Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Story Time Tent

Every so
often I come upon
an idea
that I
just have
to try out.

The idea for this story time tent came from Wondertime magazine a few months back. The magazine ran a story about creating these little places of magic and one graced their cover that I thought was just beautiful. A dear friend gave me a subscription to the magazine for Mother's Day last year, and I have to say that I have been surprised by the number and quality of creative ideas their staff writers come up with. My favorite past time with my children is reading to them. Nap times and bedtimes are best, but so are rainy days spent up in the playroom in our attic. For some time now I have wanted them to have a reading nook and have been pondering the most suitable place for one. I liked the idea of a tent immensely since it was not a permanent structure. I move the children's playthings around from room to room every few months and I did not want this to be an exception. It was so incredibly easy to put together. Nothing more than an eye hook sunk into a beam, a netting secured with a carabiner to the hook, a strand of Holiday lights, an old velvet Harlequin patterned tree skirt for the floor, some cushions, and best loved books. The netting itself was so inexpensive but I spent some time finding one that had character. This one has a circular hoop at the top to help with the tent effect, two pale shades of blue and lilac netting, ribbon streamers in white, and ribbons to tie back the door panels. It came with butterflies attached to the netting, but because these were not very realistic in appearance, I used a seam ripper very carefully and removed them. I had some clear sewing thread and used this in various places to attach the Holiday lights to the netting. Out of a stash of old linens I found some beautiful plaid Designers Guild pillow covers and these lay about to prop books and elbows, and some sleepy heads. The whole project took less than a half hour from the time I started. When the children went upstairs to the attic this evening for a bedtime story they knew something was happening since we always do our bedtime story in bed. I plugged the lights in and the children's faces lit up too. Both sat at my knee enveloped in the tent and spent most of their attention looking up at the billows of netting and the twinkling lights. The tent had just the effect that I was looking for. I carried two sleepy babies down to bed and they were in dreamland as soon as their heads met their pillows, probably seeing stars in their dreams right now.
Note: The story time tent works really well in our attic because the whole tent can be draped over the stairwell and beyond reach of little hands when not in use. The carabiner attachment also makes it really easy to take down and stash away. I would never leave children unattended in this type of structure- netting, ribbons, and electric lights can be very dangerous if parental supervision is not constant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In the Background

It has
to me
that my
type of
may just
be an

I notice things in the background. Almost to a fault. Whether it is the music playing on a commercial on the television, the music behind the big story on NPR, or perhaps a random stack of books on some shelf in an advertisement in print- which by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with said advertisement. I must have been the only person on the planet not to have heard of the Observers Books. When I saw their colorful little spines all lined up in row in some one's vacation home that was being photographed, I was smitten. I read the entire piece, but I cannot tell you whose house it was, or even what country it was in. What I can tell you is that I ran to my computer moments later hunting down these little delights of bound paper. I had no idea what they were about, or the madness they have brought upon collectors of the series. I found my set of nine for a song. They included one on Trees, one on Horses, and one on Pond Life- what was there not to love? When they arrived, the first thing I did was take off the dust jackets. Worn and tattered anyway, I liked how the colorful spines looked, and I wasn't keeping these for their value. I had visions of the children coming in one day from school years down the road and fretting over what to do for a science project. The Pond Life book could provide just the right starting point. There is something infinitely rewarding about such a small book packed with so much information. The people at Frederick Warne were of such a genius mind. After all, years before they had brought us the Beatrix Potter's tales in much the same format- beautifully colored and small enough to fit in your pocket.

The picture plates in these books are so pretty. I was astounded recently when I found out that there are one hundred books in the series, and over four hundred variations! Stella books in the United Kingdom is known for their expertise in the collection and offer a large number for sale at any given time. I can see where this collection could be addicting. Already my little collection has come in handy when I have forgotten the names of algae growing here on our ponds, and I have used the book on Fungi to identify blooms on our property. I am on the lookout for the Bird and Flower books next, both subjects I cannot learn enough about.

In the years to come I expect that Wren will gravitate to the book on Horses, and Dane to the book on Dogs. Both have wonderful illustrations and every species imaginable. Even our Perry dog is properly depicted under Vizsla. I learned a thing or two about him from reading up on his breed, like the fact that he may always be loaded with energy- no matter how much I dream for him to be a calm fireside dog. It may just not be in his cards. Getting back to my original point is that I'm grateful that there are wonderful things in the details. So much of what I love and admire has come to me because it was quietly lurking in plain view- or earshot. It is the advertiser's goal that what they put together make an impression on you. It's just that sometimes the impression you get is more than they intended.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grandfather's Rocker

so big
to me
I was so

I can remember turning the rocker on its end so that I might slide down its back. Back then, the rocker was painted pure white, and had my name affixed proudly to its seat back in cursive letters. It seemed a long slide down to the floor, so I must have been only about a year old. I always say I can't remember much before the age of three, but this activity I remember with clarity. This little rocker has been in our family for a long time. It was my mothers and her three sisters long before it was mine. Her Grandfather made it for her, along with a little drop leaf table, a china hutch, and a set of drawers. All of these pieces were made back in the 40's and we are lucky enough to have gathered all the pieces here at Hawk's Run with the exception of the hutch. I grew up with both the rocker and the drop leaf table. The chest of drawers I had not known about until recently when my aunt asked if I would like to have it. Her own Grandchildren did not need it and she knew we used the other pieces every day. So one day she loaded the chest of drawers up in the back of her vehicle and made the drive down. I will forever be grateful. For years I have thought about the missing hutch with some degree of sadness. My mother's family moved from Indianapolis when she was an older girl and there was no room on the moving truck. To all the children's dismay, it was left behind. I have often wondered while roaming through antiques malls and various estate sales if the little hutches I have seen could be the hutch from Indianapolis, or one similar. The chances would be like finding a needle in a haystack, but I never lose hope of finding it someday. When my little sister outgrew the rocker it was stored in an attic for a lot of years. When I had my children it was brought back out, but it had suffered some damage to its finish from being stored away for so long. My husband, who is one of the best antique restorers I have ever seen, took it back to the original wood, and gave it a finish that looks as if it had been there for years. In most cases, we would never remove a paint finish, but we had no idea of the lead content of the original finishes, and since it was to be used by our children, we made an exception. The little table was also restored back to its original color and given the same age treatment. We are so fortunate to have these heirlooms in our home, and I think that my Great Grandfather would be pleased to know that we love them like we do. When Wren turned one, my Father in Law presented her with a Windsor rocking chair that he finished himself. She was so proud the day we put it in her bedroom. I wonder at times where these things will be three generations from now, in Wren's grandchildren's possession. It is a concept difficult for me to even grasp, much as it was probably for my mother's Grandfather. Teddy bears and dolls have been rocked, told stories to, been called to tea, and stored countless treasures over the years in the rocker, the table, and the dresser. I wish I knew the stories the hutch had to tell. Perhaps, one day, we will find out. It sure would be nice to have it home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Night Music

I had

My subject was one I had really been looking forward to writing about. It will have to be patient and wait for another day. At night when I lay the children down to bed, I climb in with them and read our story. Then I hold one or the other, sometimes both, until they fall asleep. Definitely not the stuff of modern day parenting manuals, but it is my way none the less. I heard the sound of two deep heavy breathers and knew they were in dreamland, but very soon after I also heard something else. Tentative at ping ping. Then louder and more varied. It was raining. Our master bedroom is the only room on the second floor where the rooftop is the only thing between you and the sky. There is only a small attic office over this room and the rest is a soaring vault of the saltbox. When it is raining, it is the best room in the house for laying and listening to the sounds of water drops hitting the roof- other than the playroom which has the added feeling of cosiness because it is such an enclosed nook. So I lay there listening to the music, thinking about the piece I was going to write, the knitting I was going to work on afterwards, the latest issue of British Country Living I was going to finish. None of it happened. I lay there for hours just wrapped in a sense of peacefulness. I had spent the better part of the day raking, a never ending and extremely physical job here at Hawk's Run. So many bulbs were bursting forth. I had thought more than once that day that what these new little green beauties really needed was a good spring rain. Nature was certainly delivering. I laid there for hours and only realized around four am that I had actually fallen asleep to the melody. When we awoke this morning everything was aglow in green. It was as if the landscape had been magically transformed over night. No matter how hard nor long my work outdoors is, it is humbling to think that nature can only deliver that magical miracle of rainwater. Rainwater truly is the mother's milk of the outside world. Full of components that cannot be pushed out of the garden hose and specific to your plantings in the way that a mother's milk is specific to her child. The rain had the added component of soothing this mother into a deep sleep that was much needed after a hard day's work outside.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Simple Pleasures

In 1816
Sir David
one of the
He named his curiosity in three parts, the Greek word "Kalos" for beautiful, "eidos" for form, and "scopos" for watcher. Thus, the "beautiful form watcher" was born, known to us today simply as the Kaleidoscope. American Charles Bush came along in 1873 and made improvements on Brewster's Kaleidoscope and the form we see today benefits from those improvements. I think on a rainy gray day waiting for Spring to arrive, there may be no greater pleasure than to lie flat on one's back, eyes to the light of a window, Kaleidoscope in hand, turning the dial on the end of what appears to be a simple tube, exploring the endless variations in an explosion of color. As with many simple pleasures, my favorite Kaleidoscope is one that costs practically nothing. It is made by Schylling, a simple metal affair, loaded with nothing more than beads that couldn't be sold for a penny apiece. But when placed together at the end of our scope, magic happens. One day this winter we were having a little knit together and the conversation turned towards the Hubble telescope. I find this, too, to be mesmerizing. One thing lead to another and the conversation ventured into snowflakes. There was a theme here. Like beads at the end of our Kaleidoscope, outer space and the precious snowflake, have infinite possible combinations. Each time you look, it is something totally different. The children grasp the idea of the Kaleidoscope, and understand to a degree the changes in the night sky, but it occurred to us adults that perhaps they didn't know what a snowflake looked like up close. We quickly brought up an array of snowflake close ups on the Internet, a moment when technology is at its best. How to explain those intricate designs that no human could possibly recreate. The children said, it's just like the Kaleidoscope when the beads all fall into place and stick into a picture. Well now, indeed it is.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Wish Book

When I
lived in
had one
of the only
shops in
the States
in our 3rd
Street District.
How I loved to go into that shop and daydream. I would spend about an hour there and leave with my head full of so many new ideas. I began a notebook to stash away ideas and concepts, color and materials, places I'd like to see someday- or places I had been and couldn't wait to get back to.

Fabric swatches and paint chips nestle in its pages and they inevitably influence they way we style our home. The quilt that the Wish Book is lying on mirrors the colors in the swatches laid out within its pages. Originally chosen to cover wing chairs, the chairs ended up being reupholstered in hemp burlap but the colors were picked up in the bedroom none the less.
This page shows a very simple old fashioned pantry, not too unlike the one we have here at Hawks Run. The trouble with my pantry is that it is perched within what should be a fabulous spot for a cast iron claw foot tub. Once I find my tub, I'll pull this photo back out and reconstruct the pantry to look more like this one. It has more shallow shelves and I will be able to see things a whole lot easier.

My Wish Book is filled with a lot of gardening clippings. If I live to be one hundred I don't think I'll ever feel like I had enough time in the dirt. Each Spring is like starting life all over again- only with so much more knowledge gained the past season. I find other people's gardens so fascinating and NEVER EVER miss the garden scheme here in Lebanon when the good gardeners open their masterpieces to the public. Some are so elaborate and others are just beginning their plot. Maybe someday we'll be able to open ours...another dream.

There are a lot of pages filled with farm animals. I simply adore chickens. Our milk house is slated for a chicken house overhaul and I am so looking forward to baking with our own eggs. I talk about having chickens so often that I think I may have subliminally influenced my husband into believing it to be the most brilliant idea ever. He is now talking chickens too. The only dilemma here is that with Mr. or Mrs. Big Paws running around, the hen house will have to be built like Fort Knox.

There are a number, really a large number, of pictures depicting saltboxes in my Wish Book. I find this both intriguing and immensely satisfying that I seemed to know what I wanted even before it was shown to me. One picture in particular could be a room in our home. It is of the great room, only the owners of the house made this room their dining area. There is a long tavern table directly in front of the cooking fireplace. The windows have been greatly enlarged to twenty four over twenty fours. It is snowing outside but what with the fireplace ablaze and the well worn roof timbers, it could be our great room here at Hawk's Run. It is a room of simple beauty- really the theme of this home. Hawk's Run has such good bones that I continually find myself attempting to pare it down. On the first page of my book is a clipping from some long lost Grange catalog of simply says this.
"In the beginning a house resembles its owner. Time passes and with it the generations. Nothing changes even if everything evolves. One day the house changes family and the new owner can be seen to resemble the house."
There is such a fundamental truth to this statement that I still find it to be as potent as the first time that I read it. I hope it holds true for the future generations at Hawk's Run.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Favorite Things

I love
that need
and sorted.

I'm a sucker for anything that sets a scene. Couple that with vibrant colors and organic materials and I become a lifelong fan. A playroom can only support so many themed areas, thank heavens, but the objects I continue to discover for children are just too wonderful not to tell someone about. Today I found Ostheimer toys. Simply amazing. Handcrafted from natural woods and still made in Germany, their toys elevate an object of play to that of family heirloom. Non toxic muted colors make each object a piece of art, and I wouldn't be too surprised to find that a lot of orders arrive at homes with grown up children. It would cost a small King's ransom to build an entire farmyard, however, I think it would be money well spent. When Wren was just an infant, we found Haba toys at a local shop. I have been buying their wooden toys without fail ever since. Had I known about Ostheimer...the mind reels. The children's wooden kitchen set from Plan Toys here at our house is the most entertaining place in their world. Countless concoctions have been served up within its cozy environment and it is a play set we build on every holiday. The same holds true for their wooden animal zoo set from the wooden toy maker Anamalz. With a wooden elephant in one hand and an animal discovery book in the other, imagination is brought to life at a pace that even the real zoo cannot provide. The trips to the real zoo become all the more special when met with an understanding of that living breathing miracle in front of them. There are so many things for children to discover. I am so grateful to people like the craftsmen and women of companies like Ostheimer for coloring the world in such a way that it makes life a true pleasure to be experienced by our children. I found it ironic that Ostheimer was once put out of business in the late 30's when plastics arrived on the toy scene. There is now one of the highest callings for wood toys ever in a world still far too dominated by plastics. When I pick up the kids toys at the end of the day I still find the beauty of their objects humbling...plastic never did that for me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nana's Dishes

It is
to think of
and the
things they
about us.
My Nana, even though she had trouble showing affection towards her two grand- daughters, liked to talk. She told great stories of growing up in the roaring twenties, the Great Depression, the two World Wars, the June Cleaver days of the fifties, the sweeping changes brought about by the sixties, and the self indulgence of the seventies. Through her detailed stories, I felt like I was able to know a little bit more about the era that she lived in before I was born. People of her generation saw so much change. It is difficult for any of us born later to understand just how much their world had evolved by the 1980's. We will have our stories of technology of course, but I somehow feel these will pale in comparison to that of being alive when the first car roared to life, or the first television broadcast was aired in America's living room. My Nana, in many ways, treated me like a little adult. So what I remember about her a lot of times is sitting at her dining room table as part of a larger conversation of adult family members. Christmastime brought a yearly tradition of Nana making lobster thermador for our family. It was mouth wateringly warm and smelled so delicious after coming in from the cold winter weather of the Great Lakes region. It is, perhaps, Nana who first cultivated my lobster affection. Her special china was brought out on those occasions. But more often than not meals were served on her everyday Franciscan stoneware dishes. They were hefty, kind of feminine, and food looked so nice on them. When Nana passed away in the later 80's, I knew I couldn't bear to see the dishes disappear. I asked my mom and dad to box them up and save them. They went with me to Florida and I used them every day in my twenties. As it happens, a piece broke here and there, and I would be heartbroken. I found the good people at Replacements Limited, and then later the good people of Ebay, and my pieces could be replaced. I purposely tried to forget what was broken so that later on I wouldn't know which was originally Nan's and which was replaced. That practice has kept all the pieces very sentimental. One Christmas my husband bought me a locally made set of beautiful glazed dishes and Nan's Franciscan was packed up once again. I was sad about this but I was also deeply distressed about the accidental breakings. And then one afternoon after we had moved here to Hawk's Run, I was leafing through some writings about my beloved Tasha Tudor. Her heirlooms were hundreds of years old, and she was asked about all the chips and repairs necessary to keep them in usable condition. She stated quite flatly that she would rather see a thing used and broken than packed somewhere in a box never seeing the light of day. I had a nagging feeling of guilt. Now, two years later, I realized I needed some replacement dishes in our glazed collection. They are incredibly expensive and I just couldn't justify it right now. There is no time like the present, so I lugged up the three huge and heavy boxes belonging to Nana. Now newly washed and nestled in their cabinet they are bringing a smile and a flood of memories to me once again. My husband was stunned because he worried about them being microwaved and put into the dishwasher. No problem I said- they are safe on both counts. Shocking considering neither of these appliances were around when these dishes were made some 85 years ago. The only flaws they have are on the teapot. The lid was cracked and repaired and the spout has a small chip. I was never able to find a replacement. No matter. I'm just so glad they are back at our dinner table. Like us humans with all of our flaws, I love them anyway.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Close Encounters of the Feline Kind

or Later
I knew
the call
would come.

It was really only a matter of time.
In the past few months I have lost track of the number of sightings that have been reported to various authorities in the greater Cincinnati area of people claiming to have spotted a cougar. What was noticeably absent was the actual face to face encounter. All first hand accounts that I had learned of were of people who saw the feline, but the feline did not see the human. At least that we know of. This all changed yesterday. A woman in Mason not far from where we live had an experience she will never forget. As part of her usual routine, she let her small dog out into the back yard. She was greeted by a large puma. She stared in disbelief- it stared right back. It crouched as if ready to pounce. She gathered her wits, her dog, and backed into the house. For five to seven minutes she had the unique opportunity to witness the feline surveying its surroundings. She was able to use a neighbor's barbecue as a gauge of size when the giant cat leaped onto their deck. A good estimate is three foot from head to end, and six foot from head to tail. She guessed its weight to be about 125 pounds- quite large. The cat ambled back into the creek bed and disappeared. What is telling about this woman's eyewitness are three things. One is that she had what I call "virgin eyes". She was not aware of the local debate ensuing over the existence of cougars in Ohio. She was shocked to see so much information turn up on an Internet search she did later that day. Second, she described every detail about the cougar as normal, with one exception. She stated it has a ringed pattern on its tail. Unknowingly, she was describing a juvenile- something I was not aware of until speaking with my cat contact who helped track our property. Third, and most disturbing, the cat showed absolutely no sign of fear toward her what so ever. Either it was not aware of humans as a danger, or, it was of the opinion that she might have made a good meal. We Ohioans are at a crossroads as of yesterday. The cats are here- they are real. There is in all likelihood more than one, as the cat spotted here and around Fort Ancient is older with no tail markings. A face to face encounter has occurred with the cat not backing down in the slightest. The next call I'm waiting for is one I dread. It may take years, or months, or days. This is the call that comes from the person seeing a cat make a kill. I hope to God it is a natural kill, not some one's pet, or worse. Ohio is approaching a very real historical repeat performance of what occurred in Boulder, Colorado in the late 80's and early 90's. Cougars hadn't yet been widely recognized as residential and therefore were of no one's real concern. Livestock and pets began to disappear. Cougars were caught red handed taking off with their meal- sometimes over eight foot fences with the animal still squirming to get free. Then one snuffed out the life of an eighteen year old student taking his daily run. This got the people's attention- finally. Anyone caring to enlighten themselves should pick up a copy of The Beast in the Garden. I sincerely hope their story does not become Ohio's. I urge anyone living in southwest Ohio, especially those along the Little Miami and its tributaries to become educated about what a cougar really looks like, its tracks, and its scat. Know how to respond- Never Ever Turn Your Back, and if it comes down to it, Fight Like Hell to Get Away. Do not play dead. Know the goings on of your land. I live in a pretty remote area. The lady who had her run in yesterday lives in a neighborhood of 250 homes. Remoteness is not a factor. Above all else, tell someone who can make an official report of your sighting. You can leave a note here and I can put you in contact with someone. The very fact that cougars are returning is exciting and a wonderful example of a return to nature. But if we continue to bury our heads in the sand and not acknowledge fact, we are treading very dangerous waters to be sure.
(The above image of the puma is from the Cincinnati Zoo)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dueling Wooden Spoons

in a
when the
to hold
their own
in the
Now I know what you're thinking...good for that Kristin, her husband has learned how to cook! I would be remiss to allow anyone to think that, for the fact is that when I met my husband he could run rings around me when it came to the culinary circle. As a matter of fact, there was a time in my twenties and better part of my thirties that if I had asked you to dinner, I would not have been offended if you showed up with carry out. I grew up with a mother who is a fantastic cook- it did not rub off. Unless there is such a thing as delayed rub off. When I made spaghetti back then, I had no idea what "al dente" meant and my sauce was a warmed can of tomato sauce. Let's be clear- I do not mean pasta sauce, I'm talking little red can of Contadina. I was pathetic and I am not ashamed to admit it. Little by little, however, over the last five years or so something extraordinary has happened. I am like Little Chef from Ratatouille, Anyone Can Cook. It started falling together when I began reading cookbooks. I noticed something akin to chemistry happening in my mind, but instead of Elemental Tables and metric measurements, it was lists of ingredients and ratios. The how and the why of foods was beginning to make sense to me. We did something daring last Thanksgiving. My husband and I decided to stay home and cook everything ourselves for our children. We casually planned and talked over the menu only a few days beforehand. It was a first in our marriage when we showed up together in the kitchen the next morning. The usual routine is one or the other- never both. We split up the dishes between the two of us, but I caught both of us looking over to see what and how the other was preparing. Comments and suggestions were made back and forth and were politely being met with an "um hmmmm..." Good grief, I had thought to myself, we've become each other's cooking back seat driver. How did this happen? When we sat down to the table that early evening, a valuable lesson had been learned by all. Shut up and let the other person cook. The meal was out of this world- every last dish. Since Thanksgiving, we've found ourselves in the kitchen together a few more times. These occasions have mainly been times when we have had friends and family over for big breakfasts, or brunch. We cook so much on these occasions that brunch is really the only way we can get it all on the table. The first hour or so leaves me concerned there may be bloodshed. We no longer try to mentor one another but we now fight to be in the same spot. There are three battlefields- the oven, the sink, and the stove top- in that order. And I have to preface something here. We have one of my father-in-law's first ever designed kitchens, and it is laid out beautifully. If we were attempting this feat in our old galley kitchen in Florida there would have been major injuries all around. We have no lack of space, we just seem to want to occupy the same space- or at least our food does. At the end of each and every day I find myself thinking over the culinary delights of the past sixteen hours. The foods prepared never fail to amaze me. We hardly ever eat out anymore. When we do, with very few exceptions, I find myself thinking of what could have been. So sad, I know, but our kitchen is turning out some truly divine food. If only I could turn out a truly divine kitchen clean up person I might never eat out again!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Joined at the Funny Bone

There are some jokes I'm just not allowed to be in on.
I never know when or where they are going to spring up either. My three and a half year old daughter and one and a half year old son will share a glance, a few words, even some indistinguishable sound, and set the funny bone in motion. It happened during our nightly bedtime story ritual this evening. I chose In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak as this evening's book, perhaps because I have been up to my elbows in flour and such as of late. I hadn't read through the first page when the giggling began. By the third page it was in full force. By the time we were reading "Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter!" on the fifth page I found it amazing that they could even hear what I was saying. Those deep belly laughs continued right through to the very last page with Wren trying to get out, "Read it again! Read it again!". I thought, surely, they won't find this story as funny the second time around. I was wrong. This funny bone was a strong one. It is a joke that perhaps only the two of them truly get, but for those of us lucky enough to witness, it doesn't really matter what the joke is because they are just so darn funny to watch. It's like a feeding frenzy only the food in this case is laughter. Bouncing back and forth between the two of them, the laughter escalates and escalates until all that is audible are those deep belly laughs we all seem incapable of making once we grow up and become such "adults". I can almost hear our own sets of parents saying that it's not such a good idea to get children so riled up before bedtime. I can hear my husband saying it too, but we're now well beyond the point of no return. A last minute change of the baby's diaper becomes akin to struggling with a slippery bar of soap. No matter where I touch him to make the change he is bursting with yet more laughter. And Wren is just eating it up. I find my index finger uncontrollably lightly poking her belly and you would swear it was the worst form of tickle torture. I'm thinking to myself, "When do they come up for air? Can they hurt themselves from laughing this much?" Sooner or later they'll start to settle down and both will have a glassed over look about their eyes. The next thing I know they are passed out sound asleep. No warning whatsoever. Just done. Nights like these can run for hours with not even the slightest of movements from either one of them. They ran a laughter marathon and ran it hard. A few weeks ago the funny bone began when Wren commented in the back of the car that she was hungry. We were talking about dinner and I asked her what she wanted. What she wanted was some humor, and replied, "I'm going to eat a tree." I hadn't had time to really find this remark humorous but obviously Dane had. He couldn't stop laughing. I listened to a rally about eating trees for ten minutes while doing my best to drive the car home in a straight line. I had NO IDEA why I was laughing except that they were just infectious. It will be interesting to see how long this funny bone lasts between the two of them. I hope it hangs on for a long time because it is something that I think is really special that only the two of them are a part of. I'm just along for the ride.