Just A Picture


Always A Surprise

In yet another turnaround, the boys recently started asking to paint

Mica likes to paint, of course. But it’s been years since I could entice the boys to paint, and I can’t remember when they last asked for it. I suppose it’s related to their recent interest in drawing; Nathan in particular has been creating drawings with surprising depth to them, and experimenting with facial expressions.

We spent some time — weeks, perhaps? — with this as a regularly-requested activity. And now it is gone again, no doubt to resurface again in future.

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The kids like taking things apart. I suppose this goes without saying; anyone who interacts with kids for any length of time must be aware of their propensity for destruction.

But they especially seem to like taking apart electronic things. It helps that Dave is knowledgeable enough about electronics to be able to point out things like capacitors and explain what they are for. (I have run into that information over the years, but my brain classifies it as “hardware” knowledge and dumps it with prejudice.)

Recently we had the opportunity of a thoroughly broken CD player, and the kids took advantage of screwdrivers and pliers and made it into much smaller and more interesting pieces. This was great fun; they got to see what was inside speakers, for example, and Dave explained how the mechanics of speakers functioned. And when the disassembly was complete, Nathan decided that he needed to build a shelf from scrap wood to hold their newly acquired treasures.


Christmas has felt a little different to me this year, since I haven’t been around on weekdays. It’s also been a bit odd because our living rooms is full of furniture. Village Free School is moving to a new location over Christmas break, and we’ve been collecting and storing some furniture to help them set up in their new space.

This means that the Christmas tree is squeezed into a fairly narrow slot between shelves and tables. And since I wasn’t around much, most of the decorating was done by Nathan, with occasional “assistance” from his sister. He did a splendid job in my opinion, although he had little patience with untangling strings of lights, and mostly just put them up in large globs.

We followed our usual tradition of opening one gift per day leading up to Christmas, and that worked well again. Next year I may even put them out under the tree and see if Mica has developed enough executive function not to rip them open. And this year, partly because I was gone so much, we did our Christmas cookie baking on Christmas Eve. This was, as usual, all about frosting and insanely large piles of sprinkles.

But the most exciting part of the day was undoubtedly that evening, when I looked up from cooking dinner to see traces of white on the ground. In record time all three kids were outside, where a thin layer of hard, pellety snow was busy accumulating. It was really more like a combination of freezing rain and ice pellets, but they didn’t care — for them, all those snowy Christmas cards were coming true.


Nathan has done it again. This time we skipped bleaching his hair and just applied the dye, a rich royal blue. The result is a lovely steel blue shade with hints of pure blue and teal at the edges.

He is very happy with it. Now he thinks I should dye my hair. I told him I’d consider it after I’m no longer interviewing.

My Sister

A couple of months ago, Mica announced that she had a sister named Sunflower.

This surprised us, as the rest of the family thought we’d have heard of such an event. But Mica likes stories, and so at first we thought this was just another vignette. We didn’t realize that we were at the beginning of an ongoing Sunflower saga.

Sunflower, it turns out, lives far far away with her mother and father. (The implications of the relationships involved don’t seem to worry Mica.) She has been a variety of ages already: a baby, a girl, a big person (e.g., old enough to drive), and most recently I was told that Sunflower has a baby of her own. She also has a dog, whose name changes with time but is never recognizable.

In fact Sunflower’s defining characteristic, and the one which Mica mentions most often, is that she has everything. This often comes up just after I say that we don’t have something — cake, for example. “My sister has cake,” Mica will tell me. “My sister has everything she needs!”

Lately Sunflower has been mentioned less frequently, but she still comes up, and her role in Mica’s mind might be changing a little. For example, Mica got a flu shot recently — and two days later, she told me that the red, sore spot on her leg was there because her sister had kicked her. She didn’t seem particularly upset by this, but it was an interesting choice of stories.

But my favorite part about Sunflower is how she lives in all the other stories in Mica’s life. Right now we are working, together, through a long story about Sunflower and Jack (of beanstalk fame), who are currently in the Land of the Giants together. I tell — usually with ideas and prompting from Mica — a short piece of this each night, as a bribe/distraction so she’ll let me brush her teeth.

Rock Collection

We’ve been building an informal rock collection for a while now — it includes gifts, a few purchased stones, and lots of treasures found on beaches. After our last lake trip, with rock interest at a new high, I decided to order a box to store and organize the collection. It isn’t a fancy box, but it holds a lot of stones and gives them the great pleasure of arranging and rearranging and labeling their specimens.

Mica loves it too, which is problematic, since “organization” is not high on her list of life skills. She does love moving things around, though.