Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Saga Part Second

I am sorry - I know I promised this yesterday, but I got caught up in the cleaning and show prep and didn't finish it all, so here it is...

In the morning when Dad went to put the dog out, we found that someone had left us four big bags of gifts - one for each of the children. Whoever it was had spelled the kids’ names correctly, and, as we found later, each of the girls received their favorite toys. Dad and I brought them in and added them to the stack in front of the tree, and the kids went wild for a little while.
Traditionally, we had stockings and breakfast together. Dad and Phil got monster sized stockings from Santa, because the little ones that had been hung out were too small. We took Phil’s to him in the hospital when we went to see him later. The girls got excited again after breakfast and we started on opening gifts. Highlights... Glady got her e-z bake oven, Juliet got a spiderman build-a-bear, Pippa got lots of art stuff. Johann got a Tonka truck from his Papa that is bigger than he is. As soon as he got the paper off of it he climbed in and started to rock his body back and forth and make motor noises. So far as I know, he’s never seen anything like it before - how do they know?
Grampa gave them the biggest gift of the morning - a computer! He picked up and original iMac for twenty dollars, but they love it for what it is - not what it cost. Phil was on the speakerphone through the gift opening and he promised the girls that he would get it up and running as soon as he got home.
The Secret Santa bags turned out to have new coats for each of them, clothes, and a couple of toys for each. The living room was full of flying paper for a while, and when it cleared, the sectional couch was full from one end to another with stuff. I have a feeling this will be the wildest Christmas they will ever see... as they got older and the toys get more sophisticated there will be fewer of them, and calmer children, too. Glady already was pretty good about waiting her turn, unlike Pippa who got very excited about the whole thing. Juliet was very cute - al she wanted to do was help her brother out.
Once they were done opening presents I let them each take a toy and go into their room. Grampa and I sat in the living room and took a deep breath for a few minutes, then opened our gifts. Nana and BoPop had sent down their gifts to us, so we had a few. Dad got me a little vacuum sealer, and I had framed a photo of his tent I had taken in the woods this fall. Nana gave me a set of Sundae glasses that came out of a Midwestern pharmacy - a hundred years old, and heavy enough to endure. Dad got a cast iron teapot that must weigh twenty pounds.
After clean-up I made the rolls I had promised Nana and got ready to go up there. We left the house a little later than planned and went to the hospital to visit Phil, taking along his stocking and a couple of gifts. We weren’t able to stay long, but that is just as well, with the kids so excited about Christmas. From the hospital we went to Nana’s for more gifts and dinner.
It was a very nice day, all in all. I regretted Phil missing all of it. But we did get to see him.

On Tuesday after Phil saw the doctor he was told that it would be Friday before they let him out. Then that afternoon he was given an ultrasound from tummy to toes, which ruled out a deep vein thrombosis - very good news. Tuesday the girls and spent in cleaning and organizing their room, and Tuesday night I went up the Steele Hill to substitute for Phil at his regular gig there. So now it is Wednesday morning. I have much to do, but mostly I think I’ll play with the two little girls and Johann until Glady gets back from Toad Hall.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Saga Part First

Merry Christmas to all!

It has been an eventful one here in Sanbornton (and Franklin, and New Hampton). It all started last Tuesday. Phil got sick. The flu, we thought, and Juliet came down with it a day later. Not a big deal - they ran high fevers and I nursed them thru it until Friday, when Phil was feeling much better - but he thought he’d sprained his ankle and pulled a muscle in his thigh getting up at some point that week. Juliet was feeling much better Saturday morning, and Grampa offered to take me out shopping, since I hadn’t left the house since Phil got sick and I needed groceries and last-minute Christmas stuff. So off we went in the van, leaving Phil home alone with his feet up.

Saturday afternoon, home in time for lunch, after the kid hurricane had settled and kissed Papa and retired to its room, Phil announced that he didn’t feel well and maybe I should talk to Jean (our doctor). So I call, and am told that he should go to the ER, as they don’t like to prescribe antibiotics over the phone. OK, fine, I’m happier having him seen anyway, as I had been trying to convince him to go see Jean all week. So off he and Dad go to the Franklin Hospital - around 4:00 pm. About 6:00 pm I get a call from Dad to tell me they think it is an infection, but they are busy and have not yet drawn blood to be sure. Around nine he calls again to tell me that it is an infection, they have put an IV in, and they’ll be keeping him at least overnight. He heads for home shortly after that.

Sunday morning I talk to Phil and he tells me that the doctor is going to keep him in ht hospital until Wednesday. The girls are upset - especially Juliet, who is devastated that Papa won’t be home for Christmas. They all talk to him on the phone and feel better for that. Then we get started preparing to go and visit Papa before we go to Christmas Eve Service with Nana and BoPop that night. In the midst of our day, BoPop and Uncle Austin drop by to drop some things off, and I actually have the house clean enough to invite them in! I feel really good about that. So off we go to visit Papa - taking along a couple of presents for him to open. I made him (with lots of help from the girls!) a bathrobe, and we also took a picture of Pippa that Nana and BoPop had taken and framed that was her gift to us.

At the Christmas Eve Service I spent most of my time in the fellowship hall beneath the church taking care of Johann, who had decided it was his personal mission to say HI! to everyone in the church, starting with the priest. He had come out behind the congregation, and since Johann was sitting on my lap facing me he saw him first. His eyes got big as saucers when this man stepped out in shiny gold robes (I’m guessing they were special for Christmas). Then he waved and called Hi! to him. So after we sang a carol with Johann sticking his hand down my throat every time I tried to sing, and he decided that now was the time to drop the shy act and say hello to everyone, we went elsewhere. Dad says the girls were good, though.

That night after we got home Dad and I finished wrapping the last gifts and made all ready for Santa. The girls had gone out into the pasture and picked reindeer moss, so in addition to cookies and milk for Santa there was salad for his deer! Too cute. Anyway, I was in bed by nine-thirty, and Dad says he was down by ten, but at some point in the night someone quietly shut the outer entryway door - the one that sticks and has to be closed just so.... and left inside the entry....

Well, I am exhausted. More on this later!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Long time since I wrote...

It has been so busy - the few times I have sat down at the computer I have been writing marketing materials and had no time to blog. But, finally, I am seizing a few minutes to update you all...

Let's see - going way back, Thanksgiving! The meal was good, as always, and it was a blessing to spend my day calmly cooking and playing with the kids. I felt as though we had turned back the hands of time as I stood at the sink washing dishes in the early afternoon and they were playing with a top on the floor behind me. Phil had a twisting gig from noon to three, so we ate late. Actually, we started nibbling as soon as he got home and stopped eating around 8:30, so no-one went without! We had our usual Cider-brined Turkey center stage, which was so moist and good even Phil liked it, and he isn't a turkey fan. I could'nt believe how easy my day went. I did most of the cooking on Wednesday and had everything clean - even the dishes - by the time I went to bed Thursday.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving both Phil and I made our annual trip to the Loon Center open house and he twisted while I face-painted. What a fun gig. We were busy right up to the end, but Phil was out of balloons, so we had to go.

Let's see - since then we have been getting back to the routine of school and getting the Holly Jolly Magic Show launched. The Happy Birthday, Jesus! show will go out on the 12th, so I have a little breathing space to start marketing for January. I have to keep on that - we have decided that we have to refocus the 'business' end of our business. The performing end is doing well, but without marketing, advertising, and publicity we are dead in the water. So - I labor in the office. Actually, it is kind of fun. I like coming up with new ways to tell people what we do, and trying to talk Phil into different shows like the anti-bullying show we did last year that is still being asked for.

The kids are well - mostly. Johann has a head cold today, poor little bud. He was up about four times last night fighting to breathe through his nose and coughing. And then, about 3 this morning, we ran out of oil, thank goodness the checks from this weekend have cleared. We'll be getting a drop this afternoon. Pippa is off with Nana and Bopop, they took her with them to Portsmouth yesterday and kept her overnight. Juliet and Glady are at school at the moment. Glady has a special event coming up - her class is going to carol at the Veteran's Home on Dec. 12.

Well, I'm going to put a loaf of bread in the oven to keep the kitchen toasty. My fingers are having trouble typing while cold!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Little Kid Funnies

Last night, as I was putting yet another basketfull of laundry away in their room, I asked the girls "How can four small children need so many clothes?"

Glady's fast reply was "Because we like to be dressed!"

And the other night, as we all had Family Movie night and were watching Return of the Jedi, Pippa's reaction to one exciting moment was to exclaim "Awesome Kadassam!" which made all of us laugh out loud.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Here are my little trick-or-treaters as they headed out after a quick dinner and face-paint! Pippa is a Princess Dragonrider, Juliet is Strawberry Shortcake, and Glady is Glowgirl. Even Bebe got into the act as Wondercat!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The First Haircut

As Dad was getting ready to travel to Paul's wedding he asked me to trim his beard and hair for him. After I was done making him look as tidy as possible, I took a deep breath and .... Gave Johann his first haircut!

He's so cute! He has very little hair, but it was getting really long in the back. Now he's neat and looking more boy-like than babyish.

I don't think he's even noticed, but his sisters had. Well, speaking of that, they are off on the bus and Pippa is sitting on the floor playing. Time for me to make breakfast for Phil and I and get started on the day. The Halloween show still needs work, and I have office work to do as well.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's been a busy, busy week

I am telemarketing for Halloween - not my favorite task, but daycares respond better to a voice on the phone than a letter in the mail, so the phone it is. Normally, I end up in the office from 9-3:30 which is a long day to be on the phone. Poor Pippa and Johann have been missing me, too. PHil has taken over the house, the sweetheart. The last few times I've done this I was trying to do everything and that didn't work.

Well, next week is going to be a repeat of this week, but right now I have to go get Phil ready to drive up to Conway in nasty traffic - he's leaving an hour early.

The girls are all up and playng with Johann in their room - he's discovered the joys of legos and they are all buliding happily together.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Poetry Morning

For a moment the house is still.
Awaiting, like me the day.
Washer hissing, coffeepot purrs and gurgles.
Soon there will be the soft patter of feet
Announcing warm bodies with sleepy eyes.
They all like to snuggle, even the littlest one.
Who cries Mum? Mum? from his crib for me.
And if sometimes I wonder where they
Came from, these tall bodies and eager minds
It isn't that I regret... Simply that I feel
Amazed and bewildered by the passage of time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Laboring all Weekend Bears Fruit...

Let’s see... Labor Day weekend. Well, we had planned on ribs - Phil’s special all-day smoked ribs, glazed in the last few minutes of cooking with his made-from-scratch barbecue sauce. So Saturday we started up the grill around nine, and had the ribs on by ten - and we ate at seven thirty. Ummmmm..... Ribs, fresh bread, summer squash from the garden (sautéed lightly), salad, and of course, corn on the cob. We don’t eat like this but twice a year, and it is worth waiting for.

The kids and I found the swale (in the pasture where the spring is) full of blackberries. We picked almost two quarts of big, juicy ones - they are in the frig waiting to be made into jelly (or jam, if I can figure out how to deseed them). Then reason they are waiting is I am out of sugar. Phil brought me ten pounds, but I am still out, because also on Saturday Dad went canoeing on the Pemi above Newfound Highschool, and came back with two grocery bags full of elderberries. Then on Sunday he went back to dig a couple of plants for establishing a grove here on the farm and brought back two more bags.

So - four bags of elderberries... what to do? Well, the first thing I did was make two loaves of bread with 3/4 cup of whole raw berries in them. The berries turned the dough a lovely shade of purple and added some sweetness and a little extra crunch, too. Then the three of us (Phil watching in amusement as he tended the kids for me) stripped three bags of berries, leaving one for Sharon to take home and dye reeds for basket making. Three bags = 37 cups of berries, in case you were wondering. I boiled the berries for about 10 minutes to release the juice, then left it to cool overnight.

Monday morning we strained berries, finding as we did so that the juice will stain hands slightly, but nothing else. It wiped clean off floors, table, and stove - also Johann’s face. In the end, I had 17 cups of elderberry juice. One gallon and a cup. Whew. Dad brought out his hexagonal jars and added them to my half-pint jars, and Sharon found some cute, short ones at Walmart and added them to the mix. I jellied like mad for the rest of the day, trying two different recipes, three separate batches. The first recipe used honey in addition to sugar, the second recipe was in the Sure-jell package (this is important later).

All told, when the steam settled in the kitchen, I had 40 jars of jelly on the table cooling. They were sizes ranging from 8 oz to 12 oz hexes to a couple of pints, so I have no idea actually how much jelly we made. All of them were hot-water bath processed for ten minutes, something I had never done before, but it seems to be the new protocol for putting up jams and jellies. I used to simply hot-pack them into the jar, lid, and let cool until it sealed. In the past, housewives simply put them in jars and covered them with paraffin. Funny how things change. Have we become more paranoid, or was it really a problem?

That night we made a batch of fluffy pancakes and some scrambled eggs for dinner, and opened one of the pints to use as elderberry syrup. Wow. Everyone devoured the cakes, and the syrup was super. Not only that, I found in my research for recipes that elderberry is edging out echinacea as a cold and cough remedy. Yummy - I’ll take my medicine this way!

Tuesday morning was a small setback, though. None of the jars of jelly had setup at all. I have forty jars of elderberry syrup. Well, even with following the instructions on the pectin box I haven’t made jelly. Not sure why, but I’m happy with syrup. It is great on pancakes, hot cereal (we tried that this morning) and I am going to try topping ice cream with it, and flavoring seltzer water, too. Elderberry soda - there’s a concept. So all in all, I am happy with the end product. Oh, now the blackberries will have to wait, because I used all the ten pounds of sugar and then some. Oh, well. Another day, another adventure!

Elderberry Syrup (Hah!) Recipe

3 c elderberry juice
5 1/2 c sugar
2 c honey
1 box pectin
1/2 c lemon juice

Bring juice, sugar and honey to a boil stirring constantly, stir in pectin. Bring back to a full boil for one minute stirring constantly. Watch it! It foams up wildly! Take off the heat and pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Lid and hot-water process for 5-10 minutes, depending on whether your jars were sterile or not. (mine were, but I went longer, anyway.)

Phil’s Phluffy Phlapjacks

4 1/2 c Self-rising flour
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 eggs
4 cups milk
2/3 c vegetable oil

Beat wet ingredients into dry ingredients until perfectly smooth. Put spoonfuls onto med-high greased pans (or a griddle if you have one). Once the top is full of bubbles, turn over and cook until springy when touched in the middle. Serve at once, with butter and Elderberry Syrup. Serves 8 hungry people.

Elderberry Crunch Bread

3 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 c whole, ripe, raw elderberries
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 c oil
1c water

Put dry ingredients (elderberries too) in the cuisinart, pulse a few time to mix. Pour wet ingredients in slowly as the machine is on, until a dough is formed that ball together and does not stick to the sides. Process for 60 seconds, remove from the machine and from into two loaves. Allow to rise in warm place for 15-20 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees until hollow when tapped on top. About 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with butter. Lovely shade of purple.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Hair-dos

Yesterday we took all three girls to have their hair done for school. All of them were looking rather shaggy. Phil had his cut while we were there, too. I took before and after pics of the girls.

Oh, and can you guess who had Papa's Marx glasses this morning? Isn't she adorable?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Getting ready for School

We have two very excited little girls here who are looking forward to Wednesday, when one of them is officially a first-grader and the other is a second-grader. Pippa, of course, is at home with her brother and I, but we are going to do kindergarten together, because she is already teaching herself to read and write - she can write her own name, and she did a pretty good job of writing Nana the other day (she says to me about a lowercase 'a' Mama, it's a turtle with a tail)

Johann is off and walking! He took his first steps on Thursday, and now his sisters take his hands and walk him all over the house, both of them pleased as punch. He is such a sweet little guy. When he first gets up in the morning, he likes to snuggle for a while before he starts to play. He talks to us, but he can't speak much English yet, so we have to interpret :)

Well, the house is stirring and we are going to take all three girls for haircuts early this morning, so I am off to make breakfast and coffee.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wild and Wet Walks

Bears have a curiosity bump. I had taken a walk this morning, about 6 am, and taken the camera with me to take pictures of dewy cobwebs. All the way at the back of the pasture I found a patch of lovely ones, and was bent over taking pictures when I heard a rustling in the brush. I immediately thought “Oh, Dad’s moose!”
See, Dad has been sleeping out in his tent for a week, and the day before this had awoken to a moose crashing through the brush in the ravine below his tent. He’d crept to the edge and watched the south end of it proceeding north up the creek. So it was a natural assumption on my part to think that this large crashing in the brush was also a moose.
I swung the camera up and took a shot from the hip, flash and all. The flash was my undoing. I might have gotten away with it, but Mr. Bruin saw that light and stood up to see what the light was over the brush. At this point I realized that He was bigger than I, and although not known to attack humans often, I am not going to trust one further than I could throw it. Dad got away with kicking one in Well, you know. But that one was a yearling, a lot smaller than he, not a big ole bruin looking at little ole me. So I went. Toward the house, wishing that I were a sprinter, not an endurance runner (and that a decade ago!) I am pretty sure he went in the other direction, but I wasn’t really looking. All I know is that he didn’t follow me home!
Talk about adrenaline to start your morning - that was a little too much.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fun Weekend

Phil and I went up to Milan Old Home Days Saturday, and decided that we'd stay up over the weekend. We went out to dinner, did a little shopping. I got a couple of really cut outfits for Glady to wear to school at TJMaxx, which made me think of Nana. I always shopped with her, but now she is having real problems with recovery from her knee surgery. I am a little worried about her.

Glady just made cupcakes all by herself. All I did was slide pans into the oven. Yay! She is so helpful these days it is a joy.

Not much time - just letting you all know I'm still alive!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My little helper

Glady made breakfast this morning, almost all by herself. She has been so helpful, looking up recipes and helping me with cooking recently. So today she looked up a recipe she wanted, got the ingredients together, mixed (I helped with breaking eggs, showing her how to do it) and I put it on the stove for her. She did an omelette, finished in the oven, with cheese on top. She has become my little Suzy Homemaker the last few days, loving on her little brother and helping take care of her sisters. Of course, she does tend to treat Johann like a big baby doll, but he loves his big sis.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Musical monster child

Pippa, walking through the house singing to herself...

“Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Butterfly laid an egg...
The Bunnymobile lost it’ s wheel,
And Ladybug got away!”

She is her father’s daughter!

I'm so proud of him!

Phil was invited to lecture last night at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. He was asked to speak about humor and it's relevance in our culture by the husband of one of our clients who teaches sociology there. Poor Phil was so nervous about this, we got the call on Friday and he spoke Monday night, so I suppose it was good he didn't have longer to worry about it, although it would have been nice to have more time to research. He did a wonderful job of getting the students to laugh, and talking about trends in comedy and the practical application of comedy in life for healing and connecting with others.

He has been told that if last night went well, he may be offered a more regular opportunity, which is exciting, and leads us to conclude that he will be going to the Laugh Conference in Sept. I am in the process of filling out a scholarship from
for him. Wish us luck!

In the long run, we hope to have him teaching daycare and elementary teachers how to use laughter in their classrooms to connect with and help their students learn. As ever, the practical everyday application of laughter for us is in entertaining kids that he encounters in his audiences, and even our own children. As we start reaching out more into senior centers the use of laughter becomes almost a healing agent, something to lighten weary days there. Because he is an entertainer, the study of laughter and comedy's uses to reach others is a natural extension of what he is already doing, a more guided application of a pratical tool in his repertoire.

The above is the essay for the application. What do you think?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday Morning

Sitting here with my mocha, taking a quiet moment after getting Phil and Dad out safely, and thinking. We celebrated Juliet's birthday last night, although she won't officially be 6 until dinnertime tomorrow. I found some pictures of her birth the other day. We had a full house for the event, our midwife, with permission, had brought along two students/apprentices, and her 13 year-old daughter who was interested in following in her mother's footsteps. I have a picture of them in fun balloon hats that Phil did for them at some point before the birth. Of course, Dad was there, and took the pictures as well as being the general gopher. He was able to be at three out of the four arrivals into our family, and this was his role every time.

We had a busy weekend. Saturday I went with Phil, as we had a triple and I was actually hired along with him for the last one, but there wasn't time to come home in between them. Sharon came up in the afternoon and gave Dad a hand with the kids. They taught Johann how to drink out of the hose, which I hear was incredibly cute. Saturday morning the girls had special yogurt with crunchy bits in it, and they were so happy. I was working in the other room, and overheard Pippa exclaiming, "this is so yummy! It's like... like... Cinderella's slippers!" Of course, she meant that since Cinderella is her favorite princess and her shoes are loverly, that is the highest standard she could think of. But it made all the rest of us laugh out loud. Fortunately, she can take a joke, so she laughed along with us.

Friday we went up to Plymouth to the Super Walmart... the first time in a long time we have been able to take all the kids in a long time, but now that we have the van! So as we were checking out, Phil took the girls aside, since we had presents in the carts, and I had Johann with me. He turned around and was kneeling in the front, reaching into the cart and handing me anything he could pick up. Such a helpful little guy! Of course, I wasn't ready for them yet, so I ended up with a double handful of stuff while I waited for the people in front of me to finish.

I have a great family!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Glady and I saw three hummingbird moths together today! They were feasting on the bergamot (bee balm) and we stood and watched them for a minute or two. We were out there packing the van for a balloon workshop. Glady went with her Papa to help hand balloons out. It has become a custom for her to go along to his workshops as a helper, and last time she earned $5 and a happy meal :)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hot, hot, hot!

Guess who these little people are!

The picture was taken in Hillsboro about Nov. 2001

Whew. I hope this doesn't last too much longer. The house didn't really cool down last night, even with the fans going. Poor Phil barely slept. The baby woke up thirsty about 4 this morning. He drinks water happily, fortunately, so I don't worry about him getting dehydrated.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


It was supposed to be hot today, and worse tomorrow, but so far it has been cool and rainy. I'm not complaining, mind you. Sometimes I think my natural habitat is the Pacific rainforest, because I am equally uncomfortable at extreme heat and cold. Phil is off to a balloon gig this morning, and then back out for a late afternoon "Magic, Ahoy!" I am packing off the printer we had had briefly and just couldn't keep up with the ink. As we send it off, though, we are planning on getting a smaller one. A good color printer is a must around here, between the need for flashy mailings to keep up with other competitors, and my facepainting being so graphic driven.

Well, scratch the rainy and cool. I was just outside and it is getting very hot and humid.

The girls are supposed to be cleaning their room. It has been so much better in there since they helped me boogie it at the beginning of summer, and usually they are good, but today they are like three little butterflies, fluttering about in completely random paths around me. Oh, well. When they figure out that it's peanut butter sandwiches for lunch unless it's clean, they'll get motivated!

I am going to get Phil's show packed for him, so he can just worry about lunch and bunny when he gets home. I have a little repair work to do and that's about it...

Thursday, July 27, 2006


So cute in pictures, such a pain to live with!

Dad is holding up the peppers he grew in his window at work - please note the bag they are in!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


The girls came running in a minute ago to let me know they had found a garden spider - bring the camera and come see! So I went out into the glorious morning with them and we looked at the little spider (where else? in the garden! Glady said when I asked her where it was). Then we took turns holding a Daddy-long-legs which crawled slowly because it was still to chilly to move fast. And we walked around the front yard looking for webs full of dew before I had to come back in. What a nice way to begin a day.

Well, my day had already begun three hours before, but this was their start. Phil is off to a show up north, and he has another tonight. Dad is preparing for his big bee-talk at the Holderness Science Center. he tried to get some bees to take up residence in a skep so he'd have some honey in it to show people, but the bees decided that they'd rather live somewhere else... And his plan to dig up a Bumblebee colony was foiled by the heavy rains that have drowned most of them out. Now he's on to plan B, rather disappointed.

Well, I have a full schedule today, so I'm off to work ( the other room, don'tcha know).

Monday, July 24, 2006

Walking in the morning

For the last four mornings I have been getting up at 5:30 and walking until 6, which is the best time for me to do it - no one else is awake, and I can relax and stretch out for my day. This morning was lovely, clear sky after all the rain we got over the weekend, still colored from the sunrise. There was a light mist hanging over the pasture, in fact, it burned off while I was walking, but looking out over it at the towering pines that fringe our woodlot and Sanbornton Mountain rising up behind them into the pink sky was worth getting up for.

It is high berry season, so I picked blueberries and raspberries while I was out. This morning I froze them, but Saturday morning I made some yummy wildberry pancakes. Raspberries, black raspberries, and blueberries in my usual batter. The girls helped me make them and also have been picking berries for me. Even bringing them in to freeze instead of eating them all. We are saving them up to make a batch of jam with. Later we will have a bumper crop of blackberries, too, but those, I have been told, I will have to pick because they are too "poky".

Pippa just came to show me her outfit for the day, clothes in one hand and Squishy Bob under her arm. I need to go mix up chocolate milk and start the day in earnest.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What a Week!

It has been a week since I sat down to write in this, and we have been busy busy busy. Phil had Market Days in Concord all week. The city shuts down a big chunk of Main St. and has a street festival. For the last five or six years we have been sponsored by Imagination Village to come and twist in front of their store. They are a really great toy and learning supplies shop, whose owners have become our friends, and we usually take our fee out in trade :)

Let's see... Saturday Phil took me with him to the Loon festival, my first facepainting gig. That went so great! I got my picture in the paper, even! Then Sunday was a bit of a disappointment. I was at the restaurant for three hours and it was dead. I did nine kids in three hours, and had the owner tell me he didn't think it was worth paying me for the day. So Phil and I decided to make it a trial day - and this Friday the owner agreed to give it another try, on a day there isn't a race in town (there's a Nascar speedway close by).

Then last night and Thursday night Phil took me to Market Days with him to paint. I only did about 2 1/2 hours each time, but it was so fun and I think I am going to like this a lot. I am feeling much more confident about it, and it is very satisfying to be asked if I am available for Birthdays. Phil is the consummate entertainer. He is funny, loud enough to command attention, and has the skills to wow people. I am very quiet and shy in a crowd, so this is a big confidence booster. Right when I need it, too, because tomorrow I start telemarketing daycares to fill in the August hole. *sigh*

Well, I have taken my walk this morning, and picked black raspberries, and I hear the pitter-patter of Pippa foots, so I had better think about breakfast.

Oh, I have to share - we got the coolest present for Juliet's 6th birthday - a butterfly pavilion! She can send off for caterpillars and raise them to butterflies, and we got her a butterfly net, too. She's studying bugs this summer.

Friday, July 14, 2006

So excited!

I got my facepainting kit last night. Saturday is the dress rehearsal, then Sunday my first paid gig. I spent a little time last night painting the girls. Here is Juliet as a tiger. The paints are much better than the first little one we picked up, and I am feeling much more confident about this now. Whee!

Second shot is Dad's head - he said he wanted a third eye - and then he went to Walmart like that! And with a skep on his forehead, too.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thanks, Sharon!

I did it! a whole new vista of blogging awaits me!

1/2 Whipped Cream
3 Oreos
1 tbsp Ice Cream Cake

Stir well... makes great finger, er, body paint!

A Whole Year

It seems both like so long and so little time has passed since Johann was born. For that matter, since Glady was born. I can still feel her tiny little body in my arms for the first time, and now here she is, almost shoulder height to me. We had a fun celebration for the little man, I sent out pictures by e-mail since I haven't figured out how to do them on here yet. Boy, was he messy!

This week has been crazy. Phil has been working non-stop, particularly today, he has a three-show day today. And we have been trying to find a van to buy. I think we have a solid lead on one that is parked in a yard on 132, it took me forever to get in touch with the owner, but Phil is meeting him on Friday. *sigh* hopefully this one will work out. We want to be in our own vehicle by Monday.

Well, I have to go blow up 400 balloons, package 20+ balloon kits, mend the balloon apron (and sketch the idea for a new one), wash his shirts, socks.... and so forth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July

We had a lovely time this year over the long weekend for Fourth of July. On the 3rd we went up as a family to Steele Hill, to their fireworks. Phil and Glady went first, as he was twisting, and he started about 5:30 pm, then the rest of us joined them and I started twisting about 6:30 pm with him, while Dad kept an eye on the kids. There was a playground that they had a blast on, and the crowds were pretty light until about 8 pm. The Phil and I started to have a line, even with two of us. I hadn’t expected there to be so many people there.

After nine, when it got too dark to see what color balloons we were pulling out of our bags, and the fireworks were about to start, we shooed off the last few people who still wanted a balloon, even though it was now too dark to see them, and went to be with the kids. Johann had been hanging out in the baby backpack and I picked him up when the ‘booms’ started, but he didn’t fuss. He flinched a few times, but mostly he wanted to look up at the colors and play with my face.

I have never seen a neater fireworks display than this one was. We were so close to them that sometimes it looked like we were inside the bursts. A couple of times embers rained down around the crowd, but they were little and the grass was damp, so no harm. It was a very intimate display, and quite breathtaking. The girls loved it, of course, and joined Phil in cheering and applauding the finale very enthusiastically.

After that we waited a few minutes for the crowd to thin out and half of us headed home. Glady, Johann and I waited for the second trip, sitting on the porch wrapped in a blanket. I taught Glady how to play twenty questions and we had fun. She got to be at a quarter after eleven, and was very pleased with getting to stay up so late.

Yesterday Dad and the girls went up to Toad Hall for the Annual Independence Day Party. It sounds like they had a good time. Phil needed to keep his legs up and catch up after three busy days in a row, and I was needing to rest, too. We were quiet and didn’t do a lot. The girls came home and then fell into bed not too long after - and Glady slept until 8 this morning, which is unheard of.

Phil is off to two Summer Reading shows today - up by Conway. I am trying to get office stuff done and the girls to nap. And laundry, and what-not... But it was a very nice holiday weekend.

The Fourth

We had a lovely time this year over the long weekend for Fourth of July. On the 3rd we went up as a family to Steele Hill, to their fireworks. Phil and Glady went first, as he was twisting, and he started about 5:30 pm, then the rest of us joined them and I started twisting about 6:30 pm with him, while Dad kept an eye on the kids. There was a playground that they had a blast on, and the crowds were pretty light until about 8 pm. The Phil and I started to have a line, even with two of us. I hadn’t expected there to be so many people there.

After nine, when it got too dark to see what color balloons we were pulling out of our bags, and the fireworks were about to start, we shooed off the last few people who still wanted a balloon, even though it was now too dark to see them, and went to be with the kids. Johann had been hanging out in the baby backpack and I picked him up when the ‘booms’ started, but he didn’t fuss. He flinched a few times, but mostly he wanted to look up at the colors and play with my face.

I have never seen a neater fireworks display than this one was. We were so close to them that sometimes it looked like we were inside the bursts. A couple of times embers rained down around the crowd, but they were little and the grass was damp, so no harm. It was a very intimate display, and quite breathtaking. The girls loved it, of course, and joined Phil in cheering and applauding the finale very enthusiastically.

After that we waited a few minutes for the crowd to thin out and half of us headed home. Glady, Johann and I waited for the second trip, sitting on the porch wrapped in a blanket. I taught Glady how to play twenty questions and we had fun. She got to bed at a quarter after eleven, and was very pleased with getting to stay up so late.

Yesterday Dad and the girls went up to Toad Hall for the Annual Independence Day Party. It sounds like they had a good time. Phil needed to keep his legs up and catch up after three busy days in a row, and I was needing to rest, too. We were quiet and didn’t do a lot. The girls came home and then fell into bed not too long after - and Glady slept until 8 this morning, which is unheard of.

Phil is off to two Summer Reading shows today - up by Conway. I am trying to get office stuff done and the girls to nap. And laundry, and what-not... But it was a very nice holiday weekend.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I am Necessity

You know, the Mother of Invention?

in other news,

Long, tired day today. I am still recovering from the efforts of this weekend, and assorted other stresses.

I finally went into the girl’s room today and cleaned it out. It had gotten bad in there, and they were beyond their ability to put it straight. I ended up cleaning out two big black trash bags and one white trash bag full of toys to go to the thrift shop and two big black bags full of trash - mostly broken toys, papers, and their fan. Yes, their fan. They had a window fan, and decided it would be interesting to stick a spoon into it. Several times. I found that it hand broken blades, and one side no longer ran at all. I don’t know what to do with them sometimes. But their room is neat - they have been allowed one lovey each to sleep with, and their closet is neatly organized - albeit still quite full of toys.

Johann is getting too mobile for comfort. He can hoist himself out of his exersaucer with his arms until he is on the tray, then slither over to the couch. I found this out Saturday, when I left the room for a minute to go to the bathroom. Ay-yi-yi. I can only put him into his crib now if I have to leave him alone for a minute. Nowhere else can hold him, and I am not ready to give him free run of the house. None of our rooms, besides the kids room, are laid out to be able to use a gate easily. That is what I did with Glady and Juliet - blocked off the living room in the Hillsboro house and let them putter about. I can’t remember what I did with Pippa.

The Summer Reading show is going smoothly. This is so good - normally the fist couple of shows turn up a myriad of problems that only appear in front of a live audience and require adjustment. I sewed the grass skirt to its backing (it goes on one of the tables he works off of), shortened the strap on the big carrying bag, and made the cover for a prop into an ‘envelope’. For the day after the first show, this is good. We’ll see how tonight goes.

Speaking of which, Phil will be home soon. I need to get him some dinner. The rest of us ate already - Chicken drumsticks, rice, and watermelon - yum!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Next Year's Resolutions

Every year I do this, like a New Year's resolution (which I don't do). I promise myself I will not be up until the wee hours of the morning helping Phil get ready for Summer Reading. I promise myself I will start months before the deadline, have everything planned and completed... and every year I end up going to bed a 3 in the morning. *sigh* At least this year I got everything done, and even felt comfortable enough with what I was doing to take on a couple of last minute sewing projects that, to be fair, we didn't know about until yesterday. I am pleased with that, and next year I am going to do better. As a matter of fact, maybe I'll go get started on it now...

Nah, nap first. Then plan a weskit for a road trip theme.... hmmm. Map fabric maybe?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fragraria virginiana

Yesterday Phil and I celebrated our ninth anniversary. Neither of us can believe that it has been that long since we joined hands in Hill Village Bible Church and vowed to one another. We had a nice, busy day topped off with a quiet family dinner.

After dinner I had the privilege of going for a walk and picking strawberries. It seemed appropriate, as the sun started to set on the longest day of the year, to be kneeling and searching for tiny red jewels scattered through the jungle of pasture grass. Down at that level the scent of green grass, with the elusive odor of ripe strawberry wafting occasionally, and the spicy tang of DEET overlaying it all, I feel closer to the earth than I have in a while. I pondered that God made strawberries as an aid to prayer, because you kneel to pick them and they are enough to inspire the most grateful praise. Ripe, sun-warmed berries are a treat fit to entertain angels with.

Every year, even if I have no time to pick enough to put by, I give the first berries to someone else. I don't know when I started this, but now it is my little tradition, to share my favorite things. This year the first three strawberries went into three little girl mouths, and the first blueberry (off the early bush we planted) went to Phil. He would never have any interest in picking berries, but he enjoys the fruits of our labor. Glady has joined me in my hunt for them this year - the first year one of the girls has been willing to bring some home and not just eat them. In a year or two they will have taken over completely, for I have no time to spend hours or even days of my summer picking berries. In historical readings, it is pretty clear that the mother was at home, keeping the house, while the maidens picked the berries.

But for a few stolen moments I gathered living rubies, and was very happy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Last Day of School

The girls have gone to school for the last day of this year, I am enjoying the last few moments of relative peace for the next three months. I don't know whether I am nervous about having them home all day long, or excited. I am afraid the routines that had been imposed upon me by the school day achedule will get lost as I concentrate on the business over the nest week or so. I really want to continue mock-lessons over the summer to keep them fresh for next year, and to get started on Pippa for the fall, as I will be working with her more next year than the once-or-twice a week I did this year. She wrote her own name yesterday, I was so proud of her!

Phil is back to work. However, he is also still recovering. Because the veins in his legs are so damaged at this point - if you're curious, look up chronic venous insufficiency - he has to lie down a lot with his legs elevated over his heart. So he is a bit frustrated about things like building the needed props for Summer Reading, which is bearing down on us like a train at this point - a week until the first show.

All in all, I need now more than ever to stay focused. Phil compares it to juggling - in order to keep all my balls in the air (business, kids, house, Phil, me, Dad, critters and garden) I have to stay balanced. If I burn out, I drop balls and then bad things happen - shows don't get put on the calendar, checks get lost, kids watch too much tv, I don't get enough sleep - and it takes me so long to catch back up. So. I am off to make a good list.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Death Before Dullness

This is supposed to be about dishes, but it is really about much more than that. Last week, Phil challenged me to write down my dishes issues. What he was referring to is the fact that I struggle with keeping the dishes clean. I have a tendency to look at the stack waiting by the sink at night and say "I'll do it in the morning." I do do them in the morning, but it wastes valuable time I could be using elsewhere. On occasion, and fortunately it is becoming rarer, I don't do them in the morning. So why? asks Phil, and I don't know. is my answer.

But now I think I have a glimmer of the truth, and it is that I am bored easily. And there are few more boring tasks than washing dishes. They have to be done over and over, and sometimes the same dish three or four times in a day. My subconcious says why bother? and so I struggle with it. The solutions I have come up with are that I have to retrain my brain to do the dishes after every meal. Even doing them twice a day isn't enough - but at that, it is more than I was trained to do growing up, and I have to fight those ingrained habits with all I have unless I want to doom my daughters to this fight later in their lives. I have to start the girls on helping with dishes. They love to help rinse, but I don't often allow them because it takes so much longer when they are helping. But Glady is old enough to wash almost on her own- and has done so once. And just because I feel guilty that I am not doing them is no reason to not ask someone else - whether it be Dad, the girls, or Phil - to do them.

I have found that my mind can do repetitive tasks if I switch it off and let it cruise along on muscle memory, but this tends to leave me on hyperfocus mode, and I can literally ignore everything. As a wife and mother of four this isn't a good thing, although it has served me well in the past. So now I try to use music, chatting with someone who is willing to hang out in the kitchen with me... anything to keep my mind going while my hands are busy.

So, I'm off to do some dishes - right after I make my office calls for the day, give the girls a snack and drink, feed the baby and walk the dog, just to name a few of the chores clamoring for my attention at this moment.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Date Night

Phil and I had one of those improbable conjuctions of events last night that actually left us with the house to ourselves. Well, not quite to ourselves. I think Johann would say that it left him with his two favorite people to await his every whim. But we saw it differently. The girls went up to Nana and BoPop's house for a sleepover, and Dad went out for the evening. Phil and I cuddled on the couch, talked, played a game, and played with Johann.

Whether it is because we are an old married couple now - approaching nine years, can it be that long? - or just because we are tired, that was one of the more satisfying evenings we have spent. We talked about watching a movie, but decided that it would be nicer to listen to music and play a game. Phil bought me a game quite a while back that we hadn't played yet, so we got that out, parked Johann in his exersaucer by our knees, and played with it for a while until the lad got too adventurous and we kept losing cards to him. Then we put it away, picked him up, and let him travel across the couch cushion between us. He was delighted. He has learned how to climb well enough to scale his Papa, and he kept up a running commentary of "uh-oh. Ah! Ah! Dat, dat..." as he shuttled back and forth between us.

Later that night, when Phil had to put his leg up - he still has to spend a lot of time with it elevated - and Johann had wound down, we all curled up on the bed and Phil and I read while the baby fell asleep. And that was our date night. They are few and far between like that, where we have the house quiet around us, and while there was undoubtedly chores to be done and business meetings to be had, it was so nice to take the night off and just be with one another.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Standing outside in the rain this morning, waiting for the bus with the girls, I noticed the comfrey is blooming. We have a crescent-shaped piece of land that is isolated by the driveway, and on one side my mother planted comfrey probably fifteen years ago now, when we moved in. It has gradually taken over, despite Dad taking most of the roots out twice in the last three years. This year there is less of it, but still there are silvery green fountains of leaves, topped by scorpiode flower spikes. The flowers are lavender purple, with a tiny, neat edge of white at the opening of their bell shape. They hang down, and in the rain must make a nice haven for tiny insects. I know that in the sun they will bring both fat, fuzzy bumblebees, and hummingbirds to the yard. The comfrey has taken over the one side of the Crescent, the horseradish the other, and at the feet of both these large plants creeps the mint and Johnny-Jump-Ups.


Etymology: Middle English cumfirie, from Old French, from Latin conferva a water plant, from confervEre to grow together (of bones), from com- + fervEre to boil.
: any of a genus (Symphytum) of perennial herbs of the borage family with coarse hairy entire leaves and flowers in one-sided racemes

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Eating habits of the very young

Johann is still primarily eating breastmilk. However, periodically I introduce him to something new. He likes the darndest things, too. Last week or so, Sharon introduced him to pickles and he adores them, not that we let him have a lot, but still. He likes Cheerios, of course, and the usual babyfood (mangoes, sweet potatoes, Hawaiian delight... can you tell Grampa was picking the food out that day?). But he also goes for steamed broccoli, and last night fell for watermelon in a big way.

He got three pieces and spent the rest of the meal reducing them to tiny shreds and covering himself in the juice. I think he ate some, but it was hard to tell. It was so hot yesterday that he was dressed only in his diaper, so at least it was easy clean-up. We did figure one other thing out last night - he likes otter pops, but don't open them first. He chewed on his popsicle like a little wolverine. Phil kept trying to take it away from him - playful - and Johann wasn't giving it up for anything! When he had turned it back to liquid I put it back in the freezer - he'll get it back today.

He's figured out how to access the milk - I was wearing a scoop neck top and he was trying to pull it down yesterday. Little stinker is going to have to find a different way to get his drinks!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Good Morning! Well, Morning!, anyway.

Some mornings are more interesting than others. Mine began slowly, as I was up too late last night helping Phil build a prop. This morning, Glady had to get ready for a field trip to the zoo, in addition to all the other morning stuff. So, let's see... hat, water bottle, lunch, snacks, money for souveneirs, binoculars, jacket... can't find the sunscreen, but it is overcast and likely to stay that way. On to the rest of the morning routine. Snacks for Juliet and lunch for Dad. Breakfast, vitamins, coffee and chocolate milk. So far, so good.

Then the bus shows up almost ten minutes early, with Phil and I wrangling with Juliet (who was dilly-dallying and needed a little push to finish tidying her room). Fortunately Glady caught it and ran screaming out into the driveway, "Bus! Bus!"

So I grabbed Juliet's backpack and ran out... but where was Juliet? The bus driver called an apology for her early arrival... still no Julie. Finally, she come running out, still sniffing because she was in trouble and because she almost missed the bus. After the girls got on the bus I heaved a big sigh of relief, fed Phil and the baby, and started to pack the show.

The new trick Phil put in Good Friends, Bad Bullies involves a sharp-shooting duck with a water squirter, so now my morning involves being squirted at by a giant thumb, a rubber duck (like a rubber chicken, not the cute bath toy) and finally, a little bottle that could be concealed in his hand. You know you are a magician's wife when there is a rubber duck drip-drying in your bathtub.

Show packed, Phil preparing himself, I go out to load the truck. Well, Dad used it last night to transport bees and didn't take them out this morning. So now, my morning involves dealing with about 30-40 sleepy, grumpy, confused bees clustered on the tailgate. They all fall off on the driveway and lay there humming sullenly when I open it. (Gingerly, with a giant leap backwards as I release the catch.) I unload all the equipment with no incidents and go on to get loaded with Phil's stuff.

As I re-enter the house I notice that Pippa has lost her pants somewhere and is now dressed in shirt, panties, and a gold lame cape because "some magicians wear capes to do tricks". OK. Moving on. I load the bunny and what not in the front, then go around to the back where I have left open the cap hoping the last bees would leave. They are mostly gone, with only a half dozen wandering around inside, still confused and lost. As I am loading, one orbits my head briefly, but not hostilely, and then two land on my head. The one in my hair departs quickly, the one on my forehead has taken up residence. I try to think calm thoughts, knowing that the smell of fear will upset her. Finally, I end up spending three minutes walking around the garden smelling flowers before she bumbles off me.

Well, the day has hardly begun. Hopefully the rest of it will be peaceful... but not likely!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

So much to do, so little time...

Let's see. I'm typing one-handed while nursing Johann, so please forgive typos. Phil is home, as you may have guessed/heard (Johann, attend to your business and stop kicking my arm) and is mostly on bed rest with his feet elevated. All this lying still is driving him crazy at this point. The doc told him yesterday that his ulcer may be healed in a month if he keeps doing things right.

Glady had her fist grade concert last night. She was very cute singing and playing with her classmates. She is such (all right! Johann is in his exersaucer and happy with some o's) a social butterfly. They had the kids up on a tiered stand and she was busy talking to and flirting with all around her, from her quiet little best friend Taylor, to her energetic Connor who she likes a lot. Good grief. It reminds me of my sister Manya at that age. She always had little friends and had a boyfriend at Glady's age. I have discouraged the girls from having "boyfriends" explaining that although their friends talk about such things, they are too young for it. Nana and Bopop were able to come for the concert, and they took Glady off to Wendy's afterward.

Phil was at home with the two little girls, and he was pooped by the time I got home. Poor guy - he's sound asleep now and I want to keep him that way for a while. Well, I need to eat my breakfast and clean up this messy house, it never seems to get where I want it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mixed Day

Well, there was good news and bad news today. The bad, of course, was that Phil won't be home until Friday. This makes life this weekend even more complicated. Oh, well, I am doing all right carrying on. He is coming home, that much I can count on.

On the upside, I actually finished a story. Even got into a good authorial trance for a little while. But now I am going to set it aside for a day and the edit before I shop it out. I'm feeling pretty contented about it right now, though.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Badges of motherhood

I wanted to wish my Mother, my Grandmothers and my Great Grandmother a Happy Mother's Day!

I tried to send each of you an e-card, but my computer kept locking up on the site, so instead you get this - thoughts on motherhood I wrote about three years ago. Today, it was mashed bananas from Johann. I also got to play tic-tac-chec with Glady (a chess training game) and Family Fluxx with all three girls. I feel mothery today.

Phil was told today that it could be another week before they let him come home. I don't know if i can go on that long without him. And when he does get home we have to change things - but I don't know what.

"There are many signs of motherhood. Today I wore, for a while, a badge on my shoulder and reflected about other badges like it that I have worn and will wear through my life. My youngest banged her head, and as I held her in my arms and murmured to her, she buried her face in my shoulder and sobbed. A few minutes later, after I had put her down and she was playing happily, I realized she had left a patch of tears and snot on my shoulder. One more in a succession of such spots. They started with the spit-up from my babies, and will progress to lower marks of banged knees and elbows, from cuddles at an age where they are usually past such comforts. Hopefully, when my daughters are teens I will be mother enough to shoulder their tears over every little heartbreak. And when our lives have come full circle it will be spit-up again, from their babies. All my life I will be proud of my badges of motherhood, but I prefer to wear them invisibly. Pardon me while I change my shirt. "

Friday, May 12, 2006


Phil is going to be in the hospital until Monday. Poor guy is getting bored stiff, but he's still sick enough not to be pushing to come home quite yet. I miss him so much, though. Even though most of what I have been doing is stuff I would normally do, he supported me in things like keeping the girls in line and holding the baby when he felt sick. And I just miss his presence. It has been a long time since we had to be apart for any length of time and we were in a bed place in our relationship then. We have grown so close that having him away and not being able to see him every day is hard.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers, they have meant much to both of us.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Phil was admitted yesterday for cellulitis in his leg. We had gone in to have an ulcer on the back of his leg looked at - he's had it for almost a year, and finally let me get him set up with the doctor to see it. Then Saturday he had a balloon gig where he was on his feet for almost 7 hours straight, and his leg got really bad. So he is in the hospital for at least three days, possibly more. If he is still off his feet Saturday and Sunday I will have to come up with babysitting and do his balloon gigs on those two days myself. We couldn't afford to cancel them.

He's flat on his back with his feet over his head, and dopy with morphine at least some of the time. But still, this enforced absence from his family is going to drive him batty. I won't be able to go see him, as the van is down with bad brakes and my Dad's truck won't hold us all. Fortunately we have the phone.

I am holding down the fort here at the Farm, with groceries stocked in, and lots to do to keep me busy. The kids have school, and I found a ride for Juliet to get home from school tomorrow at least. (I am never doing half-day kindergarten again!) Sharon, God Bless You, has been an enormous help. Yesterday would have been miserable without you.

I am going to go get everyone's morning rolling now. I just printed out a bunch of pictures to send in to Phil.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Well, yesterday was an eventful day. In the morning, Johann had a discharge from one of his ears, so I called the doctor. While waiting for her to call, It was decided that Sharon would take Pippa and Glady with her to Spacetacular, Dad would run errands, and Phil of coure was performing. Dad came home bearing blueberries and arborvitae, and while we were planting them the doctor called and asked us to take Johann to the hospital to be checked. Four hours later, we got home with amoxicillin and eardrops. Whew. not much happened, but it took a long time.

The girls had a great time with Sharon and Co. and then when they got home before us, Sharon did laundry and dishes that I hadn't gotten to yet. Friends are such a comfort. Poor Phil is coming down with this, though. He woke up last night with a fever. He's exhausted from yesterday, but I have to go and get him ready for another show now.

Keep us in your prayers, please. This is the first time any of the kids have had an ear infection.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Baby's sick

Poor little spud - he's been running a fever and coughing, and to add insult to injury when we took him in for his check-up yesterday he got three shots. Last night he didn't sleep well at all, so today both of us are tired. He sounds so sad when he cries, since he's hoarse. His sisters have been particularly solicitous of him, but he only wants me right now. I've spent most of yesterday and today holding him. Puts a serious crimp in my housecleaning, but he needs me more.

Tomorrow Sharon, Rachel, and Brian are coming up so they can go to Spacetacular. This is a fun event at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, Phil has twisted for them for three years now. She may take along the girls, but I think Johann and I will stay home. And Sharon and I were going to ride the gyroscope, too! Oh, well, probably betternot, anyway.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Comfort Food

Three steps to feeling better when you have a cold. First, make sure your sink is shiny after breakfast, even though you feel awful. Second, take advantage of your husband being home to take a long, hot shower and then fall asleep on the couch while feeding the baby (the crick in your neck will be worth it!). Third, make an awesome seafood chowder to eat with your daughters. Why is it that two out of three won’t touch clam chowder, but they love this?

Seafood Chowder.

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 finely chopped onion
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped.

sauté these in the bottom of your pan, not allowing them to brown.

Add in

5 medium potatoes (I used red skinned ones, which are lovely), diced
3 c water
3 tsp lobster base bouillon (I happened to have this. You could use chicken)

Allow to come to a boil, then add
1 c chopped clams, with their juice
a can of salmon, with juice
pepper to taste

put the lid on and let it simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender, then add

1 c half-and-half
1 c finely chopped kale leaf

Bring back to boil and remove from heat. Serve. Oyster crackers would be nice, but there isn’t a lot of broth. We like our soups thick.

Very comforting and yummy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Four years

Four years ago I was three weeks late with my third child and very ready for her to come. I was only in labor for six hours, and we thought the midwife, who lived an hour away, wouldn't make it in time - she got there 45 minutes before the baby was born. Four years ago we welcomed Philippa Rose Spitz into the world with tears of joy and prayers of thanksgiving. She had a little brown fuzz on her head, and sleepy blue eyes. Today she is articulate, ready to start reading, and loves her three stuffed unicorns named Bob (yes, all three - girly Bob, Bob, and Mama Bob), and Cinderella. She has an imaginary friend named Fedora (she picks the names, not me!) and she will occasionally come to breakfast as him. She doesn't just march to the tune of a different drummer, she has her own personal band.

Happy Birthday, Pippa

Having a mental klutz day

Have you ever had one of these? I just feel like I am running behind and scattered and just can't quite stay on top of things. I have quite a list, and needed to be available for Phil as he prepared for shows, and instead I am running around stomping out fires. *sigh* I can't stand the way this feels. I am not quite sure what to do about it, though. Making sure I always have a list helps a lot, but today it wasn't enough. Feeling tired doesn't help, but I shouldn't feel that way at 8 in the morning! I tried to get dressed and ready for my day, to do my routines, and still... I keep thinking there must be a reason, but I just don't know what it is.

Well, I certainly can't give up, so I'll just keep trying. I just wish I could find my calm and peace again.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Stepping out in trepidation

I'm not even going to try and keep up with what has been happening around here - let's just say that we have a bug amongst us, and not a ladybug, either.

I have been writing short fiction pieces for a while now, but I hadn't submitted anything in almost two years, so I took the plunge yesterday and sent two out. One was rejected by this morning, as not being quite suitable for the magazine I sent it to. Which is fine, really, I'm not sure I want my first sub. to be horror. I sent inquiries on it to both Alaska and Fur-Fish-Game, because of the content, and we'll see. The other I don't expect anything on soon. I am going to inventory and polish my finished pieces, and try to write regularly, so maybe soon you will see some interesting news here!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Crocus and Spring Iris at their Peak.

What an exciting day! Not only is it a beautiful day outside, we got our new printer/copier today. We’ve signed up with a program that gives us a new printer in exchange for our commitment to print a certain number of pages each month, and to buy supplies from them. We’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years, but it wasn’t until recently that we knew we could print enough to qualify. So we spent half the day setting that up, but it does lovely work, I am so excited about adding color and quality to my flyers and stuff, not to mention being able to do it all here instead of Staples of Kinkos.
It’s nice and warm out - I took out the bathroom rugs and scrubbed them on the driveway, and did Johann’s exersaucer too. It was pretty crummy from Grampa’s birthday celebration, because we gave him a piece of brownie sundae. Poor Dad, right in the middle of dinner Pippa came down with the stomach bug that Glady brought home earlier this week. That kind of put a hitch in our party. I forgot to give him his presents until this morning. He’s turned fifty now, but he doesn’t look it - or act it, for that matter!
Johann is wearing a little Hawaiian shirt today, and he looks sooo cute in it. His hair is really coming in, and looking more than a bit red. I was carrying him around in the backpack most of the morning, and he really appreciated that. He hasn’t been down to play on the floor as much as he would like - I wasn’t feeling well last week, and the house caught up with me. But today I am catching up with it.
Speaking of which, I have phone calls and paperwork and dinner and dishes and laundry and.... Bye for now!

Friday, April 07, 2006

When you say good morning, you'd better mean it!

My morning started out busy, getting everyone out, with all the assorted doo-dads they needed. But now I am being very quiet, feeling the fever roll through my bloodstream like the tide. Phil will be home for lunch hopefully by then I will have coaxed or threatened Juliet and Pippa into cleaning their room. Johann is sitting on my lap, wanting Down! in the worst way. He has discovered the wonders of perambulation under his own power and he is aching to explore the office. It isn't going to happen, of course. Way too much stuff on the floor in here - cables, boxes, chairs and books. His jolly jumper hangs from one beam and even that is hard to keep him away from things he can reach.
I was reminded yesterday of something Pippa did a while back. Phil had gotten up early one morning - about 4, I think - and was headed back upstairs when Pippa came out of her room. He said "Good Morning, now go back to bed!" and she got very upset with him because he had said it was morning, so it must be time to get up. Never tell a three year-old good morning unless you mean it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A triplet of poetry

Juliet’s Birth

Sweetly, Lord, hast Thou filled my life
With joys unutterable and blessings uncountable.
In the midst of suffering and trials Thou art,
Incomparable, holy, just, Thou art God.
A child born to me is Thine, a gift returned
To thy care even though her father and I
Are her earthly gurdians, Thou art her Father,
And we devote her to Thee, because we love her.
- 8/15/00

Morning Cartoons

Glady, when you’re grown
You probably won’t remember
Sitting on your wagon
Watching cartoons raptly,
Holding your lovey Rusty
In one hand, and in the other,
Holding a cup of milk.
Every now and again,
You laugh or sng along,
Or even get up and dance.
So just to remind you,
And me, of these quiet times,
I’ve written it all down.
- 10/3/00

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.

Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, my dear?
God thought about you, and so I came here.
George McDonald

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Well, today is the first day in a while that hasn't been nice out. It is cold and rainy. We needed the rain, though, it had gotten pretty dry. Dad sowed the crescent day before yesterday and it had rained a little that night, so with this rain anything that is going to sprout at least has a chance. Green is popping up all over. Phil and I went to Concord Sunday, and the Red Maples were starting to bloom down there. That means that they will be up here within a week.
We were in Concord to do a little shopping. Nana gave me a gift certificate to TJ Maxx, and Phil said he would match it, so we left all the kids at home - even Johann! with babysitters (Thanks Dad, Sharon, and Rachel!). That was fun. I actually got to try stuff on, and Phil has pretty good taste, for a guy :) I didn't buy a lot, it was more that I got to get out and relax that was good. We also got the girls a sparkly soccer ball to encourage them to play outside more, and a birthday present for Pippa. She loves Cinderella, and her "Preschool time" so we got her a Cinderella jewelry box to decorate, and she and I will work on that together.
I am in a quandary with her. I think she will be ready for Kindergarten level stuff next fall, but she is still going to be too young to go off to K, even if we could afford to send her to the Christian school. However, if I do K at home with her, she will be overly prepared for K at school the following year. I don't want to let her stagnate over the next year, and I'm just not sure what to do with her. I really do not want to do K at the public school again. The half day is ridiculous. Transportation is impossible, since we have to pick Juliet up every day she ends up missing days because Phil is working at the time she has to be picked up. And I find two hours a day just not enough to teach properly, especially when a lot of it is snack and recess. As a social learning tool it is useful, academically it is lacking. If they went to a full-day K I would definitely do it, but I don't see that happening.
Johann has four teeth now, and is working on a fifth.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Laundry Bonds

In everything I do I can find some beauty, even in something as prosaic as hanging laundry to dry. As I stand here this morning I am refereeing a game of freeze-tag that is happening in the driveway, and contemplating the contrasts in the clothing in front of me. One of the cutest things I see is the tiny shirt of our baby son, hanging right next to his father’s big shirt. What a difference. And yet, Phil’s son is attached to him in a way none of our daughter’s ever were. He has a special bond with all his children, but something extraordinary exists here, in this little lad who prefers Papa to anyone else - sometimes even to me. I think if he ever figured out that Papa could feed him, too, he’d go happily over to him entirely.
Even the girls have a different relationship with him than they had with one another. In their cases I think it is less the fact that he is a boy than the age differential. At the time Pippa was born, Glady was the age Pippa is now, and still too self-centered to truly realize the older sister relationship she would have. But from the beginning, all three girls (Pippa the least of the three) have had a protective, mothering instinct toward him. He loves them, and they love him right back. How long that will last after he starts walking and wanting their toys, we will see!.
The birds are singing around me, the sun is warm and welcome on my head while my feet are on frosty ground. Last night, as I brought in the last load at dusk, I believe I heard a Woodsnipe singing for his mate (bzeeep...bzeeep). Today there is a flock of suspicious sparrows in the mockorange peering at me, then bursting out into song. And three little girls laughing and chasing one another around the drive while they wait for the bus.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


We celebrated Phil's birthday this weekend. As always, Glady was my party planner, she decided that we should do a sports theme and have a cake with a football field on it. The girls made paper chains and other decorations, and we had a party Saturday night. We invited Sharon and Rachel and Ray and Patty, and had a big mexican dinner. I love having a fun, warm event with friends and family. We didn't have much room, but we all sat around the table and laughed until the kids went to bed. Phil always tell me not to make a fuss over his birthday, but he appreciates it when we do. The girls love doing it, too. Sharon had the brilliant idea of making a poster for him that was the kids' handprints with the caption "World's Best Dad, Hands Down."

Well, I had written more, but then my page crashed and I lost it all. Now I have no time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


written 3/18/06
This morning as I was giving the girls their breakfast, and telling them I needed to sit and feed Johann, Julie asked me “Mama, how do you make his food?”
“My body makes it.”
“Yes, but how?”
As I walked away to tend the baby, I hurriedly explained. “Milk ducts inside me make it.”
As I cuddled the hungry baby, I could hear her in the kitchen exclaiming in a tone of disbelief, “Milk ducks?!”
And for the record, no, I do not have waterfowl inside me. I did get a good chuckle out of that one, though.

quack quack

written 12/21/04

There are many signs of motherhood. Today I wore, for a while, a badge on my shoulder and reflected about other badges like it that I have worn and will wear through my life. My youngest banged her head, and as I held her in my arms and murmured to her, she buried her face in my shoulder and sobbed. A few minutes later, after I had put her down and she was playing happily, I realized she had left a patch of tears and snot on my shoulder. One more in a succession of such spots. They started with the spit-up from my babies, and will progress to lower marks of banged knees and elbows, from cuddles at an age where they are usually past such comforts. Hopefully, when my daughters are teens I will be mother enough to shoulder their tears over every little heartbreak in a way my mother never did. And when our lives have come full circle it will be spit-up again, from their babies. All my life I will be proud of my badges of motherhood, but I prefer to wear them invisibly. Pardon me while I change my shirt.

written 11/05

I think my children are actually beginning to think about their father. They had real ideas on what to get him for Christmas this year. Glady made a beeline for what she wanted, and Juliet was very disappointed that we could not find the chef's hat she so badly wanted for him. Pippa, of course, had no idea, but I pointed her at a couple of things and she latched on enthusiastically. I even saw what I wanted to get for him, although it was out of my price range tonight. And they were sold out of Lord of the Rings Risk. But the point is that we want our daughters to be considerate, giving and loving little creatures, and I saw glimmers of that tonight. They had reasons for what they chose, and told me exactly what they had in mind. There may be hope for our little monsters yet. But don't get too excited, I had to be very firm with Juliet about the Care Bears Movie.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Joyful Noise

A Joyful Noise

Hark what angels hear;
A voice, raised in song,
Peals of praise to Him.
Perfect beings above listen
Pausing in their perfect song
To hear the earthly heart
Lift her voice to heaven.

They marvel at her gift,
For their own song may be
Flawless before His throne,
Hers is infinitely more precious
As hers is sung by choice.

She has the choice to remain
Silent in her earthly cares
Silent in her fears and clouds
Silent ever before her God.

Yet her heart cannot lie still,
Beating fast, assists her voice,
As her song joins a chorus;
One voice, two, and then more.
Angels above shed tears
For the love of men who choose
To worship their Creator and
Create a perfect gift for Him.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Cookie Afternoon

I had the opportunity to stand outside in the rain this morning with both Glady and Johann. We were covered by an umbrella, and Johann was safely wrapped up in the sling and my coat, with only his head showing. I relish the chances I get to spend time with my children like that, undistracted by the outside pressures of the business or house or even other people. I find that each one of them, and combinations thereof, are so different that there are endless surprises in exploring them.
Glady with Johann and I is much more mature and happy to figure out what her little brother wants and is thinking. Like me, she is fascinated with watching him discover his world. Today, it was the sound of rain on the umbrella, cars passing on the road, and thunder. You could see the mind working behind bright eyes as he cuddled with me and turned his head this way and that to see and hear everything.
Later in the morning, after Phil had gone to his show, Juliet and Pippa and I made cookies together. Julie mixed, Pippa “spilled” ingredients into the bowl, and when they were done we sat at the table and had mugs of milk and light, crispy-chewy oatmeal cookies. MMMMMM!
Watching those two together is interesting. They don’t quite move on the same plane. Juliet is a little more sophisticated than Pippa, and they tend to fight when it is just the two of them. As now, when Pippa is running screaming from their room because Juliet wanted her to conform to her rules of the school game they were playing. I think Pippa will be a leader, and once she learns how to be a team player things will be a little smoother, but she absolutely hates to give in and bend her will to someone else’s rules. Life with her growing up is going to get more interesting with every year, I think.

Pippa and Juliet Cookies

2 c Rolled oats
1/2 c All-purpose flour
1/2 c Whole-wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c tahini (I suppose you could use creamy peanut butter)
4 tbsp butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper (cookies will be very delicate). Mix dry ingredients, then in separate bowl cream butter and tahini, then added sugars until well blended. Add in egg and vanilla, then stir in dry mix. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Careful removing them from the oven, the paper will slide off the sheet unless you hold it, too. (Yes, this is experience talking!) After a minute or two, you can take them off the paper onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.
We've had an exciting couple of days... Johann is pulling himself up to stand in the crib! He got up there, a little wobbly, and gave me this great big grin, like "see what I can do?" He stood there and I cheered for him for a couple of minutes, and then he fell over backwards. Poor little guy. He has such an expressive face, and all I could think was "oops!" as he went over.

I'm a little out of it this morning. I stayed up late to finish a weskit last night. I had promised it to Phil for today, and I wanted to get it done. Then Johann woke up at 5:30 this morning and I didn't want him to wake Phil up. So here I am, listening to Glady and Pippa, who are sitting on the floor behind me looking at a balloon catalog and playing with Johann, who is in his Jolly Jumper.

It looks like it is going to rain again today. It rained all day yesterday, until we had quite the puddles in the driveway. Saturday it was gorgeous. Dad and Sharon and the kids all went out and tapped trees. Dad and I went out first and marked all the Red Maples. We don't have any Sugar Maples anymore, the blight killed the last one on the farm off years ago. Without leaving the hedgerow we found more than he had expected. I think we are going to thin some of the clumps this summer, and maybe get rid of some of the cherry trees to give them some room. Even without critters, the work never ends!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Magic Ahoy! The Search for Dewey's Treasure

Well, yesterday was THE Day. The children’s librarians of New Hampshire (hereafter referred to as Chilis), gathered into one overly warm room in Gilford to review a roster of artists. Our summer hangs in the balance, as for the fifth time we were selected to be on that roster. Months of effort on our part, from concept to construction of props and promotional materials, all boiled down to four hours of standing and talking and laughing with a lot of ladies who have become friends over the last six years.
This year’s summer reading program theme is Treasure Reading, and all the artists presented something a little piratey. Same of the past themes were a little hard for us to work with, this year has just been fun. The other artists on the roster ranged from another magician, to storytellers and musicians, to a lady who comes in and teaches a little orienteering and runs a treasure hunt. The idea is to promote reading and the library to children throughout the summer. Some libraries have enough budget to have a performer every week (the Summer Reading Program is usually about 6 weeks long.), others might have one every year, and that with the help of the Chilis grant.
We know most of the librarians by now. Over the last six years, we have been on the roster an unprecedented five times, and the one year we weren't on the roster we were awarded a spot on the Master Artist’s grant. The grant doesn’t come to us directly, but to libraries that apply for money to cover all or part of our fee. However, only certain performers are eligible for the grant - hence the roster. Yesterday we took Johann with us, and he was the hit of the day. I think everyone there (all 125 or so) came by to meet him and coo and exclaim what a good-natured little boy he was. Several told us that we would be coming to their libraries this summer, so already the efforts are paying off.
Mostly, yesterday was about greeting old friends, making new ones, and showing off what we do. Mr. Phil made everyone laugh, and both of us came away from it with a renewed sense that what we do is worthwhile. We realized - or at least, he did - I never doubted - that we are in the same class as performers who travel all over New England and are feted as great. Mr. Phil has a gift for making kids laugh and for teaching them without letting them know he’s doing it. Children remember him and ask for him all year long. I loved talking to librarians who reported that people had been asking about him all winter long.
One new librarian started just after Mr. Phil did a show at her library this January, and she told us that her group had been telling her all about him for three weeks after she started. Another took a different approach to Mr. Phil and I by asking me to please put pictures of our children up on the website. You see, all these ladies have watched our family grow. I was very pregnant with Juliet the first time I met most of them, at our first Chilis conference, and our little girls have been to some of their libraries, and to conferences, and now Johann with his happy little personality is charming them again. I feel like I have so many friends there, and they are so fond of the girls and Phil is makes me warm and happy just thinking about it.
As you can see, it was an eventful and long day. To top it off, we made some new performer friends, and renewed our acquaintance with other. I met Steve Blunt’s parents. He is a singer/songwriter, and they were very sweet, and very proud of him. We met the magician and his assistant, the Almodarrs, who were very nice people and very talented. He and Mr. Phil had so much in common it was funny, and we wives were laughing together about our magicians. Phil got to talk to T-Bone, who wrote a song twenty years ago called the Existential Blues that Phil has in his favorites collection. It turns out the Tom (T-bone) is a brother in the Lord, has a three-year old son with Autism, and his wife went to the same college we did. To top it off he gave Phil an autographed 45 of the song, and sent hula skirts from his act home for the girls. Sometimes life just overflows with blessings.
To top it all off, when we got home Phil sat and held Johann while I did dinner, and he was kissing Yo all over his face, which made Yo belly-la ugh. I think that is the greatest sound ever - a baby’s belly laugh.

Friday, March 03, 2006

If a poem is a snapshot of one’s soul, then these are pictures of my emotionally turbulent late-teens.

When I am dead and gone
Others will not know me
Not know my dreams, my fancy.
What was in life a brilliant jewel
Will but faded glass be.

I regret it never,
Because I know what will be.
Another my pity what was me;
My faded glass to their jewel.
I may be gone, but my children shall be!

EEk. I think that was written in November 1994 isn’t it awful. I wasn’t even thinking about marriage then, let alone children, so I don’t know where this came from.

Babies smell
Like milk
And soap
And Bananas.
(At least
If they have
Eaten them
Babies wave
Their arms and legs
While chortling.
Babies look cuddly
And sometimes are.
Babies cry
Cackle, and eat
A baby eating
Screws her face up
And munches
On her pudding.
Babies’ hair
Is so fine
And so light
That it floats
And sparkles
Like a halo.
Babies can’t talk
But communicate
Babies are precious,
Babies are valuable,
Do you want one?

Written in May of 1996, this was a playful question of Phil, when we thought we were getting married in a month. (his response to this poetic question was a firm No!) We did get married a year later, and then Glady came along in 1999, but she didn’t change my opinions about babies. That had to be one of the first times I ever babysat.

Poem for a Child on Christmas Eve

Look, child, beloved one, look!
Out here, just at the window.
Can you see, like a fairy brook,
The frost creep out the window?

Look beyond, far-sight, to see
The flakes drift down to cover
And hide the bare-brown tree.
This one, look here, soome to hover.

Each precios crytal flake
Rejoiced by you, my little friend
Will join with others to make
The very best sledding without end.

Falling, drifting, sleepy eyes
Your head is nodding, little one.
When your head on its pillow lies
You may dream of gifts and fun.

For tomorrow is celebration,
The best time of year for you,
And your joyous exaltation
Shall ring out, loud and true.
‘Tis Christmas.

I wrote this just before Christmas 1994, I guess I was already feeling the disconnect from my family - or maybe feeling nostalgic about my own childhhood. Phil’s note on the margin, dating from 1996, soon after we started dating, is to save this one for our kids.

I have a lot of poetry from 1994 to 1998, but I think most of it is just too terrible to ever see the light of day. Some of it is too tearingly personal for me to bare my soul to others, and a few, very few, I will reprint here. I am reminding myself of where I’ve been, in order to see where I am going, and how far the road has come since then.