We’ve had two snow days in a row, so I’ve decided to update the family blog with a long overdue post. This past October, I chronicled every detail of our trip with Arina to Kazakhstan, but otherwise I haven’t updated since Summer 2013. That means I have Halloween and Christmas to cover, and lots of fun in-between moments.

Arina has been devouring the Harry Potter books. Since we commute to Columbia (an hour and fifteen minutes from Holly Hill), we’ve invested in the Jim Dale audiobook versions. So, for Halloween, we were the Potter family: James (Scott), Lilly (me), and Harry (Jack), with Arina opting to be Fawkes the Phoenix. I made a compelling case for the obvious choices of Luna or Fleur; Scott made a case for Dobby or Hedwig; but, in the end, I think she was a fabulous Fawkes.

Fawkes and HarryAnd, of course, Jack was a fabulous Harry Potter, although when we first put on his costume and told him that he was a wizard, he thought we said lizard, and . . . well . . . this happened:

December was full of cookie baking with the Fisks . . .

Xmas cookies

Power Wheels driving in McBee . . .


lots and lots of lego building . . .


swinging in our backyard . . .

The train swing_Fotor_Collage

and general merriness all around.


In January, we rang in the New Year . . .

Jackincrowncelebrated my birthday on the 11th at the Fisks . . .


and today was pretty fun too:


And now for The Fisk Family, in quotes and memorable mishaps:

1) Scott: “Where’s all the bread?”

Me: “I’ve made cinnamon toast the past two mornings.”

Scott: “Look at you being a good Mom!”

Me: “Um. I didn’t make it for the kids. I made it for me.”

2) Me, explaining the difference between declarative and imperative sentences to Arina: “An example of imperative: ‘ARINA FISK! GET DOWNSTAIRS RIGHT NOW!’; an example of declarative: ‘Arina, let’s meet downstairs.”

Arina: “Huh. I’ve never heard you use declarative.”

3) Arina received her first ever check in the mail. Her response: “WOW. I’m rich for a kid!”

4) Me, explaining fiction and nonfiction to Arina: “So, Harry Potter is fiction, because Hogwarts and magic spells and wands and all that stuff isn’t real.”

Arina: “Except dragons. There used to be dragons.

Me: “No. You mean dinosaurs.”

Arina: “Oh. Bummer.”

5) Jack: “I want to go to Rina’s room!”

Me: “Arina’s cleaning her room. You can help her clean.”

Jack: “I want to watch Rina clean her room!”

6) Jack’s new catchphrase when he’s the least bit uncomfortable:


7) Jack, as backseat driver: “But, Mom. Red means stop.”

Me: “But you can turn right on red, Jack. I was turning right on red earlier today. It was OKAY.”

Jack: “No. Red means STOP. You’re dangerous.”

8) Me, to Scott: “What did Jack think about the hardware store?”

Scott: “He wanted to know if there were any trains.”

9) Jack’s new favorite show: Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Me: “Jack, you need to clean up your mess.”

Jack: “NEVER! Har, har, har.”

10) Scott, on listening to Andrew Soloman’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity: “It makes me a better person. I mean — I’ve learned about the deaf community, and schizophrenics and transgender people.”

Me: “That’s awesome.”

Scott: “Yeah. A deaf person came in at work today, and I’m all: You’re AWESOME. I respect you and your community and identity, and you totally don’t have to get a cochlear implant if you don’t want one.”


Scott, to me: “You’ve gone to 10 again. You need to come back down. You’re going to make her hate you, and she’s never going to want to come home from college.”

Me, to Scott: “Ugh. Just b/c you never get worked up about *anything* doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to have a passionate human response. I have those once a day, you know.”

Arina, who unbeknownst to us, overheard: “Yeah, Dad. We all know Mom’s dramatic. I’ll always come home. Geez. Don’t be mean.”

12) Me: “Jack: what was your favorite part of the zoo today?”

Jack: “The rail road tracks!” [that we crossed as we drove in].

13) Arina, to me: “Can I have these bracelets?”

Me: “Are you paying for them?”

A.: “No.”

Me, seeing that they say star student: “Well, if I pay for them, you only get to wear them as a reward for being a good student.”

A.: “I’m going to find bracelets that say something else.”

14) Scott: “I really like John Shelby Spong’s theology, b/c it frees you from being concerned about people’s hereafter, and it requires you to be concerned about them in the here and now.”

Me: “Yeah.”

Scott: “I have the first part down.”

15) The math problem A. missed:  Renee finishes school at 3:00pm every day. It takes her 20 minutes to walk the dog after school. What information is needed to find the time at which she starts school?
A. The time it takes her to get home from school.
B. The number of hours she stays at school.
C. The time she gets up in the morning.
D. The time it takes her to have lunch.
Me: “It would be the number of hours she stays at school . . . not when she gets up in the morning.”
Arina: “Oh. Well, when I went to Holly Hill Academy, we always woke up right as school was starting.”
Me: “Renee’s Mom is more on top of things.”


16) Me, to Scott: “So, when I looked up your number to call you at work today, I saw that your shop has a bad online review.”

Scott, alarmed: “No way. Send me the link.”

Scott, later: “That guy who posted was a total phony.”

Me: “Yeah? How do you know?”

Scott: “Well, first: he only rates machine shops. He gave one machine shop 5 stars and all the others 1 star — so he’s probably the owner of the ‘good’ machine shop.”

Me: “Yeah. Suspicious.”

Scott: “And, second: the review said that we called and told him our original estimate was wrong and that it would cost more . . . I don’t CALL people to tell them that. I’m never that on top of things. I just tell them the next time they come in.”

17) Example #547 of Arina being more capable as a normal human being functioning in the world than I am:

I tried to get out of the backseat the other day but Scott had locked the car doors, and I told him to hit the power lock button and was complaining that he was taking too long and I wanted to get out; Arina proceeded to reach around me and pop the lock manually.

18) Arina: “Why are you acting like tomorrow is our Kazakhstan trip?”

Me: “I’m not acting like tomorrow is our Kazakhstan trip.”

A.: “You cleaned the sink.”

19) Arina, looking over my shoulder while I filled out a doctor’s form: “Why are they asking if you’re pregnant? You already have two kids.”

Me, teasing: “Maybe they think I should have more. What do you think?”

Arina: “I’d like three one day. But, Mom: two for you. It’s all about what you can handle.”

20) When listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I was reminded of how *horrible* the scene is in which “Mad Eye” demonstrates the unforgivable curses on spiders.

Me: “I don’t think Mad Eye should have done that. It was cruel.”

Arina, equally horrified: “Yeah! The spiders were SCARED. That’s really messed up.”

Jack, perfectly calm: “I don’t like spiders.”

21) Jack, with his blanket: “I want to take my blanket and show it to Nana.”

Me: “Aunt Nat made you that blanket.”

Jack: “Yeah — it has a sheep on it.”

Me: “What’s the sheep’s name?”

Jack: “I don’t know. It’s not a real sheep. It’s just a picture.”

22) Trying to explain to Arina how we can leave Kazakhstan at 3:40am on Tuesday the 22nd and arrive in Atlanta at 3:50pm on Tuesday the 22nd.

Scott: [lots of smart stuff about how the sun revolves around the earth, world time zones, etc.]

Arina: “I still don’t get it, Dad.”

Me: “It’s like using the time turner in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Arina: “Oh! Cool.”

23) Jack, to Scott: “Dad?”
Scott: [smiles and nods]
Jack: “Dad?”
Scott: [smiles and nods]
Jack: “DAD?!”
Scott: “Yeah — what?”
Me: “He’s like me. He wants you to answer him with words.”
Scott: “Yeah. He’s annoying.”


24) Scott made cinnamon rolls.

Jack, coming down the stairs: “Where’s that yummy?”

25) Me: “Ack! I *just* washed, dried and folded that basket full of clothes. What are they doing on the kitchen floor?”
Scott: “Jack did it.”
Me: “But why didn’t you pick up the clothes for me?”
Scott: “Do you really want to know the answer to that?”
Me: “YES!”
Scott: “Because the dogs were sleeping on them.”


26) Jack, to Casey: “Remember: I’m the one who likes trains.”

Casey: “I know, honey.”

27) Grandmother, to me: “Your hair looks like a fox’s butt.”

Me: “I was Lilly Potter for Halloween — remember? It’ll be gone in a month. And . . . it kinda makes my skin look luminous, right?”

Grandmother: “No. It makes it look red.”

28) Jack: “My tooth hurts.”

Me: “Oh no! Do you want to go to the dentist, so he can make it feel better?”

Jack: “No. I want you to make it feel better.”

29) Arina, explaining to Scott how dogs have puppies on Minecraft:

“You get a boy dog and a girl dog that really love each other, you throw them a pork chop, and then they have babies.”

30) Arina plays the harmonica; Jack bangs on the piano and sings, at the top of his 4-year-old lungs:

“Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve! It’s just the best! It’s what we do!”

31) Jack saw a bug (I’m guessing of the palmetto variety), cried & screamed his way upstairs, and refused to go back downstairs.

Scott, carrying him: “It’s okay, Jack. I killed it.”

Jack, crying and screaming anew: “But I didn’t want you to KILL it. I wanted you to put it in the bushes with its bug friends!”

Scott, to me: “He’s *so* your kid, Nicole.”

32) I was irritated with Jack and Arina for not listening and potentially making me late to work, so the only thing I could think to “take away” as punishment was the Harry Potter audiobook we’ve been listening to on the drive.

Me: “No Harry Potter on the way to Columbia.”

Arina: “What?!”

Jack: “But we love Harry Potter.”

Me, deciding that it’s a too-cruel punishment: “Well . . . no Harry Potter until we’re out of Holly Hill town limits.”

33) Jack: “I am a train. With a penis.”

34) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation isn’t the fun family classic I thought it would be.  I imagined my biggest concern would be fast-forwarding through Clark’s foul language rants and sexual fantasies, but an abbreviated play by play of watching the movie with Jack is as follows:
“I don’t like broken cars.”
“I don’t want him to cut down the tree! I don’t like broken trees.”
“I don’t like broken windows.”
“I like squirrels! I don’t want him to hurt the squirrel!”
“I don’t like fires and broken houses.”
And, finally: “Um, Mom . . . I don’t want to watch that movie *ever* again.”


35) Scott let out the chickens and only 2 of our 3 girls were in their coop.


Then: he let out Quinby, the handicapped mini-dachshund, and the 3rd chicken was in her (heated) pen. She had bunked with her and had laid an egg in her doghouse.

36) Quote from my 77-year-old grandmother, in response to my disdain for expensive jewelry:

“If a rich man wants to give me a $10,000 diamond, I shall accept it.”

37) Arina: “Hey Mom: how do you keep from getting pregnant?”

Me, panicked: “Why do you want to know?”

A.: “I just don’t want to have a baby any time soon. Or ever.”

Me: “There are these pills you can take. But you’re not old enough yet.”

A.: “Cool. Let me know when I am, b/c I’ll definitely be taking them.”

38) Me, to Arina: “Yes, I know I yell sometimes. But I don’t want you to yell at Jack when you’re frustrated. I want you to be better than me.”

39) Arina: “So . . . Lauren and Dawn said that there are only seven Harry Potter books.”

Me: “That’s right. And you just finished number six, so you have one more to go.”

Arina, wailing: “But I want to listen to them forever!”

Me: “We all do, Sweetheart.”

40) Since our debut as the Potter family on Halloween, my hair has been various bright and fading shades of red. Finally, I went back to brown.

Arina: “I liked your red hair, Mom. It looked great with your nose, because your nose is always red.”

41) Me, to Arina: “I’m sorry I threw bison at you.”

Arina: “That’s okay, Mom. I’m sorry I kept complaining about your cooking.”

42) Jack, on why he doesn’t want to go out — again — in the cold, even to play in the snow: “Well . . . the snow on my Ipad game is fun too.”