feeling the burn


My tissue paper flames from my Halloween 2009 costume.

At 11:29 last night, I submitted an abstract to a conference (with a cut-off time of 11:59 p.m.). Last Wednesday, I submitted a paper to another conference. For the last few months, I have been working full-speed on a project relating to my own research, and have been making real progress. Last night I went to bed feeling triumphant and giddy, having succeeded in getting both of those submissions together.

This morning I woke up tired.

There is a long list of things that I’d been largely putting off the last few weeks, and things (laundry, grocery shopping, battling the chaos) that I had somewhat let slide. Today I hoped to make a dent in that list, and get organized for the next push with my group’s research, with another conference deadline a few weeks away in mind. Given the tiredness, it might not surprise you to learn that I got very little done in the morning.

One small errand I had to run was dropping off some art supplies for Phoebe’s classroom that I had signed up to donate. This afternoon, after putting air in a mostly flat tire that I tried not to notice yesterday, I headed out with my bag of glitter and multi-colored tissue paper with plans to continue on my way to take care of some other things.

At Phoebe’s school, I sort of expected that they would collect the things at the front office, and get them to the classroom. But the woman at the desk called Phoebe’s classroom, and the teacher said I could bring the things by. It’s fun to see what the kids are up to, and since I had a bit of time, I didn’t object. When I went in the classroom, the teacher and aide welcomed me and collected the things I’d brought. Phoebe’s teacher called Phoebe over to say hi to me. Phoebe smiled at first, and then looked stricken as she came over. “I think I have a fever,” she said to me when she got up close. Half thinking that she was just angling to go home early with me, I felt her head. It did feel kind of hot, but I’d just been outside, and my hands were a bit cool. The teachers said she hadn’t complained of anything all day. I decided to take Phoebe to the school nurse’s office just to make sure.

103.3 degrees.

We went back to the classroom to collect Phoebe’s things and let the teachers know I’d be taking her home. Not what I expected from my glitter drop-off!

I have to say, I’m just amazed at how considerate Phoebe is with her timing. If this had happened yesterday, I likely would have missed the abstract deadline. Likewise, if this had been any time in the last week. Really, I feel like she’s given me an unexpected gift. Quite honestly, I’m looking forward to having a quiet day with her tomorrow.


This is a gift that Phoebe intentionally made over Thanksgiving weekend.


See the inside?

obligatory Halloween photos

Here are my witch and frog.

The frog refused to wear the hood for most of the night.


Here, the witch completes the transformation of her brother into a frog.

We didn’t manage to carve pumpkins this year. However, we did manage to make some snowmen. Here’s hoping that this is not a new Halloween tradition.


Here was Saturday night’s pre-dinnertime snowman. My only contribution was to bring out a carrot.


This is one Phoebe made all by herself on Sunday. (Should I be concerned that she made a right-leaning snowman?)

We really lucked out with the storm, actually. You may have heard that much of the Northeast lost power, and many are still without even days later. There have been lots of trees down on powerlines in our town and neighboring towns. At least when we lost power back in August it was warm! So, again, we were lucky.


For us, it just looked like a lovely December snowstorm. With more leaves.

self-portrait, as drawn on a paper diner placemat on the occasion of the artist’s third birthday

I think it’s a pretty good portrait. Here is a photographic portrait of the artist by the artist’s mother, taken under poor quality diner light.

(As you can see, he’s grown quite a bit since his first appearance.)

And here’s a short video to document the excitement Theo had about the day:

(Hong Kong recaps will hopefully be coming soon. I owe YTSL at least one quality photo essay from our hike together! But for now I am too wiped out, and haven’t had a lot of time to do much of anything since my return other than catch up with the kids (yesterday), and commute for a work meeting (today) followed by taking the kids to Phoebe’s karate class, then Phoebe to an extra violin lesson, and then dinner out for Theo’s birthday.)

sharing a chair

One of my regular pursuits is to try to get a good picture with both Phoebe and Theo. They are often like bouncing atoms, rarely at rest at the same place at the same time. Today at lunch, they were fighting over a particular chair at the kitchen table. I have no idea why that chair. But then they finally agreed that they could sit in the chair together. Oh, the cuteness! I had to get a picture! Of course, my hands were full as I headed towards the table. I turned around to set aside the plates of food I’d been about to serve and pulled my iPod out of my pocket. As soon as I had the camera pointed in the right direction, though, Phoebe decided she was over the moment. She ran off. However, we were able to talk her back to the table, and amazingly, both of them stayed put (without glue or other restraining devices!) while I aimed the iPod camera at them. Rejoice! There was much cuteness to be had. (Not shown, though, are the shots of the kids with food hanging out of their mouths.)

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(I do find myself wishing I’d grabbed for my real camera, since the iPod photos are so grainy. Instagram filters are fun and all, but I’m pretty sure I’ll grow tired of them…)

cuddly (PhotoHunt)

Just a few months ago, thanks to the wonders of digital networking, I re-established contact with a friend from high school. We hadn’t seen each other for about 20 years. We had both been living in France back then, so I was surprised to learn that she was now living in Canada. (We’re practically neighbors!)

My friend asked for our snail mail address so that she could send us a card at Christmas. In mid-December, the card arrived in a fat box guarded by some cute companions: a backpack with some unidentifiable creature, and a cuddly plush of some other unidentifiable creature. These mysterious cute companions were none other than two of the mascots of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the city which my friend now calls home. The creature on the backpack turns out to be Quatchi, a sasquatch. The plush was Miga, a “sea bear,” some sort of bear/orca hybrid.¹

Phoebe and Theo were quite taken with them. As the older child, we let Phoebe pick which of the two gifts would be hers. She picked the backpack, as she loves packing things for trips, and said that Theo, who still has comparatively few toys of his own, could have the plush. Judging from her expression in the photos, she may have had some regrets about this state of affairs.

So it goes that when I tried to get photos of my children happily enjoying their gifts, thinking to send them to my friend by way of thanks, I ended up with a series of photos that would make Poster Children for Poster Children proud. Happy they may not be, but I defy you to tell me that they are not cuddly.²

¹ Merci, chère amie, pour les cadeaux fabuleux!
² This week’s Photo Hunt theme is “cuddly.”

heart of scone

We’ve been going through another hectic stretch, mostly due to John working crazy hours again. My own hours have been pretty well filled by taking care of kiddos and work, plus not quite enough sleep. On Sunday, though, I got to sleep in a couple of extra hours. John was still up working when Phoebe and Theo woke up, so he wrangled them and got them a bite to eat while I slept until after 9. It was a wonderful Valentine’s Day present–even better than chocolate.¹ (Now if only I hadn’t been up till 3 trying to get a little quality time with my laptop…)

We haven’t really done much for Valentine’s Day in the past, as I am a cynical cold-hearted type who scorns all forms of romance and sentimentality, with an aversion to heart-shaped things and the color pink. However, having the wee ones around, with their spirits as yet untarnished by such cynicism has changed me a bit. In spite of its brittle candy exterior, my chocolaty heart has melted somewhat towards the heart-shaped rosy-colored trappings of Valentine’s Day. A festive heart-oriented activity was in order.

In keeping with my enthusiasm for baked goods, I thought making pink heart-shaped scones would fit the bill. We used the blueberry scone recipe, but used frozen raspberries instead of blueberries to get the scones festively pink. (They ended up more purple and red than pink, and we all agreed that we like the blueberry ones better, but they were still tasty enough for us to gobble them down in short order.)


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¹Though John did also get me some chocolate.