A Few More Days Slip Away

Dear Erin,

That sounds like a fun vacation. And I love how you dressed Munchkin to color-coordinate with the blueberries she was picking. Also, I hope the “hysterics” at the dropped ice cream didn’t come from you!

This weekend we tried to buy a car. Note that I didn’t say we actually bought a car. Long story, which basically boils down to a series of silly circumstances, but we might take the opportunity to see how well we do as a one-car family again. We have spent various periods of our married lives only using one car, and it might be instructive to see if we can do it again, now that there are three of us. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a little more room in the garage for awhile.


Here is LM, not pleased that he had to spend two days at car dealerships and didn’t end up with a new car to play with. Poor kid. At least he gets to face forward in the car we do have (it’s too small to attempt otherwise), so he’s happy about that.

Other than that, it’s been a quiet round of small activities around here – a very very little knitting and reading, trying to reduce the ever-growing piles of laundry, getting behind on correspondence, cleaning the floor six times a day. We finally went back to the playgroup today, after several weeks, so that’s something slightly unusual. Ice cream and playing in the fountain? LM said, “Yes, please!” (More or less.)

And thank goodness for Pinterest for entertaining a toddler:


He doesn’t really understand the concept of painting, but it’s still keeping him from climbing on the tables. See you in a week!


Summertime Adventures – Vacationing

Dear Kristen,

I like the haircut!  Takes me back to our first one; but I’m glad to hear it wasn’t as potentially traumatic as ours was (going to be in my imagination).  I think there’s a haircut in our future soon – but still just for Munchkin.  She tells me her hair is too long .  I tell her she could put it up in a ponytail and that would be great.  She tells me she would rather leave it down – and then its a tangled mess in about 15 minutes and we repeat the conversation.

This past week we’ve been on vacation!  Now, I know most of you who read this probably think we vacation all the time, what with the long car trips, and the mission work – but those aren’t vacations.  At least not for all of us.  Vacations = no work. And vacations = adventures.  That’s what we’ve been telling Munchkin.

We decided that this summer it would be a better idea to have a staycation, rather than your typical vacation.  Cue the singing!

Don’t want to wait ’til the sun’s sinking
We could be feeling alright
I know you know what I’m thinking
Why don’t we do a little stay-cation
Why don’t we do a little stay-cation

(At least that’s how the song it sung in our house…)

So we’ve had a few exciting adventures, all local!  Here they are:

  • Watched Paddington with popcorn and milkshakes. Liked it a lot.
  • Went blueberry picking – TONS of fun.

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  • Went swimming – wasn’t as big a hit as we expected with Munchkin – but everyone else was impressed.
  • Went to a nearby zoo – lots of fun for everyone – and not too hot.



  • Made blueberry jam – a big mess, but I feel like we accomplished something awesome.
  • Went to a neat playground.



  • Ice cream on the town – and Little Man’s first ice cream at that.  There were dropped cones, hysterics, delicious yummyness all over my shirt and arms and Little Man, and contented sleepy kids at the end.


Cute but Creepy (2015 Summer Series, pt. 3)

Dear Erin,

The kids around here are heading back to school – some last week and some this week – so I guess that means summer is coming to an end. I love this time of year. Spending so much time, both as a student and as a teacher, under the regime of the academic calendar, I always feel like the beginning of fall is a time of potential. It’s like a second new year. You would go buy your new folders and notebooks and resolve that this year would be different, that this year you would stay on top of deadlines and keep things organized and basically be a well-oiled learning / teaching machine.

To be honest, I did eventually get there, but when I did, the notes got much less interesting. They became mostly lists of the sources my professors and other colleagues were using. And for teaching, I had gotten my working notes refined enough to be a good base for teaching the same class year after year, with fewer revisions every semester, when we moved here and they became obsolete. Ah well, I still have them all. You know, against the day I go back and become a professor. With outdated notes. It could happen.

What I do these days doesn’t require notes. I’ve moved into cosmetology:


Little Mister got his first haircut last night. His father has been lobbying for this for weeks, and the boy was looking a little unkempt.

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This gives you a bit of an idea. On a good day, he had a mullet with a little curl in the back. Adorable and a mess at the same time. Of course, his hair is still laughably thin, but it was long enough that shaping up the back and trimming the bangs and around the ears makes a difference – at least to our eyes.

He was a little wiggly, and it was an imperfect trim but, as they say, “good enough for government work.” And no one lost an ear or got traumatized, so a success.


Not the best picture, but the best I got of his head this morning. The little curl is gone, which makes me kind of sad, but it’s a better look overall. My boy is growing up.


Now, let’s talk about my neighbor. My Neighbor Totoro, to be precise.

This movie is oozing with adorableness. Two little girls move with their father to the country and discover that their neighbor is a, I don’t know, a wood spirit, the spirit of the huge camphor tree close to their house. The girls befriend the spirit, and when Mei (the younger of the two) goes missing, after some difficult news about their invalid mother (who is staying at a hospital close by), Totoro helps Satsuki (the elder) find her with the help of the Catbus I mentioned a few weeks ago.

In watching this time – and I think this is only the second time I’ve seen it – I enjoyed it more because this time I knew that even the bits I found off-putting before were essentially innocent. The whole scene where Totoro shows up at the bus stop Satsuki and Mei are waiting at, stands partly in the shadow, and then gets on the Catbus, felt very sinister on the first viewing. Second time through, though, it’s just a dark night and the spirits are going about their business and perfectly friendly.

It’s very similar to my experience with The Lord of the Rings: the first time I read it through I was so consumed by worry for the hobbits that I couldn’t enjoy it. I was sure, for example, that Tom Bombadil, Faramir, and even Aragorn (for awhile) were sinister enemy agents, and even though they were only helpful to them, I couldn’t shake the feeling. It wasn’t until I finally finished the book that I was able to relax, and subsequent readings have been much more enjoyable. I expect that is what will happen here; it will just keep getting better.

Charles says Little Mister can’t watch this before he’s 18 because when Mei goes missing, the adults find a sandal in a pond and start dragging the water for her body. A little dark, I’ll admit. I don’t know that LM would really pick up on the horror of that, but the scary spirits might be bad enough. Maybe we’ll wait longer than I had expected to on this one before I rewatched it. Before Sunday night, I was thinking maybe 4 or 5, like the other movies I’ve looked at here and here. But now, I’m leaning more toward waiting until he’s around Satsuki’s apparent age, which looks to me like 8 or 9. I think then he’ll be in a sweet spot between still identifying as a child (and therefore able to “see” spirits like Totoro) and not too scared by them. Besides, Satsuki is the main protagonist in the movie, and therefore the main audience identifier, so it would make sense to aim for him to best be able to identify with her.

The last movie I’m looking at will be one you might not have heard of. It’s not a Disney or Disney-affiliated movie, so I feel like it’s less well known than the ones I’ve done so far. I just don’t want to be only looking at products from the Mouse House. Enjoy your week!

Top 10 Reasons this Blog Post is Late

Dear Erin,

You certainly have had an adventurous summer. Does Munchkin even understand the concept of “partied out“? And bless you for your bravery on the drive down to Florida. My travels there and back weren’t fabulous, but they were only 7 hours long. The past week (and a half) has been full, but my head has been empty, and I have found nothing to write on in any kind of thoughtful, extended way. Shall I give you a list of random impressions instead? Yes? Good.

  1. Little Mister has been slightly ill since last Wednesday, when we visited our first-ever playgroup. It seemed like a nice enough group of people, and I anticipate we’ll go back, even if they did share at least one and possibly two different germs with him (he’s had a cold and some sort of mild but lengthy stomach thing). Also, he seemed supremely uninterested in the other kids. He just wanted to do his own thing and play with the host girl’s toys, and he was happy.
  2. I’ve been doing more knitting than usual, but I can’t show you more than this:
    IMG_7830  I have a deadline, so I hope this gets finished in time. Then the next deadline is Christmas, for which I have an insane number of goals to accomplish – but I’ll be able to share some of those goals in progress.
  3. Charles tried to convince me to review a movie every week instead of every other week, like I had planned. (The two reviews back to back were because I was [already] behind.) That sounded good, and I tracked down some more movies so I would have enough for all the weeks left in August, but in order to review you have to have time to watch and pay attention. See #1 above for lack of time and #2 for lack of attention.
  4. We did have time on Saturday for a little family outing: the Children’s Museum.
    20150808_154949  This time, I think because his daddy was there, he agreed to wear the smock and had fantastic fun: plastic balls and water to splash – what’s not to like?
  5. Things LM is learning that I’m happy about: he can say “please, ” “Amen” and “Bible”; he’s learning how to color (ie, scribble); he knows how to go down the slide at the playground by himself.
  6. Things LM is learning that I’m NOT happy about: to express his frustration by screaming and (newly) hitting, to climb on (and fall off of) everything.
  7. I’m not sure yet if I mind that he’s learned how to turn on his noise-making toys and the (digital) piano.
  8. As we’re now in the second half of the year, my current favorite fandom is gearing back up. Doctor Who! Most recent season on Netflix!! Current season airing in a little over a month!!! LEGO VIDEO GAME!!!!! (And I’m not even a big video game person, but the Lego ones are pretty good, and I think you can play as any Doctor, and it looks like it’s going to be awesome. And I’m sure I’ll have just lots of time to enjoy it, too. A girl can dream…)
  9. Other than that, I’m in the midst of six books (and only making progress on this one).
  10. And if you look around my house, you’ll see empty sippy cups all over the floor, laundry in every bathroom, a cooler in the living room, a garbage can on the dining room table, and pretty much zero clean surfaces.

Life with a one-year-old. Who has time to write blog posts? (And life with two kids under five? Every day I admire you more and more; how do you possibly have time to write any blog posts?)

Summertime Adventures – Summer Birthdays

Dear Kristen,

When I was little I occasionally wished my birthday was in the summer and not the winter.  A chance for pool parties and beach parties and pool parties….

But now I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea if my children had winter or spring or fall birthdays.  Summer birthdays…last a month.

Here’s the adventure:

Because of our job, we travel a fair amount in the summer.  This means that anything requiring celebration in the summer – birthdays, anniversaries, etc. – are rarely celebrated on the date of origin.  Munchkin turned 4 a couple of weeks ago and of the four birthdays she’s experienced (not counting the day she WAS born) we’ve been home for only one.

So this year she has had…wait for it…three parties.  One in Florida (thanks Dad for sharing!), one at the grandparents in Virginia, and one at our house for “little friends” at our house.  All told it lasted from the middle of July to the first of August!  I am partied out.

But Munchkin is not.  She thinks there will be more surprises and cake and ice cream and parties and friends and the list goes on and on.

Birthdays are special, and as she gets older I know she’ll figure out that the day and the person are the most special parts of it – but right now…the parties are pretty awesome.


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