Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bottom, Center

I took Graham & Rose for a walk to our neighborhood grocery store this morning. When we came back, Cami was awake & sitting at the kitchen table (which is really a breakfast bar). "Mom, guess what! I've got a wobbly tooth!"

I wonder if the tooth fairy recognizes that particularly English description & what she will be leaving if she visits.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Walk This Way

Jason and I finally bought a year's pass for parking at Bolton Abbey. We've been there five times in two months, so it makes financial sense. Plus, an unexpected bonus, there are specials available to us at the restaurants & the spa. I get all dreamy just thinking about that.

Thursday we went up after Cami got out of school & we found a woodworking shop set up in the middle of the woods. When we went back yesterday, the craftsman was just opening up for the day. He kindly listened to Cami chat about this & that, as well as showing her the wood he was turning into a "dibber," a gardening hole-maker. He also had a stool that I would love to have, but there simply isn't space in our house for any more furniture. After we left his work area, Jason stopped to tell the kids about how the man was "turning" the wood -- and how our last name derives from that profession. It was such a neat teaching moment.

We saw such wonderful things yesterday. Woods, the river, a pheasant family, complete with two little chicks that Cami wanted to bring home.

Our hike ought to have taken about 2 hours 20 minutes. But with three kids under seven years, it took almost six. It wasn't perfect. Cami spent a lot of time complaining that she wasn't at home watching computer. Graham caused my heart to freeze when he fearlessly strode straight toward a 20-foot drop, & carrying Rose for that long makes my back ache.

But, guess what? I love being out there. I love it that Jason and I see something magical & he says, "It reminds me of MiddleEarth." And I love it that Cami & Graham happily, imaginatively played together today, because they didn't need screen-time detox from yesterday.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Desperate Duds

What do wear when you have "nothing to wear?" Seriously, I want to know.

It's 11:14 a.m. I'm wearing a red, tailored, long-sleeved shirt, black velvet palazzo pants, & I just took off my heels. Not the typical uniform I don for getting the kids to school, the kitchen tidied, & laundry hung out. I got more than one raised eyebrow from moms on the school run. And one very astute jeans-clad mom asked, "Did you run out of clean clothes?"

It's true. My two pair of jeans that don't have ripped knees are in desperate need of some time in the washing machine, as are my t-shirts. I've gotten so used to raiding Jason's side of the closet that he probably has forgotten which clothes are his. For whatever reason, my clothes are always the last to get into the wash.

A few weeks ago I got complimented on a 1940s vintage suit that I bought in Brooklyn a few years ago. I really like that suit. I love that Jason and I just found a spur of the moment babysitter, hopped in the car, & drove to Brooklyn. I usually only wear it for church, but without the risk of having my clothes act as a hand-towel or being attacked by an errant bit of baby-banana, I wore it to a teacher's meeting. And today's clothes are sort of the same thing, only more desperate.

It's hard being a mom when the clothes you most enjoy are always Dry Clean Only.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who You Talkin' To?

Baby Rose is growing up. She'll stand for about five seconds at a time, play with cars (doing that this second), and scream at a shop until I buy her asparagus.

But she's also getting good at pretending. Her speech isn't clear, but I believe she just had this imaginary telephone conversation:





In Whom I Trust

I let Rose play with the blossoms on a lilac tree this morning. When I realized she was chomping on them, I removed the temptation -- and some petals from her mouth. I then realized that I didn't know if lilacs were potentially dangerous, so when we wandered home Jason did a Google search which assured us they were edible.

When I walked Cami home from school, I told her about how Rose had eaten some lilacs, but that we'd learned through the computer that all was ok. She asked if the computer knew everything, to which I answered that some of the information available was not correct.

When we got home, she wanted to have some time alone. A few minutes later, she shared that she had prayed for Rose, asking for divine protection for her sister.

We just had family prayer & Cami told Heavenly Father, "Thank You for letting Rose not die."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cami the Foodie

Last night we went for a family walk in the woods near our house. When we were coming back, Jason and I spent some time looking at shop windows or real estate adverts. Cami and Graham amused themselves by pretending to have slain a dragon & putting chunks of his body into the various litter bins along the street.

Cami decided to be a proper hunter & honor her kill by eating him. Here's the transcription of her soup recipe in her words (measurements are to taste):

you need
cucumbers &
ice cream!

You cut the dragons into lumps & the goblins. You take the bones out. Then you wash the goblins & the dragons. And then you put them on a tray to put them in the oven. When you take them out of the oven, then you chop them into little squares. And then you cut the fruit up, & the vegetables, after you put the dragons & goblins in the pot. After you cut up the fruit & vegetables, you put the green bits* in the bin. You cut the vegetables into squares, & the fruit. Then you put the fruit & vegetables in the pot. Then you add lots & lots & lots & lots of ice cream! You put it in the stew -- I mean soup. You stir it with a wooden spoon. When you think it's ready, take a silverware spoon & put it in the pot to taste.

*transcriber's note: green bits = leaves

Friday, May 15, 2009

It got me to mop

It's hailing. A single flash of lightning & then pellets fell. Now water is leaking under my kitchen door.

Got to take care of that now.

I Feel my Hamstrings

I've got less than two months to get ready for a dance festival. I feel like I ought to be scared or jubilant. Instead I'm rather non-plussed. I've got an internal "huh," the sort where you just nod your head thoughtfully & then shelve the emotional response until tomorrow morning.

The reason: I've never done Scottish Country Dancing before. I haven't a drop of Scots blood in me. I've not yet been to Scotland. And I haven't done any sort of country dancing since I was in college. But Cami's teacher needs another body to fill a spot at a competition July 11th. And I'm in.

It helps that I learned to square dance in elementary school. Country dancing uses a lot of the same formations, coupled with ballet-like footwork. As I told one of the women, once I know the steps, I know I'll have fun. It's just a matter of getting everything into my head. Then I can play.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Carrying Kids

I have been called the "strongest mom in the world" by a funny, friendly mother whose little boy is in Cami's class. That's because Graham likes shoulder rides. I usually have Rose strapped to me in the hiking backpack, so every time Graham's up high, she has his bum in her face & I'm toting about 60 pounds. Motherhood is natural weight training -- but it's destroying my once-excellent posture.

A couple Saturdays ago we went to Otley Chevin, because I wanted to get lost in the woods. It's only about five miles from our house, but it's a different world. Anyway, we were walking along the trails, heading back toward the car, when we passed a pair of horses with accompanying riders. A minute later we passed an older couple on foot. The gentleman, noting Graham on Jason's shoulders & me with Rose in the backpack & Cami on my shoulders (after all, I am the strongest mom in the world) quipped, "In the absence of horses, parents will do."

Graham with his trusty steed Jason in Otley Chevin


Sweet Sleepers
It's Raining Buttercups (in a cemetery in Bolton Abbey while wearing a Christmas sweater -- Cami has corrected me: it was raining grass)
Sticks are yummy.
Look at all those teeth. (A happy day.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

People Ask Us Why We Moved to England

Because we get to go hiking here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

And it's only 8:02 a.m.

Rose was crawling around the kitchen floor when Cami straddled her to "ride" her horsey-style.

I commanded, "Cami, be nice!"

As Rose made her escape Cami exclaimed, "Too late!"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Just Call Me Angel in the Morning

Cami has a baby. She/He is white with red markings.

Cami told everyone who would listen about her baby at dance class last night. Then she got me out of bed this morning for a feeding.

Her goldfish is called Angel & I hope she/he lives survives all the love that will soon be neglect.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Healthy Self-Esteem

Graham hurt Rose this morning just after she woke up. When I told him, "Time out!" he surprised me by going straight up to his room.

About two minutes later, I heard him coming back down the stairs. When I intercepted him, he said, "Mommy, I going downstairs to ask Daddy I went to time out."

I clarified, "You are going to tell Daddy that you put yourself in time out?"


"I'm proud of you, Graham, for putting yourself in time out."

Cheerfully, "I'm proud of me too!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who is English?

Graham has always been off-the-charts big. Long & heavy at birth & he hasn't changed. Today he got measured & I dealt with the mental math of translating the metric units used by the English into the English units used by Americans.

Height: 103 cm (3 ft 4.5 inches)
Weight: 16.8 kg (37 lbs 1 ounce)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oh No, Another One

Jason and I met in logic class. It was inevitable that at least one of our offspring would excel at seeing the world through LEMming (Logic, Epistemology, and Metaphysics) glasses.

We were on the middle floor of our house today when I told Graham that something was downstairs. He looked at Jason & said, "We are in the middle. So, we are downstairs & upstairs."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Green Goodness

I just read a post about Belgian waffles and how absolutely glorious they are. Jason was in Ghent, Belgium, giving a presentation last week & when he arrived home he specifically told me he had not had any waffles. Probably a good thing -- that way we can experience them together sometime soon.

Anyway, spring is definitely here in England. I'm getting the plant-and-eat-well impulse, so after a couple days of heavy weeding, there are chives, potatoes, and carrot seeds in the ground. We'll see what survives the slugs.

Much better than the impulse to play in the dirt, though, is the beauty we found yesterday. I learned through (which I'd used many times in New Jersey to find apples, strawberries, peaches, etc.) that a farmer in North Yorkshire would start selling his asparagus May 1st. So we drove through some of the most beautiful countryside in existence & came home with 700 grams of lusciousness. . .even Rose is in love.