Wednesday, January 30, 2008

British Madeleine

Madeleine's got this thing about using a British accent. Like, all the time.

"Mum," she says to me the other day, "Don't you rawther think tawlking like this is moooch more beauteeeful?"

Last night, in honor of the blizzard, we decided to have a major book night and finish up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. After it ended Superdad took the little ones up to bed while Madeleine and I turned out all the lights in the living room and snuggled under the pile of blankets we'd gathered for the major book night.

British Madeleine: I know, let's do pretend we are trapped in an abandoned house, aulright, Mum?

Me, half-asleep, in a half-hearted attempt at a British accent: Aulright, let's.

British Madeleine: Oh, that wind sounds auuuuwful, doesn't it, Mum? It's rawther frightening!

Me: Umm, humm. Very scary. Oh! I mean vuuury frightening.

British Madeleine: Oh, the roof upstairs is leaking, I do hope we are able to stay DRY down here. Don't you hope that, Mum?

Me: Of course! But, I do think we must try and get some sleep, otherwise me could die.

American Madeleine, popping straight up in a sitting position,rolling her eyes and fixing me with a disapproving glare: Mom, people don't die from not getting enough sleep. You know, you're not very good at this.

Superdad walks down the stairs.

British Madeleine, ignoring me and looking at Superdad: Oh, Daad, don't you think we ought to have a spot of tea?

Superdad: Sure, Madeleine, we can have some tea.

American Madeleine, with a look of disdain: I don't really want to play our game anymore. I'm going to have some tea. With Daddy. Oh, Daad (British Madeleine is back, and she's scampering into the kitchen with Superdad), don't you think you really ought to perFECT your Bristish accent?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It is forty-four degrees now which, for Wisconsin in January, is balmy. It's drizzling outside and, were our light coats not packed away for the winter, we would be wearing them in lieu of our heavy parkas.

And yet, my desktop weather program keeps annoyingly thundering at me, letting me know that the National Weather Service has issued a severe weather alert. And what is that alert? That there is a real, live, honest-to-goodness blizzard headed our way. The local television stations are already flashing warnings across their screens and littering the screen with a great number of businesses, schools and other community events that are closed for the evening.

I can't remember the last time a snowstorm has been upgraded to a blizzard. I have nowhere to be tonight; I'm sort of excited!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Sometimes I go on a blogging hiatus because I have nothing to share. Or nothing I feel like sharing, anyway. But our lives, lately, have been chock full of bloggable moments, it's just that I've been too busy to blog about them.

And now? I have a few free moments while Madeleine works on some illustrations for a book of poems she is putting together, Hank plays at a friend's house and Elisabeth chomps on some candy, but those bloggable moments? Gone. Forgotten.

I feel certain that later, when true quiet descends (i.e. the sort that won't be over as soon as the project is finished or the candy digested), they'll come to me. Hopefully.

Friday, January 18, 2008

NFC Championship

It's been more than a decade since the Green Bay Packers have been to the Superbowl and now they're just one victory away from going again. Yep, I'm just a little excited about this weekend's game.

Go Pack!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Photo Genius

Why did we give our daughter a camera? Well, she wanted one, it was her birthday... and somewhere, deep down in depths of my soul where reason can never out debate hope, I wondered if maybe our artistic little girl would have some sort of natural affinity for photography. A gift. No, I don't have one, but I can't draw either, and Madeleine can.

Let's see the little artist at work, shall we?

Here are some photos Madeleine will be adding to her portfolio that she took within the first month of owning her camera.

A bit rough, perhaps, just just brimming with natural talent, don't you agree?

With a little time and patience, Madeleine masters the art of the self-portrait.

Growing more confident, Madeleine decides to compose the perfect photo shoot. She thinks of all the things professional photographers think of, I'm sure, like using just the right chair for your subject.

If you're not yet convinced of my childrens' genius, let's see what Hank can come up with. Here Madeleine shares the her tools of the trade with her brother, resulting in another stunning photo essay.

Please, I know it will be hard, but please remember these are the works of artists and, as such, if you want to copy or reproduce these, the photographers should be compensated. In lieu of cash, please sent photographer tips ASAP to

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Besty-Tacy and Mary Poppins

Madeleine has been consumed with reading lately. She's like that; she'll catch the bug, read non-stop seemingly for weeks on end, and then hit a lull where she won't pick up a book for a week or two, other than what we're reading together.

Her most recent craze is Besty-Tacy.

Madeleine got the first in this series for Christmas and after polishing it off, cleared off the library's shelf and read three more in the series before deciding she needed a break from Betsy, Tacy and their friend Tib. For young girls, the series is a hit. The two main characters (and later in the series, three) are dear friends who partake in all sorts adventures, some silly, some naughty, and imagine gobs of different fantastic stories. Madeleine says, "they're hil-AR-ious."

After the adventures of her friends on Hill Street, Madeleine decided it was time to read the copy of Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers that she received for her birthday last August. She was in between books and insisting on a trip to the library at an inopportune moment (supper time, I believe) when I suggested that Mary Poppins might be fun to read.

"Oh, Mom, I've already seen the movie."

"Well, remember Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?" I responded. "The book and the movie were completely different. Maybe this will be too."

That piqued her interest and she dove in. She's not finished yet, but judging from the giggles the book is producing, and the covert attempts to read it at bedtime, I'd say it too, is a hit.

There you have it folks; two book series recommendations from a silly, seven-year-old girl for other similarly aged girls. Madeleine promises they'll be well received.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Good-Bye, Christmas Tree

Good-bye, dear Christmas tree.

I think I read The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson one too many times as a child. I know that trees don't have conversations with rabbits or dream of moving out of the forest but, for some reason, every year I look at our beautifully adorned tree and I can't help but wonder if our tree isn't somehow feeling a bit prideful of its new beauty and the attention it receives.

And then comes the new year and the its time to shine has come to a close. Again, I have to remind myself that our poor, still healthy little balsam fir is not really sad and confused to be left, discarded, on the side of the road as tomorrow's garbage.

It's not, right?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Quo Vadis

The closing months of 2007 saw virtually no reading out of me other than a random magazine or cookbook. I felt busy, tired and uninspired.

One night, though, I somehow fell into reading Madeleine's history textbook which really deserves a post of its own since it's incredible engaging and makes a great review for anyone who can't quite recall all the particulars of Sumerian culture or how many times the Babylonian Empire fell or conquered or the rise, reign and fall of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire has always fascinated me but while reading the textbook my interest was renewed. After closing the book I remembered I still had my neighbor's copy of Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (translated by W. S. Kuniczak) collecting dust on my basement bookshelves. I raced down, grabbed the copy and dove in.

Quo Vadis is fiction, of course, but Sienkiewicz is generally regarded to have done a good job of presenting Rome as it was during the emperor Nero's reign. The main plot is a love story, but the subplots are numerous and, in my opinion, what make the book worth reading; I particularly enjoyed Sienkiewicz's imagined exchanges between Nero and Petronius, Nero's real life "arbiter of taste."

In any event, it's nice have time to be reading again, and finishing an enjoyable book is a great way to start out the new year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

I don't know what it is about New Year's Day. Maybe it's the crisp, bright new calendar or maybe it's the close of two weeks of eating, staying up late and more eating that bring about the feeling but, whatever the reason, each New Year's Day I feel the same. Each New Year's Day is a fresh start. A new beginning. Each New Year's Day brings about many resolutions, some to be kept, some not, but, above all else, each New Year's Day brings about hope. The year in front of us is unsullied, unspoiled and maybe, just maybe, the coming year will be happier, more organized and more fruitful in every possible way than the year before. That is my personal wish for me, of course, but also to all of you.

Best wishes for a blessed 2008, everyone!