All belly, no button

Amos happily pointed out his own belly button, and Daddy's belly button, but nothing would induce him to look for a button on Mama's 8-month-pregnant belly. As he skipped away, he paused briefly to issue a correction over his shoulder. "No, it's a belly helmet!"


Sailing toward morning

When I asked Willie if I could post this picture on the Wuggy Chronicles, he was a little bit confused.

"But there isn't anything about ships in the Wuggy Chronicles, is there?"

I said that I guessed we'd have to change that, and his eyes grew wide.

"You mean the Wuggy Chronicles are real?

I nodded.

"All that funny stuff really happened in our family?"

He was very impressed, and as a writer, I was gratified to discover that my kids had been enjoying the dogeared two volume compilation (thanks, Mom and Dad!) as literature more than as family lore.

I'm not sure how he jumped from the idea that the Wuggy Chronicles are changeable to the idea that they are true, but somehow the connection feels exactly right.

Because truth is a vast ocean, and my ship is very small. May God breathe tenderly upon our fragile sails, and give us eyes to see the stars.


Coffee resuscitation

All the cool mommy bloggers shop at Aldi's. Then they post amazing tips about how they effortlessly feed their families nutritious gourmet food for mere pennies, and you could too... if only you had access to an Aldi's.

Well. Now that they've opened up an Aldi's right next to the fine arts academy where I teach, it's my turn to torment all of you.

Seriously, Aldi's is great. The prices are good, but the shopping experience is even better. It's so... simple. And straightforward. And so... not an endless vortex of confusion and manipulation.

Their coffee, however, is decidedly not great. I suppose the upside is that they really push fair trade. Their fair trade coffee is solidly mediocre, but a few weeks ago I tried their uncertified coffee, and was severely punished for my error.

Not. Even. Drinkable.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and coffee is definitely a necessity for a mother of six wuggies... or, for that matter, any other caffeine addicted human being with a boatload of stuff to get done.

I got my idea from bulletproof coffee, which obviously presupposes access to nice coffee and grassfed butter. The stuff I had on hand definitely wasn't going to make me bulletproof, but I wondered if my cheap Aldi's butter might make my cheap Aldi's coffee slightly more tolerable.

It took some tweaking too get the recipe right, but eventually, it worked. I put four "cups" of coffee in the blender (coffee-pot cups, that is) with a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of milk. Then I add as much sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg as I feel like, and maybe a drop off almond extract. I whiz it up until it's foamy and wonderful...

And then I try to persuade the wuggies that they really don't need a sip of my coffee.

That's the hard part.



Once in a blue moon we all get up early, to watch the uncracked dawn split open in the darkness, and bleed across the face of the moon until it turns to blue-gray ash.

Which sounds kinda macabre when you put it like that, except it wasn't. It was glorious and peaceful, except for the part where we were squabbling over the telescope, but even that wasn't too bad, and when that blinding sliver of moonlight reappeared against the deep periwinkle sky... well Willie said it looked just like any other crescent moon, but Nathan said out was like that bird that's reborn from the ashes.

We looked at it through the telescope, and that was nice, but not as nice as sitting on the park bench and just being there. I tried to take a picture, but all I got was a grainy shot of darkness with a tiny fuzzy spot of light that insisted on spreading out beyond its boundaries.

The way light does.

Now it is full daylight here, and the moon is free from our shadow. It's a perfectly normal morning.


Surely it comes as no surprise that Isaiah fell asleep over the newspaper.


Wuggy Science Fiction: Isaiah's Space Roller Coaster

What if there was a roller coaster that went around Earth, and was in space? It would be a big hollow ring that goes around Earth.

There would be a station where spaceships would drop off passengers and take them back to earth, like at a train station. There would be a big line.
The roller coaster would probably take a couple of months or maybe even a year to go around earth, so probably they would have to have a bunch of food and drinks. I think people might get bored after a while, because the roller coaster would be going on for days.
Even a space roller coaster would get boring after a day or two.



Summer is a time for listening. Listening to crickets and birdsong, to the wind rustling in the treetops and the frothy murmur of the endless waves of traffic, the airplanes overhead, and the buzzing air-conditioners that never, ever turn off this time of year. It's time of pausing to realize just how little silence there is, a time of noticing and acknowledging all the noise.

Above all it's a time of listening to toddlers, of stopping to figure out what that tantrum was really about. The louder it gets, the harder it is to listen, but listening well is usually a prerequisite to peace.

But in this season, even peace is pretty noisy, and Dadders and I seem to be the only ones craving stillness. Well, September, too, but at any rate, we're soundly outnumbered. And even now, as I write out loud to the wuggies, Kai-kai insists that he doesn't want to listen to my song, he wants to listen to Bopatado. (The round red guy who hangs out with Larry the Cucumber, in case you're not used to listening to this particular two-year-old.)

He's really asking quite sweetly (though insistently), and you know, I think we will.

There's a time for stillness, and a time for Silly Songs With Larry and Bopatado, everything in it's season under the glow of the setting sun.



Nathan wants me to write on the Wuggy Chronicles.

About Kai-kai and Amos, perhaps. Or bees.

I guess you could say that we're swarming with new life around here. Fortunately, the apiary contingent has been safely relocated to the farm of some delightfully eccentric beekeepers, who captured our imaginations with their amazing stories while they sucked up 10,000 or so honeybees with their shopvac. An alpha-swarm, they told us gleefully, and presumable ready to produce gallons and gallons of honey. 150 pounds a year, if Isaiah's memory serves correctly, and Nathan remembers that they said it would be enough to feed a whole village, though I'm not certain of what size or honey-consumption patterns.

(Nathan also reminds me to tell you that the beekeepers have lots of enormous bullfrogs on their farm, and that one of their friends had been killed by bees, and that they didn't kill our bees, but put them in a box. Of which box we were very sternly warned: Do. Not. Touch.)

 I'm told that when honeybees try to settle into a new home, they build precisely one new row of honeycomb per day. Sure enough, there were four rows of snow-white fresh honeycomb, one for each of the frantic days that it took to get someone out to our house to get those bees out of here. Apparently bee migration season coincides with peak honey production season, and every beekeeper in the area had a several-week waiting list. That would have added up to at least fourteen rows of honeycomb, not to mention all the honey.

But during one of those (many, and mostly fruitless) phone calls, a wild rumpus broke out, and it became manifestly obvious to the beekeeper on the other end of the line that there were children in the house. Lots of them. (Six, in case you've lost count. Nathan would like me to be sure to tell you that Amos was born four months ago. But back when this happened, he was still only three months old, and still colicky.) At any rate, the interruptions made my case better than I ever could have, and he agreed to drop everything and come that very evening, which is how it happened that the wuggies only got four rows of honeycomb and only one bee sting.

(Kai-kai was a very good sport about the sting, and his big brother Willie showed so much compassion that this part of the story is actually one that I treasure dearly in my heart.)

Finally the wuggies have something to take to the zoo trading shop, assuming that they don't use it for sealing wax instead, and we've all become a little bit obsessed with bees. Bees are more wonderful and fascinating and important and dangerous than I ever imagined, and bee-keeping has assumed a delightful role in all our agrarian fantasies. But oh, how my skin is crawling as I type, just remembering all those bees swarming by the front door of our townhouse.

Ever since the wuggies first grew old enough to upend their bowls of cereal all over the dining room floor, I've known that the promised land was a mighty sticky place. Back then I thought it was just a silly pun; mere humor.

But slowly I'm learning that there's nothing "mere" to humor at all, and even puns can be profound. The rose comes with its thorns, and the honey with its stings. Everything is bittersweet, and sometimes the only way to see clearly is to laugh so hard that the tears stream down your face.

Life is good. God has blessed us abundantly, overwhelmingly. We're so grateful, and so exhausted. It's very, very sweet, and very sticky. And when I remember to laugh, there's a sweetness in the sticky, too.