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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.