Saturday, October 31, 2009


We had lots of fun times leading up to Halloween. We carved a big ol' pumpkin and set it out in our front yard so the babes could see it at night.

One Saturday H took Elliott to work with her and I took the girls to the pumpkin patch. They enjoyed picking out pumpkins and looking at all the colors, sizes, and textures.

Then we bought some mums and came home to make an autumn grouping for our front yard.

The babes' Aunt Donna and Uncle Terry gave the three these neat pumpkin pieces. They were a neat way for Lucia, Elliott, and Mazie to decorate pumpkins. They enjoyed picking our their features. They would tell us which pumpkin was theirs.

Just missing 98

We had a great time trick-or-treating tonight. We consumed much too much candy. We got to visit lots of friends and family. We had long but nice time. We hope you enjoy photos of us in our dalmatian costumes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Altar

I wrote about Garrison Keillor earlier this month. I have found new poets to love in his collections of poetry. Two of the ones I am most glad to find are Charles Simic and Lisel Mueller. I think one of the reasons I like this poem so much is that I have little altars everywhere: on my bedside table, in the console of my car, on the window sill at the kitchen sink. I mostly display things that remind me of happy occurrences, but also things that bring to mind a certain attitude, like gratefulness and generosity and loveliness.

Here is poem number three in my installment of Project40.

The Altar by Charles Simic

The plastic statue of the Virgin
On top of a bedroom dresser
With a blackened mirror
From a bad-dream grooming salon.

Two pebbles from the grave of a rock star,
A small, grinning wind-up monkey,
A bronze Egyptian coin
And a red movie-ticket stub.

A splotch of sunlight on the framed
Communion photograph of a boy
With the eyes of someone
Who will drown in a lake real soon.

An Altar dignifying the god of chance.
What is beautiful, it cautions,
Is found accidentally and not sought after.
What is beautiful is easily lost.

Junk Pile Road

We have landmarks around our place with names like the Woody house, the cattle pond, the cattle gap, rock ford. Today we took a hike down junk pile road. We enjoyed looking at flowers and mushrooms. The children were quite amazed to find a collection of broken doors and windows, a satellite dish, old barrels and boxes and bottles at the bottom of the hill.
I am in awe of how my children are growing up so fast. Mazie carried Mr. Mouse with her and I gave the children each a sucker from their parade loot. When Mazie and Lucia finished their sucker I took their paper sticks and put them in my pocket. I looked to Elliott to collect his stick but didn't see it. "Elliott, where is your sucker stick," I asked him. He looked up at me and said, "I put it in my pocket." When we have these little glimmers of conversation they make my breath catch in my chest. These tiny little beings are communicating with me like little children. It is something I am still getting used to.
I am so thankful for the days we have together. I just wish they didn't go so fast.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Powdered Milk, Please

This is what happens when you forget to take the milk out of the freezer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Children tell you a lot about yourself. After putting Lucia in her car seat one day, I handed her a pair of sunglasses. She put them on herself with no instruction.
It seems I wear my sunglasses more to keep my hair back than shade my eyes. Lu wore her glasses like this the whole way home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I eat oatmeal for breakfast about six days a week.
I often get irritated at excessive packaging.

I have been buying the store brand instant cinnamon and apples oatmeal. But, I don't really like to get it because my children eat about four packets of it at one meal and it has some unnecessary ingredients in it. So, when my sister and I were together I told her I wanted us to concoct a recipe for cinnamon and apples oatmeal. The first batch we threw together we ground in the blender. This made for very pasty (paste as in glue) oatmeal. The next batch, which we were happy with, we threw into a gallon size Ziploc and shook. This is the way to go. It couldn't be easier and you can just keep refilling the same baggie with the ingredients.

Of course there are infinite options with oatmeal. Here is the one we made.

alem's easy oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
<1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons flax meal (or oat bran or wheat germ)
1/2 tablespoon sugar (though with subsequent batches I have left sugar out)
1/3 cup diced dried apples

Put all ingredients in a baggie. Shake.
Put desired amount in a bowl and pour just boiling water to cover.
Let stand 2 minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hum Along

I think Garrison Keillor is a genius, a true Renaissance genius. About five years ago I got to go to the Hollywood Bowl with my dad and watch him and his cast preform A Prairie Home Companion. I've read several of his books. The man really can do it all. I love the volumes of poetry he edits: Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. One of the things he does that I most enjoy is his daily NPR snippet, The Writer's Almanac. The poem below is from the email I get from that show. Each day the show sends out the script for the day's episode. The poem below was today's feature. I thought it was startling, something to really think about.

The Speaker

by Louis Jenkins

The speaker points out that we don't really have much of
a grasp of things, not only the big things, the important
questions, but the small everyday things. "How many steps
up to your front door? What kind of tree grows in your
backyard? What is the name of your district representative?
What is your wife's shoe size? Can you tell me the color of your
sweetheart's eyes? Do you remember where you parked
the car?" The evidence is overwhelming. Most of us never
truly experience life. "We drift through life in a daydream,
missing the true richness and joy that life has to offer." When
the speaker has finished we gather around to sing a few
inspirational songs. You and I stand at the back of the group
and hum along since we have forgotten most of the words.

"The Speaker" by Louis Jenkins, from Just Above Water. © Used with permission of the poet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


We have had a good week: the humidity that usually suffocates us is gone, the leaves are twirling and dancing as they fall from the trees, we've lit the gas logs to warm us in the mornings, and we had two parades in less than a week. Fire prevention and Homecoming.
These first pictures are from the homecoming parade. It was a cool day, high in the mid 50s. I bundled the babes and made them some hot chocolate. They got lots of loot and had a good time.
They even got to see their Nana on a float. Her class was celebrating a reunion and they participated in the parade.
From an early age, Elliott has not liked loud sounds. He still doesn't. He will not come out of the car during the parade, though he watches very intently.
Here is Mazie with her buddy Brandon. Isn't this a study in opposites? This picture has given me the idea of making flash cards with pictures of opposites on them, pictures of things the three see in their daily life. I made some flashcards for my niece Avery last Hanukkah that had pictures of us and our life to match the words, words like tree, goat, cousin, aunt, house. Maybe I should work on some opposite cards. Mazie and Brandon would make the perfect "big, little" conparison.
Here we are at the Fire Prevention parade. H is on our town's voluteer fire department. She loves it and we are proud of her.
Here is Elliott, hiding from the noise but still instructing his sister to pass the candy.

H and Mazie picking up candy and watching the fire engines.
Elliott, hiding and watching.
The JBoys riding on the fire truck. They are good about giving us the loot. At supper the night after the homecoming parade, I asked the children what they most enjoyed about the parade. Lucia said the fire trucks. Elliott and Mazie both said the band. (Mazie says "banna" and Elliott says "ban.") In talking about the parades the three things they always mention are the fire engines, the band, and the candy. Elliott has even taken an interest to his drum since the parades. Thanks for checking in on us. We hope your life has been a lovely parade lately.