Thursday, April 16, 2015


We have groundhogs. For a while we've noticed large holes/tunnels under our porch, and commented idly, "Huh. It looks like something's living under there." And several weeks ago, while Andrew was out of town, I was sitting in the living room and smelled skunk so strongly I was convinced a skunk was inside the house. Last week, walking around the house with a landscaper who's going to work on our backyard, the landscaper saw the holes/tunnels, announced we had groundhogs, and gave us the card for a wildlife control company.

Today, a wildlife guy came over and confirmed it. We have groundhogs. A lot of them. The skunk I smelled was probably startled by one of them. He won't kill them, but we paid a hefty fee for his services: constructing metal barriers underground all along the porch, putting in a one-way door that the groundhogs can use as they emerge to find food and water, and then returning to seal up that door once all the groundhogs are gone. They're being evicted.

Greta was very alarmed by the idea of groundhogs, almost insulted that they'd be in our yard. But the wildlife guy won her over immediately, presenting her with a small toy skunk when he arrived, as well as a chapstick. I feel bad for the little groundhogs, but the spectre of massive flea and tick infestations is enough to make me certain they need to find another home. Ah, homeownership.

An aside: earlier today, while Lucia was at school, Greta finally learned how to pedal a bike. She rode up and down on the street in front of our house, pleased as punch. Little miss!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Letter to Lucia / Letter to Greta

Dear Girls,

Another catch-up letter, and I've lost track of how many months each of you are, and one of these months I'll do the counting and get back on track. But it's better to write than not write, and it's fun to write about you both right now because we're in a stellar period of cuteness and hilarity. Lucia, at 5 1/2 you're the reigning big sister, eager to "help" Greta whenever you can--even, sometimes, announcing you're going to be the one to help Greta get dressed in the morning. But Greta, you hold your own--you idolize Lucia and look up to her and strive to emulate her in every way; but you don't hesitate to stand your ground and assert yourself.

The big sister / little sister dynamic was on charming display this week, since you had your first swimming lesson together. Greta has been watching Lucia at her swimming lesson for the past three months, and finally you're in a class together. Lucia, you led Greta to the side of the pool, arm around her, guiding her to the place where she was supposed to sit; and you introduced her to your teacher. You made sure she followed all the directions during class. It was so very cute.

You're of one mind these days, lost in your own sister-world of My Little Ponies, princesses, and Legos. You play together tirelessly from the moment you wake up in the morning, breaking only for school and (reluctantly) for nap- and quiet time. Your play is exhaustive and inventive. You're thrilled that we can be outside finally, and even though our post-renovation backyard is a mudpit full of metal detritus, you love to play there. I'm so excited that by the end of May our backyard is going to be a place of childhood wonder--we're moving forward with some big backyard work, including a patio, new leveled lawn, paved driveway, and a large, fantastic playset. You girls are going to love it.

Greta, we had you evaluated again today to see if we needed to start up with speech therapy today, and you passed handily--no therapy required right now. You sat calmly and cooperatively during the hour-long test, cheerily pointing to pictures and naming images. One of the mistakes you made was actually very cute: prompted with an image of a telescope, you called it an "I spy." Too cute.

It's fun right now. Five and three.

Favorite books: multiple books from Disney Wonderful World of Reading, fairytales from my vintage fairytale book (especially Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk), Moon Rabbit, Ladybug Girl, Where the Wild Things Are, Three Little Pigs

Favorite toys/activities: Legos, My Little Ponies, and princesses. That's it. They've taken over. Greta is rarely without her Princess Celestia, and Lucia brought four ponies in when it was her turn for "Share Chair" at school. Also, of course, riding scooters and playing outside.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


We journeyed to Connellsville for what turned out to be a fun and eventful holiday. The day before Easter, Andrew and Molly both ran the Connellsville half-marathon; we met them at the finish and celebrated at Valley Dairy. Andrew shocked everyone by ordering a club sandwich consisting of a burger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Later that day, we celebrated Luca's third birthday with a cake Molly created, consisting of small cranes scooping crushed Oreos from the top of a chocolate cake, which was a huge hit all around.

On Easter morning, the kids came downstairs and found their Easter baskets, which was thrilling. (Lucia had claimed she was going to stay up all night, or at least get up really really early, but everyone slept until a very humane 7am.) Lucia and Greta each got a plush Rapunzel, tiny plush bunny, M&M necklace, butterfly headband, a small mini-golf Lego Friends set, and a Frozen Lego set (impossible to find except for the fact that one week at the culmination of our kitchen renovation I found myself at Target every day for five days--on one of those days, two Frozen sets had emerged. Pure luck, coupled with excessive Target shopping). They they went outside for an egg hunt. I hid over a hundred eggs, and all three kids were very focused and excited about finding them. "Eggs!!" Luca says in a video Molly took. "So many!!" Then they opened them up: chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, eraser animals, tiny flocked bears, rainbow hair elastics. All fun.

Molly and Luca headed home after that, but the rest of us went to church, where the girls were more or less calm and quiet. The day was beautiful, and they spent the afternoon riding their scooters up and down the sidewalk with their new Rapunzels.

It's always fun to have a Connellsville getaway. Andrew and I got in a Gabe's trip, too (and I snuck back for a second go-round with Molly and Mom). A few $1 sweaters, Lands End flats, some earrings, tank tops, garden gnomes, a pair of jeans, a couple of head wraps that Andrew despises, some nailpolishes. An eclectic and fun selection.

Spring Sickness

We greeted our long-awaited spring by having both Lucia and Greta contract a stomach bug. It hit Lucia first, around 6pm on Thursday; she had a rough evening and night, and needed Friday to fully recover. At 2:30am on Friday night, Greta woke up crying about her stomach hurting; a second later, she vomited all over her bed. Charming. She was sick the rest of the night and up till noon on Saturday.

Lucia, at five and a half, knows enough about stomach bugs to understand the idea of leaning over a trash can. She also gets really upset and angry about it, wailing "I hate being sick!!!" after each bout. She understands that when she's sick she gets to watch a lot of TV, but also that she has to rest and nap. Greta, on the other hand, had to be physically corralled into aiming for a trash can, and her anger over being sick was laced with stubborn three-year-old-ness. She'd cry about her tummy hurting, I'd ask if she was going to throw up, and she'd say furiously, "I'm NOT! I'm NOT!" She'd heard Lucia's wails and imitated them, with pitiful moans of "I hate being sick!" This was all very sad and heartbreaking. Then the active sickness lessened, and extreme monster-crankiness took over.

It was a long week.