Friday, December 14, 2007


So Isabelle went to a party at her friend Zella's house today. There was a little girl there who did a lot of toy-grabbing, resulting in a few tears, particularly on Zella's part, but Isabelle minded her manners. As we tucked a very tired little girl into bed, we complimented her on being so polite, when all the other children had forgotten their manners.

Isabelle said, "There was another kid there. He was older, he was a boy. He didn't grab. He was like my cousin Benjamin."

Friday, December 07, 2007


Since I get up at 5:30 am to get to school on time, Isabelle is instructed not to get up when she hears me, but to wait for her good morning kiss about 6:20.

Each morning, after I wash up in the bathroom, I head back to my bedroom to dress, and glance, as I walk by, into her room to see if she is sleeping. She usually is.

This morning, as I started down the hall, my nose tickled, so I turned back to the bathroom to grab a tissue.

A cry rent the night. "Daddy! You forgot to look in my room!"

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Creeping middle age

The other day I remarked upon the great quantity of hair that had caught in the hair trap of my shower drain, as it has every time I've taken a shower for over twenty years, and it occurred to me that it could be--it just could be--that my hair might be thinning in my advancing age. My hairstyle typically involves a center part and ponytail hiding my hairline, so I peaked under my hair, intent on a close inspection to see if there was any thinning.

I didn't find my hairline where it should be.

To my shock and surprise, it had moved back almost an inch. It looks rather like I thought about giving myself a mohawk, then changed my mind after shaving a bit on both sides. If I had parted my hair on either side, or combed it back, or cut it off, I would have noticed the creep long ago, but the center part hid it.

Ten years ago I noted my silver hairs with pride. Two years ago I started wearing granny glasses on the tip of my nose, with pride. Some decades hence, if I live so long and need a cane, I will swing it with pride. But oh, I did want to keep my hair.

I am determined to grow old with pride, to reject the deification of youth and beauty. Since my hairstyle naturally hides my hair loss, I could easily fall into the sin of wanting it hidden. To avert this misdemeanor, I thought I should announce it to the world.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Left Hand of Darkness

Lots of kids have scape-goats. What was the cartoon, "Family Circus"? that had an invisible character named "Not Me" that ran around and got the kids in trouble. When I was a kid, I called it "Mr. Nobody." Isabelle occassionally invokes Mr. Nobody, but usually, misbehavior is caused by "the hands."

"Isabelle, don't splash."
"It's not me, daddy, it's the hands."

"Don't play with your food."
"It's not me, mommy, it's the hands."

The fact that the hands are connected to her is convenient, because I don't have to contradict her: "If those hands splash daddy again, they're going to have to get out of the bath, and anyone attached to them, too."

But the hands have personalities, as well. There is a good hand, and a bad hand.

Why is being naughty so fascinating? I swear Darth Vader has more fans than Luke Skywalker, or even Obi Wan Kenobi.

My dear, sweet, left-handed child, just told me today that the good hand is the right hand, and the bad hand is the left.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Isabelle Art

On the left we have Isabelle's most recent Totoro drawing. On the right we have the one she made back in June. The earlier one actually looks a little more like Totoro, with the little eyes and the big belly and whiskers. But the previous toothy mouth was just a jagged line, and the new one is a full mouth with teeth. I like the energy of the new one, too, it seems it could just jump off the page.

Isabelle hasn't watched Totoro in a while, which may explain why her newest one less resembles the movie character, but I thought the comparisom nice to display the evoluntion of her style. In both pictures you see the Totoro has filled the paper, a good skill for a preschooler Isabelle came to naturally. The new one shows her "head with arms and legs" rendering, which in the case of Totoro, might be more accurately termed "body with a little face" (as in the older one).

In her new Totoro, Isabelle has used circles not only for the obvious: head, eyes, nostrils, and hands, but also for feet, toes, and fingers. These could represent totoro's claws, but I think rather this is a large portrait, and the circles are to show that fingers have dimension mere lines don't suggest. I think they are just "ends of the fingers" and toes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Isabelle Art

Here's a sample of Isabelle's latest drawings:

My Family
Isabelle H R Wightman


Isabelle H R Wightman

pen and paper


I like the expressive face in ghost. In her family portrait, it is Isabelle on on the left, Dad in the middle, and Mommy on the right. The enormous red dots are, I believe, navels. I also find in interesting that Isabelle doesn't do the traditional stick figure. She has often done faces with arms and legs, rather like the ghost. In family she seems to be expanding the concept of circles from a single circle to represent head and torso to a pair of circles. That the legs on Dad start in his head suggests her slowly adding on the concept of a separate circle for the body.

One of the first (really representational) things Isabelle drew was a sun, which looks a lot like it does now in the family portrait. You can see the echo of this sun in the hands, particularly the ghost's hands, with its generous allotment of fingers. She is expanding off this circle-with-lines to represent many other objects.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Drink and be Merry

Okay, this has nothing to do with being a dad. Unless of course your the dad of a very grouchy girl who is crying because she's cold because she refused to get out of the bathtub until all the water had gone down, while your wife is asking you worried questions about the budget and could you please take out the compost, it stinks like a... compost heap in here.

My first orginal drink recipe:

Old Vermonter
  • 1&1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz maple syrup
  • 1/2 oz applejack
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
Combine in a shaker, serve over ice in an old fashioned glass. If desired, garnish with a moose antler.


(PS. arguably, an Old Vermonter should be made with Canadian whiskey, Vermont being closer to Canada than Kentucky, but I've never tried it. If someone tries it with Canadian and has an opinion, let me know!)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Isabelle's Fourth Birthday

More than a blogging Daddy can resist. The party was an orgy of toys and clothes. Isabelle had been looking forward to it since October 2nd 2006. She was in a frenzy of excitement for 3 days, and it took her 2 days to recover. A smashing success. She loved everything she got, but there was one present that stood out, one present that she had wanted beyond all others, that her parents couldn't get, and didn't believe anyone could get for her. But her cousins, Allison and Benjamin, with the help of her aunt and uncle, struck gold. Witness the following video:

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to Speak Isabelle

For the benefit of those with less familiarity, I thought I would post an Isabelle lexicon. Her pronunciation is quite good, but some of her word choices are unique...

even again: ever again. Usage: "I won't do it even again"
jaki monster:I did it. Origin: yakimash'ta (Jp: "I did it")
forty hundred degrees pounds:an awful lot. Usage: "Do you know how much it cost? Forty hundred degrees pounds."
too much:a lot. Usage: "I'm going to eat too much apple pie."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Proud Dad Production

A Heap of Dolls

A video. This is what happens when proud fathers are unemployed and have access to things like video editing software and tools.

Click on the "play" button to run. If it stops and starts a lot, click the "pause" button, and wait several seconds for more of the video to download, then click "play" again.

Isabelle Says Her Prayers

All on her own, Isabelle decided she needed to say prayers before going to bed. For three or four nights in a row, now, she has, at the moment of bedtime, said, "Wait, I need to say my prayers." (Much more motivating when it can delay bedtime...) Then she clasps her hands and says:

"Please welcome. I had a busy day. Amen."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Great Time at the Fair

Maybe too much fun! That's Grandpa Conrad, being the pillow.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Three images

Warming Herself By A Campfire

Isabelle built this fireplace after reading Little House on the Prairie.

Scouting Out a Place to Build

Another Little House inspiration. On the side of Mount Philo we found this little sheltered nook, where Isabelle decided she would build a house, with furniture and a floor and (something Charles Ingalls didn't know how to do) a garage!

A New Sandbox

Good for hours of landscape modification. "Look, Daddy, I dug a place for my butt!"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Birthday Wishes

Isabelle has been making plans for her birthday since last October. But she now can give her own ideas for presents. For instance:

"For my birthday I want my own cornapration."

That's a "corporation" for those who don't speak 3 year-old. What will this corporation make?

"Toys! For me to play with!"

So, there you have it. If you don't know what else to buy her, buy her Mattel.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Wisdom of Isabelle

Daddy, that's how I pay bills.
I look at each bill,
and then I throw them all over the floor.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Isabelle's New Job

By the way, Isabelle has a license that says she can go to work.

Dad: "What do you do at work?"

Isabelle: "Artisting. That's what artists do."

Isabelle Art

Snakes Rouillard
Isabelle H. Rouillard Wightman
pencil on paper cut-outs

Carrie and I, for reasons unknown, were both tickled by these. They are fat snakes, because they ate a lot. We particularly liked the various expressions. Snake "C" is growling because he's mad at someone. Snake "B" is very happy, Snake "D" is not sad but grumpy, Snake "A" is upset. Snake "G" is just a baby. (I created the letters just for reference).

The snakes are named "the same as me!" Isabelle? No, Rouillard.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wedding Bells & Oedipal Moments

Well, Freud didn't make it all up.

As many of you are aware, Isabelle has a baby, who came out of her belly, named Aim. Sometimes "Ain." One day Isabelle proclaimed that she was Aim's mommy, so I asked her if Thomas (her bear) was Aim's daddy.

"No. You are!"

Moments later, she proclaimed that Aim was her brother. I pointed out that if she was the mommy, then Aim was her son.

"No. He's my brother!"

Well, I suppose, given Aim's parentage, he is her brother!

But a few days later I learned that I was safe. Isabelle was married. She had a husband, and his named was Janth.

"Janx?" I asked, suspecting a lisp.

"No, Janth. I have two husbands."

"What's your other husband's name?"

"Uh... Coff. I have all kinds of husbands."

Why not? Take two, they're small.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Taro and the Glopposite Islands

Isabelle's favorite bathtoy is "Taro," the dragon-boy, a little plastic person who resembles nothing so much as a character from Charles Schultz's Peanuts strip, if one of them wore a moustache and a pirate outfit. Unlike his namesake in the excellent Japanese animated movie (Taro the Dragon-Boy), who is a soft-spoken but determined little boy with the strength of 100 men, Taro rides a pirate ship and is mostly concerned with family matters and going swimming.

Taro is accompanied on his escapades by his mother, played by a pencil-thin fairy queen with a bare midriff, and his father, played by what appears to be, if he is her father, a cross-dressing teeny-bopper. I don't quite understand it, but Taro's dad wears a halter-top, mini-skirt, and lots of plastic jewelry, including an anklet on her bare feet. Of course, he does have a large, bushy ponytail, which might explain things, except that he has another, equally bushy ponytail on the other side of his head -- and of course his hair is red. It's a mystery to me, but I like it.

Truth in advertising: I don't know that Taro actually has ever gone to the Glopposite Islands, but I thought Isabelle's effort at "Galapogos" was so funny I had to get it in there somewhere.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Sacrifices of Parenting

Now that it is summer Isabelle likes to play outside. Her favorite game is "chase," in which she runs and I roar and occassionally head her off to create the illusion I am running.

But I cannot resist the temptation to get her into the garden. So as the spring unfolded, I showed her the strawberry blossoms, the tiny green buds that would be fruit, the green fruit that would be ripe, and finally, the strawberries started ripening.

Just two. I ate one and she ate one.

Jump ahead one day. A lot more strawberries are getting ripe now. We noted this with excitement.

Now, one thing parents do is they are always looking for games their children can play while they work. The best games are games that help: "Hey! How fast can you get these bottles in the recycling?" But any game that keeps her busy is a help. For instance, I'm building a border to hold a gravel bed along the side of the house, she's playing "flip ball," which, near as I can tell, involves running around, sans ball, and falling over backwards. Good game.

But then she disappears.

Put down the tools. Go look. There she is, in the middle of the garden, a beautific smile, smeared red with strawberry juice.

Well, there'll be more tomorrow.

Flash forward to tomorrow.

DADDY: "Let's pick some strawberries for Mommy."
ISABELLE: "I want to pick strawberries for me!"
DADDY: "Okay, you pick strawberries for you, and I'll pick strawberries for Mommy."
ISABELLE: "I'm going to eat them all!"

Pick pick pick. Hers go in her mouth, mine go in the bucket. I eat a couple, fill a bucket with eight strawberries.

Usher little girl out of garden as she starts eating -- and liking -- even the white ones.

Dessert time. Can't eat strawberries in front of little girl and not give her any. I've had a few, so I put four in her bowl, four in Mommy's bowl. Then I have to leave to see my former students graduate from Elementary School. A moment later the phone rings.

Mommy talks briefly to Grandma Bev. Looks down. Both bowls are empty.

On the upside, strawberries are at least good for little girls!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Isabelle Art

So Isabelle drew a pair of pictures, and I looked down, and, to my surprise, I instantly recognized what she had drawn. This is Totoro, the tree-kami from My Neighbor Totoro, one of her favorite movies.

I thought she had drawn two:

But after I posted them, I showed them to her and just checked to be sure I was right. "This is Totoro, too, right?"

"No, Daddy, that's you!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lady Isabelle Rides to the Rescue

Okay, so she didn't take the horse to the rally, but she was there!

Too bad there isn't sound on this picture, because she is shouting "Initiate impeachment!"

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fashion sense

Isabelle says some day when she's all grown up she's going to get ear rings.

She says she's also going to get a nose ring.

And I thought I was radical getting my ear pierced when I was 18!

Garden girl

Spring has finally come to Vermont. Normally, Isabelle doesn't like to wear jackets. But we both had dark T-shirts with pictures (hers: Lightning McQueen, mine: Vermont Reggaefest), blue jeans, and white socks with gray on the soles, and I was going to wear my jean jacket. So...

She helped prune the roses, and dig up weeds. Here she is running across the yard and posing under a tree.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Isabelle Art

Isabelle's first stick figure. In the middle you can see "sunglasses" (the black sideways B, not the orange circles). Just had to share.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Isabelle Art

This picture was made with a special Montessori technique of dipping a marble in paint and then rolling it about the paper.

Isabelle told me it was called "A picture of my daddy"

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Wisdom of Isabelle

After one nap, Isabelle informed me
I've been dreaming of stepping on things. You may want to step on toys and
you may not. If you do want to step on toys you want to step on other girls

Friday, February 23, 2007


The licensure committee at Vermont College has just voted to recommend me to the state for licensure as a Special Ed teacher. Woo-hoo!

Friday, February 16, 2007

On Witches and Modern Sensibilities

With much fanfare, Isabelle watched the Wizard of Oz. We had a glorious time. I am happy to report that the urban legend that the Wizard accidentally filmed the suicide of one of the munchkins is utterly false. We saw several clips of different parts of the movie purporting to be the unfortunate scene. The one most often cited is, on close inspection, an out-of-focus crane (bird) flapping its wings.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about witches. After watching, Isabelle was talking a lot about witches, and asked if witches ate people. Unable to resist an opening, I told her the story of Hansel and Gretle. She asked for another witch story, and so I told her of Baba Yaga.

Isabelle didn't appear terribly frightened by this, but she was a little concerned, so we told her that witches that ate people lived far away. Then, remembering that some of our friends and family were witches, we pointed out that, just as in Oz, there are good witches and bad witches.

How confusing is the modern world! But that's not what I'm here to talk about either. I'm here to talk about myself. I imagine everyone does this, when telling a story to a three year-old, I made some quick judgements about what of the story was appropriate for her young mind. I merrily told her about Hansel holding out a chicken bone, and the witch checking to see if he was fat enough to eat. I told her about Gretle pushing the witch into the fire. I didn't say that she made Gretle work as a "slave" in the kitchen, because I didn't want to explain slavery, and I left out the huntsman and his wife abandoning the children in the forest.

How peculiar! That witches would eat children struck me as deliciously frightening, the kind of scary story that is so much fun. But that parents should betray their children was unspeakable to me.

One more photo

Our front door.
Did I mention that it took the entire day to dig out?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Saint Valentine's Blizzard

A "bonzo" (smiley face) out our kitchen window. (The window is about 4' above the ground.)

Nighttime view of our backyard. Those tracks are only halfway down through the snow.

Isabelle plays in the snow outside her second-story bedroom window.

(Okay, I admit, there is a porch roof about a foot below the window)

Pooped from too much shoveling.

Of course, there was a lot to do!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Times They are Achanging

The dreaded time is approaching. Isabelle is giving up her nap. She still needs it. Sometimes she sleeps. But sometimes she doesn't, and oh, then is it a tough day.

But one era closes, another one opens. This afternoon, ushering her back to bed, we found her sitting up, buried in a mountain of books.

And when she has to go to the bathroom, she'll often proudly tuck a book under her arm on her way.

Where ever did she get these habits from?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ladybug, Ladybug, Stay real dry

One advantage of the warm, rainy winter, is that Isabelle got to try out her mud season outfit in January.

See, she had these boots. And she really liked them. And she needed a raincoat. So Carrie ordered a matching raincoat from ebay, and the seller was on vacation. And the person who was supposed to put things in the mail (her husband?) said, "Oh, was I?" So when she got back she was so embarrassed she offered the umbrella as well. We didn't want to take it, but the possibility of this photo was more than we could resist.

The downside is the havoc we wrought at the grocery store. Every woman in the store we passed said "Oh, she's so cute!" (some of the guys, too), excepting those who had preschoolers with them, who were all chiming "Mommy, I want one of those."