These three in the kitchen while having a snack this afternoon (I was in the living room reading)...

Catcher: Did you tell Mom?
Scout: Tell Mom what?
Catcher: That we watched a show.*
Scout: No.
Catcher: Don't tell her.

*I can only assume this secretive "watching of a show" took place while I went to the Target this morning and left Alex home alone with the children.

Come on, people. I'm not that bad.


clown face

Today it was finally Tillie's turn to take the stage during her first open house at the Dougherty Arts School. The theme this month was the circus, so naturally the class was a bunch of clowns. Alex and I brought big sister Scout along to the performance so she could cheer on her little sib (while quietly critiquing the class in her mind, I'm sure). Tillie was over it by the time we made it to the music portion of the performance, but overall she was a pretty happy clown and not creepy at all (or maybe just a little creepy).


under the baby grand

See these three adorable, law-abiding, sweet children enjoying a Sunday morning reading together in bed? Well let me tell you a story about a cold Tuesday afternoon with this triumvirate...

We live in Austin. And because we live in Austin, it was only a matter of time until we gave into the pressure of the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world" and forced our children into learning musical instruments--everyone here plays a guitar or the drums or the piano or is some kind of indy musician. Thus, we finally purchased a digital piano and lessons for the children are imminent. I know Scout is all in, but I want to make sure Catcher understands the dedication it takes to practice (practice, practice), so we're going to start slow with a music camp this summer.

This brings me to yesterday afternoon. It was cold and drizzly, so I figured a trip to the library was the perfect afternoon outing on our one day during the week not dedicated to soccer, ballet or lacrosse. First, however, we would stop by the music place (I'm not naming it for fear of incriminating myself, as you'll see) to sign up for camp.

I told the children before entering that they had to be respectful and couldn't start banging around on the pianos. If they had listened then I wouldn't have a story to tell. Instead, I have a story about two children [your guess] wrestling on the floor under a grand piano with the grand price tag of $40,000. I also have a story about a little girl [guess again], whose face is painted like a clown from preschool earlier that morning, who began screaming hysterically with tears and snot running down her face when she heard we would not be going to the library due to our insane behavior at the music store. Then there was the angry six year-old who took off running out of the store and hid behind a trashcan outside upon hearing the same news.

Yes, there were others present for this episode. There was a mom who maybe felt my pain (but not in the way where I got a shred of sympathy from her). She gave me a "girl, you crazy" look and nervous laugh while she and her well-behaved twelve year-old son tried to move away from my psychopath bolting out the door. She whispered "We'll come back" to the gentleman behind the counter who was trying his best not to be totally freaked out while outlining the various camps available. He turned to me in an "I feel sorry for you but not really because I also think you're crazy and could you please get your children away from the freaking $40,000 grand piano" kind of way. Oh, and he also followed Catcher out the door and said hesitantly--as in I'm scared this kid might knife me--and without any sort of authority to him "You should come back inside." I was still tending to the snotty, screaming three year-old with clown makeup running down her face and the four year-old banging on every piano--didn't I say don't bang on the pianos?--that I didn't have the energy to chase Catcher. I knew he wouldn't go far. He's too first-child sensible for that.

After gathering my belongings and casually blaming their behavior "on the weather," I left with my tail tucked between my legs. The guy behind the counter charged my card for the camp deposit after we left, though, so I guess we'll be allowed. Or else we'll have to find another studio that all my friends recommend.


80s hair

Today was the day that I woke up and couldn't stand looking at my stringy, scruffy hair for one more day! I always do this (and it often results in a serious chopping of the locks). I don't know when I reached the point in my life where things that used to be relaxing--like haircuts and pedicures--have become chores. I guess because my free time away from the children is so infrequent and valuable that I would rather spend it at the grocery store, where I can squeeze my avocados in peace, than sitting in chair at the salon. P.S. I hate the grocery store.

But back to the cut...another funny thing about haircuts and me is that I frequently end up looking like some 80s rock star. There was Pat Benatar in college (horrific!) and, more recently, Joan Jett (meh.). And to be clear, I'm not talking about the rock star when she (or he) was totally cool in the 80s, but the later version of the washed-up, aging star who's trying to hold onto the glory days and the glory hair. I get a definite Bret Michaels circa "Rock of Love" vibe from my new 'do. I just need to slap on a bandana and call it a day.


rock star photo booth

Remember when I promised to write about all the technical blah blah surrounding the Rock Star Photo Booth for the preschool music festival? Well...I kind of changed my mind. The pictures from this year turned out less than the spectacular image I had in my head. I'm my own worst critic, and since I'm not particularly proud of the final product, I don't feel like waxing poetic about lighting and apertures and all that jazz. You didn't really feel like reading about it anyway, right? In the meantime, enjoy two photos that turned out okay from that afternoon:


marry me?

This afternoon--yes, it was warm enough here to pick flowers (er, weeds) in a sundress (my apologies East Coast...and Midwest...and Southeast)--Scout showed me how you hold flowers at a wedding. She's been thinking about weddings lately. The other night at dinner she asked Catcher if he had decided yet who he was going to marry. Catcher, the practical first child, responded with "Are you kidding me? I'm only six!" To which Scout simply sighed and placed her hand on her chin, pining "I don't know who I'm going to marry." I reminded her that she doesn't have to marry anyone, a concept that she finds bizarre, and she looked at me with her still solemn face and said "I know. You told me that. But I think I want to. I just can't decide who." Catcher rolled his eyes.

Tillie, on the other hand, wasn't dreaming of weddings. She was more interested in playing in the dirt, picking weeds and not posing for the camera. I finally got her to acquiesce after a series of photo bombs, but she still wasn't buying the whole wedding business. 


miffy (and some other art)

Recently I was looking for an adorable, yet chic, lamp for Scout's bedside table. It should come as no surprise that I fell in love with a $220 lamp: Miffy. If you aren't familiar, the character was created by a Dutch artist to entertain his son, and Miffy has taken on a life of its own. Of course I want the Miffy lamp. The Miffy lamp is awesome (and Scout would love the Miffy lamp, too).

It was last week that I was obsessing over this lamp, and then we happened to visit Laguna Gloria on Saturday afternoon. I didn't read about any of the current exhibits prior to our visit, but guess what greeted us as we strolled through the parking lot--a giant Miffy (by artist Tom Sachs)! I couldn't believe it. First I took it as a sign that I definitely need to buy the Miffy lamp (don't worry...I haven't), but then I just wanted to get the girls as jazzed up about Miffy as I was (don't worry...they weren't).

The little guys were more interested in running around the grounds attempting to touch the art they weren't supposed to touch and confused by the art--like the one involving a cassette tape recorder!--that they were supposed to touch. Two of my other favorite pieces were this crazy gold net thing made of tiny people shapes (look closely, below) and a giant reflective mobile hanging in the trees. Once again, the wee ones didn't think the art was as amazing as I did. But on the other hand, I didn't think hiking through the woods was amazing as they did.


biosphere catastrophe

Yesterday (before Catcher went to bed at three in the afternoon) we visited Laguna Gloria for an afternoon family-friendly art project. It turns out, however, that the art project had a little more science to it than I had anticipated. We made our own biospheres (see biosphere definition, below) in Mason jars. I was half paying attention to the lady telling us what to put where--it may have had something to do with the three year-old screaming at my hip--so I possibly missed something in the presentation.

As I remember it, we put some rocks in the bottom, followed by tap water, some green pond-like plant (it has a name; I don't remember it), some other kind of water with green floaty things in it, a snail and a shrimp. I definitely remember the shrimp. Then we cut up a sponge in whatever shapes we wanted to serve as the "art" (at least I think that's what it was) floating in our biosphere. I made a simple heart since it was Valentine's Day. Scout (see above) jammed her jar full of "art."

Once we had finished, we closed up our jars and went on our merry way. Here is where something probably went wrong. When we got home, we all picked a spot for our biospheres. We looked in the jars and watched our cute little shrimp walking around. We tossed around possible names for our new "pets," if you will (Tillie liked the name Flower) and eventually we forgot about them and went to bed. Here's the thing...we never took off the lids. I'm no scientist, which will be obvious if you've already figured out that we woke up this morning to four dead shrimp.

Catcher was the first to notice that his shrimp was "just sitting there." Upon closer inspection, I discovered the shrimp was "just floating there" (upside down). I checked mine next: dead. Then Flower: dead. We never could locate Scout's through the tangle of sponges, but I suspect it met the same fate. So I'm guessing we should have taken the lids off to give the little guys some oxygen? Actually, I'm not even the one who realized this--I'm stealing Catcher's hypothesis. He figured out that maybe they ran out of air. Oops.

biosphere |ˈbīəˌsfi(ə)r|
the regions of the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the earth (or analogous parts of other planets) occupied by living organisms.


my funny valentine (night)

Well this is strange. It's 6:00pm on Valentine's Day, and I'm sitting all alone in a quiet house. The strange thing is not that I happen to be alone on Valentine's Day (with a husband who travels for work, you get used to that); the strange thing is that the house is quiet. It's Saturday evening and all three of my children are in bed. I did not drug them to make this happen...unless you count the sugar from last night's birthday party at a friend's house a drug, which is what led us to this juncture.

A Friday night slumber party--Catcher's first. The girls and I were invited to accompany Catcher for the "dinner and dessert" portion of the party because the birthday boy is a good family friend. After stuffing themselves with pizza, Valentine's candy from their respective school parties and cookies for dessert, the boys (and girls) were wound up. Because we live in Austin and the temperature tends to be in the 70s in February, it was a perfect evening for the kids to run around the yard acting like crazy people. They did that, and around 8:30 the ladies and I checked ourselves out of the party and left the boys to be boys (and hopefully not terrorize my friend and destroy her house in the meantime).

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon and Catcher, who apparently only slept for two or three hours last night due to an iPad left carelessly within his reach, was ready to crash. At 3:00 I convinced him to take a shower and put on his pajamas and "get all snuggly" (my words) in his bed. I haven't heard a sound other than heavy breathing and snores from him since. Scout and Tillie, on the other hand, managed to make it until 5:30 when the clock starting ticking dangerously in the direction of meltdown city. I somehow got them into bed successfully before Tillie turned into exorcist toddler. So here I am; alone in a quiet house. I guess the only thing left to do is pour myself a drink and raid the children's Valentine's candy bags. Cheers to me.


stick season

Today was Catcher's first lacrosse practice. He's the little guy without a helmet (don't worry concussion scaremongers, it's coming...). I wasn't there, but by all accounts it was awesome. I mean, right? Little guys with sticks and balls in an open field = recipe for success.


silence in the house

This is the first time since taking on the role of stay-at-home mom three and a-half years ago that all three of my children are enrolled in school. Tillie just started the Explore Arts preschool (one of Scout's schools from last year), so that leaves me with a window of time on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am until 12:45ish when I have silence.

After dropping Tillie off this morning, I went to the Y for a quick workout, grabbed some coffee, met Catcher at his school for lunch, came back to the house to eat my lunch--quietly on the front porch because it was 72 degrees at noon--before picking Scout and then Tillie up at their respective schools. Wow...I can get a lot accomplished when I don't have to stop what I'm doing to deal with toddler antics.

Don't worry, though. Scout and Tillie more than made up for my two hours of quiet time when they both broke out in tears in the car on the way home...and then again when we got home...and then again when we were leaving to pick up Catcher...and then again when I was making dinner. The new schedule is exciting for Tillie, but the little bugger who crawled into my bed at 5:50 this morning asking me to read her a Hello Kitty story just can't hang. I guess it all worked out in the end, though, because both little ladies were tucked snugly into bed and sound asleep by 6:30pm.


the power of the elder

I love eavesdropping on the children. Often life is so bananas that you miss the moments when those who are making you bananas are playing nicely or, as was the case this afternoon, negotiating a sweet deal. Let me preface this story by saying it could have gone terribly wrong. Catcher and Scout (and Tillie, by association) could have ended up throwing things or scratching one another or running into the kitchen to tattle. But instead this is what I overheard...

First, it's Valentine's week at school. The anticipation of candy alone is enough to send the kids into a tailspin coming off of the sugar-rush hangover from Tillie's birthday last Friday. Put that together with children from Scout's class handing out Valentines, which really means candy, early (today!), and you find yourself with nuclear-bomb explosion potential in this house. After Catcher had finished his homework this afternoon, he caught wind that Scout was hoarding a few sweet treats in her room (she's not the best at A] keeping secrets or B] keeping quiet--literally, she has a loud voice). Big brother assessed the situation--remember, he doesn't like chocolate--and discovered that there could be something in it for him (specifically a strawberry-flavored lollipop). This is where my eavesdropping ears perked up.

Through the power of persuasion and his determination to get that lollipop, Catcher convinced Scout that because she had exactly three pieces of candy, she should keep the Snickers for herself (duh!), give him the strawberry lollipop and Tillie the blue dum dum. And just like that...it worked! There was no backlash with cries of "No way! This is my candy!" echoing through the house. There was no grabbing of candy that didn't belong to one's self. Instead, Scout was so excited about the deal that she came running into the kitchen to brag to me about it. I told her how I proud I was--wasn't this one of those parenting moments they tell you about to praise good behavior?--that she was sharing her Valentine's candy with her siblings. Catcher overheard my praise of Scout and sauntered into the kitchen saying, "Well, I'm the one who came up with the plan." Good work, children. I think I'll keep you around a bit longer...at least through Valentine's Day.


sunny sunday

It just happened to be a perfect Austin afternoon, so Alex and the littles played football. And Catcher drew a self-portrait in the rocks. The resemblance is uncanny.



I have once again gotten myself in the position as acting "Rock Star Photo Booth" photographer for the annual music festival at Scout's preschool. The big event is tomorrow, but today I set everything up and called Alex and--birthday girl!!!--Tillie in to serve as my test subjects. I'm trying a whole new lighting scenario this year, which I promise to blog about later for the photography novices/nerds out there because I had a hard time figuring out what would work, so wish me luck tomorrow. Photographing two-hundred preschool-aged children...what could possibly go wrong?


return of the arm warmer

Because it has been a while since we've seen Scout wearing the arm warmers, I just wanted to assure you that this style is still on trend (as evidenced during ballet today):


super bowl birthday

Here's a little early February trivia for you (at least as it pertains to my family, anyway). On February 6, 2011 Scout was baptized at Braddock Street United Methodist Church in Winchester, VA. Later that evening the Green Bay Packers went on to win Super Bowl XLV in the great state of Texas. Exactly one year later--February 6, 2012, in case I lost you--Tillie was born in the great state of Texas. I'm not saying that any of these things have anything to do with each other, but I'm not saying they don't. Either way, we kind of think of Tillie as a Super Bowl baby since her birthday falls during that blessed first week in February.

This year the Green Bay Packers were not in the Super Bowl, but we decided to have a party at our house anyway and tie in an early birthday celebration for Tillie (because no one at the party really cared whether the Patriots or the Seahawks won). I made a fancy cake--the same one as her first birthday since it was such a hit with the little guys--and the adults got buzzed on whiskey cocktails while the kids got buzzed on sugar. Every Super Bowl party should have a fancy cake.