A Very Merry Christmas

All in all, I do believe that the move rather enhanced our Christmas festivities. The massive pile of boxes became the Bethlehem hillsides once draped in blankets, and Christmas dinner was a smashing success, being prepared solely with disposable cookware. And that one dish that didn't make it into the box. Okay, okay, I confess. So I unpacked a single, measly saute pan. But still.

A traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings was quite out of the question. Moreover, leftovers are only a good thing if you are planning on leaving your refrigerator plugged in for the next week. So I went small and simple, but very special, and roasted us a filet mignon, with a rosemary and red wine marinade, and sauted shitake mushrooms.

And thus it is that I finally found I way that the wuggies will actually eat beef. Their eyes grew wide as they mawed on it enthusiastically and with great delight. I also discovered that they absolutely adore steamed green beans. And of course they loved the brown-and-serve rolls.
Put some candles on the table, and Meepo's in ecstasy. "Laight! Laight!"

Actually, though, what with the busyness of moving and all, the boys have been getting a special treat for dinner almost every night. Kraft mac 'n cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, chicken mcnuggets... filet mignon.


Decking the Halls

No boughs of holly, though. Or mistletoe or pointsettas. Or even a Christmas tree for that matter. We are having a completely non-toxic, toddler-friendly Christmas.

On a tight budget, too, since in the midst of moving, there is little surplus money, and considerably less surplus time. I've had lights up for a while, but other than that, my Christmas decorating pretty much started yesterday, when it finally dawned on me that it was time to give up trying to go home for Christmas, and start bringing Christmas home to us.

Which means that I've had no choice but to make everything very simple and streamlined. Unable to carry out all the traditional particulars, I've been distilling them down to their essences. The results, in my opinion, are surprisingly elegant and festive.

A tree is the single most important element of Christmas decorating. When you have toddlers, it is also a recipe for lots and lots of stress. The tree fills two main functions. It provides a center around which the festivities can gather, and it fills the room with its pungent fragrance.

So I bought a kid-friendly stuffed manger scene, and set it up the pile of boxes. I draped the boxes with blankets. White on the lower level looks a bit like snow, and midnight blue on the upper level makes a glorious sky, especially when speckled with the starlight provided by a little battery operated mini-light set.

Of course the wuggies dismantle everything, but that's okay. We sit down and join them in playing with it, and then put it away. It's easy enough to set up, and take down, and set up again.

As far as the smell goes, I went down to the tree lot on the corner, and brought home a bunch of discarded branches. I've been fashioning them into really beautiful little arrangements with pinecones and ribbons. It smells really wonderful in here. There certainly isn't a whole tree's worth of greenery in here, but there really does seem to be a whole tree's worth of smell, since all the branches have been broken off, and are releasing their wonderfully fragrant sap.

And some wassail simmering in the crock-pot makes up for the fact that I'm not doing any holiday baking.

We'll go to the midnight mass tonight, and, depending on our level of exhaustion, gather around the manger scene when we get home, and open presents. I'm hoping that the disruption to our usual schedules will make it all very exciting and festive. Either that or grumpy. We'll see.

In any case, I'm very excited about instituting our own family's brand new Christmas traditions. And I think that the very spur-of-the-momentness of it is sparking a lot of creativity.

I still very much wish that I could be with my family right now, but this is good. Very good.


I'll be home for Christmas...

...but only in my dreams...

It just didn't happen. The packing isn't done, and we can't go to Arizona.

It will be quite the makeshift Christmas, with everything packed up... er... almost everything, almost packed up.

And yet somehow there is something very Christmassy about joyously making do, forming a landscape out of the piles of boxes to create a setting for the Christ child's manger.



We're not big TV people, but in times of great stress, Star Trek is our drug of choice. It requires almost no intellectual or emotional effort, and a quite minimal time investment, but still manages to be fun and intersting, and sparks fun conversations about archetypal roles and the nature of sentience. Pretty good for mindless entertainment.

Anyway, like I said, we're not big TV people in general, but over the last week or so, we've been watching a LOT. The folks at the video rental don't bother to ask for my phone number anymore, they just pull up our account when they see me and my pile of dusty VHS tapes. "Wow. You sure like Star Trek."

I found this rather disturbing. That's just not the sort of mother I want to be, known by name at the video store because she's constantly exposing her toddlers to lots of dreadfully non-interactive television.

My guilt heightened when I paused the tape to fix myself a cup of nice, hot, pear-flavored white tea. Nathan ran up to the blue screen and pointed up at it pleadingly.

"Mo! More book!"

I guess they'll be okay.


Boys will be boys

When I was a little girl, I slept with Big Bear and my Cabbage Patch Tina Rosette.

Isaiah sleeps with his basketball.


We're on our way out the door to go put a deposit on a


You have no idea how excited I am.


The wuggies are most exceedingly good at unpacking.

And thus it is that I greatly fear we will never actually reach that stage of the operation.


Feeling Blue

You may (or may not!) be surprised to learn that as a teenager, I contemplated dying my hair blue. Not out of any sort of adolescent rebellion, but because, hey, I look really good in blue.

But then an acquaintance (also naturally blond) dyed her hair blue. Sure enough, she was fabulously gorgeous... for the first week. Then it began to fade a bit, and looked pretty much horrendous for months thereafter. So I took this as an excellent opportunity to learn from someone else's mistakes, and aside from the occasional streaks of cerulean mascara, never actually acted upon this whim of mine.

Until this morning.

See, my hair was looking great, so I wasn't going to wash it. I just swept it up out of the way with a pen as I drew the bathwater.

That's right. A blue pen.

And I did wash my hair after all.

Isaiah and the Amazing Flying Cow Posted by Picasa


Looking on the bright side

Well, the good news is that we won't need to worry about packing up the microwave.


Nate-bug always likes pointing out pictures of babies, but when he saw the picture of Rachel and HIS bay-bee, (Sharon, it should be waiting on your hotmail account when you next get out to the city) he was wildly ecstatic. "Bay-bee! Bay-bee Sept!" He would not allow me to close up the computer hutch until I'd printed him out a copy of his very own. He then held the picture up to Tembo herself, and kept pointing back and forth between them.

I tried to get a picture, but then he became interested in the camera, and all I ended up capturing was the fact that I really needed to vaccum. =)


Rachel and September. And the Mottling. You can't see him, but he made a great little seat for September. Tembo says that she's most definitely got the mommy touch. Posted by Picasa

Brotherly Love

As I was changing Isaiah's diaper, Nathan climbed up into September's chair and started kissing her vigorously. I rushed up as quickly as I could to rescue my poor baby.

When I pried Nathan away, I was not a bit surprised that he complained vociferously about being yanked away from his beloved Bay-bee.

I was a bit surprised, though, when Bay-bee burst into tears at being separated from her beloved brudder-wuggy.

Oh yes.

An Adventure

The Tercel's gas meter hits the red empty line when the tank goes down to about half-full.

The one on the Doopah-mobile hits the red line shortly after sputtering to a halt.

Looking on the bright side, we now know for certain that we can go exactly 348.3 miles on a tank of gas.


Whoever said not to cry over spilled milk...

...must not have had carpeting.



I'm in the middle of David Copperfield right now. It is amazing. For the most part, I've been listening to an outstanding recording performed by Patrick Tull. The man is an incredible actor, with a deep, rich voice that takes on a distinct quality for each character.

The only problem is that I seem to have accidentally skipped a tape. Or maybe just one side of a tape. In any case, it is now clear that an exceedingly important even has occured in the story... but I never actually heard about the event itself.

Rather than try to figure out which tape I missed, I started flipping through our paper copy, trying to find the scene.

There was only one problem. I couldn't find the spot I was looking for, because on every page I turned to, I found a scene that I simply could not pass without rereading.

It's just that good.


What do you do?

When your son throws a tantrum in church...

...because he wants to go outside?


Home, Sweet Home

Well, I think we found it. A tiny two-bedroom single-wide mobile home, 10 minutes from church. Nothing fancy... but exceedingly cute. The bedrooms are tiny. It'll be quite a squeeze, but I think we can do it. What really matters is the kitchen... and the kitchen is absolutely perfect. Spacious and well-planned, with room for a table and chairs. The manager was a bit apologetic that it didn't have a separate dining room, but we see that as a good thing. When you have toddlers, eating over carpeting is just a really bad idea. I am really looking forward to cooking in a kitchen that makes sense. You know, one with counters. And cupboards that you can access without excessive contortion. Speaking of cupboards, as an added bonus, the adorable oak cupboards make it feel so home-ey.

The park is cute... clean and pleasant and full of families.

We have a little patch of grass on which to put a climbing aparatus for the wuggies, and a little patch of gravel that we could turn into a garden.


... laundry hookups!!!

I am so excited about this place. All of these things are going to make such a big difference in our lives. Kitchen. Laundry. Flowers. And best of all, we'll live close enough to really get involved in our wonderful church family.

Thank you, Jesus.



I just found myself taking away an orange, explaining that it wasn't a ball. I then replaced it with a foam block, explaining that the little cube actually was a ball.

They'll never learn their shapes at this rate.

Please don't tell their geometer of a father.


The good news:

We found the townhouse apartment of our dreams, and I am quite cured of all desire for a single-family dwelling.

The bad news:

The rent is $500 beyond our budget.


Wasting Thyme

The other day, our apartment smelled like cinnamon once more, but this time it wasn't Mr. Wuggidy's doing, but mine, thanks to a big bag of beautifully fragranced pine cones. I haven't gotten around to actually doing any decorating with them, but they still smell lovely, even in the bag.

Last night however, let's just say I found the wuggies with too much thyme on their hands.

Now it smells like... um... mixed spices.


Interior Design

I love candles... but of course, you can't light candles anywhere a toddler might get at them. Which leaves sconces as our only option. I've been on the lookout ever since the wuggies became mobile, but alas, I could only find things that were either hideous or way out of our budget. Usually both. But the other day, I was delighted to find some quite tasteful wall sconces at Big Lots... $2.99 for a box of 2!

So we've been spending our evenings in the light of candles and christmas lights. The wuggies are even more delighted than I am, which, quite frankly, I would have thought impossible. They are forever pointing, and squealing, "Laigh! Laigh!"

I've put up three candle holders so far, but haven't found the right spot for the fourth.

This morning, however, I found the wuggies with the remaining sconce, carefully holding it up against the wall, examining it and conferring about the best place to hang it.

They really do seem to have a good eye for placement. That would have been a lovely spot.

Except that hanging it where the wuggies could get at it would have rather defeated the purpose.
Posted by Picasa


The other day, Andy gave me an early Christmas present.

Glad: An Acapella Christmas

It's out of print (er... out of dub? Out of burn?) but he found me a used copy on Amazon.

Suddenly it very much feels like Advent around here.

I can remember the year that Uncle Jim and Aunt Cindy gave us this album, sometime around junior high, or early high school. So I know it wasn't actually a part of all my childhood Christmasses... but it nevertheless forms the soundtrack for all my Christmas memories. The music captures like no other the essence of what Christmas means to me.

The life of the Church tends to center around Easter, but it was Christmas that was at the heart of our spiritual life as a family. The incarnation, cruxifiction, and resurrection of the God-Man is one inextricably united mystery. You cannot remember one part without pondering the whole... and the whole was most clearly before us at Christmastime, as we tried to wrap our minds around the helpless infant who was God Almighty, the unwed teen mother who was the chosen vessel for the Salvation of the world, and the birth that was heralded by angelic choirs... but no room in the inn.

Glad's soaring vocal harmonies are filled with a rich and free reverence, unconstrainedly flowing from a deep awe at deeper mysteries. Filled with parallel fifths and deceptive cadences, their unexpected harmonic interperetations of familiar melodies sound almost medieval, but the intricate rhythms are thoroughly modern. Their music is a glorious fusion of the old and the new, high art and low---uniquely fitting for remembrance of the God who came down and clothed himself in human flesh.


Who among you, when your son asks for bread, would give him a stone?

No. Most certainly not.

I would, however, have given them a nice soft foam ball.

They didn't bother to ask, though, so now the entire loaf of stone-ground whole wheat bread is strewn across the floor.

Between Tembo's undeveloped digestive system, and her big brothers' well-developed throwing arms... well, either way, when food becomes projectiles, it's not a pretty sight.

I tell you... we're having a ball.

Let's hear it for "The Wiggy Chronicles!"

I guess one of the hazards of making up your own words is that people are unlikely to spell them properly. Ah, well. At least I'm doing my part to keep the English language alive and well.

In any case, misspellings aside, I'm quite honored to be listed among the finalists for Best Parenting Blog over at the Weblog Awards.

So show your support for your favorite wiggy wuggies, and cast a vote for "The Wiggy Chronicles."

Whenever they manage to get the polls working, that is.



Not many kids get excited over onions, but our little wuggies were ecstatic when they saw the lovely white orbs as I unloaded the groceries.



The other day, Andy gave me an early Christmas present.

Glad: An Acapella Christmas

It's out of print (er... out of dub? Out of burn?) but he found me a used copy on Amazon.

Suddenly it very much feels like Advent around here.

I can remember the year that Uncle Jim and Aunt Cindy gave us this album, sometime around junior high, or early high school. So I know it wasn't actually a part of all my childhood Christmasses... but it nevertheless forms the soundtrack for all my Christmas memories. The music captures like no other the essence of what Christmas means to me.

The life of the Church tends to center around Easter, but it was Christmas that was really at the heart of our spiritual life as a family. The incarnation, cruxifiction, and resurrection of the God-Man is one inextricably united mystery. You cannot remember one part without pondering the whole... and the whole was most clearly before us at Christmastime, as we tried to wrap our minds around the helpless infant who was God Almighty, the unwed teen mother who was the chosen vessel for the Salvation of the world, the birth that was heralded by angelic choirs... but no room in the inn.

Glad's soaring vocal harmonies are filled with a rich and free reverence, unconstrainedly flowing from a deep awe at deeper mysteries. Filled with parallel fifths and deceptive cadences, their unexpected harmonic interperetations of familiar melodies sound almost medieval, but the intricate rhythms are thoroughly modern. Their music is a glorious fusion of high art and low---uniquely fitting for remembrance of the God who came down and clothed himself in human flesh.


Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

Yes, it's true. I buy my children breakfast cereal based on the toys that come in the box.

Er... well... at least when Cheerios stuffs their boxes with cheaply bound editions of fantastic children's picture books.

Contrary to my first impression, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! is not a vehicle for Cheerios ads, but rather is a gem of a book, with a new twist on the familiar theme of the gardener vs. the bunnies.

The wuggies love it, but I think I get even more excited over it than they do. The musician in me delights in its form and structure. Lots of repetition, growing in complexity with each iteration, and vast variety in the creative references to those flop-eared puff-tails. An exquisite balance of simplicity and complexity, unity and diversity. Not to mention the delightful onomonopoea, always a wonderful thing, and especially at this age.

All in all, a fantastic book... one which I will most definitely replace when the boys inevitably destroy this copy.

Tippy, tippy, tippy, pat....

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!


Mama has a new sweater.

It is very spiffy. It has a zipper. Zippers are lots of fun.

Next time, Mama's going to wear a tank top under her sweater.

Oh yes.

The search is on!

We've given our 30 days notice.

Now all we have to do is find a new place...


Freudian slip?

I just went to napquest.com.

There I found hotel ads galore, lying in wait for weary travelers such as I.


Locked Out

We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast to announce that the Bug has locked himself in the hallway.

Off to climb through the bathroom window...


Another Big Helper-Boy

While Nate-Bug helps me take care of Bay-bee, Isaiah helps me keep the apartment nice and tidy. Whenever I change a diaper, Isaiah takes great pride in being entrusted with the job of throwing it away.

This truly is a big help--at least, when it's diapers he's throwing away.

Nevertheless, as I look at the dwindling contents of my silverware drawer, I have to wonder if it might not have been better to keep the trash strictly off limits.


Why you should always cut grape tomatoes in half before feeding them to your toddlers

I always thought it was to prevent choking.


It's to make them look less like balls.

Baby Bjorn

Time is money, and when you're short on both, sometimes there are a few big ticket items that you can't afford not to invest in. For us, a Baby Bjorn was one of those things. It is simply the best baby carrier out there. Other carriers are useful--a good compromise for when you want to be cuddling your baby but need to be vacuuming. But there's no compromise necessary with the Baby Bjorn, it cuddles baby up to your chest just the way your arms would, at the perfect height for eye contact and interaction. Unlike other models with their plethora of confusing straps and buckles, it is quite simple to take on and off. And as an extra bonus, I can wander about a crowded grocery store without anyone noticing that I'm nursing.

The difference is in the details--but for something that you're going to use this much, the details matter. It is a delight to use, which means it actually gets used... and much more of the vacuuming gets done.

And the beautifully balanced design is inspiring, a sort of tactile image of the way a well-run household ought to work.

It's a bit pricey... but it's more than paid for itself in meals that we didn't have to get at McDonalds, because Mama's got things under control.


First Thanksgiving

This year was Tembo-Teff's first Thanksgiving ever, and Isaiah's first Thanksgiving dinner that he stayed awake for. (Not that he would try anything but rolls and cranberry sauce....)

And it was my first Thanksgiving as a woman. Or at least as the woman.

Three years ago, Andy and I drove out to Arizona to spend our first Thanksgiving together with my family. We managed to roll in just as they were clearing the table. So I didn't have a whole lot to do with that Thanksgiving dinner.

Our second Thanksgiving, I was exceedingly great with child--er, make that children--and although the doctor gave me permission to sit up for a (short) Thanksgiving dinner, I wasn't allowed to so much as wash a single dish. My family came out, and I lay on the couch busily gestating while Mom did everything.

Last year, my parents and sister and grandparents all came out, and we had a splendid four-generation celebration. That one was a collaborative effort.

But this year, it was just me.

Tim and Rachel came over, bearing yams and pie, and I brined and roasted a turkey, mashed potatoes with cream cheese, made cranberry sauce and fruit salad, baked rolls and made fresh butter in my new bread machine. And defrosted a bag of green beans. (Hey, you can only do so much!)

At the beginning of the week I had all sorts of good intentions about how organized I was going to be. I would do my shopping on Monday, mash the potatoes on Tuesday, make cranberry sauce on Wednesday, and on Thanksgiving Day I would only have to do the turkey and fruit salad. And defrost the beans, of course.

I forgot to reckon on the difficulty of getting anything done with three wuggies underfoot.

Thanks to much help from Mary-Kate Reynolds, I did indeed get the shopping done on Monday. And on Tuesday, I cut up the potatoes. On Wednesday, I started to boil the potatoes, and on Thursday, I threw them out and started all over again.

So yesterday was pretty crazy. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was highly intimidated. I felt utterly incompetent... and yet when all was said and done, I had a tender, moist turkey with a deep, rich gravy, and beautiful dinner rolls with freshly churned butter. The cranberries and fruit salad were respectable, if unremarkable. And let me tell you, I can defrost a mean bag of green beans.

All in all it was quite a confidence-builder. It's funny--most holidays are about rest. We take the day off, we pause our work to remember. But for a woman and a homemaker, Thanksgiving is a day of particularly hard work. While this often winds up being true of most holidays, it's a good and wonderful and essential part of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a celebration of her work itself, not just the end result, but the raw materials and the process.

It was a joyous day in the kitchen, yesterday, engaged in the good labor of feeding the family with which God has abundantly blessed us, with the food he has so richly provided.

It is good.



Marshmallows are super-duper. Not only are they scrum-tiddly-uptious, but they're also good for throwing. The wuggies had a splendid marshmallow fight. It was lots of fun.

Oh yes.

But then... uh-oh! Marshmallows are sticky. When the wuggies went on their next TP-ing expedition, the tissue stuck to their fingers in funny long, white, trails.

Isaiah quickly became very absorbed in the fascinating problem of disentangling himself from the marshmallows and toilet paper. Nathan, on the other hand, was very upset, and threw himself across my lap, crying piteously.

I must confess, I had very little sympathy. Wuggy-o-mine, you just covered the entire living room with our second-to-last roll of toilet paper, and ground marshmallows into into the carpet....

....and now you're upset because your fingers are a little sticky???


Boys will be boys

We've been TP'd again.


More blessings, still more cleverly disguised...

As I was reaching for a little spouty measuring cup in which to mix up some homemade salad dressing, it occurred to me for the very first time that a salad dressing bottle would be awfully nice. That way I could save some for next time, instead of trying to guess exactly how much we would use in one meal. Besides, dressings really ought to be shaken, not stirred---and a pyrex measuring cup looks pretty silly on the table.

A faint splashing sound snapped me out of my reverie.

Well, it was a different flavour than I was initially intending, but my balsamic vinaigrette was quite lovely in the beautiful red wine vinegar bottle.

So much for my cinnamon-scented kitchen.



September is a baby, and wherever there is a baby, there are a few favorite pastimes that everyone around likes to engage in. One of the most prominent of these is searching for family resemblance.

Almost always, they spend a few moments unsuccessfully attempting to find Andy or me in her features. When they move on to her big brothers, they are faced with a different sort of dilemma. Nobody can quite decide which one of her brothers she looks like.

But one thing is certain. She bears a decided resemblance to both of her brothers, and not particularly to either of her parents. Which is very strange indeed, since Nathan and Isaiah look very much like us, and very little like one another.

But most people are agreed on this, so there you have it. The transitive property is very much applicable to equations, inequalities, and cranberry juice... but apparently not to facial features.

Even though her face doesn’t particularly look like either of ours yet, though, her soul does. As I look into my little daughter’s eyes, I see my own soul looking back at me. In an intangible but very real way, I sense that she perceives the world in precisely the way that I do.

She is a reverberation of my soul, and wonder of wonders, the echo is every bit as real as I am.

Rude Awakening

Waking up to a glass of cold water in the face is one thing.

Waking up to a glass of cold cranberry juice in the face is another.


Happiness is...

...rushing home after realizing that my fabulous Saturday morning with girlfriends had stretched muuucchh looonger than it was supposed to, and finding peacefully napping children, a sparkling clean apartment, and 18 gloriously red roses on the table.

And a wonderful husband.


The Transitive Property of Cranberry Juice

Nate-bug likes to pour his juice all over himself.

Nate-bug likes to give everybody lots of cuddles.

Now everybody's covered in cranberry juice!

Oh yes.

Blessings in disguise

A while back, we were at the mall of a Sunday afternoon, and stopped at Cinnabon to remedy one of those sudden late-pregnancy blood-sugar drops. And I marvelled at how absolutely scrumptiously cinnamony their rolls were. Ever so much better than mine. There's just a whole new dimension to the flavor that's utterly missing from my baking. I wondered if maybe they used cinnamon oil in addition to powdered cinnamon?

Well, it turns out that I must not have been the only one wishing to incorporate their marvelous cinnamoneyness into my own kitchen, since the next time I was at Cinnabon, the counter was lined with little jars of high-quality cinnamon for sale.

But I had lots and lots of cinnamon at home. I was still only about half-way through that humongous jar of cinnamon that I got as a wedding present three years ago. Of course, by now it tasted more like wood than like cinnamon, but it was cinnamon nevertheless, and there was no way I could justify buying more cinnamon until I used it up... in another six or seven years. (My cinnamon use was rapidly declining, as my cinnamon grew staler and staler.)

Last week, however, Mr. Wuggidy solved my dilemma. If the cinnamon loses its flavor, it is fit only to be flung about the floor and trampled on, so my sons did precisely that. It made quite a mess, but it vaccumed up easily, and the kitchen smelled wonderful.

And everytime I used the vaccum, the scent of cinnamon filled the air.

Er... make that the scent of cinnamon-ish wood.



Last night September smiled. She's smiled before, but this time it was her own smile, not ours reflected back. Dadders made silly faces at her, and played ski-jump with her upturned little nose, and tickled the little snuggle-spot between her chins, and she smiled. She smiled and smiled and smiled, a beautiful, flickering, everchanging expression of her very own delightful delight.

A new dimension of her personality is unfolding for us, shedding light on everything we knew about her before. So utterly continuous with everything we've known of her so far, and yet so surprising and unexpected. The unexpectedness of it all is not so much who she turns out to be, but the fact that it is who she was all along. Indeed, given everything we've known of her over the past months, she couldn't possibly be any other way. And yet we didn't know her, know this part of her, until last night.

It's like staring at a half-finished jigsaw puzzle in bewilderment. Suddenly, you look at the box and everything makes sense, and you no longer can comprehend how you didn't see it all along.

Birth was the same way. When I was pregnant with the twins, I was very conscious of lots of in utero bonding going on. My whole life revolved around them, so of course I felt a powerful bond. But when I was pregnant with the Persephone-child, my life still pretty much revolved around the twins, and I was dreadfully disappointed to find that I didn't really feel much of anything about the unseen little person squirming in my belly.

She was simply a part of me.

It wasn't until she was born that I realized just how well I knew her, had always known her. From time to time a look or a gesture takes my breath away with its utter familiarity. Now I see what I felt in my womb so many times, felt and hardly noticed, but oh, the memory is so clear and precious now!

Like the memory of the first time I kissed my little Isaiah, too weak and feeble and numb and scared to savor the moment...

Or maybe it was just that the moment was too big and too precious to be savoured all at once.



There are two big amorphous messes in our home, that continuously grow, sucking everything in the vicinity into their disorder. Actually, there are lots of messes around here, and all messes seem to behave that way... but for the most part, we conquor them on the weekends, and they rise up again, and we conquor them again... Two messes, however, have managed to evade our efforts, week after week, month after month.

In the closet, there is a huge basket filled with yarn left over from sundry projects, many of which I abandoned because the yarn became entirely too tangled to do anything with it except leave it in a heap to collect sundry small items in its elaborately confused web.

The other mess is the toybox.

'Nuff said.

And so it is that I am knitting the leftover yarn into drawstring baggies with which to organize the wuggies toys. The duplos will be in one bag, the little people in another, and never the twain shall meet. The children will happily play with one neatly homogenous set of toys, until they decide to put it away and pull out a different one. Blissful order. And the closet will be free of the overflowing basket of yarn.

My mother is quite skeptical about my ability to solve the age-old problem of the disorganized toy box.

My husband is quite skeptical about my ability to see such a large-scale knitting project to completion.

They're probably both right.

But I have to try.


Of pots and kettles, beams and splinters

The snottiest-nosed of my children is going about the apartment rousing his sleeping siblings by wiping their relatively (albeit incompletely) clean noses witha cold baby wipe.

He protests greatly, however, when I attempt to wipe his nose.

The stubble rule--do unto others what you really ought to have done unto you, but would greatly rather not.

Investment Strategies

Nathan decided to invest in the Doopah-Mobile's stereo system.

Our van is now worth $.25 more than it was yesterday.


Honey, you turn me on

Being an itinerant math teacher, Andy spends a considerable amount of time each week roaming the freeways of SoCal in our zippy little turtle. (14 years old and 38 MPG. What a great car!) The time is well spent, though. Thanks to Blackstone Audio and the Cerritos Library audio-book collection, he gets to carpool with Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Charles Dickens. Because of the fabulously long commutes, he actually has time to "read."

Yesterday afternoon, though, it was just him and me in the car. Well, mostly. We left the boys with a sitter while we went to the Huntington Library with only September for a chaperone. We spent more time on the freeway going to and fro than we actually did at the Library itself, but that was just fine. Driving is almost as nice as walking as a context for uninterrupted conversation.

As we got onto the 5, the wind whooshed noisily through the windows. Andy couldn't quite catch what I was saying about grad school.

So he reached down to the stereo volume control to turn me up.




We are completely out of Desitin.

We are completely out of clean laundry.

And yes, there is a connection.



Nathan just learned to apply the moniker "Jeep" to one of his trucks.

And there was great rejoicing.


Receptive Vocabulary

Everybody says that kids can understand a whole lot long before they start talking.

I kept wondering when that would happen.

It turns out that it happens the moment you start talking to them as though you expect them to understand.

Sunday afternoon at Claim Jumper Andy and I were marvelling at how much Autumn understands. Far, far, more than our boys do. Brian gently pointed out that we might start seeing better results if we talked to the boys with the assumption that they could understand us.

He was right. And I'm amazed.

The funny thing is, this is something I've always been very passionate about. Children are remarkably pliable creatures, and will live up to your expectations of intelligence or stupidity. I've always been convinced that it is very important to interact with your children with the assumption that they are capable of understanding a great deal.

I just had no idea it would start being an issue so soon.

You see, I have a very hard time behaving as though they are capable of understanding, when I'm not capable of understanding how they could possibly figure it out. I suppose it's time to come to grips with the fact that my children are considerably more intelligent than I am. Far less wise-- astoundingly foolish, in fact. But like most little ones, their raw capacity for learning vastly exceeds that of my fossilized 23-year-old brain.

I'm a little bit jealous, a lot amazed...

...and thrilled at the privilege.


Dressing with Pickle Relish

The wuggies now cooperate with dressing.

Not after diaper changes, not before bed, and most certainly not while we're getting ready for church. But at random intervals throughout the day, they will bring me assorted items of clothing to try on.

Meanwhile, they are becoming quite adept at the art of undressing themselves. Completely. Without any help.

This could be a rather useful skill...

...if they were potty trained.


The trouble with being in possession of a girl-child of astonishing beauty...

...is that people think you're absolutely nuts.

I suppose I should preface this tale by explaining that although most people carry their children in some contraption or other, on those rare occasions when I only have one of mine with me, I prefer to simply carry her in my arms. It's just cozier and more personal that way, and since one-on-one time is hard to come by, that's an important consideration for me.

At any rate, September and I stopped at the farmers market in Brea yesterday, much to the delight of the extraordinarily baby-hungry herb merchants. I fantasized about having an herb garden, and the herb lady fantasized about having more babies, we both determined that now would be entirely the wrong time for such a project, and September and I trotted off to smell the orchids a few stands over.

As I lifted my little girl up to sniff the pretty flowers, almost as pretty as herself, the grandmotherly orchid-grower examined us closely with a very perplexed look on her face.

Suddenly she burst into delight.

"Oh! Your baby... she's real!"


Mama's Big Helper

Tembo-Teff is a very sweet-tempered little girl, and extraordinarily easy to keep happy. As long as you're holding her, that is.

But sometimes Mama's busy making meatloaf when the small Persephone-child wants to be cuddled.

Meepo is very helpful. Oh yes. He loves his little sister, and does everything he can think of to comfort her. First he tries jouncing her chair congenially. And vigorously. This does not make September happy. It does not make Mama happy, either.

So he tries another tactic. This time, he goes to his shirt drawer, pulls out an orange long-sleeved T-shirt, and stuffs it in Bay-bee's face. Bay-bee is quiet. Mama is not quiet, though, so he takes the shirt away and tries giving her his finger to suck on.

Uh-oh. Mama doesn't know where Meepo's fingers have been. She does, however, know that her own fingers are covered in raw beef, so Tembo merrily sucks on big brother's finger while Mama cleans up.

But Meepo's fingers aren't what September really wants, so they can only satisfy her for so long. So Meepo starts pushing his fingers further back in her mouth. She doesn't like that very much. Good thing Mama's hands are finally clean again!

Oh yes.


Twin Day at Stater Bros.

Yesterday's shopping trip was a fiasco. Instead of merrily driving along, spinning their respective steering wheels, they each fought for control of the other steering wheel. Much screaming and hair-pulling ensued. Which made me want to do some screaming of my own, and pull my own hair out. Instead, I let Nathan get out and walk, and spent the shopping trip preventing him from smashing the cart into a display of olives while I filled my baggie with baby carrots. And picking up jars of olives, because I was just a few seconds too late to stop him. Oh yes, and having my parenting criticized by total strangers. That's always fun. All in all, an unmitigated disaster.

Well, not quite unmitigated. I did get the weeks groceries.... although by the time I got all three screaming kids into the apartment and settled down, the frozen goods had melted...

And I met some fun people. In the meat department, a woman and her 9 year-old daughter stopped to admire my wuggies. Turns out, she has 15-year old twin boys at home, and she glowingly told me how fabulous it is to have twin boys and a little sister for them. "But when they get to this age..."

She glanced over at her daughter, and I cringed. Why, oh why, do people feel like it's okay to tell the world awful their children are, when they're standing right there?

"...they're so much fun!"

The little girl beamed with pride, and danced around giggling, "I'm so much fun!" while her mother and I congratulated one another on having such delightful families.

You'd think that'd be twins enough for one shopping trip, but in the check-out line, there were more. The woman ahead of me let me go first, since her husband had run to grab some formula. She asked how old my baby was, and said that hers was about the same age--but much smaller. Her husband returned while I was checking out, looked at the twins, and said, "Nathan and Nicholas!"

Considerably wierded out, I corrected him. "No, Nathan and Isaiah, actually."

Well, it turns out that I have a two month old. They also have two month olds--- twins named Nathan and Nicholas. And of course I have twins as well--Nathan and Isaiah.

At this point the elderly gentleman in the next lane over chimed in to tell us about his twins, Nicholas and Natalie.

Hmmm... I wonder if the Stater Brothers were twins, too?


Gideon's Men

Wuggies-o-mine, if you want more orange juice, just bring me your cup for a refill.


There is no need to dump out the pitcher and lap it off the table.


the meepo-bug. Posted by Picasa

Hey there! Posted by Picasa



Once upon a time, our neighbor tried to warn them away from some prickly shrubbery by telling them it was "hot."

It didn't work. The word around our place is "blggch."

I guess it's not so much a word as a facial expression with sound effects. It's the face the wuggies make whenever they eat something they think is gross, and we would imitate their "blggch face" back at them whenever they started to eat something we thought was gross. Or when they got into the trash. Or went to touch the stove, for that matter.

When they were small, I couldn't figure out how to teach them the concept of "hot" without actually endangering them. But the concept of disgusting flavors was quite simple. All I had to do was offer them green beans a few times, and they got the idea. So "blggch" it was.

Recently, the boys have learned the word "tinky," and that word is starting to replace the other, less pronouncable one. Dirty diapers are tinky, the trash is tinky, and, alas, brother is declared to be tinky in those unfortunate instances of sibling mockery.

A dead bug fell into the bath water this morning, and I thought it was pretty gross. The wuggies heartily agreed. "Tinky! Tinky! Tinky!" There was much celebration as they gleefully pointed at the bug. "Tinky! Tinky! Tinky!"

*sigh* They're most definitely boys.

Maybe we should start working on the word "hot."

Yesterday afternoon Isaiah fell asleep while digging through the toy box. I moved him onto our bed... but ten minutes later, there he was again. Posted by Picasa


our newest nose. Posted by Picasa

A skein by any other name...

...is still not for throwing.

Under no circumstances are spherical bundles of yarn to be reffered to as balls.


Planning to be Spontaneous

When I was rather small, Grandma P. tried to teach me how to knit. She cast twenty stitches onto the needle, and asked me to count them.

I counted them.

"I think there's twenty..."

"You think?"

And that was that. I knew that there were twenty stitches there... but if all I could say was "I think," then Grandma would have nothing more to do with my attempts at knitting. We spent the afternoon sewing little pillows together instead.

Eventually she did teach me how to knit, but I really didn't see a whole lot of point to it. There was just way too much structure for my liking. If you cast on twenty stitches, you'd better knit twenty stitches, and any changes have to be set up in advance. Everything's planned ahead, foreordained by the pattern.

Crocheting was ever so much more interesting. The horizons were limitless. You could do whatever you wanted, make it whatever shape you pleased. Each stitch was a new decision, you could put it wherever you liked. The freedom was intoxicating...

Until I realized that there are actually only so many places to put that next stitch. Lots of freedom in the next step, but there are only so many final outcomes. Bored with simple patterns, I wanted to crochet lovely images into things. After much searching, and much experimentation, I came to the conclusion that my options were pretty much limited to filet. And filet is all well and good... but a bit forced and unnatural. More of a novelty than anything else. For all its initial freedom, crocheting really wants to stay predictable.

Then a little knitting shop showed up down the street from Andy's work, and he brought home a few knitting magazines that they were discarding. Image after image of breathtaking works of art. Elegant, classy, funky, and even downright strange. Somehow with that dreadfully predictable method you can go places that the delightfully spontaneous meandering stitches of crochet can't take you.

So I've taken up knitting. I hate that you have to begin with the end in mind, that you can't just make it up as you go... but oh the places you can go. As the stitches roll off my needles in neat, orderly rows, so contrary to the habits of my soul, I feel myself ripening into the sort of person Grandma was. The sort of person who could --and did!--rearrange the furniture every few days, because everything was so tidy and organized.

Maybe while I'm at it I'll buy myself a daily planner.


The Wuggy Chronicles

The Wuggy Chronicles The Wuggy Chronicles The Wuggy Chronicles The Wuggy Chronicles. The Wuggy Chronicles The Wuggy Chronicles

(So it shows up on Google when Grandpa looks for The Wuggy Chronicles)


Where'd it go?

About a month ago, Mr. Wuggidy started wandering around the apartment exclaiming "Odjigo! Odjigo!" It took us a very long time to figure out what he meant, until one evening, when he was excitedly tracking the flight of a tiny moth. "Where'd it go! Where'd it go!"

Isaiah loves looking for things. Not only has he taken over my role of finder-of-missing-bottles (for which I am quite grateful!) but he also has taken to throwing things behind the couch and grinning at me impishly. "Where did it go-o?"

The cordless phone is now providing us with endless entertainment. I'll hide the phone, then press the finder button. The wuggies excitedly seek out the beeping tel-phone, while I cheer them on. "Where'd it go? Where'd it go?"

Now if only they could help me find my keys....


Pickle Dressing

In my numerous conversations with medical professionals about the wuggies' development, one question has consistently flumoxed me.

Do they cooperate with dressing?

No. They don't. Far from it.

I'm pretty sure that this is simply due to sheer orneriness, not any problems with their coordination. After all, they don't have any trouble out-climbing me on the stairs, and actually, their methods of uncooperation are rather sophisticated... but the fact of the matter is, they don't cooperate with me when I try to dress them. This is one developmental milestone that they have not yet achieved, and they're showing no interest in doing so. .

Now, however, I am proud to announce that the next time I am faced with that question, I can answer, "No, but Isaiah can dress himself."

His technique could use a little fine-tuning... but he did at least get one arm successfully through the proper sleeve. If the neck-hole did double-duty as an armhole, so be it.

I was so proud of him that I let him go the whole day wearing an inside-out striped onesie over his pajama top.

Proud of his accomplishment...

...and ready to jump on any excuse to avoid the big dressing fight.


A Gripping Tale of the Virtues of Vices

Dadders has just one big vice.

The wuggies' great passion in life is imitating Dadders, so they have a vice, too.

It's just like Dadders', only smaller.

And plastic.

Vices are very spiffy. They're almost as spiffy as hammers, except you stick them on to things, instead of banging things with them. Dadders used his vice to fix the chair. Now it doesn't come apart anymore when Mama sits on it. Meepo and Wuggidy helped out with their vice, too.

Vices are very virtuous things.

Oh yes.


What's in a name?

Everybody keeps asking me how we ended up deciding on the name September Persephone for our daughter. I'm never quite sure how to answer. We named her September because we liked it. And we named her Persephone because it so beautifully follows up on the sound of September.

Besides, it shortens down to Bob so nicely, don't you think?

Somewhere not to far along in my pregnancy, Andy and I were discussing baby names of an afternoon, and he commented that he'd met a girl named January.

"January Johnston?"

"What's wrong with that? I think it's a lovely name."


"Well, in any case, we can't name her January, because she's going to be born in September."

We looked at each other. "September."

And from that moment, our little unborn child had a name.

I love the name September because the aural quality of the word evokes the crisp richness of the month itself. And those qualities of sound and colour and texture evoke the spiritual qualities that I want for my daughter. A strong femininity, a gentle, winsome, independence.

I guess that you could say that we named her September after her Aunt Sharon, although I didn't realize it until well after she was named. I'm a firm believer in cross-modal resemblances, and I do think that there really is a common quality to the word, the month, and the particular shade of womanliness.... but it was Sharon, with her glorious hair and love for the falling leaf that showed me that resemblance.

I love you, Anne-with-an-E. Come back soon and meet your little namesake.


I love Stater Bros.

Stater Brothers is simply a superior grocery store, for a number of reasons. For one thing, they do not feel a need to collect all sorts of personal information before they can sell you groceries at a reasonable price. I guess I'm a little paranoid, but it disturbs me to no end to know the sheer weight of intelligence involved in the effort to lure me into overspending.

Moreover, their normal prices are usually substantially better than the spiffy Club Card prices elsewhere.

And their meat department is the best around. Real, live, knowledgable butchers are very nice things to have around, particularly if your cookbooks tend to call cuts by rather eccentric names.

But the biggest reason I like shopping at Stater Bros. is that the people there are so wonderful and friendly. Everybody knows us, says hi, asks about the rest of the family. The produce guy and I chat about our musical endeavors, and the folks at the bakery know of our penchant for poppy-seed bagels.

But Vons is just around the corner. And when you have three in diapers, convenience trumps all other considerations, at least where grocery shopping is concerned.

With the advent of the Doopah-Mobile, however, convenience is back on Stater Bros. side. Stater Bros. has shopping carts. Oh, Vons has shopping carts, too. And they're perfectly acceptable carts--- unlike the uncontrollable monstrosities that pass for carts at Trader Joes. But Stater Bros. has shopping carts. Spectacular, beautiful carts with cars in front, with room for two wuggies, and even two steering wheels. And we all know how much the wuggies like driving cars. (They love tipping Persephone's swing over so they can sit sideways in the seat, and use the mobile as a "steering wheel"...)

The boys were in rapures when I buckled them in, and they were happy and quiet the whole time I was shopping. I even forgot I had them with me for a moment while I contemplated the price of cream of tartar. (I've been doing a lot of recipes that call for it... but $3.50/oz. is just absurd!) I started to move my cart forward, deciding that my souffles seem to be surviving just fine without, thank you very much, and suddenly I saw a little hand grabbing at Kool-Aid...

...right under my cart.

I almost had a heart attack. I'd just run over a little kid in my shopping cart. The poor thing was going to be maimed for life, because I was too busy contemplating the structural integrity of cheese souffle and lemon merangue pie to notice where I was going.

Nope. Just Mr. Wuggidy, having the time of his life, and unobtrusively letting me get my shopping done.

The boys had fun, and I got my shopping done---at my favoritest grocery story no less. And everywhere we went, folks stopped stocking the shelves to reminisce about childhood memories of make-believe cars.

I'm so glad for my unbelievably real mini-van.



Although he still likes his milk in a bottle, Wuggidy now insists upon being served his water and juice from a big cup. Not a sippy cup. Not a spill-proof straw cup. A big cup like Mama and Dadders.

He's actually doing quite well at this new skill. He's usually capable of drinking it down with a minimal amount of spillage.

But first he must pour out libations. Slowly, contemplatively, he tips the cup. Golden drops of orange juice pour down in a graceful stream, soaking the carpet.




I fell down in a burnin' ring of fire...

Down, down down, and the flames grew higher...

The wuggies actually sing the words to this one! Well... the "down, down, down" part anyway....

It makes training them to desist their climbing a little more fun for all of us.



The Persephone Principle

The magnatude of the blowout is in direct proportion to the cuteness of the outfit.

Corollary: The frequency of blowouts is inversely related to the number of clean outfits in the drawer.


The Doopah-Mobile!

God is good to us indeed! Out of the blue, the parents of one of Andy's Gorman students gave us their '95 Ford Aerostar. !!! Comfortably big enough for all of us, carseats and strollers and all, with extra room for two friends...

We were assuming that there would be some major maintainance to fork out for, but this morning Andy took it down to Fred's Automotive to have them look in the mouth of our gift horse, so to speak--and the teeth seem to be all present and accounted for! This is just an amazing blessing.

It's such a wonderfully freeing feeling... I'm not stuck at home anymore. I can take the kids to the park... I can get errands done...

Life with one car was a lot like trying to fit all three kids into the Tercel. It worked... but it was kinda stressful and you never knew how everything was going to fit. (And indeed, oftentimes the grocery shopping never did quite fit, and we'd end up going out for burgers at the last minute.)

But this afternoon, we had a delightful doopah through Stater Bros. The wuggies had lots of fun driving the wonderful car-shaped shopping cart, and I hardly heard a peep out of them the whole time, so happy and content were they. The boys had a fabulously fun afternoon, I got some fresh air, nobody was tearing books off the shelf... and we brought home a bunch of groceries!

Mobility is a wonderful thing. Thank you, Jesus.



I have been tagged by both Emily and Slowlane, and thus am doubly obligated to share five songs that I have been enjoying lately.

1. Twinkle Twinkle EFG. I do realize that this enchanting melody is not very popular over in the Slow Lane, but when sung by Nate-bug, it thrills my soul. We've found yet another set of lyrics, though. In addition to Twinkle Twinkle, the ABC song, and Ba Ba Black Sheep, you can also sing "Ooo, oo, aa, aa..."

2. Bed in Summer. Ted Jacobs and Robert Louis Stevenson. The Child's Garden of Song is sheer delight. In Winter I get up at night, and dress by yellow candlelight. In summer quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day..."

3. Skin. Rascal Flatts. Simultaneously sentimental and prosaic, it tells of the fears and dreams of a little girl with lukemia. It's not very mature or sophisticated, it's almost a little bit silly...which is why it is so powerful. By the end of the song Sara Beth lives and breathes with sweetness, simplicity, and immaturity. She's sixteen, and that's the point.

4. A Bob Marley song. I'm not entirely sure what Bob Marley song. I'm not in the habit of listening to Bob Marley. But Andy has taught Nate-bug to go about singing "Ay, ay, ay! Ay, ay, ay, ay! Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay!" And I am enjoying it tremendously! My baby's got music in him!

5. Every night before supper, we gather around the boys little table, hold hands, and sing grace. "God is great and God is good, and we thank Him for this food. By His hand must all be fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen." And we sing it in four-part harmony... of sorts... At any rate, Andy sings the melody, I have fun crafting different accompanying harmonies, and the boys chirp along merrily. It's the highlight of our day, I think.

I have not, however, been enjoying Gretchen Wilson's All Jacked Up. Don't start no stuff, don't drive your truck, and above all, don't try to sing when you're all jacked up. I'm looking forward to getting a new radio--one that isn't melted to the country station.

Don't ask.

So what have you been enjoying, Sarah, Rachel,Wendy, Sharon, and Elisa?




At the high-risk follow-up, Dr. Morales came in to do her evaluation of Nathan while Isaiah was in the other room playing with all the fun toys. As she came into the room, she swept right past my firstborn, who was playing in the doorway, and came straight over to greet me. She remarked that Nathan was looking quite robust, and I was a bit surprised. Not that Nathan isn't a robust little fellow, but she hadn't even so much as glanced in his direction. She must have seen him outside? Between the two kids, and caring for the third, there was a lot that I missed at that appointment. Thank God for Gramma J.

After she'd pulled up Nathan's chart, Dr. Morales turned to admire little September. "She's pretty. She looks like... ah... Nathan... but... ah... She looks like a girl. I mean he looks like a girl."

"She is a girl."

There was a moment of awkward confusion before I realized that she thought that the little bundle swaddled in pink was Nathan, and Dr. Morales realized that I'd had yet another baby.

Developmental Milestones

The boys just had their high-risk follow-up appointment at the NICU. It was fabulous. The amazing people who saved our kiddos' lives in the first place did a comprehensive follow-up to make sure that there were no lingering problems after their rough start. They did all the normal check-up stuff, and then some. I had an extensive consultation with a pediatric dietician. She was very pleased that the boys adore broccoli and cantaloupe, and gave me some good tips on how to get more protein into these little herbavores. Meanwhile, a nice lady (I can't remember if she was a nurse or an occupational therapist) took them into a room full of all sorts of fun toys, and checked for their motor skills and cognitive development. They did quite well. While Nathan is a little further along on language and gross motor skills, she said that Isaiah displayed more focus and concentration, and did better than big brother on putting together a simple puzzle. That made me feel a lot better. I'd been mildly concerned, since Nathan is a few months ahead of Isaiah in the obvious areas. Which is very much to be expected, given Isaiah's rough start... and very sad, too, since that would be the result of irreparable damage. But the nice lady (whatever she was) seemed to think that they were just their own little persons, with different sets of strengths. And both of them normal, praise God!

Of course, just playing with them for a half-hour, she couldn't see everything she needed to know, so she asked me a lot of questions to fill in the blank.

"Can they run?"
"Good. Are they very fast?"
"I'm hard pressed to catch up with them, if that's what you mean."
"Wonderful! What about stairs? Can they climb up stairs with a little help?"
"They can climb up stairs without any help."
"Er... that's one way of putting it..."

Wuggies-o-mine, I'm so glad that you can do all these wonderful things... now would you please, please, please refrain from doing them?!



The other night we had nachos for dinner. I like nachos. Andy likes nachos. Nathan likes nachos--or at least he enjoys dipping chips in cheese sauce and dripping it everywhere...

Isaiah does not like nachos, and he expressed his displeasure by grabbing a handful and throwing them. Dadders told him no. We only throw balls, remember? And Isaiah got an evil glint in his eye, walked determinedly back over to my plate, and threw another handful.

This was a first. Many a time has he defiantly chosen to do what he wanted to do instead of what we wanted him to do. But this time, he really wasn't interested in throwing the chips, except in so far as it communicated his defiance. He chose disobedience for the sake of disobedience.



Dadders bought a watermelon. It is a very plump watermelon, nearly spherical. It looks rather like a ball. It is lots of fun to play with.

I'm glad that it is too heavy to throw.



I bought a peach. It was a beautiful peach. The biggest peach I'd ever seen, and perfectly ripe.

Only balls are for throwing. But peaches look an awful lot like balls.

I have a peach. It is an ugly peach, and mangled. I think I can salvage a few bites out of it.


Sir Dougy the Bubble has taken to kissing Princess Persephone's hand.

Oh yes.

Featured Features

Last month it was trucks. This month it's babies.

Last week it was noses. This week it's eyes.

Bay-bee liked it better when it was noses.



Tembo-Teff is a very hiccupy little girl. It was quite an odd sensation to have this little creature hiccupping in my womb, and she kept right on hiccupping as she made her way out into the big, bright world outside. While I was in labor, the epidural took all the pain away, and I couldn't feel the contractions---but I could still feel September hiccuping away.

I am an extremely heavy sleeper. From time to time Andy has to wake me up to inform me that the baby is crying. (His precise words, I believe, were "the fish is on." The man is beautifully lucid at 2:00 AM.) But the other night, September's hiccups kept me awake.



The wuggies seem to be a bit faddish, at least in their vocabulary. Trucks are so last month. Now it's all about the baby. "Bobm" has slowly evolved into "bay-bee!!!" and the boys are very excited about their accomplishment. Nathan has also discovered that Bobm is part of a larger set of bay-bees, and takes great delight in pointing out the bay-bees wherever he sees them. Jonathan Moothart is a baby, and there's a baby on the diaper packaging. On the way out of Wal-Mart the other day, we saw a couple with a stroller, and although we couldn't actually see it, Meepo knew there must be a baby in there somewhere. Yesterday, when Isaiah was upset over something or other, his brother called him a baby.

Babies are such wonderful things that Nathan decided he needed one of his own. Thus he carries around a little blue beanie bear. He calls it Bay-bee and gives it kisses. Sometimes his baby gives my baby kisses. The other day I was admiring his baby, and I absently squnchled its little teddy-face. Meepo immediately whisked the bear away from me, and looked at me very reproachfully.



The things you find in your closet...

Yesterday afternoon, Son One was playing quietly in the living room, Daughter One was asleep in her pack-n-play... and Son Two was nowhere to be seen. As I roamed the apartment frantically, I noticed that I'd left my wardrobe door open, and sure enough the kiddos had gotten into it, scattering clothing all over the bedroom floor. I tried to close the doors, but something was blocking it. In a hurry to find my lost sheep, but not wanting more mess to happen, I just tried to shove the doors close enough to closed so that I could secure the child lock. Suddenly I hear a shriek. And there was Isaiah, curled up for a nap on the second shelf of my wardrobe, snuggled up with his favorite pillow.


Chinese water torture

Most businesses that routinely put people on hold for inordinate periods of time play carefully engineered selections of music designed to put callers at ease and defuse as much frustration as possible. While waiting to speak to someone at California Public Health Services, you can enjoy the beautiful sound of silence...

...interrupted every 40 seconds or so by a bored voice saying "your call IS important to us."

Torture. Sheer torture.


Stanton McDonald Wright, Conception Synchromy Posted by Picasa

Stanton McDonald-Wright mapped the twelve colors of the color wheel onto the twelve tones of the chromatic scale, and then proceeded to paint in the various resulting keys and modes. His "synchromies" are astoundingly beautiful---music for the eyes. I've been fascinated with the concept ever since I saw an exhibit of his work at LACMA four years ago... so I spent Sunday afternoon experimenting around with the color wheel while my guys were dooping around the park. Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa



A standard I-IV-V7-I progression in the key of red major. Posted by Picasa



The boy-wuggies like trucks. Trucks are lots of fun. Grandma Duck brought them a fun truck to play with. It came out of her big suitcase. The truck is very fun. It makes lots of cool noises. Some of the noises sound like a drill. That makes it extra fun.

The boys like talking about trucks. They loudly announce it whenever they see a truck. Or when they see something that looks sort of like a truck. The oil drills at Huntington Beach look like trucks. Mommy isn't sure what it is that looks like a truck at church, though.

"Tr" is a very hard sound to make. That does not keep the wuggies from talking about trucks, though.

Mommy is beginning to regret all the time she spent helping the wuggies learn to say "flower" and "foot."

Dadders tried to teach the wuggies how to say "chruck." Mommy thought it was supposed to be "truck." Grandpa Duck and Grandma Duck went to school for a long time to learn about making funny sounds, so it was a good thing they were there. Everybody had lots of fun talking about how to say "truck" all the way home from the beach.

But Dadders still says "chruck." Mommy still says "truck." And the wuggies still say... something else.


Office Supplies

Ways to distract while in early labor...

--Watch a movie
--Practice breathing excercises
--Visualize soothing waves on the beach
--Listen to soothing music
--Take your toddler to the emergency room

Saturday night, August 27, the contractions were getting pretty fearsome, and I wondered if it might be time to head on over to the hospital. I sat down in the rocking chair, in good view of the clock, to start timing the contractions.

Before I'd had the chance to even start timing, however, Nathan clambered up on chairs (carefully stacked up where they couldn't use them to climb up on the kitchen table) and from there, onto the table by the door. He, the big metal-rimmed basket, and the lamp, all tumbled down in a big tangle.

There was blood everywhere. Andy was at work, and I couldn't get through to his cell phone. The blood was coming from underneath lots of thick blond hair, and I had no idea how many cuts there were, or how serious it was. Isaiah very much wanted to help me clean his brother up, and brother very much did not want to let me clean him up. And I was going into labor...

I eventually got through to Andy via email. He came home and took us all to the emergency room. And the doctor stapled my son's head back together. With actual staples, just like the ones I use to attach hold multi-page documents together!

I'm glad that September decided to wait until the next day to be born. And I'm especially glad that she's a little girl. Little girls provide enough drama of their own sort, or so I hear.... but it doesn't usually involve getting covered in office supplies.



All through my pregnancy, we couldn't help thinking of September as a little girl. It wasn't just that we wanted a little girl--though we desperately did! Try as we might, we simply could not imagine a third little son being nestled in my tummy. Of course, we were well aware that there was a fairly good chance that we were having another son regardless of whether or not we could conceive of it (no put intended), so we were eager for an ultrasound to clear up the mystery. As Andy put it, we couldn't wait to "find out if September is herself, or Bob."

But the ultrasound didn't clear anything up at all because September (or Bob) was a very modest little baby.

And so we embarked on the difficult task of finding the perfect name for a little person that we couldn't bring ourselves to believe might actually exist. After listening in on lots of conversations about "what do we name September if she turns out to be Bob?" the boys figured out that my belly was called "Bob." They would poke my blossoming tummy, gleefully saying "Bobm!"

We never could agree on a boy's name that we both liked, until one night I had a dream about giving birth to a little boy named Matthias Robert. The dream itself was one of those bizarre pregnancy nightmares, but we loved the name--and it was quite a relief to finally be prepared for the possibility of Bob.

After our little September-girl made her appearance, Dadders brought the wuggies in to meet their little sister. The boys tiptoed into the room, quiet and alert, almost reverent. Nathan came up to me, as I sat on the rocking chair with September on my lap. He looked at my deflated midriff, then at the squirmy little thing on my lap, and pondered for a moment. After considering the situation, he grinned and announced, "Bobm!"

The boys like Bob a lot... and the other day Isaiah spoke his first sentence. "Bobm wuggy!"

We wondered and wondered, and now we know. September is herself...

...and she is Bob!

Premature Balding

Some active toddlers make their parents want to pull their hair out.

Others do the job for them.


September Persephone

Our little girl made her way into the big bright world at 10:09 on the evening of August 28. She arrived almost a month before we expected her, but she was 7 lbs., 20 inches long, with a robust apgar score of 8.9.

And she hiccups just as much as she did in utero.



Yesterday morning, Natebug was munching on a slice of bread. When he'd had enough, he started tearing off bits of bread and throwing them up onto the table, one at a time. "Fun... Foo... Free... Foe..."

I have no idea what to make of this.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, while Natebug was helping Dadders pick up some groceries at Vons, Isaiah helped me bundle our loose change into rolls. He was enthralled as I counted out the pennies into stacks of ten. It was enormously exciting.



A sober reminder...

Last night we took the boys to the park to feed the ducks, and on the way home we saw a huge commotion in the Bank of the West parking lot about a block from our apartment. Traffic backed up, police cars everywhere, the middle lane blocked off with orange cones... very strange indeed. It seemed that they were doing a random sobriety check. But they didn't stop us, since we were going the other direction.

As we pulled into our parking spot, Andy turned to me and said sheepishly, "I'm half tempted to go back and drive through it, just for the fun of it." I was half tempted, too... so, given that two halves make a whole, we followed our irrational impulse.

The officer took one look at Andy's license, and sternly informed him that it had expired. Gulp. No, wait... it expires on the 30th. He has a week to take care of it. With everything else going on in our lives, we never would have remembered on our own!

As we breathed a sigh of relief, the officer glanced over to the passenger side and saw my bulging belly. It was his turn for a scare. "You aren't on your way to have that baby, are you?" We reassured him that no, I was still weeks away from my due date... but he sent us swiftly on our way nevertheless! He looked a bit shook up at the possibility (however minute) of a woman giving birth while waiting at a random sobriety checkpoint.


Straw Men

Straws are lots of fun. Not only are they good for drinking, and often handier for parents than sippy cups, but they're super for blowing bubbles.

But there's an art to drinking out of a straw, and the pickles haven't quite worked out all the nuances. This afternoon I gave Isaiah a lid-less cup with a little bit of water and a straw. Straw in mouth, he carefully tipped the cup so that he could drink the water. Of course, he just kept tipping it further and further, and never got any of it anywhere but down his shirt...

It never occurred to me how counter-intuitive the method for straw-drinking is. Nor how exceedingly different it is from the method for sippy-cup drinking.



I oversalted the deviled eggs tonight. The wuggies wouldn't touch them.

I take that back. They would touch them, smoosh them, smear them, scatter them... just not eat them.

I just caught Isaiah taking measures to make sure that such a mistake never happens again.

I'm glad salt vaccuums up easily.

I wish that were the case for deviled eggs.


Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

Drill Bits

My wonderful husband spent Saturday altering the bookshelves so as to make them even more pickle-proof. This was a lot of fun for the boys, who are utterly fascinated with Dadders' tool box. (Please-please-please can't I play with your hack-saw?) The boys were entirely fearless in their fascination with these truly dangerous objects. However, there was one tool which aroused in Meepo the proper degree of fear... and then some. And then quite a bit, actually. He was absolutely petrified of the drill. Once he heard the dreadful noise it could make, the mere sight of the thing would send him into hysterics.

But then Wuggidy taught him how to make that noise right back, and suddenly the drill was okay. Not as much fun nearly as the hack-saw, and certainly something requiring a safe distance... but okay.

And this morning, as we got ready for church, Wuggidy continued to perfect his drill impression. It's getting quite realistic. Andy tried to make the drill sounds back at him, but it didn't sound nearly so drill-like. What a talented son we have!


The Numerous Personages of Our Household

Last night, as I was sifting through the mail, throwing out credit card offers addressed to Andrew Da Johnston, the phone was ringing off the hook for Andrewdarre. Andrewdarre has been getting a lot of phone calls lately. Whenever I hear a telemarketer ask "May I speak with Andrew, dear?" I'm tempted to respond "Why of course, pumpkin."

I was busily examining a voter registration notice for Mr. Elena Johnston, when the phone rang for the fifth time. This time it was for Mrs. Elena AndyJ.

All this is rather harmless and amusing, but last month our auto insurance policy was cancelled because the underwriters discovered that in addition to me, there was also another Elena Johnston in our household. She was apparently a few years older than me.

I just hope that Schroder Management Company never finds out just how many people are living in this apartment!


Lemming Pickles!

The other day, I left the boys' mattress at the foot of our bed for a bit, and the wuggies found a new game. They would clamber up at the head of the bed, run down the bed as fast as their little legs would go, and leap onto the mattress, one right after the other, screaming gleefully all the while.

Then they went out to the living room, and discovered that they can also play this game on the couch, by standing on the back of the couch and jumping down onto the cushions.

This can be a bit startling for anyone who happens to be sitting on the couch at the time.



This school year, my husband will be commuting all over SoCal in a gas-guzzling Ford Explorer.

And I will be attempting to cram three carseats into the back of a tiny little Tercel.

Looking on the bright side, we'll get great gas milage on our little trips around town. And we aren't the ones paying for the gas that goes in the SUV.

Nevertheless, the green in me is indignant at the flagrant waste of non-renewable resources... and the rest of me is green with envy.

I'm grateful, I really am. It will be so nice to have a car while Andy is at work. But I'm having a hard time getting over the absurdity of the situation.


32 weeks and 2 days!

Hurrah for viability!

Thank you, Jesus!


If I were...

Emily tagged me, so here goes....

If I could be a gardener...

...I would have lots of fruit trees. And I would have a big herb garden, so I could cook with fresh herbs all the time. And I'd plant so many flowers that there would be plenty left over to make the garden pretty even after I'd filled every corner of the house with cut flowers and given lots to my friends. I recently sat on someone's porch swing who had lots of big, fragrant mint plants by the porch... it was sublime. I would definitely plant tomatoes, but I'm not so sure about carrots. Carrots just sound like a lot of work---and the freshness of carrots just isn't nearly as exciting.

If I could be a chef...

...then I guess my husband would just have to be a gardener. Actually, we'd both be gardeners and chefs together. Cooking together is so much fun. Besides, I'd need somebody to keep me from getting too adventurous. (That cucumber smoothie surely would have been spectacular if I'd just put in a little less salt...)

If I could be a musician...

...I would be every bit as adventurous as if I were a chef! I would write lots of avant-garde music that pushed the envelope. But don't worry. It would still be pretty and joyous and hopeful and poignant and innocent. It would also be heartbreaking and tragic and bittersweet.... but things can only be really heartbreaking and tragic against the backdrop of our glorious hope. Basically I would write music for the 21st century that was firmly rooted in a Christian aesthetic.

If I could be an athlete...

...I wouldn't be constantly bumping into things, for one thing, and my apartment would be a lot cleaner. My sport would never be more than a hobby, but I think that the discipline would stand me in good stead in all areas of my life, making me a better citizen of the physical universe.

If I could be an architect...

...I would first have invested heavily in South American hardwood, because I despise both carpeting and the destruction of rainforests. By investing in South American tree farms, I would be providing good employment for local laborers and gorgeous floors for my homes... all in an environmentally friendly sort of way.

Okay... now I think I shall tag Sharon, and Becka, and Snugbug Snell.

Here are the "questions." Answer five of them, and tag three more friends. =) If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an inn-keeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be an astronaut...If I could be a world famous blogger...If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...If I could be married to any current famous political figure...


Centrifugal Force

Wheels are always good for spinning, and the stroller, lying folded up on its side, has been a source of great fun for some time. But the wuggies have found a new game, now, that is positively thrilling. They place a small object on the wheel, maybe a baby wipe, or one of their Little People, and spin the wheel. The object, of course, goes flying off, sending the boys into paroxysms of laughter.

I must say, the physical universe is a very exciting place!


Attack of the Rabid Giraffe

It's lots of fun to splish and splash in the bathtub, but getting lathered up is, for some reason, a bit intimidating. So a few weeks ago, I had a brilliant idea. They love the Baby Einstein giraffe puppet that Aunt Karen got them last Christmas, and the label does say it's a "bath puppet".... Perhaps being lathered up by a friendly giraffe would be so much fun they would forget to be intimidated.

Alas, it did not occur to mommy that perhaps the giraffe might not seem quite so friendly if he was foaming at the mouth.

We still play with the giraffe at bathtime. But he is strictly for rinsing, now.



This morning I was a bit taken aback by the shocking subject line of a bit of spam. No, it wasn't that kind of shocking subject line... quite repeatable...

"Elena, electric chair at little or no cost!"


Took me a second to figure out that they were selling motorized wheelchairs.



Yesterday was a very wet day. This was most decisively confirmed around 10:30 pm, when I spilled a bottle of cold water all over my peacefully sleeping son. But really, it all started when Natebug spilled a big glass of instant breakfast all over himself and the clean laundry.

This meant Bathtime. Bathtime can be quite an... um... adventure with two toddlers, if you know what I mean. One time a few weeks ago, I got the boys all ready to hop in, and as we waited for the tub to fill, naked little Isaiah peed all over the floor, slipped in the resulting puddle, and hit his head. Like I said, it can be an adventure.

But this time I was smart. I filled the tub before undressing the boys. I tidied up the bathroom, cleaned out the tub, adjusted the water temperature, and left to get the boys ready while the tub filled. Like any good, conscientious mother, I of course carefully shut the bathroom door behind me lest a small person sneak in for an unsupervised dip.

Things took a bit longer than I expected --with toddlers they generally do!-- and by the time I went to see if the tub was full...

...let's just say that it was.

The boys had lots of fun wading, while the rubber ducky floated merrily on the floor. One cup at a time, I scooped the water off the floor into the toiled, and the wuggies gleefully joined in, sprinkling tiny fistfulls of water.

And that big pile of dirty laundry in the hallway got a good pre-soak.


Things I learned yesterday

1. Fountains are lots of fun to splash in.

2. So are toilets.

3. Diapers can absorb an astonishing quantity of water.

4. So can little sneakers and corderoy pants.

5. This last can be a bit disturbing to anyone who is unaware of 1.

6. Automatic doors are extremely bizarre, and just a little bit scary.

7. So are swinging gates.

8. On most elevators, there is only one button within wuggy-reach... the alarm button, of course.

9. Likewise, on most bulletin boards, there is only one announcement within reach. The one that will start the largest chain reaction when tugged upon.

10. Dancing on manhole covers is great fun.

12. Trees look like flowers when viewed from below.


Let there be light!

The electrician cometh! After months of extension cords, our working outlet count is finally up from 2 to 7. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, I've been musing about Biblical poetry in general, and Genesis 1 in particular. The other day I read the creation account in the New Living Translation, and was horrified to discover that the refrain "and there was evening, and there was morning, the first day" was replaced with "this all happened the first day." Certainly that's an accurate distillation of the bottom line, clearly and directly expressing the total factual content implied in the phrase. At cost, of course, of the rhythm and poetry.

Until I deeply explored the first few chapters of Genesis, the factual status of the account was deeply important to me. My faith cannot rest on a Book that is demonstrably false at the outset. If the first chapters fall, the rest of Scripture falls with it. "Liberals" may interperet it as mere poetry, but surely that's just an euphamism for nonsense... I saw theistic evolution as something along the same lines as a metaphorical interperetation of the resurrection.

But... then I actually experienced the poetry. Regardless of factual status, to call the Genesis account primarily poetic is most certainly not a euphamism. The deeper I delved into its richness, the less I was concerned with its literal accuracy. Genesis may or may not shed significant light on natural history, but in any case, that makes up a small portion of the meaning packed into those lines. The question of how God actually went about creating life began to seem a relatively trivial distraction from the more significant insights into the relationships between God, man, time, and nature.

It's so easy for people like me to busily distract ourselves with analyzing factual questions as a sort of protection against the life-shaping power of poetry. Ironic that this would be my tendency as a musician... perhaps it is because I'm particularly vulnerable... Discussions of what happened on what day, how long the days were, and how to account for the geologic record are relatively safe. Stimulating and pious, they don't require much change. At the end of the day, the Christian life remains the same no matter how God chose to create the universe. The poetry, on the other hand, is anything but safe. It penetrates deep into the human soul, demands that we conform to its rhythms and cadences... 'tis most uncomfortable to our fallen selves.

And we, too, who are His spiritual creation, remain formless and void until we hear His Word speak to our hearts "Let there be light!"

And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.


The handwriting is on the wall...

...and the table

...and the chairs




Andy and I were sitting on the couch catching up on the day, and I asked him to toss me a banana. Sweet husband that he is, he got up and fetched me said banana. Then he broke the top of the peel for me. That was thoughtful, I suppose, but when he actually started to peel it, I thought that was going a bit too far. Then he broke off a bite-sized piece and handed it to me...

Sigh. I used to make fun of couples who called one another "Ma" and "Pa." Now if I approach Andy while he's busy with bedtime snacks, the moment I open my mouth, I find it full of yogurt.



We were just listening to Andy's new Michael Card CD, and very much enjoying it...

But then on one song, there was an entirely superfluous line of backup vocals... entirely superfluous, and rather off-key.

Then I discovered that it was just Isaiah humming along. Come to think of it, it was pretty impressive after all!