Sunday, May 31, 2015


So three years ago, James looked like this:


Last month, when he turned three, he looked like this:


(we cut his hair last week and the curls are gone. Sob. And then the teachers at preschool made a big deal about how good it looked because "Now he looks like a boy," which makes me want to grow it out until it's to his waist. But his hair was a little too egregiously in his eyes and I don't need any of my children to be Cousin It)

What can I say about a three-year-old James? He loves baby dolls and stuffed animals, trains, cars and legos. He's fascinated by the alphabet and trying to count to twenty.

I am coming to the conclusion more and more that I gave birth to my father. James is gentle and considerate - he apologizes if he accidentally hurts someone and solicitously asks if we're okay if we cry out in pain. He's fastidious - he asks for a wipe if his hands get dirty and I suspect he mastered using eating utensils as early as he did because they're neater. He's neat - he will often clean up toys he scatters or things he spills without prompting. He's mild-mannered - even though he has an enviable attention span which makes it hard to redirect him away from things we don't want him to have, he'll sulk for a little while instead of throwing a full-blown tantrum when denied things. Even when he does tantrum, he calms quickly and easily.

Of course, these traits are all for relative values of being three. Does he throw tantrums, make yogurt art, happily strew toys hither and yon and refuse to share? Of course he does. He's three. He just does those things so much less than our previous three-year-olds.

All in all, it adds up to a pretty stinkin' cute kid. I think we'll keep him around for another year.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cinematic observations

* We are watching Into the Woods, the movie version. Red Riding Hood's initial encounter with the wolf just ended and I have to say I'm starting to agree with some of the criticisms I've heard of it. While the Wolf in the stage play is about the farthest thing from subtle, the movie version goes a lot farther in turning subtext into gigantic neon blinking visible-from-space text, which added to the much younger actress for Red tips over into uncomfortably creepy.

* On the whole I feel this is an excellent adaptation. I saw it in the theatre over Christmas vacation with my mother and mother-in-law and enjoyed it immensely. Ooh, we just reached Agony, which is so deliciously over the top I can barely stand it. It's one of the couple places they make excellent use of the change in medium too (the other significant one being On the Steps of the Palace).

* I saw the third Hobbit movie with B and my brother over Christmas as well and, well, it was only my good manners that prevented me from pulling my phone out to read something since bright glowing things are distracting in a dark theatre. I think I hit peak orc-slaying during the last movie and I'm now full to the brim when it comes to dead orcs. Though I did appreciate the appearance of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.

* Finally, I took Katherine to see Cinderella Thursday evening and you know, I never quite realized what a slim story that really can't fill two whole hours effectively it is. Mind you, it didn't really help that they just didn't do a great job of making it an interesting movie (they were clearly trying to make it funny, with moments clearly telegraphing, "We are being funny and whimsical here! You will laugh now, yes?" Er, no. Nice try though). But it still didn't help that the source material isn't a very long story. The animated Disney version is just over an hour, and really, that's just about the right amount.

Katherine liked it, but she's nine years old, so the movie was really made precisely for her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cabin fever update

I think the last week hit its apotheosis last night with the following conversation:

Me: Why is there popcorn all over the floor?
Alec: I wanted popcorn.
Me: You know you're supposed to get someone to help you make popcorn.
Alec: Can I have popcorn?

Because I have to report, dear Reader, that a full pound of unpopped popcorn was scattered over the kitchen and dining room floor, like some sort of cold popcorn bomb had gone off (it was also all the way down the hall and into our bedroom beyond plausible range of spray, which is why I suspect extra shenanigans were going on). That pretty much was the capper for the past week.

We made it through last week, with the two snow days and three days of school at home because of parent-teacher conferences. Then Monday turned out to be the monthly teacher inservice day at the older kids' school. Meanwhile, James developed an ear infection and missed the other day of preschool last week and trapping us inside, even when the weather wasn't that bad.

Today everyone went to school. I took a nap.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I have, I confess, been aggressively avoiding real life for the past couple months. Not shirking any real life responsibilities, of course. But I've been avoiding the news, and forms of entertainment that require any sort of active input from me in favor of extremely fluffy passive entertainment. But it's been 2 1/2 months and it's probably time to come out of hibernation.

I dipped my toes in the waters of reality again a while ago when I compromised on the news blackout by putting the NPR news feed on my rss reader, so I at least see the headlines even if I don't read the details. And now maybe it's time to attempt some output, even if the majority of my entertainment continues to be about as shallow as a contact lens.


This was not a good week for a snowpocalypse, especially one that fizzled quite as spectacularly as it did here. I know further north they're getting the real deal, but we were promised something around a foot, and instead I think we've gotten maaaybe two inches in the past two days. Despite this, school let out early yesterday and wasn't in session at all today. That's not such a big deal, especially since was off work as well.

However, when you add that to the three days of cyber days the older kids have thanks to parent-teacher conferences Wednesday through Friday, meaning they'll do school on their computers at home, and that makes an entire week of trapped inside with three children. I fear I may begin to resemble Jack Nicholson by the end of the week. At the very least, I suspect I will be sprinting out the door to work on Saturday.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

A quiet day for us, followed by packing for the trip to Michigan tomorrow. We are only halfway through our Christmas season and it has been quite good so far.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm constantly amazed at how James has grown from an easy and laidback baby to an easy and laidback toddler. The common wisdom is that easy babies become hellish toddlers, but so far I've braced myself at every age that was difficult with his siblings for trouble that never came.

I'm sure at some completely inocuous age like 6 he'll turn into a complete demonseed just to mess with us, but in the meantime, he's such a pleasant toddler. He doesn't even tantrum much. He does some, of course, but mostly when he's thwarted or he can't get across what he wants to us, he hangs head and slumps his shoulders in despair, exactly like this:

Then when you figure it out and give him what he wants, he dances with joy exactly like this:

It makes it very hard to say no to him. Tantrums I can ignore, but despair is much more heartrending, especially since his dance of joy is so fricking cute.

Of course, realizing my child is essentially channeling Peanuts characters makes me a little sorry that I never thought to a second boy Rerun.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Black Stallion meets Frankenstein

I made a decent amount of progress at work today on my project of getting all of the children's collection in the computer catalog. My goodness, I never realized quite how many Black Stallion books there are though. The Black Stallion, The Black Stallion Returns, The Black Stallion Revolts, Son of Black Stallion, The Black Stallion and Satan, The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt, The Black Stallion Meets the Three Stooges... it just goes on endlessly and we seem to have all of them. And here I thought there were a lot of Oz books, but apparently L. Frank Baum didn't know beans about churning books out compared to Walter Farley.

Friday, November 14, 2014


James is going through the sherpa stage of toddlerhood, where he must carry his most precious possessions with him at all times, his stubby little arms overflowing, until bedtime comes and they go into the crib with him. Which items are precious to him vary at any given moment, which is why we realized recently that he has been sleeping elevated a good six inches above his mattress, cushioned by stuffed animals, baby dolls, books and most memorably last night, a doll stroller.

We have taken to calling him Smaug.

All proper dragons sleep on their treasure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today was an unusual treat - B had the day off for Veteran's Day, but all of the kids still had school.  So we celebrated by going to see Big Hero 6.

We had been planning to save it for Thanksgiving since it's something we can take the entire family to, but after what happened when we went to see the last Muppet movie (all of our children lost their tiny little minds in their own special way), we decided that since we actually wanted to see it, we would treat ourselves to a viewing which didn't include chasing a two-year-old.  Also, Alec has been getting scared really easily lately, so we thought it would be prudent to pre-screen it and now that I've seen it, I'm not sure he can handle it.

In any case, we loved it.  There was the exquisite animation, of course.  But it also managed that tricky balance of humor some much more serious emotions.  How we handle grief could be seen as the predominant theme, and they did a decent, thoughtful job of it.  Plus some really cool action sequences.  Definitely stay through the credits for the stinger at the end - it's highly worth it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lost weekend

So!  As it turns out, codeine packs quite a punch.  I've spent the past couple evenings essentially passed out due to cough syrup.  Surprising, because I'm not usually that sensitive to drowsy-making things.  I guess my decision not to take any cough syrup during the day was a good one, both for my productivity at work and being able to stay awake to prevent the children from burning the house down.

On the plus side, the theory that stopping the cough will help the irritation calm down seems to be panning out.  I've been regular with the inhaler as well, and while it's not gone completely, I'm coughing a lot less, and it no longer feels like an elephant is standing on my chest - more like a small pony.  Progress!