Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pretty in Pink?

These are old pictures from several months back, but they're too classic not to share.


This was the day Graham decided to try out my pink nail polish. On his face. It might appear from this first shot that Graham recognized his mistake and regretted his decision, but no. In reality, this shot is more indicative of his attitude:


See the tongue in the cheek there, the little smirk? Uh-huh. That's more like it. "Like what I've done here, Ma? Oh, you don't? Gee, imagine that. Hmmmm." Of course, he didn't smirk quite so much when I scrubbed his face with acetone. And his dad didn't smirk when he came home hours later and his son still smelled like a nail salon. Yech.

(Actually, just to set the record straight, I recall Graham looking totally innocent and perplexed when I stumbled on his mischief and set him straight. He only smirked for the picture. Maybe it sends a mixed message when I tell him "No, never again, not ever" and then turn around to whip out the camera?)

"Who We Are" Archive

Last night I took the long, long overdue step of updating our "Who We Are" side bar. Here are the old versions, saved for posterity (and perspective down the line).

At seven years old, our Meggie is one-half mature little woman, one-half insane little girl. She's smart, sweet, responsible, perfectionistic, thoughtful, helpful, and loving, with a highly sensitive conscience and a killer memory. Then again, she might be loud, outrageously silly, heedless, rambunctious, and full of utterly irrepressible laughter. In her quieter moments, Meg loves reading and creating artwork. In her not-so-quiet ones? People are her one great joy.

"Have attention, will seek it" might be an apt descriptor for our six year old. His theme song is "Make 'Em Laugh," and, boy, will he do anything to see that through. In addition to being a clown, Matthew is a quick study with anything related to folding or building. He has the sparkliest blue eyes you've ever seen, and he's full of curiosity and questions. He loves to push his sisters' buttons and squeeze his baby brother. And his current pop-culture crazes are Angry Birds and Star Wars.

Our Esme Rose is such a love: charming, independent, intensely affectionate and cuddly, sensitive, stubborn, a little cheesy at times, a bit more reserved than our older kids, adorable. She's four years old and all girl, with a bad case of the dress-ups and a yen for helping mommy in the kitchen.

Having passed the one year mark, Graham is still in the process of unfurling his personality. But some things are already clear: he loves music and loves to dance, loves being goofy and making us laugh by shaking his head violently back and forth, loves yelling "no!" and imitating words and sounds he hears around the house. And he loves being at the center of our home, where we all serve as his adoring slaves.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Boys with Book


Graham was SO excited when he spotted this book on the New Books shelf at the library last week. "My book! My book!" he started hollering, jumping and pointing vehemently to the top shelf. (Yes, the librarians love us.) And sure enough, there it was, unmistakably Graham's book. After all, it has the same phrase in its title as both of his favorite books here at home: "things that go." And it has almost all of his favorite things on the front--all you'd need to add would be a Ritz cracker and a banana and a doggie, and you'd have to change the title to The Graham Book. Anyway, we brought it home, and he's been enjoying it most heartily... and Matthew (adoringest big brother on the planet) enjoys Graham enjoying himself.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

"Lasts" of the School Year

Our school year wanes. In the last month, we've marked our last co-op of the year, our last field trip of the year, our last dance class of the year, and our last science class of the year. At two of these events, I failed to get any pictures at all, but what I do have, I will share.

First came the end of Meg and Matthew's botany class that ran all semester. We had a lovely farewell meeting at a local farm-park, where the kids put their newly-acquired botanical knowledge to the test in a series of games against (gulp) their mothers. (We moms made a decent showing but got schooled in the end. Rightfully so.)

Here's the whole class, with their lovely teacher Mrs. Perdue with them. (Matthew's the one in the hat.)

Cute story: all the younger siblings were invited to attend this botany shebang along with the moms, so Esme and Graham were with me. At some point Esme pulled me aside and asked, "Mommy, who's dat lady in the puhple shut?" (Translation: purple shirt. We're working on that "R" sound.)

"That's Mrs. Perdue, Meg and Matthew's teacher."

"Her looks bootiful in dat outfit."

"Oh, Sweetie, that's so nice. She does look lovely. You should tell her! I bet that would bless her so much!"

So we went over to talk with Mrs. Perdue. "You look bootiful in dat outfit," Esme said, and all fifteen pounds of Esme got scooped up in a big, long, thank-you hug, which Esme happily returned. Love that sweet affectionate heart. May she always be so free with her compliments! (By the way, she does weigh more than fifteen pounds. Slightly.)

Our last official field trip of the school year was down to good ol' Udvar-Hazy, the auxiliary Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. We went there several times when the kids were tiny, but it was so long ago that none of them have any memories of it. They had a great time, and the museum folks did a fine job with our group.

This is the younger half of our group in their workshop, learning about space suits.

Then they got to touch it, and even try on the gloves and boots.

The littles had their tour after lunch, while the big kids did their workshop. Here are the littles with the shuttle Discovery. They learned about all the animals that were sent into space before any humans ever made it there, which was a cute approach and succeeded fairly well in holding their attention.

And this is Esme and her buddy Addie "flying" a Cessna as the finale of their tour. A major highlight.

Perhaps the best part of this field trip for me was that I didn't need directions to get there, and I didn't get lost either coming or going. Thank God for those wonderful signs all along the Dulles toll road. (Some time, if you want a laugh, you can ask me about our field trip to the Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium earlier this year. Suffice it to say that I could not. find. the signs. Both ways. It was not a good day in Mommyland.)

Terribly Cute Peoples (for Dacia)


Friday, June 06, 2014

The Tale of Sleepy

Matthew with Sleepy, before the release

A few weeks ago, Matthew found and adopted a gypsy moth caterpillar. To say that I was not thrilled with his choice of species would be an understatement. I have a deep, shuddering hatred of this particular creepy-crawly, rooted in my love of oak trees and the memory of the nastiest chore of my farm-girl days.* However, Matthew lovingly built a little home for "Sleepy" in one of my disposable food-storage containers, and when he wanted to bring it inside and install it in his bedroom as a temporary pet, I acquiesced.

The neighborhood kids had been playing with several of these caterpillars on the day when my son was smitten. Matthew, observing the lot of them, noticed that his particular caterpillar seemed sluggish compared with the others--hence his somnolent name. Coincidentally, I had just read or heard something about how caterpillars stop eating and slow down when they are about ready to build their cocoons. Sure enough, within two days of Sleepy's adoption, the caterpillar had disappeared into a shiny, white cylinder. Matthew proudly showed off his transfigured friend to the neighbors; their caterpillars hadn't yet started cocooning. There were many oohs and ahhs.

Days went by, then weeks. Every now and then, when I was in the boys' room, I glanced at Sleepy's home on the top shelf and wondered what would become of him. One time a few days ago, I even picked the container up and squinted through the plastic, trying to see if there was any sign of life.

Today at lunch time, Matthew came to me with an anxious face. "Mommy, Sleepy moved."

"Well," I replied, "I picked his home up a couple of days ago. Maybe I accidentally moved him."

"His cocoon moved, and there's a brown triangle thing in there," Matthew said, still worried.

"Uhh, Buddy, I think the brown thing is Sleepy. He's turned into a gypsy moth."

"Oh," Matthew replied, his face clearing. He ran to get Sleepy's container. There he was, the long, slender, hairy, black caterpillar, mysteriously transformed into a stubby, white-bodied moth with beige wings. I nudged him with one of the leaves in his home. He responded by flickering his antennae. Still sleepy. Or... hmmm.

"Matthew, I'm not sure if he's going to make it. There might be something wrong."


To condense the rest of the story: we took Sleepy outside into the beautiful, mild June sunshine and tried setting him free. And Sleepy flapped his wings like crazy and buzzed and whirred and went like 60 in circles on our front stoop. But he couldn't get off the ground. I don't know what was wrong with him, but it was fairly obvious that our moth was never going to be able to make it to a tree that would provide sustenance for him. So I tried to encourage Matthew with the reality that, at best, Sleepy would only have lived until the end of the summer, and I told him to set his pet free in the grass. He did it. Then he came inside and was sad for a while, which made my Mama-heart sad, even though I can't help rejoice over one less gypsy moth on the planet.

And that's the short, unhappy tale of Sleepy the gypsy moth, our first (and only) family pet.

* Growing up on a farm with beautiful, old, oak woods, we considered gypsy moths to be more than pests. I remember my parents pointing out to me trees that had been ravaged by those buggers, and even to young eyes, the damage was apparent. Dying, 50-foot oaks surrounding your home are something no one really wants, even if you're not an inherent tree-lover, as my family certainly was. To combat the gypsy moths, we "skirted" our oak trees, tying a strip of burlap around each trunk. The gypsy moths, crawling up the trunks on their way to wreak destruction, would get trapped in the burlap skirts, and then we would come around every morning to gather them up and end their lives. We used two different methods to do this, neither of them very humane: one was to pluck them off the trees and drop them in a jar of turpentine, the other (my mom's preferred method) was to simply snip them in half with a pair of scissors. Take it from one who knows: gypsy moths squirt green juice when you snip them in half. And this was how we started our summer mornings on the farm! Any questions on why I hate and detest gypsy moths?

Except Sleepy. For Matthew's sake. RIP, Sleepy.