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26 June

June 26th, 2009 by Joyce · 3 Comments

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Today, ten years of marriage, celebrated with pancakes for breakfast and a trip to our favorite beach in the late afternoon.  We didn’t do much, mostly just standing in the water or sitting in the sand talking while Carmen and David dug in the sand and ran around us like satellites.  For a while we watched some birds feed off of a school of fish just off shore.

Carmen and David, who according to the doctor’s scale each way about as much as a bag of topsoil (forty pounds), helped pack a wagon full of tractors, shovels, kitchen implements, and snacks. 

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Today C&D figured out how to make sand cakes with stick candles.  Good thing they made them outside–while it was probably ten degrees cooler at the beach than at home, but nobody wants to use the oven in the middle of summer.

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Of course, the usual construction projects kept us busy, too.

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→ 3 CommentsTags: Bigger Pictures · Dynamic Duo

For example

June 13th, 2009 by Joyce

I was downloading the pictures off the camera a bit ago and remembered this picture taken earlier today.  In the previous post I mentioned imaginative play; here, David has decided to take his train track pieces and create the boom for an imaginary excavator.  We can do amazing things with string and masking tape in this house.  He needed a little help from Matt to make the boom sufficiently strong without using the entire roll of tape.  (You think that hasn’t happened?)  Every now and then he would jiggle his chair–excavators are bumpy, he explained.  Carmen would push him around now and then, too . . . once you dig a hole, you have to move on to the next.

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Please ignore the messy floor.  We thought we could skip some of our usual post-lunch cleanup in order to facilitate napping.  It didn’t work.  We had excavators to build.


Excavators are everywhere in this house.  Earlier this week David drew one on the chalkboard.

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He was happy with it until he realized he forgot to draw teeth on the scoop.

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Earlier in the month, C&D went off to their shelves to work on something while I tried to recover from the fact that they hadn’t taken a nap.  As I made myself dizzy in the kitchen thinking about dinner, C&D had taken a pink scrap piece of construction paper and with scissors and glue turned it into an excavator  with treaded tracks.

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Then they decided to color it.  (Note my feeble attempt at protecting the new dining room table from David’s enthusiasm.)

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David was pretty happy with their work,

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especially after he drew in a man pulling on the levers (they look like ski poles to the left and right of the man) to make the scoop, well, scoop.

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That was June 4th; it’s June 13th, and his pink excavator is still one one of his favorite possessions.

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School side

June 13th, 2009 by Joyce · 2 Comments

With an airy, open plan, high bar, sleek kitchen, private patio and sunny windows, our house was designed in 1981 as a super-hip bachelor pad.  Nearly thirty years later, it’s now a cozy house for a family of four.

The living space is located on the second level of the house.  With the kitchen, the entire area approaches something like 1,000 square feet. There is a stairwell in the center, dividing the interior into rough halves.  The southern half recently became our “school side”.  It’s the one part of the house dedicated to our manipulatives and pint-sized tables and chairs.

This picture is from the dining area.  The southern half of the upstairs interior is across the stairwell (hidden by the low wall).  I took these pictures right before our violin lesson, so you can see all the violins out on the cart.  C&D’s favorite artworks are on the magnet board (four small ones hung together).  They also have pictures of a few famous violinists.  David’s favorite fiddler is there, too, Celtic Woman’s Mairead Nesbitt.  He is smitten.

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This is the view of the “school side” looking southwest from the top of the stairs.  My camera doesn’t have a wide angle, so a few pictures are necessary to get an understanding of the room.  (Fiona, do you see your present in the picture?)  The shelves and rug have defined a work area in the middle of the room.

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The next picture is facing directly south, peeking over the stairwell which goes downstairs to the two bedrooms.  The ceiling of this part of the house is gabled (I think that’s the word?) with windows at the top.  You can see the morning summer sun shining down on the carpet through the rectangular east window; in the evening the sun shines through a large round window.  The low, beige-colored shelves are from a homemade play kitchen purchased at my favorite consignment store; I took the doors off so C&D could more easily be enticed by the kitchen’s contents.  Across from the play kitchen are two large kitchen cabinets that came from my neighbor’s house after he remodeled his kitchen.  One of the cabinets faces west so we could stand a table against it.  In the Ikea cabinets along the south wall are my books, materials for later, extra baskets, home office supplies, etc.  The tall pine and birch cabinet on the west wall is where we keep our stereo, computer CPU, router, printer, scanner, DVDs, and a few toys.  The painting on top of the cabinet was painted by Carmen, David, and I.  It was supposed to be painted by a chicken we called Jackson Pullet, but Jackson didn’t like the feel of the paint under his feet.  I’m going to hang the painting on a small wall that would be just to the right of the photographer of this picture, but I need to spray some polyurethane on it, first–the paint is water-soluble.

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The plant in the red pot doesn’t look so hot.  It’s a cinnamon-scented ginger, and has taken a lot of abuse from C&D as they alternately over- and underwater it.  It’s surviving, though.

If you stand near the black couch and look northwest, you see that the back of the shelves could someday make a nice magnetized surface for posters, geography work, etc.  We’re excited about that, because with the floor-to-ceiling windows opposite this low “wall” we’d have a nice, sunny area for work.

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It will also help provide C&D with another “niche” to work so they are not constantly interrupting each other.  In this picture you can see the low wall for the stairwell up ahead.  I have a magnet board for this wall, for between the keyboard and music materials.  When we have caught up from recovering from our flu and I can find some drywall anchors, I’ll hang it.  At the right side, the green chest is an old locker from WWII; it has some of our art supplies such as our drawing paper and laminator.  The sewing machine lives under the keyboard for now, in the event we need to make another excavator.

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By re-arranging the upstairs this way, we now have a generous “school side” and an even more generous living/dining/kitchen area, which suits the flow of the traffic of the house and also allows a large area for imaginative work and play.

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(Does this add new meaning to the one-room school house?)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Dynamic Duo · Home Ec · Learn Something

I am GOD

June 11th, 2009 by Joyce

Carmen has drawn a picture of herself.  She writes a few C’s above it.

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Then decides she is going to draw a picture of David, who is sitting at a table cutting and folding paper.  “I am going to make David,” she announces to me, then leans into his ear very seriously and says, “I am GOD.” 

God made things.  Carmen is making a picture of David.  Therefore, Carmen is God.  Got it?

David just kept cutting and folding.

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Later David erases his picture and draws an excavator over it.  Carmen, I suppose feeling her chalkboard Carmen is lonely, adds a picture of her friend Agnes.  She adds bellies and belly buttons.  She draws a happy face on her friend’s face but then erases it, and erases her own happy face, as well.  “We’re talking,” she explains as she drew two round mouths.  Of course. 

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I dream of chickens

June 8th, 2009 by Joyce

David wants chickens. For several days in mid-April we cared for a small flock of chicks for a friend. Now David likes to think we can keep one or a few in our patio, next to the excavator and tractors and play house and tiny garden.


We can’t blame him. We all found their chirps and peeps soothing against the rumble mumble of the city outside our walls. As they picked at my coneflowers and rested in the nasturtiums, the chicks seemed always in a pleasant, busy mood, which inspired us to pleasant, busy moods of our own.

David mostly understands we practically can’t keep a chicken happy in a patio like ours, but don’t we all like to dream? Last week he had it all worked out. He figured we could get some chickens from Wabash, a small feed store just a few miles north of here.

(“Will they still have chickens I can buy?” he asks every week or two, as if Wabash would sell their last chicken and not have any more.  And as if we’d be buying chickens to begin with.)

Then, he told me, he wanted to tie our chickens to the roof of the Subaru so we can drive around and show his chickens to his friends.

I immediately pictures two fat hens tied to our roof rack, feathers flying as we drove down Richmond at 35 miles per hour on the way to pay a visit.  Cu-cluuuuck!  “Oh,” I said as I raised my eyebrows and acted impressed. “That’s an interesting idea.”

Like I said, don’t we all like to dream?


For a few weeks David has been making pictures in his tortillas.  Rather than buckling down and eating like the rest of us, he folds his tortilla in half and makes little bites along the fold, like cutting snowflakes out of a piece of paper.  This is apparently an angel


and this one a butterfly.


I’m sure he’ll find a picture of la Virgen in one of our tortillas any day now. 

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What do you need?

June 3rd, 2009 by Joyce · 2 Comments

Yesterday, Matt and David, the latest casualties to the Carmen Flu, stayed downstairs while I tried to keep the house going.  Both of us were struggling with our voices and coughs, so around lunchtime I sent Matt an e-mail.  I knew he would be at the computer trying to get some work done.  “Need anything?” I wrote.  “Going to bring down lunch soon.”

Matt quickly shot back

According to David, we need:

–  Some treaded tracks to stick under his red excavator in the green stuff.

–  A covered canopy for his red excavator

–  A welding torch to connect it all together

Next time I’ll be more specific.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Dynamic Duo