Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

This year, I'm going to modify it to ask the questions I want to ask. Because I can.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

Played role playing games. Taught third grade. Spent an entire road trip in the driver's seat.

2. How did your goals for the year come out? 
Meh. I read some older books, though not as many as I would have liked. Memorable ones: Histories of Herodotus (not all of it yet, but it's quite the read); Count of Monte Cristo (doing with a book club, slowly, so haven't finished); The Practice of the Presence of God. I made enough money practicing law to pay for a massive cement loading-dock-and-wheelchair-ramp. Which wasn't what I wanted to do for landscaping or with the money, but it worked and I'm glad of that. I didn't give up on my book research, though I didn't progress very far. I didn't ferment anything. We did do some science lessons. The basement, after a brief respite in the summer, has returned to utter chaos. However, the living room is much better and we have bookshelves!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth or get pregnant?
DOB's sister had her first, a little boy. My brother and sister-in-law had their second, a little boy. They have the same name, just to confuse the cousin issue.

4. Travel?
Some fun local trips: the mountains; the ocean; the mountains and the ocean. That's pretty much our options. But we haven't gotten tired of them yet.

Also, a real, honest, overnighter-at-a-bed-and-breakfast without the kids.

5. Did you move anywhere?
No. Hallelujah.

6. What was the best month?
April and May might have been good. Or I might just have forgotten what went wrong.

7. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A feeling of being on top of things. Ha.

8. What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 1. When a very small pain in the sole of my foot became the catalyst for massive upheaval.

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Keeping going and feeling relatively optimistic.

10. What was your biggest failure?
Occasionally losing it.

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I sprained my metatarsal arch. Which ought to have been minor, except it never got better. And then DOB tried to help me out, and his feet (which were already doing badly) got worse. And worse. And worse. And now he's in a wheelchair, which was bound to happen sooner or later anyway, but this is sooner.

12. What was the best thing you bought?
Bookshelves! Bookshelves! Did I mention we have bookshelves?

13. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The ducklings, who are somehow managing to grow into reasonably sane, well-educated and often even helpful people despite their parents' continual state of crisis.

14. Where did most of your money go?
A wheelchair ramp. Which is really snazzy, and actually improves the look of the house over the falling apart and far too narrow sidewalk that was there. It would have been nice to put more of it on the old credit cards, but at least we had it to pay for.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
ii. richer or poorer?

i. A little sadder. More discouraged, anyway. I could use a little less of Massive Overwhelming New Problems arriving regularly. On the other hand, I have much to be thankful for.

ii. About the same. Which could be a lot worse, considering.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Walking. Wow do I miss walking when I don't get it.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of? 
Dealt with people throwing up. Sat around.

18. How will you be spending New Year's Eve/Day?
Waiting to decide, once we find out whether the upset tummies in evidence this morning were harbingers of doom to come or merely a reaction to low blood sugar headaches.

19. What was an unexpected surprise?
This was not a year in which surprises were anything good.

20. Did you fall in love in 2011?
With role-playing games! Would you like to hear about my wisecracking hobbit thief alter ego? Or perhaps my homely but sturdy medieval middle eastern cook trying to rebuild the merchant fortune her father lost? Or my space-age charming, manipulative, mind-reading ex-geologist?

21. What was the best event you've been to this year?
Seeing Fiddler on the Roof outside was awesome. Also, getting to see the Duchess perform in her first musical was pretty thrilling.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
We finally discovered Monk. It's been therapeutic for both of us: DOB who finally is willing to be open about his OCD and me who finally understands what that pained expression on his face means. Also it's really funny and most of the mysteries are well plotted. And little of the gore and other ookiness that is too often in modern shows. (We tried Castle for awhile and just found it distasteful. We also watched Luther which DOB loved but I found extremely depressing.)

We also finally started watching Dr. Who. Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people who use our library, so we don't get to watch it for very long at a stretch.

23. What authors did you discover this year?
I am really terrible about keeping lists. If you saw my shopping lists, you would not wonder that I don't keep a book list. 

However, if I read enough books by the same author, I might remember him or her.

Nonfiction: Oliver Sacks. He writes beautifully about science, loves it passionately, and knows its limits. I thoroughly enjoyed The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and just finished reading Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood. I did not finish some of his more clinical books, but I might give some more a try.

I am always reading a bit of the Charlotte Mason education series, to try to keep myself in the right frame of mind.

I didn't finish, but I got almost to the end of Dawn to Decadence, by Jacques Barzun. I should get it from the library again. It's just too thick to finish even in a twelve-week maximum checkout.

Fiction: OK, I read more series fiction than perhaps was good for me. They are handy when everyone has the stomach flu, though. Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series got us through the stomach flu early in the year, and I have much enjoyed discovering David Weber's War God and Safehold series. (Even though he does info dump. Boy, does he info dump.)

Also, after being extremely horrified by reading The Three Musketeers at the age of ten, I think I am ready to handle Dumas now.

Also, I finally finished Anna Karenina! (I think that was this year. It got lost when we moved and I rediscovered it.)

Also, I read The Hobbit out loud to everyone, which was wonderful.

24. Random Memories from 2012?
Going to Port Townsend with just DOB.  Wandering in the woods. Children learning to write. Standing in the ocean. Date nights in DOB's short-lived but beautiful orange Camaro. Learning the names of birds and mushrooms. Children squealing, "We have Shakespeare this week? Hooray!" Relearning how to knit.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snarky Things I Don't Say on Homeschool Forums

OP: I'm wondering what to do for my fourth grader since we can't afford a reading curriculum. Could she just . . . read books?

Response: Of course! Your library is full of many great books for free, like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Stuart Little, Junie B. Jones . . .

SQOC: OK, sorry, while I agree wholeheartedly on your basic theory, I'm going to have to cite you for a Class B Felonious Confusion of Great Literature With Tripe.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Album Timeline

1986: Come On, Ring Those Bells. Yes, on a record. Yes, I really am that old. There is nothing like the Christmas album you put on when you were an 8 year old, no matter how many more aesthetically appealing and less scratched albums come along later.

1992: Handel's Messiah. Still my favorite way to start the Christmas season. I used to turn it on the day after Thanksgiving and scrub the house from top to bottom and get out all the Christmas ornaments. This year I turned it on and crawled in bed with a book.

1997: Grunt. Technically, this isn't a Christmas album. OK, so it isn't by the wildest stretch of the imagination a Christmas album. Still, I always play it at Christmas, so for me, it's a Christmas album. This definitely falls into the category of "if you are the sort of person that likes that sort of thing, then it's exactly the sort of thing you will like." So if pigs singing Gregorian chant in pig latin sounds like your sort of thing . . .

1999: A Swinging Big Band Christmas. My grandmother gave this to me to expand my musical appreciation.  I'm still grateful for the expansion.

2001: Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time. Back when we used to do the Great Epic Cookie Bake every year, we used to always listen to a Christmas variety record that dated back to the childhood of my mother and weird aunt. However, it was getting very old and scratchy, so my weird aunt went on a quest to recreate it. Nobody had issued the same album intact as a CD, so she had to hunt up a variety of CDs. Some of them were easy to find, like Dean Martin. Others . . . not so much. This album contributed that Scandihoovian classic, "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" and forever changed the landscape of our future holidays with "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" and "Christmas at Ground Zero." It also contributed a few numbers that deserved to be buried in oblivion, which is why I have an abridged copy on my computer.

2002: Christmas Cocktails. This is part of that same quest, being the only album anywhere that had the essential "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Mambo." (The only form in which "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is tolerable.) A certain song called "I Want You for Christmas" had a bit of private significance to me that year.

2003: White Christmas. We don't have an "Our First Christmas" ornament. That would be too sappy. But this album takes its place.

2009: Holiday Spirits. Yes, it was the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song. But I'm a sucker for men's chorales anyway. This was the last contribution by my weird aunt to my Christmas music memories.

So . . . what's on your Christmas album timeline?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things I Say Most Often, the Four-Year-Old Twins Edition

1. Stop touching me.

2. So go potty already! I'm not stopping you.

3. No, you do not need help.

4. Can you stop screaming and tell me what actually happened?

5. Please stop touching me.

6. Who left crayons all over the [insert location]?

7. See, you did it!

8. That is a very detailed picture! I can tell you worked hard at it!

9. I'm coming. Count to twenty.

10. Please, please, stop touching me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

O Christmas Tree

Last year Wondergirl and I made gingerbread cookies with the ducklings and they each decorated a few with the obligatory heaps of inedible candy and then scattered. This year we did it again and they stuck it out to the bitter end. Which means, of course, that all the gingerbread cookies are layered with heaps of inedible candy.  Still, all part of the fun, right? At least I couldn't find the chocolate sprinkles, because those would just be nasty on gingerbread.

Every year since we were first married, DOB has mentioned how he treasures the memory of the large, multi-colored lights on his grandma's Christmas tree. Every year I have ignored this (large multi-colored lights are so tacky!) and put up the tasteful white and gold ornaments I had before we were married. This year, after a friend mentioned that she and her husband have the same disagreement and settle it by alternating years, I realized that it was really most unfair of me to keep monopolizing the Christmas decor. And that the snowflake stuff was getting boring. So the Duchess helped us get colored lights and a few more balls, and my grandmother donated many colorful ornaments from her stash, and we went for full-on, old-fashioned, multi-colored garishness.

And it's beautiful. It's fun and homey and looks just like Christmas trees should look that are meant to serve as Christmas trees and not as decorations in the lobby. There's such a thing as too much good taste. Good thing I like it, because as DOB pointed out, I now owe him nine years of colored lights.

I haven't changed my mind about the candies on the gingerbread cookies, though. But at least I can pick them off before I eat them.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Happy Birthday, Somebody

This is trying not to be a "Snarky Things" post, because I acknowledge that it is unfair to be snarky about people's carefully thought out religious convictions. And I recognize that celebrating holidays is explicitly made a matter of personal conviction. And I also acknowledge that I do not necessarily know why people believe what they do and they may perhaps have very good reasons for it.

However, I note that there are a fair number of practicing Christians who don't celebrate Christmas, sometimes because of its pagan origins, sometimes just because of its extra-Biblical origins. Because somebody made it up once upon a time. Very well. Same goes for Easter.

But then, they notice that their lives and their children's lives are lacking in celebrations. Everybody needs an excuse to throw a party, decorate, dress up, have fun. So they go out and make up a new celebration. (One family always watched The Ten Commandments on Easter. I can only guess that Easter was too pagan, but Hollywood wasn't.)

Or they do up birthdays fancy to take the place of Christmas. So instead of devoting weeks to the contemplation and celebration of the coming of God to the world, they make the big celebration all about . . . me. Yay, me!

And . . . this mystifies me. At least the pagans had the humility to celebrate something bigger than themselves. At least their celebrations were tied to the seasons God made. How is stuff made up today inherently superior to the celebrations that have been held by the saints through the ages?

On the one hand, I can better appreciate the Christians who decide to start celebrating Jewish holidays, because at least they are real holidays. On the other hand, I wouldn't feel too comfortable getting carried away with it because it just seems like poor etiquette--like the Sons of Italy crashing the Leif Erikson Day parade.

No, the traditional Christian holidays are not commanded by God, nor are they untainted by any outside influence. But neither is anything that is going to be made up to take their place. And I, for one, am thankful for the chance to join hands with the saints of all times and places and throw a big party because God came here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting to Know You

Carrie at Reading to Know is doing a "Getting to Know You" post, and although she probably already knows more about me than she wants to (including my incredible talents at exploding hard-boiled eggs), I thought I would participate since it's also my birthday and therefore I should spend some time talking about myself. 

1. Do you attend church and, if so, what denomination are you a part of?

We attend an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregation. I never saw myself as part of the mainline, but this particular church, anyway, is one that is all about Jesus giving his life for ours and being ready to share that. (And not about us showing everyone how great we are, or measuring up to somebody's standard, or trying to take over the world politically, or what not.) Ours is a rural congregation that may be a bit more conservative than the denomination at large; there are some social issues that just don't get talked about.

There are some kids besides ours and the people who don't have young kids are universally accepting of kids as kids and let them be part of the life of the church, not sequestered off. There's room for people who are struggling with doubts or don't have it all together. And it's liturgical (in a relaxed way with a variety of music) and I find I have a raw need for that; for hearing, every week, "God, in Christ, forgives you all your sins," and "The body of Christ, broken for you."

2. Do you home school/use the public system or enroll your kids in private school? Any particular reason why?
We homeschool. Why? People have been asking that lately. Life has been very stressful and the question comes up, "Wouldn't it be easier to put them in school?"

Well, no, I don't think so. I could be wrong. But I would have to drag them all out of bed on time and have them dressed (in clothes that weren't their favorite worn-to-rags-and-stained) and find shoes and get them on and then the twins are too young for school so either I would still be stuck at home all day with preschoolers (which is a fate I would do almost anything to avoid experiencing again) or we would have to pay to put them in preschool and I'd have to get them there, too. And Deux would HATE school. (Deux hates switching gears to go places he loves, and I can't imagine that he would love a noisy classroom with 25 other 6 and 7-year-olds, where his inability to pay attention to thoughts outside his head would become acutely problematic and his ability to work out negative numbers and division by fractions would be completely overlooked.) And then I would have to pick them up again and they'd be tired and cranky and I'd have to make them do homework (much of which I would probably find boring and a waste of time) and help them with fundraisers and stuff.

The truth is, I'm a better tutor than a mother, and the thought of giving up the only part of motherhood that I have some comfort and talent with is not appealing to me.

3. How long have you been married? How many kids do you have, or want to have? Have you ever thought of adopting, or have you? 
DOB and I have been married nine years. We have four kids. Four is a good number. I think the topic of adoption came up once, three weeks after we were married and two weeks before we discovered the Duchess was on the way. Ever since, we have more than had our hands full with our biological offspring, so we have never seriously considered messing up somebody else's kids.

4. What is your greatest personality strength? Weakest?
 Ha! I picked this one out and I am drawing a blank.

Probably my curiosity. I am interested in pretty much everything. (Well, except for things that interest normal people, like sports or shopping or dogs.) Nothing energizes me like something new to think about, find out about, or try out.

By the same token, my greatest weakness is probably that I quickly overload and then I freeze.  Which is why I spent forty-five minutes in the back of Fred Meyer on Saturday looking for the electronics section, somehow having missed on my previous 167 visits to the store that the electronics section was Right Out Front next to the checkout. Yeah. Shopping is not a good thing for me. Too many options.

5. What do you like best about your family?
I like that we are all completely, bizarrely, weirdly imaginative. Everything is a story. Something too strange to even reduce to writing is usually going on in the living room: drawings of evil mermaids, battles between plants and zombie ninjas, school with pirates. Meanwhile the grownups are reading or writing fantasy or sci-fi or developing their GURPS characters.

6. What is your favorite thing about where you live (country, neighborhood, etc.)? Least? Favorite? I don't know. I love water. I love mountains. I love lots and lots of trees. I even love rain. I like our little town that's close to the big city but not too close.

One thing I don't love is the lack of sidewalks close to our house. It's very hard to walk in the dark, and this time of year, dark is the only time I have to walk.

7.  What is your idea of the perfect day?
No schedule. Nowhere to go. The fridge already stocked with food. A very long walk in the woods. A stack of books to read. Some games. Nobody crying or needing wiped.

This is a picture of me doing something usual--trying to take care of both the twins at once and dropping things. The only thing not usual is that my hair is looking unusually restrained.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Christmas Spirit

Once upon a time I always, always spent the day after Thanksgiving playing Christmas music, deep-cleaning the house and dragging out the Christmas decorations. When my parents and other braver souls returned from the sales, if I was doing well, I could be ready to put up the tree.

Now I think the best way to spend the day after Thanksgiving is sleeping in. Probably the day after that, too. I will never go to the sales, not unless they do not involve other people, noise, movement, and lights. The Christmas decorations will be up eventually, and the house won't be clean for five minutes together no matter what I do. I may dig out Christmas music, but I still haven't figured out where I keep it.

Instead, I offer for your pre-Advent reading pleasure a very short story I wrote last year.


The Christmas Spirit

Emily stirred a third spoonful of honey into her peppermint tea. Gran raised an eyebrow and passed the plate of cookies again.

“Now, Emily, I sent for you for three reasons. First, although I haven’t told anyone yet, particularly your mother, the doctor says I’m about to keel over at any moment. I haven’t got much time, so pay attention. Second, you’re old enough to stick to your guns and young enough to be excused eccentricity. Third, you may, just possibly, take me seriously.”

Emily tried to drink the tea and burnt her tongue again. She set the cup down and watched for a moment to see if Gran would drop dead. When she didn’t, Emily asked, “Seriously about what?”

“I’m going to teach you how to have a proper Christmas. We’ll have to work out distances and angles so you can recreate it in a different house, as your father will undoubtedly sell this place the second I croak. If you do all the work, you’re more likely to remember when you have to do the ritual yourself.”

“Ritual? What do you mean, ritual?”

“The Christmas ritual, dearie. Did you think the Christmas spirit was just a metaphor? Or that it happened by magic? Well, it does happen by magic, that’s the point, but magic is hard work, dearie, and don’t you forget it. Now go get the red box second from the left on the right side of the attic.”

Emily stuffed the cookie in her mouth and did as she was told. When Gran called you “dearie,” the business end of her cane was not likely to be far behind.

It took the better part of the next two hours to get the box fully unpacked, each item correctly positioned, and for Gran to explain the significance and history of each tinsel-wrapped angel and tacky crocheted snowman. Much was revealed.

“So that’s why the fruitcake! I wondered why we always have it even though no one ever eats it.”

“Spirits don’t have tastebuds. But they do like tradition. It makes particularly good compost, later.”

At last they sat down in the middle of the arrangement and Emily tried the tea again. It was ice cold now, and disgustingly sweet.

“How did you learn all this, Gran?” she finally dared to ask.

“That, I’m not telling. Some stories are not fit for young girls. Suffice it to say you are very lucky to learn all this in a cozy afternoon with your Gran.” She winked, a little maliciously.

“Now for the incantation,” Gran said, “Listen closely, it’s not hard, but it can’t be repeated more than once a year.” She began to chant. Emily listened. It sounded a bit like a Christmas carol, only with the words a bit off, but she couldn’t be sure because Gran couldn’t carry a tune.

By the end of the chant Gran’s singing was as smooth as her Rosemary Clooney records, and an inexplicable glow had driven back the gloom of the winter afternoon. Emily tasted her tea again: it was perfectly warm, and just sweet enough. The room sat in golden quiet for a moment.



“What if you didn’t summon the Christmas Spirit?”

“Well, it might show up uninvited. You don’t want that. Spirits can be pretty nasty when they feel snubbed. But at best you’d be without it, and then what would happen? Uncle Al would get drunk and smash half the glasses, your mother would lecture everyone on everything, and your Treadwell cousins would never lift their eyes from their computer thingies. Vanessa’s boyfriend would be scared off for good and she’ll never get another chance, poor girl.”

“So that’s why you do it all the same every year.”

“Pretty much, pretty much.”

Emily drank her perfect tea and then ventured one more question. “Is the Santa toilet lid cover part of the ritual?”

Grandma chuckled. “No, that’s just to annoy your Aunt Vicky. She hates that kind of thing, but thanks to the Spirit she can’t do a thing about it.” Grandma sighed, closed her eyes, and then suddenly slumped in her chair.

Emily rose and shrieked, just a little. Grandma opened one eye and grinned.

“Fooled you, didn’t I? Well, I’m not dead yet. Now, you’re too young and I’m too old to worry about calories, so what say we have another round of cookies?”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Growth Spurts

Once upon a time, I could pretty much count on having leftovers enough for lunch. I cooked the pot or pan full, and there they were--leftovers. Security blanket for cooks.

Now I usually have to set some aside to scrounge a lunch for DOB. Even the cooked vegetables go faster than they used to go. (Of course, that is partially because I have been studying how to cook them better. Try melting a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan, then tossing in cauliflower florets, minced garlic, and bread crumbs and baking until tender at 375. The kids were eating it like popcorn. Next time I'll have to make two heads.)

They keep growing, yes they do. Two weeks ago Dash's drawings were elaborate squiggles that only he could decipher and he had no interest in the alphabet other than the first letter of his name. This week they suddenly became clear representations: people, boats, houses. He fills pages of them. He wants to write letters and rejoice in their sounds. He wants to write his name, all seven letters of it. Which has interested Dot in writing her whole name, not just her two-letters-repeated nickname.

Deux, who a few weeks ago was protesting that he did not like reading and refused to pick up much besides comic books, was glued to The Horse and His Boy yesterday. Duchess insisted she had already read all the books on our shelves, but conceded that she hadn't finished the Anne books so maybe she will go there next.

I like it. Except for the lack of leftovers. Maybe I should get bigger pans.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In Which I Rant About Something That Is Probably Nothing

Deux found a very cute little graphic novel about a robot at the library today and I let him bring it home. I prelooked it (there were no actual words involved) and I doubt anything in it will damage him. But it still bugged me.

The story line is that this dog makes a robot from a kit and they are best buds and do fun things together and then the robot goes swimming and gets too rusted up to go home from the beach. After a while the dog gets a book on robot repair and tries to go back to the beach and rescue the robot, but it's closed for the season. So he goes home and tries to play with other things and finally gets a new robot kit. Meanwhile the robot daydreams of being rescued and gets scavenged for parts and finally hauled off for scraps. There his few remaining parts are found by a raccoon, who turns him back into a cool radio robot. In the final scenes, the radio robot sees his original dog friend walking by with his new robot, and he turns on the radio and plays them a tune as they pass.

Message, as far as I can tell: Relationships are fleeting. Enjoy but move on.

Maybe it's silly. I mean, nobody says a robot gets a till-death-do-us-part vow. But surely even a robot deserves a little more perseverance. Fight for your friend, little dog! Climb the fence! Borrow a boat! Don't just walk away and find someone new!

Then again, maybe it's not so silly. How can we raise children to be loyal and faithful, to be capable of permanent relationships, without holding it up to them as an ideal when they are too young to be cynical and jaded? So much of modern's children books seem to be an effort to prepare children for life by lowering their expectations; by smashing idols that have never had time to be built.

Maybe I'll just make sure he checks out Horton Hatches An Egg next week.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Things That Are Awesome

Our library. I hear a lot of griping about libraries being turned into strictly realms of multimedia and series books about digestive difficulties, but ours is still awesome. They have the entire Wizard of Oz series in hardcover reprints. They have the Melendys and the Moffats and Freddy the Pig and Tintin and Asterix. When I request a weird, obscure book they usually go right out and buy it. (Like The Servile State by Hillaire Belloc and On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. Not that I have actually finished either yet. But now I can.)

Their multimedia isn't shabby either, with lots of retired TV shows (DOB and I never start watching anything until it's had its final season) and old movies and new movies and audio CDs of all kinds of classic children's books.

And they have cool programs (like the one demonstrating the difference between stage and real combat) and cozy chairs and toys in the children's section and a view of the bay and mermaids and pirate ships on the walls of the bathrooms.

The children's doctor and everybody else in the office. We know all too well how many doctors there are who don't talk; or who don't listen; or who can't tell anything without several hundreds' of dollars worth of tests and then stare blankly at you. The children's pediatrician is none of these. He listens, he respects the knowledge, instincts and decisions of parents, he does a thorough hands-on check and knows what he is looking for. When Dash needed an IV, he came over to check on him multiple times. He has a great sense of humor and the kids love him (when they're well, which is usually the only time we see him). He makes great book and movie recommendations and wants us to study Latin. His nurse is wonderful, too, and the nurses on the needle-poking side of the building and even the people at the pharmacy down the hall all bent over backwards to get a sick little boy home as soon as they could.

Role-playing games. Where have they been all my life? (Categorized as demonic, that's where.) It's somewhere in between playing for grownups and novel writing for undisciplined people. DOB, Bookworm, Rocketboy and I have just about finished a trial Dungeons and Dragons campaign and are going to try GURPS next. (Something with camels--I think my character will be the daughter of a ruined merchant). I admit, I find combat a bit tedious and keep falling asleep, but I think that will get better as we have more of it figured out.

I noticed that on a list of things to have done in a lifetime that I posted on the blog a very long time ago "Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight" was listed. I still haven't done that, but I think 4 hours should count when you have small children. And always start falling asleep at ten o'clock.

Pumpkin pie, if you add molasses.

A quiet rainy Sunday afternoon with a stack of books and a laptop.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Statements by Dot

"I wish there was a thing called a tornado so that I could see what it was. Even though it is horrible."

"That terrible pain is coming to my stomach again, which means that I am getting hungry."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Late As Usual

It is the time of year when the Great Halloween Debate is over, which means it's time for me to post on it.

I refrained myself from the Snarky Homeschool Forum Post when a lady said, "I just don't know how to explain to my four year old that dressing up and getting candy is Satanic," by answering, "You're having this trouble because it's not."

I don't even have a problem per se with ghouls and ghosts--we can celebrate Jesus' victory over the forces of death and hell by mocking them, it seems to me. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. However, nobody here is really into that, so it's a non-issue for now.

I have discovered, though, that we are fair-weather Halloween celebrators. Back in Cincinnati we lived in a cozy little neighborhood with sidewalks, Halloween was usually dry and often still rather warm, and it didn't get dark until after dinner at least. It was the perfect time to be out and greeting the neighbors. DOB's boss also had a big family Halloween party that was always a blast.

Here, it's pitch dark and pouring rain and our neighborhood has no sidewalks, just ditches and trucks running by at forty miles an hour. This makes trick or treating entirely unpleasant and the only suitable costumes are Flood Response Team and Fisherman in Hipwaders.

So we have become church carnival attenders, which allows greater variety in costumes and stocks us up with enough candy to last until Christmas. (I use it as a simple bribe, especially for the twins: Get dressed ALL BY YOURSELF and you can have a piece.)

We might have had a trick-or-treater at our house, but it's hard to tell. Nobody knows which is our front door, so by the time we answer all the doors, whoever it was and wherever they were, they have given up and gone away.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The State of Things

It's been a bit crazy, though at least no one has had the flu.

We instituted dire threats (my purse is full of socks and rubber bands) and they are doing better at keeping hands out of mouths. We'll see how long it works.

DOB's feet continue poorly, rapidly followed by the rest of him, and he is now waiting on the insurance company to approve and the doohickey companies to make braces and a shiny new wheelchair so that he can get around again under his own power and hopefully build strength back.

In the meantime, to keep the case load from completely exploding, I've been spending more time at his office. I'm trying to get case management software set up and do random miscellaneous research and drafting projects of the variety that he hates and I love. It works out fairly well, although perhaps I should stop trying to Keep School On Schedule at the same time. Still, it's something we'd like to make work long-term, so maybe I shouldn't.

We finished sorting through the books and now have all the books we want to keep on the shelves. It is a very happy thing. Until we get more books.

The children are planning to go to a church carnival tonight and have, as usual, assembled their own costumes out of things they found in the basement. Someday I hope my children remember me for encouraging their initiative, creativity and independence. That is, I hope they don't remember me for never doing creative things for them.

And in related news (that is, news of relatives), Toolboy's recovery from stomach surgery is not going so well after all and he is flat on his back again until it finishes. Meanwhile, Toolbaby number two is due no later than Friday. Prayers for a rapid recovery and a very smooth delivery would be appreciated.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What are We Good For?

The Veggietales situation as well as an interesting discussion on the homeschool forum that I seldom wish to be snarky on reminds me of one of my ongoing issues as a parent: What is the point of teaching children to behave?

Yes, I have to think through things like this. I cannot do something consistently if I don't have a good reason for doing it. When the children were very small, this lead to conversations with Wondergirl like this:

Wondergirl: Are your children allowed to climb on the coffee table?
Me: I don't know, none of them have gotten up there before. Let me think about it.
Child, falling off the table: WAAAAHHH!!
Me: OK, that's a reason. I guess not.

When it comes to moral behavior, though, I think it's an especially important question. Not only is it important for me to be clear in my mind why I am requiring good behavior of them, it's important for me to communicate it clearly to them.

Most of the books about how to be a Good Christian Parent take the duty of inculcating moral behavior very, very seriously, but I'm not usually very comfortable with the idea of why. Are we hoping to make our children better Christians by teaching them to behave? Well, that's patently wrong. Anything that gives them the impression they are more acceptable in God's sight because they behave themselves is just raising a little Pharisee who won't even think they need a savior. (And, as icky as I find it to imagine saying, "You make Mommy very sad when you do that," I find it ten times ickier to say, "You make Jesus very sad when you do that," as if Jesus gets his feelings hurt and is going to sulk until we apologize nicely.)

Then there are the people who come in opposition to that to say that the point of our parenting should be to reveal to our children just how evil their little hearts are. If we come down off Mount Sinai with smashing tablets, or just preach a come-to-Jesus sermon every time they slug their little brother, we may, someday, lead them to cry 'mercy' and find Jesus. While this has some internal logic, I have yet to see it be effective in practice, leading usually to children who simply give up before they get to the grace part.

I am not the Holy Spirit. I cannot convict of sin. I cannot bring repentance. I cannot bring forgiveness. I cannot bring sanctification. I am just a fellow sinner and recipient of grace, sharing what I know.

So what's the point of teaching them to behave? It's kind of like the exchange between George Bailey and Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life:
George: You don't happen to have 8,000 bucks on you?
Clarence (chuckling): No, we don't use money in Heaven.
George: Well, it comes in real handy down here, bud!

Good behavior isn't needed for Heaven. But it comes in handy down here. It's not always the easiest or most pleasant thing to do, but overall, it was given to us for our good. And knowing about what is right helps us understand more about who God is--about the beauty and order and relationships he made us to have.

Ultimately, we learn to behave simply because it's right. You don't hit your little brother, not because of how it makes Jesus or Mommy feel, but because it's wrong to treat other people that way. Jesus can take our badness (in fact, he already has), but little brother is smooshable and needs to be treated rightly.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hygiene, Fluids, and Why I Don't Care That Much for Veggietales

Some day, we will have had all the stomach viruses there are. Except maybe dysentery, I'm hoping we can skip that.

Another possibility is that we will someday convince the children that licking their hands in public places is not a good idea. But they are like the Bulgy Bears in Prince Caspian and all our prayers and tears and threats cannot seem to keep them from absent-mindedly stuffing them in. 

Anyway, this was the second round this year, though thankfully this one did not affect grownups nearly so severely. I think I had it last week, but mostly I just felt tired and icky for several days. Duchess threw up once, spent the next day moping about and sipping clear fluids, and demanded to start school last Monday.

The rest of the kids waited until this weekend. Dash got it first and worst. By the time we got to Monday morning, he had kept nothing down for four days and was barely opening his eyes. I had tried the full round of hydration tricks to no avail. I took him in to the doctor, who put him on an IV for a couple of hours. That got him coherent enough to comment on the numbers at the pharmacy windows, but not enough to stand on his own two feet. He spent another two days inert on the couch. I figured he was better this morning when he started yelling for more breakfast to be brought. He hadn't spoken above a whimper since Saturday. When he started telling knock-knock jokes, I knew for sure. Dot and Deux were never in danger, but they were still very out of it for a few days.

The funny thing is, thanks to the three messiest children being unable to get up, the house stayed tidier than ever throughout the course of the sickness. They're out busy messing it up right now. But it was good while it lasted.

Yesterday I finally gave in and permitted them to watch some Veggietales to pass the time. We have some Veggietales from pre-children days. We have not, up until now, really allowed them to watch them. But they were handy and it kept everybody from hollering while I took the garbages out and scrubbed the bathroom.

My misgivings about them were confirmed when Dot chirpily said to me at supper, "Did you know God is happy when we share?" In other words, the message is (a) we learn about God so that we can know how to behave properly and (b) our good behavior makes us acceptable to God. Not to mention the whole talking down to children, as if all they can handle is sanitized moralizing in the simplest terms. (This is, after all, a child who carried on a prolonged conversation with me about whether God could be real or not if we couldn't see Him. She can handle richer fare than "God wants us to share.")

I do like the humor in Veggietales. But the only part I really find suitable for impressionable children is Silly Songs with Larry: "If you go a little loopy better keep your nurse well-paid." Now there's an important moral.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Around the block

We squeezed in another trip after summer had officially ended but before the rains came. This one took us all the way around the Olympic Peninsula. Our first stop was at Hurricane Ridge, where we at long last got to go up in the mountains. Everybody is sketching pictures of forest fires in the picture, although there were none visible that day. (There was some smoke blowing over from the Cascades, though. Canada looked pretty hazy.) DOB had the excitement of driving down mountain roads in a new truck with hand controls. We all got to practice being very, very quiet.
The next day we had wanted to go all the way out to Neah Bay, Cape Flattery and the northwesternmost corner of the state (and the contiguous United States), but we decided it was too far of a drive. Instead we settled on lunch at Lake Crescent, which is a dazzling blue lake dropped in the middle of the mountains (and conveniently located right off Highway 101).

We spent the next two nights in a vacation rental on the Bogachiel River, relaxing, throwing rocks in the river, and feeding cows.

Then we ventured on south, to the Hoh Rain Forest. (That's a fallen tree the kids are walking down, in case you can't tell.) It felt pretty dry, for the rain forest, but everything has its season.

Ron managed to persuade a camp robber (gray jay) to eat off his hat. You had to eat fast if you wanted to keep your sandwich.

Our last two nights were down in Pacific Beach and were less photogenic. We took advantage of YMCA reciprocality, found out our favorite nature center was closed during the week, and spent a couple more hours at the beach, which, surprisingly, still had plenty of sand. We did what we could to remedy that, and we watched "Pirates of Penzance" (kids) "The Princess Bride" (everybody, minus the ROUS and Pit of Despair), and "Horatio Hornblower" (grownups).

Thursday, September 20, 2012


This whole fitness thing, is, of course, a modern luxury--and necessity. In the olden days, people did not have scales to weigh on or jeans to fit into. Of course, they didn't really need them, since they had to walk twenty miles uphill both ways to get drinking water (which is weird because water flows downhill), or if they were rich, to socialize while their servants fetched it. Still, if you were a rich introvert who lived next to the river, you could just loosen the belt on your tunic a little every year and thank God for your blessings, especially that photography hadn't been invented yet.

My fitness follows its own cycle, like this:

1. I notice that my jeans are not so comfy anymore. I realize I have two options: (a) exercise; (b) go shopping. Nothing is more painful than going shopping, so I decide to exercise.
2. I get up early one morning and do my strength-training workout. I am so together! I am strong and disciplined!
3. I spend the next four days moaning and unable to walk down stairs. I consider the possibility that there are things more painful than going shopping. I straggle through another couple of workouts.
4. The workouts become easier. I do reps between cooking a nutritious breakfast for my children and still am ready to start school on time. Everybody hates me, including me. My jeans start to fit better.
5. A major life crisis occurs, usually involving everyone puking simultaneously, or three out of four parental feet being injured. I drop exercising because I need that time to clean up puke. I eat whatever I can scavenge and I don't sleep well at all.
6. It takes several weeks to recover from the crisis, get the laundry put away, and get back on schedule.

At this point, return to step 1.

It's probably just as well, though, because if I kept going for too long, my jeans might be too big and I would have to go shopping anyway. (Of course, sooner or later clothes wear out, but I try to hide that fact from myself.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sixes and Sevens

I bought new shoes. Have I mentioned that I hate wearing tennis shoes all the time? At least now I'm wearing tennis shoes that aren't five years old and shredding chunks. And the new ones are a subdued gray/blue combination, which is as good as tennis shoes get. Apparently they don't make tennis shoes in earth tones. I also got new inserts with even more support in all the right places. The chiropractor says the foot is getting better, but it still hurts, just in different places. I hope he's right.

DOB's foot is not getting better. He has a ruptured tendon. We're still figuring out what to do about this, but one of the things has been selling his very beloved Camaro and replacing it with an extended cab truck with hand controls. That way, no matter what his foot is doing he'll be able to drive the family around and have room for a wheelchair in the back. We tried me driving the family around and discovered that it doesn't work very well. DOB is sad about the Camaro, but the kids like to dance and eat muffins in the back of the truck.

At long last, we have put up bookcases. His Majesty picked them up in conjunction with buying all the furniture for Bookworm's Seattle condo. Bookworm came over and helped assemble them. However, she prefers not to do stepladders, which left me at the top of the ladder, trying to find the studs in order to attach them to the wall. I tapped and drilled a hole where it sounded right. No stud. I moved an inch over to the left and tapped again. No stud. Then I got frustrated and started drilling a whole row of holes, each one inch apart. No studs.

Then I remembered that Bookworm had said studs were 16 inches apart, so I measured out from the corner. There was a stud right in between my first two holes. You can't see the holes from the ground.

After we got it all up and attached I decided we should have put the whole row of bookcases about 9 inches further to the left. Too late. Anyway, there are bookcases up now, and most of the books are on them--we still have some culling to do to fit the history and biographies on.

Toolboy had stomach surgery last week, and His Majesty had a knee replacement. They are both recovering pretty well, last I heard.

Organizing things puts me in a bad mood. (Well, not just organizing things. Organizing things by myself and then having to stop and fix dinner and interact with children puts me in a bad mood.) I was in a really bad mood by Saturday, so I cleaned the whole house. I usually clean when I'm crabby. Sometimes it makes me feel better, and if it doesn't, at least I can be crabby in a clean house.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sand Dollars

Last weekend we went to the beach. Most of it came home with us.

There might still be some beach there, if you go look. Maybe they dump it out of the vacuum cleaners at the beach houses and recycle it. 

We did not bring all the seaweed home. Or all the dead crabs. Each sand dollar contained a dollar's worth of sand.

Some of us liked the surf. Others preferred to stay as far away from the waves as possible, preferably under a large and sturdy log.

Nobody got sunburned and we never got around to roasting marshmallows. We ate way too many cookies, though.

It was most fun. (Except for the speeding ticket. For going 40. That's just wrong.) Credits for the pictures go to other people, since as usual, I forgot my camera.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not the end

You will pry summer out of my cold, dead fingernails.

I don't care that the back-to-school sales are over.

I don't care that everyone else is going back to school. Or already went back to school.

I don't care that the temperature is barely getting out of the sixties.

La la la

I can't hear you.

It's still summertime.

It's the best part of summertime, when the night start coming earlier and the kids can go out on the porch after dark and make wishes. When the tomatoes overload the vines and the first apples come in and peaches are so cheap it's embarrassing.

Soon the beaches will clear and the classrooms will fill and everybody else will be breaking in new shoes and twills but we will still be wearing ragged cut-offs and crocs and squeezing the last bit of juice out of the last few days.

I like fall, too, though it always makes me sad. It has its time. But there are still three full weeks of summer to go, and I intend to make the most of them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This Week in Short Spurts

Made zucchini fritters. They were tasty.

The big kids decided they wanted to earn money and swept and mopped the floor (not quite as well as I would have done) and folded the laundry (much better than I would have done. I have no idea where Duchess learned to fold like that). Then they lost interest in earning money for awhile. Every once in awhile I debate the merits of encouraging them to be greedier. (Yes, they do have regular chores they do without money.)

While the big kids were mopping the floor, the twins picked blackberries. And came in with their hands full of blackberries and no way to reach any dishes. Dash finally smeared them against his shirt.

Got one project in Tuesday night that was due Thursday at noon. Gone all day running errands Wednesday. Got another project Wednesday evening, also due Thursday at noon.

Was very tired on Friday.

The big kids went with Their Majesties and Bookworm to the county fair. They had a marvelous time and came back with quaint little calico stuffed animals (cat for Duchess, seahorse for Deux) and ping pong ball eyeballs.

Saw a teenager scaring seagulls off at the park. The children were  horrified. Later in the week, walked with the twins past a spot where litter is often seen. Dash remarked, "What person puts garbage on the ground? Maybe someone who scares birds!" Perhaps I'm not raising them to be complete hooligans. Or perhaps I'm just raising them to be judgmental snobs. Actually I think all children are born that way.

Toolboy led a crew of other family members in erecting our monster, scary, huge playset that we disassembled and brought here a month or so ago. Now it is up and it is big and the ducklings are having a blast with it. It's still missing a few key things, like long enough chains for the swings and boards to replace the rotten ones on the deck, but as far as the ducklings are concerned, it's an optimal pirate ship/play house/rocket/whatever.

In learning to play role-playing games, killed a giant Venus flytrap and two manticores. This was an improvement from last week, when it took us all night to kill one giant porcupine.

Left my cell phone and house keys next to my purse instead of in it, which resulted in them bouncing off the car as we left the driveway. The phone was found by a jogger, who returned it, and the keys were still lying where they fell.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Knock, knock

Every family with children reaches this stage at some point.

Waiter, what's this fly doing in my soup?
Learning to swim, sir.

Jokes, riddles, knock-knock books.

They have found where the library files them and they check them out in stacks. Deux is the prime proponent, but the others participate. They keep them in cars and read them off to each other as we drive, reciting them like a litany of humor:
Why did the elephant paint its toenails red?
So it could hide in the cherry tree.
 The twins are technically too young for this stage, but they participate in it just as eagerly as the big kids. Whether they actually get the jokes or not is impossible to tell. They have them all memorized, anyway.
Six copycats were in a car and one got out. How many were left in the car?
None, they were copycats!

I remember when my younger siblings found the Bennet Cerf Book of Riddles and read and repeated them as if they were a new discovery of mankind. And in my adolescent superiority I rolled my eyes. Those old things. I knew them all when I was eight.

Doctor, doctor, when will my measles get better?
I don't know, I don't like to make rash predictions.

Ah, but they are new. The universe is reborn 490,000 times every day. And somewhere, every day, a child picks up a joke book for the first time and "gets" their first pun.
 What time is it when you go to the dentist?
Two thirty!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

What I do with my summer vacation

Bookworm is somewhat at loose ends until college starts in the fall, so she offered to come over and help me with organizational things. I organize much better if there is another adult person in the house, ready to tell me, "Yes, throw it away!" (unlike the children who inevitably think of thirty new uses for it.) Also, Bookworm is an engineer, and therefore was able to figure out how to combine two old, odd-shaped bookcases into one bookcase the right shape for the space--and also how to stabilize it so it would not fall over. This involved using my hand saw and the end of  a board we found lying around and the edge of the porch and my foot. (I used my bad foot so if it got injured things would not be significantly worse.) So, now I have--at no extra cost--a school shelf that is actually deep enough to hold school-type materials, which makes me very, very happy.

In the meantime, the kids were busy with the pool, specifically with filling the entire pool with dirt, rocks, and bicycles.  They like to do that kind of thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


My foot is still hurt. But it might be getting better. Maybe.

The chiropractor thinks it's a sprain under the transverse arch. All I have to do is keep it taped and rested and in a shoe with proper arch support.

Taped I have figured out (after a few very messy first tries.) Rested is harder. Doing the dishes and the laundry and the necessary potty runs is still just a little more than qualifies as rest. But not nearly enough activity to keep me feeling like a rational human being. I was not born to be a couch potato.

The kids are trying to help out, of course, and doing extra chores (liberally bribed with computer games). But I find there is a sequence to new chores.

Stage 1 (Novelty): Oh, yes! We can definitely do that! We are so competent! We will be running the whole house for you soon! Is there anything else we can do?

Stage 2 (Reaction): Gahhh! Not that again! We just had to do it yesterday! My leg hurts! And my arm! And several other body parts I only just found out I had!

Stage 3 (Routine): OK, fine, let me finish this chapter first. And maybe the one after that. But definitely before supper.

We have been at this long enough for Stage 2 to appear.

Granted, the foot might have gotten better if I had not compromised on several things over the weekend, specifically in cleaning the whole house for company on Sunday and in wearing shoes that were not tennis shoes to church. And then wearing other shoes that were not tennis shoes for family pictures.

So now I have vowed to ignore both cleanliness and fashion until the foot really is better.

DOB has been helping out by taking the kids grocery shopping. (Which means they do the grocery shopping while he follows along in the riding cart.) It's still an arduous undertaking, especially after work, and especially since there is no way to bring a car close to any door of our house. This week he had them load up the wagon repeatedly to unload the car. We eat a lot of groceries.

DOB has also resolved the lack-of-physical-activity problem by putting me on his YMCA membership and sending me off to swim. Swimming is not my sport of choice. I *can* swim, in the sense that if I fell out of a rowboat I could remain on the surface for some time, but I cannot swim in the sense in which people who swim at the Y regularly swim. My attempts at the crawl stroke resulted in a large lump on the head, collision with the far side of the lane (miraculously not the swimmer using that side), and a whole lot of lungfuls of wet hair (my hair mocks at restraint). My attempts at using the kickboard took about five minutes each direction. Apparently I have completely forgotten how to kick. Meanwhile the small children and elderly zipped past me on either side, leaving me feeling like a lobster among porpoises. I finally discovered that a (probably dreadful) breast stroke allowed me to see where I was going and progress at a reasonable speed.

But I did swim, and it did make me feel better. So I shall persist, for now, until I can walk again. I like walking. The scenery is better. The coordination is less. And I don't have to drive to get there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Deux tells a story

Deux (arranging various small plastic figures): So the king told the soldiers that if they were afraid of the frogs, then the frogs would hurt them, but if they weren't afraid of the frogs, then the frogs wouldn't hurt them. But actually, if they were afraid of the frogs then the frogs wouldn't hurt them and if they weren't afraid of the frogs then the frogs would hurt them.

Me: So, ummm, what happened then?

Deux: Well, they believed what the king said that if they weren't afraid of the frogs they wouldn't hurt them so they weren't afraid of the frogs, but it was really the other way around where if they weren't afraid of the frogs the frogs would hurt them, so the frogs hurt them.

Not Busy

Two weeks ago last Saturday, I did something weird to my right foot. I'm still not sure what, exactly. Neither is the chiropractor. (And this is the chiropractor that can put Ron's feet back together so that his sprains heal in half the time.) Anyway, it hurts. It feels wrong, like something's where it shouldn't be and won't stay in where it belongs. And I keep re-aggravating it, probably because I strongly prefer to walk barefoot on any terrain smoother than glass shards.

Sunday morning, after walking about in the dark on gravel the night before (why? why not?), it was worse than ever. So I decided this was the week, with all the excitement over, that I would really take the chiropractor's advice seriously. Put padding on the sore spot. Put shoes on. Rest my foot.

I hate shoes. I don't wear shoes at home even in January. From April through October, I only wear sandals when I go out. Wearing socks and tennis shoes every day at home in July is unthinkable. My feet think they've been sent to jail.

And sitting all day. (Well, all the day that I'm not making sure we have food and clothes. The kids are trying to help, but they are still at the stage where they get stalled at a critical moment, like a hot pan on the stove or turning the dial on the washing machine.) I hate sitting. Sitting in a chair or on a couch for too long actually gives me motion sickness, especially if anybody touches the chair. I feel every little jiggle. Usually I combat this by getting up and walking around a lot.

And I still don't have any idea if it's going to work. It feels fine if I'm not walking on it. So how can I tell if it's getting better? I'll probably be crippled for life and the ducklings will have their lives stunted having to push their parents around in wheelchairs. I get motion sick from wheelchairs.

Whine, whine, whine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Power of Three

That is not a square meal you see over to the right. That is a cube meal.

It is Birthday Season. And this week's birthday was Bookworm's, and she turned 27. Also her companion, Edgar Allen Hippo, turned 3. If you don't instantly notice that 27 is 3 cubed, then you are not a math nerd.

But if you do know a math nerd who is turning 27, or perhaps someone who is beginning (or ending) a job in cubicle-land, a cube meal might be the way to go. Preferably with three options in each category. (I did serve some non-cubical things, like olives. I should have served fudge, but I didn't think of it.)

Next year she's turning 28 and I'm still not sure how I'm going to make a perfect meal. But at least the following year I can just serve prime rib.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Four on the . . . Dash?

Where one turns four, the other is sure to follow. It's about the only instance in which they follow each other. Dash has grown from the clingiest of the ducklings to the one who will be off playing alone outside for hours. He loves being outside, loves dirt and trucks and riding bikes and moving rocks and waving sticks. (Dot does sometimes join him, in her alter ego as Rose Redhand.)

He can be very happy, or very upset--but whatever he is, it's very. He also love stories, especially Winnie-the-Pooh, but he identifies with Roo. We tried to pin him as Tigger, but he prefers Roo--which is, after all, a small, cuddly version of Tigger. He's listening to The Hobbit and waiting eagerly for the appearance of the dragon.

He's impatient for me to buy him a new pair of boots that don't leak.

Four on the Dot

She turned four this week, with much fanfare, because when you turn four you know what birthdays are all about. And because Dot does everything with much fanfare. Her life is one long dramatic saga, narrated under her breath.
Most of all she loves to draw, and draw, and draw. What's even more amazing, her drawings are fully recognizable, detailed, and properly proportioned. Mostly princesses, with the occasional unicorn. She's starting to want to add labels to her drawings, so she is always asking how to write letters and she perseveres even if the word is "CINDERELLA."

Her favorite stories, not too surprisingly, are Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, although she has a deep sense of identity with Piglet and she also loves A. A. Milne's poetry, and will recite snatches.

Monday, July 09, 2012


We have survived drama camp. Duchess didn't survive, of course: she had a great time. But the whole getting-up-and-out-the-door every morning is like kryptonite to homeschool moms. (So, other homeschool moms, when you're feeling snooty about school moms wondering what they are going to do with their kids all summer, remember they've got SHOES on everyone's feet by 7:30 in the morning and they can't understand why you think that's hard.)
Duchess as a grubby little orphan.

In other news, we had a brief but violent cold go around last week that had everybody moping about in misery on the third. (Even Duchess, who sat out the rehearsal, came home, and slept most of the rest of the day.) I was panicking about the Fourth, but everyone woke up energetic and cheerful, if a tad sniffly, and the weather (which had been cold and dreary all through June) was gorgeous and we had a fabulous day on Whidbey Island, the children spending pretty much the entire time in the lagoon. But they did not get pneumonia.

I caught the cold on the way home, though, and spent the evening lying in bed with chills trying to drown out the sound of fireworks--and of kids screaming at the fireworks, especially since they had found the best place to watch was my window. Most of the fever went away by morning, but I felt pretty dreary for the next few days.

Meanwhile my work-work has been piling up and I haven't even begun on the basement (except a few desperate moments with a bulldozer to clear enough path to walk) and, oh yes, another birthday today! Actually, two! And Summer Fun nights (our church's once-a-week alternative to VBS) start this week! And I think I'm kind of directing it!

So I'm blogging.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

I Give Up

Christmas play with impromptu costumes

*A Winter's Tale* in Lego

Lego robots.

Why yes, that is an angel food cake pan.

The Duchess's birthday cake.
I bought a new camera cord. Surprisingly, the old one still hasn't shown up. Anyway, here's pictures from the last six months.