Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy birthday to Meg, happy birthday to Meg

Today is Meg's second birthday! We've been talking about it and she's very clear, if you ask, that today she is "Two!" We're having Nana's neighbor girls over for a little Noah's Ark party.

I hung rainbow streamers, Jonathan blew up balloons (making lawyer jokes the whole time), and Nana worked ridiculously hard to make animal sugar cookies.

Happy birthday, darling!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I've been reading British books so long, it confuses me when American books refer to "jumpers." I always have to stop and try to figure out what kind of clothing they're talking about.

In other news, the word "starve" didn't use to mean dying of hunger; it was just a general word for dying. We watched A Knight's Tale with Heath Ledger the other day and obviously then had to read the real Chaucer's "Knight's Tale," and in it the characters were always "sterving" for love. They spent a lot of time "cryinge" too. The extra e adds something. However, I find myself unable to sympathize with people who duel to the death for love without ever talking to the lady in question. They fail.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wildwood and Gazebo

I read two disappointing books this weekend. The first was Wildwood by Colin Meloy, and I'd heard really good things about it. Briefly, it's set in contemporary Portland and a girl has adventures in the woods just over the river while saving her kidnapped baby brother. Meanwhile, her friend Curtis has overlapping adventures and comes of age. Kind of. Actually he just runs away and joins the bandit king.

Anyway, Wildwood has the Rumplestiltskin story at its heart. Prue's parents desperately want children, so they go to the witch and promise her their second child. Prue was first, and ten years later comes Mac. Fully two thirds of the book could have been saved if Prue had told her parents that young Mac had been abducted by crows and then they would have given her that back history. Instead, Prue hides the fact he's missing for a whole night (!) and the next morning sneaks out early and searches in the forbidden woods, and the witch makes trouble. Not to go into excessive detail, by the end Prue has an army of utopian farmers and mystics, and Curtis has an army of bandits, and then the eagles swoop in Hobbit-like at the last minute. The witch and her coyote army are killed and the baby is saved from the carnivorous ivy. Prue and her brother go home, but Curtis decides to stay with the bandits forever.

My take:
When you make a deal with a devil or witch, you cannot simply change your mind. It rings false. Prue could have offered herself in her brother's place, or done something else clever, but these promises must be kept somehow or another. Anything less is cheating the story.

Your parents still know better than you, even if they made really lousy decisions in the past. No good ever, ever comes from hiding the fact you lost your little brother and then twice running away to the forbidden woods to search. If you must disobey flagrantly, you need to know that will come back and bite you somehow. Anything less is also cheating the story.

Also, you can't just ditch your parents at age eleven and decide to live as a bandit in the wildwood. It's especially impolite not to send them a note what happened to you.

The second disappointing book was Patricia Wentworth's The Gazebo. Miss Silver moved evidence, and when the terrified woman came in reasonable fear of being killed by her husband Miss Silver sent her home again! Worse yet, nobody noticed there was a problem with that. With either of those. Miss Silver is the paragon of propriety and keen investigating, and for her to be guilty of such lapses is truly disappointing. I may never be the same.

Moo, baa, la la la

Some animals are better to have around than others. Cows, sheep, horses, tigers, monkeys, cats, dogs, and birds - those are all cool, because they have an assigned noise to make. Having real live cows across the street is wonderful. Cows are cows, and dogs are dogs, and we all know where we stand. The only trouble with this scenario is that now Mommy has the urge to baa, for instance, whenever sheep are mentioned, including in church.

Bears are a little tricky, because sometimes they say "grr" and sometimes they snore. Mice are hard, because they are quiet but they also say eek and squeak, but Meg has a hard time saying eek and squeak.

And then there are the camels and rhinoceroses and buffaloes, that don't exactly say anything. Sometimes they usurp other animals' noises, like "moo," but it's just not right. We have some, but they are not trustworthy characters.

Update: Just now I came across this video of - what else?- baby rhinoceroses squeak/honking at each other. Now we know.


Meg, not quite age two, is starting to grasp manners. For a while she would refuse food with a vigorous "No way!" (from Click Clack Moo), but these days she mostly uses "No thank you." I'm so proud. She also uses please ("peese") and you're welcome, and can count to ten more or less reliably. Thank you, Elmo and board books.

She's also alarmingly competent. She's at the stage where she can lock doors, but not quite open them again. We keep a bent hanger around for extricating her/ourselves. So we laughed really hard at the adventures of Elaina, Destroyer of Worlds (age three).

Meg's learned that when she's in trouble, a good choice is to say, "Obey!"

I think my favorite thing is to listen to Meg talk to herself. She'll say, "Elmo and duckies? Noooo. Duckies, quack quack. No Elmo duckies." And if, perchance, a parent should say yes to watching Elmo and the duckies again, it's pretty much perfect delight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meg quote

Saying the words very carefully: "More bah-beh...cue? More bah-beh...cue?" Meg


<--- Bonus photo of my sister's cat Irony

It doesn't look like we're going over-the-top for Christmas this year. I got the tree up and decorated, put lights and garland over one cabinet, and cleaned off a desktop to hold wrapping supplies. Then I called it good enough. And then we put away the rest of our Christmas decorations. Is that allowed? I mean, isn't there a law that says you have to decorate with everything you've got?


Oh good.

I'd like to take credit for this feat of moderation, but actually I ran out of steam. It's head-cold central around here, and most days we're doing well to fix dinner. Conveniently, Christmas grace doesn't follow the degree I decorate for it (as in, okay, you get ten seconds of patience for every twinkle light you set up, and handmade centerpieces are worth extra). It's good to remember that God sent his Son for people who didn't decorate at all for the first Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

She's good

One of Meg's amusing habits is how she says "Yes." Not "yeah," or "yeth," but a firm, clear "yes." She particularly likes to use it when a host offers, say, ice cream at Bible study and Mommy mistakenly thinks Meg would prefer only apple pie. (True story.) She's also always coming out with new phrases she just learned. Or, there was tonight, in which she used both.

Jonathan: "Also, I think she got chocolate in my hair."
Meg smiled sweetly. "Yes. I'm good."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Only ten-fifteen or so

You remember that rough week we had, so I made cookies? Yeah... for those of you who haven't heard yet, the news was that Jonathan was losing his job. And it's now over. And he had one lead, which led to an interview, which went well but has confirmed that that job would not start soon enough or pay well enough (though it would be cool under other circumstances). That was pretty disappointing.

So here were are, having talked to everybody we can think of, done the internet searches, and sent out the resumes. Virginia is overpopulated with lawyers and we've got nuthin'. God quite clearly sent us to Leesburg, so we can only assume He had a good reason and hasn't forgotten about us. He specializes in eleventh-hour rescues, and right now it's only... oh... ten-fifteen. So please pray for us. :-) And obviously, if you know someone good who needs an assistant, shoot us a line!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Beef-and-barley soup

Normally this would be Hobbit Soup (made FOR hobbits, not of, thank you very much), but I got distracted and forgot the mushrooms. Fungus or not, though, this was the perfect soup for a chilly winter day. It's hearty enough for Jonathan, and the crock pot is my favorite for fixing dinner whenever I have time... like 10:30 am. :-) I may have posted this recipe before, but it's still good. Enjoy!

1/2 lb bulk sausage
1 lb hamburger
slosh of Marsala or pretty much any other wine or beer handy
4 carrots
3 onions
mushrooms (if you remember)
2 beef bouillion cubes
generous amounts of thyme, salt, pepper
1 cup or so barley pearls

Brown the meat. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and throw them into the crock pot on low. After browning, deglaze the pot with the wine and a little water, and throw that and the meat into the crock pot too. Add salt, pepper, bouillion cubes, and thyme, stir, and add water to cover everything. Set to low. Then put the barley pearls into about 2 cups of water to soak. Stir the soaked barley into the pot about an hour before serving.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


I finally figured out why some of my sweaters feel too small. The shoulders are too narrow! The sleeves hit the bodice about an inch in from the corner, which makes my shoulders appear about the same width as my waist. No wonder I never wanted to wear them.

I don't know that there's anything to fix that, short of maybe insetting lace at the shoulders? That sounds like a lot of work and kind of weird. Recommendations?