Portraits of Daisy

Daisy was never fond of riding in the car when she was a baby. She'd scream and scream and scream, even if we were just zipping over to pick the boys up from school or taking a quick trip to the store. It just about brought me to my wits' end. I dreaded going anywhere with her. And then one day, when she was 14 or 15 months old, we turned her car seat around to face forwards. I buckled her in. There was silence. And then, as I started to drive, the sound of Daisy's little baby voice going: "Wheeeee! Wheeeee! Wheeee! Wheeee!"

She "wheeee"d all the way to school and back, and she never cried in the car again. 

And that's Daisy. Wants to see what's going on and be a part of things—and then, whatever it is, she LOVES it. She loves helping me cook, loves riding her bike with the big boys, loves dancing and singing with the little girls, loves tending Teddy, loves reading, loves learning. If someone else in the family has an obsession, she wants to join in: "Sebby, was that a 767? That's my favorite plane!" "Look Abe; I think I saw a Tesla Model S!" She's smart and talkative and always ready with an opinion. She's a great little companion who, when just she and I get in the car to go somewhere together, sighs happily: "O-KAY! Now! What shall we TALK about?!" She's also likely to declare, of an evening, that "Mommy, what I really feel like doing, is SNUGGLING." She talks a lot about what she'll do when she's grown and has babies of her own—always including lots of visits to me. I can only hope! Because I hate to think of living for any amount of time without my little Daisy girl.

(See also: Daisy at four)

Portraits of Malachi

Malachi is such a little man. He uses big words and never shies away from asking (or telling) about complicated concepts. He gives you a sly sidelong glance when he says something funny (but keeps a straight face). He raises his eyebrows at you skeptically when he suspects you're pulling his leg. Sometimes I think he's so much older than he is! And yet, he is the silliest of sillies when he wants to be. When you tickle him or when you tell him a joke, he erupts in guffaws that often totally incapacitate him. He will literally fall over laughing. 

When I was taking his pictures, I asked him to tell me about how the heart and circulation work (we're learning about it in school). He gave me a detailed and accurate summary of both the pulmonary and the systemic loops, interspersed with TOTAL SILLINESS like "and then the GERMS come in saying 'hee hee hee'!" What am I going to DO with this boy? Just hug him, I guess.

(See also: Malachi at four, Malachi at three.)

Portraits of Abe

I had always heard it was hard to get good photos of older kids, and I assumed it was because they just got less cute as they got older! Quite the contrary. They are quite as darling as ever (at least I think so) but the trouble is they become aware of you, and of themselves. And, I suppose, they have better things to do than let you follow them around adoring their every expression. It's okay. I understand. But every once in awhile I impose on the big kids, anyway. I can't bear not to have a record of Abe just as he is now: his wry smile; his amused raised eyebrows; his scrutinizing glare. Abe has an unguarded and dazzling smile when he wants to, and he's as obliging as any 13-year-old could be, but when I say, "Just pretend I don't have the camera, and talk to me!" he wrinkles up his nose and says, "But I know you DO have the camera!" Still, he tells me about his favorite Ferraris and what he's going to buy when he's a millionaire.

Considerate. Handsome. Funny. Dependable. Interesting. That's our Abe.
Two noble profiles

Portraits of Seb

Sam got me a new camera lens for Valentine's Day and I've been having fun trying to figure out how it works. And then I was looking at this old post and thinking how much I like having these pictures of tiny Sebby-boy in all his expressiveness, and it made me want to take more portrait-style pictures of all the kids. It's odd; when I took those other pictures I thought I would always remember what little 4-year-old Sebby looked like, but now I look at them and he's a little bit of a stranger to me. But there are a few shots where I can see him, the same Seb I have now, and it makes me nostalgic. What will I have left of this 10-year-old Seb in six more years? Well…these pictures, that's what. And this guy, himself? I still like him.

Anyway, think of these pictures as a substitute for a tête-à-tête with Sebastian at age 10. Always a pleasure. (And don't be alarmed, but there are lots more pictures of all the other children still to come!)

You know how it is with kids and pictures, but after we got the mandatory silliness out of the way, I made up some nightmarish airport scenario and asked Seb to tell me how he'd get an airplane landed safely in those conditions. He was happy to oblige, complete with gestures and hypotheticals and caveats and tangents. I love the concentration in his manner when he's explaining something. He gets this very serious almost-scowl on his face and tilts his head a lot and uses his hands. He searches for the precise word he wants and examines your face to make sure you are following. I love it. And I love his furrowed brows and, when it breaks through, his sunny smile.

I haven't the foggiest, Fogg

We've had so much fog—and smog, I guess, or a mix of them, which is hard to coin a word for as "smog" is already a mashup. Perhaps smgog? Sfmog? Anyway, the smog lingers while the fog comes and goes, so there must be something different happening. 
I love the fog and I get excited every time I go outside and feel that damp, misty presence in the air—like someone watching you. I love the way the temple disappears until you get right up next to it, and the way the fog curls and comes around the tree branches like moonbeams. 

Gift ideas for ages 2-13 years

I wasn't going to write a post about Christmas gifts this year because I feel like no one got anything unexpected. I mean, don't misunderstand: it was a great Christmas. But sometimes I feel like I've found things that are kind of strange and tailored to my children's strange interests, and a post on them is helpful because one might not run across those things elsewhere. This year, the things I thought each child would like were basically the types of things any child their age would like, and in fact were the types of thing to appear on "hot gifts for 2015" lists and so forth.

However! Sebastian has been asking and asking me when I'm going to post about the Christmas presents, so I suppose if only for memory's sake, here we go. (Previous years' gift ideas are here, here, and here.)
We basically give one present per child, plus a few small necessities like socks or hair bands. Abe got the little robot BB-8 from Star Wars. He (BB-8) is really cute and fun and easy to control, and everyone likes him, including Nutmeg. Abe uses Sam's old phone as a controller. 
Sebastian got this quadcopter drone. There were so many choices and I know so little about drones that I thought I'd never figure out which one to get! But we've been really happy with this one. I looked for one that could be flown easily by beginners, and that could be flown indoors! We don't have tons of huge open spaces in our house, and I didn't want something that was always running into walls and breaking something, or breaking itself! But I also knew Seb would have to practice with it in the house before venturing out into a park or something where he might fly it onto a roof and lose it. This drone seems great on both counts. It's very sturdy and it has the propeller guards around it, so it won't hurt things when it crashes. It has a "headless mode" for flying, which I don't totally understand—something about it flying the way you are facing, rather than toward its usual "front"—but which is nice to have, Sebby assures me. And it's not so powerful that it's going to hurt anyone (and the propellers are plastic). Sebastian has gotten really good at flying it, faster than I thought he would. He can maneuver into all sorts of places! Sometimes we go over to the church and Seb flies it around the cultural hall while I practice the organ. Fun for all. :) I know this is going to be even more fun when the weather gets nice again and he can do more with it outside!
The other thing that's fun about this drone is that it has a video camera on it. It's pretty basic, I think, which is what I wanted (no use having some expensive camera that will just get lost or broken!) but it's really fun for Seb to get video of things from above. Again, I imagine this will be even more fun when he can do it outside.

The batteries run out really fast (as they do on most drones, apparently) so we got some extra so he can have more flying time at once, and so there can always be some charging. Extra batteries and propellers for this drone are here and here.
And here is a short video of Seb flying the drone.
[While we're on the subject of Christmas presents, Sam got me this arc lamp for our room and I love it.]
It's strange how much deliberation Daisy's present caused me. I think it's because I never really played with dolls as a little girl, so I had some sort of residual feeling that they were "dumb" (or at least not as good as stuffed animals). As I say, strange, because we do have other little baby dolls and we've liked them, and I have always loved looking at the American Girl Doll catalogs and exclaiming over all the darling clothes and tiny little accessories. But somehow it had never translated into me thinking one of my girls would actually like to have a doll. Anyway, this year I was thinking about how much Daisy loves matching things and tiny things, and it occurred to me that she would LOVE to have a little doll that she could dress up to match herself. So I started looking at dolls.

And of course, like anything, once you start getting into it, you realize that there are TONS of options, and TONS of opinions, and people who know way more about this than you ever even knew existed, and it gets a bit overwhelming. The number of blogs and websites devoted to American Girl stuff alone is kind of boggling. And I didn't want to start a huge collection or spend a ton of money, so I just wanted to pick any old thing and call it good, but I found (to my chagrin) that I DID start to have opinions about which dolls were cuter. And the cheapest kind (the Target ones)—I just didn't like! Unfortunately. I felt like I would be alarmed to see their faces staring at me from out of the darkness.

Without getting into all the boring details about rooted hair vs. wigged hair and so forth, suffice it to say that I finally, after way more research than I ever intended to do, decided that one of these Gotz dolls would be best for Daisy (and I think they have the sweetest, cutest faces too!). They are 18" tall, the same size as the American Girl dolls, and in fact use the same exact body AG used in the early years, I think. So they can wear all the same clothes and use the same accessories as AG. The trouble is, they're European-made, so you have to order them from a site like this one. (Pottery Barn Kids also has a line of Gotz dolls—but they're expensive!) OR—you can watch eBay. And used ones show up there quite often! And for really good prices! Like this and this and this. It was fun to wait and watch for a good one, like a treasure hunt! I learned that you can make a Gotz doll's hair nice and silky again by washing it with a little baby shampoo—or, if it seems really dry and damaged, by soaking it in fabric softener like this. Magic Eraser can get little marks off of the doll's limbs, and then she can look just as good as new! I was so happy about that.
Daisy LOVES her doll. She named her Rosie. She LOVES dressing her up and matching her, just as I knew she would. So even though getting a little girl a doll for Christmas is just about the most obvious present ever, I felt so pleased with myself for thinking of it and finding such a cute doll! :) It was super fun to shop for some doll clothes, too. Ebay and Etsy have SO MANY cute things. It's this whole world I never knew about!
Junie likes everything Daisy likes, but I wasn't sure she'd be ready to take care of a doll with hair yet, so I found her this Gotz baby doll, also on eBay for $10. (Like this one.) I think these baby dolls are so cute! They are 15", the same size as the American Girl Bitty Baby dolls, so you can find lots of clothes for them on eBay too.

Junie named her doll Violet, and she loves her.
AND! I didn't know I would love crocheting for dolls so much. Little tiny dresses and hats go so fast, and are so fun to make! You can see the hats I made for the girls and their dolls here.
And then little Goldie couldn't be left out, of course! I got her a tiny 12" baby doll, this kind. She is adorable. Her name is Fern. (Yes, all of these dolls have names I would happily give daughters. Rosie and Violet were natural choices for the older girls' dolls because whenever they used to play that they were babies, I would call them Baby Rosie and Baby Violet. And when I asked Goldie what her doll's name was, she said something that sounded like "FUN", which I interpreted as Fern whether it was or not because that name is adorable!)

What did little baby Teddy get, you ask? Nothing, that's what. Well, a couple little stuffed toys. He did play with the wrapping paper quite a bit, though! :)

And that was our Christmas this year!

Random Thoughts

Coloring (leftily)
I like it when I drool in my sleep. I always have. Even in high school and college when I would fall asleep in class and wake up with drool on my desk. I know that seems weird—I should have been embarrassed. But I think it's just that it shows such utter relaxation. It pleases me, upon waking, to realize that I was ever so completely relaxed. I'm more likely these days to wake with a clenched jaw and sore muscles, so I especially appreciate a relaxed sleep when I get it!

My children took a violent dislike to "Les Schwab Tire Co." sometime in the distant past. It seems a bit unfair (he didn't choose his name, after all—though I guess he did choose to make it his company name) but there it is. Whenever we drive past a store or a truck bearing the "Les Schwab" name, there are invariably several snorts of disgust and choruses of "Les Schwab, ha!" and other dark mutterings. Poor Les Schwab. I can't help but feel for him, whoever he is.
Speaking of names, we came across an almost perfect one in Wodehouse recently: the businessman J. Chichester Clam. I can't stop saying it to myself. J. Chichester Clam.

Whenever I hear about "the lake effect" I always correct it in my head to "the dreaded lake effect." This is wholly due to a science video I saw in grade school which so referred to it. For years and years I thought "the dreaded lake effect" was the official name of the phenomenon, which makes me hope it wasn't a topic that I talked about very often. I wonder about that school video now. Was it trying to be funny? Or is the lake effect truly so "dreaded"?

We've been planning for summertime earlier than ever this year because Sam has several workshops abroad. I think I'm going to get to go with him to a couple of them, and I'm SO excited! It's surprising how much fun it is to have something to look forward to. I'm not unhappy with our everyday routine; in fact, I like it, but having something different ahead gives me a little spark of excitement every time I think of it. I'm especially excited to go to London, where I lived for a few months while I was in college. I just keep thinking about all the places I loved and how I felt when I was there, all grown-up and truly on my own for the first time. It will be interesting to go back all these years later and see if any of those feelings return.
Bunnies have eyelashes, you know.
Some recent bon mots:

  • Junie: Mommy, today I want my M-E-L-C-T-H-I. [Pause.] I don't actually know how to spell "tutu."
  • Me: There are only three more hours left in the year.                                                             Junie: And then we'll die?
  • Goldie: [at Costco] *gasp* Look, a toilet! Mommy, I would LOVE to sit on that toilet!
  • Daisy: Hi, snowman. Somebody made you.

A Year of Theodore

Oh, Theodore, or "Fee-doe-doe," as Goldie would say. We love him so much. Here he is every month during this first year of his life. Obviously, in the last picture, he doesn't WANT to lie down by that bunny, and doesn't know why I would ask him to do so. Poor lamb.
He had a good birthday. He and I shared the birthday cake Sam made. Yum!
He's the baby who has everything, so we didn't get him any presents—just wrapped up his blankie in a box for him to open. Abe was so scandalized that I would do such a thing! I thought it was a great idea. Teddy liked finding his blankie in that box.
And here he is helping Sam put a chair together and trying to bite a vertical(ish) bar—an important milestone which every baby should achieve!

2000 years in 12 courses

We've been studying Clothing History for the last couple months, and for our end-of-unit celebration, I decided we'd have a big feast, with one course representing each historical era we studied. As we ate each course, we reviewed the clothing styles for the corresponding era and talked about various political and social events that occurred during that time period. (Each of the children also gave a report and presentation on one of the eras, but that's a post for another blog.)

I thought someone else might have fun trying this, so here are the (fairly subjective—after all, it's hard to whittle down periods of tens or hundreds of years to just one or two characteristic foods! Still, these were all things that seemed representative to me!) foods we made and the historical eras that went with them:


The girls have always liked their tutus, and they got some circle-skirt dresses for Christmas, so I find that photos of girls twirling make up a large part of my oevre these days. Here are some of them.
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