With a little over seven weeks to go, it's about time I introduced Cozykin.   I finally had my first prenatal appointment two weeks back, at which time they both confirmed my pregnancy (Phew! So glad a baby's wriggling in there instead of an animate melon!) and took a first peek at this little one.

This boy (girl) is so handsome (beautiful), don't you think?

Watching the assured, easy movements of a baby who hasn't yet entered the wider world is incredible.  The wonder never fades.


For Those Who Judge

I have excuses for permitting such shameless, daily displays of nekkidness.

One: He nearly always pairs his skinsuit with appropriate footwear.

Two: He looks pretty darn cute, and the socially acceptable window for such a display is rapidly dwindling to a close.

Three: Last week, he took me by the hand and led me to the bathroom, where he sat upon this throne and did something Wonderful and Unmentionable within it.

It's probably a singular fluke, but I cross my hopeful fingers, anyway.

Haute Couture Syrup

Sorry.  I didn't intend such a dramatic picture of this season's first syrup; I just love its golden glow in the morning.

It's almost too pretty to use.  (Note: almost.)

Snow falls in swirls of gray and white right now, capping off another cold week.  A few years back, I had to plug the trees and end the season due to the heat before now, but so far, this season has been slow and easy.  With hardly anything to gather or boil down yet, my large self is not complaining.  I'll just stare at these until the maples give us more.

Salt and Sugar


Millie spearheaded this batch of farmer's cheese, though I poured the boiling whey out of the pot for her.  (Millie loves it so much she's already asked me to buy a gallon of milk for her twelfth birthday in August so she can have a pound of cheese all to herself.  I don't blame her.  She comes by her love of cheese honestly.)

Easy, easy, easy.  For directions, hop to buildabelly, where you'll also find recipes for this

and these

Susannah's a Whippersnapper, Or, I Couldn't Really Argue with Her

To the Bat Cave!!!

He'd be with Alfred already, if it weren't for the fact that doll clothes hinder his muscular physique.

Really, Mr. Wayne, who on earth could walk in pants like those?!*

*And before you scold my girls for teasing their brother, he put these on himself when no one was looking...and threw a fit when we took them off.

One Fell Swoop

Two times in my life, I've bought the girls Sculpey clay.  I use a 50% coupon to buy a multi-pack, give it to them for Christmas, and one day when everyone's bored and winter lingers long, I pull it out.

It takes them under half an hour to use it all up.

Then, after baking, their dollhouses are happy recipients of pies, jump ropes, toys, and all manner of miniature goodness.  (I'll have to take a picture of their dollhouses sometime.  They're pretty darn great.)

My favorites were the wee animals.  (And now it's time to buy another pack.)

Sisters Come in Handy

On an especially cold night last week, the girls had a sleepover in the warmer downstairs air.  Stepping in to see Pip lighting Susannah's book for her almost made the next morning's mess worth it.   (Su is currently riveted to both Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time books, and I'm enjoying the thrill of those first encounters vicariously.  I don't know how she chooses which one to scoop up first thing in the morning.  Like trying to choose a favorite child, it's an impossible choice.)


I Bind Unto Myself Today*

March swept in as either a lion or a lamb, but I can't recall which. We've huddled under covers in sub-zero chill and also watched the girls tromp muddy and barefoot through rivulets of melting snow since then, so I guess it doesn't really matter.   Change is in the air, though, sharp and tingling.

We saw a flock of robins wing over the house and settle on the front lawn yesterday.  Dozens of saucy red breasts hopped here and there, hunting for earthworms that stir in drowsy clumps beneath the surface.  I, too, am still and quiet, enjoying these last slow bits of winter because they'll soon be gone.

When it sails in, the warm air feels foreign and welcome, but raucous spring shakes things up with piles of newness and so much To Do-- new gardens, new flowerbeds, new growth, new projects, new chore lists, new state reportsIgnoring those, I'm eager to shed shoes and throw open the windows, to wake in a cacophony of birdsong with a new baby making early morning noises by my side, his or her wee eyes scrunched in slants of golden light.

*Do yourself a favor and sing St. Patrick's Breastplate today.  It's probably my favorite hymn, so we'll do the same.


Don't Let the Beard Fool You

My Heart, that husby of mine-- old JRO Himself-- like to surprise his own.

Last Friday, he took a vacation day off of work in order to delight us with a three-day weekend with him, and when a muscle spasm woke him at 4:00 a.m., he got out of bed.  Somewhere in between the muscle seizing up and the rest of us groggily tumbling downstairs, he decided to take us on an adventure.  (He does this a lot.  Yes, I love him for it.)

When he greeted us with breakfast and gave the order to get dressed in going out clothes, I figured we were going to town, perhaps to the library.  Yippee!  We pealed out of the driveway before eight, but when we ended up on the highway, I was as stymied as the girls.

Half the fun of these trips is not knowing the destination before we arrive, but as soon as I saw the sign for "Rockwell Museum of Western Art," I had a fair inkling that we'd end up there.   Remember the girls' first museum visit a few months back?  An hour and a half after piling into the van, they had their second visit, and, after that, their third.  What a day!

First stop-- The Rockwell Museum of Western Art.  Good thing my bag contained a camera.

It's been a looong time since I've been to a museum myself, and it was wonderful.  I love that just about everything that's fun becomes even more fun when shared with children.  At times, my excitement feeds off of their delight and theirs off of mine until it's almost too much to handle, while John stands nearby and grins.

The museum exhibits classic and modern Western art-- primarily paintings-- with artifacts and sculptures sprinkled throughout.

And raging buffalo.  Beware the raging buffalo.

Luci and I stood in front of this piece for a while.

The woman working at the front desk gave the girls scavenger hunt boards, and Luci peered at every painting looking for clues.  She peered up at me, too.

Signs that say "Please touch" in a museum of "Don't touch"  should expect to be mobbed by small hands.

Yes, it's a buckskin garment....festooned with SCALP LOCKS!

That was exciting.

I was so surprised by this painting that I loudly guffawed.  Then I guffawed some more, just because it's comical.

We all recognize this one, probably.

Oh, yeah.  There were guns, too.  (One of our chickens was killed a couple of weeks ago, and the kill pattern matched the possum, and last week, John Wayne and John ended a possum's life after the girls ran into it (literally) skulking around the coop.  I still felt bad.   Anyway, here are lots of guns.  Our bb gun doesn't compare.)

Norman Rockwell like I'd never seen him.

The scavenger hunt prizes were tiny animals.  I end with a howl from Su's wolf.

Part the Second, Or, Settle In Because This Post's a Doozy

Before you begin skimming through these as fast as possible, here's my apology for taking so many snapshots:

I'm sorry.

But I couldn't help it.  We were with John!  We love him!  He took us to museums!  The sun was shining!  Everything was interesting! My children are loveable!  My camera battery waited to die until we were nearly done!

I'm sorry.

If you live within driving distance of Corning and have a passel of children, I can't recommend this daytrip enough.  Those ages nineteen and under are admitted free, so you only have to pay for the fogeys of the group in order to soak up two museums in one go.  Plus, Corning was fun to walk around on foot (but maybe it was the good company I was in that had something to do with that).

Let's begin with an important announcement.

Three things during this daytrip solidified my children's position as hillbilly homeschoolers.
One: They were over the moon about the motion-activated soap dispensers in the bathrooms.  (To be fair, I was also impressed by these.)
Two: Riding the escalators at the next museum was one of the highest points of the entire day.  (To be fair, as a hillbilly myself, I completely understood.)
 Three: The fact that they rode a bus for THE FIRST TIME EVER was something they later bragged about.  A bus!  A BUS, people!  (Why are you all so jaded?)

Enter stage left:  The Bus.

We soaked up every last second of this experience.

All too soon, we arrived at museum number two: The Corning Museum of Glass.   I was last at this museum for a school field trip when I was about 8 years old, and I liked it even better this time around.  Oh, my goodness, I loved it.  (Told you I was a hillbilly.)

I've been stifled and closed in by clutter lately.


I think that's why I took a picture of the museum foyer.  It struck me as beautiful, with all those straight edges, clean lines, and that bright, open emptiness.

From here on out, I'll give minimal commentary and rapid-fire snapshots because I'm tired of being on the computer.  I beg pardon for the sentence fragments that will litter this post until its end.

Piper:  "Hey, is that Bach?"  (J.S. Bach is her only reference point for just about any man wearing an obvious, curly wig.)

To explain my children's trepidation here, this was a fun mirror trick that flipped you upside down and made it appear that you were walking through a floating version of yourself.

Why, hello, Belly Baby!

A periscope rose through the roof to give a bird's eye view of different downtown locations.

What I didn't discover until I walked past a giggling Susannah is that there were spy cameras fixed on the periscope, too.  We laughed at a periscoping Annika for a bit before moving on.

Millie is an information hound.  She reads encyclopedias for fun and soaks up information that she pulls out of her pocket all the time.  I learn a lot from the girl.  (If only I could remember it...)  She kept coming up to me and sharing tidbits she learned from placards around the museum. 

We watched a glass-blowing demonstration that was pretty cool.

It's too bad I was so engrossed in watching him form the vessel that I forgot to take a picture of the finished piece.

This was a small exhibit showing how bottles are made.

Why, hello, Belly Baby!

Q:  How many casserole dishes are in this tower?!

A: Nearly 700.  Just think of all the church potlucks that equals!

 Here's a second.  Sorry; I just like them both and post pictures indiscriminately.

I'll share more on this picture another day, but we caught the last thirty seconds of a glass pulling demonstration, and Millie hit the jackpot.

Glass flowers.  Almost spring.

Our last hour was spent in the museum art gallery, which is huge and overwhelming.  It contains glass pieces that span over 3500 years, from ancient times through the present.  Fascinating, beautiful, and overwhelming.

This sculpture stretched from floor to ceiling.

Pieces from ancient Greece and Phoenicia, I think.

Ancient Egypt, Greece, etc.

This was a tiny sculpture of Amenhotep II.  A marvel.  We learned about him!  He lived thousands of years ago, and imagining an artisan shaping this so long ago boggled my mind. Tangible links between the past and present, hunks of material that human hands touched time out of mind, have an irresistible hold on me.  I called all the girls over, but no one seemed as excited as I was.

A mosaic fragment from the early church.

Ancient crocodile, mouse, and dormouse vessels.  (I'm partial to practical pieces that are sculptural in form.  I loved their whimsy.)

A beaded basket.

Such intricate work here.

A glass theater.

Annie and Susie were cracking themselves up when they slipped behind a display case before I got there.  "Look, Mama!  We're on display!"  I'll say you are, loves.

This glass table was ludicrous enough to photograph.  Just imagine!  Someone had this in their home once upon a time.  (Those nutty Victorians.)

Ooh, I loved these.  One case was filled with small, glass sculptures of sea creatures.  I was just skimming at this point, my brain too full to take in much more, but these struck me.

Paperweights, anyone?

Or chess?

There were numerous stained glass windows in the gallery, too.

Gasp!  What sorcery is this?   Magical, moving stairs?  Let's ride them up and down for hours!

And then we walked back across the footbridge to the van, forgoing the shuttle bus in favor of sunshine and window shopping along the way.

See that man in the middle of all those children?  Yeah, the one with the overcoat and stroller.
Well, he's simply the greatest of them all.