't actually follow through. Every morning when we woke up we stood a chance of seeing one or two cats perched up high in the branches, surveying the scene with imperious authority.

Once we came back from Christmas spent at Grandma and Toot Toot's, we decided to see how the cats might do with a live tree. After all, by that time they were lying around free in many places. We lugged it home, delighted by intoxicating smell of fir and by being able to actually use something that had already been cut. For us, the Christmas season actually starts on Christmas and continues through Epiphany in January, so starting now wasn't such a big deal.

To us, anyway. The cats stayed out of it for approximately 24 hours, but this afternoon we heard the tinkling and crashing of a falling 7 foot Douglas fir. We had minimal breakage though, and while we are mourning the loss of our Belleek china snowman from my parents' trip to Ireland, we actually escaped relatively unscathed.

Those cats.