Category Archives: Family

What We’re Up To

Besides doing as much of this as possible, of course.


Jane is thirteen and busy, busy, busy. Art class, piano,
ballet, Journey North, Shakespeare Club. The number of activities makes
my head spin but is delicious to her. She's learning her lines for a Taming of the Shrew
scene. Mastering the jump attack in Zelda: Twilight Princess. Beginning
to polish her repertoire for Piano Guild auditions. Enjoying the Think
Piece questions from Julie Bogart's Bravewriter Boomerang. (Today's Murder on the Orient Express
think piece led to a long and hearty discussion of the death penalty.)
Reading all the Agatha Christie she can get her hands on (which, thanks
to a kind librarian, has been a lot). Reading Jane Austen. Quoting
articles from Muse magazine. Making dolls. Reading stories to Rilla at
naptime. Plugging away at Latin and algebra. Baking cobbler when I'm
too busy. Crocheting hair scrunchies by the dozen.

Rose likes life at a mellower pace. Her fiery personality
adds enough spice to her life, I think. One by one, she has chosen to
opt out of the activities her sisters enjoy. She still takes art and
piano lessons, which seems like a lot to me, and is one activity more
than Jane was doing at her age. She has a small vegetable garden out
back, thanks to my mother's labors during my postpartum days, and she
spends a lot of time outside playing with bits of leaf and twig. She's
writing quite a bit: journal entries, stories, letters. Has been (like
the others) glued to the Warriors books lately. Is deeply attached to
her horse in Zelda. Clamors to be the one to hold the baby during his
morning nap. Chops all my potatoes and onions for me. Still loves to
play dress-up. Practices Amazing Grace on the piano ten times a day, as
long as I don't tell her to.

Beanie: busy bouncy Beanie! Loves to start her day with a
snuggle on the sofa, just me and baby if possible, but she'll make a
space for the other wee ones if they're awake. Just finished reading Understood Betsy;
said it had a very satisfying ending. (I agree.) Loves copywork with a
passion that is enchanting to behold (and mystifying to her mother, who
loathes writing by hand). Doesn't go to piano lessons any more (her
class was canceled due to a drop in enrollment) but is learning here at
home, with her sisters' help. They've been through the book before her.
Likes to fix my breakfast for me: a bowl of strawberry yogurt, almonds,
granola. Wishes we had a trampoline. Is learning to draw in 3D from
Mark Kistler's book. Writes me coded messages. Wishes she got to hold
the baby more. Wants to have a tea party with her friends: key event,
facepainting. Is looking forward to receiving her First Communion.
Can't help being drawn into Little Bear when her younger brother and
sister are watching. Wishes we had a pool. Forgets the job you gave her
even before she's out of the room. Is reading the Redwall books.
Listens to Suzanne Vega every chance she gets. Spends long minutes
smiling into the baby's eyes. Says she doesn't remember ever being
cooed at before, and that being cooed at is the best thing in the whole

As for me, besides all the usual mom stuff, and the
crammed-in-when-I-can writing stuff, I'm fiddling with fabric, working
on a quilt square for the online bee I'm part of. And (as you know)
I've been reading a lot lately. Not as much this month as I did in January,
but then I'm on my own again as sole adult in charge. Last month I had
my mom for two weeks and then Scott was off work for another two weeks.
Nice. Now I read in the very early mornings and late at night—on
the iPod, as often as not. I am finally, finally working my way through
Ulysses. Very slow going, yes, but oh my what a treat. I find myself staring at single sentences, single words even, tasting them over and over, scarcely able to believe that they've been there all along, ripe for the picking. Warm sunshine merrying over the sea. Birdsweet. The void awaits surely all them that weave the wind. DailyLit
tells me I am 4% of the way through the book. I can't think of books in
terms of percents, but I know I'm only just getting started, though
I've been at it for weeks, a page or two at a time. Every few days I
sit down with my big fat Ulysses Annotated
and unpack quantities of allusions, and then I have to go back and
reread what I read before with better understanding. I am loving this.

Am also reading via DailyLit the YA thriller Little Brother
by Cory Doctorow. I look forward to each night's brief installment.
There aren't many books I would like to read this way, parceled out in
small daily doses, but for these two—for dramatically different
reasons—it's working.

Have not yet finished rereading Portrait of a Lady, long way to go. Started Inkspell Inkheart
right after Christmas and set it aside: still mean to finish that one.
Have a TBR stack as high as the moon. You know how it is.

Well, that's half the family. More than enough for one post, eh!

Real Life

I couldn't help but grin today at the contrast between the cozy
Advent post I wrote before the children awoke, the one celebrating the
best moments of the past week, and the complicated, messy,
full-of-friction day that commenced as soon as the first child
staggered out of bed. The thing is, every day is complicated, messy,
and full of friction. And every day has glorious or cozy moments worth
celebrating. I seldom bother to chronicle the friction and the mess
because writing time is fleeting and precious, and I'd rather capture
the small joys that I might forget—or take for granted—if I don't take
time to set them down in words.

Pondering this, something that struck me was the difference between
blogging and real-life conversation. If a friend calls me on the phone,
I'm unlikely to say, "We just had the loveliest half hour while Jane
played carols on the piano, and I curled up on the sofa with a quilt
and the laptop, and Rose was at the other end reading Betsy-Tacy, and
Wonderboy was next to me looking at family pictures on an old cell
phone that isn't a phone anymore, and Beanie was dragging Rilla up and
down the hall on a blanket and Rilla kept shouting, 'Faster, Mama

All that is true; it was a lovely half hour, and I Twittered
some of it so I wouldn't forget it. But it's unlikely I'd have said
anything of the sort on the phone. Somehow that just isn't how phone
conversation works, or face-to-face chat, either. No, in person I'd
have been much more likely to tell my listening chum about how my hips
are killing me, KILLING me, to the point that by the end of the day I
can barely walk, much less stand over the stove, which is why my
children had to make themselves oatmeal for dinner tonight. And I've
got this cruel little cough which has caused a bit of cartilege (so I'm
told) to pop out of place in my rib cage, so that every time I cough
there's a fierce stab of pain, and I'm desperately hoping it goes away
before I go into labor because the thought of pushing through this rib
pain…I shudder to think of it.

Or: I figured out that the coughing started the day I brought home
the Christmas tree, so we moved it outside and I bought a tiny little
inglorious fake tree to replace the tiny little inglorious real one I'd
picked up at Fresh and Easy the week before. And we decorated the
outside tree—it's by the front steps—with a beautiful string of fake
cranberries I bought on clearance at Joann's after Christmas last year.
But then it rained. And rained and rained. And the deep red berries are
now bright pink. And mushy. They're still kind of pretty as long as you
don't touch them, but Rilla must touch them every time she passes by,
and then she winds up with smears of fuschia-colored mush on her hands,
and her clothes, and my pant legs, and anything else she can manage to
touch on our way to the kitchen sink.

Or: You know how Scott's car got hit in that parking lot last month?
Big truck pulling into the lot caught his front bumper and peeled it
halfway off? Would you believe the other guy's insurance company says
he isn't at fault?? (Though he totally admitted it, himself, at the
time of the incident: there was no doubt. Scott's car was parked. The
truck hit him.) And if we can't get this decision reversed, we're out
$500 for the deductible? Can you believe that?

Or: So I went to Confession today and of course I had all the kids
with me, and I left them in the cry room which is all the way in the
back of the church, and I was all the way in the front where the
confessionals are but I could hear Wonderboy shrieking. He was inside a soundproofed room,
but I could hear him. So I got out of line and walked back to the cry
room to see what on earth was the problem. Turned out Rose and Rilla
were playing tag. Which would be okay, more or less, since they were alone in a closed and did I mention
soundproofed room, and it's not like Mass was going on or anything, but
Wonderboy was totally shattered by this breach of churchy decorum and
he was howling at them to stop. And then after Confession
he cried all the way home because I am trying to ease him out of his
fixation on this one particular Sing 'n Learn cassette he expects to
listen to every single time we're in the van, and the rest of us are
all sick of it (though we've all got the state capitals down pat,
that's for sure). But he is convinced that the sky is going to crumble
and fall upon our heads if we do not listen to that rassafrassin' tape
every single second we're driving. And then Rose brought up the
question of how the seating arrangements will change after the baby
comes, and she was furious to learn that she'll have to move to the
back row because the infant seat only fits in the middle row, and
Wonderboy has to have the other middle-row spot because he gets into
too much mischief if he's sitting within pinching range of one of his
siblings. But Rose despises the crowded back seat, and she is livid at
the injustice of it all, disgusted that we aren't getting a bigger
vehicle, completely unswayed by such reasonable explanations as "with
the economy the way it is, now isn't the time to take on a new car
payment, and the minivan is almost paid off." "So we won't be able to
ride ALL TOGETHER as a family anymore?" Rose wailed—because the minivan
seats seven and we're about to become eight. And in case you're
wondering, a cheery pep talk about sacrifice and frugality and 'just
think of all the making-do Kit Kittredge's family had to do during the
Great Depression' is not likely to meet with resounding applause at
such a moment. I'm just saying.

Or: Is it just me, or are your kids bickering a lot more than usual
too, the closer we get to Christmas? And why, why, WHYYYY, was I ever
so foolish as to begin the gingerbread house tradition? Because every
year it becomes a giant sticky thorn in my side. There's no going back,
though, not after the precedent was set ten years ago. But at least
this year Jane did most of the hard part, the housebuilding. We're
going to decorate tomorrow but this is a kit I picked up in that same
after-Christmas sale at Joann's last year, and the gumdrops are hard as
rocks, and if you can't eat half the decorations as you're working on
the house, most of the fun is gone. So I guess I'll have to run out
tomorrow and buy some new gumdrops. Arrrgh.

So there you go. That's what you'd get if you were Alice,
calling me on the phone. And you would very satisfyingly commiserate by
firing back with similar anecdotes of your own. ("I'll see your hip
pain and raise you four sick kids, a doctor's appointment, and a car
encased in ice." At which point I fold. Because the cranberry-melting
rain is gone, and we had a gorgeous blue sky and sweater weather again

Life is messy, and complicated, and full of friction.
That stable in Bethlehem must have smelled like manure. Was the manger
clean? I had to scrub so much grime off the infant carseat yesterday,
and it had only been sitting in a closed garage for a year. Not even a
real garage—it's just a storage room, really. But the parts of the
Nativity story we celebrate are the shining star, and the awestruck
shepherds, and the singing of angels. The image of the baby swaddled
snugly, sleeping in the hay, with His mother smiling down at Him in
wonder, oblivious to the muck and the grime and the prickling straw and
the snorts of the livestock: that's the image we've carried in our
hearts for two thousand years. That doesn't mean the muck wasn't there.
It's just not the important part of the story, the thing worth holding
on to. The muck is always there, always here. But so is the radiant
star, the heavenly choir, the sleeping Child so full of promise and

My children may bicker, and I may—almost certainly
will—complain. But the bickering and the griping are chaff, and what's
left when the winds of time carry them away are the golden kernels I
want to savor: Carol of the Bells ringing out from Jane's piano; my
little boy leaning against me and laughing for joy at a picture of his
daddy; a girl-childlost in a beloved book, her fury long forgotten; riotous squeals up and down the hallway from a toddler on a magic carpet pulled by a giggling, curly-haired Mama Duck. Colored lights gleaming on a cute little tree that, if you squint just right, almost looks real, and doesn't make me cough.
Headlights in the window: that dear red car, its bumper restored,
pulling into the driveway next to a
soon-to-be-too-small-for-the-very-best-of-reasons minivan. An infant
carseat, scrubbed and ready, waiting to be buckled into place and
filled with our own little bundle of promise and hope.

Our Advent

Last week was the crazy-busy week. Piano recital, Nativity play at
nursing home (those two on the same day), speech, OB appointment,
post-office trip, extra ballet practice, ballet recital, choir
rehearsal, Christmas shopping. Throw in a couple of days of torrential
rains and a minor flood in our patio room, just for fun. (Minimal
damage, easily dealt with. Turned out to be not a big deal at all.
Discovering a computer power strip sitting in half an inch of
water—during the brief span of time between the piano recital and the
Nativity play—it sure felt like it was going to be a big deal.
Fortunately it happened to be my birthday, which Scott had taken as a
vacation day because that's what a sweetie he is. He was home. Made all
the difference.)

And this week? Ahhhh. No out-of-house commitments whatsoever, except for Christmas Mass, of course.

I am so happy to be able to stay home in this snug little nest. (Snug and dry once more.) I'm cooing over the pictures of Suzanne's beautiful new baby
and knowing that my turn is just around the corner. And I'm content to
have it be just around the corner—no rush, little one, though we're all
so eager to meet you. My mother arrives on January 3rd, a day after my
due date (and I've never delivered sooner than a week after my due
date), so of course our hope is that baby will stay happily put until
after grandma gets here.

But I'm all set for Christmas, just in
case. All set except for the meal, that is. I suppose I should give
that some thought. Quickly, so I can have groceries delivered, because
I'm not braving the store this week. Don't want to squander one of the
bursts of nesting energy that have put my home into much better order
than I would have supposed, given the time of year. Yesterday I got the
infant carseat cleaned up, its cover freshly washed. Baby clothes are
laundered and laid out in their drawers, thanks to Rose. The drawers
belonged to Rilla until last week: I finally made my way through every
dresser and closet in the house, weeding out, sorting, filling huge
bags for Goodwill. Rilla has a drawer in the girls' room that used to
belong to Rose: since Rose seems to stick to a small handful of
favorite outfits, we decided she didn't need a whole huge drawer full
of rejects. So whew, we've managed to find space for everything without
adding another piece of furniture, for which there really is NO space

Rilla is sleeping in her little trundle bed in the
girls' room. She still wakes up at least once in the night, but Scott
can get her back down pretty quickly. Wonderboy is waking up a lot,
too. He's getting over a cough. Could be some interesting nights ahead
when we've got a third night-waker in the party.

Yesterday we
made Christmas cookies and ate most of them and put flannel sheets on the bed and watched
Rudolph and put a big red and green quilt on the sofa. The quilt was a
wedding gift from Scott's mom's best friend. Many years ago, when Jane
was the only baby, it served as a cover for our old ratty sofa. It's
sweet to see it back on the couch and remember the way the Jane-bairn
used to lie upon it, staring at its red stars, waving a tiny fist in a
quest to grab one.

The Nativity play last week made me cry: it
was the carol-singing at the end that got me. The host of eager
children in their homemade, hodge-podge costumes, the white-haired
residents of the nursing homes, the beaming Carmelite sisters in their
brown habits, many of the nuns with fat babies in their arms. Whenever
our group visits this nursing home, the sisters are quick to reach for
the babies among us. Next year I suppose it will be my little
one tucked big-eyed into the brown curve of a sister's arm, making a
little O mouth while the nuns and the old folks and the children belt
out their Gloooorias.


Snippets, Because That’s All I’ve Got Brain For

I'm reaching the point in the pregnancy where if I'm quiet for a day
or two people start to wonder if they've missed some big news. But no,
I'm just sparing you the incoherent ramblings of a scattered mind.
Except right now I'm not sparing you. Blame it on the sweet people who've written to ask if all's well. 🙂

All is well. Baby's still very happy in there, doing a lot of
enthusiastic rib-pummeling. Matter of fact, Beanie thinks "Pummel"
would be a good name. (I guess it's a step up from Peccatoribus.)
Rose and Bean have already given the child the obligatory superhero
name. All children in this family must have one, I'm told. Apparently I
am the mother of the mighty "Airborne." I am not sure what this bodes
for the delivery.

Earlier this week I returned to my car after an OB appointment and
discovered a very large pickup truck was parked so close to my vehicle
that I could not possibly squeeze my enormous belly into the space
between. I had to climb in from the passenger side. This maneuver
attracted the attention of a small, amused crowd. Which turned out to
be a boon, because it took the help of a small crowd to get my minivan
backed out of the ridiculously tight space without scratching the Very
Large Truck.

That same day was Wonderboy's birthday. And Scott's. I think it's
awfully sweet that my boys share a birthday. And not just because it
means I can get away with baking just one cake. Actually, my big girls
do most of the cake-baking around here. This year we tried something
new: a peppermint cake, because mint is Scott's favorite. We added a
few drops of red food coloring to the white frosting with the intention
of making swirly red lines like on a candy cane. But, um. Everyone
wanted a turn at the swirling. By the time we got the cake frosted,
there was no swirl action left—just a smooth and lovely blending of red
and white. Which is to say: pink. That's right. We gave our boys a pretty pink cake.

Of course they didn't care what it looked like. It tasted goooood.

We've always tended to go minimalist with birthday presents, and
this year even more so. Wonderboy's present from us was so simple and
small-scale it will probably horrify some people, but it has been even
more beloved than I expected. We gave him a bag of these sweet crayon rocks from Stubby Pencil Studio.
He is enchanted by them. I 'wrapped' them in a plain paper gift bag,
which he immediately set to work coloring with his wayo-wocks. For the
past two days, he has toted that gift bag everywhere, pausing anywhere
there's a low, flat surface to take out his wocks and add a few more
swirls of color to the bag. This may be my favorite gift I've ever
given, just because it has brought my little guy such satisfaction.

(Oh, I just remembered Scott's guitar. OK, then, it's a tie.)

From the Drafts File

I have over 200 incomplete posts in my drafts folder. Yikes. And
that's just here, at the WordPress site, where I've been for less than
a year. Lord knows how many drafts are sitting over at Typepad. I dare
not look.

In an effort to clear this cache out a bit, here's a look at some
things I was going to write about but didn't get around to finishing.


Swell Stocking-Stuffer for Your Music-Loving Hubby

Or for any lover of contemporary music, really. Doesn't have to be
your husband. Your sister, your teenager. It's just that Scott's the
music buff in my life, so I relate all things musical to him.

And also, these are his books I'm recommending. Not his as in he
wrote them. His as in he keeps leaving them all over the house. Some
are from the library and some he picked up with the one measly Amazon
gift certificate I shared with him after spending all the rest on
crafty books for my own self. Um, I mean on inspiring and creatively
enriching resources for my darling children. Yeah, that's the ticket
(she says, hastily shoving her hot-off-the-presses copy of Stitched in Time behind her back).

Anyway, these music books. They're a series of little bitty paperback books called 33 1/3.
As in: thirty-three and a third. Like, you know, those round black
things they used to scratch music out of back in olden times. Each
volume is a kind of extended essay on a single record album. I think. I
mean, it's not like I've actually read any of them. But I listened ever
so intently when Scott raved about the awesomeness of the concept. One
book: one album: one deep exploration of musical themes and lyrical
themes and the life-affirming statements of painful, screeching guitar
solos and all that stuff people like Scott think about when they do
this thing that is so unfathomable to me where they just sit and listen to music.
I don't do that. Music is for singing, or for cleaning to, or for
entertaining children in the car, or for getting teary-eyed over when
it's your daughter practicing on the piano she got from the Make-a-Wish

Obviously, I wandered from the point. The point was: Scott loves this series of books and I thought someone on your Christmas list might, too.


The next draft was begun in mid-November. I'm not sure why I didn't post it, or what else I might have been going to say.

What We're Up To These Days

Let's see. You already know we're reading zillions of picture books
for the Cybils. I think I'm up to 76 books read so far, with another
five in my TBR pile and several more waiting for me at the library.
Saturday is Scott's library-run day (honestly, I don't even try any
more, not with the action-packed Wonderboy/Rilla combo), so I'll most
likely curl up for another reading marathon tomorrow afternoon.

I tried to cut back on out-of-the-house activities this fall, but
bit by bit the schedule filled up again. We've got a pretty good rhythm
going, though. Jane is taking ballet, Jane and Beanie are in a
children's choir that practices once a week, and Jane, Beanie, and Rose
are all in a very nice little drawing class they begged and begged to
squeeze in, and I'm glad I succumbed to their cajoling. Our
sewing/laundry room walls are filling up with some truly gorgeous art
in chalk pastels. I hope I'll be up to maintaining the art class
dropoff/pickup schedule after the baby comes in January, but it does
leave me with an awkwardly sized window of time to fill with my little
ones. Sometimes I do a grocery run during the window, but if I don't
get the coveted fire-truck cart that seats two children, I'm sunk. This
week I took a less productive but infinitely more pleasant approach and
simply buckled them into the Awesome! New! Double! Stroller!! (thank
you, Mr. Wonderful, you know who you are) and went for a, you guessed
it, stroll. Did a little window shopping on a quiet street full of
craft stores and antique shops. Bought each of us a teeny tiny bag of
teeny tiny sandwich cookies. It was lovely. And when I picked up the
girls they were full of chatter and excitement because two of them are
about to graduate from chalks to watercolors, and one of them (Beanie,
let's brag on the seven-year-old) had just completed a picture which
was chosen to go in the 'gallery,' aka the studio window that fronts a
busy street. Miss Bean was positively glowing. When her grandparents
come for a visit next week, they will have to drive by and admire the

Wonderboy has speech therapy twice a week and PT twice a month. PT
is a bit of a hike (up a busy highway to the Children's Hospital) but
it coincides with choir, and the other moms have been wonderful about
keeping an eye on the girls for me (mainly Rilla) while the boy and I
slip out for his session. This was supposed to be a three-month burst
of PT to help him past a growth spurt (bone grows faster than muscle,
so whenever he hits a spurt, his already short and tight muscles get
even shorter and tighter), but the therapist would like to extend it
for a while. She's doing some pretty intensive deep-tissue massage and
stretching with him. We're giving it another few weeks before we make
the call.

So all of that, plus my OB appts (which, gulp, just hit the
every-two-weeks mark this week, which means we are really very close to
the end of this pregnancy, which is sort of mindboggling because it
feels like it's only been a few months so far), makes for a pretty busy
schedule. Much busier than in our mellower Virginia days. But then, my
girls are getting big. Their interests are tumbling out of our home,
which is right and proper.


Oh, look, the next draft isn't really a draft—it's just an
unpublished baby ticker. I think I've stuck it at the bottom of a few
other posts.

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

Wow, I REALLY need to find that box of baby clothes I know I saved when we moved from Virginia.


One of the drafts is called "Peace Comes Dropping Slow." That's
all there is, just the title. I vaguely remember meaning to describe
some particularly chaotic and noisy scene that had just taken place,
making a mockery of the Yeats quote at the top of this blog. Of course,
every single day provides, oh, dozens of such moments. "Peace" as
applied to this house refers more to a state of mind than any kind of
sensory description, you understand.


Whoops, the 7:00 bird just cooed.
The "big noisy peace" (as Sandra Dodd calls it) will commence any
minute now. Actually I can't believe it hasn't begun already—kids are
sleeping late this morning. But I should go. I didn't make it very far
through the big pile o' drafts, did I?

Twittered Moments

I've mentioned before that what I love most about Twitter
is how well it lends itself to quickly chronicling tiny moments of our
day: the funny quote, the one-sentence sketch of a moment in time. Days
will pass where I have no time to write a proper post, but I can manage
a quick tweet about something I don't want to forget. And I would forget, if I weren't writing them down. My friends Dave and Julianna
used to (maybe still do) keep a piece of paper stuck to their fridge as
a place to hastily jot down the hilarious or profound things their
children would say. Whenever we visited their house, I'd find myself
drawn to that sheet of family treasure. For me, Twitter serves the same

Here are a few of the snippets I've tweeted in recent days:

Beanie: "Mom, if there's one thing I won't ever NOT want to do, even when I grow up, it's play boat in a cardboard box."

It's going to be fun to visit her house when she's grown up.


I ordered Jane some much-needed clothes from Lands End. Too bad I
accidentally had them shipped to my parents' house in Denver. Doh.

A cool thing happened after I tweeted this. I got a follow notice
from @LandsEndChat and when I clicked through to check it out, I saw a
message addressed to me! The Lands End rep was kindly offering to help
me correct my error. I wrote back to explain that it was too late for
Lands End to help—I noticed my mistake when I checked the UPS tracking
info. The package shipped last week and will likely arrive at my
parents' house tomorrow. But still—I have to say I think that's a
pretty savvy way for companies to use Twitter: track people's gripes
and reach out with proposed solutions. Well done, Lands End.


Breakfast at my house: "Wonderboy! We DO NOT throw whales in the kitchen!"

Wonderboy begs to differ.


Beanie on embroidery: "My favorite part is the pleasant pop!" She means when the eye of the needle pops through the fabric.

When Alice
read this one, she IMd me ROFL—it had reminded her of a certain
knitting-needle-popping-a-diaper incident from one of our family
rendezvous years ago.


I am pretending I didn't just hear one of the girls scold Wonderboy for licking the cap of the milk jug. Ew.


Oh that was so nice! Cuddling Rilla as she fell asleep in big girls' room, while Scott read aloud Sign of the Beaver to us all.

I should write more about this. I am loving our new bedtime
routine. Scott puts Wonderboy to bed first, and when he's asleep, the
rest of us gather in the girls' room. Rilla's new bed is on the way,
but for now she is sleeping on that little futon I mentioned last week.
By day three of the switch, she was on board and looks forward to her
nursing time every night. I curl up on the futon with her, and the
other girls are tucked in their beds, and Scott reads aloud to us. It's
been four or five years since I read Sign of the Beaver to
Jane. It's every bit as gripping as I remember. From my nest on the
floor I can see Beanie's eyes grow bigger and bigger as Scott gets to
the exciting parts. I know this routine will shift again in a month or
so when there's a new baby in the mix, but right now, I am savoring it
like crazy.


Happy little girls: Rose's fave jeans had big hole in knee. I
turned them into shorts and made doll skirts out of the cut-off pant

and the follow-up:

Said Bean: "This skirt is perfect for Kit b/c it's the same thing her mom would have done during the Great Depression!"


Rilla has spent the past 20 min painstakingly stripping leaves from the ficus & hiding them in the piano bench.

This is a prime example of something I'm glad I wrote down
because I would surely have forgotten all about it ten minutes later.
It was the funniest sight to behold; she was so serious and focused as
she plugged away at this self-imposed task. Yes, I ought to have
stopped her from de-leafing the houseplant, but I was having too much
fun watching her walk back and forth, stuffing leaves into the bench.
It was like she'd found her vocation in life.


Overheard: 13yo: "I wonder why mirror neurons for yawning are so sensitive." 2yo, shrugging: "I don't know."


Oh my heart: Rilla, after oohing over the fleece slippers Jane
made me, runs to big sis: "You make some small 'lippers for me? Pease?"

Needless to say, Jane did. And what adorable lippers they are.


We have two ripe strawberries on our potted strawberry plant. It’s
November. San Diego is a strange place to live after you’ve put in a
couple of decades on the East Coast.

Wonderboy had an OT evaluation at the Children’s Hospital last
month. I finally got the written report yesterday. It’s full of errors!
I’ll have to write a list of corrections and ask for an updated report,
because I don’t want inaccuracies in his file. Highly annoying.

But his IEP meeting earlier this week went wonderfully well. I think
the school district finally has a read on who we are, this family of
mine (especially the obnoxious, mouthy mama), and they’re meeting us
where we are, now. Hooray. And oh how I love Wonderboy’s speech
therapist. She really is a gem. And I’m not just saying that because
yesterday she raved about the progress we’d made at home during the
week and told me I should be a speech pathologist myself.

My second-favorite moment from the meeting: when, after listening to
rest of the IEP team group-wrangle their statements into educationese
for the Official Paperwork, I was asked to contribute the "parent
goals" and I figured I’d save time by just uttering it in the IEP
jargon to begin with. Moment of silence around the table, then they all
burst out laughing. Me, grinning: "Did I nail it?" School district lady
in charge of entering everything into the computer: "Say it again, just
like that, so I can type it in." Heh.

Favorite moment from the meeting: leaving, with my little boy’s hand
in mine, and his eager voice saying, "We go home now? Go play with my

Oh how I love that child.

On Monday, I sat down with a giant pile of picture books to read for
the Cybils. Rose and Bean joined me, and we wound up sitting there for
hours, reading book after book after book. Passing them around: Ooh,
you’re going to love this one! (They know me well: they were right
every time.) I’m going to have to write posts about some of them
because there are some must-share gems in the stack. Next time you make
a library run, look for Chester’s Back! by Melanie Watt. Even if you don’t have little kids. We were crying laughing, even the thirteen-year-old. Especially the thirteen-year-old. The Lucky Star and One Hen just plain made me cry. And Dinosaur vs. Bedtime? Rilla’s new Favorite Book Ever. Bet I read it six times yesterday alone. Roar!

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

You Know Your Blog Has Been Quiet When…

…you start getting worried letters from kindhearted readers who want to make sure you aren’t back in the hospital
or something. No worries; we are all well; I’ve just not been feeling
very talky. Am spending a lot of time working in the yard—our
mini-butterfly garden is really coming along, particularly the hundred
billion weed seeds which were apparently lying dormant in that dry, dry
soil until we oblingly began to water them. Now Beanie and Rose and I
are out there every day, ruthlessly yanking up wee baby weedlings by
the dozen. Ah, the blissful peace of gardening…

And I’ve had lots of Wonderboy stuff to occupy me: preparing for his
IEP meeting tomorrow (yes, on Election Day, because I am a glutton for
punishment, I guess), working some new PT exercises into his daily
routine, reading Mother Goose on demand a hundred times a day…have I
mentioned that he is awfully fond of the two Rosemary Wells/Iona Opie
Mother Goose collections? As in, he wants them read and/or sung cover
to cover approximately once every hour? Rilla, of course, approves
wholeheartedly—except she wants it known that they are HER Mudda Doose
books, and hers alone, contradictory evidence in the form of
inside-front-cover inscriptions to Jane and Rose notwithstanding.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been kept quite busy, of course, with my ever-growing stack of Cybils
picture book nominees. I think we have about 35 of them checked out
from the library right now, and at least 20 more have arrived via post
as review copies from publishers. I don’t know where I’m going to put
them all. We are plumb out of shelf space. But reading them is fun, for
sure. Ask Beanie. She’s way ahead of me. I’ve read about a dozen
nominees so far, and I think she is upwards of thirty.

I am posting mini-reviews at Twitter,
by the way, if you’d like a peek. More like mini-summaries, I guess I
should say: these are my plot notes to help me keep the 175 nominees
straight. I am finding I quite enjoy the challenge of boiling a summary
down to 140 characters. You know brevity really IS a challenge for me,

Speaking of Twitter, you can always look for me there if you’re worried because of bloggity silence…the link above goes to bonnyglencybils, but my main Twitter profile is just plain bonnyglen. I often post short (duh, it’s Twitter) notes during the day about what’s going on around the house.
I really love being able to look back, later, at these microglimpses of
our days. They are like candid snapshots, the kind no one knows are
being taken, the kind you linger over in the photo album because they
are so filled with rich detail of what was really happening. Not that
my tweets are necessarily "filled with rich detail," detail being
exactly what is hard to squeeze into a 140-character box, but I’m just
going to assume you know what I mean. And sometimes a tweet does capture a detail you wouldn’t have been likely to record in any other medium.

Why I Had Children, and Also Why I Have a Delicious Account

Today my daughters surprised me with a chocolate cake in a mug, which they heard about from a Delicious link
(no pun intended, but it fits) I posted right here on this blog. The cake included 78 chocolate chips.
They counted. It was heavenly: warm and melty, and even though I shared
bites all around, they insisted that I should get the lion’s share, and
I was stuffed afterward. Oh my goodness.

And they even cleaned up the kitchen afterward. Someone give those kids a raise.

Thursday So Nice

This started out as a daily notes post for Bonny Glen Up Close, but
then I figured ah, why not just stick it on the main blog. Sometimes I
really don’t know where to put things.

I love at-home days. Yesterday we got out for a walk bright and
early before it got too hot. (Except it wound up being a nice coolish
day, not too hot at all.) I’m going to try really hard to make
first-thing-in-the-morning walks a standard for our at-home days.
Everyone had such a good time. Rose took along a notebook and made
quick sketches of many of the plants I was photographing for the 100
Species Challenge. The little ones raced ahead after zooming Beanie,
and I bit my tongue and tried not to holler at them to slow
down…running down the sidewalk is a very good thing. It’s just that
Wonderboy always falls (there’s a balance problem coupled with slow arm
reflexes) and I’m afraid he’ll knock out more teeth.

But no falls yesterday. Just happy, running kids.

Lots of roses still in bloom in the neighbors’ yards, though in
other yards the flowers have given way to the fat rose hips. Jane longs
to make rose hip tea like the mice in Redwall. There’s a riot of blue
morning glories everywhere, pouring over fences and retaining walls.
Gorgeous. One kind of tree (as yet unidentified by us) has shed some
brown leaves onto the sidewalk, but the rest of the deciduous trees are
green, the maple leaves just barely tinged with color at the edges. The
bush ice plants aren’t blooming now—I am slowly learning the seasons
here. The lilies of the Nile are finished, just crisping stalks now,
but the birds of paradise are in their pointy orange glory.

Home from the walk, drinks all round (Rose made lemonade), Mother
Goose to the little ones while the big girls relaxed a bit. The two
Iona Opie/Rosemary Wells Mother Goose volumes are in constant daily
demand at the moment. Wonderboy has "his" (despite the inscription to
Jane from her aunt and cousin) and Rilla has "hers"—both books are
hers, says she. And when I’m not reading them Mother Goose, they’re
bringing me various Wee Sing songbooks and requesting impromptu
concerts of the entire book.

Usually our at-home mornings are full of read-alouds and languages,
but yesterday was a busy-hands sort of day instead. Jane and I both
have crochet projects going (both out of Vintage Crochet, a most yummy
book). Beanie found a little square unlined notebook and made the most
incredible thumbnail pencil sketches of undersea scenes…very detailed
and full of tucked-away surprises like the wee "pistol shrimp" in a
little cave. The dolphin leaping from the waves in a cloud of spray was
a thing of pure joy.

Rose has joined Shakespeare Club and since
we were finishing Act IV at her first meeting on Wednesday, she wants
to go back to the beginning and read it aloud together as a family, to
catch up. So during Rilla’s nap we passed round the scripts and read
Act I, scene i. Beanie read Lucentio and did a bang-up job, I must say.
Rose was Tranio and Bianca, Jane was Katerina of course, Beanie took
Baptista, and I got to be the suitors. We wished Scott had been home to
take a part. He hams it up so satisfyingly.

The afternoon filled up with books and games, and I finished three
picot squares for my crochet project, and Rose and Bean played Sim
City, and the little ones requested yet more Mother Goose. I grilled
chicken on the George Foreman because the pilot is out on our stovetop
and I haven’t yet figured out how to relight it. The Foreman probably
made for tastier chicken anyway. Teriyaki marinade, yum. Couscous and
peas. Everyone liked most everything, which is noteworthy.

Oh, and the pears we had at lunch! Our first of the season,
perfectly ripe, perfectly delicious. We couldn’t get over them. Kept
cutting and eating "just one more" until all but one of the bag I
bought on Sunday are gone. They taste like early autumn.

The postman was weighed down with review copies of books today (best
kind of mail day). A little appetizer cookbook I got through LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program, a middle grade fantasy novel called The Ark, The Reed, and the Fire Cloud, and—this was the plum; I’m so excited—Stephanie Spinner’s new novel, Damosel. It’s an Arthurian tale about the Lady of the Lake. Jane saw the cover and went Oooh, but I get first dibs.

Meanwhile, I have a pile of picture books en route to my local library branch: Cybils nominees.

I kept checking Google Reader for updates about Annika, who had a liver transplant yesterday. So far, so good, thank God.

gave me a piano concert in the evening while I worked on another picot
square. She has reached the point, suddenly, of being able to really
play. She’s flushed with the wonder of it: she is making music. This
thrills her. She likes to experiment with the chord progressions she
has learned, adding little tinkling melodies. I absolutely love it when
a child reaches this stage.

The sun hasn’t come in to blind
me yet this morning: must be an overcast day. Still dim in here though
it’s after seven, and all the girls are sleeping late. I think
Wonderboy just went to wake them up. Scott must be watching a YouTube
clip; I’m hearing music from his computer, and his hands drumming on
his knees. The crow is hollering from a telephone wire: Where’s my crusts of bread? Friday’s here.