Sunday, December 23, 2012

Graham's Very First Present

"Camera!!! Cheeeeeeeese!"

"Yook at my tongue."

"Uh... what's dis ting?"

"Okay, yike dis?"

"Is good to eat?"

"Oh, hey... camera!!! Cheeeeeeeese!"

"Wait, where'd dis book come fwom?"

"Hi, camera!!! Cheeeeeeeese!"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Esme Moments That Made Me Smile (Updated)

Esme, as I engulfed her little brother in a towel after his bath: I wuv you, Gwaham! Hims my baby!

*   *   *

Esme, as we listened to a song on the radio that began with children's voices singing, "Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Jesus...": JESUS??! We have Jesus!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Benjamin Harrison

This is the official portrait of our 2012 Christmas tree, Benjamin Harrison. Harry for short. He's a handsome old gent.

I no longer have any idea why we name our Christmas trees after dead American presidents. Was there ever a good reason? Probably not. Was there ever a reason at all?

Our Christmas tree archives now include a Truman (he came before we owned a camera), a Chester A. Arthur, a William Howard, a George Washington, a Teddy Roosevelt, and a Mr. Adams. A venerable bunch.

Here is Benjamin Harrison in nothing but his own glow, on the night before our gift exchange earlier this week.

I love a good Christmas tree!

Friday, December 14, 2012


On December 4th, our oldest turned... well, you already read the title of my post.

Look at this girl.

Doesn't she look so composed and mature? And she is... about 60% of the time. The other 40% she's still as wild and crazy and loud and silly and bouncing-off-the-walls as ever she was. Precious first daughter. How she fills our home with life and laughter.


Meg wanted a fairy garden cake that she saw in an old Family Fun magazine. I made a gluten-free ice-cream cake version to accomodate our family's changing dietary needs. (More on that in another post.) The fairy garden turned out pretty cute, notwithstanding the fact that I've always been kind of against decorating my kids' cakes with plastic toys. It seemed like taking the easy way out. This year, I Googled "make your own fairy cake toppers," read one blog post on creating a fondant fairy, clicked that window closed and ordered the darn plastic things. (Hey, they doubled as gifts!)
(Do you like the stray vegetable remnants and other spoils of dinner hiding behind the cake pan? What can I say? Just another example of my peerless food photography.)







So it was a very happy birthday for Margaret Lauren. But just to give you a clearer idea of her temperament, I do have to tell this one story. Meg was so intensely excited, so keyed up about her birthday. I know this is normal for kids.

But for Meg, the excitement was so palpable; it was embodied to such an extent that, at the end of the day when it was all over, she literally experienced a physical purge. The day was ending. We had enjoyed her birthday dinner (baked potato soup), we had eaten birthday cake, we had opened presents, we had celebrated Advent. Jammies were on; teeth were brushed; little bodies were in beds, we were singing final lullabies, and the light was about to go off when... Meg made a final request to visit the bathroom. One the way down the ladder, she suddenly bolted to the toilet, slammed up the seat, and--moaning prayers that God would not let her throw up--she lost it. All of it. Soup, salad, cake--goodbye! Then we cleaned her up, popped her back into bed, and... she crashed out and slept the sleep of the righteous all night long. And that's just the way she rolls. This was so NOT the first time that she has barfed because of over-excitement.

Yep, she's a crazy one. Crazy, and beautiful, and smart... and ours. For seven whole years. Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

My Beautiful, Wonderful, Blue-Eyed Peoples



Are there any words grand enough to thank God for blessings like these?

Saturday, December 01, 2012


I'm taking down our Thanksgiving Tree tonight. Do you like the ripped "roots" at the bottom? Graham's contribution. He's thankful for paper, and mobility.

Here's a sampling of the other kids' leaves:

"dinosaurs" -Matthew
"my big house" -Esme
"mommy painting my nails" -Meg
"Caroline" -Esme
"The Bible" -Matthew
"Jimmy Cone and Ice cream" -Meg
"cooking with Aunt Lena" -Meg
"Scout and Mommy's car" -Esme
"puppet shows" -Matthew
"my mommy and daddy and brothers and sister" -Esme
"pizza" -Matthew
"our grocery store, Safeway, so we have lot's of food" -Meg
"nana" -Matthew

We're not even close to being fully decorated for Christmas, but we pulled out a couple of things today. One was our Advent calendar, along with lots of candles--24 to be precise, so we can light a new one each day:

I think we're also going to try doing a Jesse Tree this year, a la Ann Voskamp and courtesy of our forsythia hedge.

(Dreadful picture, I know, with my flash on and our poor lone ornament!)

I honestly CANNOT believe that we are rounding the bed toward Christmas. My inbox is filling up with emails from various Nalle women about wish lists, our family gathering, food... and I'm just in shock that this year is nearly over. It does. Not. Seem. Possible. WHERE DID YOU GO, 2012???

Friday, November 30, 2012


Matthew's latest creative craze was mask-making. He did a few animals, and then he hit on super heroes and went wild. Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine. I took a picture of his first attempt at the Hulk, teasing him that he looked more like Frankenstein. He didn't know who Frankenstein was, so I showed him a picture, whereupon he pointed out that Frankenstein does not have an angry, open Hulk grimace, and Matthew's mask clearly does. So you can be the judge:
Do I stand corrected?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November Field Trips

We had three fun school outings this month. The first was to the Sackler Gallery, one of the Asian art museums at the Smithsonian. My friend Maria organized this trip for a small group of families who are studying ancient history this year. I never would have thought to take littles to this place, but what a great idea it turned out to be!

I left Esme with Nana, and Meg, Matthew, Graham and I braved the Metro. (All of these pics are from my little flip-phone, so I apologize for the quality.)
photo 2

We made our way to the museum and met up with our docents. They split our group into two and whisked us off for our magical mystery tour through ancient Asian artifacts. Our docent did a super job with the kids (even our wiggly and distracting Matthew man, who required a little patience at the beginning). She had them search for the faces in these ceremonial vessels.

photo 5 (2)

She let them hold this bronze pot so they could see how heavy it was.
photo 4 (2)

She showed them this chimera, guardian of an ancient tomb.
photo 5 (1)

This one too... yikes. I'd stay out of the tomb if I thought this guy would be after me.
photo 2 (2)

She had them gallop like this horse.
photo 3 (2)

She led them in examining a roomful of Iranian pitchers...
photo 4

...and then helped them create their own!
photo 4 (1)

photo 1 (1)

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I was quite surprised by what a great trip this was even for very young children. Bravo to the Smithsonian and its employees for making their treasures and knowledge so accessible to all, and kudos to Maria for her educational sleuthing!

Okay, second field trip, to the Living Classroom at Glen Echo Park, where we learned about animal habitats: this trip was planned by our beloved Mrs. Apple. We started the morning in this nifty room, which had some very cool play spaces, as well as various tanks and cages...

The kids got to meet this gal:

I have chills just looking at these pictures. I'm not exactly a wuss about spiders, but tarantulas are in a class by themselves...

You can't see it very well, but in this picture the lady is showing the little hollow log where the tarantula lives. We learned that she catches her prey by lining the inside of the log with her sticky silk and waiting for something to get stuck within. Neat trick for someone who's too heavy to spin a web.

This critter was much more to my taste (and the taste of many of the kids).

The admiration was not necessarily mutual; when the kids got too noisy, the bunny took off for a far corner of the room and hid behind the turtle tank, forcing her keeper to go through some interesting contortions to find and extract her. Fortunately, Meg still had the chance to pet her.

Matthew too.

(Matthew recently started sucking on his fingers. Normal for a five-year old???)

I have no pics of this part, but we concluded our morning by going on an outdoor scavenger hunt and looking for animal habitats of all kinds out in the woods and by the creek.

Our third and final field trip for the month was to a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant. Matthew was sick and stayed home, but Meg got to learn a bit about the history of the franchise and then go into the kitchen and see how they make all that yummy chicken. Meg tells me (I did not get to hear this personally), that it takes 48 hours to thaw a boneless chicken filet for a sandwich, and only four minutes to cook it. We also learned that there is a designated Chick-Fil-A employee who does nothing but slice fresh Sunkist lemons for an hour each morning, to get a head start on all of the lemonade (just lemons, water and sugar!) the store will sell that day. Of course, what Meg was most psyched about was the mini Ice Dream cone she got at the end of her tour. (Can't blame her. Dessert at 10:00 a.m.? Sign me up!)

We are so very blessed to have such a great community of home schoolers around us and to get to have so many fun and diverse adventures with them. We look forward to many more exciting trips later this school year...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The evening of Black Friday we spent by my parents' fire place, enjoying the first blaze of the season.


The kids roasted marshmallows, then settled in for a story.


Jacqua read Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Metaxes. What a lovely picture book and refreshing retelling of the first Thanksgiving.



Our little Indians were getting kinda tuckered after their two days of celebrating together, so this was a nice way to wind down.



If there's any nicer way to relax than a fire and a good book, it's probably a fire, a good book, and being near the people you love.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Few of My Thankfullest Things

Our Thanksgiving celebration was on the smaller side this year--only Dad, Mom, Lena, Jacque, Asher, David, me, and the seven kids. We missed being with our more extended family, but we had a great time even so.

"Black" Friday was a pretty bright affair for the Nalle clan. We spent the first part of the day at a park to play off our Thanksgiving calories. It was a gorgeous November morning with some of my richest blessings...

The humblest, warmest-hearted, most serving lady I know,

My precious Daddy and Lean,

Dear Jacqua playing velcro-catch...

...with our big girl,




A little Rosebud...

...and her daddy,





Boys great and small,






Judah, future linebacker,


Big, squisha-squish cheeks,

These two bein' all lovey,

Getting to mother my littlest baby blessing

(who would only look at the camera for one shot),

my favorite women all in one place,

my family together, enjoying God's creation.