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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Art camp celebration dinner

The whole family had fun at the art camp dinner and art exhibition this evening. It chokes me up every time to see all the heart those kids and teachers put into art.

Lovely locks

As you may have noticed or read here, the girls are growing out their bangs. I took them for haircuts on Wednesday and there is now a little shape to their growing-out mops, but not much.

Our friend Ray just donated her hair to Locks of Love, and now the girls are interested in the prospect. I can't imagine how long that might take, but I'm sure it's counted in years. Look at that stacked hair on Nora!

Nora's playdate

Fiona went to a friend's house after art camp yesterday, and Teresa had an afternoon appointment, so Nora got to entertain a friend all on her own. She and Robert had a blast, and Nora got such a kick out of being the only sister home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

She's lived a long time

Fiona told me over dinner tonight that she feels like she's lived a long time. I told her that she had, I suppose, and we decided to list some things she's done in her almost seven years on this earth:

lost teeth
moved-- more than once
ridden an airplane, bike, scooter, roller skates, and a horse
grown plants and butterflies
played piano
danced onstage
watercolor painting
read, written, and told stories
gotten soppy wet
been on a beach
played kick the can

Then we talked about things Fiona has not done yet but wants to do:

ride in a glass-bottomed boat
see the ocean
have a farm
ride in a hot air balloon
try a ferris wheel
visit China and Ireland
live in a castle
own a serval

Both of these lists could undoubtedly be more substantial, but it was a good dinner conversation, anyhow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

This is not how I meant to clean the bathroom

The good news: I didn't blow up.
The bad news: One whole bottle of soap is history, and this is becoming a pattern.

I try to give her the privacy she requests, but see where privacy gets me? I think she has finally outgrown her habit of saying, "I need some privacy, because I want to do something." That stage was particularly handy.

Three years of blogging

Wow! Has it been three years since we started this blog? Time flies!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Thank you, Katie, for this video of Simon's Cat. It reminds us so much of our Ivy. Too bad Ivy's allergic to houseflies, along with so many other things. . .

Buddha: he's not just for bedtime

We discovered Buddha at Bedtime when it first came out, and love to check it out periodically. It contains 20 stories chosen from the Jataka Tales- stories believed to have been originally told by the Buddha himself. Besides a basic introduction to Buddhism, there are overviews for visualization, meditation, and creating outlets for encouraging imagination during the stories. Each short story has a connected moral value at the end to discuss together, like "It is only natural to want things to stay as they are, but life is a journey and change is unavoidable. A wise person accepts this and enjoys each precious moment as fully as they can."

I originally picked up this book because some aspects of Buddhism resonate with Ian, and I wanted to share some of his tradition with our girls. But as a practicing Catholic I couldn't see anything in this book that didn't jive with the way we're already trying to live. Here's an excerpt from the introduction, "What is Buddhism?" that describes The Six Perfections:

When a Buddhist's heart and mind are fully inspired by metta (universal loving-kindness) they are said to be a bodhisattva - someone who delays their own enlightenment to help others reach the same state. The bodhisattva follows the path of The Six Perfections, which are a set of positive qualities that we can all benefit from cultivating in our own lives.
1. Dana: the wish to give freely to everybody without exception for no reward

2. Sila: the development of ethical behavior
3. Ksanti: the quality of patience and the ability to remain calm, especially in troubled times

4. Virya: enthusiastic effort, which promotes the strength and diligence necessary to progress through the boddhisattva path

5. Dhyana: concentration or meditation, which involves developing the mental ability to stay focused in order to make our actions more effective

6. Prajna: wisdom, not only intellectual understanding, but also gaining a direct insight into the true nature of reality

Anyway, we really enjoy reading and discussing it together. The techniques for listening to and for telling the stories give us tools that are helpful beyond the pages of this book.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bedtime serenade

OK Ian, we planned this to go quite differently, and I didn't have a head full of snot when we started talking about it, and our neighbors were going to be home to help with filming and execution. In the end we simply used our first and only take filmed by some helpful neighbors we met on the sidewalk when we asked them to shoot this video on our front porch. None of that changes the fact that we miss you though, Ian, and we look forward to your return.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Our friend Robert stayed the night last night. Bedtime wasn't overly late, but I'm glad they're still sleeping. I don't want to waken them with a shower since the bathroom's next-door, but this gives me a leg-up on breakfast, anyhow. Overnights are such fun!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Nora is back to napping-- at least for a while. Our summer schedule has been predictable, rowdy, and entertaining. Every so often we add a short road trip that changes it up just a bit, but by and large summer has been full without being overly so. The midday recharge is really working out for Nora, and sometimes even Fiona. Why doesn't everybody take siestas in our neck of the woods?!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nora gets my goat

Last night Nora was crying in the middle of the night. Thankfully, this has become a rare occurrence. I was finally getting a good night's sleep and didn't wake up right away like Ian did. Instead, as Nora's crying slowly infiltrated my dream-self, I had a strange little dream conference with myself about her.

Life and parenting are so different now with Nora on the scene. Unlike her people-pleasing sister, Nora takes life by the horns. She's like the kitten who can swat with her words or her limbs and have no idea how much ouch she can actually deal out. So far she has gotten away with this because she's three and still learning how things work, but also because when she's not kicking up a fuss she is so darn cherubic and entertaining that it's hard to believe she ever acted up in the first place.

Clearly our 'old tricks' do not work with this beloved imp. Honestly, Nora gets my goat many times a day-- and vice versa. Somehow we find ourselves on opposite ends of an opinion much of the time. My artificial attempts at letting her think she's making decisions when she's really being offered limited choice have fallen rather flat. And her volatile reactions to what I consider reasonable can grab my attention as well as that of passersby.

Part of the solution, perhaps, is to let go of the irritation I expect to feel, and often do end up feeling as we have our interactions. How Zen, Jen! I reached this realization just as I awakened and discovered I wasn't in a parenting conference, but actually in bed listening to my daughter wail in their room next-door.

Ian was already on the scene when I arrived at Fiona and Nora's bed. He hissed when I 'erroneously' gave Fiona Nora's pillow to muffle the sound. Nora howled when I offered her a drink. She wanted a drink, of course, but she didn't want to actually drink it. Her preference was to screech loudly, hold the little cup of water while cradled in her father's arms without sipping it, slowly wind down from crying, and drift back toward sleep. Let the cups fall where they may. It was, after all, her cup.

It was an accident waiting to happen, but clearly there was no help I could offer here. The best thing I could do is crawl back into bed and go back to sleep. My dream conference with myself made at least that much clear. In the light of day, I found a related thought by Thomas Merton, "I do not have to react. It is useless. There are much better things to do. And to react is to become implicated-- to become a prisoner of the same nonsense that I am compelled to condemn. Do not be compelled." I can read this passage. Whether I can absorb it is something else altogether.

Cats "renamed"

Nora says she renamed the cats Tape and Gorgonzola. I don't know who's who yet. She also would like them to become Maine Coon Cats, since she heard such good things about those at the cat show this weekend. Good luck with that, Tape and Gorgonzola.

Pop art 2009

I couldn't wait till we got this picture back to share it. The kids are doing a number of interesting projects this summer at camp. Today Fiona said they made maracas. On the way home she said, "Music is just a different kind of art, Mom. And you don't have to take a class to make art. We all know how to make many kinds of art." YESSSSSSSSSSS! We talked about different forms of art the rest of the way home.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cat show

Yesterday on our way out to Annie Rose's house to pick up Fiona after a post-art camp afternoon of of play, Nora and I passed a big sign that read "Cat Show." Somehow, despite almost forty years of being more of a dog person, I have given birth to two cat lovers. So we decided to check out the cat show today.

If you've never been to a show like this before, it is truly very interesting. We watched many types of judging and wandered between table after table of really striking, extremely expensive felines. I tried to take a picture at one of the judging rings but realized that the battery was still at home in the charger. D'oh.

Surprisingly, the three of us found a cat that we all could agree on: the Savannah. That cat looked just like the servals we see in the new zoo exhibit, and we love those. I looked up Savannahs once we got home. It figures we like them, as Savannahs cost between $1000-$25,000 depending upon how much serval is in their bloodline. No wonder they look like servals! They're often described as dog-like and make great pets if you have that much expendible income lying around. Then again, our two shelter cats are great pets, too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A hairy situation

Both kids are growing out their bangs. Fiona just decided to do this at her last haircut, whereas Nora has been working on it for awhile now. Does anybody have tips for keeping hair out of eyes during this lengthy stage? We are looking a little unkempt here. HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO TAKE?!

Arty smarty

Last night at our celebration with our fellow artists and families from our homeschool art class, Fiona won an award of merit for being a finalist in the kindergarten division of the state students' calendar art contest. We saw a semester of amazing student work, ate snacks, applauded other merit award winners, and also walked down to the library gallery to soak in some work by older local artists. Good times!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can you see the bunny?

We caught sight of this small, cotton-tailed garden terminator in our alley as we came home from the art event at the library. It stayed for a photo, but bolted away shortly thereafter.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about

Jen: OK girls, it's time to tidy up so we can go to the art festival.

Nora: (whining) But Mom! I don't want to go to a festival!

Fiona: Oh, yes you do! You want to go to a festival, Nora. . . Mama, what happens at a festival?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wet and wild

Fiona's sweet friend Alyssa and her family invited us along with a lot of other people to a reunion of sorts at the new splash park in town. You can be sure you'll be seeing more photos of this place. We had a ton of fun, and it was so good to visit with old friends. Just add popsicles!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Art camp, baby

Fiona started art camp again this summer at a local college campus. A morning of art for four weeks, then an all-camp dinner, art show, and bursting portfolio at the end of the month. Fiona's in class with a number of buddies, and has even more in other classrooms. We all really enjoy this opportunity to explore art, enjoy a couple field trips and special speakers, and spend time with friends. Expect to see more art here soon!

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Look at this big moth we saw up-close while we were at Grandma and Toot Toot's. After looking at it for awhile, Nora breathed, "Can I pet it?" It was big enough I thought she was going to attempt to claim it as a pet.


Do you know why our kids have a blog instead of thick, wonderful baby books? Because I never made one for either of them. In fact, I couldn't manage to keep track of all those wonderful smiles, rolls, steps, or teeth on a baby calendar someone gave me-- and it even came with stickers. Their ultrasounds? Somewhere. My coworker and friend Mitch pulled Nora's out of a library book where it had been used as a bookmark and carelessly left behind. (Good save, Mitch.)

I didn't blog while Granny was here, then I went to San Francisco, then I got caught up around here, then we went away for the fourth of July. Just thinking about all the back-blogging made me procrastinate even longer. But I miss blogging, and the kids keep doing ridiculous things, so I am back at it now.

If I never do the back-blog, then we missed two amazing, fun months of stories. But that is OK. We'll just make more.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Monkeying around

There is a new fun spot to play at Grandma and Toot Toot's called Monkey Joe's. It is a loud, cavernous wonderland for kids aged 3 through early teens to bounce, slide, and play on inflatable jungle gyms. The girls are in love with Grandma, Toot Toot, and Monkey Joe's, plus they get so much exercise they're drenched after a couple hours, so it's pretty much win-win.

Watching the kids at this place is like a reminder that it's more fun to give a good gift than to receive one. The girls are on fire at that place-- climbing bouncing and sliding by themselves or together-- and just watching them is a riot. Thanks, Grandma and Toot Toot, for the crazy good time!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The birds, the bees, the girls, and me

We were on our way to an appointment, and Fiona was talking about being in the hospital. "Nora, you didn't stay in the hospital when you were born like I did." This was a little bit true. I explained that EMTs had to take Nora to get checked out, and she ended up staying the night just for observation, but she really wasn't born in the hospital like Nora. Those ambulance drivers just scooped up me in my pajamas and Nora in her blanket and we took off.

This started a long conversation about clothes that veered off into how babies are made. Hmmmm... I knew this conversation would come, and as a rule of thumb I tell Fiona just as much as she needs to know to answer her question. I said, "Well, do you remember that book we have at home called Mommy Laid an Egg? We saw in that book that. . . "

Fiona interrupted me with hoots of laughter. "Yeah, Mom. That book says babies come out of a TOOTHPASTE TUBE!" And it does. The parents in the book make up a number of ways that babies are not actually born. But in the end the kids explain to their parents how babies are made. I thought Fiona absorbed this information a long time ago-- along with the DK What's Inside? Baby book we have which explains how humans, ponies, dogs, porcupines, birds, crocodiles, wallabies, and sea horses grow and are born. But those just seemed like funny little stories to Fiona. The inferences made in these books just seemed too preposterous to her.

I thought about that for awhile. Then I remembered standing next to the giraffes at the zoo when we first moved to town and thinking those animals seem preposterous, too. Narnian, almost. So I didn't press the issue. One day, though, we're going to have more explaining to do.