Sunday, December 30, 2007

stunningly quiet

John and Ella are with their grandparents in Washington DC for the weekend while we continue to recuperate. I am feeling somewhat functional, but I have absolutely no energy or stamina. I'm starting to understand why people buy recliner chairs and giant televisions. This morning I watched a girlie movie and several shows on HGTV. The moment I have any energy I am going to demolish our kitchen island and head over to Lowes to resurface it. If we are going to spend a few more years in this house we have got to have kitchen counters that are cleanable. I also need one of those heartless home organizers to come over and throw all my crap away. I was watching one of those sell your house shows and one of those heartless women actually made a hideous house look good by getting rid of most of the clutter and spending three hundred dollars on some simple updates.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

ribs, no sauce, no slaw

This is just another "I am better post". Better with a side of broken ribs. Actually, I think three of them are broken. No, it wasn't skiing or ice skating. I broke my ribs coughing. Hacking.

It isn't as bad as all that. The first two nights were fairly excruciating, but I just propped myself up on some very fluffy pillows. Now I feel like my ribs went to the gym and lifted weights for a few hours. I can't really lift the little man, so I'm getting lots of help. Perhaps we are lucky that we planned on visiting family for the entire holiday season. The children can be lifted and entertained.

I'm at my mothers house doing little more than sleep and eat great food.The first night that I was here I slept for fifteen hours; Today I lay on the sofa under a quilt with my feet pointed towards the woodstove.

Friday, December 21, 2007


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn. This is from the last creative movement class of the semester. The parents were invited to observe the hour long class.


clowny, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


I know, you want pictures and tales of christmas children, but they are four hours away baking cookies and making messes. Even the doctor says that I am "better". Not well, just better. I'm taking it as a good sign that she didn't make me another appointment. Just more antibiotics.

With any luck we are joining the children tomorrow, so I'll see you in the New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

from morning sickness to pneumonia

Maybe I'm better. After all this time it is getting hard to tell. I didn't throw up today, and I hacked up lots of green stuff. Hopefully my tattered old immune systeme will finally slough off the lung bugs.

I let the children go to their grandparents house, and it is stunningly quiet here. I read 758 pages of Harry Potter in the last twenty four hours.

It is hard to actually write about anything when you have been moving from chair to sofa to bed for weeks on end. I go back to the doctor tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully she says that I can travel for christmas.

I'm fourteen weeks pregnant today.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

er::bad bug

I've never been to the emergency room, but yesterday I couldn't even get comfortable in my bed, couldn't stop coughing, and couldn't breathe. I knew I wasn't in mortal danger, but I have this little baby in my belly and Christmas looming. Earlier in the week I had called my family doctor and told her that the cough syrup she had recommended wasn't doing anything. She said that I could try steam baths. (Insert laugh here)

So, the emergency room was fairly wonderful. I got this older hippy woman doctor who seemed smart and warm and funny. She seemed to be balancing the pregnancy with actually feeling better. She called doctor steam bath and my OB and talked to them. I did have a chest X-ray wearing a huge lead skirt and standing in front of a lead panel. She had the respiratory therapist give me a breathing treatment and put me on some prednisone for three days to get me functional again. I got to lie in a very soft albeit narrow bed for four hours. The woman next to me had sliced her hand while chopping chocolate for christmas cookies. It wasn't a bit like TV.

I actually slept last night. I woke up to hear the ice hitting the roof and then again when it rained hard this morning. The ice storm has left our woods very sparkley, but the sun is out and it is already dripping. There is snow predicted for this afternoon. Ah, mountain living at the top of a big hill.

So, it has been a strange holiday season. I haven't made anything. I haven't baked anything. I haven't been shopping. We do have two christmas trees up and have the children's seasons tree decorated with birds.


This will give you a good laugh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

sick, week three

I'm losing my patience with mucus. Apparently there is some sort of battle going on between my nose and my lungs. The Puffs Plus are the only thing keeping my nose intact. I cough incessantly, and that either causes me to throw up or pee in my pants. You can see why I'm not really leaving the house much.

The fact that I'm typing this makes me think that I must be getting better.

Ella stayed home today, mostly because I think that she wanted to be with me, so we opened up the futon in the living room and watched movies and PBS all morning. Charlie Brown Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

cat out of the bag

In my attempts to beg someone to work at the school I just sent half the school my blog address. Pull up a chair, make yourselves at home. It is a happy place. Ella doesn't know I'm pregnant, so shhhhhhh.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


I've been in the upright position since eleven o'clock, a record for the week. Earlier this morning I was cold and weeping, so I'm not pronouncing myself healthy just yet. The bad bug/morning sickness combination has literally kicked me to the ground. I have lost five pounds this week, so my first trimester weight gain is at minus five. The only food that has been good this week is hot and sour soup and grapefruit. The local chinese restaurant makes really good soup with lots of schezwan preserved vegetables and tofu. I added some chile and garlic sauce from the fridge and a spoonful of cider vinegar.

The small ones are snotty and coughy but restless and ready to get out of the house. John has been literally climbing the furniture and has had more than his share of time outs. John and Ella went out yesterday to get a Christmas tree, a Norway spruce with roots that can be planted in our yard. We are leaving on our Christmas tour of grandmothers, aunts, and uncles next monday. I haven't even started making my cards. I do have the supplies, but I haven't even attempted a photo of the children.

Friday, December 07, 2007

news from the couch

A few days ago I finally had to accept the fact that I was sick. Pretty much too sick to get off the sofa. I couldn't breath while carrying the thirty four pound man. I took him to the doctor, and she immediately wrote out three prescriptions. So here we are. Hacking. Hacking. Coughing. Blowing noses. Measuring medicines for little people.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

tree swing

ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
I wish I knew how many hours I spent doing just this as a kid. Our grandparents lived next door and put up a swing like this in the woods behind their house. It was on a steep hill so when you swung out you were high above the ground.

self portrait by ella

self portrait by ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

dear santa

dear santa, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


We spent the whole day in the big city at the doctor's office. We saw a triumvirate of prenatal diagnosticians, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist, the geneticist, and the ultrasound tech who did the NT. At twelve weeks, the ultrasound photos all look frighteningly like little grey My Little Ponys. The NT scan was good, and the baby seems to be growing normally, and has a good heartbeat.

hello, hello, the trash can is ringing

Three out of four of us are still hacking and coughing. Yesterday was just one of those days. I couldn't find my cell phone (in the house) so I had to go out to pick up John in his locked building. The one remaining pay phone in town wasn't working, so yes, I was the redneck honking my horn in front of an office building last night. Miss six was fascinated with the concept of a pay phone. She had never seen one.

The phone was in trash. The trash that I had already taken out.

Needless to say, I went to bed at eight.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

cascade falls pembroke, virginia

cascade falls pembroke, virginia, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We hiked to this waterfall this afternoon with the children and my mother. It is four miles and rocky, but the payoff at the waterfall always makes it seem worthwhile.


ham, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Friday, November 23, 2007

thanksgiving 2007

thanksgiving 2007, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We made our usual daytrip to Farmville, Virginia for Thanksgiving. My brother starts cooking the turkey out in the yard at five thirty in the morning in a smoker that he built a few years ago. The turkey skin turns absolutely black, but the inside is not even related to the ho-hum roast turkey that comes out of most ovens.

John and Ella are both afraid and entranced by the pack of hound dogs that have the run of my brother's house and yard. Ella needs her own little hound to follow her around.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

vintage daddy

Pilgrim and Native American John, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We are headed over the river and through the woods. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


sing, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

simple gifts

Simple Gifts was written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848. It was first published in The Gift to be Simple: Shaker Rituals and Songs. Simple Gifts was a work song sung by the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing (more commonly called the Shakers, an offshoot of the Quakers).

Ella's class sung this song today as part of her school's Thanksgiving celebration and feast. It was perfect. The whole school had a potluck this morning at the community center. The younger grades sang and the older kids played their recorders. Ella's class signed this song as they sang, and I thought the song really reflects what the school is all about. I'm sure that is why they chose it.

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,'
Til by turning, turning we come round right
'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The narcolepsy is slowing down my posting frequency, but for now I just have to go to bed early. Toddler early. It makes my busy days possible and positive. John has been weaned for seventy two hours, and he has only asked one time. He has spent three whole nights in his crib, and I've gotten the best sleep I've had in years. Well, I have had a hacking six year old coughing in my face, but tonight she is going back to her room too. I let her stay with me in case he might keep her up, but he didn't cry at all last night.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

12 hours in a crib

He was in bed at seven. He woke up at eleven thirty and went right back to sleep. At two thirty he screamed for daddy for ten minutes and then went to sleep. At five thirty seven he screamed for mama for ten minutes and then slept until seven.


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Two years and four months. It has been a good run, but now I'm starting to feel like I've been nursing a den full of wolf puppies. I don't know if there is less milk or if pregnancy is making me more sensitive. Tonight I made John a cup of warm milk at bedtime. He rejected that, so I made him a cup of chamomile tea and put him to bed. No complaints. I told Ella that if John cries at night she can come into my room, but he is staying in his crib until six am. Of course I'll go in and give him a cuddle and put on the Mister Roger's CD.

Hopefully we can finally achieve the elusive sleeping through the night, and mama can get some much needed rest.

live from the futon stage

live from the futon stage, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We had a late night and an early morning around here. The P family camped with us for the night as they travelled from Florida back to Northern Virginia. Ella loved having kids here for a sleepover. The last time we saw the Ps John was in my belly, so they had a new family member to meet. Ella and Krystyna both just started kindergarten. This morning there was a puppet show and several nearly ear splitting musical numbers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


In case you were wondering...the nausea is SPECTACULAR! I can smell your armpits from here.

Next week I have a NT scan in the big city and another ultrasound at the doctor's office. Advanced maternal age gets you lot of peeks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

to do list

The replacement needle for Ella's Fisher Price record player is here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

sunday hike

sunday hike, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

life of ease

life of ease, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


ella::overlook, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

i went for a hike

i went for a hike, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

season's tree

season's tree, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ella and I sat under a tree and stitched these felt leaves for our season's tree.

to market to market

mister, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I hadn't taken any pictures in a week, so I decided to jump right back on this morning. Granny took care of these little people all last week while I moped in coffee shops and worked at Ella's school. Apparently she lost almost five pounds in the process, so you know they stayed busy. There was cooking, bike riding, shopping, and movie going. Running about with these little people is active business.

I think of myself as being the mellow lazybones, but when I think about it I usually do a lot in a week. The entire family is up at six in the morning. We are all out the door by seven thirty. I pack everyone's lunch because little John and I stay in town several days a week. We have a regular routine at the library and a regular playdate for baby John. I work on the playground at Ella's school every morning. I do all the shopping, and cook a real homemade meal six nights a week, so maybe I'm not really a sloth.

I do need some serious plans to get our lives organized by the time we have another baby. We also need to have our small house much more organized. Hopefully we can redo the kitchen in the new year, and I can finally organize all my craft and sewing supplies, and make our bedroom look like a bedroom again.


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


surprise, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I went in for a follow up ultrasound on wednesday which revealed an embryo with arms, legs, a head, and a healthy heartbeat. The doctor says to be optimistic. That pint of blood? He says he just isn't sure. A twin. Early in this little investigation he said that perhaps what he was seeing in the earlier ultrasound was just a younger embryo than we thought, two weeks younger. The ultrasound measured in at eight weeks on wednesday.

Of course I know that you aren't supposed to announce an eight week pregancy, but I announced a miscarriage, and I can't let the world think that I'm still crushed.

I'm forty one, everything stinks, and I'm very optimistic.

Friday, November 02, 2007

nine weeks, one day

So, I'm still here with my blighted ovum waiting for the inevitable miscarriage. Yes, I thought that was over too, but here I am. Still exhausted and things still smell bad. I've had a cold for a few days. There is nothing like being kicked while you are down. So, I still get to experience the downward spiral of if it could get any worse. I'm just in a quitting mood. I want to quit everything. I did quit the preschool. I hope I don't come across too many delete buttons in my life. The littles keep me going, though. Even laughing.

If you don't know what to say there are resources.

My husband is headed off for a week at a conference in Portland, Oregon, and I am already lonely. His mother is coming for the week to help me with the kids, and I am grateful.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

get this nose off my face

no nose, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Halloween. It was easy. Ella refused to wear her beak or her feet, so she was a mystery bird, fairy, ballerina. We trick or treated early and hit the local vegetarian dive's Halloween buffet. The little people were in bed asleep by seven thirty.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

mexican tomato soup

Saute a large onion, chopped, in olive oil until just browning. Add a teaspoon of freshly ground cumin, a few cloves of crushed garlic, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Add a can of fire roasted tomatoes, crushed or pureed in the food processor. Add a box of organic chicken broth, vegetable broth, or a quart of water. In a separate pan brown a cup or so of pasta in a bit of oilive oil. Broken up spaghetti is fine. Tonight I used elbow macaroni. Add browned pasta to the tomato broth and simmer for fifteen minutes. Add salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro. For grownups garnish with thinly sliced jalapeno. Miss six said this was delicious.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


We are having our first freeze tonight, so we got some tender plants in the house, picked all of our flowers, harvested herbs, and cleaned up the borders today. The water table is getting a skirt and moving indoors as a reincarnated rice/bean table.

Continuing the fall cleaning indoors we rescued our fish from their murky tank and vacuumed Ella's potpourri strewn room. I scrubbed the bathtub and bleached a bucket of tub toys, put away many piles of small clothes and cleaned out the refridgerator.

Isn't disinfecting the sixth stage of grieving?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


backyard, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

back of house

back of house, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

pond walk

pond walk, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

the sun also rises

John somehow convinced me that cleaning up trails in the National Forest would be a good idea. And it was. The kids had a private tour with their own forest ranger for an hour. The sky was blue. The trees were red. There were salamanders and orange dragonflies.

Then we drove over to the dreamhouse without heat or 22o amp power. He had never actually been there, so now I've got him caught in the old house web. Could he dig a fence post? We'd have to get a lawnmower verging on tractor.

We stopped at the market on the way home, and I made barley pilaf with shitake mushrooms and roasted butternut squash with thyme, sage, garlic, toasted pecans, and blue cheese. I made a salad with baby greens, thinly sliced grapefruit, and pomegranate seeds.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I do. I feel bitter and irrationally angry. There doesn't seem to be enough time to sit down and drink a cup of coffee. I keep going past my exit on the highway because I'm distracted. It has been raining for days, and a wet black cat crossed my path at the library yesterday.

I have enjoyed reading to the kindergardeners, first and second graders this week during the rainy mornings.

I tried to make some changes to my blog, but I'm completely out of my element when it comes to the computer. I've lost my template and all of my links, so if you have a blog that I read regularly don't think I'm stalking you. I'm just searching for the URLs of all the links that I used to have.

So, yes, I'm bitter with a side of hopefulness. You know when you are just stewing in yourself and you know it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


peacock ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ella went to a birthday party today dressed as a peacock, a somewhat ethereal theatrical wisp of a peacock.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

little wheel turning in my heart

I had a miscarriage today at eight weeks. Oddly enough, I was reading a book by the Dalai Lama when it happened, and somehow I'm trying to find the comedy in that. I'm disappointed. I'd been making lists of names and was excited to tell our famililes at Thanksgiving. I didn't even cry until I was driving to pick up John with both children in the back seat listening to Laurie Berkner sing "Little Wheel Turning in My Heart". It got me. Laurie Berkner.


johns at mabry's mill, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

She is on two wheels!!!

love!!!!, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
We went down to the park today for some bike practice, and suddenly she is cruising along on her own. I remember the exact patch of grass that I rode on when my father pushed me along and then let me go.

she rides

she rides, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


ready, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


trail, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


oak::colour, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ella's homework assignment was to go out and look at fall leaves. We drove out to Floyd and down the Blue Ridge Parkway. We hiked into the woods with paper and beeswax crayons and found on old stump for a woodland table. Ferns made beautiful prints.


spaceman, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Honestly, he can't get any sweeter.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Daring Book for Girls

Not twelve hours ago I was wondering how I was ever going to learn the rules to four square. Now I can have all that and palm reading too. No, I'm not kidding. Amazon says, "THE DARING BOOK FOR GIRLS is the manual for everything that girls need to know –– and that doesn't mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it's female heroes in history, secret note–passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it's not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers –– although that's included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly–girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl's invitation to adventure."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

back from the beach

early morning, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Women's beach weekend::october::eighty degrees and sunny::empty beach::delicious food::sandcastles::one hundred and twenty six seashells::thirty five horseshoe crab parts::four buckets::four children::ocean view::waking up for sunsets::I meant to drink lots of cocktails and sit in the hot tub::fell asleep with children at eight pm::awesome.


self, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


john, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

126 shells

126 shells, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

test ride

test ride, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'm 6

I'm 6, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Ella's birthday draws to a close. We have been so busy celebrating that she never even opened her big gift from us, the vintage Fisher Price record player. She chose her birthday meal tonight, long noodles with marinara and garlic bread. John helped me snap a lot of fresh green beans so we had those too.
Ella got a big girl bike from her grandparents, a hot pink mountain bike sans training wheels, and she is well on her way to being able to ride a two wheeler. It is sturdy and safe, and they got her a new helmet and pads. She is ready to hit the local bike trails. I need to start jogging with the stroller I think.


bees!!!!!!!!!, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Just another kindergarden morning with a hive of live bees and a jovial biologist. One of Ella's friends says to his mother, "Are you sure this is safe?"

I went in for lunch today with pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for the class on Ella's birthday. They were quite understanding about the ones that were a little flat. I don't have that many muffin tins. I roasted a local organic pumpkin and all the ingredients were organic. There are some dedicated healthy families in this room. Ella's teacher also speaks out against the high fructose corn syrup and food additives. Finally, I'm not alone in a sea of cheetos.

circle game

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when youre older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

joni mitchell

Sunday, October 07, 2007


We went to a wedding yesterday out in Fishersville, Virginia. It was at a winery, and as we walked down to the beginnings of a new vineyard it was like walking into a giant bowl of earth with the moutains on the horizon. Ella was chasing grasshoppers and dancing.

fishersville, virginia

fishersville, virginia, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

barren ridge winery

barren ridge winery, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


My baby girl is turning six on tuesday. Six whole years since I slept through the night. Not that it has been all her fault. Her baby brother picked up right where she left off.
This afternoon we had a birthday party at the park for Ella and her friends. There was apple cake, apple bobbing, an apple pinata, apple races, and apple printing on fabric. The day was sunny and sweet.

Friday, October 05, 2007

English Country Garden

This was one of the children's favorite songs last year in preschool. If asked to choose the song this is what most of them would pick. I think is is the rhythm of it, but strangely enough the song reminds me of the nature of the teacher. I've joked that she could create a weeks worth of curriculum and art projects out of a bucket of dirt. It is certainly a gift to know the nature of small people, to speak their language and respect their magic.

In an English Country Garden

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart's ease and flox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden

How many insects come here and go
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Fireflies, moths, gnats and bees
Spiders climbing in the trees
Butterflies drift in the gentle breeze
There are snakes, ants that sting
And other creeping things
In an English country garden

How many songbirds fly to and fro
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Bobolink, cuckoo and quail
Tanager and cardinal
Bluebird, lark, thrush and nightingale
There is joy in the spring
When the birds begin to sing
In an English country garden

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart's ease and flox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentain, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden

Thursday, October 04, 2007


dance, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

my crush

my crush, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


friends, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

i say cheese

i say cheese, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

apple party

Ella's party is sunday afternoon. I need to:
1. make apple pinata
2. order cake and cupcakes. I was making them but then I realized that someone else could::apple spice cupcakes with caramel frosting and a maple walnut gateaux.
3. get galvanized tub for apple bobbing
4. apple craft? apple prints on muslin?
5. collect acorns
6. make caramel apples
7. plan a game
8. drinks:: water and cider?
9. clean house
10. buy house on 42 for next year's birthday party.

Monday, October 01, 2007


by Earl Neikirk
This picture was in the Bristol newspaper after the Rhythm and Roots festival a few weeks ago.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

aziba ziba

zipper- aziba ziba
one more time- one finger up plus ma ma ma, (serious face)

John still says very little for a two year old, but he is learning new words almost every day now and is getting more bold about saying them. He knows his colors and can pantomime the various emotions. My favorite is excited because he shakes his arms and grits his teeth.

He is quite interested in crayons and paper and returns to his coloring books and paper several times a day. He holds his crayon just like a pencil and "writes" very carefully. His hieroglyphics look a lot like letters that he sees his sister writing.

Speaking of sister, she had a bee in her ear today. She started screaming outside and holding her ear. Looking in it, I saw nothing so I got a Q-Tip. There seemed to be nothing in her ear, and then out flew a little sweat bee. It obviously stung her in the ear and she was nothing short of berserk. I put some imaginary cream on it and it seemed to be fine in about ten minutes, but I had to tell her about every bee sting that I had as a child as well as every bee sting that uncle John had as a child.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I'm having a little flirtation with these days. This house is about the same distance from town as our current house. It was built in 1880 and has five acres. Like all houses, it is a bit out of our price range. It also claims to have only two bedrooms. 2500 square feet and two bedrooms. I'll sleep in the parlor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a group of butterflies is called a flutter

So one day I'll start talking about Ella's school more. I think I have to name it and it just hasn't come to. I want to do it justice. Today Ella joined some other children at their "work" on the playgound. They work for a tree.

Yesterday I pulled into the parking lot as Ella's class was filing out the front door. The monarch had emerged from his chrysalis at snacktime and was taken outside. They read a book about butterfly metamorphosis and then went back inside. Back outside an hour later, they saw the butterfly emerge from the butterfly house, spread it's wings, and fly as the children shouted their best wishes for a safe journey.

I know that it is hard to be five, but don't you just wish for a moment that you could work for a tree, study rainbows all morning, and have science unfold itself in front of you like the wet wings of a butterfly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

thinking about myself

Sometimes I can get things done. Sometimes not. I am going to just take it as a compliment that John thinks that I can stain our decks this week while he is at work. While taking care of a twenty five month old boy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


singer, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Part of the whole oya baka dilemma is not buying the children everything in the whole wide world. Then again, Santa Claus is starting to make his lists, and this will be under the tree.

Marble Run

After saving for quite a while Ella finally got to go to the toystore and get a marble run. We got the Haba one because all the blocks can be moved around quickly--lots of experiments. If you are local and haven't been to the new toystore at the old train station send me an email and I'll give you directions. They sell environmentally friendly wooden toys and cooperative games. I fear they won't survive.

She has been playing with the marble run nonstop and already wants more pieces. We brought in our big basket of wooden blocks to add to the building process so she can build castles and cities with a moving component. Even John has been propping up the "running" blocks and sliding marbles down them. I put some more components on the Froogle Wishlist for the holidays if you are a friend or relation with my littles on your shopping list. All in all, it is a toy I can recommend without reservations. I think that means that the grownups in our family like to play with it too.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

seuss and seuss

seuss and seuss, originally uploaded by ellajohn
Friday was Ella's twenty fifth day of kindergarden. She is getting more confident about her long days there but is still quite happy to see us at the end of the day. She seems to be exploding with language. In five short weeks she has mastered the ASL alphabet as well as many new signs. I was thinking how interesting it must be to be approaching spelling from three directions. Phonetic spelling, fingerspelling, and a few sight words in Spanish.
I know I haven't talked much about her new school apart from her nervousness about being alone there. Perhaps I'm still thinking about how going to an alternative school is going to change her in comparison to the public school. Everyone packs their lunch, so she won't be experiencing cafeteria food. Some of her friends in other schools are experimenting with "steak and gravy" and elementary school spaghetti. Even I remember the steamy smells on spaghetti day. The puffy noodles with the bland meaty sauce. Ella will never have to change for gym or take a shower in front of other kids as a middle schooler. I'm sure there are many other differences that I haven't even thought of yet. For now she is grappling with her newfound reading skills. Suddenly she can write words, rhyming words. I have to slow her down. Today she was plowing through a workbook and worrying about getting her homework done, but it isn't due until next friday and she has already started it. I'm trying to get her to bed by seven thirty each night and keep her schedule predictable. She is playing outside at school for two hours a day, thirty minutes in the morning, an hour at lunch, and a half hour at snacktime. By dinnertime she is exhausted.
Friday afternoon I picked her up and went to a woodland park in the nearby national forest. The leaves are just starting to change and the air was cooler and misty. We found green and red acorns and saw lots of wildlife. Three deer were on the trail, and Ella and her friend walked so close to them that Ella was afraid. We saw a salamander, several turtles, frogs, and a dead snake hanging in a tree. Little John walked all the way around the pond, two hours.
Today may be the last day of summer, but it seems that fall is already upon us. Ella's birthday is in two weeks, and I know that we have long weeks of indian summer ahead of us. For now, these are the weeks of misty mornings and spider webs, slanty light and red trees, warm days and chilly mountain nights.