Our children, like all children, say funny things every day of the week. Here are a few recent ones, even though I realize they're really only funny to me because I'm their mama.

One day, I told Millie that John dislikes vehicles. Millie responded, "If you didn't have cars, you could probably ride bikes...OR have a horse and carriage [another pause as she thinks of other viable modes of transportation, then a big grin as she hits on what she obviously thinks is a stroke of genius]...you could ALSO rollerblade!"

Annika: Dod [God] made Eve wum [from] wibbons [ribbons].
Is that so?

As a backdrop to the following anecdote, a month or so ago, this is how Annika counted, though she's now improved. Note her efficient merging of eleven and twelve before she skips a few numbers.

one, two, wee, dour, dive, dix, deven, eight, nine, ten, a-welve, dirteen, one hundred and difty-two, a-welve, dour, dive...and so on.

So this morning, Millie in her usual fashion, only borrowing Annie's special number, gave John a goodbye hug and kiss and told him, "Papa, there are 152 magic hugs and kisses in the mailbox for you." (She's done this since she was two. He's expected to retrieve these every morning before he drives down the road, I suppose so that he has enough to sustain him through a long day...?)

Annika, not to be outdone, followed with, "Papa! There are 182 elephants in the mailbox for you!" Yes, we have a very large mailbox (or perhaps very small elephants?).

Sarah C.P., I think you may have a soon visitor. Millie's fixation with California-- the one she's had since she was little....#2 at the bottom, if you actually follow the link-- shows no signs of abating. This morning, I heard Millie singing as she bounced, "We are jumping to California in our rocket ship." Just so you know, she eats just about anything and is easy to please. Bedtime's eight o'clock or thereabouts.

And because I haven't taken any pictures in a couple of weeks, here's a moving picture.

I taped Annie on the sly while she was praying a few months ago. She prayed the same prayer nearly every single day, with minor additions depending on what had occurred before we sat down. The first and last parts are snipped off because I didn't want to be discovered, and here's a transcription for those who don't understand Nixie-speak, "Dear Dod, hank you dor a dood [food] in wont [front] of us, an' hank you dor a birds dat chirp...an' de odder anmals. An' please put one odder belly in my mama's belly. An' Aaamen."

Now that I do have another belly in my belly, she thanks God for the baby. Go figure.


Give Thanks to the Father

We're on the Island, about ready to sit down for a feast together, and I am silently singing.

This may not be the most elegant expression of thanks to Almighty God, but it's the one I sang all day yesterday and that runs through my mind right now, so I share it with you.

Like most lyrics, these words are better sung than read, and even if you're not a Dylan fan, it's worth a listen.

May you and I thank our Father in all places and in all circumstances, for He is worthy.

-Bob Dylan

Father of night, Father of day,
Father, who taketh the darkness away,
Father, who teacheth the birds to fly,
Builder of rainbows up in the sky,
Father of loneliness and pain,
Father of love and Father of rain.

Father of day, Father of night,
Father of black, Father of white,
Father, who built the mountains so high,
Who shapeth the cloud there up in the sky,
Father of time and Father of dreams,
Father who turneth the rivers and streams.

Father of grain, Father of wheat,
Father of cold and Father of heat,
Father of air and Father of trees,
Who dwells in our hearts and our memories,
Father of minutes, Father of days,
Father of whom we most solemnly praise.

And now I have to go make the gravy-- my sole, meager contribution to the luscious smells filling the house.


For You

My faithful few.

I have no good reason for the three month hiatus,
other than the fact that it felt pretty darn good.

We are well.
We are happy.
We are busy.

Fall spurned our advances.
Homeschooling has arrived in earnest.
I stuffed and ladled lots of things into lots of jars.

We warm our hands by the furnace,
from whence heat mysteriously issues from time to time.

We (I) can't write more because I've spent so much time pasting pictures onto this page. I spent a small fortune on glue. (It's good to see you.)

I accept your grateful thanks, and I look forward to visiting this spot again. Sorry for the jumble. The snapshots begin with the most recent and then are in halfhearted, backward, chronological order. This was my way of hoodwinking you into feeling as if I'd been posting regularly since early August. Does it work?

I'll update the other spot someday soon with lots of summertime recipes. (Sorry. You can save them for next year...)

Fresh Ink

In the span of this blog's life, I've only changed the picture next to my name a few times.

Here's the doodle when Millie toddled and Annika was a baby.

Here's the messy doodle when Annika toddled.

Here's the brief-lived doodle when I was pregnant with Susannah.

And, of course, I added the present one almost two years ago when Susannah was born.

It's funny looking back and seeing that the only thing that made me change my picture was either the growth of a baby into a toddler or a new baby within me. Since both are happening right now, I suppose I'd better get cracking on a new doodle...

A Nine-Month Ramble

If that was too oblique for some of you, here's another picture, this one captioned, "Now I don't have to feel guilty when I park here." Because I did. Park there. And feel guilty. (Though, if interpreting the sign literally, I was an expectant mother because I expected to someday be pregnant and I'm a mother. Shabby justification, but it worked.)

John and I believe that God's will is perfect in our lives, though not always easy or understood, no less so in the matter of children than in the areas of financial gain, job opportunities, illness, or the like. Most of you know this. Because we have never used a form of contraception to manipulate when He might or might not give us a new child, it's easy to assume that those children are always imminent. When John and I were first married, I had a few friends who were adamantly opposed to our decision, calling it irresponsible, foolish, and just plain stupid. As evangelical Christians in the West, they ignored not only the Biblical support for doing so but also the simple fact that the Christian Church--Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant-- had been united in opposition to birth control until Ms. Sanger and contemporaries entered the scene in the early part of the twentieth century. This is a strikingly recent phenomenon in the long history of the church, which most seem to have forgotten or view as irrelevant.  (I write this not to debate or poke but only for those who are baffled by the reason for this choice.)

You know what, though? Just as God can display His presence as Almighty Creator by giving a child to a couple who does practice contraception, He can display that same presence by not giving children to couples who don't. Susannah's twenty months old now, and after a likely early miscarriage, I am now pregnant. A space of twenty-nine months between children is often considered an "ideal" spacing for those who plan pregnancy as much as one can plan, and yet God, in His perfect will, has given us our baby now, rather than months ago when we expected him or her. He could have chosen to not give us another baby at all, and with His help, we would have learned to accept that, also, as a gift from Him.

There is no room for smugness or self-righteousness. We don't deserve children simply because we are open to them, and we shouldn't ever feel we are entitled to the gift of children because of it.  They are not a reward for good behavior nor is their lack a sign of disfavor.  Though not deserving, we do rejoice that He has given another! We pray that this little one grows strong and big (but not too big) until it's time to meet in the Great Wide World.

We have a new baby! Give us a handshake!

She Wears the Sky like a Dress

Two days ago, the girls received a stuffed gift box from Grandma Owen. The highlight was a dreamy poof of blue that Millie would wear to bed if I'd let her. Annie and Susannah both received Alice in Wonderland frocks, and they love them, but I have no pictures yet.

The next morning, Millie came downstairs very early with her gown covering her nightgown. She must have slipped it on immediately after rolling out of bed, and she hasn't tired of it yet. I covet it, myself.

Pajama Princess looking at her "Very first broach." (She alternately calls it a "bresh" until I correct her.)

And here she is, looking for squirrels.

A Welcome Feast

John had to go to a conference last week. He was gone for three days, being paid to lounge in a $120-a-night room in Saratoga and using meal allowance money at fancy restaurants (hard life, that). We missed him dreadfully, and the girls made a crazy sign to welcome him home.

They also wore their party dresses. Literally one minute before John walked in the door, Millie told me that I should also dress up for Papa, so I threw on my party dress and Becky took a picture of the reunion.

Bird in the Belly of a CAT

On Hallowe'en Day, I tried a few outfits from our overflowing stash on the Wren. She was cute as an angel, but the costume was a bit big, the mermaid costume didn't seem to suit, and then we tried the kitty costume. She immediately dropped to all fours and began caterwauling her way around the house.

I then made The Funny Mistake. I took off the cat costume to try on just one more. A lady this bug is not, and she clearly voiced her despair. After I took these pictures, I asked her to say "please," after which she returned to the cat's belly and resumed her meowing.

She even slept in it.


In the weeks leading up to Hallowe'en, Millie and Annika frequently discussed what costumes they would wear. Millie remained nearly consistent with her choice of Snow White (no surprise here) or, in moments of weak indecision, perhaps a ballerina. I've mended her Snow White costume literally dozens of times over the past two years, so I mended it again in preparation, thinking that she would most likely choose it. Annika, on the other hand, waffled among a Beauty and the Beast (her name for her Belle costume), a ballerina, a lion, a tree monster, a tree fairy, etc., etc., etc. On Hallowe'en Day, Annika decided upon a lion (for which we had no costume) and Millie, following suit, decided to be a swan (for which we also had no costume). I easily convinced Millie to settle for a butterfly and Annika to settle for a bear, and spent the next two hours slapping makeshift costumes together, re-covering wings, stitching a felt belly and bear/mouse ears, and making antennae. A few minutes before we left, I was sewing the straps on Annie's costume, so you can imagine the quality of my sewing. Actually, please don't.

Those of you who've seen our glorious costume selection can laugh as hard as you'd like. Grandma Owen has provided the girls a dream dressup wardrobe, and on the dress-up night of the year, they wore these. Ah, well. We had a blast, and I can't imagine they'd have had any more fun in anything else.

Even though you've all guessed by now what Susannah became for Hallowe'en, here's a picture of her running away from the camera.

Chubby Little Bear. (Her belly's stuffed with loose cotton batting-- so much for tidy costumes!)

Solemn Butterfly. The fun part is that Millie channeled her high excitement into constant flittering and fluttering when we hit the streets and sang flitting, fluttering songs while her arms moved through the air.

Frog and Toad

That morning, John called me to tell me about an article he read in the paper. The Cider Mill Playhouse, a local theater to which I've never gone (culture is expensive!), is promoting their playhouse through a "Build the Buzz" opportunity. On final dress rehearsal nights of the plays they are producing this year, all seats are open....for free. Hurrah!!!

I was so happy. Those of you who know me are aware of my dabbling in and love of theater. Plus, who doesn't love Frog and Toad?! Honestly! With no breaks, stops, or blatant mistakes, what we saw was the show itself, without shelling out $28 dollars apiece for a non-matinee show. It was perfect. While it was a musical, with live musicians hidden in front and spontaneous bursts of comical song, it remained faithful to Lobel's books and fully expressed the spirit of the characters. The actors were superb, particularly those who played Frog and Toad-- brilliant!!! The girls and I loved it and had such a wonderful time. The only regret I have is that my selfless friend couldn't have also enjoyed it. He took Susannah home and put her to bed while we laughed and cheered. (Thank you, John. You're the greatest.)

Waiting for the show to begin seemed to stretch interminably for two little girls (and one mama) who love Frog and Toad.

It's nearly impossible to have only one favorite story from the Frog and Toad books, and we don't, but the part where Toad shouts at his seeds to grow is a definite favorite.

And at intermission, the girls sat on a red seat in the bathroom.

Even Superheroes Take Walks

Here's our last trip to the park before the snow fell.

They were collecting cookies from The Cookie Tree.

And wrapping them up in Millie's cape (Annie didn't relinquish hers) to store for later munching. Such wise, little ants they are.

Culture is Expensive

The week before we paid for this culture, we spent a nickel on Ferdinand the Bull at a book sale. I sat on the grass outside and read it to the girls while we waited for John, and it was an instant hit. Then John read an article in the paper about a play showing at the newly opened Firehouse Stage. The same story of Ferdinand was going to be told by the dancers and actors of Hudson Vagabond Puppets who manipulate and move larger than life wooden puppets in the telling. It sounded very cool, and John asked that I take Millie and Annika to the play while he watched Susannah for the afternoon. Needless to say, I was happy to oblige.

This was the girls' first paid performance (we paid the performers) as well as a bonafide girl date, so they dressed for the occasion in their fanciest party dresses.

The sun shone brightly.

Ferdinand came to life through the movements of two dancers. He lumbered, blinked, talked, and was quite convincing. And BIG!!! The story was well told, and we really enjoyed the experience. I was especially impressed by the intricacy of the wooden machinations that the actors employed--large puppets, fighting bulls on wheels-- and the gorgeously rendered backdrops.

The vain matador made me laugh.

Three girls in the bathroom. They gave us lollipops! Even more exciting, each of the girls received a brand-new book copy of Ferdinand the Bull, which made our yellowed and tattered one obsolete.

The Last Great Pumpkin

On our last walk to the pumpkin farm for the season, we took all the tuzzins with us, except for the twins. We also took our own slippery, little Pumpkin.

A slippery Pumpkinhead who is suspicious of all the other Pumpkinheads.

She also stares.

Millie kept calling from the pirate ship, "Who wants to sail to California?!" No one, apparently, as she peered from the ship's bow for a good five minutes before giving up. It reminded me of her attempt at selling pickles.

Susannah raced with no hands on the wheel or eyes on the road.

Hannah swashbuckled. (I've never seen a more petite or terrifying pirate.)

Candida led a rousing chorus with the aplomb of a seasoned conductor.

Tommy and Cassie ran around inspecting and leaping and climbing, and Annika...well, Annika had a wee bit of misfortune in the stocks.

Six on Sixth

[We were trying to sit sober and still on a jouncing train.]

I just finished a lengthy post of stories within story, worlds within words, only to delete it because I'm unable to write what this best, bearded beloved means to me. On October sixth, we celebrated six years as man and wife.

Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before.

Happy sixth, my Heart.

With God's favor, we'll continue in good company until the last sweet breath.

Envelope One

Every year on October sixth, we celebrate our honeymoon. Sometimes we do this by saying "happy honeymoon!" and sometimes we go out to eat. This year, John pulled a fast one.

He came home after working late on a Tuesday night and asked what I needed to do the next day. I rattled off something like this, "well, I need to go to the laundromatAldiWalmartFabulousFinds and I need to can these twoboxesofConcordgrapes and turn thesefourboxesoftomatoesintosauce, etc., etc., big, deep breath to continue...." At this point, he broke in and said, "Okay. Somewhere in there you also should pack clothes for you and the girls to go away." WHAT?!?!? John had been working a lot of extra hours, and he had told me he'd be working late Wednesday and Thursday night, too, so this statement completely confused me. When I asked for how many days, he said, "I dunno-- between 3 and 5." When I asked for what kind of adventure, he said, "I dunno." When I asked about the weather, he said, "The same as here, I think." I finally ended up packing clothing that would be useful in a range of stays, in weather ranging from that of the southern equatorial line all the way up to the North Pole. I stayed up very late canning grape juice, I stuffed all the tomatoes in the refrigerator, and said good riddance to the laundry. After lunch the next day, we were off!

I had no idea where John was taking us. My guesses only included towns in which friends and family live, since of course we wouldn't stay in a motel! The last time we did so was when Millie was about ten months old, so my guesses were limited to places with a free place to sleep.

Driving directions to Framingham (FRAHminHAHM, or so the motel worker informed John) were scrawled on the first envelope, as we discovered several hours into the ride. We didn't know in which state this marvelous town was located or what the town itself contained, but our ignorance didn't restrain our excitement, and the girls kept echoing back John's ludicrous screech of "FRAHminHAHM! FRAHminHAHM! FRAHminHAHM!" as we drove.

So we stayed in a motel.

Millie was especially fun to watch and listen to during our stay at the Econolodge. She ran around, laughing and inspecting, especially impressed with the hair dryer on the wall and the suitcase holder. A few minutes after entering the room, she said, in a voice tinged with a note of awe, "I didn't know it would be this fancy!" After spending a luxurious night complete with bed-jumping, television watching (!), and muffin-eating, we drove to Framingham, having been told that morning we were going to visit a garden in the woods.

And we did. We also watched art go wild, with flying saucers, ant skyscrapers, tree bundles, a log river, a grass maze, and a giant dinosaur boulder, along with other inventive, natural, art installations in the woods. It was wonderful.

John and a Pixie.

One of my favorite sections was a space where children could build fairy homes, miniature woodlands, mac trucks, or whatever else they desired to build out of pine cones, twigs, and stones.

The children were provided with a scavenger hunt sheet on which they were given clues about the various installations.

And here the girls are watching dragonflies, gnats, and frogs. They were hoping to see the painted turtles, but they remained hidden.

After much thought, I decided it was safe to sit upon this stone bench.

Susannah sauntered down paths.

She also tried to vandalize the identification cards.

Yes, they found the bundles made of grass.

They also found living things in the bog.

Millie wanted to ride on John's shoulders because she "won't be able to for much longer." So says she. (I said that she won't be able to write on her legs for much longer.)