Friday, November 26, 2010

Forty Years

Here's a picture of me from more than forty years ago:

And here's a picture of me from just a few minutes ago:

(I really wish I had a yellow turtleneck and a plaid sweater vest to wear for this picture.)

Forty years. (Sigh.) Where did it all go?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jessica's Students

Tonight, as Jessica was playing before snack time, she lined up many of her furry and plastic friends on the sofa and told us they were her students, and that she would be teaching a diving class:

Fortunately, the actual diving never took place. The reason it's fortunate is because we don't happen to have a pool in our living room.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Elyse is Ten Months Old! also, Jessica and the Big Leaf

On Friday, November 19th, Elyse was ten months old! Here she is on Mommy's knee, showing off her new princess ballerina pajamas:

Over the weekend we went to Vines Gardens for a mid-Fall picnic. Jessica found a remarkably large leaf:

This is what Vines Gardens looks like in the fall:

Of course, most of the trees are evergreens, and this was fairly late in fall--almost exactly a month away from the beginning of winter, in fact--so the splendid autumn colors are not as in evidence here as they are in other places at other times. Still, the trees in the upper left of the picture give a sense of how majestic fall can be.

Also, if you look closely enough you'll notice that there's a gathering on the steps just beneath the red and orange and golden leaves. An extended family was posing there for a series of family portraits, including one of the grandparents and their twenty-one grandchildren.

There's a general truism that if you go to Vines Gardens and there are more than five cars in the parking lot, there'll be at least one photo session going on. The day we were there, I counted no fewer than five photo sessions. One was a couple and their three dogs, one of whom, a Basset hound named (I believe) Cash, made a break for it just as we walked by. But, being a Basset hound, he got only about fifty feet before he was content to sit down and let himself be caught.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

As Soft and Gentle as a Sigh

Not that I ever doubted it, but it turns out that Dolly Parton was right, love is like a butterfly:

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! 3

'...I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.'

--Ebenezer Scrooge's nephew in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

This morning, Jessica found an empty cardboard box we had set by the back door to throw away. She took it and told me she was going to put some of her toys in it, "to send to the little kids whose mommy and daddy can't afford toys."

God bless us, everyone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Busy Little Beaver

This morning on "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That," the Cat in the Hat whisked the two kids he's always having adventures with off to watch a group of beavers build a dam. "They're building a dam!" he would exclaim. And when the dam sprang a leak, the Cat and the kids helped the beavers repair it with mud. When it was all finished, the Cat proclaimed, "Now this river is dammed!"

Perhaps you can see where this is going.

Later, while I was changing Elyse's diaper and getting her into some clothes--quite a challenge these days--Jessica was playing in the corner of Elyse's room, pulling down clothes we had stacked on Elyse's dresser and piling them on the floor.

"You have a busy little beaver!" Jessica told me. "And she's building a dam."

She started taking shoes out of a box, shoes that are way too small for her but which Elyse isn't quite ready for, and lining them up on the floor. I was busy trying to convince Elyse to squirm in ways that are conducive to getting arms in sleeves and socks on feet, so I can't tell you exactly what Jessica said. But I think it was something like this:

"These are all my dammed shoes."

I assure you that she got that phrase from this morning's episode of the Cat in the Hat, not from anything she ever heard me say once upon a time when I was struggling to get those same shoes on her wriggling little feet.

I just hope that if she plays Busy Little Beaver at preschool tomorrow, she makes it clear to her teachers that that's what she's doing.

I also hope that if the kids on the show have a dog, it's not a Shih Tzu.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


All that crawling,
all that cruising.
Her thighs, once
plump with
doughy rolls,
are slimming down.

Faster than I want,
my baby's growing up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! 2

I've already written about my love of egg nog. Here's another reason I love Christmas:

I bought this little guy--he's about five inches tall--at Dollar Tree for (of course) a dollar.

It's not that I have a great affection for cheap and tacky gimcracks, though in fact I do. It's that I love the iconography of Christmas, both religious and secular--Santa Claus, Christmas trees, snowmen, candy canes, angels, Nativity sets and crèches, and all the rest. I love the color and fun and magic of it. I love the notion that for a few weeks leading up to December 25, our society glows, quite literally, with childlike innocence and wonder.

Sure, it may be superficial, and it may be commerce-driven rather than beauty-driven--sadly, much of the sheen of Christmas is intended to encourage people to trade their hard-earned money for something they don't necessarily need, or even want--but I choose to revel in the gaudy marvelousness rather than shake my head cynically at the tackiness and commercialization.

Wonderful means literally full of wonder, and wonder, in this sense, means "the quality of exciting amazed admiration." That, dear friends, is what I aspire to at Christmastime: exciting amazed admiration. I think Christmas is wonderful.