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