Sunday, April 29, 2007

big and little

big and little, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

she went that way

she went that way, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Today was Sharry's retirement party. I made my fourteen pounds of hummus and got the children simutaneously clean. The location was beautiful, but I'm just not cut out for parties. There are alway just too many people there for me, especially any party that requires fourteen pounds of hummus. Hopefully the guest of honor had a good time. There was music and dancing...and children of all sizes running amok. I'm going to say it. Some of those children were absolutely horrible...climbing in the landscaping with complete disregard for the plants and climbing in the rocky water gardens. If my children ever behave that way I hope someone brings them to me by the hand. I told one boy, a second grader, that he couldn't climb down some steep rocky landscaping and he looked at me like I had just crawled out of my spaceship.

Friday, April 27, 2007


girls, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We went to a big birthday party after school today. The whole class was there. Ella loved being at the big playground with all her school mates. The seventy five percent chance of rain turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Later the kids and I went to the natural food store and the asian market for supplies. John was quite unhappy until he could ride in the little truck shopping cart. Ella was quite interested in the bucket of big squid. I got all my supplies for making appetizers for Sharry's party. Everyone seems to be making fancy food, but I'm making three kinds of hummus, traditional, roasted red pepper with smoked paprika, and a green one with spinach and cilantro. I'm going to make some homemade whole grain bread and buy some pita and baguettes.

Bone tired.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


ellajohn, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

caitlin hammaren

She was killed at Virginia Tech last monday while Ella was in preschool. I had never met her, but she was the one familiar face among those lost in the senseless tragedy that occurred here. A few weeks ago she sat behind us in a local lebanese restaurant. She laughed so loudly. She was speaking mile a minute impeccable French. She captured my attention immediately with her joie de vivre. Then someone captured her attention. My baby. They gave each other the eye over and over. Not every young girl takes the time to connect with a young man who is only 18 months old. She took those moments. And now she is gone.

Monday, April 23, 2007

john and ella

john and ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

it ain't easy being green

it ain't easy being green, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I've been thinking that the only gun one should be allowed to carry is a musket.

Ella wore her little Virginia Tech shirt to school today even though she didn't know why. Some children in her class know what happened, and one even saw the photographs of the shooter with his guns. That kind of parenting verges on negligence in my book. If Ella asks us a question about the shootings, I'll certainly tell her the truth, but so far she is blissfully ignorant.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

high five

high five, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

When I clean up a room I sing the clean up song. Sometimes there aren't any children in the room.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

small town

The town is wavering. The streets were almost empty this morning with the university closed and the public school closed. The parking lots were filled with media vans, and last night all the news big heads were walking around campus. The university is large, but this is a small town. It is somewhat geographically isolated, and before yesterday I might have joked that the worst thing that could have happend to a student here was a bad hangover, a burn from a tanning bed, or maybe a girl was weighed down by the weight of her own sparkling lip gloss. Today, I see these people as fragile, breakable, terrified children.

We heard about a shooter from another mother on a cell phone. A friend and I were talking in the parking lot of the coffee shop and the mother on the phone said, "Get in your car; someone is shooting people on campus." We raced to Ella's school which was already locked down and spent the next few hours there. The children watched a movie in the library with no windows and the teachers found them a snack. No one seemed to notice that school wasn't ending. At this point we were incredulous that one or perhaps even two people had been killed. I would have never expected thirty two. We were maybe a mile away. We were very worried about our friends who were there, and it was hard to get through on the telephone for the rest of the day. I was happy to be near the children and know that they were safe. Their teacher was doing a nice job balancing her own concerns with the twenty four little people locked behind several doors.

When we could go I got out of town as quickly as possible. At the grocery store the power was out because of the high winds, but we shopped in the dim light. The checker had the radio blaring and I asked her to turn it down so that the children wouldn't hear. She wouldn't so I blabbed loudly about nothing for five minutes. If you want to talk about the root of the problem I'd say that people are insensitive to the violence that they expose children to, but I'm going to save that for another day.

At home I made lunch before letting Ella watch TV so that I could come downstairs and check the news on the computer.

Today Ella had school. She still doesn't know about the killings, but some of the children do know. I don't want her thinking that things like that happen at "daddy's school". Many of the children have older siblings and I expect it is impossible to keep that information from spreading. Many people live here because it seems to be such a safe, child friendly environment, and this incident has really shattered that.

We went to the park and flew a kite this afternoon. It was so bright and sunny.

I know that devastating incidents like this can happen anywhere. The stories are resonating though these hills tonight.

I'll be your kite chaser

I'll be your kite chaser, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


run, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Monday, April 16, 2007

John is home

Thanks for all the calls and emails. We are all home and fine. John was in Martinsville today instead of in the office.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


hoot, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We headed down to Roanoke for a rainy sunday of thai food and science museum mini golf. We got Ella signed up for Chemistry Camp for mid July. A few months ago I had to stop her from mixing the various shampoos and conditioners in the shower to make "potions". Now we just have "potion" night. It is friday. It happens in the bathtub. They both make one potion and have to use it to wash themselves. Friday is also violin lesson day, cookie day, and spaghetti and "meatballs" night. Last week we made our own recipe for tofu meatballs, and it will forever be referred to as "trickin' chicken". Oh, to be five and loving words.

Trickin' Chicken

1/3 loaf good bread made into crumbs in the cuisinart with one garlic clove, toasted

1 pound tofu

3 tbsp brewer's yeast

sage, parsley, and oregano

teaspoon salt

ground pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

6 mushrooms, finely chopped and sauteed with 1 onion, two cloves of garlic, and I had a shallot so I added it.

Pulse herbs, spices, tofu and bread crumbs. Add water to make a cream cheese consistancy. Mix in sauteed mushrooms and onions and refridgerate. Saute in 1 tbsp olive oil until browned and then pour in two tablespoons of balsamic, shake until evaporated, and then add a quart of marinara. I let it all sit for twenty minutes. Serve with spaghetti.

Ella declared this delicious, and she likes all kinds of meaty meatballs. John ate these with his hands. Big John thought they were "trickin".


golf, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Old School Freight Train

In case you want to know what the inside of my car sounds like.

I'm blueish and sore throatish. We were supposed to go to the zoo in Ashboro tomorrow, but there is a ninety percent chance of heavy rain, so we'll wait for a better day.
Oh, this is good. We got a new tent, a big airmattress, and another bag. We were getting a bigger cooler, but young John started going screamy in the store, so that will be another day. We are ready for some of our summer campout destinations, Floyd Fest, First Landing State Park, and the Breaks Interstate Park.

show me your new teeth

show me your new teeth, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

ebb and flow

roof pattern, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ella thinks that she may have outgrown her wheelbarrow. She needs a greenhouse for spring, and she is going to grow an apple tree to hang a rubber horse swing on. She is saving her coins to buy a homeless man a poncho.

On the other hand, she has learned how to tackle boys. She is fast, strong, and flies through the air like a professional football player.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Kid's Craft Weekly

Subscribe already. This week it is all about books and all the crafty goodness surrounding making books, bookmarks, and bookbags.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

colonial beach

colonial beach, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We spent the weekend in this quaint little cottage on the river. It snowed. John cooked. We walked on the beach for three minutes. We drank coffee. It was perfect. Thank you Doris.

Friday, April 06, 2007


john, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


"hiyah", originally uploaded by ellajohn.
I don't know where I've been all week. Spring struck and we've been outside. There were Easter eggs to be dyed. There were all those baskets of laundry to put away and noses to be wiped. Last night I went to another meeting about starting a new cooperative preschool. Tomorrow morning we are driving to Charlottesville to meet John's parents for lunch and then we are going on a weekend getaway planned by John. I have no idea where we are going, and he has packed a lot of vegetables and blackstrap molasses. I'm excited about our second child free adventure. I don't even know if the internet goes where we are going. I kind of hope so.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Smokey Mountain Breakdown

If you aren't reading this then I don't know what to tell you.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


pink, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ella and I went to an egg hunt on saturday, just the two of us. She had a great time hunting for well hidden eggs. They were up in trees, down by the creek, and I even found an egg from a previous year's hunt.

It was a home improvement weekend. Hopefully our treehouse is closed to all nesting woodpeckers, chickadees, and squirrels for the moment. We live in a natural cedar house clinging to the side of a steep wooded hill, a treehouse. As a small token for the birds, John put up a birdhouse. It was claimed within 24 hours. We weeded and planned some plant purchases. I think John finally realized how hard it is to actually accomplish something real with John and Ella "helping".

Ella has been a bit distracted. A seven year old girl is moving in next door, and Ella has been stalking her non-stop. She even has Barbies and Brats dolls and drinks Kool-Aid. It is nice that she will have a friend to ride the bus with when Kindergarden starts next year. She calls me "ma'am" and compliments our house. Last night she was waiting when Ella got home from the egg hunt. She had a bug jar and was planning on becoming a scientist. They happily caught bugs until dark. Ella said, "I don't think you'll like her mama; she smokes cigarettes and then throws them on the ground". I just told her that not every family is like ours. It will work out.

Or we'll just move. Driven away by a seven year old in low rise jeans.