Grow the Roses of Success

Slumping next to our slim laptop is a giant beast of a thing. (It’s not me, although there are similarities.) John borrowed an old desktop monitor last week and hooked it up to our laptop. We type on the laptop while looking at the beast, and— voila!— blog posts spring forth!

Before I forget, if you’re either a Pakistani or a Blueberry, go to buildabelly for recipes.


Each year staid January and unyielding February uncharacteristically produce March, a temperamental trickster. We fold the disappointed short sleeves we wore on Tuesday to again unfold winter’s bulky sweaters and coats on Wednesday. We exult after walking outdoors in those woolen layers on Thursday to find a tropical paradise and birds all a’chatter in the sunlight. March is a regular grab bag, only we’re not allowed to choose. Since the perfect bridge between winter and spring is found in its intermittent warmth, I’m not complaining. I can only imagine how jarring it might be to go directly from the icicles of February to the taste of April's sweet and balmy air. March softens us up for spring in small doses and makes that air even sweeter when it arrives for a longer stay. At least that’s what I tell myself as I glance out the window at the present thick fall of flakes after having spent Wednesday soaked in sunlight, heady in the unexpected gift of sixty-five degree weather.

The advent of spring intensifies our game of musical chairs with box elder bugs. Sun again, cold again, sun again, freeze means that they wake and stretch their legs several times a week, blinking in surprise when I toss them outdoors. About ten minutes ago, I looked down to find one crawling on me. The cheerful bits of orange on its black shellback weren’t a saving grace, though I did watch his deliberate progression up the knob of my knee before I sent him outside.

Birdsong increases each day, heralding the advancing steps of spring. Our bedroom is my favorite room in the house, for aesthetic reasons, mostly, but also because of the noises that surround us as we sleep. Ugly stepsisters they may be, some starlings made it their nest last summer and, shortly after our move, we saw four young birds booted out to find their way in the world. I don't know if some of those same birds grew up and moved back home, but I like their flap and flutter when I toss in the night, and on mornings like this one, I like awakening to Susannah squawking out a request to nurse on one side of me, while the rattling echoes of harsher, smaller notes sound on the other side of the drywall. Fingers of sunlight reach through the blinds, I indulge in the luxury of a good stretch, while the birds in the walls and the Bird beside me join voices.

There's more to life than spring and bugs and birds, but I’m tired of being on the computer.

Another time.

Abrupt End.

Birthday Be Late (d)

John's parents are wonderful people, and I love visiting with them whenever and wherever we can. They drove up the weekend before Susannah's birthday for a pre-birthday celebration, and we had a grand time. John's mom has got to be the world's best mom-in-law, and I'm not just saying that because she spoils us so. She and Dude have enormous hearts and are kind to shower us with gifts (and fill our freezer full of meat and take us out to eat!), but it's the love behind those gifts that makes them so special. The girls soaked up every drop of that love while they were here and stored it up until the next time.

They threw Susannah a Fake Birthday Party the Saturday before her birthday, but the pictures of that party are inside a Long Island camera, so here are a few of the girls basking in the last minute-bits before they drove home.

Even Susannah wanted Grandma to read her a book.

Poor Susannah. She missed out on the airplane rides Grandpa gave, too. Then again, she did get her very own party.... and cake.

On her actual day of birth, John, the girls and I celebrated again, and Susannah got her second try at cake. She's getting to be quite the pro. I made her a nest and bird cake, but, unfortunately, the perky bird I made flopped and sagged, so I had to turn it into a sleeping bird. And the tail feathers fell off. And I didn't make enough frosting to cover the back. You know what, though? Susannah couldn't have cared less. See below.


She's one year old and deserves this. (Actually, it's just an excuse to dump all of these pictures of an adorable nestling on you.)

Here she is holding her new baby, a gift from Grandma Owen, while wearing her new dress from Grandma Johnson (made for when she's a bit bigger but still awfully cute). She loves her baby and acts more motherly than some mothers. She pats her back, hugs her close, and says, "Awwwwwwwww." Then she drops her precious baby on the floor and waddles away.

Little lips in the sun.

Zebra on the loose! I found this creature in our bathroom, and I'm keeping her, no matter the laws against housebound zebra-birds.

Everyone knows that zebras cause lots of mischief.

Remember this dress? There are many benefits to having three girls in a row, and this is one of them.

The week before Susannah's birthday, Millie kept wrapping up toys for her to open. She was as happy as if they weren't toys she played with every day, so we only bought her a ball for her birthday.

Reading a Jan Brett book at Barnes and Noble.

Sunbathing in winter.

Tie Them Up

Here are some loose odds and ends. Take a pocketful home with you when you leave.

I finally fixed Millie's china doll that my mom gave her for Christmas. Millie gave her extra loving to make up for the month that she (the doll, not Millie) had a peg leg without the peg or the leg.

This squirrel is our window pet. Millie has named him Nut-maker. Annika has named him Baker. He nibbles berries.

He watches them watch him nibble berries.

Stylish slumber.

One day, Annika came downstairs after waking up from her nap dressed like this, though she hadn't been wearing any of it when I tucked her in-- Beauty and the Beast all rolled into one.

Millie dresses herself, too. Some days, she likes red.

Young children in the house means finding lots of things, many of which are wrapped around messes and mischief. Some examples: The girls were taking a bath, and I called to Millie. When she replied to my innocent "How are you girls doing in there?" with a lengthy pause and a "....nothing," I knew she was engaged in what she thought might be a dubious activity. I found this.

Where are my girls? Millie's in that cave, too.

This day's silence meant that they were assembling a neighborhood birthday tea party in the bedroom. Millie is blowing out the candles while Nixie sings.

The tea party, like all classic tea parties, ended with a rousing Jump-On-The-Bed-Till-Mom-Makes-Us-Stop Party.

And then there are times like this, when the house is sepulcher-silent for a dangerous length of time, and I tiptoe upstairs dreading the mess and hushed mischief I'll find only to find this instead.

Thugs. A band picture.

Annika requested that I take a picture of us together and then, without warning, proceeded to do this.

My triplets. The head in the lower left corner is much larger for some reason....

Lip plump plumps them up.

If only Job Bartholomew Tate were never wrong. If he were inerrant, then I would not have to have a root canal. That weird, translucent, brown popcorn thingy was actually a long-neglected infection in my bone that had spread the length of my jaw. Antibiotics cleared it up, but once our tax refunds come back, I have to schedule a root canal. Thanks a lot, JOB!!!!! This is a picture of me and a numb mouth.

Grandma Owen mailed a box of treats, including this fun book that John read to them before bed. Annika was shocked at the unfolding plot.

I had a fit of madness in which I decided that I should be a good mom and cut out a million hearts for my girls to turn into valentines.

Annika pasted hearts with a vengeance and used up almost all of the glitter.

Millie was diligent in her glue application and left no paper untouched.

They turned out (all sixty-some of them) like this. They're cute and the girls had fun, but I nearly decided that next year, they can simply mail one conversation heart apiece to each person they love. Drop candy heart in envelope, lick envelope, address envelope, mail envelope. It still sounds like a bit much.

Picnic at the bus station.

John at the bus station, so long ago.

When John was in Buffalo, I tried to take a girls-only snapshot after church, but this is how it turned out.

And, lastly, here's evidence that I sow my own brand of mischief. My clumsiness makes for lots of fun, like this knee o' mine that went through the windowpane while we engaged in the waving-goodbye-to-John ritual. (Our windows are the originals from the mid-1800's, and the entire thing needs to be removed in order to fix the pane. Brrrrr. We'll wait for spring, thank you very much.)