What We’re Up to These Days

February 26, 2009 @ 8:49 pm | Filed under: ,

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 nightβ€”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 twoβ€”for dramatically different reasonsβ€”it’s working.

Have not yet finished rereading Portrait of a Lady, long way to go. Started Inkspell Inkheart 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!

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21 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. nina says:

    Oh my gosh, the photo would have been enough to delight the masses. So sweet.

    I really enjoyed reading about your girls. As a newer reader of your blog I tend to get them mixed up. And while I am not wishing away Cate’s childhood, I look forward to her participating in many of the things your girls do.

    And last, I’m looking forward to your ereader recommendations. Dh gave me an iTouch for Valentine’s Day. He was so pleased with himself. I’ve grappled so long with the desire for one. Love it. I’m going to try DailyLit again. I was also looking at “stanza” this evening trying to figure out the best way to read books on my new device.

    I think your girls would really enjoy the Enid Blyton book I mentioned on my blog today.

    Toggling over to Google Reader to see Huck’s sweet face once again. So cute.

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Nina, I thought that book sounded so interesting when I read your post this afternoon! I clicked through to look at it but your link goes to Handbook of Nature Study. (Meant to drop you a note but had only one iPod Touch-tapping finger free at the time.)

    Re: Stanza. I like a biggish font size and the “old lace” text color w/ parchment background. Oh, and there’s a setting to lock the orientation so you can read lying down w/o it turning sideways on you.

    What a sweet V-day gift from your hubby. πŸ™‚

  3. nina says:

    Thanks for the info. I fixed the link earlier today. I was writing it in a hurry. Sometime between reading the Betsy chapters and Si waking up for the second time. πŸ˜‰ I do find commenting difficult using the Touch.

  4. sarah says:

    Another beautiful bonny babe to add to your bunch. Er, sorry, I didn’t actually *intend* the alliteration. He’s gorgeous!

    My head is spinning after reading this synopsis of your days. You do all this … you watch other people doing all this … and you can still read even sentences from Ulysses? Ha, can’t pretend any more that you’re not Super Mom.

    (See I did the American spelling of Mom just for you ;-))

  5. Beck says:

    I blinked at the mention of an active garden right now, since we currently have so much snow in our backyard that the top of our swingset just vanished. But you live someplace warm, and I envy you.

    And oh, round baby cheeks and little baby fingers. LUCKY!

  6. Beck says:

    I blinked at the mention of an active garden right now, since we currently have so much snow in our backyard that the top of our swingset just vanished. But you live someplace warm, and I envy you.

    And oh, round baby cheeks and little baby fingers. LUCKY!

  7. amy says:

    I’m inspired!

  8. Karen Edmisten says:

    Oooh, we wish we could do some of that baby-holding! πŸ™‚

    What a lovely update, and you’re making me envy your e-reader, even though I’ve always said that I’d never give up books. Of course, I *wouldn’t* give up books, but could only add to the enjoyment with an additional way to read them ….

    And, the garden? It’s four degrees here this morning …. :-/

  9. Penny in VT says:

    Cute photo πŸ™‚ As in very cute. As in sigh.. so cute…

    We’re doing the piano guild thing and the Understood Betsy thing and longing for the garden thing… I wonder if I could borrow a baby to hold from someone… hmmm…

    thanks for sharing such a nice slice of life – I’m so happy for you that you have so much beauty and love surrounding you πŸ™‚

  10. Melissa Wiley says:

    Sarah, I’m giggling at your comment because as I was writing that post last night, I thought: if I admit to reading Ulysses, I’m going to have to write another one of those long lists of things I’m NOT doing in order to explain it. πŸ˜‰

    Reading it via Daily Lit means it’s just an email’s worth a day. I’m on installment 17 of 332. Ask me in a month if I’m still keeping up. I tend to be a strong starter and poor finisher…

    But (Beck, Karen, Penny) the garden thing! My bad! Only two years in this climate and already I’m forgetting how miserable February used to be. The photos at Margaret’s blog yesterday totally threw me! Snow! Right! So: sorry about that, my winterbound friends. Didn’t mean to rub it in. I’ll think of you when we’re staking our peas this afternoon. πŸ˜‰

  11. Penny in VT says:

    Pbfftttt πŸ™‚ LOL

    and I’ll think of you when I’m shoveling snow from the storm we’re supposed to get this weekend. so there. ha.

    Actually, I love that you post about gardens, makes me get ready to start thinking about mine,and I loooove thinking about my garden, pitiful as it is…

    πŸ™‚ Penny

  12. Lisa says:

    What interesting lives your kids have! Do you mean the Warriors books by Erin Hunter??? If so we have a second bizarre reading coincidence! Guess what my daughter and I are reading together at bedtime?? Yep, the Warriors! lol… Great minds…..

  13. MelanieB says:

    Oh that sweet, cuddly baby boy! All my trepidation about boys just melted away. Those cheeks! Oh I can’t wait to hold mine.

    I “read” Ulysses in grad school. Because of the time constraints and my other class load and the fact that I was teaching a composition class at the same time, I didn’t finish it, though I’ve read at least a bit of every chapter. So many times I fell asleep on the train as the book closed in my lap and the sentences started dancing in my head. I didn’t enjoy it half as much as I should have. Good books shouldn’t be rushed. But you’ve just reminded me why I love Joyce: the language, that lovely, to-die-for way with words. I’m pulling it out of the box and putting it back on my to be read shelf. As soon as Lent is over, I’m going to dive back into Ulysses.

  14. Melissa Wiley says:

    Lisa, yes, Warriors by Erin Hunter. HUGE hits with my three girls. Though some aspects of the cat culture are troubling to Rose, not to mention all the death. She found the second series quite disturbing (but didn’t want to stop reading them). Says the third series is better. Lots of good discussion generated by these books…cat morals vs people morals (leading to talk of natural law); cultural mores; definition of heroism; etc.

    Melanie: even though Huck is our second boy, in some ways he is an all-new experience for me because Wonderboy was in and out of the hospital so much, got off to such a different start. Still infinitely precious, of course. But this big sturdy healthy boy-child, already in size 2 diapers at 6 wks old! This is new. He grins at me, absolutely grins. Loves to be sung to. Grunts and snorts and makes all sorts of extremely, um, boyish noises. LOL.

  15. Margaret in Minnesota says:

    Please tell Beanie that I once went through a Suzanne Vega stage to the extent that, when I went to put her cassette into the stereo (again), my friend Lu complained, “Vega Vega Vega!”

    I also saw her in concert (with that same friend Lu) at a lovely outdoor venue in London. I was smitten–completely smitten.

  16. Kathy says:

    What a beautiful baby boy!! I enjoyed reading about your busy lives, but the photo, oh the photo. So sweet!

  17. sarah says:

    Baby Boy Wiley could not be more delicious. I just can’t stop coming back for another look!!! It was so fun to hear what the girls are up to these days.
    So, the Warriors, is it? Just what we need, another series from the Bonny Glen that is sure to be a hit.

  18. scott says:

    Please tell Beanie that I once went through a Suzanne Vega stage

    Such a stage should last a lifetime. If yours lasts less than a lifetime, consult your doctor. πŸ™‚

  19. Margaret in Minnesota says:

    Well, Scott, I *could* ask my doctor about this falling-off-the-Vega-bandwagon syndrome of mine but I GUARANTEE you, she’d just blink at me.

    Tell you what: I’ll go ahead and ask her if she’s heard of Suzanne Vega.

    Just for fun.

    Meanwhile, this lifetime of mine is not [yet] over–thanks be to God–so I’ve still the chance to jump back on.

    There will be time…there will be time…

  20. Alice Gunther says:

    I loved every word of this post. Thanks for the individual updates!