Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out My Window

With a view like this, how can I not love my bedroom?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Creative People -- Maegan Dougherty

My friend Maegan is hosting a My Favorites photo contest on her website. Go check it out. My vote goes to a cute little girl sticking her tongue out...and for once I don't mean Rosie.

Looking over the photos Maegan has shot in 2011 made me think about the photo shoots she used to do for us, particularly our last official session in June of 2008. Rosie was exactly eight weeks old, a chubby little baby in a blue-with-white-polka-dot dress. Graham looked so handsome in his blue-with-red-stripes plaid shirt. And Cami radiated Cami-ness as she admired the rainbow Jason had painted on her face. The photos aren't available in Maegan's archive anymore. But her words are. They still make me tear up with appreciation for the family we can be in our best moments. Thank you, Maegan, for reminding me.

The River Wharfe

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More Faces I Love


Cami wanted me to take photos of her being "violent." What do you think of these faces?

Playing (with my new camera) at the park


Friday, December 23, 2011

Graham's Love List

Graham told me yesterday that he loves me almost as much, just a teeny bit less, than his Special Love (aka Gracie).

If I were the jealous sort I think I'd find comfort in that. Graham frequently reports that he loves Jason just a teeny bit less than he loves Jason's iPhone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mr. Python

Cami was practicing her lines for the Christmas Eve Nativity, reciting the gentle words of Mary, handmaid of the Lord, when Jason burst out laughing.

"Know what I heard her say? 'Behold the hand grenade of the Lord'."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is watching seagulls at daybreak

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Spirit of Mrs. Malaprop

Jason was helping Rosie in the bathroom and called her pull-up "underpants."

Rosie's response, "They aren't wonderpants."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cute cut

Yesterday Rosie had an appointment to get her crazy curls back under control. As I collected her from preschool I reminded her where we were going. Her wailing response: But I don't want my hair cut! I'm already cute!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What is this like?

I'm currently reading a YA novel (The Medici Seal, if anyone is interested) in which Leonardo da Vinci is an important character. The narrator/protagonist describes how completely focused da Vinci could become -- to the point that time, physical conditions, and project assistants became non-existent.

I have a friend (LG--Hi!) who could block out the world when doing homework with Tori Amos playing in the background. Her powers of concentration still wow me.

Driving everybody home from school this afternoon, I was listening to an Irish novelist on the radio & he said something about the writing process that I am going to be mentally digesting for a long time: I'm so intent that it's as if I'm not there.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is hearing Rosie play with Gracie: Mommy, put us in the oven (her bed), we need cooking -- we're baby biscuits!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like. . .

Freezing rain turned into this stuff. I promise, it was much prettier in person and frigid. When I took Rosie outside to play, she happily ate snowflakes as they fell into her mouth. But after three minutes she said, "It's too windy!" and we spent the rest of the day inside.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is telling Graham we were about to play Little Drummer Boy & have him ask, "Is that rum-pa-pum?"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is making the family's traditional birthday cake

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is helping out Gracie's cousin-twin (my cousin became a dad the same day I become a fourth-time mom) with productive advice

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is having Graham delightedly exclaim, "We're working together!" as he, Rosie, & I fold a crepe paper streamer

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is a cashmere sweater

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is hearing Rosie say, "You're my friend."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is Cami's excitement as she plans her birthday party

Happiness Is...

happiness is harvesting rose hips on a sunny November day

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is listening to Rosie sing to herself

Happiness Is...

happiness is being friends with Jason

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is a mixed handful of caramel and salty popcorn

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is Cami's excitement at seeing Gracie take her first real crawling "steps"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is pulling on warm clothes that have been drying in the airing cupboard

Happiness Is...

happiness is seeing Gracie's delight as she makes friends with the baby in the mirror

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is seeing an unexpected (and unfamiliar) bird outside the kitchen window

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is reading blog messages from loved ones far away

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

House Rules

Some childless friends stopped by recently and saw the "House Rules" posted in the kitchen. One of them observed, "Those wouldn't work in our house."

Here they are:

1. Only Say Kind Things
2. Only Do Kind Things
3. Inside Voices
4. Listen More
5. Do It Now!

The first three are mostly for the kids, the last two are mostly for me.

Yesterday was chaos because I didn't obey #5.

Graham had asked me to hang out with him in the family room, rather than doing my typical morning routine. Because I agreed, we were rushed getting everybody out the door for school, I didn't look at the calendar & totally forgot that Cami had a dance exam until she asked, "When's my dance test?" (as it was starting -- talk about a panic moment but it all ended ok), and I spaced it that a couple of friends were stopping by in the evening.

So, I got up when I woke up at 5 and got started on all those things I didn't do yesterday morning. Things feel much better. Now, to combine #4 & #5, I'm going to help Graham make pancakes.

Happiness Is...

happiness is having Gracie sleep in my arms

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is six months with this little girl

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is laughing with the kids -- and then having Jason tell me that hearing us was a "happiness is" moment for him

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is showing Rosie that the lettuce seeds we planted earlier this week are sprouting

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is watching Gracie trying to figure out how to crawl

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is having a friend take the kids to school when someone is unwell -- thank you, Kate!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is seeing Cami's face when I tell her what a good job she did in her school assembly

Happiness Is...

happiness is hearing Graham say he loves his school teacher

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is having a dishes fairy (aka a dish washing machine) work its magic

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is being able to share our new home with friends

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is hearing Cami say "thank you"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is going for a walk through the fields with a friend (thanks Bethany!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is watching Rosie as she performs her newest composition among the trees: I seem to be lost, I seem to be lost

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is listening to Cami & a school friend giggling in the backseat of the car

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happiness is...

happiness is Gracie's smile when I get her out of bed

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is coming home & finding Jason vacuuming the dining room (every room looks better vacuumed, in my opinion)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Jason told me about a conversation he had with Rosie, when he was pretending to nibble on her.

Rosie (emphatically): I'm not for eating!

Jason: What are you for?

Rosie (placidly): For loving.

Happiness is...

happiness is...a friend who steals your kids for a sleepover (especially when daylight savings goes off & you can actually enjoy that extra hour)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happiness Is...

happiness is...being excited when Jason throws open the dining room curtains to reveal an English sunrise

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happiness Is...

I was thinking about these little cartoons that my grandmother had plastered all over her fridge. They featured a little naked girl & boy & I thought each one began with the tag "happiness is...." An internet search corrected me. They were "love is..." cartoons.

Despite my faulty memory, I've decided to (try) to post one thing that makes me happy every day. Today's simple pleasure:

happiness is...watching the kids play together outside on a crisp & sunny autumn day

Just a Walk

Two Saturdays ago, I went for a walk at dawn in the fields behind our house. I live in a movie set.

Dining Room and The View

Gracie crying in the dining room.

What I see from the kitchen sink.

Cami's bedroom view.

The garden shot from my room.

Big Kids' Rooms

Graham's room. (The hidey-hole/bottom bunk space is his "cave.")

Cami in her room, ordering Rosie to get out.

The New Place -- for Lesley

So, we moved on October 1st. It's wonderful. It isn't fancy, but it's homey. Even though we haven't gotten a sofa yet (one is coming next month) and Jason and I are waiting for our new bed to be delivered, it's bliss. The kids have been off school for half-term (think spring break only it happens every six weeks) & because they all have their own rooms things are happy.

My wonderful friend Lesley has been hinting strongly that photos are due, so here we go. I could have pretended to live in some photo-shopped, magazine-worthy spread, but who am I kidding? If you are reading this blog, you already know that I don't live in a magazine -- I have four kids and am too lazy to run around all day cleaning up after them.

So, here's the photos of the interior. And you see, it's just a house. But wait until you see outside....
Rosie (and Graham) like her room.

The family room, which is waiting for the sofa to be delivered. Toys everywhere -- no surprises.

The opposite corner from the computer. This is my spot. (And more toys/games/puzzles.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Appropriately Enough...

Less than a month ago, Cami started Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. At this moment, she's lying in bed reading the last five pages of Deathly Hallows. She's definitely our kid.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What's the Joke

Rose kept turning the light off in the kids' room, really frustrating Jason. After three or four times, he said with exasperation, "Just stop it! It's not funny!"

Rose looked at him with a pleasantly confused face & said, "I'm not laughing."

(I, of course, laughed.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Only Response: The Vulcan Eyebrow

Cami just stated this bit of bafflement: Rosie knows how to play [Uno]. She just doesn't understand the game.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Au Naturel

Rosie just gave an interesting argument against putting on her pajamas. She assumed the "Tree" yoga position & said, "I can't put on my pajamas. I'm a tree & trees are supposed to be naked."

The Best Medicine

One hazard of dormer windows is that you sometimes bump your head. This afternoon Jason let out a bellow of pain during a collision. Rosie made us both laugh when she told him, "It's ok, Daddy. It's not your fault."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I was holding Gracie when she started spitting up. Rosie exclaimed, "Baby, drops are falling -- get an umbrella!"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

For Angela

I noticed Rosie climbing out from under her blanket this morning, so I went into her room to give her a hug.

"Good morning, Rosie."

"Hi, Mom. I slept with the caterpillars last night."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Tasty Treat

Gracie is an excellent self-soother, sucking her fingers -- or those belonging to others. Rosie just noticed and declared, "Baby is eating herself. Get your fingers out of there!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

International Non-Sequiter

Cami just asked me, "Is President Obama the president of all of America." When I asked for clarification, she explained that she wanted to know if he was president of South America and North America.

I replied that he was just in charge of the United States of America.

Her response, "Awww. I wish Pharaohs would come back."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

So I had this baby. . . .

For weeks, going on months actually, I've been thinking about how it probably looks to the world like I'm going through post-partum depression. I haven't put a million photos up on Facebook or here. I haven't written up the minute details of what it's like being the mother of four. It must look like I'm overwhelmed or in denial about the existence of this little creature that entered my life on May 14th.

The realities are a bit different. I am absolutely in love. When I lay on the bed with Grace tucked in close, I love the feeling of her sweet, round tummy pressed up against mine. When I walk around our neighborhood & the eye doctor runs out to the sidewalk to see the baby or the pharmacy-tech asks to get a cuddle, I feel proud. In part because these moments remind me that we've become part of the community, but mostly because Grace is so easy to love. I've said it to Cami, to Graham, & to Rosie, but it applies to Gracie just as much: I love you for you.

And I'm awfully blessed to belong to her.

M'n'M moment

Rose talked me into buying her a package of Peanut M'n'Ms this evenings. She didn't have to work very hard for it, to be honest. I was happy to eat them. But I reminded her that she doesn't seem to like eating nuts. Still, they were the treat she wanted, so they were the treat that made it out of the store.

As we walked home, I carried her up on my shoulders. It's not an unusual arrangement. But I didn't expect a gentle rain of M'n'M bits falling around me. When I asked her about it, she emphatically explained, "I don't like nuts. Squirrels like nuts."

I think she was leaving them behind for the squirrels.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scrambled on the Sunny Side

Rosie makes me and Jason laugh all the time. During supper, Jason just told her, "Rosie, you crack me up." With an emphatic little voice she responded, "You are not an egg!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Graham's Riddle Today

What goes "Tok, tok, tok?"

A clock that lost its "tick."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Food of the gods

Rosie must have caught the scent of melting Extra Creamy Lindt, because her bedtime plea tonight was, "I love chocolate. I like chocolate. I waaaaant chocolate."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Rosie quote of the day: I don't like sleeping, but I love sleeping.

I will remind her when she doesn't want to go to bed tonight.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Amazing Grace

The Facts
Name: Caitlin Grace Turner (known as Gracie)
Date of Birth: Saturday, 14 May 2011
Time of Birth: 11:49 p.m. British Summer Time
Weight: 8 pounds 3 ounces
Other metrics: They don't measure how long a baby is or head circumference or any of that other stuff here.

An hour after delivery.

About 13 hours old. Sleeping just before heading home from the hospital.

I keep thinking about the witty things Jason had to say when Rosie was born. Both here on my blog & also on his own (which he hasn't used in three years). And I just can't compete. So, here's what I've got to say:

Caitlin Grace Turner joined our family very late Saturday night at 11:49 British Summer Time (aka GMT +1).

The Details

For those who want details, let me jBoldust say We are done. I love my baby. She's sweet & Cami, Graham, & Rosie love her. I am thrilled that Jason and I have grown much more competent in our actual ability to care for a newborn than we were when Cami arrived, while being much more cautious with Gracie's well-being. But I am never doing this again.

I almost gave birth in the car.

You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Call it a cultural misunderstanding.

I was 10 days overdue. My ob/midwife team in New Jersey just wouldn't have let that happen. They would have scheduled an induction last week during which I would have gladly let them stick a very big needle with heavy-duty medicine into my back, spent the night sleeping, & had a baby about mid-day.

Well, that sort of thing isn't done here. 14 days overdue is the standard for induction. And so I experienced slow off-and-on labor beginning on Friday night. Just like I'd prayed for, actually.

But I didn't pray that it would stop at 3 a.m. Saturday morning. Or that because I've never had a delivery that didn't involve pitocin (evil stuff), I wouldn't know that I was in actual heavy labor. So, when I called the hospital about 10:30 p.m. I spent about 10 agonized minutes trying to get the midwife confirm that it was time to come in (and even then it was a grudging "Well, I guess we can check you out.") By the time my friend Tracy arrived to stay with the kids, I needed somebody rational to remind me how to breath through a contraction. She saved me from hyperventilating.

I saw the car clock read 11:23 when we got in. And during the 15 minute drive I groaned out, "I think I'm crowning." "You can't be," Jason countered, "Your water hasn't broken." (A convenient untruth -- he didn't know he was lying -- designed to keep us both from panicking/hyperventilating.)

We got to the hospital & never made it into the triage center. The triage midwife took a look at me at the door, asked "Do you want to push?" and ran for a wheelchair (which doesn't happen in English hospitals -- if you are in labor, you WALK). She and Jason ran me into the delivery suite, demanding an empty delivery room, which the delivery midwives chaotically tried to find.

The midwife and attending nurse very quickly assigned to me handed me a breathing tube with a mixture of laughing gas & oxygen. When another contraction hit I sounded like Darth Vader, sucking in that stuff like a drug addict. When they got me out of my trousers, there's wasn't time to get me out of my shirt & cardigan. It was just "up on the bed & push."

"I WANT AN EPIDURAL!" I screamed, to which the midwife replied, "We're way past that stage, honey." And we were, two minutes later a tiny head was free -- sunny side up. Jason said Gracie stretched & blinked & looked around. I'm so glad I didn't see that. I keep imagining this little purple alien head in a box. Anyway, another push to get her shoulders out & she was free, where they cleaned her right there on the bed & I got introduced to my baby.

Like I said, she's sweet. Right now, she's laying on the Boppy on my lap, sleeping. And I love her. But, and I really mean this, I'm never doing that again.