One careless blink.

A turn of the head.

And today she's five!
Happy birthday to our lovely, odd, delightful, little Bird!

How does one learn to live without blinking?


Real Time

Three seconds ago, out of the murky blue, Annie asked me what zombies are.

Since she's in the middle of her spelling work, and I didn't want to rabbit off into that trail, I answered simply, "Zombies are dead people who come back to life."

All was well and good until Annika started guffawing at the thought of zombies, as she does at any mention of vampires, monsters, and the like, and I heard Susannah thoughtfully respond, "Weeell, that's not so funny. WE'RE gonna be zombies someday."

Just when I thought I was teaching sound Biblical truth around here...


I'll Just Leave You Here for a Minute While I Wash a Few Dishes...

This won't convince anyone that she's been clothed through the winter, but I stand my ground. This occurred right before I dressed her for bed. (And I maintain that washing dishes was a wise choice.)

New Parents Never Do This

Millie's first birthday cake was made of whole wheat flour, wheat germ, carrots, applesauce, butter, and spices. Its only redeeming feature was a thick layer of cream cheese frosting, and it was small enough for her and her alone, because of course none of the adult guests would want to eat the thing! We had a triple-layer devil's food cake with cream filling.

No wonder she looks disappointed.

As the fifth daughter, Luci does not eat a wheat-germ cake.

She eats a kryptonite gnome, instead.

And likes it.

***To soften the concerns of mothers who give even their eight-year olds wheat germ cakes, three cheers for wheat germ! We blend it in our breakfast shakes! We stir it into muffin batter! We truly do. We no longer, however, eat wheat germ cakes.

Pomp Unfurled

As is becoming tradition for the first birthday, the older sisters dictated the cake's shape. Annie thought it should be "a Dorf cake, 'cause dorves are really cute like Luci." Millie suggested a gnome.

I turned that cake into a Dorf-gnome in about half an hour, which included making and tinting the frosting. Don't snicker.

Luci was amused by all the fuss.

She watched as we sang and blew out her candle.

I added a flower to her tray to improve the aesthetics.

Stupid me.

Rule #1. After eating kryptonite, always cleanse the palate with a sprig of vegetation.

Before bed, she opened her pillow from Millie. (Luci's parents did not give her anything because they are grinches.)


We usually make between 50-75 valentines each year, and..psst...I don't have the best time of my life helping out. Therefore, I'm happy to announce that, this year, the tide has turned. The older girls whip them out like champs, and I only had to lift a finger for Pip's. Here's to lazy mothers!

And while we're at it, here's to plump lips and thick eyelashes!

And, Sarah J., I took a picture of Millie's Crispy Heart for you. She kept that frog a secret until she plopped him on top, and I think he's become part of the Owen family because we packed him away for next year.

V-Day Round-up

John and I usually don't observe Hallmark Day with much hooplah (though this year he gave me a fish!), but the girls love a good celebration, so I planned to make them pink oatmeal for breakfast.

Yup. Pink oatmeal.
Top that, Martha.

Millie requested pancakes instead, so in the space of five minutes, pink oatmeal turned into pink shakes, pink heart pancakes, rose petals from a rose John had given me two weeks ago, candlelight, cloth napkins, and a rumpled tablecloth.

I guess I'm a sucker for spontaneous celebrations.

The best part of the above pictures is that they don't show

#1. The dishes from the night before

#2. the cleanest spot in the living room.

I'm SO glad you don't know about those.

For the McGamma

On Valentine's morning, we discovered your package that had languished on the porch through the weekend. (Luci loves her gift, and Susannah can't wait to open hers. The girls...ahem...are enjoying the candy.)

The package made me think of thank you notes, and thank you notes, for some reason, made me think of my promise to give you a picture of the girls.


At least I tried.
(What's Latin for "I tried to seize the day?")

I'll try again...another day.


I know all of these pictures are of low artistic quality, but think of the "awww" factor!

Pip's love is worth a blurry picture.

We'll Need a Bigger Couch

For Luci's birthday, Millie began sewing a nearly-completed pillow my Mom had found, and suddenly everybody wanted to sew.

Except me. I just took lousy pictures.

So there, productivity!


Most days, I'd rather be human.

As you notice where his paws rest, however,

while also noticing my buried kneecap,

surely you can forgive me the fleeting wish.

Also, just the week before, researchers documented the ability of dogs to chew gloves stolen from those stupid enough to take them off (in order to operate a camera, no less).

Clara Barton Strikes Again

Last week, I wondered at Millie's architectural inspiration when she told me she was building a castle with turrets

until I saw that it was a nest for this Wren, sick with a stomach bug.

By the end of the day, the girls had filled this pouch with well-wishes.
Sometimes, we all need a little coddling.


Four Views of Mt. Hunger-- A Love Letter ........... Written by An Anonymous Housebound Girl with a Penchant for Sweets

I sit sluggish and slow, a sister to the occasional wasps who crawl from their cracks into our halls and stairways, to whom I allow a brief moment to wonder at the bitter season before I scoop them up and send them to their doom.

There's a need to be outside for more time than it takes to feed and water the animals, to excavate the mailbox, or to strike the dinner triangle in a fruitless attempt to call wild, sledding children inside for dinner. I know this because as I sit here (sluggish; slow) about to write the first meaty blog post in ages, I can only think about running. I miss seeing the seasons.


It began after Luci's birth, when the wind, quite literally, froze the sweat on my brow as I lugged thirty extra pounds up one side of the road and down the other, in too much pain to realize anything more than the hidden truth that breathing takes great effort.

A few weeks later, still in pain, but of a slightly less dire ilk, I found space to see the spare beauty of winter again. Trees lined the road like stark sentinels, and their silhouettes formed bony poetry as I slogged by, loose-jointed and sloppy. A few leaves still stubbornly clattered on trees that just six months before had boasted untold thousands. A raven, unmoving, wrapped in silence and self-possession, stared balefully at my graceless passage, and skittish songbirds shot skyward with a start before curiosity brought them cautiously back. I found perfection in snowdrifts written with a sweep, in the pale rag of sun caught in the branches I passed, and in the fox that flashed in front of me, its fur all tawny fire in the brush. I slowly began to see it all again, and as my ability to breathe returned, so did my wonder at this world of ours.

It's a small thing, really-- a stretch of bare road that few travel; a handful of minutes alone; a silence formed from layered sounds. A time to think of nothing at all except the rhythm of breathing or a time for thoughts so grand they'd turn pompous if I tried to write them. An ordering of self. A small thing, but it's all I've been thinking about this past stir-crazy week.

Spring was cold, wet, and muddy, but then-- glory!--warm, wet, and muddy. Greens and yellows and browns crept from the gray and black, and, after a long break for a bum knee, I had incentive to slog again. I craved green, mostly-- spears of it everywhere, in little mounds spilled from the skirts of April and May. It's hard to feel memories of spring from where I sit, but I remember it was wonderful, with lots of birdsong and a swell inside.

By mid-summer, I hit my stride and really-truly enjoyed the running part of my time alone. I even began running down Mt. Hunger to the hedgerow and then back up without collapsing. I saw a red-tailed hawk, but only once, scouring the field for weaker than he. I left the house later, unintentionally pairing my time with the sunsets. I wish I could write, because then you'd see them, too. On the hilltop, I moved in step with the blazing center, in view of the sunset's span entire, from feathered edge to edge, and a few times I stretched my arms wide and touched the setting sun on one side and the rising moon on the other.

As summer moved on and too many tasks crammed my days, I left the house after the girls were in bed, sometimes only catching the last embers smoldering on the horizon, crisscrossed by black lines of milkweed and timothy, the clouds thumbsmears of soot on either side. Some nights, I stupidly began my run in the dark, and I'd run by moonlight. If the moon hid his face, I closed my eyes and tried to run by feel and sound rather than by sight. I found that I don't have this ability, which was disappointing but not devastating. (I also found that the noise of coyote packs moving through the field beside me bestows the superheroic ability to run swift-like-the-wind, which, incidentally, could be my name were I an Indian instead of the palest Pale-face.)

I'm wandering, aren't I?

Fall is always my favorite of all. The days grew shorter. I ran with my chin to the sky and squinted in the dim light to watch the bats flit and dart. One night an owl flew by, swooped low, and then, in a moment frozen and surreal, stopped suspended in the air directly above me. On rainy days, my breath formed a foggy nimbus round my head and added another layer to the palette of gray and gray.

The leaves fell, as they do. On windy nights, they skittered across the road like iron-shod beetles on a frantic quest. My every footfall gave a satisfying crunch and scatter. One wet night, I followed a shiny path of leaves set in slick obsidian, only to realize after several strides that I'd stopped breathing, caught by their muted beauty.

And now it's mid-winter again, and you can see I've been thinking a lot about the great outdoors. Thinking and thinking and thinking as I sit and shore up my reserves by eating lots of candy. Don't worry about me, though. March isn't too far away, and I can wheeze with the best. (Just ask the trees...)


What's that? ENOUGH with the self-centered soliloquies?!


You want snapshots?
Have at 'em, cowboy*.

*Before you unpack your bluster, swagger, and six-shooter, you should know that there are 300 of them, and that they're the fastest draw in the West...

[I feel more relieved to finish these stupid posts than I have since my labor with Luci ended and she was placed in my arms. I'm so glad to be done!]

Papa Bear

Before you saddle that horse and ride off into the sunset, I have one last thing to say.

My Heart is shown in about 0.0001% of the following snapshots. This is due mainly to two reasons. The first is that he dislikes having his picture taken, and he usually can't help an involuntary grimace when he sees the camera pointed at him. The second is that my trusty camera. so faithful and true, is still maimed (remember my unasked-for explanation in the comments?). Yeah, I know it's been broken for two years, and, yeah, I'm saving up for another.

Anyway, it's harder to stealthily take pictures of John with no zoom, but I still have my ways. I've learned lots of tricks to make it seem as if my camera is as fit as any fiddle or camera could be, and I reused a trick to trap his image just last week.

From the kitchen, I heard the girls guffawing, and I peeked in through the doorknob hole for which we still have no suitable old-fashioned doorknob.

This is what I saw.

I love him as my husband, and I love him as the father of our children. I even love him as a boardgamegeek, most especially when it makes me grin as large as this.

Rejoice in the Works of His Hands

On a bitterly cold morning, one glance outside made me gasp. The sun was already quite high, but it wasn't nearly warm enough to melt the beauty. Every last inch of every last surface was etched in frosty filigree. I told the girls I'd be right back, and I hurried outside with my camera, wearing my lime green bathrobe and slippers.

I really intended to only stay out for a few minutes, but it was nearly half an hour later that I came back inside, half-frozen but with some beauty tucked away in my black box.

Our Creator delights in beauty, and gifts like these must not be ignored.
Praise His name!

The burdocks were transformed in the light.

Even those in the shadow of the coop had new appeal.

God lavished detail on rusty nails; I probably passed over dozens before I knelt to notice.

A jet is tucked between the goldenrod stems.

I took this last picture right before coming inside. It's the girls' skating rink, and the thoughtful placement of the rocking chair made me happy.