Category Archives: cuteness

winter hold-outs

Here are 3 photos of Theo holding out big chunks of icy snow out on our driveway.

2 months ago.


A week ago.


2 days ago.

Seriously, I’m about done with this series. Soon, I hope to have photos of my children holding spring flowers. Or beach toys. Maybe even popsicles.

On the bright (?) side, I got buzzed by a gnat while waiting for the school bus this afternoon. So, spring is in the air…

2 Christmas trees

We often spend Christmas away from home, but we still like to put up a tree at our house. Here are the two trees that were part of our festivities this year.


Our now-annual tinselling of the children before the tinselling of the tree at home last weekend.(We got our tree remarkably early for us this year, but decorated it in stages.)


The little tree at Grammy & Grandpa’s on Christmas Day.

(I admit it, these photos really aren’t about the trees. The cuteness had to be shared. I am unrepentant.)

Four

On Friday night, into Saturday morning, I stayed up far too late. I was looking back through my photo library, getting a little teary looking at photos of the Theos that were. Newborn Theo. Crawling Theo. Toddling Theo. So many Theos, all of them cute. From the wrinkly little bald man phase, to the mop-headed toddler heart-throb, to the alternately silly and earnest preschooler, all these Theos just made my heart melt with their big round eyes, their ridiculously long eyelashes, their big goofy grins. Even more potent were those little videos. Man, that kid has The Cute thing going. It’s surprising that I haven’t posted more here of the cuteness that is Theo, but as with so many things, I have too much to say, so I say too little. All those moments I’ve wanted to record. Things Theo has said, things Theo has learned, things Theo has taught me.

At least I have the photos.

Here are some photos from Saturday, Theo’s 4th birthday.


Waiting for the ferris wheel.


Driving.


Flying.


Crashing a bit.


Second wind provided by Italian ice.


The “birthday cake.” (This role was played by 2 Little Debbie cakes purchased late Saturday night from a convenience store.)


Theo tears into his presents in our hotel room.


Theo settles down to try out his new set of markers.


Theo’s drawing, finished.

Phoebes, unicorns, and Phoebe’s unicorns

I may not have told you this, but Phoebe is a big fan of unicorns. I honestly can’t tell you when the obsession began. To the best of my knowledge, she has never actually met a unicorn.¹ However, like them she does.



Photos of Phoebe’s drawing of pegasus-unicorns, Phoebe in her unicorn snow hat with a snowball, and Phoebe playing the violin in a borrowed unicorn hat.

When we were planning her 6th birthday party, Phoebe had elaborate and entirely infeasible plans involving building a multi-level fort in her bedroom, complete with a pulley using ribbon to pull her party guests up to the upper levels. She also wanted to wear a unicorn costume, and had ideas about how I could make one for her. For the weeks (possibly even months) leading up to her birthday, the topic of her party came up frequently. Over and over, I managed to put off committing to a definite plan. Eventually, we broke it to Phoebe that we couldn’t do her unicorn-costumed fantasy birthday party.

However I did manage to make some unicorn cupcakes to ease her pain. Rainbow unicorn cupcakes.
rainbow unicorn cupcakes

But now we’ve got something even better. There is a new cartoon out there about a little girl named Phoebe. And a unicorn:

Here’s the description from Go Comics, where the cartoon is syndicated:

It all started when Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and using it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection?

The cartoon is by Dana Simpson, and called Heavenly Nostrils,² and you should check it out. Right. Now. (Start with the full-color first day strip from Sunday. I’ll wait.)

Is it just me, or does this Phoebe look a little like our Phoebe? All the cartoon Phoebe is missing are real Phoebe’s giant blue cartoon eyes.

John has long been a fan of Simpson’s work, especially the long-running strip Ozy and Millie, and he used to periodically send me links to those. (Like this one.) And now I’m at risk of being a crazy fangirl myself.

I find Simpson’s artwork to be charming and the premise of Heavenly Nostrils engaging. It may not shock you to learn that I was once a nine-year-old daydreamer, myself. (In fact, I was once a 6-year-old daydreamer.³) To top it all off, I think Dana Simpson is super cool. I emailed her to ask to use some images, and she not only wrote back to give permission, but was über nice.

I’m thinking that if John and I had played our cards right, we could have pretended that the whole cartoon strip was a present from us: “Phoebe, we know how much you like unicorns, and so we arranged for this comic strip about a little girl named Phoebe and her unicorn best friend to be made for you. Happy birthday.” The main trouble with this, though, is that we’d have trouble matching this level of gift in future years. She might expect us to have a movie made, or have a museum wing named after her. Better just to give her some new socks and a roll of scotch tape, and then she will have beautifully low expectations.⁴

¹ When Phoebe was 3, she was obsessed with fires, firefighters and firetrucks. However, she had seen real firetrucks, met real firefighters, and even seen the effect of a real fire on a real burned-out building. How could a girl resist? But apparently little girls like unicorns, too.
² The title has apparently generated some criticism as being “too silly.” As if there could be such a thing.
³ I was also once a 39-year-old daydreamer.
⁴ Though she really does love to use tape.

Image credits: Heavenly Nostrils artwork by Dana Simpson from Ink & White Space, used with permission from Dana herself, because she is that cool. Pegasus-unicorns flying among clouds and rainbow artwork by Phoebe Lenore, used without her permission because it’s 10 at night and she’s in bed right now. The rainbow unicorn cupcake photo is mine, all mine. And the two of Phoebe in unicorn hats. But neither of the hats is mine.

tine’s happy day valen


Theo wishes you a tine’s happy day valen.


Phoebe wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

As for me, I haven’t made any valentines yet this year, and certainly nothing to top last year’s paper heart. I do feel I deserve credit, though, for overseeing and assisting Phoebe with the production of over 40 valentines. (Over twice as many as last year.) This year we started with some pre-made blank cards, and had a bit of assistance from from stamps and stickers (thanks to the resourcefulness of a neighbor/friend), which greatly sped up the process. (Especially after Phoebe spent several hours on the first 10 or so cards, and realized that she had to make at least a couple dozen more. She already complains about not having enough hours in the day.) I feel especially pleased with myself that I was able to rein in my control freak tendencies, and let Phoebe do her thing with minimal interference, such that she had (mostly) complete control over the art direction.

And if you don’t mind stale candy hearts, please revisit my Valentine’s Day treats from previous years: (Click the images to see the posts.)
I give a rat's ass for you

biteme-yellow.jpg blahblah.jpg oh_crap.jpg wtf.jpg

scone heart figure12.png

Want to make your own candy hearts? Visit the ACME Heart Maker.

Christmas finery, a retrospective

Both kids chose to wear their Santa-esque finery today, making this the third year wearing these outfits. (Did you ever see my Jingle Bells movie of the kiddos from 2 years ago? We know how to do festive at our house.)

Clearly, I have a thing for the Santa-style garments. I always loved wearing a Santa hat on Christmas morning, if one was available. (With all our moves, we didn’t always have the same things each Christmas.) I remember really wanting to get myself a red velvet dress with white furry trim, but that has yet to happen. Instead, I live vicariously through my children.


Christmas Day, 2011: Theo, age 3 years 4 months and Phoebe, age 5 years 10 months.


Christmas Day, 2010: Theo, age 2 years 4 months, and Phoebe, 4 years 10 months


Christmas Day, 2009: Phoebe, 3 years 10 months and Theo, 1 year 4 months.


Christmas Day, 2008: Phoebe, age 2 years, 10 months.


Christmas Day, 2008: Theo, age 4 months.


Christmas Eve, 2008: Phoebe, age 2 years, 10 months.


Christmas Eve Eve Eve or so, 2007: Phoebe, age 1 year, 10 months.


Christmas Day, 2006: Phoebe, age 10 months. No Santa hat, but a festive bow.

It seems highly unlikely that the current outfits will fit another year. Who knows what the kids will want to wear next Christmas. (A few weeks ago, Theo proclaimed that he wanted to be Einstein for Christmas this year, but we didn’t come through with the costume for him. He’d be pretty cute in a wild wig and bushy white mustache, though…)

holiday traditions and musical interludes


Guitars reflected in a silver ball at the music store.

A few nights ago, John had a company party to go to, so the kids and I started in on the evening routine without him. Inspired by having sampled some delicious latkes at Phoebe’s class holiday party on Monday (which included both Christmas and Hanukkah treats and activities), and having just bought a big bag of potatoes, I decided I would try my hand at making latkes. (Wow, that was a really long sentence.) Anyhow, I made latkes, in honor of Hanukkah. I consulted the great oracle of Google, and got down to business peeling and grating. I have to say, I made some pretty tasty latkes.

The whole process also took probably longer than I’d intended, and it was after 6 by the time the kids and I sat down to eat our meal of latkes, fried eggs, latkes, steamed broccoli, and more latkes. (Phoebe declared the meal so delicious that she high-fived me.) I may have eaten far, far too many latkes. (From what I understand, that is also a Hanukkah tradition.)

After dinner, it was time for Phoebe and I to practice the violin. John usually takes Theo upstairs to start his shower while Phoebe and I practice downstairs. Since John wasn’t home yet, I thought Theo could keep us company in the parlor, which is where we always practice. (Really, some people my call it the living room. But when we moved into this house, we declared the “family room” to be our “living room,” and the official “living room” became the parlor. I like the word parlor. I mean, who would remember something like “‘step into my living room,’ said the spider to the fly.” Not that this is how the actual quote from the poem went. It’s just what people remember. I mean, with “parlor,” in place of “living room.” I suppose “den” might have also worked, for the spider, at least. But not for our house. We have a parlor.) The parlor is also where we have our Christmas tree. (I mention this, because this will be relevant shortly.) (Notice my subtle attempt at foreshadowing.)

When Phoebe and I practice her violin exercises together, we both sit on the floor. However, I had just bought myself a book of Christmas songs for the violin, and since Phoebe putters around a lot as she sets up her violin, I sat in a chair so I could set the book in my music stand, and played a bit. Theo was hanging an ornament he had made at daycare on the tree. Phoebe sat on the floor, opened up her violin case, and then suddenly wandered off to look at her gingerbread house. At that moment, Theo stepped back to look at his ornament on tree…and stepped directly onto Phoebe’s violin.

I’m not sure what noise escaped from me as I looked up and saw his foot land on the neck of Phoebe’s little quarter-sized violin (I think it was some sort of squeak), but I remember the exceedingly alarmed look on Theo’s face. I jumped up, and hurriedly set down my own violin. The trouble is, you can’t really hurriedly set down a violin. I basically dropped it. It made a loud crack and thwong noise as a couple of the pegs hit the coffee table and came unwound. I may have made additional noises.

Both children wailed.

In the end, I was able to assess that both violins were pretty much okay, if seriously out of tune. Happily, Theo managed to step on one of the less fragile parts of the instrument, and his weight was probably somewhat taken by the case, since the violin was still in it. He still felt awful. And so did Phoebe, for having left her violin open and on the floor. And so did I, for not having been paying enough attention to the actions of my small children around rather fragile instruments. And for having dropped my violin. Phoebe, though, was much comforted by the fact that we had, all three, made mistakes, which she enumerated repeatedly.

Did I mention I made latkes? They were delicious.

In case you didn’t manage to check out of all Neil’s fantastic Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert, which had musical contributions from a variety of different holiday cultural traditions, I wanted to share with you this trio of lovely ukelele productions. These talented women inspired me so much that I looked longingly at the ukeleles at the music store when I went to my violin lesson. (Not that I expect that ukeleles are much sturdier than violins.)

I’m totally smitten with the uber-catchy “we like to celebrate chrannukah,” by Jenny Mae.

Then there’s Elly of Buggin’ Word, Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree. (Please check out the adorable “shuke” (shirt uke) her son is wearing)

And lest the southern hemisphere feel left out, here’s Juli Ryan with her charming rendition of a New Zealand folk song: “Haere Mai Everything is Ka Pai”

feeling the burn


My tissue paper flames from my Halloween 2009 costume.

At 11:29 last night, I submitted an abstract to a conference (with a cut-off time of 11:59 p.m.). Last Wednesday, I submitted a paper to another conference. For the last few months, I have been working full-speed on a project relating to my own research, and have been making real progress. Last night I went to bed feeling triumphant and giddy, having succeeded in getting both of those submissions together.

This morning I woke up tired.

There is a long list of things that I’d been largely putting off the last few weeks, and things (laundry, grocery shopping, battling the chaos) that I had somewhat let slide. Today I hoped to make a dent in that list, and get organized for the next push with my group’s research, with another conference deadline a few weeks away in mind. Given the tiredness, it might not surprise you to learn that I got very little done in the morning.

One small errand I had to run was dropping off some art supplies for Phoebe’s classroom that I had signed up to donate. This afternoon, after putting air in a mostly flat tire that I tried not to notice yesterday, I headed out with my bag of glitter and multi-colored tissue paper with plans to continue on my way to take care of some other things.

At Phoebe’s school, I sort of expected that they would collect the things at the front office, and get them to the classroom. But the woman at the desk called Phoebe’s classroom, and the teacher said I could bring the things by. It’s fun to see what the kids are up to, and since I had a bit of time, I didn’t object. When I went in the classroom, the teacher and aide welcomed me and collected the things I’d brought. Phoebe’s teacher called Phoebe over to say hi to me. Phoebe smiled at first, and then looked stricken as she came over. “I think I have a fever,” she said to me when she got up close. Half thinking that she was just angling to go home early with me, I felt her head. It did feel kind of hot, but I’d just been outside, and my hands were a bit cool. The teachers said she hadn’t complained of anything all day. I decided to take Phoebe to the school nurse’s office just to make sure.

103.3 degrees.

We went back to the classroom to collect Phoebe’s things and let the teachers know I’d be taking her home. Not what I expected from my glitter drop-off!

I have to say, I’m just amazed at how considerate Phoebe is with her timing. If this had happened yesterday, I likely would have missed the abstract deadline. Likewise, if this had been any time in the last week. Really, I feel like she’s given me an unexpected gift. Quite honestly, I’m looking forward to having a quiet day with her tomorrow.


This is a gift that Phoebe intentionally made over Thanksgiving weekend.


See the inside?

obligatory Halloween photos

Here are my witch and frog.

The frog refused to wear the hood for most of the night.


Here, the witch completes the transformation of her brother into a frog.

We didn’t manage to carve pumpkins this year. However, we did manage to make some snowmen. Here’s hoping that this is not a new Halloween tradition.


Here was Saturday night’s pre-dinnertime snowman. My only contribution was to bring out a carrot.


This is one Phoebe made all by herself on Sunday. (Should I be concerned that she made a right-leaning snowman?)

We really lucked out with the storm, actually. You may have heard that much of the Northeast lost power, and many are still without even days later. There have been lots of trees down on powerlines in our town and neighboring towns. At least when we lost power back in August it was warm! So, again, we were lucky.


For us, it just looked like a lovely December snowstorm. With more leaves.