Bits and pieces

Claire, after running laps in the cul-de-sac: “I can feel my heart beep!”


One of those words that Henry learned by reading instead of hearing: he says it as “invent-ory” (like “owlery, or smithery”, not inventory.) And he thinks of it as where the inventions are kept. I love that to bits, Kevin started to correct him and I frantically waved him off. I love the idea of a little boy with an entire wing of inventions. (Even if they ARE all planes.)


Talking about snow at dinner, and how we hope it snows this year, when Claire chimed in:
“Do you remember when we knocked over the snowman and found the grass?!”

Kevin and I were astounded, the kids didn’t see snow in person at all last year, so I think she’s talking about the early-December 2014 snowstorm when she was just two!! So amazing that at four she still remembers it (and that it’s the first time she’s mentioned it!!)


Claire, recently, loves adding units to numbers to emphasize how impressive they are.

“This book was 100% pages!!” (She meant it had a lot of pages.)
“I waited 17 inches long.” (A long time.)
One of the kids in her class turned five. “He turned five! and now he’s so tall. He’s five million tall.”


Claire, in her scientific observation voice, riding in the backseat: “Our voice doesn’t evaporate in here.”

(She meant echo, which is doesn’t do either. :-))

A house for Halloween

In the last week the house has suddenly gotten very festive, and it’s almost entirely thanks to the kids. I set it off. First, on a rare night where no one went to sleep (very rare since the beginning of Sept, they’re both still tuckered out by the school schedule, Henry even went so far last weekend as to explain how great naps are, he didn’t used to like them but now he does…), and in a quest to use up some of the kitchen craft stash, I taped up a few leaves next to the microwave.

They’re sort of performance art – they fall constantly, and we have to reattach them.

Claire took one and put it on my dinner table décor, so then I added many, many more – so pretty!

Well, by the time I’d woken up the next morning, Henry had added a candy, pumpkin or candy corn tied with a string to all the important doors in the house. He also added a jack-o-lantern for each of us to gaze upon. :-) I was delighted. And then he kept going… a Happy Halloween sign with a jackolantern at each end for the book shelf:

A ghost + pumpkins for the fish room shelf.

A fireplace-sitting pumpkin to keep Claire’s pumpkin from her very first pre-K field trip company (the field trip to the farm was a HUGE deal. She brought a lunch in a lunch box! And rode a bus! With a seat belt, not a car seat! And the farm had a pig (so immense, and so totally not what she thought pigs were like. She’s still talking about it. And after much worrying about whether they’d run out of pumpkins, they didn’t! and Claire chose one she thought was perfect. Now it’s living in a place of honor on our fish-room fireplace. And now she would like to go on her next field trip tomorrow.)

Claire is no slouch, she absconded with the hole punch, made impressive art, and taped it to her already-awesome pumpkin.

Then Henry made a large ghost family and taped it to the end of the counter. (We’d talked about not taping things to paint, and this was astute of him – a large display surface, but these cabinets are not on my protected list.)

And then he outdid himself after reading all the Halloween picture books when I finally got them down: a creepy tree with a spider web, plus bats. He looked up the phase of the moon that day on his moon calendar. (I love the accuracy.) If he’d asked, I probably would have been cranky and told him not to affix sparkly star stickers to my horrible 1980s oak cabinets but he didn’t ask and I love stickers. Happy October!!

Henry has officially run out of orange construction paper and is down to his last sheet of black. :-) I am so enthusiastic about getting more, I love that the house is getting more and more Halloweenish. Kids are awesome.


I was pleased that the kids were so impressed when I brought a tiny pumpkin home from the grocery store. And now it’s sitting with the fall pumpkin holders, lending some beauty to dinner.

And it makes the prettiest view from my vantage point on the couch.

Something tells me we will go through a lot of tea lights this year.

Shar and Andrew’s visit

One of Andrews best friends from college is getting married this weekend in Seattle (lucky us!!). Shar mentioned it when we were in San Francisco last spring, so I’ve had a long time to look forward to this visit, and more so now that it’s a milestone — the last time we’ll see them before the baby arrives! I didn’t envy Sharon the trip (esp since she’s also been on work trips to New York and Chicago in the last two weeks), but I’m so glad we got to see them, and for a great, long, five hour visit.

The kids were SO excited to have them here, as usual. :-) This sign appeared on our door last night in anticipation:

I laughed at us, if they’d stayed still, Shar and Andrew would have quickly become fenced in by a rising pile of toys and objects that started the second they walked in the door. Claire kept racing away to bring more cool things to show them. Henry was a step behind, but, laughably, I kept doing it, too. “Shar, come see my new path! My flowers! My couch!” :-) They showed up bearing an amazing assortment of pastries from Phinney Ridge – we all caught up, then sat to enjoy the panoply. Then off to play!

In the Lego Zone with Henry.

A rocket reenactment with flashlights.

Shar doing some serious multitasking.

Andrew continues to be a good sport.

Laughing in the kitchen with lunch almost ready, the first version of this “sisters” photo had me accidentally holding a spatula.

Baby’s first hand knits! (and, not shown, first book! “That’s not my duck”, a cousin of “that’s not my penguin” which we read to tatters.) I cast on for the sweater the day before we left for North Carolina, and finished it in early September. A sweet, soft, bright spot of a knit. It’s definitely a newborn sweater, will only last a few weeks. But those weeks will be around Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and the New Year (which is a lot of color schemes), and I also wanted something that could be quiet enough to go over a lot of sleepers without blinding Shar & Andrew. So a neutral — gray for Sharon (and coziness, Seattle family who will be thinking of him, San Francisco fog banks, and the short days of December), and little bands of sunshine/candle light/joy/hope brimming at the edges. I hope it’s soft and cozy for the baby, and also feels like a hug for Shar & Andrew when they hold him while he’s wearing it.

We also packed them off with many of our hand-me-downs. Many newborn to 6-month clothes and hand knits. A sleep sack/swaddle. One of the mini travel cribs that I used as a bed-side bassinet, and during meals and meal prep and dishes during the early months, and later to contain Claire once she was big enough to sit while I was in the shower. It even made a showing in the blog post from Shar’s trip here 4 years ago. Gracious, a lot has happened since then!!) I hope they are useful and great.

After lunch, the kids went for a late nap, and we had a great catchup in the family room. It was great to hear about Andrew’s new job, Sharon’s promotion, their new apartment (and see pictures, it looks gorgeous and the views are so pretty, plus the tales of the nearby bakery and ice cream shop have the kids ready to visit asap), all the plans for daycare/leave/a new car/the new garage space/crib set ups, etc.

It was the best day, I’m so grateful that the schedules worked and that Shar and Andrew were able to give us so much of their day. And now I’m just wishing Shar a calm work schedule for the next two months, and steady progress on the baby’s room, a good car to appear, and a baby who stays put until the proper time (sounds like she’s hearing all the premie stories that used to scare me). A healthy, happy third trimester. :-)

Henry cried when he woke up from nap he was so disappointed the visit was over. I know how he felt.


Ending on a happier note than crying because the visit was over… Everyone a bit later, regrouped and ready for family game night! There’s a lot happening in this photo – Claire is exclaiming that she plays this game at her school! She sorts them into groups! And she wins on every card!! Henry is half concentrating on his cards and the new-to-him rules, and half taking issue with Claire’s “I win on every card!” philosophy. Sometimes her bubbly four-year-old frame of mind is completely beyond him. (This is also the last photo of Henry before a suddenly-overdue haircut.) Meanwhile Kevin takes his Uno very seriously. :-) Actually joking, he takes Parcheesi very seriously but this was just a flash of concentration. I should have asked people to look up and smile. :-)

I was proud of Henry – he came in fourth (ie dead last) three times in a row, and was genuinely sad about it, but kept an even keel and swallowed back the disappointment quickly, and didn’t lose his temper at all. Not bad. And good sportsmanship. I was also impressed at Claire, she remembered about saying Uno every time, and caught the rules right away – numbers and colors are old hat enough to her that she didn’t have to think hard about which card to play. We played the first game with our cards down and visible to everyone. For the second, Kevin asked if the kids could keep their cards secret, and Claire said, “Yes! I’ll keep them into my body. And when I need to know them I’ll use my eyes.” :-)

We ended on Hoot Owl Hoot (a collaborative game, and funny if you take their advice to hoot out loud every time you skip over an owl, like you’re saying hi). Rather a palate cleanser, and we were all happy at the end. That might become the new ending game for game night, not least because Claire isn’t at an age where she cares about the suspense of “winning games” and tends to wander off mid-game, so this is a nice way to end with all four of us playing.