Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas morning with Chickpea and Bonzo

I'm not going to add any text because in the ETERNITY it has taken to upload this thing, I forgot everything I wanted to say. Good night, Merry Christmas, I'm off to wash the dishes...

But wait! I did want to point out how completely the kids ignore the train table, while the cameraman and yours truly keep trying to draw their attention to it. How could an item that cost more than everything else combined and took all night to assemble possibly compete with dental floss?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

And to all a glittering night...

Nothing makes you feel more like a real grown-up, I'm told, than going to a parent-teacher conference. An earlier stop on that same path, for us, is staying up late on Christmas Eve to carefully nibble out plausibly Santa-sized bites out of gingerbread cookies and assembling/wrapping/displaying the Santa haul. These are certainly fortunate children, and we are lucky beyond measure too: warm house, healthy family, the luxury of things to give, and time to enjoy it together.

(And with those poignant words I have just earned myself a year of snark in 2012. I will be grim again before President's Day, count on it.)

Scott is putting together a train table in the dining room as I write this, and just announced triumphantly that he has completed all the instructions... on page one. He expressed his dismay that the inside of the instruction booklet was not instructions in Spanish but rather more instructions (or "destructions," as Audrey would say) in English. However, things are definitely looking up from the first few minutes of assembly when I heard him mutter "Attach to B? What B? There is no B!!" If this is what it takes for an MIT-trained engineer to assemble a toy, then I'm afraid there is no hope for the rest of us.

There are many things still left for Mrs. Claus (Mrs. Clause, more accurately?) to wrap and stuff into wads of tissue paper, but I wanted to write down tonight the very clear image of Audrey, turning up to search the sky for Santa and saying, "Shhhhhh! Listen for a ho-ho-ho...." The way her excitement brims right at the very surface of her seems especially dear to me these past few months because that quality is something she'll learn to mask from us much of the time.

Be that as it may, I hope to remember as long as I live the way her upturned face looked tonight: small and eager and full of genuine wonder. After this many weeks of waiting for Christmas she'd just about decided it would never come. When we tucked her into bed, she asked me to be sure that her sign for Santa, lettered carefully in pink glitter, was on the outside of the house, where he could see it.
"I want him to see my words in the glittering night," she said.

Audrey's sign sparkles at the back door, Calvin sleeps oblivious to it all, and we are hoping to head to bed before dawn. We wish you all a glittering good night.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Miracle: Calvin Agrees to Visit Santa

We were among the first in line to see Santa at the mall this morning so the old man was not yet feeling like a broken-down bean bag chair for fractious children. I completely expected that Calvin would tell Santa just where he could put his sleigh full of toys, but he was actually quite game. Audrey was curious as to how Santa managed to make an early morning appearance at the mall, while also showing up in Somerville last night on the Trolley Tour of Lights at not just one but several of the houses along the route and was also on hand to assist elderly tour-goers off the trolley back at Town Hall and pose for photos.

Later, over lunch, Audrey dictated her wish list for Santa which included the following entry: "A princess chair that is small enough for my behind."

(Yes, grandmothers, you will get wallet sizes of the above. )

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A cuddly scene at story-time with Alexander, Audrey and... wasn't Calvin here a second ago?

Boy if this isn't a thousand words worth of accuracy right there...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It all goes perfectly

Audrey moves through the world lately like the owns the place. Several other parents at the preschool have commented on how confidently she carriers herself, and I have to say, she doesn't shrink from attention or from new things much anymore. It's gratifying, and at the same time weird, because I don't think she picked up that at-her-ease posture from frazzled, often-insecure me. What an interesting category this is: traits my child has mastered that I have not.

Audrey's confidence really isn't a question of "What did we do right?" but rather "What have we managed to not screw up yet because we didn't think to try to interfere with it and how can we continue to leave well enough alone without realizing that's what we're doing?"

We watched a movie last night that made me think late into the night about this, about the power that a parent has to make the foundation of the child's world seem safe and secure and comfortable, or to make it seem unstable, and threatening and mean. It's a frightening amount of power to wield over another person's life. How do we do it right, if we are so imperfect ourselves, and the world is, in so many ways and for so many people, unstable?

I can't take credit for it, but I am so glad-- so relieved-- to see those flashes in Audrey's personality that show that she trusts the world around her and will strut through it in striped tights and a black leotard and that pink Brett-Michaels bandana thing on her head. Instability-- whether introduced by me or not-- will enter in, but for now, she just wants to get her tap shoes on and dance.

Show them how it's done, my dear.

Lost it.

I'm so distraught that I have lost a scrap of paper on which I had scribbled a whole bunch of entries for the Overhead column and now I can't find the paper, and my mind has totally erased whatever I'd written there, which makes me feel just awful. Not because anyone really needed to here these cute-isms, but because when I lose these things it's like I've lost a little piece of them. (please no one else tell me how important it is to write these things down as that is the entire point-- they WERE written down!)

Here's a couple I can remember: early morning, I am awakened by Calvin, who has just manually pried open my eyelid to ask, "Excuse me, Mommy? Are you there yet?"

And this one's a bit racier, so read on only if you do not blush at the word "bra."

Still there? All right.

Audrey saw me getting dressed and asked me what I was wearing. "A bra," I explained. "What's a bra?" she asked. "Well, it's something girls and women wear to be more comfortable." "Why?" she asked. "Well... it... uhm... it holds their breasts up."

A long and thoughtful pause, then: "What's a breastsup?"

I'm stuck full of pishons and time keeps draggin' on.

You know that feeling, right?

A while back (since we only blog here about things that happened weeks ago now) I was listening to Calvin sing in the kitchen and I heard him croon, "I'm stuck full of pishons." A head scratcher even in a house of toddlers.

I gave it some careful thought and finally realized these were simply the lyrics to his all-time favorite song, "Fulsom Prison Blues." I'm stuck in Fulsom Prison...

Calvin is also a big fan of "Shake Your Booty," and boy, can he.

The picture above was taken in the same pumpkin patch as last year, only this year, the cute little pum'kin threw a temper tantrum right after this photo was taken that drew the attention of shocked on-lookers across a stadium-sized parking lot. And any one unlucky enough to be really close to us also caught a whiff of ... oh, never mind, never mind, never mind. Let's just enjoy the picture.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Topsfield Fair, and a Near-Miss Halloween Costume

You all just go and look at the lambs and the giant turnips again-- I'm gonna test drive this baby.

I took my four year old to the face-painting booth and I got back... a teenager?

Doesn't this look like the sweetest little Halloween costume? So did we. But he refused to wear it on Halloween. He'll be the fire chief when he's good and ready. But lack of a costume didn't stop him from collecting candy.

Just in time for New Year's -- Halloween photos

Audrey and Mom work on her sparkly tights, drawing comets and meteors with glitter paint.

The shooting star was Audrey's idea (inspired, we think, by TMBG's "What is a shooting star?") and Mom spent most of a day stitching the hat together. Compliments (and tooth-rotting treats) collected all around the neighborhood. I just have to say that I am lucky to live in an age where you can google the words "shooting star costume pattern" and bingo! there it is. (Thanks, Canadian Living magazine!) All I had to do was print the PDF, spend nearly $70 at the craft supply store, and then hand it all to my mother. (Thanks, Gramma Jean!)


All right, Mom? Got my lunchbox for school, but I can't find my other cuff link. It's the first day of preschool, I just don't want to look like a tool. Audrey says no on the purse... is it the color? I can do the black if you think the pink is too over the top.

First morning of school, Fall 2011. No, the camera's not out of focus-- Kris looks like that all the time now.

Audrey's Fourth Birthday Pancake and Cupcake Breakfast. Because who doesn't want candy sprinkles at 9 o'clock in the morning?

No, honey, I'm fine: I just want to crouch here and hold onto the wall for a second.

Hi, customer service? There's a problem with my order. This box is full of children.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On Not Being Two

Thought I wasn't keeping a blog anymore? Well, you're just about right. I started working (some) and found out just how difficult-- nay, impossible!-- it is to keep up with the laundry, shopping, personal grooming, sleeping, not to mention breathless mommy-blogging that is my suburban life. I've got a two month backlog of photos and irrelevant details with attendant whining to catch up on, but today I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday" to my sweet, ferocious little boy Calvin who is now two years old. That picture was taken today at nursery school and this Friday we'll do our family celebrations.

This morning when I told him how happy I was that he was turning two he said, "No! I NOT being two!" And that about sums it up for Calvin lately. He lives to refuse. But then he'll also have his moments of rapture, like when I first see him in the morning, when he just holds my face in his hands so that our noses are touching and says, "Oh, Mommy... I miss you."

It's really weird that I'm looking at a picture of other people celebrating with Calvin today when I was here working (mostly) and fretting (a lot). On balance, we're doing all right although the shifts have been bigger than any of us thought they would be. Home cooking around here often looks a lot like a delivery box of pizza. And the socks you're wearing today just might be the socks you wore yesterday... and the ones you'll wear tomorrow, I'm not making any promises on that.

A thousand more postings to come soon. If I can get some sleep tonight. But we haven't forgotten our loyal, our passionate, our few fans of ChickpeaCentral and how much we like being connected to you all through this quaint medium.... Stay tuned and please email and call us. We miss you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First dance class

You can't hear the music or the instructor over Calvin's howling, but you can see that Audrey took to the dance class. This was the first five minutes of the class, and if there is any hesitation in her exuberant scarf-waving dance, I don't see it... It certainly helped that Bethiah was there, and another friend from preschool.

Jazzing the rose.

Love that first day of the year when it's time to pull out the fleece for a morning walk. And with the change of season, let's have an edition of our very popular (to all three of our readers!) Overheard column:

Tappy is a new word Audrey made up, shortly after she started her Saturday morning dance class. If you are feeling happy about having tap shoes, that's tappy. She told me this while she and Calvin engaged in their weekend morning ritual of climbing into our bed at dawn and sitting on our chests-- she on mine, he on his-- until we arise. It's a great way to wake up-- having a toddler use your rib cage like a fireplace billows and forceably pressing the air out. Do try it!

Audrey is very interested in "'spressions" and using "words of speech" to get her meaning across. The other day I asked her why she was placing some elaborate scribbles across a piece of paper and she said, "Well, sometimes I just like to jazz the rose."

If I understand her-- and I'm not at all sure I do, but I'm trying-- to jazz the rose is like gilding the lily, but with more fizz and pop.

Calvin's commentary remains largely inexplicable except to himself a lot of the time. For instance, he told his preschool teachers over and over again today that he likes to hold hands at the park. OK, you like to hold hands. At the park. And this is relevant to...? Then again, who cares? It's adorable. I'll hold hands with Calvin at the park anytime.

He's got a hold of the word "actually" now. Which you use in conversation to change course, or just mix things up a little, as in, I've been screaming for 15 minutes that Audrey took my train but actually-- hiccup, sniff-- I want a bottle. So forget that other stuff. What train?

And he's not about to take any crap from us, either. I tried to wrench a sharp utensil out of his grasp and was told fiercely, "Ab-so-wooty NOT!" (Have I used these words a few times in the past year? It would seem so.) But if you make him mad, it's easily fixed: just give him a "bomb-cracker." You know, the ones that you use to make a nice bomb-cracker crust?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Statue of Levity... where Audrey told me she was headed today. Could that have anything to do with Bethiah's recent trip to NYC? Dunno. Calvin's game: he wants to go anywhere she goes, have anything she has, say anything she says. To just about any suggestion he will roar, "Yes! Dats my FAY-bit!" Excluding naps, diaper changes and being strapped into a carseat, of course. But he is not to blame for his exuberance; as Audrey helpfully explained, "It's not Calvin's fault if he acts like a crazy man. That's just how his body is."


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Audrey and Mom at a concert, and a glimpse ahead.

Suburban bliss: an outdoor concert on the grounds of the public library, on a summer evening, a picnic, just me and Audrey and some good friends, and friendly, gum-snapping teenagers doing face-painting. I had such a good, good time just being with Audrey who is, all by herself, a total delight 99% of the time. It's not simple to figure out, but it's worth the extra schedule juggling to do it. I still remember when my mom set aside afternoon to just hang out with me, and sent Janna off to the sitter for a few hours. What a luxury to give all my attention to one kid and let her lolligag as much as she wants, occupy me completely with charming, chattery nonesense, and dance with her in our upper-middle-class Eden with the rest of the 401(k)'d and batik-skirted volk. (That sounds snappish but I had a really, really lovely time.)

And here's a little news about Audrey's future plans that I found mildly upsetting at first. One of her preschool teachers is expecting a baby and so a lot of "imaginative play" in the classroom has included being pregnant. (You know, stuffing a pillow under your shirt and all that.) Audrey, I was informed one recent day at pick-up time, had announced her pregnancy that day. For a moment I felt a strange choking sensation and then I remembered: she's 3. This sweet, quiet little boy in her class said it was also his baby, and that he was going to marry Audrey. He kept his arm protectively around her for much of the afternoon, the teachers reported. A few days later his mother said she'd overheard her son saying he had to earn lots of money to take care of the baby. Later he asked her if she would mind taking care of the baby while he takes Audrey on a 100 day honeymoon.

Scott and I are still adjusting to it all, but we are pleased she has chosen such a thoughtful and pragmatic young man for a partner.


Calvin marches to the beat of his own drummer. And the drum beat sounds like this:

This morning, at the New England Aquarium, we went to their fantastic exhibit in which tiny, beautiful manta rays and sand sharks swim in a shallow pool and you can reach in to touch these -- completely safe, small and harmless!-- animals as they sail by. You do need to be gentle though, and that’s why I held Calvin back carefully so that his hands couldn’t get anywhere near the rays or the (again, for the grandmothers, totally harmless!) sharks. For their safety as much as his.

Finding his arms impeded, he simply did a legger over the side of the tank and started climbing in. We left the exhibit before any of us had to be escorted -- or fished --out.

I can already hear the lectures of his classmates’ parents’:

“And if Calvin decided to climb into a tank full of sharks, would you try it too?!”

“Yes, totally! He made it look like the most funnest thing ever!”

In addition to a college fund we are also setting aside money for legal fees. Feel free to kick in around the holidays, or his birthday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There's no picture with this post and you will shortly be glad of it.

As with my last post on this subject, I've decided to spare you the visuals. You are welcome.

You would think that in four years of parenting, I would learn to recognize patterns. That I would be quicker on the uptake. But there is a part of me so impervious to the effects of experience and time that it never adapts. It dwells in a timeless place where lessons are never learned, just endlessly repeated like episodes of Caillou. And that part of me asked this morning, “Say... am I crazy or does it smell awful in here?”

One of us-- I won’t say who but it wasn’t me, Scott or Audrey-- had just delivered a payload of doo-doo into a diaper that reeeeeeeeked something awful, but instead of diagnosing the problem like someone who has dealt with exactly the same thing every day for approximately... let’s see...1,460 days, I decided that a sewer main on our street must have broken.

With Calvin standing right there at my feet, a busted pipe was honestly the most likely scenario I could think of.

And I went about my business, assuming that the City of Arlington would be by shortly to deal with it, until the smell became dangerously foul and it finally dawned on me: poop. Of course. Poop! It’s always poop. And so much closer than I imagined. Next time I'll probably think it's some kind of stink-bomb weaponry system being tested on our neighborhood by a covert-ops team, or maybe an invasion of skunks.


After the rain

Joy! Mud! Joy! Mud! Joy! Break for traffic. Joy! Mud! Joy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Calvin's still taller, but Nellie has taken the wheel.

Friends Nellie and Calvin will be classmates this fall, just like their older sisters. We do hope they aren't expelled for putting each other in a lip-lock.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Janna and Calvin and the frightful prospect of the evening repast.

I wanted to headline tonight with this absolutely lovely photo of Calvin and Janna, who was hear from Durham this weekend and whom we already miss very much. It was a wonderful weekend. Just look at all the beauty and joy in those faces!

Because now I have to tell you about dinner here tonight. Disasterville.

I don’t mean that the food was bad. The small amount that traveled from my fork to my mouth was a perfectly acceptable weeknight, not-going-to-win-prizes-but-decent rice and vegetables thing. It was the savages-- I mean children-- seated to my right and to my left that made the meal something to be endured.

Audrey whined and fretted and finally left the table having eaten exactly nothing. Calvin picked up his rice and chucked it at us in handfuls, so he was taken from the table, screaming. (No we will not act like that at the table, young man. And get your fork out of my eye socket this instant!) Scott and I looked across the table at each other with a combination of shock and resignation that is the flip side of the parenting coin, the other side being the “How can we be so lucky?!” side. Dinner tonight made us both wonder what on earth we had wrought. How did we get from our giddy first date when we ate barbeque and asked each other, oh-so-lighly, about future children, to this grim scene of pouting, threats and spat-out pieces of avocado?

Now that it’s all cleaned up, the dishes washed and the remains scraped off the floor, I must say I am feeling like the sit-down family dinners are-- for the time-being anyway-- not worth the trouble. Yes, it’s good to teach children about ritual and routine, about manners and healthy eating, but then I look at the facts on the ground and I think it might be better to just put some cold cereal into dog dishes and serve it on the floor. I’ll get down there and eat with them if that would make it more of a family ritual.

Not really.

Well, maybe.

I need some sleep before I consider the matter any further.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rites of Summer: Their First Lemonade Stand

Top of Audrey's to-do list, ever since she saw the neighbor kids pouring lemonade across the street, was to "sell stuff." At last, today I got some lemonade and cups, a bucket of change for the till, some markers, a little table and chairs and paper for a sign. I also secured Audrey a business partner, Alice, who came with her mom, providing the critical extra grown-up needed to make this venture viable. Calvin and Alice's younger sister Nellie played in the house while Audrey and Alice sought their fortunes in the cold beverage business.

Sales were brisk. We moved a lot of product with our unbeatable $0.25 price, inspiring some customers to pay as much as $3. Even the neighborhood kids usually ponied up $0.50 cents. One customer bought two cups and gave each girl a brand-new $1 coin. Our 82 year old neighbor Maggie stopped by on her way back up the hill from the grocery store-- that's right, this woman WALKS to the store, in August, at age 82-- and reminisced about her childhood lemonade stands in Cambridge when she had to press her own lemons. No concentrate back then! We poured her cup extra full.

A few things impressed me, not the least of which was that the girls stayed interested in the project for more than an hour and actually smiled at their customers, in between counting money. Second, the young teens on our street-- who have impressed me before with their good-naturedness- came over to buy and just behaved like such nice people it made me want to go congratulate their parents again. And third, I was startled by the speed with which we almost lost our table and chairs, before I'd even had time to post our sign or bring the kids out, to a passerby who thought they were left for the taking. My neighbor Mika saw this about to happen, intervened (with great diplomacy) and came right into the house to find me-- saving us an ocean of tears.

Our sign was a simple affair-- just product, and price. I decided not to take Audrey's suggestion for wording, which was this:


Friday, July 29, 2011

Overheard: What it sounds like when I'm thinking

From Calvin:

“Ride the abigator!” Once he’s boarded the abigator he likes to press the buttons he can reach. Just the fun ones. With pictures of fireman’s hats!

“Hey! Guess what?” Not a question, just an all purpose greeting.

“We’re on da way!” Announcement while riding his toy car across the living room.

“Time out? Me, too! Me, too!” Like all younger siblings, Calvin is protective of resources: food, toys, love, even a “time out” is something your sister might try to hog all to herself just because she mouthed off before you developed a big enough vocabulary to do so yourself. Well, he’s not letting her get away with it. No-ho! He shoves her over on the time-out step to get his share of time out. Whatever that is.

And from Audrey, one for the ages:

“Mom, when you hear yourself think, what does it sound like?” She asked this as I pulled out of the driveway, when it was actually peaceful in the car for once. It’s reassuring to know that if you just repeat yourself enough, the blather will turn into a sort of Zen koan.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our July 4th celebrations (complete by 2pm)

Better make sure we take Audrey to the Ladies Room before we get in the car. That was five liters of Strawberry Lemonade.

Two french fries, one bite of fish, three kale garnishes.

Great day out: Children's Museum all morning, til we were tired and hungry, then down the wharf to the Barking Crab for an (overpriced) lunch. No tears, no barfing. Kids asleep by last click of car seat buckles for the ride home.

The secrets in my mind


Audrey stopped me in the hall, wearing this get-up. She tapped on my arm and regarded me, quietly. All business. And she said, "Mom. It's me. This is a disguise."

Earlier in the day I caught her at the bathroom sink making a mess, water splashed all over the floor and the hand-towel soaked. "What happened here? What is going on??!!" I cried. (I should note that I said this in a very calm and nurturing way, with no accusatory note in my voice.) Audrey took a moment to collect her thoughts and then said, coyly, "I have a secret in my mind and I'm not telling you what it is."

For which there really is no answer. Checkmate.

Master Calvin.

Like all toddlers, he is the most interesting mix of manners and savagery. He says "no hank oo" and "peeese" but he also screams "no like it!" and "you top dat!" and "you go way!" He stands in the bathtub and daintily drinks the bathwater, one plastic blue teacup at a time. And I don't have to tell you what he did in that bathwater before he started sipping, do I?

His favorite book right now is "Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones," or, "Nuggle up, leepy one." After he drank the bath last night and was freshly diapered and ready for bed, he toddled over to me holding this book and I got ready to "nuggle" down for story time with my darling boy. Just as he was about to climb into my lap he shouted "Cheers!" and clobbered me in the face with the book.

And now we turn our investigative reporting on... ourselves!

I have to report this little bit of jerkery that I heard myself spouting the other day. Background: we are moving from our suburban town of Arlington to the adjacent suburban town of Lexington, and I actually spoke to my friend about this "transitioning" process for our family.

First, I want to apologize to the noun/verb TRANSITION, a perfectly good and noble word, for turning into an obnoxious gerund. Totally uncalled for. And second, claiming that we must transition from Arlington to Lexington is a bit like saying that I will transition from the LL Bean style of Mom jeans to the Land's End kind. But with front pleats! The difference, in both cases, is but a few dollars in taxes.

I have since regained some perspective. We're just moving. Period. And we're lucky and happy. The end.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Scott, Skip and Jim

We paid them in cash for these poses, or, as Audrey calls all money, "allowance." To observe the day, how 'bout an installment of our "Overhead" column?

Calvin: [growing frustrated while trying to move a foot stool] Eeees STUCKING!
Calvin: [racing after Audrey at school drop-off ] Audie, wait ah me! Audie wait! Audie wait!

Audrey: [sitting in passenger seat of car while I put on her shoes] I can't sit up here, right, Mom? This is a seat for someone with a BIG bum. I have a very little bum.

And here's one that set me back, not because it was cute or impish but because it was so shockingly clear. She said this the day after we played a game called "Silver Polishing Workshop," in which we cleaned all of my tarnished jewelry. I cleaned and rinsed, she buffed with a dry cloth. Now, before anyone calls this exploitative or brings up child labor law, you should know that Audrey LOVES my jewelry and getting to handle it like this for real was a big deal to her. She did such a good job that I actually bedecked myself in some of that jewelry the next day-- which I almost never do-- and thanked her for making it all sparkle.
"You're welcome," she said. "Thank you for letting me polish your jewelry with you. I really like it when you let me help you with stuff like that."

Friends, it doesn't get any clearer than that. That was almost spooky. The door of her young soul stood open for just a moment and I could see right in. Or Terry Brazelton had taken possession of my child for a moment, I'm not sure which. Either way, I felt that I was being handed something of great importance-- something I did not want to fumble. She likes helping me. Sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of cheap silver-plated earrings and my company is her idea of a great time. It will not always be so. May I be smart enough to love this while it lasts.

The preschool fair (with digressions about taxes and dirt)

Audrey loved the fair at her preschool so much she wanted to know if the fair would still be there when she came back on Monday morning. Sadly, no. The teachers would simply love to supervise a bouncy house of screaming four-year-olds every day, but it isn't possible.

And that's Calvin driving one of the fire engines that will NOT be taken out of service because we passed our property tax over-ride, thank you Arlington voters, and we still have an ambulance to drive you to the hospital, a library that's open and staffed and oh, decent schools! Thank you!! Did I just go on a tangent and use an entire year's allotment of exclamation points? Sorry!!!!!

Boy, but the kids were gritty by the end of today. When you mix dust and popsicle drips and sunscreen into the temporarily-tatooed, sweaty-sticky skin of a small child you get a resistant coating similar to that on a nylon tent. Swish them around in tepid bathwater all you want and they come out fresher, but the grime still clings, along with stubborn white streaks of SPF 50 behind the ears. Well, let them stay that way then. It's summer. They're not going to any job interviews.

Scott said it best when he compared the process of cleaning Audrey and Calvin to maintaining cast iron cookware. "They aren't clean so much as well seasoned."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The world's best baby-carrier is... another person.

Just forget Calvin and backpacks. FOR. GET. IT. Unless you like to be bitten between the shoulder blades. What really made him furious was that Audrey (outside the frame of my video rant) was riding her bike. Calvin was incensed that we were going to give her the freedom of the road, the wind in her hair, the thrill that only a tricycle rider wearing a helmet and flanked on both sides by a fretful adult can know... and make him ride in the pack. Well I don't think so.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tonight, we dine on pickles and olives!

Things are a bit different at dinner time when Scott's away. Instead of the five course meal I normally serve, for which I always (but always!) change into a fresh frock, we dine informally when Scott's on a business trip. My spouse has never agreed with me that a meal can be made entirely out of items stored in the refrigerator door, but I disagree. I think that a can opener, a dollop of mustard and an open mind are all that are needed to assemble a week-night supper for your young family.

A couple of evenings last week were so broiling hot that I could not bear the idea of cooking, or schlepping us all to the grocery store. So when dinner time rolled around, we ate pickles, olives, cheese, crackers, fruit salad and various and sundry other items until we were more or less full. Everyone had some fruit, vegetable and protein to their meal. Everyone was pleased. And I don't feed the kids like that every night, so what's the harm?

Amen, and pass the ketchup.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The taste of love is sweet...

Sand, sun, hotdogs, new underwear

Four days on the Cape: that was my deal. A little family vacation, nothing fancy and nothing requiring plane travel. No long drives (insert story here of childhood suffering on 1,000 mile journeys in my parents' Volkswagon Dasher) and only kid-friendly activities. We did well, really. About as well as could be expected. We remembered the kids ibuprofin this time! But we forgot... all of Scott's underwear. Had to be something, didn't it?

Provincetown being Provincetown, there are many options if you find yourself shopping for men's underwear, but those options were... not exactly what Scott typically wears, if you see what I mean. We thought about our dilemna as we ate hot dogs at John's Foot Long on the pier, and then we decided to drive to TJ Max in Orleans. Yep: we drove all the way down the Cape and went to TJ Max. And it wasn't that bad. Audrey got new flip-flops.

We had some great time at the beach, some meals that we got to eat before Calvin had to be removed from the restaurant, and no one got sick. I'm calling it a success. And I discovered a certain strange new optimism in myself when it came to thinking up stuff to do with the kids. I found that I could summon up a wild, almost reckless enthusiasm for kid activities. Counting trees. Collecting bugs. Weaving scarves out of seaweed. Anything!! Just get us to bedtime. Wear them out. Give them what they want. We're not just killing time here, we are murdering it.

Oh, and here's another great "learn" from our trip as a friend of mine likes to say: humans can safely eat sand. You can absolutely eat sand; Calvin ate BUCKETS of it and he's fine. So just go ahead if you've ever wanted to try a spoonful.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reading, chalking and looking for trucks with Gramma Jean

We're all about Gramma, of course, but Dad coming home from his trip is also headlining tonight. And Gramma Jean is willing to stay outside and supervise chalking!

Is that the mail truck? Wait... I think it's Fed Ex. No! Call the papers! It's the men in brown! UPS! Gramma, if the street sweeper drives by after this I'll be so psyched I'm going to, like, need a diaper change. This is just incredible.

Gramma, I have to tell you that although the ninth and tenth readings today of The Big Orange Splot really had energy, this eleventh reading is taking it to a whole new level for me. You are totally making it your OWN! Love it, love it.