Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kids' Book Club: Heidi

Towards the beginning of this school year {this school year!  oh yes!  we are homeschooling and I've been meaning to post something here for posterity about it for months now but haven't done so!} my friend Jackie spearheaded putting together a children's literature club which has turned into a tremendous success already and has been such fun for kids and parents alike.  Jackie hosted the first two meetings, for which we read first The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald and then The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin.  

We had offered to host this month's meeting, and the book was Heidi, which is a great favorite of Nell's already.  She had been eagerly anticipating this day for several weeks now. I think about nine families participated this time in reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri and coming to today's book club meeting.  So many people brought a little something to add to the festivities and altogether we had quite a luncheon spread followed by some fun activities.  

First, the girls wanted to dress for the occasion.  We are tremendously lucky to already have in our possession two beautiful dirndls that fit them nicely and seemed eminently appropriate for the occasion.  These were a thoughtful gift from a woman who knows my love of vintage and classic girls' clothing; they used to be her girls' dresses and my girls are quite lucky to be their new owners.  Molly's little dress was a thrift store find from years ago which seemed to fit the occasion.  And Ree's hat, made in Switzerland, was another thrift store find from some time ago.

And they were not the only ones in costume -- quite a few other Heidis soon arrived, as well as several Peters, a Brigida (Peter's mother), a baby goat, and even the dreaded Miss Rottenmeier!  

I put on a youtube playlist of Alpine music with accordions and yodeling -- it is perhaps a little-known fact about me that I have a disturbing obsession with yodeling, so this was sort of a highlight of the experience for me.  Any excuse to listen to yodeling!  

If you've read Heidi, you know that the main meals consist of bread, and cheese, and goat's milk, and more cheese, and more goat's milk, and more bread.  So naturally, we needed to have these things in abundance.

I baked some fresh loaves of sourdough bread.

{And then Rebekah brought some of hers too, so there was plenty to go around!}

And thanks to Trader Joe's, we had a variety of cheeses in abundance.  I looked for raclette but failing to find it went with a Swiss gruyere, a goat's milk gouda, and a raw goat's milk cheddar.  {The gouda even had this cute rind!}

We sliced up sourdough and topped it with cheese slices and broiled them like an open-faced grilled cheese of sorts.  I was inspired by Heidi's grandfather toasting cheese over an open fire on a fork and then spreading it on bread.  I figured with 24 small children in the house we'd do well to avoid open flames but a bit of broiled melty cheese on bread could lend a similar experience.

A couple of families brought delicious salamis to add to the spread, and we had dried apricots and fresh clementines and fresh strawberries, too, which didn't make it into the picture but were quickly devoured.  Did I mention there were {if I recall correctly} 24 children here?  Did you know that 24 children can pack away a lot of food at an unbelievably fast pace?  Another mom brought Swedish sweet rolls with raisins in them as well -- delicious!  And yet another brought goat's milk for all the children to try.  

Kerrie brought a butter churn and cream and the kids went to work on that -- I only got a very blurry picture but a good time was had.

Quite a few of the kids did illustrations of their own to bring and share, and we went around and shared some of our favorite moments from the story.

Christina brought a little hymn to sing all together, in keeping with Peter's grandmother's beloved hymn book and with the theme of flocks {of goats}!

Charity brought a bouquet of flowers so the children could "pick" a wildflower {despite it being January} and take it home with them.  Some of the little girls tucked them straight into their braids today, and my girls put theirs into a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill. 

And finally, although Heidi doesn't make mention of any chocolate even in the "glittering cage" of her time in Frankfurt, it seemed fitting to hand out bits of Swiss chocolate as the book club gathering drew to a close.  

What a fun gathering it was.  I thought of the grandmother's hymn, with a verse that reads:

God's handiwork
Is seen around,
Things great and small
To His praise abound-
Where are the signs of His love not found?

And indeed, in this little gathering of friends with a shared love for a good book, there was many a sign in the things great and small we enjoyed together.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Dreams of a Kitchen Renovation

The other day I found myself with an exceptionally rare late afternoon entirely to myself, as Nathan took the kids on an extensive errand -- his method of compensating for outings ranging from the bizarre to the ridiculous is, naturally, to offer to take the children with him for a nice "outing" with Daddy.  And of course, it works.  Not only because what child doesn't want to drive over an hour so that Daddy can acquire for himself a new power tool he found on Craigslist for a mere song, but moreso, because what mother doesn't relish the idea of curling up on her couch with a soft blanket by the light of the Christmas tree to the blissful sound of silence?

I told Nathan I'd either use the time to look at ideas for a kitchen remodel, or to clean our master bedroom.  He admonished me to most definitely sit on the couch and look at kitchen ideas on my laptop, and so I did so out of a sense of duty.

We are tossing around the idea, rather seriously actually, of re-doing our kitchen during the coming year.


Because my formica countertops are peeling and cracking, my recently re-caulked old drop-in sink is already black around the edges and gross again, the faux brick on the walls is chipping off {and was ugly to begin with}, the windowsill above the sink needs to be repainted yet again at the very least, the footprint is all wrong for a family that cooks and bakes as much as we do, and also, why not?  We like nice things.  As it turns out, we like things far nicer than we deserve to like or can afford to like, but so it goes.  We can also be quite happy with less-than-nice things if necessary.


What would you expect of a musician employed by a church married to another musician?  Over-the-top-wealth is what you get.  Okay, that was a joke, but we do think if we finagle things just right we could manage to renovate our kitchen sooner rather than later, and thus have more years ahead of us to enjoy it with our children rather than waiting until everyone is grown and gone and we are sad and lonely // calm and happy {depending how that all plays out}.


Soon.  But not too soon.  Not before we have a plan in place.  Because whereas Nathan thrives on mental planning ahead without actually putting things into place too much, I think I would thrive if the kitchen didn't turn into a two-year project that involved myself cooking over a camping stove for that length of time.  {Two-year project?!  I'm looking at you, downstairs bathroom.}

So, when?

Oh, yeah, we should finish the downstairs bathroom first.  So, soon, but not too soon, but after we finish the bathroom.

What will it look like?

I mean, it will probably look pretty much like this:

Image result for officine gullo

Ha.  Ha.  Okay, that was a joke because we aren't independently wealthy.

Anyway, here's where it gets tricky.

Too much large stainless steel in a small-ish space just sort of looks grim to me.  And/or industrial rather than home-y.  But have you noticed it's hard to find alternatives in a reasonable price range?  Black?  No thank you.  White?  Well, maybe.  Some white I like.  But don't try to narrow it down by going to look at appliances in person, because they only have stainless steel options in showrooms.  Very un-helpful, if you ask me.

Now, if you know us at all you know that Nathan and I love nothing more than to marinate in ideas of perfection and then allow ourselves to sink slowly into a depressive state of misery when we cannot achieve said perfection.  I mean, we don't actually love it but it does appear to be our calling card.  We like nicer things than we can afford, I guess.  We have good taste?  But a bank account considerably smaller than our taste.  It's not even that we like extravagant things or McMansions {we don't}; it's just that we like classic things and enduring things and beautiful things over say, formica and pre-fabbed things that all look the same and IKEA {but nothing against IKEA; we actually love IKEA in the right time and place}.

But in all seriousness--

I am really excited about this whole process.  And while it probably looks easy enough to find some images of perfection, and sit around looking at pretty pictures while waiting for Nathan to do the work, this is only partly true.

Did you know it's weirdly hard to find pictures of beautifully-simple-yet-fancy-and-perfect kitchens that strike the perfect balance of all things good, true, and beautiful in my convoluted mind?  If you do a google image search for "the fanciest kitchen in the world," you have to scroll for a shockingly long time before you find a single image that is even remotely acceptable.  Modify the search to "the nicest kitchen in the world" and the results are similarly disappointing.  If you try "the most perfect kitchen in the world" you will at least get some decent results within the first page.  Like, one or two decent ones.  I can only conclude that Google has poor taste, or the entire world does, except for myself and Nathan.

So, in the process of dreaming about redesigning your kitchen, here's a little step-by-step tutorial from a pro interior designer possibly insane individual:

ONE) The very first thing you must do is to read John Ruskin's The Seven Lamps of Architecture.  It's available online for free, so you have no excuse not to read it.  It is unparalleled.  Well, actually, I haven't finished it yet.  It's a slow read.  But read this paragraph {regarding the building of churches} and tell me you don't want to go read it all!  Marinate in it!
I have said for every town: I do not want a marble[Pg 25] church for every village; nay, I do not want marble churches at all for their own sake, but for the sake of the spirit that would build them. The church has no need of any visible splendors; her power is independent of them, her purity is in some degree opposed to them. The simplicity of a pastoral sanctuary is lovelier than the majesty of an urban temple; and it may be more than questioned whether, to the people, such majesty has ever been the source of any increase of effective piety; but to the builders it has been, and must ever be. It is not the church we want, but the sacrifice; not the emotion of admiration, but the act of adoration: not the gift, but the giving. 
TWO) The very next thing to do, after giving considerably towards the building of a church you love, is to use what is left over to build a kitchen that looks like this.  Here I will share two pictures that sum up my long-time dream kitchen of all time, which I have drooled over for literally years. Somewhere between these two pictures lies perfection incarnate, probably.

Planning our DIY kitchen remodel… here is the explanation of how we chose cabinets; I wanted custom, inset cabinets! But we are choosing overlay, semi custom.

Martha Stewart Living editor in chief Pilar Guzman; her husband, Chris Mitchell; and their two boys, Willem and Henry, gather in the kitchen of their Brooklyn brownstone. "We spend about 80 percent of our time here," Pilar says. The couple retrofitted the room, which was originally a formal parlor, as a kitchen; former closets house appliances and dishes, and a marble-top island was built by designer Tyler Hays.

THREE) The next thing you must do is to look at other beautiful possibilities until your eyes nearly glaze over.  For example, while the above kitchens are the perfect kitchens, also acceptable in lieu of the open shelving in the first picture would be something like this:

Or this:

Luigi Fragola Architects:  S. Monaca townhouse, Florence, Italy

Nathan, can you photo-shop the above images together and then build me a kitchen that looks like that?  Yes?  Thank you.

It is also very important that it contain some element of this timeless beauty, this utmost perfection:

Inspiration for our old-house, DIY kitchen remodel… I love the idea of using salvaged or repurposed materials in place of a traditional kitchen cabinets.

I can find very few objections to this:

light blue kitchen cabinets, black countertop, tile floor, brass flush fixtures + range

While we're at it, I would like one of these:

And something kind of like this.
Image result for antique butler's pantry

Basically, I told Nathan, I've been wanting you to buy me The Crane Estate and you haven't done it, but this is your chance for redemption.  As long as I can have all the things in this theoretically renovated kitchen, with ample space for sourdough bread baking and kombucha fizzing and doing all the other things Nathan hates {like making food that contains vegetables}, I will be happy, no purchase of the entire Crane Estate necessary.  I would, however, like library ladders that slide along the walls and lead to my highest cabinets.  Our kitchen ceilings are only about eight feet tall, but never mind that, because maybe we can just borrow the space from the second floor bathroom, and like, raise the floor a little higher.  Or drop the kitchen floor lower and lower the basement ceiling.  I'm flexible with the options like that.

I'm flexible on the details, like I said.  But I definitively must have a butler's pantry.  

Don't you have a butler pining for a pantry?  {We don't yet, but I'm planning to get one when we remodel the kitchen.}

Yes, I realize that my taste for the finer things far exceeds our station in life, and I'm more likely to BE the butler than to have one.  Nevertheless, this knowledge does little to curtail my enthusiasm for all things beautiful and kitchen-related.  What can I say? Coastal elitism.  It's a thing, and it appears to have seeped into my veins after living in New England for over a decade.

FOUR) Eventually you will have to un-glaze your eyes and begin to consider the practical, nitty-gritty stuff like appliances.

I will now confess that I have an appliance problem.   But {don't hate me} I think most appliances are ugly.  And as Victoria Elizabeth Barnes would say, "Bring me fancy or get out!"  I know -- most people have appliances.  So by saying that I find them unattractive I am likely offending approximately 100% of the people I know.  But there you have it.  I do not love the look of most of them.  And while I understand that their primary function isn't to be looked at, I also find it hard to cook with my eyes closed.

As standard appliances go, I have so far found one option that could be a possibility in terms of aesthetic.  They are highly reviewed for function, too!  These are the GE Cafe line of appliances, which offers various styles of slide in ranges, standalone ranges, and even a wall oven that opens with french doors!  You get to customize your trim metal, which of course is everything.

Cafe 36 Inch Freestanding Gas Range Matte White CGY366P4MW2

GE Cafe 30" Built-In Double Convection Wall Oven with Top French Door in Matte White and Brushed Bronze Handles

Now, if you have a small fortune lying around, the thing to do is to go immediately and acquire one of these ranges:

Image result for lacanche range

Oh my. Copper pots and white Lacanche range .

Why are you still here reading this blog?  Go get a Lacanche range already!  These thing are beauties and in my opinion it's just undeniable that I should have one.  I would sacrifice buying groceries for a year to justify the cost.  I would consider selling a kidney on the black market.  I would love it and cherish it and design my whole kitchen around it as a thing of beauty.

The other main appliance to be considered is, of course, the refrigerator.  I asked Nathan if we could just keep ours in the basement, and he laughed at me.  I asked him if he could build me a pantry-like cabinet to put it inside, and he laughed at me again.  "You mean like a panel-front refrigerator?" he asked.  "No, because those look weird and imposing and slightly awkward sometimes.  It needs to be better than that."  At which point he immediately promised to procure for me a panel-front or integrated refrigerator and then make sure it was not ugly or awkward looking.  Yay!  Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, of course, has some good ideas.

This could work:

As could this:

Custom panels help this built-in refrigerator melt into the surrounding all-white kitchen.

And this!  This! I mean, I'm assuming one of those is a fridge but it's anybody's guess.  All of them fridges for a very large family?  A fridge beside a pantry?  Who knows?  Either way, they look like cabinets instead of mortuary coolers so I'm willing to consider it.
Amy Zantziger's #farmhouse kitchen.  When the refrigerator and the cookbook cabinet doors are closed, the room appears elegant and uncluttered.

FIVE) Track down other tidbits of finery:

Have you seen the Rev-a-Shelf website?  There is a bread drawer option.  Need I say more?

...And without too much effort you can go way down that rabbit hole.

For example: We should obviously have a hot water tap to eliminate the need to ever boil water again.  And maybe a filtered drinking water faucet water beside the main kitchen tap.

And furthermore: Not even optional but absolutely required is an ice machine that makes that soft kind of nugget-sized ice because I love it more than anything, so much so that I periodically consider getting myself hospitalized so that I can have cupfuls of it because that's the main place I know of that has it - the hospital.  But what if I could have it in my own kitchen?  Then I wouldn't need to be hospitalized.  Problem solved!

Also!  We could turn an antique piece of furniture into a kitchen island for some historic charm in this old house of ours {but naturally topped with a reclaimed marble slab for all my makings of pie crusts and quiche crusts and other necessities}.

Love all of these unique kitchen island ideas including this antique chest of drawers!

SIX) Try to agree on at least one element so you have a valid starting point that lies somewhere within the realm of reality. Nathan thinks that 50% of what I say {at a minimum} lies within the realm of the ridiculous, but we have both agreed for several years now that when and if we redo the kitchen, we would love to do soapstone for the counters!  

Honed Virginia Jet Mist Granite.  The look of soapstone but not the maintenance or price

The cabinets are still undecided - white or maybe a light blue or gray?  But we have a starting point of agreement.

Except that as of yesterday Nathan is thinking about scrapping the whole project, selling the house, and buying a fixer upper of incomparable proportions (both in terms of current dismal-ness and future potential).  So instead of doing a kitchen renovation we could dream of renovating a{nother} entire house, while living in a ... tent?  The details of the hare-brained scheme are fuzzy at this point.  

In conclusion:

Nell was listening to me blather on about kitchens the other day, and this conversation transpired--

Nell: Mama, wouldn't you like to have a kitchen with a marble countertop?
Me: Yes, I suppose I would.
Nell: Well then you shall have one for Christmas!
Me: This Christmas, or next Christmas?
Nell: Well, probably next Christmas.  Because it's going to take some time.

Okay, then!  If time is all it takes, I've got time!

* * *

Want to live vicariously through me as I live vicariously through others?  Check out my pinterest board on kitchens!  And check out my other kitchen pinterest board here, where I specifically saved some things pertaining to the particular vintage of our 1917 house.  This is also a good way to track down all these image sources, since clearly I've been way too lazy to link them for you -- but most of them are on my pinterest somewhere!  If not, you can do a reverse image search and then pat yourself on the back for being less lazy than I am.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pondering God the Father

A not-altogether-uncommon scenario had me recently pondering God the Father in light of my own internal emotional failings as a mother.

Back in September or October, with the academic year newly underway, we were all a bit tired and being struck down one by one with colds.  I was filled with a dual sort of dread: so early in the fall, and already we were being struck down with illness; and also, it would just have to be that particular week, when I had three rehearsals and two concerts and would be getting very little sleep.

I was trying to catch a nap alongside Molly one day, the girls having been duly instructed to stay in their rooms and play quietly during their usual quiet time. Things began to unravel, as I was awakened a few moments after dozing off to the sounds of the two older girls squabbling loudly about something insignificant.

My first hazy thought as I was jolted awake?: "I'm about ready to kill them."

Then: "Is this how God feels?  When we're down here running around on earth just being wretched all the time?"

Oh wait.  No.  Quite the opposite, I guess.

I'm about ready to die for them.

But I really read them the riot act before quiet time!  I reminded them what was expected...!  I told them it was important!

Oh, you mean like the Ten Commandments?  Some basic rules?  Not too many but not too few?  Just a doable amount of rules?

But I really condensed it to just two things.  Stay in your rooms.  Play quietly.  Lots of freedom within that.  So much freedom!

Ah, two things.  Like love God and love your neighbor, for example?  How's that going down there?

Oh.  Right.  Good point.

Well, shoot then.

So there I was, and here I am, knee deep in this weird mixture of chaos and frustration and love.  Knee deep in my own sanctification.  I maintain that if I hadn't had children I might have labored under the illusion that I was an OK person.

How humbling it is to realize that not only have I not loved my neighbor as myself, but I have not even loved my own children as well as I ought.

She doesn't always sleep, but when she does, she's awfully cute.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Wendy, Peter Pan, & Tinker Bell

Well, Halloween 2018 is in the books, leaving me with a poignantly thematic sense that indeed, "All children, except one, grow up."

The older two girls have been much enamored with Peter Pan ever since seeing a family friend and babysitter starring as Wendy in her school production last year, and I am currently reading the book aloud to them, which they are loving.  It seemed a foregone conclusion since months ago when they first began dreaming about this Halloween, that a family of Peter Pan costumes was in order.  Daddy could be Captain Hook, of course!  And as for Mama, she had a rehearsal on the night in question, so it was a good thing that we had the essential characters of the story covered without me needing to be terribly involved.  All that was necessary was for me to acquire and/or make costumes for the little Darlings, so to speak.

Nell's costume consisted of a beautiful vintage dress and shoes that were gifted to us, Molly's was a second-hand costume I acquired, and Ree's was a shirt from Savers I embellished with felt leaves, an old belt of mine, a felt hat complete with requisite feather I made for her (she sat in my lap and helped me sew on the machine).  Her fabulous dagger was constructed for her by a friend at her request, and she was quite pleased with the outcome.  {Thanks, Patrick!}

{The Tink topknot was just slaying me with cuteness.}

“Forget them, Wendy. Forget them all. Come with me where you'll never, never have to worry about grown up things again.” 

"I can't fly."
"I'll teach you."
"Oh, how lovely to fly."
"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go."
"Oo!" she exclaimed rapturously.
"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."

"How sweet!" cried Wendy.
"Yes, I'm sweet, oh, I am sweet!" said Peter, forgetting his manners again.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

“Tink was not all bad... on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time."

"Wendy... Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys."

“Proud and insolent youth,” said Hook, “prepare to meet thy doom.” 

“Dark and sinister man,” Peter answered, “have at thee.” 

“Pan, who and what art thou?" 

"I'm youth, I'm joy," Peter answered at a venture, "I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg."

"Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very many inches..."

"Second to the right," said Peter, "and then straight on till morning."

“Come on, Tink,” he cried, with a frightful sneer at the laws of nature; “we don't want any silly mothers!”

“Keep back, lady, no one is going to catch me and make me a man.”

“Would you like an adventure now, or would like to have your tea first?”

In the end, the best laid plans were slightly thwarted, but adventure did indeed win out and a sprinkling of fairy dust and magic prevailed despite it all.  Nathan, who was slated to be Captain Hook in my inevitable absence and to take the kids trick-or-treating, was delayed in getting home thanks to unusual amounts of traffic on the commuter rail coming out of the city.  I had hoped he'd be home in time for me to at least do a portion of the neighborhood rounds with them all, but he arrived barely in time for me to snap a quick picture of them all together and dash out the door to my gig.  

I do believe that it was all "an awfully big adventure" for them, and a good time was had by all.

And I'm left with the sense that: "I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us."

Monday, June 18, 2018

Reeims, Vol. 5 {the four-year-old edition}

Marie turned four last month, and a few days after her birthday I lamented to a friend, mostly joking, "For a year I've been telling myself to just hang in there through the threes, to just wait until she turns four and it'll get easier, but here she is four and it's still the same!"  Surprisingly, it would appear that these maturations don't happen overnight, not even when birthdays are involved.

The thing about Ree, at the end of the day, is that she just defies any kind of labels or boxes.  She's equal parts sugar and spice, with some snips and snails thrown in for good measure.  Any time I think I have her figured out, she throws me a new curve ball and I'm scratching my head in wonderment again.  She's equally likely to creep quietly up to my bed in the morning and snuggle silently and sweetly beside me, or to come throw a wooden car at Molly's sleeping head at 5 am and then, when I send her down to her room and ask her to wait quietly for me, to scream unrelentingly, "I'M HUNGRY I'M HUNGRY I'M HUNGRY....!" until the entire household is awake.  {HYPOTHETICAL OF COURSE}

She's equally likely to be fiercely independent and refuse all forms of maternal or paternal aid, or to have a meltdown at the prospect of putting her own underwear on.

She can often be disdainfully dismissive of Daddy, and entirely preferential of Mama... and then she may run circles around the house for ten minutes when Daddy leaves for work, bemoaning the fact that he can't take her with him.

And sometimes she even has a fit because she needs to go potty but she doesn't want to.

Is this what age four is like, and I've forgotten how it was for Nell?  Or perhaps this is all peculiar to this specific child of mine?  In any case, there is a lot of screaming but also a lot of laughter, a lot of nonsense singing, and a lot of sweetness these days.

I think she could have a great future as a social justice warrior, because she feels things very strongly and advocates for human rights ceaselessly.  Well, actually so far she only advocates for her own rights, but ... we're working on it.  Often any corrections or admonitions on my part are met with, "That's not OK for you to talk to me like that!"  Or, "Hey! You're being rude to me!"  Or even the somewhat precocious, "Hey, be kind to me, because I'm only a small child!"  She's certainly doing her part to keep me at my best as a parent.

Several times a day, Ree will come to me wailing like a siren, and declare, "Nell hit me and kicked me and pounded me!"  Always all three in rapid succession like that!  And always a rather one-sided story I'm being told!  It's all I can do to keep a straight face every time, to tell the truth.  Something about the "pounded me" bit cracks me up every time!

Lest you think Nell is the only guilty party in these inevitable sibling altercations, I can attest that a common scenario around here involves some form of verbal provocation, examples of which include: 

"I love Mama and Daddy and Molly and everyone.  But not Nell."

"Nell is bad."

"Nell is not very fancy."

And other such subtle commentary.

Each of these types of comments {sometimes even set to song} is immediately followed by a sweet smile and, "Oh, I'm sorry Nell!  I'm sorry!  It was an accident!  I'm so sorry!"  Or sometimes, in an attempt to course-correct, "Nell is a fairy!  Nell is a princess!"

I genuinely think we will all laugh about these days someday, but in the meantime, if you see me and my hair is turning grey and I've developed a nervous twitch, you'll know why.  Ohhhhh very clever second child of mine.  Perhaps soon you can find a source of power outside of tormenting your extremely sensitive older sister?

{I'm only recording these exchanges here after a lot of thought -- will this someday reflect poorly on Ree?  Or are these the typical silly sibling clashes that we'll all have a good laugh about someday?  We're pretty sure it's the latter.}

She's tough as nails but also feels things strongly, like one morning recently when in a period of about a half hour she had been quite sad about:

not wanting to grow up
wanting to be a baby forever
wanting to keep her 'woof-woof cup' {dog shaped cup from IKEA} forever
wanting to have a hundred babies in our family
wanting Molly never to grow up
the devastating fact that Nathan had left to go to an appointment
wanting to marry Daddy someday
wanting to sit beside Mama at meals
wanting all her dresses to be twirlier

... and all of this culminated in Nell being sad too because she loves Marie so much and is so happy she'll have a sister forever.

{Sometimes I cannot even imagine what this household will be like when these girls become teenagers!  Let the good times roll!}

She calls swimsuits "swimswoots," a mustache a "mushtash," and pistachios "spasmashios."

* * *

I recently overheard her encouraging our robot vacuum, "Cinderella, you can do it!"

* * *

"Mom, what do sunflower seeds come from?  The sun?  Or seeds?  Which one?"

* * *

"When I was a little girl I used to pee and poop out of my foot."

* * *

"Princesses like yogurt."

* * *

When she was in the bathroom a little bit too long and things were a little bit too quiet, I dashed upstairs to check on her only to see her quickly shut the bathroom cabinet and say, innocently, "I was just checking on all your flosses and lotions and things."

"But where can Nell and I go to get married to our boys someday when we want to get married?"

* * *

Hiccupping: "I hicc-ed up."

* * *

{pointing to her side}: "I have a headache right here."

* * *

"Sometimes God laughs."

* * *

"Daddy doesn't like fruits or vegetables.  Sometimes boys just like chocolate."

* * *

"Elephants don't paint their nails."

* * *

Thoughtfully: "If a bear or a snake was eating you, you could just ask your Mom or Dad for help."

* * *

Walking into the music room one afternoon while I was teaching lessons, she turned a small end table  over on its side, and announced with pleasure, "It's an idiosyncrasy!"

Sampling a sip of a milkshake we were all sharing: "This is yummy!  I want all of the milkshakes!  So many milkshakes!!"  {I pretty much feel the same way, let's be honest}

* * *

Me: "What do you want for your special birthday dinner?"
Ree: "Carrots, and maybe some wine."

* * *

Me: "Ree, I need you to wash your hands now before dinner."
Ree: "Don't be mean to me! You're not in charge, only God is!"

* * *

Ree (talking about some friends) "... one of the sister boys."
Me: "That's called a brother."
Ree: "Oh yeah.  A brother."

* * *

Feeling indignant: "Molly's smiling at me and it's not very polite because I'm sick today so she shouldn't be smiling."

* * *

Talking to her baby doll: "You are beautiful.  But you ate too much food last night and now you are all plumped up and your belly button might fall out."

* * *

"Hey Mama, you are super huge and big."   {#blessed as always by her uplifting comments!}

* * *

As I took a completely plain, not-yet-decorated brown grapevine wreath out of my car, Ree noticed it and exclaimed, "Is that for us?? Is that for our door??  It's SUPER CUTE."

 When she was sick with a stomach bug recently, she started whispering miserably, "Hoop!  Hoop!"  I asked her what she meant, and she replied, "'Hoop' just means you're not feeling very good and you might need a snuggle."

* * *

"Mama, I remember when you broke your foot once.  But now you have a new one so I guess it's OK!"

* * *

Watching me do a workout DVD: "Those ladies are not wearing very many clothes.  I don't want to see their icky icky bodies!  I only want to see my Mama!"

And later during the same workout: "The boys are always naked.  They aren't wearing shirts so they're naked.  I'm glad OUR Daddy is not always naked."

And yet another workout commentary: "I think Daddy needs to do a workout.  Because he needs to be stronger."

* * *

Nell got a very fun set of walkie-talkies for her birthday from her Grammy and Grandpa, and after they had been being used with great pleasure for at least a week, it became apparent that there was some confusion over the name, brought about by neither sister being quite fully able to say the letter "R" correctly. 

Ree: "Mama they're really called rrrrrockie-talkies, right?  And Nell just says walkie-talkies?"
Me {cracking up}: "No, they are really called walkie-talkies!"
Ree: "Mama, are you trying to say rrrrrrockie-talkies?"

Watching the winter Olympics: "Mom, I really want to learn to ice skate.  TODAY.  RIGHT NOW."
Five seconds later: "WHY isn't ANYBODY in my family letting me skate?!"
{I know... we are so unsupportive of our children's dreams.}

* * *

Me: "Ree, we need to comb your hair before we go - you look like a wreck!"
Ree {offended}: "I don't look like a wreck, I look like a beautiful star."

* * *

At church one day during Holy Week, clearly focused on all the right things: "Those two girls have sparkly shoes and I don't have sparkly shoes and I'm sad because I don't want anyone to be fancier than me!"

* * *

"I'm drawing a picture of me as a ballerina dancing on a stage and peeing in a pull-up." {she hasn't worn pull-ups in ages, but clearly the dream lives on}

* * *

Drawing a family portrait: "Daddy doesn't need to look fancy in my picture because he isn't fancy because he doesn't have any dresses."

* * *

In the bathtub: "There's not going to be room for Nell in here because I'm doing so much important work.  I'm practicing pointing my toes so I'll be ready to be a ballerina on toe shoes."

* * *

Me: "Hey, Marie?"
Ree: "No!  Call me 'Princess of the Twirl!'"
Me: "Ok.  Hey, Princess of the Twirl?"
Ree: "YES!!!"

We love you, Princess of the Twirl.