August-November 2011

Happy birthday to our big boy 2-year old! Two years, we’ve decided, is our favorite age. We enjoyed Arina so much at this age and are similarly enjoying our Jack-Jack:

See, above, how much he looks like his mother. — well, the eyes and troubled expression, according to Scott. He gets his height, of course, from his father.

He’s still a fan of trains, like his namesake, but he’s expanded his interests to tools, cars, and, especially, dump trucks.

And he’s a fan, above all, of his sister. Because he’s such a big boy now, he sometimes spends a few days in McBee sans parents or sister, as a special treat. When it’s time for him to come back home to Columbia, Nana and he have the following ritual conversation.

Nana: “Do you want to go see Mommy?”

Jack: “No!”

Nana: “Do you want to go see Daddy?”

Jack: “No!”

Nana: “Do you want to go see Rina?”

Jack, lovingly: “Rina.”

See Arina and Jack, below, in their Halloween costumes as Little Miss Muffet and her spider.

Here are some other Halloween favorites. We couldn’t resist letting Jack wear Arina’s first-ever Halloween costume to a party. So, here’s Jack as a scary dragon. And, hit the nostalgia button . . . now:

When Arina was two, she loved this costume so much that she refused to take it off after trying it on. The cashier at Old Navy had to pick her up and scan her. And here’s a photo of Mommy and Daddy in their Halloween costumes, political activists we’ve become:

As for Arina, she turned 7-years in August. She enjoyed celebrating her birthday in the photo, below, with her Fisk cousins at MeMe and Papa’s house.

(Best birthday present: a phone call to her sister, Ira. Poor Granny was so emotional that she had to pass the phone to Aunt Elena almost immediately. Love to our beautiful family in Kazakhstan . . . )

We also had a small get-together at our house, on her actual birthday. I found the note she slipped through our backyard fence to her boyfriend next door:

So, she’s as much to handle as ever. Maybe more. And the teenage years are just around the bend. /shudder.

She’s doing much better now, school-wise, since moving to a different one. — not that she wasn’t doing well enough academically in public school. The teacher said that she was excelling in reading and getting by in math. — just like I always did. BUT, she got a note home nearly every day for “talking too much.” With less people to distract her at a smaller school, she comes home with fewer notes. This makes for happier parents, and an especially happy Nana.

New challenges, though, include the 7-year old desire to “be cool,” as Arina says. Apparently, that means no dresses, and definitely NO BOWS. I miss my Fancy Nancy girl.

Still, another thing that she and I continue to have very much in common is our love for animals. Here she is below, with one of the many foster dogs we’ve entertained at our house since April.

And even Jack, and occasionally Scott, will participate in the fostering fun. Here are brother and sister, in awe over newborn pups (note the especially well-made whelping box, something that has become a Scott Fisk specialty):

There are lots more photos in the gallery. I’ll close with one of my favorite recent photos of the birthday boy, and, as always, some Arina-isms.

Happy birthday, Jack!


1) I overheard Arina call the slightly older boy she met on the beach “Labrador Retriever.” — b/c she didn’t know his name and wanted to play dog.

2) In response to Note #4 from Arina’s 2nd grade teacher (“Not listening! Too much talking!”), Arina said: “You know you’re supposed to SIGN my bad notes, right Mom? Just say ‘We’re working on it. Blah blah blah.'”

3) Arina did not receive a perfect score on her “Watch a Hurricane Form” worksheet, because of the following question: 4. What is the purpose of the diagram? (A) to teach how wind is harmful; (B) to explain how a hurricane forms; or (C) to teach people how to fly into a storm (on broomsticks, a la Harry Potter, A. assumed).

Clearly, C is the “best answer” to the question, because it’s the “coolest.” I agree.

4) Arina’s homework: Solve the riddles. Write a word from the box on each line.

Someone gives you something. You _____ it. (should be “take”)

Arina writes, Someone gives you something. You BRAKE it.

5) Another bad note, this time for elbowing a classmate. Me: “Arina! WHY did you ELBOW a classmate?” A.: “BECAUSE I NEEDED TO GET HER ATTENTION AND KNEW THAT IF I SAID HER NAME, I’D GET IN TROUBLE FOR TALKING!”

6) Arina failed her first math worksheet. Normally, she makes As and Bs, so she refuses to believe she failed it, arguing that the 36 is out of 38 rather than 100, and that the F is for “Fantastic.”

7) Note home for “excessive talking” at school, during Ben Tanner’s presentation. — as in Ben Tanner, the weatherman for WIS.

A. says that we have no idea how “boring” Ben Tanner is, that she can’t imagine why anyone would watch him on tv, and that she couldn’t help herself.

If any of you are friends with Ben Tanner, please send our apologies.

8 ) A. declared that a boy in her class is her “dream husband.” He calls her “Flower,” and she says “it’s nice to be called Flower.” PLUS, he has a dollar for dessert every day, and he always buys one .50 dessert for himself, and one for A.

9) A. told her Sunday School teachers that her Dad is a scientist, who can shrink pumpkins.

10) When I was cleaning out A.’s desk, I found the following note addressed to her teacher [I’ve corrected the misspellings]: “Dear Mrs. Cantey, I am very, very sorry I was talking. I know I talk too much. I know you are trying to teach me. I will do better tomorrow. I really will. Love, Arina. P.S. I will bring you a flower tomorrow. And a box of valium.”

A. spelled it “valum.” I don’t think she knows what it is, but I guess she overheard Mrs. C say that she needs some.

11) A. said that several of her classmates had to skip recess today, b/c of talking during class. She wasn’t one of them. Her response: “That’s CRAZY.”

12) On the way home from picking up A., we were listening to a story on NPR about the Marine Corps’s Dark Horse unit, which had the highest number of causalities in the Afghan war. The veteran being interviewed said that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do, since losing a leg and an eye in a roadside bomb explosion.

A.: “He could be a pirate. You know, with an eye patch. And a peg leg.”

S.: “You know: you’re right.”


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