I'm getting very good at putting my contacts in and taking them out again.

I got lots of practice this morning.

Unfortunately, I'm not so good at telling when they're right-side-out.
Who says motherhood is a thankless task?

Clearing the lint filter on the dryer earns me thundrous applause from my adoring fans.




Yes, my wuggy-boys are known to shout "Mine! Mine! Mine!" in a really remarkable imitation of the seagulls from Finding Nemo. It's not always that they're being bratty and demanding, sometimes it's just a part of their constant commentary on the world. Inscrutible... but then again, it all is. "Baby nigh nigh, truck vroom vroom, duck quack, three one two! Mine! Mine! Mine! Green whatchasay dog-EE?"

So I wouldn't have been too concerned yesterday afternoon when Nathan was goodnaturedly yelling "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Except that he was shaking a glass display case.

Containing a pack of cigarettes.

For a "quit smoking" display.

At the library.



Some people would say the tub is half full.

Some people would say the tub is half empty.

I say the bathroom floor is covered in a half inch of standing water.


Eye of the Beholder

Where my husband sees a wad of toilet paper, I see a beautiful white rose.

Problem is, he's always right.



While my folks were here, they noticed all sorts of things about the wuggies that I never really notice, because... well... I see them every day. It was fun to see my kiddos from new perspectives, oh-so-loving, but not nearly as familiar as we’d all like.

One funny thing they noticed was that the boys are always saying “uh-oh.” Something spills... “uh-oh!” Play-table cannot be squeezed through the hallway at that angle... “uh-oh!” Illustrator of picture book failed to draw enough petals on that flower... “uh-oh!”

I hadn’t really noticed just how prominent a place that phrase has in their vocabulary, but they really do say it a lot. And come to think of it, I love it. It’s really adorable.

The other thing that they noticed was that the boys do NOT go about saying “no!” all the time. Oh, they understand the word, and say it from time to time. Perhaps more often than yes, but certainly far less often than “car,” “truck,” “whee,” or “Curie Geor.”

Which makes perfect sense, as I think about it. “Uh-oh” is by far the most exciting word around here. “No” is pretty uneventful. Just clarification. No, that’s not a doggie, that’s a cow. No, we’re not going to have any more cookies right now. But once those cookies are grabbed, once that hair is yanked, it’s “uh-oh, spagghetti-o!” And THAT is when the action happens.

The purpose behind our choice of words was to help us keep our cool. It really is rather difficult to become terribly agitated while singing “uh-oh.” (Credit must go to Jim Fay for that insight.) The “uh-oh song” has worked very well for us, and I’m thrilled at this unexpected benefit. Just as you’d expect, the boys take their cues from us as they figure out how to talk about it when things go wrong. We say “uh-oh” when they don’t cooperate with us, so they say “uh-oh” when the world doesn’t cooperate with them.

And I think that is just fabulous.

For one thing, it’s much easier on the ears. A frustrated toddler yelling “uh-oh” is just a whole lot cuter than a frustrated toddler yelling “no!”

But it goes deeper than that. “Uh-oh” is a much more productive response than “no.” In the context of a stuck play-table or a popped balloon, or some other source of toddler frustration, “no” means “Something has happened that shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have happened, I COMMAND IT NOT TO HAVE HAPPENED!”

“Uh-oh” means “Something has happened that shouldn’t have happened, and I will now take steps to remedy the situation, or at least prevent it from happening again...

...or on second thought, maybe I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show, because cause and effect is mighty fascinating, and there’s bound to be exciting consequences!”



Last Thursday, I got a call from my mom asking if we were doing anything over the weekend.

This wouldn't have been terribly strange, except that my family lives about 10 hours away. But come Saturday morning, there they were on our doorstep. Mom, Dad, Sarah... and seventy-five pounds of wriggling black and white fur.

I'd tried my best to prepare the wuggies for Paddington's arrival, and Thursday and Friday were filled with coversations about the dog-EE that was coming. The idea of a dog-EE was very exciting indeed, but when it came down to it, they weren't at all sure what to do with a real live border collie in flesh and fur. And with such an enormous tongue, too!

All day Saturday, Paddington was relegated to the far corner of the kitchen, while the boys kept at a safe distance. Tembo was quite comfortable crawling up to him, tugging at his fur and submitting to his kisses, although Dadders wasn't quite so sure about this at first. But the masculine segment of the Wuggyville population did eventually warm up to this creature. Sunday, the boys were okay with being in the same room with him, and on Monday, they would cautiously approach, and stroke his fur a few times before retreating back to safety. By the time Tuesday rolled around, they were actually sorry to see him go.

But they never did quite figure out how to categorize him. He certainly didn't look like any dog-EE they'd ever seen. And nothing like the pictures in their books. But there we were, insisting on calling him a doggy, so doggy he must be... ? So Dog-EE? he was. Emphasis on the last syllable (as usual), and always a question mark at the end.

Yet he really did look familiar, rather like something they'd seen before... And so whenever Nate-bug pointed Padders out to us--because, of course, everything must be pointed out, and often--he would announce "Dog-EE? Moo!"

I think Isaiah has the idea by now, though. That sort of thing is most definitely a dog.

How do I know this? Because as we were sitting together on the couch this morning, reading Black and White, he was quick to point out all the holsteins. "Dog-EE!"


Refrigerator LOCK!

The wuggies did not destroy our refrigerator. They merely ripped the "childproof" lock off of the door.

Strange how the omission of one little word can transform the meaning of a paragraph...


They shall sow their seed with tears...

Last night I stopped by Costco to pick up a couple gallons of milk and some string cheese. (It's awfully nice to be close enough to just pop through for just a few items. Especially since our family is now big enough that buying in bulk is the only thing that makes sense!) Having disobeyed that cardinal rule of shopping--never step into a grocery store when you are hungry--I also bought a big tub of chocolate chip cookie dough.

Having destroyed the refrigerator lock earlier in the day, Nathan peeked in after I got home and saw the tub of dough on the second shelf, adorned with the luscious pictures that had lured me into buying it in the first place. He was very excited. "Cakoo! Cakoo!"

"Well, actually, those aren't crackers, those are cookies. And we'll have some tomorrow."

"Coo-KEE! Coo-KEE!"

Well, true to my word, I baked up a batch today. The wuggies were a bit dismayed to discover that there was only dough in the tub, but they happily nibbled while I arranged the little blobs on a cookie sheet.

But then...

Mama put the coo-KEEs in the oven. The hot, scary, nasty oven.

I'm not sure that I've ever seen Nathan more devestated.


A Tip

We didn't eat corned beef and cabbage for Saint Paddy's Day. We had... surprise, surprise! ...pizza! (Probably my best yet, for what it's worth. Things are looking up.)

On the 19th however, Andy stopped by Stater Bros. and picked up some corned beef. Around twenty-four pounds of it.


I kid you not. And since it's cured meat, it lasts for months.

Such an easy meal, and so delicious. Just put it in a pot and let it boil. The package directions say an hour and a half per pound, but the longer you let it go, the more tender it will be. (Uh, that refers to the corned beef. The cabbage should definitely be a last minute thing.)

Mmm-mmm! We've been waiting for this all year. =)


Closet Coke Addicts

I would really like some soda right now. But then I would have to share with the Wuggidy, and then nobody would get any sleep tonight.

If I was virtuous, I would set a good example and have orange juice instead.

I'm not virtuous.

I think I'm gonna have Aunt Sarah distract him.


Amid the Air: A Grounding

I love the rain. It is so organic and earthy, a reminder that we do not merely stand upon this world, it envelopes us, encases us, surrounds us.

Remember, o man, that you are but dust.

Comforting and alarming and invigorating, it puts me firmly in my place, and fills me with unutterable longing.

In Arizona, I did not need the rain so much. Already I was deep inside the earth, enclosed in its rocky depths. Everywhere I looked, earth surrounded me. I could never forget the earth, and so I took it for granted. The rain did not surprise me.

Here in Anaheim, I need the rain.



"Night-night" is the latest obsession 'o the wuggy-boys. In general, this is a good thing. Sleep is one of those hobbies that parenthood has squeezed out of my life, and so I'm thrilled that they're starting to show an interest.

When I want to show my love for someone by taking on one of their interests, it's usually so we can enjoy the activity together. I've become interested in blocks, so that we can build towers together. I've become interested in Curious George so that we can read together. I've become interested in whole-wheat flour so that... well, I guess we're interested in flour for entirely different purposes, but you get the idea. Anyway, I was hoping that the boys would become interested in "nigh-nigh" so we could all enjoy napping together.

No such luck. The boys, you see, are learning to talk. And everyone knows that you learn to talk by talking. A lot. Excitement over anything translates into excitement over talking about that thing. Excitedly.



A Poll

Yesterday, there were a few things we wanted to get at Borders, but they didn't exactly fit in the budget. So what did we do? We went out and got another card. Alright... so it was actually two cards. And both maxed out by the end of the day.

Library cards, of course.

One night last week, Andy came out after putting the wuggy-boys down, and excitedly informed me that Wuggidy had sat still, entranced, as he read Saint George and the Dragon all the way through. Reading to the boys becomes progressively more enjoyable as their aesthetic sense deepens. Andy wished aloud that there were more picture books with such gloriously rich illustrations.

Well, that's setting the bar awfully high, but the Caldecott section of the local public library is certainly the place to look!

The Placentia Library is small, but lovely. Their collection is by no means extensive, but it was more than enough to make us choose very carefully how we were going to use up the five book maximum they impose on new patrons.

On the way home, I babbled on excitedly about the lovely treasures I'd found, and all the things I wanted to look for when we returned... tomorrow maybe?!

And it was in this conversation that I made a most disorienting discovery. Babar was a cherished part of both of our childhoods. Er, at least, I know and love BaBAR, and Andy has fond memories of BABar.

Thus it is that I'm calling on you, dear readers, to settle this dispute. Which one of us is shamelessly mangling the name of that marvelous elephant?

In other news concerning the pronunciation wars, the boys say chruck.

Let the Doopah-Doopah begin!

She's crawling!

But only if you put something intriguing just beyond her reach.

It feels a bit like leading a donkey onward with a carrot, but coaxing her forward with a brightly colored ball is the definitely the new form of entertainment around here. For all of us.



Who says money can't buy happiness? Posted by Picasa


More than a feeling

We weren't caught up on the laundry when we moved... and sad to say, we still aren't. Every single box in the house has been unpacked, except for my art supplies in our bedroom closet(which are better left safely packed up, anyway) and that huge tower of dirty laundry in the hall. I've worked fairly hard on it, doing a load a day on average--just enough to take care of all the laundry we're continually producing, and slowly chip away at the tower. When I finally uncovered that gorgeous turquoise sweater (alas, some weeks after that holiday party...) I found motivation to step up the pace to two loads a day. Who knew what other treasures I might excavate? My wardrobe is getting a bit sparse, so it was a relief to realize that maybe I didn't need a trip to Old Navy, maybe a trip to the laundromat was what was really in order.

A trip to the laundromat didn't fit into the schedule any better than a trip to Old Navy fit into the budget, though. I just kept chipping away at it, one load at a time. Slow, very slow, but I was making progress. Last week, I could finally see a huge difference. Two boxes down, three to go!

And then in rained. Which wouldn't have been a problem, except for those three boxes of too-small boy clothes and maternity-wear sitting out behind the house. I was back where I started, only worse. Much worse.

If finding a beautiful sweater is a powerful motivator, inability to get to the washing machine without stepping over a mountain of laundry is a powerful demotivator. I didn't get very far this week.

This afternoon, after dragging myself over to the laundry area to put in yet another load, I threw my hands up in despair. "I have a feeling that I'm never going to get to the bottom of this."

My true love looked deep into my eyes and softly whispered, "It's more than a feeling, baby."


Contact Me

I’ve worn glasses for an awfully long time. Ever since that day in third grade, when I discovered that the fuzzy green mush of grass was actually made up of tiny, individual blades, I have been utterly dependent upon this extension of my face. The wuggies call them “eyes,” and they’re pretty much right. That time when they got up before I did, and hid my glasses... shudder.

When I was small, I dreamed of the day when I would wear glasses, and be just like all the grownups in my life. It was a glorious rite of passage, almost as exciting as finally getting my teeth decked out in beautifully sparkly braces—with colored rubber bands!—just like all the big kids.

Glasses were even more wonderful than I ever dreamed—I was able to see! Quite an unexpected benefit, really. But although I never got tired of my newfound sense of sight, the initial novelty didn’t last too long.

Jessie and Laurie Barber had contacts.

Some things never change. Neither of them are Barbers any more, having shed that maiden name for Snell and Yoshimoto respectively. I hate to think what they’d do to me if I called them Jessie and Laurie. But Jessica and Laurel still wear contacts, and I still wear glasses, and I’m still faintly jealous that they can wear contacts and I can’t.

Growing up in Supai, contacts were pretty much out of the question. The canyon is filled with gritty sand, wonderful for makers of mud pies and sand angels, terrible for contact lens wearers. The wind ricochets of the walls every which way, so the sand seldom stays put. And when the helicopter comes... Well, it was simply out of the question.

Having moved out to smoggy Southern California, I got contacts right before my wedding. It was an unmitigated disaster. Almost unmitigated, anyway. I did get to be beautiful and frame-less for my wedding, so I guess it was worth it. But that was pretty much the only time I wore them.

I loved having them in. They were very comfortable, and my peripheral vision was amazing. There was only one problem.

I could not get them out.

It was an absolute fiasco. In the end my cousin Will managed to get them out for me, but oh it was such a disaster. I tried the contacts again when we got home to La Mirada, but this time I had to go to the optometrist to have them taken out. And that was the end of that.

Three and a half years have gone by, and I’ve given birth to three children. Taking out contacts can’t be that much more difficult than childbirth. For some time I’ve been thinking about giving them another shot. But it took the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s to get me to actually set up an appointment.

It’s amazing the things people feel okay about saying to parents. Everybody loves to look for family resemblance, and that’s great. It really is pretty exciting. If baby is a chip off the old block, that’s definitely worthy of exclamation, and if not, that’s even more remarkable. I never get tired of thinking about it, and it is gladdening to know that so many strangers share this interest of mine. But somehow in the excitement of it all, it doesn’t always occur to people that there would be anything wrong with saying “Oh what beautiful children. I wonder where that came from? They don’t look a thing like you!”

Usually it’s fairly easy to brush off, but the check-out guy at Trader Joe’s was very insistent. Tembo and Meeps have such amazing eyes, so big and so blue. Which one of us did they get that from? When Andy pointed toward me, he peered intently at my face. No. Well, they were a little bluish, but barely. And so tiny. Andy and I both have such tiny eyes. No. It was quite definitive. He saw right through us. We couldn’t possibly be their biological parents, because I don’t have big, beautiful, blue eyes.

That did it. And so yesterday I met Andy at work, gave him the keys to my van full of car seats and babies, and drove his car over to the optometrist down the street.

They did quite a comprehensive exam, with all sorts of tests I’d never even heard of before. And the usual stuff, like the gloucoma test, was all wonderfully non-invasive. Maybe it was just the advance in technology since my last checkup, but I was really impressed. And Dr. Galvan was wonderful. So knowledgeable and so approachable. I learned a lot in my brief visit with him. (Did you know that the eyeball is really brain tissue? Yet another reason, I suppose, that the eyes are the windows of the soul...) I’d picked Dr. Galvan simply on the basis of location, but it turns out that he is the chairman of the premier school of optometry in the nation. Andy works on the right street, I guess.

He recommended gas permeable extended wear soft lenses for me. The kind that you can sleep in and shower in and never remove for a whole week. Oh the bliss! He said he really doesn’t do much laser surgery anymore, because these are so wonderful, there’s hardly any point. To wake up and be able to see, the very moment I open my eyes... Sign me up!

And then they showed me the bill.

See, it hadn’t occurred to me to ask beforehand. I knew how much the insurance would cover, and I knew approximately how much contacts cost, and I knew that the difference was something we could squeeze into our budget.

But this is one of the top optometrists in the nation. And he charges accordingly. No, getting regular disposables wouldn't mitigate the cost much. It was the exam that was expensive. And he'd already done the exam.

Andy works on the wrong street, I guess.

Things that go bump in the night


When the gyrations of the washing machine produce an ominous crash, don't ever give a sigh of relief and say "Whew. It was just the ironing board."

Even if it really was just the ironing board.

When you stumble out in the dark to adjust the thermostat, the gash will be deep and painful.

And every kick of a tantruming two-year old will be agony.


Blah, blah, blah!

She don't got much to say, but she certainly can say it.

Midnight Oil

The kitchen is a bit messy. Which is a huge improvement over the filthy disaster it was when I went to bed. Insomnia has its benefits. Amazing how quickly things go without any little helpers.

The question now: do I go back to bed, or take this as a rare opportunity for a shower?



I'm starting to discover just how much faster the housework goes when I make use of our entire labor force. This morning, Nathan helped me unload the dryer. He would fling himself headlong into the dryer, then emerge triumphantly waving a sock. He would hand me the sock, and I would place it in the laundry basket while he dove in for a shirt or a washcloth.

And yes, this process really is much more efficient than gathering up all the clothes in a single armful, while Nathan scatters them throughout the house.


Always the endings are so abrupt and ad hoc.

And always I wonder where it would lead if stayed at the piano, and let the thoughts unravel. Tremblingly, I press on into the unknown, further... just a little further... but always the terror overtakes me. Frantically, I grasp for closure, like a child's first story that must conclude



Interview Update

The interview went very well. It just became more and more clear that this school is precisely the sort of place Andy want's to work, and that Andy is precisely the sort of person they need. The question of the day for them is "how can we best integrate mathematics into a classical and Christian education?" And of course that's Andy's passion.

It would be a hard job, teaching Latin, great books, and logic in addition to math. Very time-intensive. But right now, he desperately wishes that his job was less demanding so that he could... brush up on his Latin. And they won't make him get a teaching credential, which is what's really throwing him over the edge right now. This school is very big on teacher education---so much so that they hire their teachers year round so that they can send them home with a reading list over the summer. Lots of workshops and seminars and mentoring, just not the miles and miles of hoop-jumping. The match is so perfect it's not even funny.

The only problem is money. They don't have any. And supporting a family of five takes a lot of it... particularly in Orange County.

So they're going to attempt to raise the money necessary to enable Andy to work for them, and get back to him in a month.

The odds are low. Very low. Classical schools are typically only able pay their teachers less than 2/3 of what it takes to support a family around here.

It's so nerve-wracking. The contrast between an exciting endeavor such as this, and another year of grueling drudgery.... But the bottom line is that Andy longs to further the God's Kingdom by sharpening powerful minds for His service. If this is what God wants, then he will provide the means to make it happen. And if not, we will thank him for providing the miserable drudge-work by which Andy can feed our children. If that is the path that God has chosen for us, He will provide the stamina.
"Andy, come here! Look at the adorable outfit your mom sent for September!"
"How cute."
"You didn't even look!"
"I did look!"

...5 min....

"Oh what beautiful pants! She's like a little barbie doll. Is this the outfit my mom sent?"


Two pages. Double-spaced. A.S.A.P.

Editing is all about boiling things down into concise clarity.

Unless you're running short on time and word-count.Posted by Picasa

On the edge of my seat

I'm blogging right now, because if I'm blogging, then my computer is on the internet. And if my computer is on the internet, then that means the phone line is in use. And if the phone line is in use, then I cannot possibly call Andy's cell phone and pester him with questions about how the interview went.

Because the interview is probably still going on, and calling and pestering right now would probably NOT increase the likelihood of a desirable outcome.

Besides, I'm sure that as soon as he's done with the interview, he'll call and tell me all about it. So he hasn't called yet, and that means he's still in the interview.

Except maybe he DID call, only the phone line was busy because I'm online.

I'd better get off right now and call him, just to make sure.


Maybe I should just go eat some rocky road ice cream.

Everybody knows you can't talk on the phone while you're eating rocky road ice cream.

"Can't find another vein? Try Galois Theory!"

This is what happens when they make a philosophically inclined geometer take Foundations of Education.


Meepo's Perfect Pizza Dough

Combine in bread machine:

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons olive oil

sprinkle over:

generous 2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt


2 cups
1 tablespoon
1 roll duct tape

Set bread machine to dough setting. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Allow completed pizza to cook a bit longer than usual.


The calm after the storm

There are few things more blissful than a quiet hour snuggled up with a cup of cocoa and a good book, surrounded by peacefully napping children. The air is filled with the freshness and purity that only comes after a good rain, and I am filled with the tranquility that only comes after a good adrenaline rush.

Meeps, you should get yourself wedged between the springs of the glider more often!



The other day, Nathan whapped his brother soundly on the head with a spoon.

When he saw Isaiah crying, and realized what he'd done, he became very concerned. "Towwy! Towwy! Ah dubboo!"

Although Isaiah (not quite up to forgiveness, I'm afraid) vehemently rebuffed the comforting gestures, I was thrilled to see that things were connecting in Nathan's little head, that he comprehended another's pain. Now, this afternoon, I find that Isaiah, too, is learning about empathy.

Having torn a page out of a favorite book, he sadly brought it to show Justy.



The wuggy-boys have reached a momentous milestone. They don't mention it in the baby books, but it appears to occur at around 26 months, in boys at least.

They've figured out the child-proof locks.

To look at me, you might think I've been doing a lot of baking. Actually, it's just that they're dumping out the flour faster than I can clean up the cocoa.


Magical Kisses

I was always under the vague impression that parents train their children to believe that kisses make owies all better. Turns out it’s quite the opposite. Whenever the wuggy-boys came up to us with pinched finger or a bonked noggin, we would squeeze them tight and kiss the owie. But we never told them that would solve anything, and I, at least, never expected it to.

But strangely enough, mommy’s kisses really do make everything better. They will come up to me, wailing melodramatically, “ow-EE! ow-EE! ow-EE!” The moment my lips touch their wounds, though, they are off gleefully chasing balls once again. It’s really amazing. I can’t quite get over my newfound superpowers.

Yesterday afternoon Nathan cut his foot on one of the grates. (I wonder how THAT might have happened...) He stood before me on one leg, and tried to lift his hurt foot up to receive my magical kisses. As soon as he realized that wasn’t going to work, he gave up and just offered me his finger. “Ow-EE?” So I kissed his finger instead.

And that made everything all better.