Monday, December 31, 2012

Old footage, an exclusive for Gramma Jean

Hi, Mom- A little something for you, especially.  I can't email this because the file's too big but just ran across it and I don't know if we ever showed this one to you? It's a couple of years old. More, actually. I like Calvin's burbling commentary in the background and Audrey's "one more, one more."

Happy New Year's Eve, in which we lose our pants to the dance

Last post of 2012. I have to get ready for my incredibly exciting plans for New Year's Eve which involving sitting right here, on this couch, in my flannel pajamas, and watching a movie. Exactly what I always wanted to do on New Year's but when I was young(er) I felt more pressure to do something fun and memorable, like freeze my keester off in a long line outside a crowded club with a $20 cover charge (which would turn out to be $40 by the time I made it to the door) and inside of which I would have to stand crushed against the bar with my head in the armpit of some undergrad who didn't even see me there but was standing on my foot and making it impossible for me to flag down a bartender.  Oh, I miss my wasted youth.

Everyone thinks that videos of their own kids dancing are funnier and more adorable than videos of someone else's kid doing exactly the same thing, but we suffer from the delusion nevertheless. Feast your eyes and ears and GET DOWN with Calvin, and have a Happy New Year, from all four of us.

Christmas morning: The Big Reveal, plus tips on Lemon Meringue you did not ask for but, trust me, you need.

Scott is so annoyed with me for not posting anything for so long that I'm going to skip the text (I know: who's missing it?) and just throw on all the photos and videos that he has asked me (and asked me and asked me) to please just post already.

The kids were really rather spoiled by it all this Christmas. They loved it. It was fun to watch. And so far they have not discovered the great big bag of toys I'll be donating, in order to make room for the new. I'm on a New Year's organizing kick, but don't worry, I'm not going to blog about it. Nor am I going to share my recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie with Graham Cracker Crust, because actually, it's not mine at all, I got it here, and you should go there right now and download it because it is FOUR STAR INCREDIBLE and I've made it three times in a month already. And if I may just get a little food-bloggy for a moment, here is a tip worth following from The New Best Recipe, in their also-very-good-but-not-as-good-as-the-above recipe: don't let the lemon custard cool before you apply the meringue to the top. Put it one while it's still hot and then the underside of the meringue won't undercook and ooze that really disturbing clear liquid.

Did I say I was not adding text? I lied.

Monday, December 24, 2012

He walks, and talks. And kvetches.

Many have asked us if Calvin is walking yet, and what the walk looks like. Here it is. A bit less of a gimpy-leg lope each day. And you can see here that his general sense of being irritated with the service is still fully in tact.

Merry Christmas to all

Nativity Scene by Granny Stark (manger constructed of scraps of polyester plaid pants from Granddad)

Decorating Batch 2 of gingerbread cookies. Batch 1 incinerated. We are blaming a "tricky oven."

Thank you, Gramma Jean, for sharing all your cookie cutters.

Candy buttons are handmade candy made by our neighbor Jane from her family's recipe. We're not even close to that kind of holiday sophisticated around here, as evidenced by Mr. Gingerbread's sadly squashed head.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What I'm writing to the NRA

I'm putting this in the mail this morning.

December 14, 2012

David Keene, President
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

R.E.: Please reconsider your support of assault weaponry and make American children safer.

Dear Mr. Keene,

I have begun many different letters to you over the last week, knowing that my letter will surely be read by an exhausted member of your staff who is putting letters into piles of “Supportive of NRA” and “Not Supportive of NRA.”

Please put my letter in the “Heartbroken and Scared” pile.

When I dropped off my children at preschool this morning it was hard to get all the way back to my car without crying, but I am terribly frightened for their safety, which is why I am writing to you.

I can’t make it any less likely that a violent or mentally ill person will enter my children’s school, or any school, with an assault rifle and an intent to kill, but YOU CAN. You and the NRA can support reasonable changes to gun laws that will make assault weapons—which no sportsman or civilian needs for any sane or humane purpose—illegal.

Mr. Keene, public opinion is changing steadily in favor of a sensible ban on assault weapons. More and more of your own members are realizing that assault weapons can be made illegal without dissolving the Second Amendment.  I know that my beliefs about gun laws will never match those of most NRA members, but I do believe that you and the members of your organization have compassion and mercy. Many of them may have sat in their cars this morning, as I did, having just left their children in a school or day care center, and wondered how they would go on living if their children were hurt or killed.

Please, please reconsider your position on assault weapons and work with others toward a sensible ban. It is the right thing to do, for everyone in this country.

Hopeful that you will hear me,

Mother of Audrey (5) and Calvin (3)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bea and Audrey, and a really big tree

From last weekend. Bea lives around the corner and came by to help us decorate our first tree at Ely Rd. This tree, which brushes the ceiling, really did not look so big at Mahoney's...

The entire house smells piney. Ah. This picture of the girls is pure deliciousness, too. Bea is Audrey's friend and also her clothing benefactress, although Audrey's going to be just as tall as Bea pretty soon so the train of beautiful unstained clothes (how is Leah managing this?!) will have to end.

Secured to his chair by a cargo strap, Calvin adds a bauble or two.  Now we can just use the cargo strap for lashing him to the top of the car.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Smell ya later, spica cast! Our bizarre six weeks comes to a close.

Right now, Calvin is in the next room, snoring gently and lying on his back with his two rather spindly legs straight out in front of him, a bit toneless in muscle and flakey in the skin, but healed and whole and stable.

I feel as if I fell down a rabbit hole, six weeks ago, and just came back up.

We were just raking leaves, and the kids were peddling around the driveway, Audrey on her bike and Calvin on his scooter, when I saw him tip and then I heard him scream. The next few minutes, hours and days are a little sketchy in my memory but my main recollection is wanting to close my whole body around Calvin and prevent his pain.

How incredibly lucky we are to have medical care and treatment within a few minutes drive, and things like morphine (who ever imagined we'd be so excited to have our not-quite-3-year-old given morphine?) and pediatric orthopedic surgeons and everything else we needed-- friends. And family. And resources. And time for him to heal completely, with follow up care. Most children in the world have few of those things, or not enough of them. Many have none. I can hardly stand to contemplate this but children endure what Calvin went through without so much as an aspirin.

During the hospitalization, every doctor we spoke to, starting with the on-call pediatrician in the E.R., told us that we Calvin could have, and should have, and would have, the pain medication he needed and that we should ask for it, advocate for him, and make sure he got what he needed. About 180 degrees from what a parent would have heard in the past. (A thought that makes me feel sick for those children, and grateful on behalf of mine.)

Oh, and they've worked on bedside manner a lot in medical schools, it would appear. Example: late on the night of Calvin's accident, we have arrived at Children's Hospital Boston (transfered by ambulance from Winchester) and I've just been shown the x-ray. The break is so big, and so complete, that at first I don't even understand what I'm seeing. The doctor-- who is nine-- has to show me the line along which Calvin's one femur bone became two jagged, completely distinct pieces right below his pelvis. I am blank for a moment with horror-- and shame, and panic at how this must have hurt and still be hurting.

I blurt out that I probably made the initial break much worse by picking him up right away-- in my total ignorance-- and jostling him in my arms, trying to comfort him. I set him on the couch and put an ice pack on it, for heaven's sake and then sent Scott off to the hospital thinking we were being overly cautious. My voice may be going up a few registers. The nine-year old doctor steps very close to me, right into the space that no one ever steps into in the course of normal conversation, and says carefully, "It's very important that you understand this: you did not do anything to hurt your son." He puts his hand on my shoulder. Someone has told him to emphasize these words with warm but appropriate touch: I can tell. I want to crumple very quietly into a chair at this kindness, but I go back to Calvin, who is numbed and semi-asleep. He is tiny in the bed.


The sound of the little saw they use to remove the cast frightened him, and he cried, but he also smiled in between bouts of tears, and chatted with the nurses, before crying a little more. Last night he slept in his own bed again, instead of the beanbag he's been heaped onto each night. Every night we did a midnight "flip" from back to front and then from there until dawn, me, sleeping beside him, at his insistence, on an air mattress. (Being back in my own bed, too, is a welcome change.)

He is sore and his leg muscles are quite stiff but he was already taking some assisted steps today with the help of Judy, the lovely nurse who spent time with Calvin at home this month and stayed with him at school while he was in the cast. This morning when I left them both in his classroom he was seated on a beanbag (beanbag's are as essential, it turns out, to spica cast care as they are to dorm room decor) and he was just holding forth to his classmates about the whole thing, and pointing to his healed leg. I guess this was probably his last day of being a minor preschool celebrity and he was making the most of it.

He is already asking about his scooter.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In reverse order, the removal of the Movember Beard Experiment

Does it work with just the soul patch? Uhm... that'd be No.

And this? Get. That. Off. Your. Face. Now.

The full beard was pretty cute, I have to say. But it itched til it drove the poor man mad. Movember, move on please. The cause goes on; the facial hair must go.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm listening... with my giant pink ears.

I asked Audrey if that was a pink bow in my hair and she said, "No. Those are your hairy ears."


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Overheard, from the guy in the cast...

Pa Skip (my dad) to Audrey: "So, who broke the poles on your tent?"
Audrey (roll of the eyes, points with thumb ruefully): "The guy in the cast."

Calvin, after long excited speech from Audrey about the possibility of the TOOTH FAIRY visiting us sometime in the next year:  "And is the Leg Fairy going to bring me a new leg?"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Calvin turns 3 (Piñatas after dark)

Never let sunset stop you from taking your family out into the yard, standing in a small circle in the dark and swinging wildly at a moving object with a baseball bat. It's an especially good idea if one of you is wearing a body cast.

This seemed the perfect party activity for Calvin. He needed help scooping the candy off the grass (and even the three kids doing that were aided by flashlights) but we found joy in the simple pleasures: a foam baseball bat, a paper mache fire-engine, and the pent up frustrations of three weeks in a spica cast to expend.

Followed by pizza, cake, loud singing, and a long Hot Wheels car race, rigged so Calvin could win.  Pa Skip and Nanu, Uncle Hank, Auntie Rebecca and the girls were all here to help celebrate. And Calvin presided happily from chair (secured by cargo strap) and bean-bag. Low Lord of the Manor.

Happy birthday my ferocious and willful and dear little son! We love you.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saoirse and Audrey at Hanuman's Munj

These delightful young women are attending the Munj (thread ceremony) of Saoirse's older brother, Han, whom we've known basically all his life-- I think Scott was officially the first visitor who burst in on Han's parents at Mt Auburn after Han was born.

We were very pleased indeed to be at the event with Han's family and friends from all over-- Toronto! California! Greater Arlington! And it was one of Calvin's first trips out of the house after The Scootering Event so just breathing air outside my own living room was good.

If you don't know what a Munj is about, as I didn't until Han's came about, you can read more here.  It's kind of like a Hindi bar mitzvah? That's culturally cloddish of me to say, I know-- but we WASPS don't have a tradition to compare. I wish we did.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spiderman and Hello Kitty hit the road for Halloween 2012

Hello Kitty make-up by mom. Thank you very much; I know, it *does* look really professional. And the costume department took scissors to the Spiderman union suit and made it a kind of tunic, which worked out fine. Spidey will be back in rehearsals soon. The SHOW MUST GO ON.

Audrey reviewing the haul.

Tip for parents: to save time and collect lots of sympathy from the neighborhood, bundle your smallest Trick-or-Treater in a body cast AND a costume, then have him call weakly "trick or treat..." from the bottom of the steps and explain that he can't climb up the stairs due to his injuries.  Your candy haul will increase 10 fold!

Overheard, Calvin, upon opening candy bar:

Overheard, Audrey, after several candy bars eaten between houses:
"Hey, Mom! I threw up but nothing came out of my mouth!"

Friday, October 26, 2012

Calvin relaxes (as much as one can relax in a body cast)

Bean bag chair, a little t.v.... not too terrible.  The strange shape of his chest in the photo is the top of the cast.

(Gramma Jean, he's been calling the Bob the Builder pillow case his "comfort" pillow.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Strange days of fall

Guys in Ties.

Moments before...

Off to school.

Yeah, this was taken a few weeks back. We are not marching around the backyard in our underwear anymore. Bit too nippy for that. 

Dear Reader (or perhaps it is readers since Scott is often checking this blog for my infrequent entries and also our parents skim it),

I seldom post this year because Mark Zuckerberg uses some sort of long-distance crowd hypnosis to make me post on Facebook all the time. The most I can do in the old fashioned blog world is sometimes write here and "share a link" on my Facebook page, which feels weirdly self-aggrandizing, like I live in a tiny and self-referential world. Which I do.

You might already know that Calvin broke his leg rather horribly this weekend. Although I have heart-wrenching photos of  his cast covering his broken leg, with its spiral fractured femur, part of the other leg, and his torso to the mid-chest, I would rather post these earlier photos. The one of the kids in the leaves is literally just minutes before he fell off his scooter. It's the place Scott and I still feel that we left our minds and hearts only a moment ago. 

The intervening days have been a kind of hallucination, starting with a bewildering night of E.R. trips with a trembly, frightened child, an ambulance ride with a then-doped-up kid and hard crying (Calvin, me, Scott) and telling doctor after nurse after doctor after nurse how he fell and what we did and asking for more morphine for him, and valium, and wishing very hard that our legs could be broken in some way that would make Calvin's leg unbroken. And then-- modern miracles-- by late morning the next day the leg was set and it was already a whole lot better for him. Weird, and wicked uncomfortable, but better. (First words post anesthesia: "This is stupid!")

Calvin is going to spend six weeks healing and recovering in his cast, and has some physical therapy ahead. All things considered, this was- to borrow a word from my friend Gretchen, a Craptastic few days of seeing Calvin suffer and hurt. And it has also been days of feeling all our blessings, knowing that Calvin is one of a minority of children in the world with access to medical care and pain management for his injuries. Children break bones every day and cannot get so much as an aspirin. And here is Calvin, already mending, already getting used to a funny but now (to him) normal routine. Friends and strangers are being nice to us and taking care of us. We live in immeasurable luck and kindness.

The other thing I want to tell you is that the clip-on tie was Calvin's own idea, and after he put it on, he went back upstairs to get Scott a tie, so that Scott could "pretend" to look like him. And that Audrey is a natural at home health care. Soon as we got him home, she pulled up a chair next to his bed and started doing flashcards.

Friday, October 12, 2012

"We are Princess Rosemary and John, the Spiderman"

Worrying things the kids say when I've stepped out of the room, but am within earshot:

1. Sorry, Mom!
2. It wasn't me!
3. Nothing just happened in here!
4. Mommy? I really, really, REALLY love you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Race car shoes

... that light up when you run, stomp or kick! Which are the only kinds of movement these sneakers are ever going to see!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dancing with Calvin

Calvin has this cute habit of rubbing his face on us, like he's musking us, which unfortunately turns into head butting pretty fast. So just beware, grandparents. Sweet moments can turn into bloody noses.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Overheard: The Deliciousness of Fall

Scott: Isn't it a beautiful fall day today!
Calvin: Yes! I smells like bacon!

Calvin, in the bouncy house at a birthday party with all the bigger boys:
"Hey, Mom, look!  We're THE GUYS!!!!!!"

Me: Calvin it's time to get into the car.
Calvin: I don't have time!

Later, as we are getting out of the car,

Calvin: Hey! Get me out! I can't be back here all day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Matthew and Audrey

Audrey with her friend Matthew- both about to turn five.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


On Saturday the kids and I went to the Appleton St. Circus presented by neighborhood kids (ages 5-8ish). Publicity was impressive—flyers on every telephone pole in a quarter-square-mile. When we arrived, the ticket taker (also the ring master and the clown) told us, “We’re a little disorganized. We haven’t finished training the dog.” (The dog’s name was Crouton.) The circus acts were accompanied by the house band of little brothers on bongos and ukulele. After the show, the parents of the cast served hot dogs and ice cream. If there is a better way to spend a summer afternoon, I don’t know what it is.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Letter to Pa Ingalls

Oh, Charles, Charles, Charles!  You are so sprightly with your fiddle and bear-greased cowlick, so handy with those wooden nails and well-digging and dragging your poor family across God’s green acre all those years, but you are making my life difficult. I know: compared to your pioneering vision of Hell, my life in suburbia is pretty comfy.

But here’s the thing: you are an arrogant, self-centered bigot and I’ve got my liberal, 21st century knickers in a twist over it.

I remember getting it, sort of, as a kid, that all that talk about Papoose babies and “wild, naked men” was problematic, but now that I’m reading the Little House books to my almost-five-year-old, I find I have to skim over entire paragraphs to get around the stuff.  And your wife was no better; in fact, you had to calm her down when two Native Americans on whose barely-protected government land you had just set up housekeeping had the audacity to come to your home and introduce themselves.  Wildness, indeed! Your daughter didn’t seem to have had a major shift in perspective by the time she penned the books in the 30’s (or, by most accounts, foisted this task on her daughter, a better writer).

You ate up half the prairie yourself just housing and feeding your own family, taking out 3 or 4 prairie hens a day just for supper, yet you were surprised that when 100,000 other white people showed up and did the same thing, it got a bit crowded and timberless out there.  DUH. You may not have realized it, but you were already building the suburbs of today, one wooden peg at a time.

And if I may take you to task for one more thing: you are the unassailable moral hero of all your own stories, which is frankly really annoying. You would have made a better role model and storyteller if you’d leavened it with a little humility.  How about a story in which the bear kills you, sometimes?

All of my efforts to explain this to my daughter and present to her a view of your pioneer life balanced by my own knee-jerk morality of the comfortably middle class, are failing.  Her questions mostly have to do with what it was like for me growing up in this same distant past—as she presumes I must have—in “olden times.”

I don’t know if we’re going to make it all the way to the banks of Plum Creek with you guys or that town where you finally let everyone unpack and stay put for once. I’m just getting too exhausted with the ad-libbing. Maybe I'll just tell Audrey about the olden-days of the mid-seventies when Ma Fikkan picked her own mushrooms, with me (Papoose in tie-dye!) on her back and made yogurt and baked wheat bread and carob cookies.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Orange paint (a little)

This home color kit says "apply liberally to scalp."

No regrets.

On tour, right after his first stage dive.

Yet he's always a respectful young man.

My boy.

Calvin's classroom is an easy going place, thank heavens.  And I guess they have either run out of smocks or have an objection to them.  This paint came out of his hair but not fully out of his clothes. And the impulse to do it in the first place will not come out... ever.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Overheard in Las Veshmegas

Two notables from Calvin:

To our neighbor, just chit-chatting in the driveway, "My daddy gone to a conference in Las Veshmegas." (That'd be where Woody Allen and Al Pacino intersect.)

And to me, in passing, "Mommy, did you lose your REASON? Do you want your reason BACK?"

Yes. Please.


Sending Gramma Jean's birthday card on its way to New Mexico!

Calvin in summer

A wallflower, just like his sister.

The Willow classroom made oatmeal cookies... or is that cement?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Auntie Janna reads the bedtime story

Appropriately enough, the kids picked a book about snow. It is cooking in Boston today! Janna didn't deserve to time her visit from humid, hot North Carolina only to enjoy the stickiest week of our entire summer up here...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Our All-American Vacation

We started off with a bang... and a nap.  After we'd been away from the house for about 15 seconds, Calvin said, "Are we there yet?"

Lucky us, no lines on the tractor ride.  So we go again and again and again and again and again... Fine by me, all I have to do is ride in the back.

Calvin won't turn around to have his picture taken.  "Mom," he says, "I'm driving right now."

Highlight of Audrey's day.

Highlight of mine.

The completed "look."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Being what he's being.

Calvin and a friend providing new challenges for the makers of stain remover.

 Impishness is in the DNA here.

Calvin, it must be said, is thriving at preschool this year.  He gets a level of structure there that I am unable (and unwilling) to provide at home, and it does him so much good.  He even takes naps there, something he would no more consider doing at home than he would eat a plate full of vegetables.  Ain't happening.

I have often said that if I were good at providing a change of structured activity at 15 minute intervals I would be a preschool teacher myself, and friends, I am just not good at it.  My kids understand this about me, I think, and are trying to live around it.  We all are.  I often wish I had a different kind of energy with them, one that was more complimentary more of the time to their personalities. And we're not constantly at odds, of course, but the differences between their energy and mine mandate that we have part time preschool.

As Audrey said the other day, "It's just being what it's being."