Birthday Girl


This year Abbey and Robby made Corrie’s birthday cake. They are an interesting pair of cooks because Rob barely reads anything and literally tosses things into the bowl, and Abbey is a careful and cautious recipe-follower who keeps shrieking “Wait!”. But they manage.

We were out of canola oil, so they used coconut oil and it makes boxed chocolate cake taste deliciously of coconut. They dyed the icing blue, saved some to dye yellow, and cut miniature marshmallows in half on the diagonal to make petals for the daisies.


I think she was secretly SO FLATTERED that her two older siblings devoted that kind of attention and energy into something for her.



Presents, songs, friends, and curly-wurly candles to blow after we sang. Bring on being 9! – Katie

Hurricane Chamber


In the Reptile House at the Zoo there is a Hurricane Chamber. You stand inside it, close the clear plastic door, get a kind friend on the outside to insert $2, and some machinery manufactures winds that reach 78 miles per hour right there in your tube.


The best part is watching the faces of the folks inside as the winds grow stronger and stronger. (This is helpfully documented by a digital display behind the kids.) At first the girls keep trying to smooth their hair, but eventually they give up and just grin at each other, thrilled with the wild feeling. I had no idea how much fun it would be to watch them! – Katie



The Crocodile, by Micheal Flanders

This is a Crocodile, my boy…Or is it an Alligator?…I’ve an excellent book that you’ll enjoy/ We can refer to later:

The Alligator…no, Crocodile/ Is a purplish color beneath. Give it a tickle to make it smile/ And let’s count the number of teeth,

For the Croc (I think) has a row too few/ Though the Gator can’t wink its eye…

Ah! Now I can tell you which of the two / You have just been eaten by.


Alligator, by Maxine W. Kumin

Old bull of the waters,/ old dinosaur cousin,/ with scales by the hundreds/ and teeth by the dozen,

old singer of swamp lands,/ old slithery swimmer,/ what do you dream of/ when fireflies glimmer?

Can you remember/ the folk tales of old/ when you breathed fire/ and guarded the gold

and stole lovely ladies/ and captured their kings/ and flew over mountains/ on magical wings?

Old bull of the waters,/ how can you know/ men made you a dragon/ in dreams, long ago?


(Can you see that there are TWO of them? Yikes!) This picture has been giving me and Corrie the willies every time we look at it. Sometimes we look at it on purpose to scare ourselves. There is nothing like an old tingle up the spines alligator shiver. They stay so STILL you are sure they must be a statue, and then they blink and you realize they have been watching you more closely than you were watching them. *shiver*.


– Katie


James’ favorite! He tells the kids he’s torn between lion or polar bear if he was to become an animal. I think having 3-5 lionesses to bring one meat and getting to sleep long hours of the day is naturally appealing to the male mind. The poem below is e.e. cummings-style and has unusual punctuation and bold words. I copied it as faithfully as I could. – KatieIMG_0862

Lion, by Barbara Juster Esbensen

The name opens wide/ as soon as you/ speak it      L     I

O    N      Jaw unhinges/ teeth flash white/ sharp      against all that/ red

From all the best possible choices/ FLEA     TOAD      PEACOCK/ he picked this for himself       LION/ the only one he could say/ while     ROARING!



Check out the back legs on him! (Her?) He was probably 3.5 to 4 feet long, and Helen began singing a song about an iguana as we passed his cage in the reptile house. – KatieIMG_0902

Rich Lizard, by Deborah Chandra

The rich lizard/ shed its skin/ of silver coins,/ dropping them/ in the dry grass.

Strange-wild thoughts/ shook him,/ warming his blood/ to grander things,/

and he tore himself/ loose – / ran off,/ leaving behind/ his wealth of gold coins.


Because elephants are so big they get two.IMG_0850

Elephants Munching, by Jack Kerouac

Elephants munching on grass – loving heads side by side.

Elephants Plodding, by D. H. Lawrence

Plod! Plod! And what ages of time/ the worn arches of their spines support!