A conversation with Mica, just after she signaled the start of a game by saying “You be the doctor.”

Me: What seems to be the trouble?
Mica (in a sick voice): My belly and ‘testines are gone.
Me: They’re gone?!
Mica (in a sick voice): Yes.
Me: That’s terrible! What happened?
Mica (in a sick voice): The boys took them.
Me: Oh, no! Well, here are some new ones.
Mica: I want pink ‘testines.
Me: Oh yes, they come in pink.

Computer Insanity

Nathan is not even ten years old, and his desk in our sun room now looks like this:

This is the result of two unrelated upgrades. The first was to his table. He wanted a larger, less beat-up table, and so Dave took him out one day to look for one. I thought they were going to check out the local thrift store, but apparently when they didn’t find anything there, Dave headed straight for Ikea and got Nathan a nice new table. He now has the cleanest computer table in the house, not to mention the newest by about two decades.

(“Why does Nathan rate a new computer table?” I asked Dave. He looked at me oddly and said, “He asked for one.” “You mean all you have to do to get furniture in this house is ask for it?” Another odd look. “Yes…”)

The second upgrade was to his computer system. Nathan has been using Dave’s old laptop, which is a nice system in many ways but slightly glitchy (which is why Dave got a new one). But we recently got a hand-me-down system from Dave’s friend, and now Nathan has a nice, relatively new computer with two good screens to complement his laptop. His desk could pass for a programmer’s, and he’s still in single digits.

Needless to say, Nathan is very happy with his circumstances.

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Just A Picture

This was at Village Free School. Chiffon is one of Mica’s favorite people at the school, and she was so, so excited to finally have him sitting in her lap.

The Last Few Pieces

The other day I pulled out one of my favorite jigsaw puzzles from my childhood, with a plan.

The boys have shown little interest in jigsaw puzzles, which has been disappointing to me, because they were a major part of my life growing up. But I’d noticed Ryan working on some wooden puzzles that I’d put out for Mica, and it gave me an idea. In making any puzzle, there are harder parts and easier parts — there are the fun, colorful parts that go together easily, and the trickier, less obvious parts that usually get saved for the end. So, I reasoned, what if I did all the hard parts and left just a few holes, with interesting, easy bits for the boys to do?

This was harder than I’d expected, since my eyes kept trying to dwell on my favorite bits of the puzzle. I didn’t really want to do the sky, or the border. But I managed it, and left the puzzle on the dining room table, and was gratified to see the boys working together not long after to finish up the last bits.

A second experiment some days later roped in Ryan for another short and satisfying jigsaw puzzle session. Can I use this to eventually get them interested in doing puzzles by themselves? I don’t know, but the experiment is interesting enough to continue.


Dave’s mom sent us several sheets of temporary tattoos recently, which led to Ryan’s face being decorated with a snake and Mica’s face being decorated with puppies.

They were both pretty excited about this, but I there was an interesting difference between them. Once he had his snake face, Ryan didn’t seem to need anything more. Mica, on the other hand, eventually decorated both arms and both legs with multiple tattoos, and came to understand the process well enough that she could nearly do it herself. (She lacked only a little bit of patience, and would often rip the paper off too quickly.) Clearly, for her, if a little is good more is better.

No Fear

Every time we visit my dad’s house, the beach is a potent draw, and this time was no exception. It has everything that kids (and, I sometimes think, adults) really need to relax: water, rocks, and quiet.

It also has lots of tiny creatures. Most notably for our family, it has crabs. When the tide is out they like to crouch under rocks, away from the sun; turning over a hand-sized rock can send half a dozen little crustaceans scuttling for shelter. This by itself is good fun for children, and although I’ve outgrown my desire to make defenseless little creatures run in terror, I do remember that treasure-hunt pleasure of looking for a really big nest of them.

The boys have always been wary of holding crabs. Probably I shouldn’t have warned them, when the opportunity first arose, that the larger ones can pinch. They like seeing us with crabs in our hands, and were particularly excited when two of the larger ones, finding themselves in Dave’s hands, mistakenly took each other for the enemy and started to menace each other. But otherwise they’ve generally restricted themselves to the Turning Over Rocks part of the endeavor.

Not so with Mica. Maybe she’s just at the right age; maybe it’s her personality; maybe she’s been toughened up by having two brothers. She was happy to pick up crabs, even the big ones, and once Dave gave her tips on how best to do it (hint: take them from behind), she was almost unstoppable. Several times I heard her say “Ouch! He pinched me!” Then she’d go back for more.

First Picnic

Our first picnic of the year! It was 80 degrees and sunny recently, and Nathan really wanted to be outside, so we headed across the street for sandwiches and fruit in the shade.

Later that same day there were the first popsicles of the year, too; and later still, as the sun was disappearing, we did a second picnic for Food Before Bed. It felt like summer.