Wednesday, December 30, 2009

mama said knock you out

Evan (holding a snowball the size of a watermelon): "Whoever tries to destroy me will have to deal with Big Mama."

Monday, December 28, 2009

passing Battle Ground, Washington on the highway

Evan: "Do you think we'll ever live in Battle Ground?"

Sonja: "Why would we ever live there?"

Evan: "I don't know. Cool name?"

Sunday, December 27, 2009


What I'll miss most about these years: Evan coming up and hugging me for no reason.

What I'll miss least: Evan coming up and hugging me in order to wipe his mouth on my shirt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


“How was your date?
Yes, we’re up late.

We got lots done
while you were gone.

You’ve never seen
a cat so clean.

The doorbell now
sounds like a cow.

And don’t you love
the wall above

that giant mess?
You’d never guess

a little girl
had made that mural.

The guy who’s coming
about the plumbing

can Roto-Root
the laundry chute.

What else? The dryer
may smell like fire.

The goldfish bowl
may still be full

of cheese knishes.
If not, the fish is.

The babysitter
may be bitter.”



Evan: "I made up a secret language. Even I don't understand it."

signs of the times

"Hot Love 2" was a show put on by Evan, Sage and Lily (visiting from Seattle) in the puppet theater. I have no idea what it was about, but it included lots of shouting and punching, a tornado siren simulated on kazoo, and an elephant delivering the line, "Yeah, the Incredible Hulk is right." I also have no idea why it was called "Hot Love 2," and neither does Evan, who wrote and directed it. "Sage and Lily named it," he says.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

parting shots

In the car, leaving Topeka:
"Goodbyyyyye, Phelpses."

On the highway to the airport:
"Lincoln was killed by LeBron Booth."
"Hey Sage, remember when I taught you how to hail me? HAIL EVAN! HAIL EVAN!"

In the airport, after waiting half an hour to learn that we were going to miss our connecting flight:
"The great thing about being a kid is that you don't understand all the bad stuff that's happening."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

i lose

Sage: "Stand still as fast as you can."

Eric: "Stand still as fast as I can?"

Sage: "Yes."

[Eric and Sage stand still for a few seconds.]

Sage: "I won! We were playing a contest."

honey, the kid shrunk me

Eric: "You're looking through the wrong end of the binoculars, Sage."

Sage: "I don't like big things. I like small things."

Thursday, December 17, 2009


There's a chance I'll be able to publish a book of these, but I need to write a bunch more and they need to be good. So I welcome comments. Please don't worry about my feelings -- I just want to know what's working. Thanks.

“Evan is seven. You are two.
So give me one good reason you
should get to do the things he does.”
Sage rubbed her brow and sighed. “Because
of what you said yourself. It’s true:
Evan is seven. I am too.”


“Mommy, Daddy,” Evan said,
“When S-a-g-e goes to bed,
let’s watch an m-o-v-i-e.”
Sage scoffed, “I know that spells TV!”


Evan pointed to where, in the snow,
tiny legs were beginning to show,
and he said, “What a beautiful thing:
It’s the first action figure of spring.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

public recluses

I know it defies the odds, but Evan has confidently identified every single spider we've found in our home since moving here in July as a brown recluse.


Sage: "What do you call Santa?"

Eric: "Umm..."

Sage: "Pinocchio!"

Evan: "Sage, you tell weird jokes."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

spots and stripes forever

Black and white and pink and more black is the new black.

love hurts

Eric: "Evan, stop kicking me under the table."

Evan: "Those are love-kicks."

high art

For the record, Sage made the plane. "Gabrielle" is its name.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

she admits it

Eric: "So who's going?"

Sonja: "I can't go. I've got too much work to do."

Sage: "I can't go, because I'm not able to drive."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

found in Evan's backpack

We've discovered someone almost as fond of Evan as we are.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

you'd better disappear

Evan asked me not to sing him a lullaby tonight, because he wanted "to keep 'Beat It' stuck in my head."

the chef

I don't know how he got the bubbles to assume or stay in that shape, but they did for quite some time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a truth universally acknowledged

If children have a religion, it is "underwear." That word's sublimity is the one thing all children agree on:

"Sundown, you better take care, / if I find you've been sleepin' in my underwear."

Howls of laughter.

look out

A Yahoo! News headline: "'Fearless' 3-Year-Olds Might Be Tomorrow's Criminals"


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

highlights from the kids' Christmas lists

"spy kit with briefcase"
"ninja costume"
"police kit"
"Eyeclops night-vision binoculars"

"Whoopsie Doo" (Evan explains: "It's a robotic doll that poops and you change its diaper.")
"a brown and black horsey with a working nose on it"
"My Little Pony"
"a tiger with alligator teeth"

miss pronunciation

Of all of Sage's endearing mispronunciations, the one I'm going to miss the most when she grows out of it is "Care me" (for "Carry me"). Runner up: "gorilla bar" (for "granola bar").

Saturday, November 14, 2009

waiting in the car for Mommy

Yes, he's still wearing that SWAT costume pretty much every day:

Friday, November 13, 2009

some pig

Other possible titles for this post: hog wild; ham on the lam. I think this may be the prequel to "The big pig hid."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

that's my boy

Evan was drawing in three dimensions before he started kindergarten. I have yet to draw in three dimensions.

thanks, mostly

When I picked Evan up from school he gave me a huge hug and said, "Today my desk made this weird squeak that kind of reminded me of your laugh, and that made me really miss you."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

give or take

Eric: "Your teacher had her baby?"

Sage: "Yes!"

Eric: "What's the baby's name?"

Sage: "Estella Marie!"

Eric: "Wow! What a great name! Is Estella a little baby or a big baby?"

Sage: "A big baby!"

Eric: "Wow. Do you know how much she weighed?"

Sage: "Yes! Fifty-nine pounds!"

face time

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

spooky and classified

Today we had a conference with Evan's teachers. They told us to be sure to check out the student writing on the wall outside the classroom as we left. Although the pieces were anonymous, they said, we wouldn't have any trouble spotting Evan's:

Could this be it? Nah.


["I am spooky and classified. I like secret agents, FBI, and CIA. I like Swat teams, police, and speshell forces. I like law and investigating crime seens. I like forensics and taking fingerprints. I do not like bullies, getting hurt or princesis. my favorite color is pink. When I grow up I am going to be a forensic sintist. I might be on the swat team or a police officer."]

Sunday, November 8, 2009

fall, front yard

keeping the neighborhood safe

still life

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gage Park II

And here are a few for Andrew and Duncan:

The paint was a little fresher in '77, but she's still a mighty fine vessel:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

just saying

My daughter is happily dozing in a zipper-front sweatshirt I spent half an hour insisting was "not pajamas." If it's a battle of wills, the smart money is always on Sage.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

sounds like a plan

Evan: "Hey, Sage. How about we're famous actors, and you're the cutest one and I'm the awesomest one, and we have to wear disguises wherever we go, and..." [moves, sadly, out of earshot]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sage advice

things you should avoid in the woods:

1. poison ivy
2. a moose

things you need not avoid:

1. a nice moose

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hall passes

Reasons Sage got out of bed last night, in descending order of legitimacy:

1. to use the potty
2. to get a drink of water
3. to give Mommy another kiss
4. to find Penguin
5. to tell a secret to Franklin

Monday, October 26, 2009

wishful hearing

Evan: "Mommy said I could have this piece of candy -- the one that's in my mouth."

Eric: "Hmm. She did?"

Evan: "Yes."

Eric: "And if I ask her if that's true, she'll say 'Yes'?"

Evan: "Yes. Well, I may have misheard her."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

pics of the litter

Gavin insists he's still learning how to use his new camera; he got some cool pics with it, though:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

papa was a rollin' stone

Yesterday we drove by Porubsky's, the famous little grocery/deli/bar in Topeka's "Little Russia" neighborhood, and Evan asked, "Is this where you and Mommy sneak off to when Sage and I are asleep?" Last night, I did indeed sneak off to a bar in Lawrence with my friend Gavin for the reunion show of a band we used to see all the time back in the '90s. When Evan learned about this today, he said, "We're never letting you do that again. Pretty soon you're going to be dealing poker cards and stuff."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

different drummers

little star

Sage: "Was I there?"

Eric: "No, that happened when we lived in New Hampshire. You weren't born yet."

Sage: "I was just a twinkle in Mommy's tummy."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

misfortune cookie

Evan trails little scraps of paper wherever he goes — notes, drawings, blueprints. Last night, cleaning the kitchen, I found one of them, folded into a neat square. I wasn't sure whether it was something I could throw away, so I unfolded it. Inside was an even smaller square, which said "To: XX, From: ??" in Evan's handwriting. Intrigued, as I'm sure Evan wanted me to be, I unfolded that square, and the note inside said, "You are doomed."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

same lame name

Taylor (three-year-old at Sage's day care who asks me my name every time I drop Sage off): "What's your name?"

Eric: "Eric."

Taylor: "Again?!"

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

agent of change

Eric: "Evan, I saw James's mom at her restaurant, and she told me that since James has been playing with you he's gotten really interested in secret agents, and is asking for all sorts of costumes and gear."

Evan (chuckling): "Yeah, I can change people."

which would you prefer, Evan?

Evan: "So, for Halloween, are we just going to have lights and little wimpy decorations, or are we going to have mist machines and gravestones and skeletons and ha-ha-ha voices and big inflatable things?"

if you can't say something nice...

Evan: "Well, the Phelpses have nice handwriting, at least."

Friday, September 18, 2009


Our new neighborhood, Potwin, is famous for the trick-or-treat traffic it gets on Halloween. We've been warned to expect between 1,200 and 1,500 kids. No joke. One neighbor told me he bought candy for 1,000 last year and ran out.

Evan: "Do stores give you a special discount on candy if you live in Potwin?"

Eric: "I don't think so. That would be a good idea, though."

Evan: "Ugh. It's not fair that we have to spend so much money. We shouldn't even have Halloween this year."

Eric: "I didn't realize you were opposed to your parents buying candy, Evan. That surprises me."

Evan: "I just don't like to see you wasting so much money on candy for other people."

Friday, September 11, 2009


Evan: "Everyone goes through a gun phase. Some people go through it when they're boys -- shooting dart guns and water pistols and stuff like that. And some people go through it when they're grownups, and they join the police force or the C.I.A. So if you don't let me play with guns as a boy [and here Evan raises both his voice and his finger, which he jabs in my direction], I'm going to go through my gun phase AS AN ADULT."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

i'm the man

Daddy decides.
Daddy's the king.
Daddy's right
About everything.

— poem spontaneously composed by Evan when I suggested we order him a SWAT costume for Halloween and Sonja dissented

Monday, September 7, 2009

career change

So far this Labor Day, Sage has been a mole, a muskrat and a beaver, and Evan has been a mole/muskrat/beaver exterminator and, after our protests, a mole/muskrat/beaver relocator.

Friday, September 4, 2009


The pig is big:

The pig is in a wig (a disguise that may or may not help him elude the police helicopters):

The big pig hid (Evan: "He's hiding in London."):

The big pig hid (detail):

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

pay to play

In the car on the way to school:

Sonja: "Today Evan has his play-date with James after school."

Eric: "Evan, are you excited about going over to James's house?"

Evan: "Yeah. Gotta prepare for the day, first, though. Gotta get that out of the way."

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Sonja: "I told Evan and Sage they could watch an m-o-v-i-e later."

Sage (looking excitedly at Daddy): "M-o-i-v-e spells TV!"

Friday, August 28, 2009


Sonja: "Evan, it says in the school newsletter that your class wrote out spelling words in shaving cream. Is that true?"

Evan: "Yeah. We did that a few days ago."

Eric: "Evan, how come you never tell us about cool stuff like that when we ask you what you did in school?"

Evan: "Well I would if there weren't a newsletter."

Monday, August 24, 2009

names have been changed to protect the innocent

Today, when Sonja and I called Evan off the playground at the end of the school day, it took him a minute to come running. When he finally got to us, he said, "Sorry about that. I was in a discussion about Sarah having a crush on me, and that can be pretty distracting."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

organization man

Evan: "Here's my usual weekend routine: I get up at 7 o'clock, get dressed, eat breakfast, and go walking around the neighborhood looking for my associates..."

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Sage and I were out swimming this evening. At one point I looked up and there were hundreds of white birds circling above our house — big migratory birds of some sort, probably moving off the river or one of the reservoirs, soaring and wheeling in three or four groups that merged and separated. They were moving vaguely westward, but in such big, leisurely circles that it took them 10 minutes or so to pass completely over our house and out of sight. The sun was low in the sky, and the undersides of their wings were illuminated -- it was stunning. Sage's two comments were, "It's the geese dance ballet!" and "Every day I come out here and the geese dance ballet is not happening. But today it's happening!"

which is, indeed, how i would hop a train

At Gage Park there's a caboose from an old freight train that kids can climb on. Today Evan suggested we hop the train, "like bozos."

Right now he's outside in the front yard, working on "a police private property oil-tanking zone."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

why we won't be buying Sage a little hatchet

Sage: "Sometimes, when there are no grownups around, I draw on things that aren't paper."

Eric: "Sage, you know you shouldn't do that."

Sage giggles mischievously.

Eric: "Sage, if you draw on things that aren't paper, you're going to get your toys taken away."

Sage (still giggling): "No, because I'm sneaky."

Eric: "It doesn't matter. You'll still get your toys taken away."

Sage: "Yeah, but then I'll say 'I'm sorry' and you'll give me my toys back."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

i'm not a parent, apparently

Sage: "Can we watch TV?"

Sonja: "No, Sage, you watched a lot of TV yesterday. No TV this morning."

Sage: "Daddy, when Mommy goes on her run, can you sneak upstairs and turn on the TV for us?"

after the party, Evan helps tidy up

Evan: "Can I have a glass of Coke? Because, you know, we've got all this Coke left over, and we need to get rid of it.... Can't just have it lying around...."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dr. No

Sonja: "What kind of musical activities should we sign you up for, Evan? You could learn to play the violin, the piano. There are choirs you could join, for singing. What kind of music are you interested in?"

Evan: "Umm... James Bond theme music."

Sonja: "Well, that's interesting music to listen to, but I'm asking what kind of music you're interested in making."

Evan: "Beat-boxing."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

book 'em

Eric: "What did you play over at the Beall girls' house?"

Evan: "We played espionage up in their attic for a long time, and then we came down and played library."

Eric: "You played library?"

Evan: "Yeah. Sage was the librarian, and Bannon was the mean second librarian, and Ann was the storyteller, and I was security, and McCall was just a person visiting the library. And a robber."

burp, memory

Evan: "Remember when you came by my classroom after the first-grade musical to say hi, and all the kids kind of gathered around you because you're so tall?"

Eric: "Oh yeah. That was cool."

Evan: "And Mohammed wore his glasses after that. He never wanted to wear his glasses all year, because he thought they made him look bad. But after he saw how tall you were and saw you wearing glasses, he thought glasses made him look cool."

Eric: "Wow. I didn't know that. That's great. Mohammed was a real character. I liked him a lot."

Evan: "Yeah. Except he burped in my face one time."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

speak no evil

Evan: "The problem with comic books is that whenever the bad guys capture the superheroes, they always tell them what their new evil invention is."

Monday, August 3, 2009


Grandma Sue: "Bon appetit!"

Sage: "Go up and eat!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

wherein I fail yet again to make my point

Eric: "Sage, would you please bring me that can of bug spray?"

Sage: "Why do I have to do everything?"

Eric: "Do you do everything? I didn't realize. Do you clean? Do you cook?"

Sage: "I do clean. The reason I don't cook is that our kitchen is too big for me."


Evan (sitting on the potty with a plastic sheriff's badge in his hand): "I'm doing a shadow-puppet show. It's about a thumb-girl who lives in a neighborhood with a big spike-ball."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

that she is

Evan: "Sage, why are you naked and dancing on the stairs?"

Sage (naked and dancing on the stairs): "I'm not dancing!"

Evan: "Sage... such a character."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

it's a poly-holiday with Sage-y

Sage: "I want be a bunny for Halloween!"

Eric: "That sounds great!"

Sage: "An Easter bunny!"

Kansas in Paugust

This morning, Sage was telling me about her friend Lukas. It's not the Lukas we knew in Seattle -- this one's a girl, and Sage met her in California, but she has since moved to Africa. Lukas is three years old, just like Sage, but on her next birthday she's going to be ten.

In other news, Sage also said something true this morning: "August rhymes with Paugust."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Junie Bug Jones

Dale the Snail

Evan and his new friend Bannon have been collecting creatures in a small tupperware terrarium. It now contains a green June beetle named Junie Bug Jones, a snail named Dale, and a juvenile praying mantis to be named later. I'll keep you posted.

executive order

Evan, playing with his Obama action figure:

"Sasha, clean up your room in the White House!"

(falsetto) "Why?"

"There's going to be a meeting!"

"Well there's not going to be a meeting in my room!"

"The people coming to the meeting have kids who may want to see your room. It needs to be clean."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

global citizen

Evan: "I like China."

Eric: "That's cool, Evan. What do you like about China?"

Evan: "It makes most of my toys."

letting himself go

Eric: "Hey Evan, haven't you worn that same outfit, like, three days in a row?"

Evan: "No. I've worn it four days in a row. Mommy, those pancakes look really dark. Did you put whole grain in them?"

Sonja: "Yes. It's healthier that way."

Evan: "Who cares about pancakes being healthy?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fishy the Bob

Sage (holding a fish puppet): "What are your names?"

Eric (crab and dolphin): "I'm Carl the Crab and this is Donnie the Dolphin. What's your name?"

Sage: "I'm Fishy the Bob."

dream big

Sage: "I want to be a big sister."

Eric: "Hmm. Why do you want to be a big sister?"

Sage: "I want to play with babies. And hold their hands and look both ways before we cross the street."

Eric: "Oh, that sounds awfully nice. I can see why you'd want to do that."

Sage: "So... can Evan go back inside Mommy's belly?"

Friday, July 10, 2009


Evan: "Can't you tell Sage to get out of the room while I clean it?"

Eric: "No, Evan. I want you two to clean it together."

Evan: "But that's going to mean a world of distress."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

the true Sage, captured on camera at last

When she yells, people roll away like they do in Peanuts.

the cool of the pool

Monday, July 6, 2009

aiming too low

Eric: "That's the public pool with the water slide..."

Jack: "Oh! A water slide!"

Eric: "And water cannons..."

Jack: "Water cannons! Well, I'll bet Evan's not all that interested in water slides and water cannons."

Eric: "No, I'm sure Evan has NO interest WHATSOEVER in water cannons."

Evan: "Daddy, that's a really boring joke, and grownups make it all the time."

an eventful weekend

Sage in the Potwin parade

Evan getting arrested

the birthday boys, Evan (7) and Sean (25), at Uncle Andrew's wedding reception

four generations on our new front porch