The Ruark Kids

July 10, 2015
by John

Siena Poetry

Siena came home with a bunch of materials from school in May, including a fair amount of creative writing she’s been doing. Some of these are just to precious not to share.

How to Be a Kitten

Must be ready for a friend
Never love a dog
Pounce on anything that shifts a tiny bit
Sleep anytime, anywhere
Have to know how to wrestle
Always and forever love your human.

How to Be a Desk

Always stand still
Open your mouth often
Must keep your owners supplies safe
Never try to talk
Don’t stare at the lights
And don’t ever push the ball out from under you.

In her 3rd-grade class, every student sat on an exercise/yoga ball instead of a chair, hence the reference to ball in the final line of the second poem.

June 2, 2015
by John

Busy weekend: Ballet and Fire Truck!

This past weekend was very busy for the girls. On Saturday Siena had her normal art class and later on a play date with a friend in town all afternoon, and for dinner we went over to friends’ house for steak, potatoes, and Scrabble. Oh yes, and Mama sold t-shirts at the town dump for two hours to help raise money for our town’s July 4th festivities. My involvement with the dump just involved leaving trash and recycling there.

On Sunday, the girls went shopping at Target, Nonna arrived to visit us, and Thalia had her ballet recital. Here are pictures from her three minutes of stage time, plus hamming it up afterwards in her candy-cane costume:

Half-way through, I left with Siena to take her to a friend’s birthday party, and later on we all went out to dinner for some TexMex. The girls split a virgin peach margarita, though I suspect I drank the bulk of it. Many chips were had.

On Monday morning, a fire truck came to our house:

But not to worry. They were here to pick up Siena and drive her to the town fire station. Why? Because Siena was the third-grade winner of a school contest to draw and annotate a fire-escape plan for her home. The reward was a trip to the station in the fire truck, homemade breakfast (with the rest of us, who chased the truck into town), and a trip to school in the truck with the lights flashing and the sirens blaring. What a morning!

Here she is getting picked up, sitting in the cab on Engine 1, and with some of the other winners from other grades:

She was thrilled!

P.S. here is Thalia to show scale. What a tire!

March 27, 2015
by John
1 Comment

Ode to Tenzing

Siena wrote this for Tenzing yesterday:

I know someone with velvet ears, cotton fur, and feather paws.

He smiles as he tucks his pink, smooth nose under his paw and goes to sleep.

He’s my true B.F.F.

We thought this was just delightful and worth keeping. Siena loves her cats!

March 15, 2015
by John
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Snuggling with the cats

Siena has been getting some good Tenzing time lately, and Thalia has learned to be very gentle with the old lady.


And when Penny isn’t receiving adoration, she generally can be found here. We’ve set up a register booster and kitty bed so she can get blasted with nice warm air. You know, because she’s the only cold thing in the house.

February 2, 2015
by John
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Fleeting moments, a hidden cost of raising a child

After bath tonight as I was helping Thalia dry off (yes I appreciate she is probably too old for that, but that’s kind of the point of this post), Siena, hunched on the floor under her towel, self-referentially grumbled, “Soon Thalia you’ll be too old to have anyone help you dry off.”

I looked at Thalia, standing there oh so cute wrapped in her big fluffy green towel, and said, “You know Thalia, I remember a time back when Siena was two, and every night when I said goodnight to her, she would ask me to snuggle with her, and now she’s been too old for snuggling for a long time, and I miss it.”

Across from the room, Siena said, “I haven’t asked because I’ve thought you were going to say you had to go and do all your work and say no. But if you want to tonight, you can snuggle.”

After having just seen many of the Super Bowl ads, I thought, am I in a Harry Chapin song now? And, was she not asking because she was afraid of rejection? (Seems unlikely to both questions.)

There is, over the course of their childhood, a slow but steady decoupling, an inexorable separation of our children from ourselves as we set them on the path to independence. We struggle with the opposing forces of on one hand wanting them to be individuals, to grow up and become something amazing, and on the other hand wanting them to be ever the same, always a snuggling two-year old, a five-year old with the beautiful baby-teeth smile, an eight-year old that loves her parents without bound. Our duty is to cultivate their self-reliance, self-esteem, and self-control, to ensure they can step out into the world and be independent agents, and yet as the years slip by, the cost of that duty, of having and then necessarily losing special shared moments, at times feels unbearably high.

Fortunately, these passing moments get replaced by new ones. Our increasingly independent kids solve especially thorny problems, read big words, sing in a show, play piano at a recital, draw and write amazing things. The adaptation we as parents have to make is to accept that we are less often participants in and more often merely observers of these new moments, and yet to cherish them just the same.

When I did finally say good night, Siena asked me to snuggle, so I hugged her and stayed with her a few minutes; we talked briefly about how things were, and I then I said thank you and kissed her good night.

January 23, 2015
by John
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Museum to Ourselves

The girls had an extra day off on Tuesday for the “teachers to go to school” (our town’s schools have a lot of development days). I figured that the crowd at the Boston Children’s Museum would be substantially lighter than on MLK Day or over the weekend. And boy was I right. They nearly had the museum to themselves. We’d walk into empty rooms. Best museum visit ever!

December 17, 2014
by John

All Big Red Dogs go to Heaven

Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, passed away today. In light of the Pope’s recent comments regarding dogs in heaven, one can hope that there is a place for Clifford and his creator as well.

Aside from the obvious relevance to us in that our girls have enjoyed Clifford books and videos over the years, this event is worth noting because a few years ago, Thalia had as one of her day-care teachers the real, original Emily Elizabeth, Norman Bridwell’s daughter.

December 4, 2014
by John
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Second girl, first tooth!

Thalia lost her first tooth tonight while brushing teeth! Fortunately we found it right away. Here she is the gap in place.

And with her wonderful sister:

Thalia was super excited, basically vibrating with excitement in bed when it was time for lights out. She even read her toothy fairy book to Mama this evening.