Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Safe? Hardly.

"They should really call these things DANGER pins!"
~ Katie's view on misnamed safety pins

Trying to stay safe until 2012. Merry Merry!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I believe...

The stockings are hung.
The fake 4 foot pre-lit tree is atop the table.  It doesn't SOUND that magical. But it is.
Katie pronounced it the most beautiful tree in the whole world, and I believe her.

Admittedly, some beliefs have been shattered this year.
As the girls were wrapping the presents for their friends, I was instantly taken back to my Mom, carefully and patiently teaching me the same present wrapping skills so many years ago. Shocked, I realized for the first time, I might NOT have been a fantastic helper.
She might NOT have "really needed" my little finger to hold the bow as she tied it.
It might be possible that she could have wrapped the presents by herself.

Katie says Santa Mouse might not be real. Our favorite Christmas book is the story of a tiny mouse who wants to give Santa a present. His generosity is magical. Rob and I always left out peanuts for Santa Mouse instead of cookies for Santa. When I asserted that the peanuts I left out each Eve were always eaten. Katie patted me sympathetically and said "I think Santa might have eaten them, Mom.
To make you THINK there was a Santa Mouse."

The aforementioned tree is another shattered belief. I was a real tree snob forever.
Now, keeping my Santa-sanity is the real magic of the season.
I LOVE my fake tree. I LOVE that it is short and easy and will not harm anyone if it topples over. I LOVE that we can all decorate it together because all the branches are equally ugly and strong. And I LOVE that I will not be finding needles until April. I am sure I will go back to real eventually. But right now, I believe in fake.

Some beliefs are holding strong.

Brown-held beliefs this season:
1.) Elves must be Alabama fans because they wear red and white.
2.) The tooth-fairy is Santa's daughter.
3.) The Baby Jesus has to hide. He can't be in the Nativity scene until the big day.
4.) Anna only wants candy for Christmas. She says she has plenty of toys.
5.) Bethlehem is in Pennsylvania. The REAL Bethlehem that is. This is my fault. Katie and I were having a conversation about the mid-east, the three Kings, the flight into Egypt, etc. I mentioned that LuLu, GrandDaddy and Pop Pop had all been to Greece recently. They went to places where some of Jesus's friends had lived. They were just across the sea from Bethlehem. Anna misconstrued our exact meaning. 

I told Katie and Anna how much I appreciated their help. 
And what talented wrappers they are.
Because it is true. None of us can do it alone. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We are getting bigger every day. Sometimes it goes so incrementally that it is hard to notice. Other times, the leaps and bounds are obvious and momentous. 

Today was one of those days...
  • At breakfast, Katie lost a tooth - her 6th one!
  • After lunch, she rode a horse named Rose and trotted on a lead rope at a sweet friend's birthday party.
  • Before dinner, she rode her bike without training wheels up and down the driveway to the applause and cheers of the neighborhood girls. 

She is SO BIG.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Who you calling Lady?

Anna is on marker restriction. And has been for a while. And it has been highly ineffective.
As in, she uses marker whenever she wants, on whatever surface she feels like.

In carpool today, she was trying HARD to break my will and win an inky prize.

A: Hey, Mama, Have any paper?
J: Nope.
A: A crayon?
J: Nope.
A: A small piece of paper and that green and white pen?
J: Nope.
A: I just look in your purse. You hand me your purse. I show you.
J: Nope.
A: Just give me your purse!
J: You never go through a lady's purse!
A: You're not a lady!
J: I am a lady!
A: When did you get to be an old lady?
J: I am not an OLD LADY! Ladies don't have to be old!
A: But you're a lady? When did you get to be a lady?
J: Oh, girlfriend, it is a process.

This evening, I picked up a pewter tray, covered in scribbles of crayon. I asked, "Anna, did you do this?" She hesitated just long enough for me to turn it over to the other side. Which said, ANNA ANAN ANNA NANAN ANNA ANNA ANNA.

Trust me, it took everything in me to respond in a ladylike fashion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

There's an app for that...

hanging out in the front yard after ballet

I made a rookie parenting mistake the other day.
Pop Pop is coming to visit on Saturday.  
I told Anna on Wednesday.
Four-year olds don't have the best sense of temporal succession. But they do understand NOW.

NOW is when we want to see Pop Pop. NOW.

We were talking about family the other day. We love people close and we love people far.

Katie asked the other day if her cousin James was allowed to get on the computer.

Then she said, and I quote, "We need an app for our whole family. There would be a code and everyone could type it and then we all could talk."

Amen, sister. This is my attempt at Katie's "Family App."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pimp My Ride

Ronnie has appropriated my car for the duration of hunting/boating season. A timid glance in the back reveals a shotgun, a grease gun [Honestly, I am more comfortable with the shotgun. What the HELL is a grease gun? Why do we possess one? What bearings need repacking? And the gleeful installation of the "Bearing Buddies" was really of concern. But I digress.]

To continue the excavation: a rusty winch, an old power pack for the 70hp Johnson outboard, detritus from his latest spree at "Trailers R Us",  and discarded camo hats, their foam brims crushed by rolling cargo and mud-rutted fields. A dusting of dove feathers and the tinny shimmy of escaped shot complete the makeover.

RB knows quite well that I don't mind the wear and tear, and might even relish having a few of my past sins erased by trailer escapes and low hanging limbs. [ You know that scene in My Cousin Vinny that attempted to instruct Yankees on the perils of Alabama mud? Um, yeah, don't go out in the rain here without a machete-wielding man, a Ford pickup with towing package, and emotional detachment from all accessories and side mirrors. Marisa deserved that Oscar, but she wasn't lying about the mud.] 

But you might ask, while RB is renovating my vehicle, what am I driving?

His car.
A silver gem, lovingly cared for, with immaculate dove grey leather interior.
Oh, the irony.

My sweet Hoarders have laid waste to his backseat. Red wax peeled from baby cheeses, a film of peanut butter and a dusting of glitter are embedded in the carpet. Black ink and red dry erase marker adorn the car seats, arm rests and door panels. Layers of crumpled Ants and Alligators attack the half-naked Barbies hastily buried CSI-style under the seat. Name tags, Tinkerbell stickers, anything with adhesive, has been cemented by the Alabama sun to the rear windows. And this morning instead of the normal carpool melee, I drove my sweet daughters to the doctor.

The stomach flu.

Blood sweat and tears doesn't even begin to cover it.

I'm calling Xzibit.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Middle of the Road


This girl is teaching me a lot. About myself.

Last night, riding her big wheel in the dark, she yelled out "ALL MYSELF"
as I tried to push her.

She ran off the drive, buried her tires in the grass, turned and yelled "HELP!"

As I steered her back onto the driveway, she yelled "ALL MYSELF!!"

I get it. I get it.**

**Ronnie tried to add some commentary about how it is harder to get someone out of the ditch then to guide them safely down the road, but I got it - ALL MYSELF.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dressing Up and Dressing Down

In Alabama, we keep our winter clothes in the dress up box.
And wear them with our bathing suits.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kid's Say the Darndest Things

Practicing the Our Father:

Katie ends with
"Please be seated."

Practicing letter sounds:

J: What sound does F make?

A: Kuh, Kuh

J: No, F, as in frog.

A: Ribbit

Say it with me now, Awwwwwwwww.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tidying up

a few random thoughts...

  • Katie lost her fifth tooth tonight! She pulled it herself, brave girl. Then she told me that the tooth fairy turns the tooth into sweet dream dust and will sprinkle it on her tonight as she sleeps. She offered to share some with Anna as well, to help get rid of Anna's recurring dinosaur dream.

  • Anna asked if her skin looked beautiful last night. As I looked more closely, it certainly looked shiny, and smelled sweet. Then I saw the vanilla lipsmackers chapstick on the floor behind her. She had smeared it over every inch of her face to make it look "golden." I think she has a future with Rodan + Fields...

  • Katie asked as we drove to the MA football game, "Is this the one we're going to win?" I wasn't sure what she meant, but she explained that at the pep rally, Coach Sylvest said, "There's a football game tonight and MA is going to WIN!" Katie wanted to make sure we were headed to the right place.

  • Another installment of "How to Tell My Girls Are Southern": They wanted to make a birthday card for our sweet neighbor Lainey. I thought perhaps they would grab markers, crayons, construction paper, etc. But no, they went to GrandMom's old secretary, got out their calling cards, then signed, sealed up in envelopes and delivered them next door.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mea Culpa

I'd like to offer a formal apology to all those teachers who ever gave me a homework assignment. I assure you - I am getting what I deserve.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jump for Joy

In between rain storms,
we managed to squeeze in some swim time with friends Jordan and Megan.

Megan, under attack
Jordan Jumping
Drying Off

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

LEGO Magic

I so love LEGOs. 
They rock. 
Unless you step on them. 
But I digress. 

The girls are finally big enough to play with the teeny tiny legos without ingesting them.

Today's project: 

Eden Farm 
injection molded plastic
Katie and Anna Brown
c. 2011

A little tour... 

Katie is fishing atop the Gazebo, which has been placed, for shade, over Quinn's Beach. 
 The Swingset is on the far left, with green slide. 
The vegetable garden is bordered in red walls to keep out bunnies. 
Hedges block the road, and the curved drive is in light green. 
And Beau and Belle are playing with Anna in the side yard. 
But my favorite part?

The Tractor, ready to cut the grass, "and make hay."

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to tell my girls are Southern...

Katie makes "yes" take four syllables and a four note scale: "uy-YAh-u-sa"

Anna saw me writing a note this morning and asked, "Are you thanking her for the lovely?" 

Clearly, every written correspondence begins, "Thank you for the lovely..." Right?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How Babies Are Made

Katie reading a classic she found at the farm a few weeks ago.
We left the book in the Pennsylvania, but I think it made an impression.
 Tonight, I was reading Freddy the Dectective to the girls before bed. Though it is above her level, Anna was paying close attention asking "What is a sheriff?" or "Who are the robbers?" and "Are they the bad guys?" 

But her next question surprised me. I have tried to relate it as accurately as possible, though I think I went catatonic for several minutes.

AEB: "Do all human babies come out of people's butts?"

JGB: "Um. . . Well. . . it isn't really your butt...."

KGB: [trying to help me out] "Anna, babies are made out of private parts, and that is why you need to take good care of your privates."

JGB: "Um. . ."

AEB: "Well, when will I have a baby in my tummy?"

JGB: "After you get married." [This one I knew the answer to.]

AEB: "Well, who will I marry?"

KGB: "You could marry Sam, or Rob, or maybe both!"

JGB: "Um. . . I like to only marry one person."

AEB: "Ok, I want a roller skating party on roller skates. At Pump It Up."

JGB: "Um... for your wedding?"

AEB: "Yep. With roller skates."

KGB: "I'll make the cake!"

When I related this story to Ronnie his first priority was to lock down the plans for the wedding reception at the inflatables warehouse. He also offered to get chicken fingers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lovely Luawana Lady

under the big top

"She flies through the air with the greatest of ease... 
That daring young girl on the flying trapeze..."

We've been steeped in The Greatest Show on Earth this week. Every day is better with a little Jimmy Stewart and Charleton Heston. And the spangles! And the drama! Katie and Anna are smitten.

And hence, our acrobatic performance on the swings. Aunt Kate gave the girls yellow tutu bathing suits for their birthdays. Perfect for high flying trapeze work. 

My very own Betty Hutton in a hayfield.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Point of Parental Pride

1200 miles in the car = only 2 movies watched

Today, we are not moving, not driving, not speaking and watching movies and doing laundry all day.

It is good to be here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blanket Apology

Katie, asleep under Pinky, somewhere in South Carolina
Blankets are important. I never had a special blanket (admission: thumb sucker). But I have known a few critically important "blankies" in my day. The girls love theirs.
Anna's is mission critical at all times. Since she was a tiny tiny she gravitated toward a yellow crocheted blanket made by Sister Immaculata, my high school home room teacher. Her name is Boo. Misplace her at your peril.
Katie loves Pinky. Dear friend Ann Gallagher gave her Pinky when she was born. Maddie Brown Bear was top dog for the first few years; but Pinky has become the go-to friend in the last two years. She is cape, stole, tutu, toga, tent, pillow, sunshade.... everything you want in a friend.
Our summer road trip is going well, and at each stop, I make sure Pinky and Boo are in the car seats, ready for a few hundred miles.
The other night, we were actually staying in the same location for two nights in a row. I grew careless.
We went out for an evening BBQ at Aberdeen Farm on the James River. Beautiful night. Beautiful friends and family. I came prepared with PJs and the girls settled in with their new friends. Anna with Boo, and Katie with..... well, two water babies (the twins, Molly and Emma), her singamajig, Merlia, the mermaid Barbie, Zuma, her pink glitter dolphin friend, and.... no Pinky.
Pinky was safe in the Hampton Inn, nestled cozily in the duvet. Where, I mistakenly assumed, she would not be missed for the evening.  hahahahahaaha
She was missed.
Vocally, repeatedly, mournfully, missed. Making a 15 minute drive into an eternity. No consolation from the front seat could improve the situation.
Anna spoke up. Words, weighted with understanding, from a fellow blanket lover offered,
"I didn't forget my Boo. I very happy."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grammar Police AND Fashion Police

K: Mama, I want my hair to be fixed just like yours.

J: I don't know, babe. My hair isn't doing that good this early in the morning.

A: [with an appraising look] It isn't doing that well. Maybe you need to go to the hair salon store.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


We can't WAIT to get to the farm. Is it any wonder why?
Guess who we are most excited to see....
(Well, after Beau and Belle.)
(And Timmy.)
That's right, POP POP!

We are counting the days until June 20th!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Against my better judgement...

Well, the girls are done with their "sharkies." But it isn't safe to go back in the water.
I, personally, am a fan of life jackets in the backyard pool. And kickboards. And noodles. But then, I'm just the Mom.

Last June, a classmate of Katie's sank to the bottom of a backyard pool during a party. With tons of adults around. She was brought up by a 9 year old boy and my friend Tara kept her alive with CPR. She recovered miraculously after a month in Children's Hospital and just finished Kindergarten at The Academy.
The day after it happened I went and bought two lifejackets shaped like sharks and the girls haven't taken them off since.

As much as we use our pool, it comes with a LOT of fear and anxiety for me. And a lot of work for my Pool Boy. But the girls love it. Katie's natural caution has made it a great experience so far. Lots of tea parties. Mermaid melodramas. Some kicking. A lovely way to spend an afternoon in the Alabama heat.
BP - Before the Push

Yesterday, Anna decided she needed to learn how to retrieve dive rings from the bottom of the pool.

Some things you should know: Anna is buoyant. Super buoyant.
And stubborn.
And fiercely independent.

I put on her goggles, and let her go for it. The dive rings, to date, had simply been used as jewelry for the tea parties. I could handle my fear to let her learn.

But she couldn't get down to the rings. Her bottom kept her bobbing on the surface while she reached and reached for her prize. And she wouldn't lift her head until she got one. She ended several tries coughing and gagging; but then would go back under without hardly pausing for a breath. Finally she looks at me and says, 
"Mama, you have to push me." 

Oh. Dear.
I am pushy. That is for sure.
But I do not excel at the motivational PUSH.
I am trying to learn.
This seemed to be my chance.

So, I took my dear sweet angel that I carried through the 100 degree summer heat, the one I bounced for hours upon hours when she wouldn't sleep for the first 8 weeks, the one who has had multiple ENT surgeries so she can breathe through the night, and pushed her right down to the bottom of the pool.

It was horrible. My stomach was in knots. I was a wreck.

And then she burst through the surface with a ring in her upraised fist. 


We're still working on the finer points. Like not inhaling while underwater. And stopping the open mouthed laughter before jumping in off the side of the pool. But she is amazing. And I'm pretty proud of myself too.

I have a feeling this is not the last time that I will feel equal parts paralyzing fear and overwhelming pride.

Or the last time she will have to push me, so that I can push her.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Boy of Summer

Another birthday themed post...
Ronnie B. is a Memorial Day baby and it really is the best weekend of the year. We got a MUCH needed rest from end of school activities, spent time with friends, and got lots of Brown family time. As noted in April, the mama really deserves the credit...
Thank you, Mary Lou, on a job very very well done.
This was just what we needed... 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fanny Wolford Jasper Walsh

Fanny is behind the camera - obviously

Sometime between 1930 and 1935, Fanny Jasper left Hogue, KY. She had graduated Science Hill High School in 1929. For a few years, she took turns taking courses at the University of Kentucky with her six sisters. Some were teaching school and funding the other's classes - then they would switch places. Each sister provided some money for the other's education. At some point, the story goes, a traveling magazine salesman came through town.  Fanny and her sister Nell took a leap of faith, and joined him. They left the farm and coal country Kentucky and traveled east. Nell didn't make it very far before she returned to Kentucky. But Fanny continued on to Washington DC where she retired from magazine sales and started a new life. 

Fanny met a young man named Edward Jerome Walsh. He had left the coal country of Scranton Pennsylvania for the opportunities of Washington.  They married at The Shoreham Hotel  in October of 1940 and set out on their greatest adventure. 

Fanny and Ed found a neighborhood being developed at the tail end of Massachusetts Avenue. It was far out in the boonies of Maryland.  The buses wouldn't even go there. Everything stopped at the DC line two miles away. They invested $9000 in the building of their new house. A sum that the Jaspers cautioned they would never recoup. The address was 4 Ardmore Circle, Washington, DC.

In that dream house, they started their family. Edward, jr. graced their lives during WWII. Five years later, in 1947, Fanny gave birth to a little girl with dark curls. In another five years, a tow-headed girl would follow.

Suzanne Elizabeth Walsh was born in Columbia Hospital for Women on April 19th, 1947. She was named for Fanny's sister Susan Elizabeth, but with a touch of Fanny's flair. Indeed. 

I am grateful for so very many things today.

But my Mom told me to always celebrate the MOTHER on a birthday. The mother, she said, had done all the work that day.

So today, let's celebrate Fanny Jasper Walsh. A truly remarkable woman who loved flowers and hats and Washington and her three incredible children, Ed, Suzanne and Kate. 

Well done, GrandMom. Well done.

PS - To Walsh women, I will spend today wearing Jeane Nate', hunting eggs and taking photos. And thinking of you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's the Best Day Ever

My husband made the coffee.

My trainer called to reschedule.

My in-laws invited us out to Zona Rosa for lunch.

My sweet friend asked to have both girls over to play for a few hours.

It is a bluebird day and 75 degrees out.

Is this heaven? Or is it Alabama?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Greatest American Hero

K&A were singing in the back seat. Muddy, sandy, and wet around the edges, they spent a glorious day at the lake - digging in the sand, exploring the forest, finding hidden treasure and jumping off high things. 
Two of my Greatest American Heroes sang out their anthem with all they had.

It's like a light of a new day-
It came from out of the blue.
Breaking me out of the spell I was in,
Making all of my wishes come truuuuuuuuue!

 Can I get an Amen?

The next song was less of a power ballad and more of a percussive 
homage to chickens. 
My girls, never undeterred, went into their "Air Orchestra" repertoire. 
(They excel at Air Guitar, Flute, Drum, Piano and Trumpet.) 
But this time, they took it to eleven. 

Dubbed "Spit Guitar" by my budding rockstars they stuck out their tongues and gave a big PBBLLLTT
to the establishment. Strumming along, spitting in time to the music. 
I know I should have stopped them, but it was too awesome to try to rein in.

So, if my girls spit all over you, try to appreciate the Slash-like intensity and check out their mad guitar skills.
And blame their mother.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wonder Twins

I love watching these sisters tell secrets.
It is a relationship I don't fully understand. But I try to help them trust each other and respect each other.
Even if, later on, they unite against me. 
They are wiley. And have wands. 
I just hope they use their powers for good...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Meat and Miracles

"Anna, Be QUIET! Don't talk ANY MORE!"
 [Standard after school sibling greeting.]

"Kathryn Grace, that is NOT NICE! We all enjoy quiet; but please find a nicer way to ask your sister."
[Remind self to scream BE QUIET less frequently.]

"Hey, Anna, you know when you are reading a book and the words don't come out your mouth, they just go in your brain? That is called "reading silently". How bout you try that?"
[Katie is somehow channeling her Uncle Rob, circa 1983-87]

"OK! Which part the brain?" 
[Note: The younger sibling always says yes regardless of comprehension. Or shame. Or danger to self.]

"Up here. At the top."
[Pats head.]

"The hair?" 
[Rubs open book on hair.] 

"No, INSIDE. Inside the body, at the top, is the brain. Where the songs and the jokes are. Hey, Mama, did you know we are all made of meat?"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not for the faint of heart

Just as no one tells you the joys of pregnancy until it is too late; so too for the traumas of childhood.

A couple of facts:

1. Teeth creep me out. 

2. Katie is far braver than I. 

But I am nothing if not supportive. I felt I could be more encouraging from behind the camera so I filmed the toothstravaganza. Please forgive the moaning. I am still recovering. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Numbers Game

5 feet = the width of a typical king size bed
8 feet = the number of feet found in my bed on a typical night
3 feet in the face = my limit
3 am = time to switch to bed two 
3 feet = the width of a typical twin size bed
21 years old = the age of my twin matress
40 pounds = the suggested weight limit for any mattress over 15 years old
4 am = the time they usually find me
200 pounds and 6 feet in a 3 foot, 21 year old bed = too much. just too much.

Friday, January 7, 2011

from the backseat...

K: "There is a hole in your eye that lets in the light and that is how you see. Your lid closes over it and that's how you sleep. and if you are blond, that means you can't see anything. even in the day."

R: "That is very smart, Katie; but actually it is BLIND."

K: "Hahahaha that is a good one, Dada! So, Anna, it is true: if you were  blond you would not be able to see anything at all."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pop Pop & Anna

"Whattaya DOOin'?"

"Getting cleaned up."

"Oh. I clean."

"Ok, well, I am going to get in shower now."

"Ok. Me too!"

"No, Pop Pop always showers alone."

"Ok, I watch."

I could have interceded at any point in the above conversation, but I was simply enjoying it too much.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Heard around The Creek

January 2, 2011 - Time for another verbal snapshot of Katie and Anna at 5 1/2 and 3 1/2:

"Is this game between Auburn and The Redskins?" ~Katie

"Hey, Katie, let's have a Naked Club!" ~Anna