Monday, June 25, 2007


I got this fancy-shmancy flypaper (well, as fancy as flypaper gets) that had bright colors that were supposed to attract the flies and not look so hideous. I put it in a safe, out-of-the-way corner and it attracted no flies. I put it on the other side of the sink and it attracted the dishtowel. I put it over by the door and stuck myself to it several times.

When I came up from switching the laundry and discovered a distraught D1 with her entire forearm stuck to it, I just took the whole thing down and threw it away. It still didn't have any flies on it. Back to flyswatters.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

This and That

D1 awoke this morning asking us, "Did you see the balloons?" I guess she thought the Birthday Fairy had put them there. (I'm starting to understand the appeal of the whole Santa Claus thing.) Having a three year old is great fun. Just old enough to enjoy everything wholeheartedly and without a trace of self-consciousness.

We'd make a lousy credit card ad, though. Balloons and streamers: $3 (with lots left or reusable for subsequent birthdays). Homemade cake decorated with leftover Halloween candy: maybe $2? Game of hunt-the-button: $0. Best birthday party ever, priceless.


With summer comes flies. This brings out DOB's latent hunting instincts. Every evening after dark he girds on his fly swatter, turns out all but one of the lights, and goes forth to conquer. We have division of labor when it comes to insect slaying--I kill the spiders (which he finds creepy); he kills the flies (which move too fast for me). It seems to me that if I killed fewer spiders they would eat more flies, but he doesn't see it that way. I am relegated to clearing the body from the fields, a messy and inglorious job seldom commemorated in the movies.


Our trip will involve moving three time zones later, and also a switch from workaday time to vacation/visiting time, which is more like four or five time zones later. Anticipating the trauma this will wreak upon small children, we've been trying to gradually move meals and naptimes later and later. Unfortunately the rest of the city has not moved along to accommodate us. I am getting tired.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Observant readers will notice that this is not a purple duck. Thereby hangs a tale.

For about two decades, it has been my custom for family members to make a birthday cake in whatever form requested. D1 had initially requested a purple triangle, and then a purple duck. Perhaps she remembers the white duck I made her last year, or perhaps she was inspired by one of her bath toys.

Unless specifically requested otherwise, the cake recipe I make is a very simple but delicious chocolate one. It is easy enough for an eight-year-old making her first cake, and it is easy enough for a twenty-eight-year-old trying to keep count with two toddlers helping. Three cups of flour, two of sugar. Even D2 can count that far.

But something about purple (and it was going to be purple) frosting and chocolate cake sounded icky. So I was going to make a yellow cake instead. I was getting out all the ingredients for the yellow cake recipe when I remembered the other reason that chocolate cake recipe was so handy: it doesn't have milk or eggs, rendering it edible by two more members of DOB's family. I once tried making the cake with orange flavoring instead of chocolate, but it was not particularly good, and orange cake with purple frosting sounded weird, too.

This was a conundrum that would ordinarily have been resolved by calling Wondergirl, but she was not around to answer the phone. Good wives do not call their husbands at work to discuss cake flavors, but DOB is a rather tolerant fellow and in desperation I called him. He suggested carrot cake, and ready to grasp at any straw I hung up and begin pursuing the carrot cake direction (even though on second thought carrot cake with purple icing also sounds icky) when I realized that carrot cake has eggs in it, too.

So now I was stumped and had used up all my free calls. Meanwhile D1 was getting increasingly anxious to bake a cake. Finally I laid the whole situation before her. She did not have anything particularly relevant to say, although she did drop a hint that she might be interested in a yellow duck. At last it hit me: make the cake that tastes good and everyone can eat. Worry about the color tomorrow, when you frost it.

I went on to a search for the round cake pans. Unfortunately I could only find one of them. In digging deeper for the second one, I tossed out the pan for a bear cake. Suddenly D1 forgot all about the duck cake and was eager for a bear one. I was all for this, as it would require no ingenious cutting and getting crumbs all over the kitchen. And bears were likely to come in colors mentally compatible with chocolate.

We proceeded to grease and flour the bear and started mixing the batter and then a truly ingenious idea came into my head and I asked, "What if we made the bear with green overalls, like Corduroy?" Yes, yes, and yes. All thoughts of purple ducks or any other icky colors were forever driven from her mind. And so it is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


We are going on a trip next week. I know you're not supposed to announce that to the Big, Bad Internet, but it would be an awful lot of trouble to find our address from our blog, and frankly, we don't have anything worth that much trouble. Our treasured collection of used books just wouldn't bring you that much at Half-Price Books (we tried once). Also DOB's family will be here painting the bathrooms (maybe someday I will have towel rods in a bathroom!) while we are gone. And we may have hired a large, hairy, heavily armed housesitter with a mean ol' dog.

So I am trying to pack for the trip and trying to get enough excited to get the work done without getting so excited I set myself up for disappointment. I know I'm a pessimist. But the last time we took a trip of any significant length to see my family, first we had to fly out in a blizzard, and then D1 was violently ill for nearly the entire trip. Come to think of it, we've never had a real visit out there that didn't involve someone puking. And it's been two years since we visited at all. So I'm trying to stay calmly excited. We should at least be safe from blizzards.

Also, this week is D1's birthday, and as she has been chattering on and on about her upcoming happy birthday for three months, it behooves me to come up with something fun. Fortunately at her age I'm pretty sure a few guests and some balloons will be ample excitement. But I do have to clean the house. And make a purple duck cake.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In Everything Give Thanks

We started the ducklings praying before they could speak, as soon as they could sit up during family Bible reading. We'd hold their hands and help them tap the appropriate family member, saying, "Thank you for Papa, Mama, D# and me! Amen!" Pretty soon they learned to do the tapping themselves, and as their language grew they supplied their own Amens, names of family members, and eventually branched out into thankfulness for whatever struck their fancy. (Especially doggies. And trains.)

So far, though, neither of them has realized that there is a way to pray besides saying "Thank you." Whatever petition comes to mine, it is couched in terms of gratitude. "Thank you for the pastor going to Othopipia." "Thank you for Mama's cold." (ahem!) But then, I suppose there's no better way to pray than in gratitude for all things and in confident faith in the goodness of God's answers.

And they have many, many things for which they are thankful. Houses. Toys. Family. Friends. Wheeled vehicles of all kinds. Animals of every description.

One evening D1 provided a short but earnest prayer, "Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for all the laughing." Amen.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Blog Meme About Blogs

I borrowed this from The Common Room.

How did you start blogging?

I signed up with Blogger and started typing. As to why, I don't know. DOB was working late and I was getting hungry, I think. Other people had one. I wanted one. Eventually it took the place of a large group email of my adventures which I used to send out regularly, and was much less trouble to maintain.

Did you intend to be a blog w/a following? If so, how did you go about it?

No. Every once in a while I ask myself, "Do I want to be a blog with a following?" And the answer is "No." Except for when it is, "Sort of, but not really." A blog with a following turns it from being a nice little chatty place where I can do whatever to having social obligations and attracting people (many of whom are Not Nice), and you have to have something to actually say, which I usually don't. And you often have to stick to one subject, which I never do.

What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals?
I hope to get myself remembered in my extended family's wills and be able to mooch meals off my old friends when I visit them. I don't know if I've been successful at all these yet or not. But I keep putting up cute pictures in hope.

Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?
I have fewer household catastrophes now. I don't seem to have as much time for them. Also I more deliberately avoid being controversial than I did at first, because I just don't have the time or emotional energy to spare for controversy. (I used to love it, but then I had toddlers.)

What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?
I'm not sure I know it now, but sometimes I stumble across where you can find out what weird searches might have brought people to your site. I always wanted to check that. Not that many people search for weird enough things to come here.

Do you make money with your blog?

No. It does, however, keep me sane, and insanity is expensive.

Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?
Yes indeed. DOB reads this blog, but he seldom reads the other one. My guess is DOB's father and my grandparents are my most faithful readers. The rest of the extended family read fairly often. The ducklings cannot read yet, but they are trying to fix that as fast as they can, and then watch out.

What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?
1. Delete spam. People who introduce themselves by hurling personal attacks at you are spammers and should just be summarily deleted. Don't try to engage them in dialogue, they are not interested.

2. Don't write anything you wouldn't want read at your funeral. Not original advice that, but still worthwhile.

How did you come to name your blog?
DOB has always been the Duke, and discovered it was of Burgundy shortly after we met in person. I have always governed the land of Carrots, and was titled as Queen around the same time. Naturally when we married the lands were ruled jointly; hence the Duchy of Burgundy Carrots.

Changing Colors

My Many Colored Days is a Dr. Seuss book published posthumously with (as he had hoped) pictures by a very different artist. I checked it out for the ducklings, who like colors. The ducklings are very fond of it. But I am certainly not too old to identify with it.

"You'd be surprised how many ways/I change on different colored days."

I think I have too many yellow days (when I am a "busy, buzzy bee"), which lead directly to brown days ("I feel slow and low, low down"). I need more green days ("cool and quiet fish"). Think Green.

DOB, however, disagrees with the last part of the book. "But it all comes out all right, you see/And I go back to being me." He's not so sure there is a me behind all the different colors.

I think I should get credit for keeping things interesting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Things That Go

We bought D2 matchbox cars for Christmas. These are, of course, Not For Children Under Three, but we both have many years of experience in large and destructive families, and we've never seen a wheel come off.

He was reasonably pleased at Christmas. But in the intervening months, moderate pleasure has developed into an obsession. To wash his hands, one must first pry three cars out of his grip. He wants to take them to bed. To dinner. To church.

The library is giving out prizes for every five books you read (an easy target indeed!) and he selected his first prize this week. Naturally, it was another car. Another purple car. (D1 got a bathtub alligator, and spent all her time at home trying to wheedle D2 out of his car.)

He has names for all his favorite cars: purple car, blue car, gray car, taxi. (It's not a taxi. It's a gray truck.) He asks for them, and woe betide if you can't find that particular one. This morning B6, who is visiting, was trying to catechise him on the makes and models.

Naturally he likes to watch cars, and trains, and myklecycles, but the one thing that will completely absorb him--that pastes that dangerous Mr. Toad expression on his face and renders him oblivious to all parental words--is a skateboard.

I haven't even told him what it is called yet. I don't want him getting any ideas.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Make Way for Ducklings

Reading in bed; Flower doll; Playing dress-up.

Telling the Story of Jesus

In a online discussion of teaching the Bible to children, someone remarked that they did not use the word "story" when reading the Bible, because that might imply the Bible wasn't true. Instead they called it the Biblical "account," as if the Bible were a check register of transactions.

I do think it is more than a semantical distinction and more serious an error than arbitrarily limiting the definition of "story." The Bible is a true story. To sideline the truth is a grave error, but it is an equally grave error to sideline the story. God could have simply written us out a catechism, but He didn't. He wrote us a story. He lived out a story.

A story is not just a listing of events; a story is events with meaning. Story allows us to experience an idea with our whole selves, heart and mind and even body. Story allows us to participate in what has happened and to understand it. Human beings need stories like they need food; they need to hear stories, they need to see their own lives as a story.

In A Bridge to Terebithia, some sporadically-churched children take a friend to Easter services. The friend remarks on the beauty of the Resurrection story, and the other children are perplexed. Beautiful? What does the Bible have to do with beauty? "It's strange," the friend says, "You have to believe it and you don't like it, and I don't have to believe it and I think it's beautiful."

"But you have to believe the Bible," another little girl says, "Otherwise God will send you to hell."

This, of course, goes beyond even the truth issue. One believes, not because it is true, but because some Fascist dictator in the sky will send you off to jail if you don't toe the party line.

Still, I think that is a very natural impression children receive from a teaching of the Bible that emphasizes facts and transaction at the expense of stories. You have to believe this list of things because you're supposed to, and that's that. I would think my children closer to genuine faith if they saw the beauty of the story but could not quite be sure it was true.

Real stories, true stories, beautiful stories~this is how the gospel comes to us. Once the King of all the Universe came to live among the rebels; once the Prince slew the dragon to win his bride. One day it really happened.

We believe because it is true, and we understand and take part and experience the truth through stories, because we are humans with hearts and heads and bodies and God has made us this way. That is how I hope and pray we can teach the Bible to our children.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Are you the man of your dreams?

Are you the central character of your own dreams? And if so, do you always appear as yourself, or are you sometimes someone quite different?

It's hard to quantify dreams, since so many of them are forgotten, but it seems to me that in a fair number of my dreams I am not involved at all. It's like watching a movie. I feel some identification with the main character, but not as if they are me. In others, I am, as it were, playing the main character, but I can (even in the dream) see a distinction between my real self and the character I am playing. And some dreams seem to be happening to the real me.

It also seems to me like I dream fewer dreams with my real self as the central character than I did when I was younger.

Anyway, I had a very interesting dream at naptime involving a young lady repeatedly attempting to poison a young man at the same time her uncle was trying to coerce the young man into marrying the girl--but alas, I was awakened and never found out why he stayed around or what happened. Of course, if I hadn't been awakened, I probably wouldn't remember it at all.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Well, I was going to do a longer post on various things, but life keeps moving on.

Suffice it to say: DOB fell up the front stairs coming home from work Friday, simultaneously ruining his chin, his good blazer, and the evening. The only damage he felt was to his shin, but that doesn't count because it didn't drip blood. The blue string goatee is an interesting fashion statement.

I am not the equal of that, but I do have a second-degree burn on my upper arm from the biscuit pan. DOB thinks we should have gravity installed in the kitchen.

SJ has put words to the terror all parents of young children feel.

We had some long-awaited thunderstorms over the weekend. The ducklings were thrilled. Loud noises! Pouring rain! D2 was looking for a train; we told him that if he heard a train, he needed to head for the basement. They weren't so thrilled when our evening at the park the next day got rained out, too, but we came home and played hide-and-seek instead.

My cold is still stopping up the flow of brilliance from my brain. So you'll just have to wait until it gets better.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Calling the King

Over the past couple of months, D1 has begun to change from imitation-driven play to imagination-driven play. No longer content to just mimic what she sees, her play now encompasses words, songs, books, and anything else that might catch her fancy, whether she understands it or not. Sometimes she takes trips to California, and sometimes she talks to California on the phone.

She sees new connections everywhere. We were making the "Kk" page for her alphabet notebook and I drew her a king. "A king!" she said, "Like in 'Henny Penny!'"

"Henny Penny" is the new favorite naptime read, notwithstanding its rather gruesome ending. A few hours later she was driving by the old telephone stashed in one of the desk cubbyholes and picked it up to make a call.

"Hello," she said, "The sky is falling."

I guess that mode of communication would bypass Foxy-Woxy.

Why Playdough is Not for Children Under Three

I only have two settings, speed and crash. Today is crash. I have a summer cold, which is no worse than a winter cold except that nothing sounds worse than hot tea and chicken soup when it's ninety degrees outside. I have two social events this afternoon (the life of a hermit is looking more appealing.) So I have to get all my crashing in this morning.

It is always on crash days that the ducklings need a little something extra in the entertainment department. (Or perhaps it is on such days that I notice it.) Anyway, playdough seemed less terrifying of an option than paint. Of course it says "Not for Children Under Three," but we don't pay any attention to that because nothing but large foam blocks are suitable for children under three, and they just had a product recall because of the danger of eating them.

Throwing caution to the wind in favor of really serious crashing, I let them pull their picnic table next to the couch and play with it there instead of being immobilized at opposite ends of the kitchen table. I didn't put bibs on them. I gave them the green and yellow because those were already getting mixed and I figured yellow-green wasn't too awful of a combination.

The problems started when I tried to get out the green for D2, only to realized that D2 usually plays with the green. The trouble is, D2 drools. Rivers of water run down his face. Into the playdough. It gets stored like that and oozes onto the sides of the container with inspiring tenacity. So when I lay down the couch to relax it was while holding high in the air hands covered with green slime.

D1 has just discovered the word "why" and used it to good effect with regard to any rules about not touching the couch or me or anything else. D2 has already figured out the answer is "'cause." That should keep them busy for awhile.

Today D1 has been inquiring of people (the same two people, since that's all that are around) if they have ever been to a wedding. Then she took the green playdough and smooshed it on top of the yellow playdough in a large, flat circle, and announced it was a "wedding." I think she has a future in modern art.

It only took about five minutes for the playdough to lose most, but not all, of its interest, and for sports like Climbing on Mama and Ramming the Picnic Table into the Couch to take over, interspersed with refreshing the finger supply of playdough.

We wound up, of course, with playdough on shirts, jeans, hair, floor, matchbox cars (also not for children under three!) and couch. I think we came off pretty easy. I also think I'll just pretend I painted D1's fingernails yellow-green.

Our newlywed yellow-green playdough is out of reach on the dining room table, drying out.