Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pillow Talk

As I was putting Graham to bed tonight, I asked if he wanted to sing songs. His selections were his two favorites: "I Am a Child of God" & "I Love to See the Temple". When we were done I asked how he felt.

"Good."

"Do you feel happy when you sing I Am a Child of God?"

"Uh, huh. I wuv Heav'ly Fadder."

"You know he loves you, too? And that Jesus loves you?"

"I wuv Jesus, too."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Nation


Cami is holding the "S." (This was the concluding number done by the school choir.)




I know it's blurry, but Cami is the child with the star just above her head.


This was when I first walked into the school hall. Cami kept looking for me & got the biggest grin when she saw me. Later, when she was singing, she'd look around until she could give me a little wave & then she'd focus.


I grew up in the American midwest, in one of those towns where everybody with kids (or so it seemed) went to church. At least in my neighborhood it worked that way. Part of the routine in my public school included rehearsals for the Christmas program -- a program that included angels, shepherds, innkeepers, and a very important mother, stepfather, and baby.

If Cami were attending a kindergarten in New Jersey, I'm quite certain the Separation of Church and State would make for a rather secular Christmas program. Even in my elementary school, things would be vastly different than they were during my childhood. But leaving the States makes for a very different environment. And so this morning I watched Cami be part of a program that included that very important baby.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

As we all should be

Cami was just addressing a Christmas card to a friend.

"Adrienne will be happy for joy when she gets this letter."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This is the end. . .of the innocence

Probably not a surprise to most of you, I'm not a fan of gendered stereotypes. As a six year old (or so) my favorite, I-must-have-this-my-daddy-tracked-down-the-last-one-anywhere Christmas gift was a Jeep. A Jeep that came with a tire-changing kit (it had a jack and a spare) and an extra gas can. Anyway, despite one or two ruffled dresses & a penchant for stealing my teenage sister's makeup, I leaned toward "boy" toys.

As mentioned in a previous post, I expected Cami would follow in my hiking-bootsteps on this one. Boy, was I wrong. But, I'm ok with that. Everything balances out: Graham wanted his toes painted every time Cami had her nails done. And I obliged them both. I'm in the "I don't do gender stereotypes, but I won't condemn them either" camp which is why Cami got a "Princess Handbook" for her birthday.

But the thing that I just couldn't do while Cami explores her femininity is buy her a Barbie. She could play with them at other people's homes. Yet I knew that one day a birthday or Christmas would bring the plastic bombshell to our house. And today, the inevitable happened. . . now I'm just waiting for Graham to want one.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Million Dollar (Pound) Idea

Last year I had a friend suggest that I was so good at organization (meaning: I made reminder phone calls & emails) that I could run a small business.

As a missionary, I was told I should work in a bakery.

Today, Jason got rave reviews for three-day old cinnamon rolls. And we all know that cinnamon rolls are only really good for the first three hours after their out of the oven. But, they are a novelty here. What if we opened a shop that just sold American baked goodies? Simple menu: cinnamon rolls (although they'd get called "buns"), chocolate chip cookies, and brownies.

Basic business plan: capitalize on my husband's position. Cater to the college crowd. After all, there was a shop called "My Daddy's Cheesecake" owned by a couple of profs where I went to school. It did well, despite being too expensive to really rely on the college crowd as consistent customers. But cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, brownies? Not impossibly expensive (1 to 2 pounds) on the student pocketbook & not impossible on the production side.

The only problem I have is that I have no experience running a business. How does one lease a shopfront? How does one get a business loan? How does one market American treats to English youth? I mean, really I'm just thinking about a large-scale bakesale but with a Krispy Kreme twist: the neon sign that says, "Cinnamon buns just out of the oven."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Super Power Six

"Cami is really great at making people feel loved. It's like her super power," Jason told me earnestly tonight. Our little super hero turned six today, so here's six trivial, but hopefully interesting details about Super Loving Girl.

1. Cami was born in Tallahassee, Florida, which makes her a "Tallahassee Lassie."

2. I expected that she would be a tomboy. Surprise to me! (Graham & Rose's gift for her is a "Princess Handbook" which she loved.)

3. It is a daily struggle to get her to change out of her school uniform & into play clothes. Since it's her birthday, I didn't bother to fight with her about it today.


4. She's been identified as artistically gifted. Which makes sense because she loves drawing. She showed me a drawing of a lamp two days ago & then added three simple lines for the shade -- those extra lines made it just right.

5. Despite being well-known for wearing "red sparklies" (red shoes), she's never seen "The Wizard of Oz."

6. She had a sweet, bashful smile when she told me about Matthew, a boy at school. "We have crushes on each other. And he whispered in my ear that he wants to marry me someday."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

All I Want for Christmas. . .

". . . is my two front teeth." Or in Rose's case, the other front tooth. She cut her first yesterday, poking out on the bottom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do as I Tell You

When I was little, I had an uncanny memory for going places. If I'd been there once, I could give directions on how to return. My parents would use me as a pre-Computer Age GPS.

Cami spent most of Saturday playing at a friend's house. When I opened the door, the first thing I heard was, "She is amazing!" I'm never quite sure what to expect next when I hear those words. This time it was good. The mom explained, "I've never been anywhere near here & she told me exactly where to go. Turn right, turn left, go around the corner. . . ."

I'm sure Cami loved it: an adult who recognized her as an authority figure.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Graham's Title

I distractedly said, "Thank you, Mr. Graham," as I was working in the kitchen & he moved out of my way.

His cute response, "Your welcome, Mr. Mommy."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't I taste good?

Just fifteen minutes ago, I took this classic fell-asleep-thumb-sucking shot. Perfect. Especially because she isn't a thumb sucker.





And for other tasty extremities. She needed some piggies to nibble during this morning's diaper & pj change.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Driving away Fear

As Americans there are certain social markers that we hold. A big one: the car.

I remember talking to friends from really rural areas while attending college. Some of them told me that there were people they knew who owned cars that cost more than their homes. That was such a foreign thought to me: that one would make a substantial financial commitment to a tool that automatically depreciates.

When we decided to move to England, we decided not to buy a car. First of all, there's the financial commitment issue. And cars that can hold three car seats are not as readily available here as they are in the States. But much more than that is my fear of driving on the left side of the road while sitting in the right front seat.

Today, I faced the fear. Not for long, mind you. I just drove around the parking lot while a friend (the van's owner) ran into a shop. I never got beyond first gear. But I have now done it. It's a start. . . but we still won't buy a car any time soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pretty Leaves






Our Friday plan was to take a walk as a family. We went exploring & found what will probably be Cami's next school, since her current school only goes to Year 2.

Anyway, there were these amazing leaves & I just needed to have a photo of them -- and the "big kids."

Empty Headed




A classically windy, wet, English day. I took Graham to Kirkstall Abbey, where we played at the playground. As I watched his delight at rolling a toy truck down the slide, I thought about a quote I'd read. In summary, it was a mother of now-grown children saying that she wished she had spent more time "in the moment," noticing and enjoying all the details of every day.

Just twenty minutes later, I was standing in the middle of an herb garden, looking out over the autumn-colored trees, with the roof of the Abbey hovering above. I kept thinking, "I should be having some great thought. I should be finding some life lesson in this moment."

But, the life lesson of the day is to enjoy the moment -- and to laugh when Graham lays down on almost-frozen flagstones, pretending that he's pulling the covers up in bed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Three Cheers for Remembrance Sunday

11 November will be Remembrance Day -- Veterans' Day in the States. But in England the Sunday closest to the 11th is set apart as Remembrance Sunday. Some of the observances included a parade that we stumbled into during our Sunday walk, two minutes of silence to remember those who have served their country, and special talks given in church.

The two minutes of silence can seem eternal when trying to keep a 6 month and three year old quiet. But it was good for me. I thought about my dad who received a military funeral and was buried in Jefferson Barracks Cemetery last month.

Apparently, Cami's been thinking, too. She asked me tonight, "How old was Grandpa when he died."

"Eighty-three."

"How old are you, Mom?"

"Thirty-two."

She delightedly gave me two thumbs up (literally) as she exclaimed, "Yea! It'll be a long time until you die!"

Color Blind

I wish we had a scanner that worked -- of course not as much as I want a new camera. But I'd love to share the picture that Cami showed me this morning. It's an image she's been working on for a couple of days.

I suppose Jason's & my interest in the presidential election has rubbed off on Cami, because she keeps asking questions about the life of the President. She knows the names Obama and McCain, she's seen photos of the White House, and she recognizes photos of President-Elect Obama. I think the fact that Senator and Mrs. Obama have daughters not much older than she is makes her feel very connected in a little girl, I-could-play-with-them manner.

Or perhaps Cami & the Obama girls could draw together. I'd like to see how they depict our family, because Cami's picture shows the Obama family in a beautifully color-blind (and politically-blind) fashion: their family is red & blue.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Self-Realization

I think a lot. Probably not a surprise to anybody who knows me, but I for those of you who don't know me in person: I have a difficult time turning off my brain.

While walking around the canal area (see the previous post), I thought about the Thoreau's line from Walden (made famous to my generation through Dead Poets Society), that he wished to "live more deliberately." There are things that I truly enjoy, that I find I deny myself (and thus deny others the benefit of a happier version of myself). I love the experience of writing. Not typing, although that's the medium I usually use, but writing.

Paper.
A fountain pen.
A clean table.
Candlelight.

I used to give myself just ten minutes, although sometimes it stretched into a longer period, to write. Thank you notes, actual letters, my journals.

Why do I not give myself this time anymore? The messy house is my typical excuse; unfortunately, it's part of life with three young children, especially when there is no dishwasher or clothes dryer. But when did I choose to deny myself pleasure?

I can't pinpoint a moment. I can't pinpoint a reason I made this choice. But I can live deliberately. I won't go off into the woods. I won't build a house out of pieces of someone's old shanty. I won't limit myself to one table and chair.

But I choose to remember that the pleasures I give myself are what lead to a life beautifully, deliberately, lived.

Dog Daze

Graham, Rose, & I took a walk along the canal this morning, exploring new territory. I found a pair of truly lovely houses just past the canal boat launch. They are the sort of homes I dream of having: comfortably large classical stonework houses, placed among the fields, with a chicken coop off to the side.

When we are off exploring we often encounter dogs walking their owners. Or owners calling their dogs back because they've decided it isn't wise to let their pets run without a leash when a small boy is around. One of the most striking dogs we saw this morning was a dalmatian. I pointed it out to Graham with, "Isn't the dog with the spots pretty?"

"Those aren't spots. He's dirty!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What a Guy!

"I knew the world community was excited about Obama's win, but fireworks?" Jason quipped as we gathered in Graham's bedroom to watch the twinkly lights of Bonfire Night.

"Bonfire Night" is the politically correct name of what was once known as "Guy Fawkes." Named for the man who once tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, it's traditionally celebrated on November 5th with bonfires & fireworks.

Cami came home from school begging to get to see fireworks. But, just as she had for Independence Day, she finds it impossible to just sit & watch the show. There has to be some other distraction. So, I'm really glad I followed the impulse to take the kids upstairs to the room with the view (I covet Graham's view), where we could watch multiple fireworks displays simultaneously.

Watching all these beautiful bursts of light, it struck me how truly democratic fireworks are. If I want to enjoy the symbolic bombs bursting in air, I can't restrict my neighbors from enjoying the show. And living in a fairly affluent town, there are lots of neighbors unknowingly sharing their delights with us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Out of Here!

I logged into my blog this morning & decided to see what ad appeared on my page. It wasn't something I wanted to be representing, so I took steps to filter it out.

If anybody notices inappropriate ads on my blog (which I sincerely hope doesn't happen ever again), please email me with the URL. I'll kick it out of here, pronto!

Friday, October 31, 2008

"You've Come a Long Way"

For the third year in a row, Cami donned a princess costume & ventured out into the wilds of suburbia to beg candy from strangers. She went out with a slightly older friend, me & the other mom watching from the sidewalk. . .at least most of the time.

Cami took a tumble going down a driveway & needed help finding a shoe in the dark & retrieving candy that had escaped her plastic pumpkin (the only one I saw -- treat bags are the rule around here). The woman whose driveway Cami had encountered walked up to my sad little girl, bowl of candy in hand, and let Cami get what she wished. When we said "Thank you" her immediate response was, "You've come a long way. Where are you from?"

"America" didn't answer her question sufficiently. It turns out that she's married to a Texan & they are thinking about heading back to the States. As we chatted, comparing the crowds and decorations of a pleasant English subdivision at Halloween with the soundtrack-and-"corpse" strewn houses of my childhood neighborhood, I couldn't help but think about how much better I like the restrained version.

But no matter the address, there was a happily exhausted girl to put to bed "late" (after 9) on Halloween night. And happy memories are worth traveling "a long way" for.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forgiveness in the Morning.

Graham, sweet, sweet boy that he is, looked at me with confusion. I could tell there was something he needed to tell me, but couldn't figure out how to say it. Finally, "I not Cami."

"Did I call you Cami?'

"Yes," with a nod.

"I'm sorry, Graham. I know you are Graham," as I reach out to hug him.

He snuggles in, "That's ok."

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Ah, Nicole, it's a crass, commercial world we live in"

Can anybody name the movie? Or at least the leading lady (although the leading man is equally charming in this movie)?

OK, I've made a decision which I've rejected for a long time. I've been loathe to add advertising to my blog, because #1 it just grates #2 I'm not cool enough. All of which is ironic, because I've actually written and edited advertising copy when I worked in marketing.

But, I'm doing this with a goal. . .I want a new camera. A camera that will provide quality photos for this blog, for grandmas, and posterity. And I promise to post adventure tales, with accompanying photos, with said camera.

So, until I learn "How to Steal a Million," I'll try to earn it.

Not Entirely Accurate

Graham mumbled an unexpected announcement, "Mom, I've got a flashlight in my mouth."

He was only partially right -- it was just the bulb.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Psgotti, Anyone

Family Home Evening is usually less effective around here. Jason and I aren't very creative about lessons. But we needed to have a family-unity lesson that the kids could participate in. So, we made "psgotti," or, as the rest of the world knows it, biscotti.

My kids LOVE biscotti. I'm not sure why. I mean, I love it, but usually munchkins go for something sugar- & fat-laden. So, mixing the ingredients together, knowing that there was a very good thing to expect at the end, made it easy for Graham & Cami to want to work together. A rather successful FHE.

I also had a secondary motive. Cami's school was having a bake sale. And homemade biscotti is just a tad more sophisticated than the brownies & pound cakes that I saw back in the States. Well, biscotti was too sophisticated for the intended customers. All the treats got laid out in the computer room (very brave), then the kids were let loose (with some parental supervision). Each treat, no matter the type, cost 20 pence. Before my eyes was a spectrum of colorful treats designed specifically for the sugar- and fat-lovers under age 7. My bowl of biscotti was untouched until I touched it. I HAD to. All the biscotti at our house was gone & Cami was going to want some when we got home. . . plus, I can't have anybody feeling sorry for me, except me.

I still feel just a little self-conscious about it all, but I am feeling some vindication. Believing that all the biscotti from Monday was gone, Graham and I just made more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To the Point

Graham's prayer this morning made me laugh. "Dear Heavenly Father, We're just grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is That a Threat?

Cami wanted to watch a video after church. When I told her no, I couldn't help but laugh at her reaction, "Mom. If you don't say yes, I'll be so cross that I'll go to bed!"

Crazy 8s, part 2

Two More Pieces of Eye Candy

Graham waters the dead basil

My Beautiful Boys





Crazy 8s

My wonderful friend Erika tagged me. I've seen these games of tag on other blogs, but this is my first invitation to play. Here it goes.

Six (Because Blogger won't let me put up eight) Pieces of Eye Candy

Yes, this is egotistical, but I do find them beautiful. (Lots of credit to Maegan Dougherty -- our wonderful photographer & friend!)

In no particular chronological order:


Cami in a leaf sack

Baby RoseCami in our NJ bathroom
Cami at Rutgers Gardens

Kissing at the Gardens
The Airplane, Daddy!




Eight things I did yesterday.

1. Got up early and slept in late. Sound impossible? I got up, switched some laundry & then went back to bed. Due to jet lag & a sick baby, I haven't been getting into bed at my usual 10-ish bedtime. . .so I slept in until 11:45!

2. Took Graham & Cami to Kirkstall Abbey. We arrived late enough that we didn't get to go into the Abbey itself, but the kids played on the ruins of the guesthouse foundation, we looked at a pair of swans in the canal, I took photos of the kids up in a bent tree, & the kids played at the playground.

3. Bought shampoo & dish soap, paper towels & toilet paper, a cucumber & yogurt. And, because Graham and Cami were with me, non-essential junk food made their way home with us, too.

4. Had an awkward phone conversation with a family member.

5. Tidied up the ground floor of our house/laundry.

6. Tried to catch up on blogs. Thought about how much time I spend on the computer & wondered if I am any happier or if I'm more discontent because I have other people's beautiful lives to compare mine against.

7. Took multiple baths since Rose keeps throwing up all over herself & me. I keep dreaming of having one of those long, leisurely, bath-oil and candlelight baths. Maybe in about ten years.

8. Thought about all the thank you notes that I need to write & haven't.

Eight Favorite Eats

1. The first just-picked strawberry at the pick-your-own patch in late spring.

2. The first just-picked Macoun, HoneySweet, or McIntosh apple from the pick-your-own farm in late fall.

3. The first just-pick peaches and nectarines from the pick-your-own farm in summer.

4. Just-picked apricots snagged from a neighborhood tree in Salt Lake City.

5. Homemade bread.

6. Homemade popcorn (microwave does not count).

7. Christmas Eve fondue (a family tradition).

8. Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Chips.

9. Because I must list this: Tart Montmorency Cherries from Trader Joe's.

Eight Things on my Wish List

1. Utter self-confidence. Not the obnoxious, I-am-incapable-of-self-reflection self-confidence, but the quiet self-assurance that I can do anything that I feel is valuable. I suppose another way of putting it is to truly be and feel elegant.

2. A self-cleaning house.

3. My bed back. We shipped our beautiful, pillow-top king-sized bed from the U.S. And it is too big to make the turn up the stairs in our classic English townhouse. When the workman from the charity Emmaus came to pick it up the supervisor walked in & said, "That's the biggest bed I've ever seen. Please tell me they don't come bigger than that."

4. An eternally healthy husband. And since I'm wishing, I'll extend that to kids & myself.

5. To live in Europe -- wish fulfilled!

6. To feel creative & excited & happy.

7. To have a Trader Joe's at the end of my street.

8. World peace.

Eight Things that I Love about Fall

1. Apple picking.

2. Fall leaves before they land on my lawn.

3. Roasting marshmallows over a bonfire.

4. Feeling cuddly in a cashmere sweater while reading in bed.

5. Remembering the time when Jason was "that cute boy who sat behind me in logic class."

6. Baking.

7. Hiking.

8. Farmer's Markets.

Eight Favorite Shows

This one is weird for me, because we don't have a TV. Since we've married, Jason and I have never lived in a house where we have TV reception. Cable seems a waste of money & I already waste too much time on other things. But my sister buys TV collections which I've seen while visiting & the internet streams stuff, so in the past two years, these are things I've watched.

1. The Daily Show.

2. BattleStar Galatica (the new version -- although I grew up watching the original). My sister started it all by buying us iTunes credit to download it.

3. Grey's Anatomy (I've seen the first three seasons).

4. Airwolf (Cami liked reliving my childhood with me.)

5. What Not to Wear.

6. The Cosby Show.

OK. I've thought about it & I've run out of shows I've watched because I want to. Although I've seen a lot of "Thomas the Tank Engine" and "Strawberry Shortcake" thanks to my children.

Eight Things I am Looking Forward to

1. Graham being toilet trained.

2. Paying off all of the student loans.

3. Traveling around Europe, especially returning to Italy & exploring Switzerland.

4. Rose & Jason being well.

5. Sleeping.

6. Teaching at the university level again.

7. Going strawberry picking next summer. There's a patch about 1/4 mile walk from our house.

8. Baking some biscotti.

Eight Friends

I assure you I have eight friends. I actually have a lot more than that, which is a surprise to me. Not everybody blogs & I always feel left out when I read somebody's tag list & I'm not on it. So, if you read this, consider yourself tagged! (But leave me a note, so I know you are playing!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Family's Bad Word

Hysterics this morning. Weeping & wailing & gnashing of teeth. . .or at least Cami would have been teeth gnashing if she knew what it is.

I came into the kitchen to find out what was the problem.

"Graham called me 'stupid.' And I'm not. You shouldn't call people stupid, especially the people that are important to you!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mission(s) Accomplished

Mom phoned at 5 a.m. Dad is gone. He completed the work he had to do.

And now Mom can get some sleep.

When I told Dad back in January that we were moving to England, his first words were, "Oh, no." Then when we actually left St. Louis, he made the dire prediction, "This is the last time I'll see you." He felt Europe was just too far away for me to be accessible. But I promised to see him again. . . and I did.

One if my greatest desires has been to live abroad. Especially because I want our kids to be travelers, world explorers. To feel confident talking about places on the map, because they have been there. So, I felt a small thrill when I heard Cami tell Jason, "When we were in Amsterdam. . . ."

Even though he didn't hear Cami, I bet Dad is proud of me, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trilingual?

Cami, Rose, and I flew back to England on Monday/Tuesday. When we were on the final flight segment, Amsterdam to Leeds, the safety announcements were first issued in Dutch, then in English. Cami told me, "Mom, I wish we spoke Dutch. And English. And Americanish."

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6th -- I always remember

6 October 1999

I walked off a plane wearing a grey skirt (the same grey skirt I wore yesterday), a blue jacket (which still hangs in my closet), & a missionary tag. I hadn't been home in 18 months. It had been a hard 18 months -- the hardest of my life. But earlier that day, when I had been in my mission president's office in Salt Lake City, I had been told in a blessing "not to regret" any of it.

When I walked off that plane in St. Louis, I saw my parents waiting for me at the gate & I was struck by how old they looked. It had been a hard 18 months for them, too. Dad had had emergency heart surgery about two weeks before mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I'd spoken with them & told them I was coming home. Mom told me that I wasn't -- they needed the blessings that come from having a missionary in the family.

So, I stayed. And they met me at an airport gate 10 months later.

I remember my mission (something I think about every day, even though I don't talk about it much) extra intensely on 6 October. I have a habit of emailing my favorite mission president (I had three) on this day. I haven't written him yet.

But today I bought plane tickets for St. Louis. My dad is dying. Nobody will be allowed to meet Cami, Rose, & me at the gate when we arrive on Wednesday evening. And I'm not sure what I'll think when I see Dad. I know that one of the steps that families are encouraged to take when a family member is in hospice care is to say, "I forgive you." I praying that I'll be able to say those words & mean them not for that moment, but for my lifetime.

Because we're a forever family. One of the first things I taught people as a missionary is that families can be sealed together forever. It's only through Jesus Christ that this can happen. But it can. And so, I have something else to think of on October 6, 2009. . .that I love my dad forever.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Natural Disaster?

We're still learning about some very basic "this is how our house works" things. For example, the heater. It's extremely noisy. I kept getting up in the night to adjust various knobs in the hopes of quieting things down.

This morning (funny that I'm writing that description because the clock reads 7 a.m.), Jason readjusted something. Graham yelled, "That's noisy!"

Jason replied, "Well, that's just the price we have to pay to have heat."

Cami, "No, it's an earthquake."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Digital Native

Cami and I read stories before lights out, and then I tell her a story once the lights go off. She always supplies the first line, "Once upon a time, there were [number][animal]. Tonight's line was, "Once upon a time there were two rhinoceroses." About three minutes into my tale of Eddie and Sherry, she charmingly interrupted, "Mom, can we pause the story?"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mr. Men moments 2

While we were reading "Little Miss Birthday" Graham noticed that Mr. Wrong wore a flowerpot for a hat. "He has a flowerpot on his head. That's disgraceful."

Mr. Men Moments

When Jason came home from house-hunting in England, the gifts he brought the kids were the books "Mr. Happy" and "Mr. Messy." I find these books just as wonderful as when I was a first grader & my teacher Mrs. Klein put me in a corner to read to myself while the other students learned how to read. (Yes, I suppose I'm bragging.)

Anyway, I read Mr. Messy to Graham at least once a day. And lately, with a few other Mr. Men & Little Miss books on loan from a friend (Cami's male counterpart is a four year old American whose dad also works in the philosophy department at Leeds), I read more than just Mr. Messy.

With Cami at school, Rose asleep, and the house picked up, I spent about an hour reading "Little Miss Birthday" to Graham. He noticed that the title character had a "snake" for a mouth, because she was "puzzled." That led to a mini-discussion about how our mouths & eyes best express our emotions. I showed him my "puzzled mouth & eyes" and asked to see his "happy mouth and eyes." But he wouldn't look at me. Finally I asked him, "What do your happy eyes look like?"

Rather than look at me, he replied "Brown."

Monday, September 22, 2008

"That Was Nice of You to Say"

At the Canal
Sitting on my Dresser
Crushing peppercorns -- and yes, I staged this, because when we were actually grinding up the peppercorns, I had to hold the pestle with him.



With Cami in school, I am getting to discover Graham for the person he is. That's not to say he's a stranger to me, but so much of our time together gets interrupted because he is "the middle child." But for six hours a day, he and I get to hang out.

So we read stories and build his train tracks while Rose is napping. And, when she wakes up, we go to the park. Or, as the photos show, we walk to the canal bridge (which is gorgeous & just over the hill is the real train tracks where we say "Hi" and "Bye" as "Thomas," "Percy," and "James" pass by). Or I let him join Rose in sitting on the furniture, because I love watching them watch themselves in the mirror. Or he helps me cook. . . it's more enjoyable for all of us when there are only two cooks instead of three.

Today we dropped Cami off at school & didn't even bother to go back home. Rose was in the hiking backpack, so we just headed down the hill for the canal, because Graham wanted to see the boats. When we were leaving the canal, I told Graham "Thank You" for taking me on this adventure.

I fell in love with my little guy all over when he responded, "You're welcome, Mommy. That was nice of you to say."

School Daze







1 September 2008.

School registration works a bit differently here in the UK. Generally, you submit your child's information about a year before school starts. Since we didn't have a confirmed address until August 7th, that wasn't a deadline we managed to meet.

Jason took Cami to Leeds Education on August 9th to submit her application. And then we waited for "The Letter" (just as if we were hoping she'd been accepted to Hogwarts.) But it didn't come. And didn't come. And didn't come.

So, on 1 September, the official start date for schools throughout the UK, we walked by the school around 9:30. It looked completely closed. No sign of life. Jason phoned Leeds Education and asked if there had been a hangup. The administrator reported that Cami's file had been sent to her school & that our letter should have arrived. Then she gave Jason a phone number for the school & told him to call.

We learned a couple things from the second call. #1. School had begun at 9 a.m. #2. They had Cami's file & just hadn't bothered to confirm that she was enrolled. #3. We should bring her in at 11 a.m. to meet the headteacher (the PC version of Dumbledore).

We arrived on time for her appointment. Mrs. Rhodes, the headteacher, interviewed her & took us on a mini-tour of the school. We spent about twenty minutes learning about the school dinner (aka lunch) program which Cami decided she wanted to buy into (simplifying my life) and purchasing her official school polo shirts & a jumper (aka sweatshirt).

Home for lunch, a quick change into her uniform (I LOVE uniforms -- she doesn't come home every day lusting after another child's clothes), & then my girl started school at 1 p.m.

So, when Cami grows up & has to provide some random tidbit of personal trivia she has an easy one: I skipped kindergarten & missed the first four hours of Year 1.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Place to Remember






We have "bank holidays" in England. They get treated as the equivalent of Labor Day or Memorial Day -- the post office & banks are closed, while lots of shops have special sales. We used the holiday to go to Kirkstall Abbey, a medieval ruin that's about two miles from our house. Jason passes it every time he rides the bus to work and I see it whenever I go into City Centre.

It's an amazing place to walk around. I'm not sure if it's because of the holiday or just because, but there was a murder mystery set up within the ruins. It appeared that the mystery was based on an actual incident in the thirteenth century. It was a great way to engage Cami with the ruins & to get a better understanding of what the abbey was like when it was up & running.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Montana's Where They Move To

Jason and I took the kids into Leeds City Centre on Sunday to meet up with a philosophy friend from the States. Riding the bus back home, we were seated near a ten year old boy. When we were almost to our stop, the boy got brave enough to ask the usual question of "Where are you from?"

Jason was nearest him & responded, "The States."

"Which one?"

"I'm from Montana."

"Is that where all the posh people are from?"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Absolutely True

Graham was just pulling on my leg, begging me to read him a story. The book he handed me is "Where's My Baby?" When I read the title aloud, he responded, "Upstairs."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peep! Peep! A Day with Thomas





As you may or may not know, Graham LOVES trains. The train museum in Strasberg, PA, was -- and I believe is -- his favorite place to be. The only big toy we packed for him was his train stuff, because he keeps himself entertained with it for hours.

Our first night in Leeds, we had to stay in a hotel, rather than moving straight into our house. But I think there's a lot to recommend spending the first bit of time (if not one's lifetime) being a tourist wherever you live. Being at the hotel meant we had a full rack of local-interest pamphlets to browse and we learned that there would be a "Day with Thomas" event in a nearby town on August 23rd. We didn't tell the kids about this adventure, just in case something went wrong. But, things went right.

Talk about happy kids. We got to ride the local bus, the regular train, the antique double-decker bus with the open roof, and then some antique trains. Four hours weren't long enough for Cami & Graham. They would have stayed forever, I suspect -- as long as there was food.

Although I thought the trains were nifty, the best part for me was getting to see the English countryside. So beautiful. So truly calming. And traveling through villages with charmingly tended gardens and narrow streets makes me long to move out of the suburbs. Especially when I saw a modern electricity-generating windmill up on a hill -- crunchy out in the country.

The Blessings I Don't Need

Warning: This post sounds entirely self-centered and occasionally petty, but it isn't meant that way.

I posted a couple days ago about Balloons of Hope, a balloon launch organized to support Christian and Stephanie Nielsen. Jason commented that if we were in an accident like this, he doubted that we'd receive this level of support. We just aren't that popular.

Jason and I have often felt very lonely. And I, at least, often watched Stephanie both in person and via her blog (nieniedialogues.blogspot.com) with the same irrational dissatisfaction with my life that the geeky seventh grader watches the popular cheerleader. Jason would sometimes come home from teaching a late-night class & ask how the night had been. I'd respond by telling him that the kids had been difficult & so I'd decided to make myself feel worse by looking at Stephanie's blog.

I've spent the past nine days thinking about things from the standpoint of the things I can do right now that Stephanie can't. I can get up in the morning & hugs my kids. I can walk through the park & smile at the sunshine & enjoy the gentle English rain. I get to kiss Jason and tell him I love him. And I get to launch balloons to honor an amazingly vibrant woman who doesn't get to do those things right now.

It took me a couple of days to find the silver lining in not being popular. And it's this: I haven't had a tragedy of this magnitude. Something so utterly life altering that it requires the love and support of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. My needs are met by a relatively small group of true & close friends that love me & support me when I battle my challenges of insecurity and depression. I'm not popular, but I don't need to be. Stephanie & Christian are because the Lord is meeting their needs.

And we get to help. Design Mom has declared tomorrow, Thursday, August 28th, NieNie Day. Lots of bloggers are hosting silent auctions with the proceeds going to the Stephanie & Christian Nielsen Relief Fund. So, if you feel inclined, surf over to Design Mom & get the list. You may find something you love and join the pool of people the Nielsens need.

Baby Smiles




Grandma Jeanne requested photos of the kids, specifically of a smiling Baby Rose. So, here we are. Again, the quality of photos is weak & will be for a while, since everything will be done with my phone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Teen Already

We took our first adventure on Saturday, taking the train out to Ilkley. The train was the nicest and most modern I've ever been on. Each car was set up with LCD boards which told you the next station, as well as an automated voice which reminded you. So, we heard the disembodied voice tell us two or three times, "The next stop is Guisley." Cami asked after a few minutes on board if we were almost to Ilkley and Graham responded, "No, Cami, the next stop is Guisley."

Jason and I grinned at each other. "You understand how things work, don't you, bud?" I asked.

In a little voice he responded, "No."

Jason followed up, "Is the world a confusing place?"

World-weary at three, he said, "Yeah."

Where the Heart Is



Graham and Cami were up before 6 a.m. Cami came into the kitchen and said, "I'm getting up if it's after 6." I looked and the clock read 5:59 -- so back to bed for the kids.

As I was laying with them (I put the mattress from Graham's room into Cami's), Graham said, "Mommy, I want to go to Eegan."

"Graham, this is England."

"No, Mommy, this is home."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Balloons of Hope




Many of you already know, but some of you don't, Christian and Stephanie Nielsen, a couple we knew in New Jersey were in a private airplane crash last Saturday. Last night balloons were launched in celebration of their life & as "Balloons of Hope" for good things to come for them and their family.

The scheduled launch was for 6 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, which is 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time. So, here are some photos of our balloons making their way home & then joining others throughout the world in the launch.

(Forgive the poor photo quality -- our camera died a couple days ago & I took these shots with my phone.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Here we are



I've been trying to figure out what to say. We're here. Obviously. If the photos posted correctly, there may be some shots of the beautiful park just three blocks from our house. I was there yesterday with the kids after a family trip to the library to get our cards. The kids are making sure that I speak to people, because Graham found a friend at the library. He joined a little boy named Van in reading a story about "Tippers" -- what we in the States call dump trucks.

We've been really blessed the last couple of days. We made it to church with ample time yesterday & received a much warmer welcome than I ever would have anticipated. Lots of people said "Hi" and I was asked by more than one person why they already know me -- or who I look like that they should know. My mother-in-law says I sometimes resemble someone noteworthy (anybody want to take a guess?) and so I told everyone to let me know when they figure out why they think I look familiar. We'll see if Jeanne's theory holds true.

Anyway, not only were we warmly welcomed, but we got adopted. An amazingly warm family invited us to lunch. It turns out that the Bowles-Taylor family live about a five minute walk from us, so they not only had us over for lunch and a couple hours visit, but they also walked us home and their 10-year old stayed to play for a while. Our fears about being isolated were short lived. Cami already has a friend -- as do I.

So, because the park is so close our friends also went to the park with us. I like having friends. And, for those of you who are reading this, we miss you, too.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Life in the Fast (?) Lane

I didn't grow up with taxis. Suburban Missouri just doesn't have them. The only time I'd ever ridden in one was when I was on a layover in Salt Lake City, ran to Temple Square to see some people I loved there, and missed my shuttle back to the airport.

And then this move happened.

Jason and I left NJ on 31 July. We thought we'd finally done everything right by scheduling a driver to pick us up & take us to the airport at 5 a.m. to catch a 7:45 flight to St. Louis. When our 4:30 wake up call didn't ring, Jason phoned the dispatcher who assured us that our driver was on her way. At 5:05 the dispatcher called to say our driver had overslept -- and was in Philadelphia. I spent the next thirty minutes waking up taxi dispatchers, trying to find someone who could manage getting a family of five with two weeks worth of luggage to Philadelphia. When our "taxi van" (Cami's description) arrived, we got everybody in as quickly as possible and were on the road by 5:45. And then flew down the NJ Turnpike at speeds topping off at 90 mph.
Thank goodness for heavenly protection & no police interference.

Then yesterday happened. We arrived in Manchester, England, and couldn't find our driver who was supposed to meet us at baggage claim holding one of those little signs with our last name on it. Jason used his UK cell phone (anybody want our US cells?) & we finally made connections, but it's really hard to navigate a (literally) foreign airport with two stacked luggage trolleys and a double-stroller. A sweet young lady, probably about 20 years old, stopped us and took over the stroller. . .an absolute angel.

Once we were all tucked into our second taxi van, I spent a good deal of time watching the countryside pass by us. It wasn't so unnerving to be driving "on the wrong side of the road" when on the highways, because the median is in the way. But here's the English driving rule that I'm trying to figure out: is the left lane the "fast lane" or the "slow." My guess is that it's the latter, because we spent most of our drive to Leeds there. Or, more accurately, we spent a significant portion of the time on the left shoulder of the highway. . .the van kept overheating. The bottle of Harrogate Spa water I'd almost drunk when we got in the van, but felt I needed to save, got poured into the carburetor and we limped along the M(otorway) 6 a bit further. When things got really bad, the driver actually stopped the van & walked to a nearby farmhouse to get water. In the end, we got to Leeds, having stopped for three water breaks.

But we are here. Whether fast or slow, we have arrived.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Move is Upon Us

It's 7:00 according to the clock in my kitchen. In a mere 24 hours I'll be in the Philadelphia Airport with three overly tired children, a stressed husband, and more luggage that we can reasonably manage. Not to mention that I'll be so tired & stressed that all I'll want to do is cry.

Jason has been a hero. It's not easy getting a house cleaned & repaired (ie. spackled) prior to a move. Especially when potential tenants keep coming to see the place as we are putting the children to bed. I could happily rant about that for an hour, but I wouldn't be very happy when I was done, so why bother? I can happily proclaim how wonderful my husband is. He's taken on the cleaning while I surf the 'net, while nursing Rose and chasing the munchkins (sometimes). And when I've admitted how guilty I've felt about the unequal distribution of work he just hugged me & said he hasn't felt imposed upon by me.

So, today we wrap up all those "last of" details. Rose's last doctor's appointment/shots in the US. Turning in the last library books and paying off those last fines. Getting paperwork printed off & signed. And spending time with our wonderful neighbors. Cami's best friend in the neighborhood, Kathryn, will bring her family over for pizza tonight. We've got to eek out those last few hours with the Donners who have shown us such friendship and generosity over the past four years. And with Tim & Leslie, our upstairs neighbors who I don't even know how to say "good bye" to.

So, the end is upon us. Will I miss New Jersey as an entity? No. Will I miss many, many people, too many to list, who made the past four years worthwhile? Absolutely.

Come see us in Yorkshire! We have beds (although only one bathroom) for everyone. Just don't all come at once :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flower Power

We are getting ready for church right now. Showers & baths almost complete (one person to go). Clothing being selected & put on. All that stuff that is important to show respect to our Father in Heaven.

As most people can tell you, Jason and I haven't been clotheshorses since we've married. Getting through grad school while being parents puts a lot of stresses on the pocketbook & clothing is the area where we could skimp most easily. But, even though we often look terrible, it's a weird sort of vanity that makes me want the kids to look good (on average).

Cami just spilled some of her special breakfast treat (mango-peach sorbet) on her butterfly- and blossom-decorated shirt. The sorbet is a lovely yellowish-orange color and some of it dropped onto her shirt, leaving an orange mark. I asked her if she was ready to change her top for church. She looked down on it & said, "No. It's pollen!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Graham: The Masseur

Jason has been putting the kids to bed lately, especially Graham. He told me that he's started giving Graham back rubs to help our hyper-monkey child relax. And Graham has started to take turns, insisting on rubbing Jason's back for a few minutes. Tonight he started the routine with, "Daddy, I need to give you a rub back!"

Up and Over

Baby Rose is growing so big. I haven't noticed her putting much effort into rolling over, but she's done it five times today. The first three times were without an audience, although I could hear her grunting with exertion while in the next room. But when we were having some pre-bed play time, she rolled from her back to her tummy to get closer to me. I love it that she wanted to be next to me. . .baby love is the best.

Although I'll soon be struggling to keep things out of reach, I can now put her to bed on her tummy with a clear conscience. . .after all, tonight she rolled over & fell asleep all on her own.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Week Left in NJ

The packers took away most of our things yesterday.  We've got some random bits of furniture, but basically we're camping indoors.  Cami & Graham are in sleeping bags in their room.  Jason slept out on the futon in the living room & Rose & I snuggled up in blankets on the floor of my room.

With our house virtually empty, it somehow seems even messier than usual.  It's hard to be motivated to wash & put away dishes even when we're working with the bare minimum.  Even though we've got another week here, it's mentally taxing to think about cooking.  I reprimanded myself this morning because I know that now is a time when it's absolutely vital that we are getting proper nourishment.  

Despite the lack of housewares, we have good adventures planned for this last week in New Jersey.  We'll meet my sister & her family in Pennsylvania tomorrow so that they can be introduced to Rose.  Jason & I will keep our promise to the kids to go to the "train museum" one final time, while giving them play time with their cousins.  The other items on that "one last time" list are the Staten Island Ferry, the "tree house library" at Princeton University's Firestone Library, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  I think we can do it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Visa. Check.

When I received an email yesterday with the subject of "Visa" I was sure something annoying had made its way through Gmail's amazing spam filter. But then I realized that it came from the British Consulate in Manhattan, confirming that a nameless diplomatic office worker had actually seen my visa application and ought to give me permission to reside in England within five days. Forty-five minutes ago I received an email saying that my visa was issued; I must say that I appreciate British punctuality!

One more item to check off the list!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sweet

The following conversation happened between Cami and her friend Jewel, as they were finishing up some vanilla yogurt and Cami asked for dessert.

Jewel: Cami, yogurt is dessert.

Cami: No it's not, because it's healthy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

That's One Way to Look at it. . . .

Cami, Graham, Rose, & I just returned home from one of my favorite summer activities: attending the Friday Farmers' Market. Fresh-picked fruit & veggies, fresh mozzarella, just-gathered eggs, and just-baked bread are so wonderful. Especially when you can talk to the person who grew or made the product. I love the food & value the human connection with the people who produce it.

One of the season's bounties is cherries. I'd hoped to take the kids' cherry picking, but it hasn't happened yet, so we bought some today (along with blueberries & the first peaches of the season). When we got home, Graham went to Jason asking for "help, help" with opening a package of Trader Joe's scrumptious Montmorency dried cherries. Cami asked Jason what Graham wanted and then said, "We bought cherries at the market, but they aren't dry, they are wet!"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where is Daddy?

For the past three or four mornings Graham would waken & tell me, "Daddy is in Eegan." By yesterday morning his pronunciation had improved to the point that it came out, "Daddy is in Eenglan." But Jason returned yesterday afternoon & so Graham just told me, "Daddy is home."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Welcome Home

Jason just returned from a trip to Merry Olde England and it appears to have been a success. An application has been submitted & we hope our offer will be accepted for us to move into this very English terraced apartment. (The blue door makes me feel very Notting Hill -- now I just need to get a poster of a goat playing a violin.)






Sunday, June 15, 2008

Maegan Dougherty: Terrific Photographer part 2

Maegan just sent me the link to the entire photo session. I love the photo of Rose in the blue-&-white polka dots dress where her eyes are so blue. I'm biased, I know, but she looks beautiful. (And for anyone wondering, Rose got those blue blue eyes from her Grandpa Fehr.)

Seeing these photos, especially seeing what a great dad Jason is, is the perfect Father's Day gift to me.

Rose is Rubenesque

Anybody who has seen any of my children when they were infants can see instantly that they like their food. Post-birth weight gain has never been a problem. But at Rose's two month check up a doctor actually suggested that I not feed her so often.

Let's just say that this is one suggestion I'm not going to heed just yet.


Two-month Stats
Weight: 15 pounds 11 ounces
Length: 24 1/4 inches
Head Circumference: 16 inches

Monday, June 9, 2008

Phone moments

I'm trying to make this a not-so much computer time day. So, the kids get 20 minutes of "on" time watching "Kipper the Dog" on Youtube and then 20 minutes of stories or forced play time.

Once they start with play time, they often get themselves so distracted by what they are doing that they don't go back to the computer for a long time. Graham started talking on the phone with his imaginary friend. Then Cami handed me the other extension and he started talking to me. "Mom, you are here!" he said into the phone as he pointed at me a mere five feet away.

Half an hour later, Cami took over the pretend phone time. But instead of keeping the phone turned off, she actually turned it on & started pushing buttons. I got nervous, thinking that soon I'd have her disturbing some innocent stranger. But no. When I looked at the number she had dialed, it looked very familiar -- she was calling us.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Maegan Dougherty -- Terrific Photographer

Maegan Dougherty, a fabulous photographer who has put up with the craziness of photographing us for the last almost-two years, has done it again. She came to our house yesterday to help us remember what Rose looked like when she was precisely eight weeks old. And, as always, she makes us look better than we do in real life.

She really touched my heart with the amazingly sweet things she said about our family. This is going to be something I read over and over when I'm feeling sad and wondering why I ever got married & had kids.

Check out her post for June 8th, 2008.

http://maegandougherty.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Life in Review: Sunday, May 18th

The amazing Seguines came to lunch. When they lived here, Tricia & I both served in the Young Women's program, while Dan was the Elders' Quorum President & Jason was one of this counselors. Tricia was the very first person to suggest that I start a blog. It only took two years after the suggestion was made for me to actually do it. But because she's so good about sharing her life online, we avoided all the "Hi, tell me about your life" weirdness where you aren't sure what sorts of things to talk about or what sort of topics are taboo.

Tricia & Dan lived in England when they were fairly-newly married, so I was glad to be able to ask about those random details that you'd never know about a place unless you lived there. Sort of a crash-course in integration. Unexpected bits: #1. Anticipate being unable to make cookies because baking powder works differently. #2. Check the ingredient list before purchasing ice cream -- otherwise you might find butter-flavored foam in a root beer float.

The kids had a grand time, as long as you discount the "I'm appalled at my child" five minutes when Graham pushed his guests & threw a chair at Bella. What a way to introduce her to our family.

Courtney is now an impossibly adult eight year old who was above most of the insanity. Although she let loose when the kids sequestered themselves in Cami & Graham's bedroom. At one point I stuck my head in to make sure everybody was ok. The beds covers were all on the floor, costumes were flung everywhere, & Carter (age 6) was yelling, "This is the best pillow fight ever!"

Jonah won the day, though, during a bathroom visit with his dad. I'm not sure what the context was, but Dan came out shaking his head and muttering "Where did he ever learn that?" It turns out that Jonah had absorbed a bit of Italian from watching the movie "Cars," because he wanted to verify that his father understood him by asking, "Capisce, Dad?"

Life in Review: Friday, May 16th

One of Jason's classmates from when we lived in Florida came to dinner and brought his impossibly cute girlfriend. We've seen a couple of the Tallahassee philosophers here in New Jersey, but Joe's visit may be a repeat event, because he moved here in early May.

It was fun to hear Joe talk to Cami, whom he hasn't seen since she was less than two. And to introduce him to Rose & Graham. He's one of those infectiously happy people who are just so easy to hang out with. The kids didn't intimidate him at all. I shouldn't have been surprised, because when we still lived in Tallahassee he went with us, along with another classmate, to a state park with caverns. He had fun playing with Cami in the car & telling her, "We're in the cave" -- the very thing that I'd say to Cami when we'd hide under the bed covers.

Joe's girlfriend is a junior high art teacher who graciously agreed to spend a Friday night with our under six crowd. I was so glad to have somebody to talk to about my plans to take art classes once we get to Leeds. I asked her what sort of art course she'd take if she could take any one class. I think the question surprised her, but her response got me thinking. She suggested ceramics, which had not been on my mental radar -- but I think when we get to Leeds, I'll try my hands at pottery.

What to say?

You'd think that post title would imply that my relative silence over the past three weeks means that not much has happened. But, in my typical reverse-the-world way of seeing things, there is too much to say & so I've been quiet. So, here's the rundown on all the significant events in our recent past, each of which deserves it's own post. We'll see what happens.

Friday, May 16th: Our first dinner guests since Rose was born. A friend from Tallahassee moved up here & inflicted our family on himself & his girlfriend. It was fun.

Sunday, May 18th: Our friends the Seguines came to lunch. It was great.

Monday, May 19th: Jason's parents & sister arrived. Rose got to meet her grandparents! And we had birthday cake for Grandpa Ted. . .just in case we weren't all together on his birthday.

Wednesday, May 21st: Jason graduated from Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in philosophy. Yea! He did it!

Friday, May 23th: We all drove to Ithaca, NY. It takes a lot longer to visit cousins when the newest member of the next generation needs to nurse. But despite the inconveniences, it was worth it to have all of Grandpa Ted's posterity in one place for his birthday!

Saturday, May 24th: Jason's sister Cindy was hooded. A fancy way of saying she received her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Cornell University. We spent the night in Pennsylvania at my brother-in-laws parents' house, rather than driving through the night.

Sunday, May 25th: Didn't keep the Sabbath day holy, but that made it happy. The three-hour drive from Pennsylvania took nine hours, but stopping at the Steamtown Train Museum in Scranton, PA, had a lot to do with that. We rode an eighty-year old steam locamotive -- how cool is that? And had the friendliest, most helpful server ever at a fast food place.

Tuesday, May 27th: Jason goes back to school, teaching symbolic logic. But this time when students call him Dr. Turner, they'll actually have it right.

Thursday, May 29th: Jason turns 30. Yea! We occupy the same decade again! I sent him to see Indy during the afternoon. (But he had to teach & I had a breakdown because the baby wouldn't sleep.)

Friday, May 30th: Strawberry picking in the morning and we actually celebrated Jason's birthday. Cake & promissory notes on presents (he has to go shopping to select the actual gifts) while sitting on our back patio with our neighbors.

Saturday, May 31st: Jason and I had a date at home (I had another breakdown and canceled with our babysitter) after the kids were in bed. We got Greek food & I explored the possibilities of homemade strawberry syrup with Sprite. I like it a lot -- easy rip off of virgin daquiries.

Sunday, June 1st: Rose's debut at church meant that we arrived two minutes late, rather than our usual fifteen minutes early. I kept her in the baby sling to avoid her being mauled. It worked pretty well, but Cami wanted to show her off in Primary. Just for the record: it's hard to play the piano while holding a baby -- even in the sling.

Wednesday, June 4th: An actual date! We saw Ironman -- and I liked it.

Thursday, June 5th: Got lost trying to find the CSA, but Cami likes raw spinach.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

That's Our Kid

Jason and I are both skilled at giving answers that are accurate without being correct. We do it on purpose. Cami does it with pure intentions.

The Primary (Sunday School) President asked the children today what temple we go to. "Washington" some child answered, because until relatively recently, the Washington D.C. temple was the closest. "No, that's not it," responded the teacher. A few other children murmured answers, among which was Cami's cheerful, "The House of God."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Misheard, Misspoken

My neighbor told me today that she misses getting updates on funny kid sayings, so here's a list of recent Cami-isms. Some of these are not unusual mispronunciations, but there are a few things unique to Cami.

Traditional Cami's Version
Animal Animal
Enemy Emeny
Yogurt Your gut (we're practicing to correct this one -- she can say "Yo, Gertrude")
Lightning McQueen Lightning the Queen

Saturday, May 17, 2008

April Flowers Bring May Showers?

April brought flowers to our house -- tulips & daffodils that Cami & I have planted over the past two years keep coming back -- and, of course, sweet baby Rose.

Then May brought rain several times this week. Cami & Graham took advantage of the puddles when they were available. . .and created unique fashion statements.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Salutations

Jason was just keeping Graham occupied while I was nursing Rose by showing him something on the computer. As I came out of the bedroom, Jason closed the laptop saying, "Say 'Bye, bye.'"

Graham reached for the computer, "No, I want to say, 'Hi, hi!'"

This Little Piggie. . .

We have a family rule that sometimes helps us out when Graham decides to go for a solo run: when you go outside, you must be wearing shoes.

Yesterday, Graham took advantage of an open front door to escape to the porch. Jason, trying to get Graham back inside, asked, "Graham, what are you wearing on your feet?"

Graham looked down at his bare feet, looked back up at Jason, and replied, "Toes!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stats




Baby Rose got dressed up for her 1 month doctor's appointment. When we were trying to put her into something that is easy to get out of, I realized she's the perfect size for her 3-month onesie that our dear neighbors gave her. But after that outfit became soiled, we defaulted to a really cute 3-month outfit that Tricia & her family sent as a surprise welcome to the world gift two weeks ago. (BTW, Tricia, the crying is not a reflection of the outfit -- even Jason commented on how cute she looked.) The doctor stats confirmed the clothing choices:

Age: 1 month, 1 day
Weight: 12 pounds, 5 ounces
Head Circumference: 14 inches
Length: 24 inches

Am I surprised? No. Did I get some of the details wrong on her passport application last week? Yes. Will she look anything like her passport photo when we actually leave? Maybe. . .but only barely.

Camera Challenged

This past week began without any of us having much on the schedule. This coming week will be a bit different, though, because Jason has graduation ceremonies on Wednesday & his elder sister Cindy has graduation ceremonies on Friday or Saturday. That means Grandma Jeanne, Grandpa Ted, Auntie Cindy, and Auntie Sharilyn will be here to witness the official transformation to Dr. Jason, Ph.D. Then Jason will escape New Jersey with Cami & the rest of the family for beautiful Ithaca where they all get to witness Cindy's transformation to Dr. Cindy, Ph.D. It'll be a busy, but wonderful week -- one with lots of photo opportunities. I'm torn about sending the camera to Ithaca, though. Photos of the graduates & Cami with her cousins or documenting four days of Rose, Graham, and me spending time together? I don't know.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cami's Craft





Cami has become really good at coming up with her own projects, dhings that display a talent for visual arts that I can't begin to come close to. It's been an especially helpful skill lately. Two weeks ago, she decided to paint her rocking horse. It's not going with us to England, so I didn't see any reason not to. And the photos makes me happy.

Further Photos



More photos, as promised. I feel like I should be documenting these photos with significant commentary. But Rose is still a newborn; admittedly, she's wearing 3 to 6 month clothes, but she's only going to be four weeks old tomorrow. So, she spends of her time eating, sleeping, or being mauled by her siblings. Not much more to say.