Besides doing as much of this as possible, of course.
Jane is thirteen and busy, busy, busy. Art class, piano, ballet, Journey North, Shakespeare Club. The number of activities makes my head spin but is delicious to her. She's learning her lines for a Taming of the Shrew scene. Mastering the jump attack in Zelda: Twilight Princess. Beginning to polish her repertoire for Piano Guild auditions. Enjoying the Think Piece questions from Julie Bogart's Bravewriter Boomerang. (Today's Murder on the Orient Express think piece led to a long and hearty discussion of the death penalty.) Reading all the Agatha Christie she can get her hands on (which, thanks to a kind librarian, has been a lot). Reading Jane Austen. Quoting articles from Muse magazine. Making dolls. Reading stories to Rilla at naptime. Plugging away at Latin and algebra. Baking cobbler when I'm too busy. Crocheting hair scrunchies by the dozen.
Rose likes life at a mellower pace. Her fiery personality adds enough spice to her life, I think. One by one, she has chosen to opt out of the activities her sisters enjoy. She still takes art and piano lessons, which seems like a lot to me, and is one activity more than Jane was doing at her age. She has a small vegetable garden out back, thanks to my mother's labors during my postpartum days, and she spends a lot of time outside playing with bits of leaf and twig. She's writing quite a bit: journal entries, stories, letters. Has been (like the others) glued to the Warriors books lately. Is deeply attached to her horse in Zelda. Clamors to be the one to hold the baby during his morning nap. Chops all my potatoes and onions for me. Still loves to play dress-up. Practices Amazing Grace on the piano ten times a day, as long as I don't tell her to.
Beanie: busy bouncy Beanie! Loves to start her day with a snuggle on the sofa, just me and baby if possible, but she'll make a space for the other wee ones if they're awake. Just finished reading Understood Betsy; said it had a very satisfying ending. (I agree.) Loves copywork with a passion that is enchanting to behold (and mystifying to her mother, who loathes writing by hand). Doesn't go to piano lessons any more (her class was canceled due to a drop in enrollment) but is learning here at home, with her sisters' help. They've been through the book before her. Likes to fix my breakfast for me: a bowl of strawberry yogurt, almonds, granola. Wishes we had a trampoline. Is learning to draw in 3D from Mark Kistler's book. Writes me coded messages. Wishes she got to hold the baby more. Wants to have a tea party with her friends: key event, facepainting. Is looking forward to receiving her First Communion. Can't help being drawn into Little Bear when her younger brother and sister are watching. Wishes we had a pool. Forgets the job you gave her even before she's out of the room. Is reading the Redwall books. Listens to Suzanne Vega every chance she gets. Spends long minutes smiling into the baby's eyes. Says she doesn't remember ever being cooed at before, and that being cooed at is the best thing in the whole world.
As for me, besides all the usual mom stuff, and the crammed-in-when-I-can writing stuff, I'm fiddling with fabric, working on a quilt square for the online bee I'm part of. And (as you know) I've been reading a lot lately. Not as much this month as I did in January, but then I'm on my own again as sole adult in charge. Last month I had my mom for two weeks and then Scott was off work for another two weeks. Nice. Now I read in the very early mornings and late at night—on the iPod, as often as not. I am finally, finally working my way through Ulysses. Very slow going, yes, but oh my what a treat. I find myself staring at single sentences, single words even, tasting them over and over, scarcely able to believe that they've been there all along, ripe for the picking. Warm sunshine merrying over the sea. Birdsweet. The void awaits surely all them that weave the wind. DailyLit tells me I am 4% of the way through the book. I can't think of books in terms of percents, but I know I'm only just getting started, though I've been at it for weeks, a page or two at a time. Every few days I sit down with my big fat Ulysses Annotated and unpack quantities of allusions, and then I have to go back and reread what I read before with better understanding. I am loving this.
Am also reading via DailyLit the YA thriller Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. I look forward to each night's brief installment. There aren't many books I would like to read this way, parceled out in small daily doses, but for these two—for dramatically different reasons—it's working.
Have not yet finished rereading Portrait of a Lady, long way to go. Started
right after Christmas and set it aside: still mean to finish that one.
Have a TBR stack as high as the moon. You know how it is.
Well, that's half the family. More than enough for one post, eh!
A few peeks from our week...
Guess whose big sisters got hold of him? He may have the villainous beard, but they're the ones with nefarious purposes.
Rilla needed a sling to match mommy's. Mine, by the way, is now serving its sixth baby! I've had it since Jane was a bairn.
I am in love with this sweet dolly. Jane made her for Rilla, totally by herself. I want a big sister like Jane.
I read a lot last month. That's because during the first half of the month, I was too pregnant to do much else, and during the second half I was snuggled up with a snoozing lump of baby. My hands are too full for writing, most of the time, but reading, ah, that's something I can do.
World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler, a novel set in the not-far-off future, after a sweeping political and economic event (described only in vague terms) has dramatically altered American society. There's no more oil. The grid is down: no electricity, no long distance communication, not much government to speak of. Bombs have destroyed Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. A flu epidemic has wiped out masses of people. In the narrator's small upstate New York community, the survivors have cobbled together lives from the refuse of their former existence; abandoned houses (most of the houses are abandoned, now) are stripped for parts, and the unsavory character who has taken control of the old landfill is one of the chief power-wielders of the community. The narrator and his neighbors seem perpetually dazed, still shaken by the waves of tragedy and loss that washed the old way of life away. The events of the book force the narrator to wake back up.
I have a great fondness for post-apocalyptic literature and film, so this book's premise was right up my alley. The narrator's state of shell-shocked numbness keeps the reader somewhat at a distance, but it's a believable numbness and perhaps a merciful distance: there is so much loss, so much pain, so much quivering uncertainty about the future. Kunstler's vision of the various ways society gropes to reshape itself is convincing and minutely detailed.
The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett. What a little gem. Scott checked it out from the library and said he thought I'd enjoy it. As usual, he was right. The Queen of England discovers, by chance, that a library bookmobile visits the palace grounds. To the astonishment of the librarian, she checks out a book—and finds herself on a literary rabbit trail, hopping eagerly from one book to the next. Surprising, original, delightful.
The Moving Finger (Miss Marple Mysteries) by Agatha Christie. Everyone deserves a Christie break now and then.
The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall. Really wanted to like this novel. So much potential in the setting and cast of characters: the novel is about a woman who gives violin lessons in a small music store, the only female on the staff, half in love with one undeserving coworker and flattered by the attentions of another. Eventually I grew tired of the relentless melancholy and bad choices. I admit I lose patience with people (even fictional ones) who seem determined to be miserable.
Which is why the next book, Meg Wolitzer's The Ten-Year Nap, annoyed the bejeebers out of me. Don't get me wrong: Wolitzer can write beautifully. But oh what a bunch of whiners in this novel. I kept wanting to shake them and shout, "Knock it off! Quit your bellyaching and DO something! Read to your kid! Take a walk! Bake some bread! SOMETHING. Anything." I'd read rave reviews. People loved the "honest" look at the misgivings of women who gave up promising careers to stay home with their children. I'm sure many women do have those misgivings. But, look, you make your own happiness. The women in this novel seemed to me to be sleepwalking, drifting through their days in a state of vague discontent, trapped in the hamster wheel of their own minds. I have little respect for people who refuse to wake up.
The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman.
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi. Had this one on the library reserve list for a long time. Really enjoyed it—sort of. Seemed like Nafisi was trying to untangle some knotty emotional threads about the Iranian Revolution and her own choices during those stormy years and the decade following. The eyewitness-to-history narrative was fascinating, but became terribly repetitive as the book went on. The best parts of the book are her literary discussions, her thoughtful unpacking of Gatsby, Daisy Miller, Lolita, Pride and Prejudice, and other works. Here Nafisi shines, and it's easy to see why her students became so attached that many of them returned to audit her classes year after year. Best of all, Nafisi got me reading: she made me hungry to revisit old favorites (Austen, Gatsby) and curious about books like Lolita that have spent far too many years on my TBR list. I wanted to hear what Nafisi had to say about them, but I loathe spoilers, so I had no choice: had to read the books. Am very glad I did.
These next few titles, then, are books I read between sections of Reading Lolita.
Daisy Miller by Henry James.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. For the, I don't know, sixth or seventh time? I can open this book to any page and just sit there tasting sentences.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Creeped me out in the worst way—but I couldn't put it down—and jiminy crickets what gorgeous, sumptous writing. And beneath the creepiness, the terrible sadness, the bleak impenetrability of Humbert's cage—worse even than the cage Lolita is trapped in.
(And a February note: my James kick has continued. First Washington Square, new to me. Now, Portrait of a Lady, the first half of which I loved passionately in college, a love that turned to outrage during the second half, because at that point in time I had no stomach for a book with a likeable heroine who did not find felicity in romance at the end. Now, nearly twenty years later, perhaps because I am comfortably immersed in a still-crazy-in-love marriage, I am finding that I can allow the novel to be the novel it is, not the happy-ever-after tale I wanted it to be in college.)
I just put a cherry cobbler in the oven—yes, I know it's not even lunchtime here yet, but I've learned that if I don't cook early in the day, I won't cook at all—and I thought that in honor of Presidents Day, I'd reprise this old post which contains a very nice cobbler recipe, if you can wade through all my nonsense to find it.
Originally posted November 2005
I have just polished off—with considerable help from children doing their finest ravenous-baby-bird impersonations—the remnants of the cherry cobbler I baked for teatime last week. We will pause here while people who know me well digest this news. Yes. I BAKED. From scratch. Well, the cherries were canned but I did actually have to crack an egg. And measure things. And—are you ready for this?—"cut in butter." Oh sure, most of you out there probably cut butter into a flour mixture as easily as breathing, but SOME of us find these things a lot more complicated than, say, writing novels or using HTML code. To be fair, I must disclose that Jane did most of the actual cutting-in. But I put the cobbler in the oven and took it out when it was done. Not burned. Not still gooey in places. Really truly perfectly done. Also, I whipped cream. (Gasps arise from my friends.)
Anyway, I have decided that cherry cobbler is the world's most perfect food. (Well, right after dark-chocolate-and-marzipan bars. And my mom's fried okra.) The cherries, not too tart, not too sweet, bursting with antioxidants, so the can assures me. The biscuity cobbler topping, only slightly sweet, with a lovely cake-like texture. And then of course the whipped cream, which, now that I think about it, really might be God's most awesome invention. And so foolproof that even I can't mess it up.
I have informed my children that we're going to be eating lots and lots of cobbler from now on. They appear to be amenable to this plan. I will now share the recipe so you know what to serve for dessert next time you have me over.
Fruit Cobbler for the Incompetent Cook
1 can cherry pie filling (or blueberry, apple, whatever)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional--I didn't use it)
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 beaten egg
3 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 400. Dump pie filling in an ungreased 8x8 baking dish and stick in oven to warm up while you mix the topping. (Cookbook will prattle on about how to make fruit filling from scratch, but you know your limits.)
In bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and if desired, cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not panic if you have no idea what that means. Google can offer a ready explanation. Or ask your oldest child, who seems to have an innate knack for these things. Better yet, let her do it. You can still claim credit with your friends because after all, YOU made her.
In another bowl, combine egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just to moisten.
Take baking dish out of oven. Drop topping into 6 mounds atop filling. Do not forget that the baking dish is HOT. When you do forget, drop spoon into filling and rush to sink to put burned hand under cold water. Allow oldest child to gingerly fish spoon out of filling and resume dropping mounds of topping into dish (which child will not forget is hot, because 1) you are yowling at sink and 2) she has more than half a brain). Assure younger children that your burn is not serious. Resolve to yowl under your breath next time, so as not to alarm small children.
Turn off cold water, dry burned hand, stifling scream when towel touches burned part, and resume impersonation of capable, domestically skilled mother. Start to pick up baking dish and thank children for alerting you with frantic shrieks that you are about to touch hot dish once again. Pick up potholders, which are lying on counter right next to hot baking dish and which were custom-made for you on a potholder loom in colors so bright it is surprising that you failed to notice them when you reached for the scalding-hot dish in the first place. USING POTHOLDERS, place dish in oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in topping comes out clean. Possibly entrust this task to your oldest child, as you are sure to burn yourself again if you attempt it.
Serve warm with freshly made whipped cream, which (thank heavens) even you cannot mess up.
To celebrate, eat three servings. But save enough for tomorrow's breakfast.
Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy.
The winners of the 2009 Cybil Awards have been announced at the Cybils blog. Congratulations to all the winners!
As a member of the first-round judging panel for Fiction Picture Books, I was happy to see that my favorite title from our shortlist, How to Heal a Broken Wing, won in that category.
And I'm tickled to see that the winner of the Nonfiction Middle Grade/Young Adult category is a book by a friend of mine: The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby and John Busby. Cylin and I were lowly editorial assistants together at Random House many years ago. I'm so proud of her. (Good thing I wasn't a panelist for that category—I'd have had to recuse myself.) I've been dying to read her book: I finally have a copy on the way, so more on that later.
While you're over at the Cybils blog checking out the winners, don't miss Easy Reader winner Mo Willems's illustrated thank-you note!
This time it was the charming Diane of Journey of a Mother's Heart who paid San Diego a visit. Erica did the honors, opening her lovely home to me and my brood, Kristen and her sweet girls, and Diane and her sister-in-law and adorable nephews. What a fun day. I already knew I was going to love hanging out with Diane; her warm, funny, generous, lively spirit won my heart a long time ago.
Wonderboy was smitten too.
Delicious lunch, stimulating conversation, busy children, snuggly babies: a perfect morning. The time passed too quickly, is all.
All right, who's next?
On the CPSIA front: Alicia has started an Illegal Books Meme to help spread awareness of the issue. I'll be chiming in as soon as I can upload some pictures of books it would now be illegal to sell.
I have been wanting to blog about the dreadful Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act for weeks, and especially this week when the law went into effect, but I have very little handsfree time for typing right now (and you know I'm not complaining about that).
But this is a very important and disturbing issue, and if it isn't on your radar yet, I urge you to read up on the matter. Many used book stores and thrift shops are now throwing out—as in, putting in the trash—children's books published before 1985 because to sell them would be breaking the law, as of this past Tuesday. Books in the trash is such a horrifying thought I can scarcely type it.
Goodwill stores have pulled all children's clothing and any other children's product from their shelves.
Here's some links to folks who are on top of the issue. I highly recommend exploring their recent archives (especially their posts of the past week) and follow their links to yet more information.
Snopes, I'm sorry to say, is wrong on this one.
Last Friday, the CPSC declared numerous changes in their regulations, including the
following exemptions that correspond with requests made by HSLDA in our meeting with Commissioner Moore:
Last Friday, the CPSC declared numerous changes in their regulations, including the following exemptions that correspond with requests made by HSLDA in our meeting with Commissioner Moore:
The exemptions may be a step in the right direction, but that second bullet point makes it clear that children's books published BEFORE 1985 are not exempt from the new lead testing requirements. Used bookstores, thrift shops, and eBay or other online sellers of books are unlikely to be able to afford to have all their pre-1985 inventory tested. It is, therefore, now illegal to sell children's books published before 1985—even in your own yard sale.
This is seriously wrong.
(Thanks for the link, S.!)
Until today, our baby has been (if I do say so) remarkably good-looking. He lost his newborn red-and-wrinkly look very early on, and has in fact looked altogether too mature—more infant than newborn—for my comfort. Slow down, I want to tell him. He doesn't listen any better than time does.
Today he's doing his best teenager impersonation. The baby acne is out in full force: Beanie was afraid he had measles. My babies always break out impressively around four weeks of age. (And, sob, Sean is in fact four weeks old today.) I remember when Jane was his age; even though all the baby books had warned me, I was shocked by the profusion of red bumps on her sweet little face. Still, the books said baby acne was normal; she was right on schedule for the temporary outbreak, according to all those authoritative tomes.
So I was not alarmed—until my landlady got a look at her.
"WHAT is WRONG with the BABY?" cried Mrs. Pappas, an earnest and dramatic Greek woman in her mid-sixties. She had raised four babies of her own, and the magnitude of her horror at the sight of Jane's spotty face shattered my complacency.
"It's baby acne?" I said, asking rather than asserting, though all the books had been so firm on this point. "It's normal, right? For babies this age. It's not supposed to last long."
"Ah," said Mrs. Pappas, nodding sagely. "It must be an Irish thing."
Never fear, Sean Patrick. Sure and you'll be a handsome lad again soon enough.
Oh, we had so much fun yesterday! It was As Cozy as Spring over here, and believe me, the company was not a Small Treasure but rather a big one! Jenn and her lovely family were in town for a short while and did me the great favor of spending the morning at my house. Kristen drove down with her gorgeous girls, and pal Erica brought her gang to join the fun. Snacks, conversation, bloggity friends, and seventeen children—who could ask for anything more?
I haven't uploaded photos yet (and in any case, my camera was AWOL during the group shots), but Kristen has a nice pic of the four moms on her blog. I wanted the baby in the picture but Rose had him and wouldn't give him back.
The baby is three weeks old today, can you believe it? He smiled at me this morning, a big, real, eyes-lighting-up-in-recognition smile when he focused on my face. Scott was there to see it. It was one of those moments where you wish life came with a freeze-frame button so you could stay in that flash of time for ages.
Scott went back to work today after two weeks off, sob, and my parents, who flew in for a short visit (yes, my mom was just here helping before and after the delivery, but my dad hadn't seen the baby yet), went back home this evening. We are missing them already. And of course this means that tomorrow, for the first time, I am on my own. It's a day full of stuff to do, too: big kid stuff, running around. Should be interesting...
Speaking of big kid stuff: It's time for one of our favorite activities of the year: the Journey North Mystery Class. We have done this fascinating project four times, either alone or with a group. This year, another mom in our circle of homeschooling friends has very kindly offered to host the Journey North gang, what with my being three weeks postpartum and all. Jane is extremely excited. Truly, this geography project is one of the highlights of our year.
Our Shakespeare Club took a two-month hiatus for the holidays and my delivery, and we'll be maintaining a low-key pace during the ten weeks of Journey North so as not to overload anyone's schedule. But my Taming of the Shrew kids will be working on their scenes during the break, and we plan to get together now and then to rehearse. Jane spent this afternoon walking around muttering Katherina retorts under her breath. We're doing a couple of scenes, which means a couple of Kates and Petruchios. Fun fun.
Haley S. sent me the link to Academic Earth, a WAY COOL site full of video lectures from top university professors. Thanks a ton, Haley. I'm psyched about the Nabokov lectures, having recently shuddered my way through Lolita for the first time.
Gosh, I read a lot in January. Eight novels and two nonfiction books. For the first half of the month I was too pregnant to do much BUT read, and during the second half I was snuggled up with my sweet bairn, under doctors' orders to take it easy. I've been working on a "books read in January" post, mainly for my own records, but I keep getting too chatty about individual titles and it's taking forever to write.
The January Carnival of Children's Literature went up last week. I haven't had a chance to peruse the posts yet but it looks like a doozie.
Speaking of children's literature, I'm pretty excited about the new Kidlitosphere Central website that was just launched by a team of my favorite children's lit bloggers:
"KidLitosphere Central strives to provide an avenue to good books and useful literary resources; to support authors and publishers by connecting them with readers and book reviewers; and to continue the growth of the society of bloggers in children's and young adult literature."
Spread the word!
As my husband is wont to say, God bless Youtube. One of the girls was confused about whether or not to drop the silent e in "unfortunately." I know how I resolved that question at her age, and I went a-googling to see if I could find a certain video clip.
And sure enough, faster than a rolling O, there it was.
course you know we spent the next hour watching more Electric Company
clips, with the girls cracking up at my terrier-like 70s-child
excitement. The lolly song! And that other lollipop song, the creepy one. Hey, you guys! Silent E! The uberfunky TION
song, which I now realize may have been the genesis of my
environmentalist streak. (Rewatching it, I'm rather shocked by the
garmentlessness of the crowd at the end of the song. I guess the Age of
Aquarius touched kiddie TV too.)
Look, there's Morgan Freeman with a broken leg singing "There's a Hole at the Bottom of the Sea." Frankly, I always thought the gang was a little hard on the gorilla.
Rose and Bean liked Letterman best, and who can blame them?
We're in the mood for a bit o' Bach. Taking a nod from Ambleside, we listened to his Magnificat in D this morning—to the first movement, that is. Somewhere around the second aria, Rilla decided her mission in life was to plant both feet flat on Beanie's face. For some reason, Beanie found it difficult to listen to music that way. Rookie.
Anyway, I'm rounding up my links for easy access during, let's say, Rilla's naptime. If you've got any great Bach links, books, CDs, etc, you'd like to share, please fire away. :)
Magnificat in D on YouTube (Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra) (One of many, many recordings there.)
Wikipedia page on the Magnificat itself. (Includes Greek, Latin, and several English translations.)
Mr. Bach Comes to Call (Classical Kids CD)
Have any of you read this book: Sebastian Bach, the Boy from Thuringia? Do we desperately need to read it? Because I'm trying this crazy, crazy thing where I (gulp) don't buy any more books for a while. ::::shudder:::: Sorry, I felt faint for a minute there. Good thing I'm sitting down, anchored by a great big lump of snoozing baby.
(Deep breath) Okay then. Moving on. Beanie has just begun reading Genevieve Foster's George Washington's World, and in a nice bit of dovetailing, we learned that George was born in 1732 and Bach wrote his Magnificat in 1730.
Here, for good measure, is the Douay-Rheims translation of the Magnificat, Mary's great outpouring of joy from the Gospel of Luke:
- My soul doth magnify the Lord.
- And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
- Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
- Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
- And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
- He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
- He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
- He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
- He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:
- As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
...a nifty new website that allows you to create trails of theme- or topic-related books.
That's right, homeschoolers, it's what we've been doing all along. We call them "rabbit trails," these folks call them Reading Trails. I just tried it out with a little trail Beanie and I have recently begun to travel: The Tempest for Children.
Fun, fun, fun.
HT: my pal Kristen the always awesome
(Psst, sweet friend, see what's on the arm of the couch? The postman was walking up to our mailbox with your package at the very moment Scott, baby, and I pulled into the driveway. It's beautiful. Rilla approves wholeheartedly. Thank you so very much!)
And one last shot, decidedly less than flattering but a little gift for my Twitter pals:
Put the ding-dang camera away, honey, so I can eat my PUDDING!
(I didn't know this photo existed when I was twittering about pudding this morning. When I uploaded the photos this afternoon, I saw it and laughed and laughed. Scott must have snapped that during the one brief moment in time when the pudding was actually still in the bowl. I'm sure I was licking the dish clean five minutes later.)
Film critic David Denby, writing of his experience revisiting, in his forties, the Great Books core courses he had taken as a freshman at Columbia University thirty years earlier:
I was reading seriously, reading Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, all the Greeks. But I needed more time. Life got in the way—a good life, but in the way. I had always known it would, but I was determined not to rope off my school adventure, not to become a hermit, anything medieval or cloistered, but to remain a modern middle-class man, living my life as normally as possible. As if I had any choice! There were days when I wanted to be free just to study, to eat at any hour and sleep whenever I wanted to, unshaven and raw as an eighteen-year-old—and then the little one, Thomas, would take my hand and lead me into his room to show me something he had drawn, pulling me away from Plato, and I was exasperated but grateful, because a child's hand is like nothing else on earth.
My traffic has been through the roof these past few days, and while I'm sure much of that is due to the magnetic allure of Angelica's milk-white shoulders, it dawned on me that a sizable number of the hits are from friends dropping by to see if there's any baby news. This became all the more apparent when I switched the glitchy Twitter widget (which scrolled my tweets in the sidebar) to a just-plain-Twitter-button, and the outclick rate to my Twitter page quadrupled. May I just say it is awfully sweet to know how much y'all care? :)
But there's nothing to report. Great checkup at the OB on Friday. Baby's got plenty of fluid, excellent heart rate, is a happy camper. If nothing happens before Tuesday, I'll go back for another round of checking up.
BUT SOMETHING IS BOUND TO HAPPEN BEFORE TUESDAY.
Meanwhile, my mama is spoiling me rotten, doing all my household work PLUS beautifying the backyard in the most magnificent way. She is a treasure, my mother, let me tell you. My daddy is pretty swell too—and it's nice of him to part with my mom for two weeks so she could come entertain my younguns and do my dishes and fill me full of cornbread and ham.
Anyway, all's well, and I'm in good hands, and we're all hoping this little person decides to join the party very soon. As in: today would be nice!
During the long months of this pregnancy, I have been blessed with the companionship of a few special friends. We used to see each other only once a month, but lately we've been able to get together once or even twice a week, and how eagerly I have looked forward to these sweet moments of fellowship with women whose joy in motherhood outstrips even my own!
I realized today that our time together is drawing to a close...very soon (very, very soon, do you hear me?) it will be time to go our separate ways, and we shall see each other only once a year or thereabouts. Ah, dear friends, whatever will I do without you? Fortunately I happened to have my camera in my bag at our visit today, so I was able to capture a few treasured snapshots of these fair and tender ladies I have come to know so well.
Here they are all together with their precious infants, the whole beautiful bunch of them. Aren't they lovely?
So serene, so gentle, so rouged.
I have learned so much from these ladies. For example, here I am about to give birth to my sixth child, and yet until I met Angelica would you believe I had no idea it was proper to blow-dry one's hair to a silky sheen, tie back a few glossy locks with a ribbon, don a ruffly off-the-shoulder gown, and apply several coats of blusher before sitting down to breastfeed one's baby?
This is going to make a real difference in my next post-partum experience, let me tell you. Angelica always looks so calm and well rested. I realize now that my customary get-up of hastily scrunchied ponytail, spit-up-stained T-shirt, and no makeup whatsoever has been at the root of the exhaustion I typically experience during those first weeks with a new baby. LOOK beautiful and you'll FEEL beautiful is Angelica's motto.
Elspeth has a similar philosophy about pregnancy. I understand now that in banning white clothing from my wardrobe several sticky-fingered toddlers ago, I have been depriving myself of a kind of delicate radiance that would surely have blessed the child in my womb and all in our presence. And that band of pink ribbon below her bosom—how beautifully it offsets her the rosy glow of her lips. Every word that comes out of a mouth like that is pure honey, I suspect. (I can't say for sure, because demure Elspeth never utters a word. But you can see just by looking at her that she is full of warm and soothing thoughts.)
As for our ringleted chum Swoozie, I admit I worry a little about her sometimes. Those raw bruises on her cheek...the dark rings around her eyes...her habit of staring off into the distance, lost in thought, bottle-feeding her infant without even looking at him...I have some concerns about her home life. But she has never uttered a word of complaint, so perhaps I'm mistaken. Possibly she is only thinking about when to get her next perm.
Oh, dear friends, how grateful I am for the many times you have entertained me while I waited for our obstetrician to amble into the exam room! It is very good of you, all of you, to have kept such a patient vigil with me as the long, long minutes ticked by.
You will be sorely missed.