Thursday, December 23, 2010

First snow

Snow mound with carrot

But don't eat the... oh never mind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Calvin learns to draw, and hear sounds from deep space.

Again-- again!-- we have Rebecca to thank for helping our children express themselves artistically, this time with special crayons for wee hands. Calvin drew for a bit, and then ate them. This was his first drawing. Which I have now lost, I'm sorry to say. I'm a lousy archivist.

Translucent ears. The better to hear you with.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gingerbread Yurts

Where would we be without Auntie Rebecca? Audrey took part in tree decorating and gingerbread house making (called yurts instead because it turns out it's really hard to get those suckers to hold together with just frosting) with her best buds, Ruth and Bethiah. Holiday decorations at our house are way, way up at the tippy top of the Fake Mantle where Calvin can't reach them. We've got greenery up there, all feathery and fine near the ceiling, and a nativity scene on the lower mantle by my grandmother, all quilted and stuffed pieces, and including a manger made from scraps of my grandfather's plaid polyester pants.

Overheard: When I told Audrey she needed to do some more serious brushing of her teeth, not just dangling the brush from her mouth: "Mom, you've been giving me a headache all the week." And when spotted taking chap stick out of my purse, "Now: don't be mad in the first place!" On the sweeter side, she often says, "I have a secret to tell you!!! I love you!!!!" She is often in spasms of excitement about matching colors, as in "Mommy!!!!!!!! I just noticed something!!!!!!!! Your blue socks and my blue t-shirt match each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Observed: Calvin, in an assortment of trouble.

Calvin and I have a lot of time here to ourselves when Audrey's at preschool, and for short periods of time I can let him play by himself. As I wash dishes, he unloads the pots and pans from the cabinets and wears them as hats, or pulls clean laundry out of the basket and tucks it into the recycling bins. A new favorite game is to take glass jars from those bins and push them through the cat door, sending the jars bouncing down the back stairs. (The noise and quick reactions are, apparently, worth the effort.) Other times, as I sip of a cup of lukewarm coffee, and page leisurely through a magazine, I'll feel a little tug at my shoe and realize that he is there under the table, my companionable little son, sharing the morning with me and quietly eating a paper bag.

His words are few. And we aren't 100% sure he's saying them, except in the first instance. They are:

Uh-Oh (all-purpose, and so useful in a house of small children)
Au-deeeeeee (center of the Universe)
Go! (proceeds car trips)
Reeeeeeeeeeee ("Read," spoken while tossing a board book into your lap)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This and that

Calvin, looking a little bit sticky.

An afternoon snack at home.

From mom's last visit-- Audrey is schooled in being a bookworm by Gramma Jean.

I am thankful for the sweetly unexpected.

I'm not sure why I had the camera pointed at them when I filmed this, but I'm glad I did.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just like his sister. Only more.

It's been a long time since I complained here about my children's sleep habits, right? So I hope no one minds a bit of a rant on that subject today; I need it. Having just wrestled Calvin down for a late morning nap, I have jangling nerves. This kid will not go down for a nap peacefully, and every time I have to put him down screaming it's like having a little bit of my soul sandpapered off. I hate it. But he's exhausted, no question about that, and he's about twenty pounds too heavy and a year too old to be carried, or driven too and fro, even if I were willing to do those things. Descriptions of soothing sleep routines make me laugh. And schedules-- more bitter, hollow laughter. Soothe all you want to, and try to put him down before he's wired-tired but the moment you actually have to put him down, get ready to have your blood curdled.

I am frankly amazed that other people are able to simply put a tired child down into their bed without this epic struggle. How can it be so utterly different with my children? What on earth are we doing wrong? Rhetorical question, of course! I don't believe in "Sleep Solutions" anymore and have tossed the book by that title right into the trash. And if you were hoping to borrow my copy of "The Baby Whisperer," you'll have to look for it there as well. It's right underneath those coffee grounds, and Audrey's soggy bran flakes from this morning.

Wow, hey, Kris-- sounding a little bit off kilter today, aren't we? Get a grip, woman!

There's a tiny wedge of a bright side to all this sleep horror: Audrey sleeps soundly through the night, every night. She quit napping entirely well before she turned three (and no, it's not because she no longer needs the sleep), but at least we can put her to bed and count on not hearing from her again until Calvin wakes her up in the morning-- which he does by marching down the hall and banging her door open like he's entering the saloon in a Western.

And every morning that I see this I know again how much I love them both and their indomitable spirits. For the next 18 or so years I will be seeing, I'm sure, hundreds of variations on this same theme. As adults they will never have to work through their issues with trying to please their mother because they do not appear to have this impulse-- and I know, in the bigger picture, I should be glad for this. I wish they could both just wait a few years before exhibiting this helpful trait quite so strongly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Morning, Pa Skip. Here's an excellent lichen specimen.

I've made much (too much?) out of Audrey's interest in lichen because I hope she'll develop a passion for the sciences and soon begin gathering her own laboratory equipment like litmus testing papers and a magnifying glass and all that stuff-- oooh, I can't wait to foist all of my own interests on her! And won't she appreciate me for that!!

Anyway. She was genuinely excited to see this lichen. And we wanted to share our find with Pa Skip, geologist of the field. This rock is part of a big outcropping in a tiny patch of conservation land near our house. I have that mixture of delight-panic-dread about the on-coming cold; every walk or playtime outside feels like it may be the last for months. The inside of the house feels both cozy and confining. But the weekend was unseasonably warm and we were out collecting sunlight as much as we could, storing it up.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One year ago today I raked some leaves, and then...

We finished raking at about 12:30, came in and had some lunch, and while I was eating my sandwich I said, "Hey, uhm, Scott, I think maybe..."

Quick call to midwife to confirm, and we were off! Called Rebecca and Hank, dropped Audrey off next door with Stephanie who would hand her off to Rebecca (and also, since Steph is an OB we had a quick driveway chat during which she suggested that we should get to Mt. Auburn oh, about, IMMEDIATELY) so we made the drive (eerily familiar except less of a feeling of wild unknown this time, more of a wild known), I walked right on past registration and headed to Labor and Delivery (I'll fill out paperwork later folks, I'm kind of busy here) and at 3:10, I was, as they say, delivered of my son.

The events of November 8, 2009 have, among other things, forever changed the way that I feel about yard work.

Calvin, we couldn't imagine things around here with another child. Couldn't believe that someone else would rewrite our lives the way that Audrey had. Now we can't imagine the world without you.

Happy 1st Birthday, Bonzo.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scott's mad carving skills

This last pumpkin attracted special notice; three different people told us we should go see Despicable Me.

Happy Halloween!

Simian Calvin
Gramma Jean (witch) with princess and monkey on Westmoreland Ave.

Neighbor Lynda offers a choice: candy, or broccoli?

Sugar-fueled happiness!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Companionable Cal

Princess of the Pez

The great Walt Disney has infiltrated our home, not in the form of classic cinema but via Pez candy and underpants.

Audrey got some new, bigger underwear this week and some of it features Elmo and Zoe just like the last even-tinier-than-these set of panties, but *some* of it now features princesses. Of the Disney sort. Sigh, moan, all the insidious marketing, blah, blah, blah. Well, why don't you try shopping with a three year old and see if you can do better?

And Audrey quickly recognized Cinderella of the underpants as being the same Cinderella whose head tips back to disgorge a pellet of candy from the new dispenser Daddy gave her. (I tried to tell Scott that he was setting a bad precedent by pulling gifts out of the suitcase all the time, but the guy likes to shop.) "It's the Princess of the Pez!" she cried, enraptured, and pulled on the Cinderella underwear over the two pairs she already had on.

Won't she be blown away when she realizes that the Pez & underwear princess is also in a MOVIE?!

Blog? What blog?

Scott is threatening to start guest editing Chickpea Central if I don't post. This month I have been faced with some difficult choices like, "Should I upload that video of Scott and Calvin dancing, or take a shower while Calvin is napping so that I don't have to wait until midnight to wash my hair?" It's not anyone's fault. Scott is traveling a lot, Calvin takes only one nap a day for about two hours if I'm really lucky, and Audrey is... Audrey. Plus I don't multitask with much grace. I try to write, to post, to cook a little, to keep us all in clean clothes, and to take time to get outside with the kids and collect leaves and acorns which later have to be fished out of the washing machine. Isn't it supposed to be easier for me to get things done? Three years into being a stay-at-home, I still feel it ought to be, but I cannot figure out how. Honestly.

Meanwhile, Calvin can walk and almost run and Audrey is starting to listen to chapter books and to recognize letters. The "Overheard" column could go on for pages. Calvin adds the occasional "Uh-Oh!" and "Mama!" And so for you, dear readers, I will go unwashed another day in order to bring you this clip of Calvin and Scott dancing.

Get up and shake it like a polaroid pitcha, wont' you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The racing grocery cart

Friends, I give you the two-seater racing-car child-minding grocery cart. Trying to steer this sucker around the narrow aisles of a crowded supermarket is not easy, but it is now the only way I can take both kids shopping. Even with both of them strapped into these seats, I still find that the cart mysteriously fills up with boxes of cookies that I do not remember pulling off the shelves.

Scott says this is how he feels when I'm driving. Shall we install a passenger side steering wheel for the Matrix?

Calvin warms up his Grocery Store Grin for all those adoring women in the produce section who just can't wait to pinch his fat cheeks. Careful, ladies-- behind those cherubic lips are four very sharp teeth.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Calvin's first steps

Audrey Turns Three

Digging into some cake at Rebecca and Hank's house-- we brought the cake, they provided dinner, guests, and a place to party.

Birthday Cake hat from Gramma Jean

Decorating cake with star sprinkles that she swooned for at the supermarket...

And oh how she does love presents!

Our exchange when she woke on the morning of her birthday:

Me: "Do you know what today is?!"
Audrey: "My birthday? Is it coming up?"
Me: "It's right NOW!!"
Audrey: "Mommy, it was so long to wait and wait and wait but today I AM THE BIRTHDAY GIRL!!!!!!"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Calvin's new career in holiday modeling begins with this pumpkin photo shoot...

Too. Cute. Too impossibly cute.


So tired tonight my eyelids are twitching, so we'll just have to upload the pictures and skip the commentary. Someone needs to tell Calvin that although his sister did the same thing, it is very much NOT all right that he is still waking up two and even three times a night at 10.5 months old. I'm weary of serving as his personal snack bar, but when I try to ignore his calls for Room Service he just keeps dialing and dialing and dialing. Boy but I do have a couple of willful children. Much good may it do them in life, but in the meantime-- I badly need more sleep. This eyelid thing is creeping me out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A classic, and just as hilarious the 1,000th time as the 1st.

Just about anything you do or say around a baby of 10 months seems to build a new synaptic pathway into his little brain, even the things you'd think he'd grow sick and tired of. Peekaboo, for example. Sure the ending is happy, but it's so... predictable. He just doesn't care. And he'll play peekaboo with anyone: mother, father, sister, stranger on street corner. Smile at him and he gives you the benefit of the doubt, gives your comedy routine a chance.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

No. It's the new Yes.

Why does she say "no" to everything? 'Cause it's fun to say. It's spunkier than "yes." And the grown-ups know that you don't really mean it all the time. As a father of three once told me, back before I had kids, "No isn't a word. It's a way of life."

Textbook example-- this morning, 7:00 a.m., the kitchen. Audrey holds out her cup and says to me, "I don't want any orange juice... in this cup."


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Note to self: perhaps Audrey could use some closer supervision when coloring with markers. But it's all washable, right?

Overheard of the week: "Mom, why are you so crazy?"

A fine question.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby's first drag ball!

How's my hair? And from this side? Is it OK? But I'm still not sure about the overalls. I'm just not sure...

The merry trio

Adorable photos by Rebecca of our girls in the backyard on a recent summer night in Medford. Scott had it absolutely right when he said that Bethiah looks just like a young Debbie Harry in that last picture.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Overheard: The New Mother Cous-Cous

See if you can spot the contemporary twist in this recitation from Audrey:

"Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his coffee to make my bread!"

And here, she takes the back-talk to a new level. Unfortunately, her logic is pretty sound:

Me: Audrey, I didn't want to take the sippy cup from you but you didn't give me a choice because you were using it to water the rug with milk.
Audrey: Yes I DID give you a choice! If you don't want to take it from me then DON'T!!!!

Did you hear that? That was me, heaving a big, deep sigh.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Calvin at table

Don't try to feed this kid without giving him a spoon of his own, or he will take the spoon you're trying to use, and beat you about the head and shoulders with it. He will do it his way. Or. No. Way. At. All.

Doesn't he stun you with this darling look? He could be a very successful pick-pocket: zap them with the big blue eyes, then grab the wallet! Crawl away!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A day of birthday parties

This Sunday we went to not one but TWO birthday parties-- a veritable feast of frosting. The evening found us celebrating around the bouncy house with our good friends in Medford. Happy 3rd Birthday, Bethiah! Audrey now reminds me daily that her birthday is "coming up soon."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The artist at work

Isn't it a fine moment in everyone's life when we learn to give a really big, frozen smile to the camera? I won't say this smile is a fake-- no, it's real, but it's also a response to having her picture taken and it makes her look so much older to me.

The fading days of summer...

The expression on Audrey's face has both the sweetness and the impishness of her at this very moment of summer, on the cusp of three.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Old Mother Couscous

Last night Audrey asked me if I would read her the Old Mother Couscous poems. Her catch-phrases of the week are, "Well, surely we can!" (cheerful response to "no" in any form) and "Well, if you say so." (grudging acquiescence to parental authority).

We’ve been reading a book about the management of the strong-willed preschooler, and as so often happens with books like this, we are evangelists of The Method, because we haven’t actually applied it for more than a day. In this case, the method is all about making “attending statements” instead of badgering your child with questions and directions. I will say that when I really stopped to pay attention to this, it did seem that I was constantly hectoring Audrey with my directions and queries, even when we were trying to play together. Attending statements are just observations, to make your child feel that you are really paying attention, and to emphasize your interest in what she does. Scott offers this helpful example:

WRONG WAY: Audrey, where are you going with that gun in your hand?

RIGHT WAY: Wow! It looks like you are walking around the house with a firearm. I wonder what you’ll do. You sure do seem to know how to use it!

Friday, August 6, 2010


Calvin and I have our mother-son time first thing in the morning, which is all right with me especially on mornings like this one when he slept all the way through the night-- and by the way, "through the night" means 7-7, not this five hour nonsense that parenting books define. Who considers 5 hours a full night of sleep? Not I.

Calvin likes to get up around 5:30, about an hour and a half before his sister and his dad, so we come downstairs together and I sit on the living room floor attempting to read and drink lukewarm coffee while Calvin uses me for a climbing wall.

Last week we said he could crawl, and stand. Now, he will not remain seated. He's working on cruising now, the inching crab-walk supported by furniture, but he's still a little bit perplexed about the role that his feet are supposed to play. He holds on tight to the couch and looks down at his feet and you can see him thinking: Go. Go. GO!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More from Year of the Tadpole

Photos taken at Audrey's nursery school, with apologies to the unidentified children who appear here without their parents' permission. Lucky for me this blog has a readership of about three, so I'm unlikely to be sued.

And a' kick and a' kick and step-ball-change, slide, slide!

None of the other kids liked the Mardi Gras beads-- at least, I hope not because Audrey hogged all of them, every day.

Tuition payments will be reduced if your child shovels off the outdoor play area before class.

Ah, this picture makes me long for the first day of fleece vests in the fall!

Hide the electronics! Again!

How is that we baby-proofed our house once already but it seems to be full of the fragile and dangerous and delectably chewy, all over again?

And now watch this cool trick:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Listening to the iTubes

Turn your back on Calvin for two seconds and he learns something new, climbs something he couldn't climb before, plants his drool-covered flag on some piece of furniture I was sure was out of reach. Last night he pulled himself up on the baby gate between the kitchen and dining room and rattled it as hard as he could. It is not at all hard to imagine him just throwing a leg right over that gate and laughing at our pathetic effort to corral him.

And Audrey is up and down the emotional scales everyday like she's rehearsing for the stage. Screaming rages, sweet nothings, imperious questions, stern finger wagging, expressions of shock: "Mommy, I can't believe my eyes!" The overheard column for this week:

Audrey, standing in front on my computer: "Mommy, let's listen to music on the iTubes."

Me: "What are you going to say to Dad when he gets home from his trip?"
Audrey: "Thank you for the lovely coming home!"

Audrey, as we get ready to leave the house for nursery school: "C'mon, Calvin. Let's get this show on the road."

I can't manage a solid piece of prose this week, just these snippets. It's too hot. And the house is rattling from being re-shingled and painted so I am scattered all around, too. Maybe this afternoon we will go for a nice air-conditioned ride in the car, just me and kids, listening to music on the iTubes and I will nap in the back because Calvin will have figured out how to drive by then.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Days ago Calvin couldn't crawl and now he is lurching around the living room on all fours, taking full advantage of Audrey's nap time to chew on her toys. Her toys are all the ones, you see, that she is interested in, and a baby toy by definition is some piece of junk that she doesn't care about but will do just fine for Calvin, thank you very much. Her idea of a fair trade is to rip the legos out of his fat and eager little hands and offer him an empty toilet paper roll in exchange. Not exactly negotiating in good faith, but for now the notion of trading keeps Audrey from being an absolute tyrant. And Calvin thinks, "Hey! A toilet paper roll! Cool!"

So he's locomoting all over the place here while I read my novel (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, since you ask) with one ear tuned to the baby monitor for the sounds of even, slow breathing that means Audrey has gone to sleep. And while I am semi-ignoring Calvin, suddenly there he is, pulling himself up to a full stand. His efforts are furious and intent. He uses everything-- fingers, toes, torso, and finally he grips my pant-leg in his gums to haul himself the last few inches. Then beams-- simply beams at his achievement.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Overheard: When I the grown-up

Audrey is keenly tuned in to the differences between babies, toddlers, preschoolers and grown-ups. We showed her a "Wallace and Gromit" movie during our recent vacation and she calls it "Wallace and Grown-Up." (Side note: Do not even think about boarding a cross-country flight with a small child unless you have a portable DVD player and are prepared to throw all your prohibitions against t.v. right out the emergency exit. Thank you for your attention. You may begin pre-boarding at any time.)

This week Audrey moved from the toddler room to the preschool room-- a transition which caused me more of that heavy-sighing, weepy-sniffly mommy blogger stuff... never mind. We won't get into that again.

At school pick-up time, as we walked through the parking lot together:

Audrey: Mom, are you a preschooler?
Me: Nope, only you are a preschooler.
Audrey: But when you were a kid you were a preschooler just like me?
Me: Yes!
Audrey: Mommy, when I a grown-up, I drop you off at preschool and then I walk away, with the baby.
Me: Sounds good.

The photo above is part of a montage I am making of photos from her first year at school, "Year of the Tadpole." I miss it. I miss everything lately. I am already nostalgic for this morning- that's how fast they're growing.