Monday, July 31, 2006

Beach Days

Nothing much to blog, though I've been tagged by Melissa of Waking Up, so I need to get to that before too long. For now just some pictures from a recent trip to Wallis Sands State Park in Rye, NH. No better way to spend a 93 degree day...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wherein We See The Difference Between Boys And Girls

The kids and I were playing with some mini, plastic superhero characters this morning. It's a set that comes with Captain America, Spiderman and Wolverine. This particular set is made for little kids, and comes with a little playground set that is put together Leggo style and features a slide, a see saw and a climbing wall for the three superheros to play on. My mom got it for David back when we lived in Vermont. We rediscovered it again recently and even though they don't know these superheros, they know they're supposed to have "super powers" and therefore are "super cool".

David's got Captain America and Sofi's got Wolverine and Spiderman. Somehow she ended up with two, but David didn't seem to mind. They decide to have a small, stuffed cow be the helpless victim and dangle him from a step on the staircase.

David: "FSHHHHUUUUU!!!!! FSHHHUUUUUUUU!!" He straightens Cap. America's arms and makes him fly around the room, occasionally crashing into things, like the ottoman, the cat, the lamp. "Don't worry...I will save you!"

Sofia: She's busy trying to put the playground set together. "Mommy, Fiderman needs a kiss. He likes kisses."

Me: "Oh...okay." I give the molded plastic hero a kiss.

Sofia: "No, he wants a kiss from Ulverine." She makes Spiderman and Wolverine kiss. "He likes hugs, too." She smiles, and the two embrace.

Me: "Well, that's nice that they're such good friends."

Meanwhile David is now throwing Captain America into the air while crashing himself into various objects in the room. He's making alternate flying and crashing sounds.

Sofia: "Fiderman wants some ice cream. He likes ice cream!" She proceeds to stick a plastic peg from her stacking peg board into his cupped hand and she makes slurping sounds. "Dat is some goooood ice cream!"

David is also sticking little objects into the hands of Captain America and then having him throw them at the wall, while making more loud smashing sounds. Sofia is staring lovingly at her Wolverine and Spiderman while holding them as though they were newborn kittens, petting them gently, whispering softly near their little heads.

My children do not fall neatly into stereotypical gender roles- they are constantly breaking the mold for those supposed "boy/girl behaviors". But days like this do remind me how very different males and females are at the core and how no matter how culture continues to transform us, some things will never change.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mind The Wee Leprachauns!

Ernesto's favorite tool this month is "You Tube", the make your own movie service. He's having way too much fun with it. He pieced together a short video from a recent trek out to a local "Irish" pub this past weekend with the kids. While the place doesn't exactly transport me back to the Emerald Isle, it does invoke some feelings of nostalgia with its decor and thick brogues from the wait staff. The bangers and mash are pretty wicked, too.

I've been to Ireland twice, to ride my bicycle, eat great food, drink great beer, meet wonderful people. That was very long ago, almost another lifetime, even. Can't wait to get back, but for now I'll just hang out here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Guy Who Says "NO!!!"

He just did it again. And I think I have finally figured it out.

I blog mostly at night now, and while I'm sitting here in the office, I have the sounds of the street outside my open window setting the "mood". I hear the sounds of cars passing, distant motorcycles, the occasional firecracker (it's almost August people, come on), the jingle from the tags of a dog's collar as its being walked in front of the house...and then there's the guy who every once in a while shouts out, "No! NO! NOOOOOO!!!"

I'm not sure where exactly it's coming from. The first time I heard it I stopped typing to listen, but it was quiet, so I started back up again. A few minutes later, he did it again. At first it sounded like he was scolding someone, but I didn't hear a second voice responding.

The next time I heard it, he sounded kind of excited. "NOOOOO!!!" I was getting nervous, waiting to see if I'd have to dial 911 in response to some violent outbreak and then I thought, what have we done, moving here? seemed like such a nice neighborhood. Then it stopped. No crashing sounds, no raging. I was relieved, but perplexed.

And then tonight I heard it again, just a few minutes ago. It started in low, then it started to grow, (again with the Seuss) "no. no. NO! NOOOOOO!!!" and then a dismayed, "Uggghhhhh." And then it hit me.

He must be watching the Red Sox.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ode To "Little Fatty"

the following is my creative expression for the roly-poly little woodchuck that used to eat all the flowers in my back yard. You need not tell me what a lousy poet I am. I am all too aware.

Little Fatty, Little Fatty,
Oh what have you done?
You've eaten my daisies,
and now I have none.

The sunflower plants
I had sown with great care,
you chomped and you chewed
'till the stems were left bare.

You were my great foe,
many battles we fought,
but I've not seen you this week-
I guess you got caught.

Did you eat someone's tomatoes?
Did you push them too far?
Were you tempted by beans?
Were you hit by a car?

I might even miss you,
despite all you've done,
but if I find you in my yard again,
pick your fat butt up...and run.

What To Do If You're Wealthy And Bored

This may easily be one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. And I've been witness to some pretty stupid things. I may be a tad bitter because someone bumped into my child and I once while riding one of these. Or I'm right and it is one of the stupidest things ever. You make the call.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Partridges We Are Not

Well, we finally did it. We bought the drum kit that Ernesto and I have wanted for some time now. I know what you're thinking, crazy parents, having a drum set around kids...oh the noise, noise, noise, noise ...(sorry, we've been reading 'The Grinch' a lot lately). See, if you knew the kind of noise we already make, you wouldn't be thinking that. Ernesto plays guitar. He has an acoustic and an electric. He also plays piano. I don't play an instrument, yet, but I've always wanted to have a drum set because I do have a pretty good sense of rhythm and the beauty of the drums for someone like me is no chords to learn, no sheet music to follow. It would still take a great deal of practice for me to get even pretty good, but I think it is managable. And I just love to hit those things. It is so much fun.

We can also be found singing, especially Ernesto. When I sing, Sofia often tells me to stop. David used to do that, mostly I think because it meant I wasn't paying attention to him. Or I'm tone deaf and just don't know it. But when they are both in the right mood we can have everybody playing or singing something. No matter which song we are working on at the moment, Sofia will most likely sing "Twinkle, Twinkle", or rather "Tinkle, Tinkle". She's really good, though. She hits all the notes and when she gets up to the piano bench she's like a young Tori Amos, writhing around with her red hair going every which way. Except with more joy and less angst.

And David has a gift for remembering lyrics, making up musical rhymes and strumming the guitar. It's very strange to pass by the playroom and hear him working on a puzzle, singing to himself: "Old man, look at my life...I'm a lot like you were..."

So it looks like they've acquired the music bug. I hope it's as infectious as they say it is...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Picture This

David has taken to photography the way chocolate takes to peanut butter. Just a real nice combo. He's very serious about it. He lines up his shots carefully, holds the camera still and comes to show me every picture he's taken and says what he likes about each one. He always wants to use our new digital camera, even though I've let him take over the old one, (the first one we ever bought that's in pretty rough shape, but it will still take a grainy pic) and he sneaks off with it when I'm not looking. I put it up somewhere high (and I'm 6', so I mean high) but he'll scale any surface to find it. He's a little rock climber in training. We had a talk about this, and he has now resigned himself to the "old" camera, but he got in a few shots before he gave the new one back. Here is an exhibit of his nearly four year old self's perspective, at least as of last Thursday.
My personal favorite is "Still Life With Foot".

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tour de David

Without Lance, the Tour just isn't the same. All the riders seem so young and inexperienced. I mean, look at this that a Schwinn he's riding???

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Dude, It's Soooo Hot"

I just found our little man, Whisky, as you see him here, propped up by the front door. Note the vacant expression. Either he's really not enjoying the 90+ weather or he was hitting the cat nip a bit hard last night. I caught him sitting just like this last weekend but the memory card on my camera was full and I missed the shot. The dear boy was kind enough to pose a second time.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Backyard Wars

No, not the kind with the woodchuck. I think all the recent rain may have flushed him away. Here are just a few pics from earlier this summer taken at our good friend Rick's house (Happy belated birthday!). His family was having a cook out complete with live music, courtesy of his son's friends. While they weren't rocking out, the guys were all sparring in the back yard with these homemade "soft" weapons, and while not lethal or particularly dangerous, you could hurt yourself running around chasing after each other with them, especially if you're as old as I am. I fought Ernesto briefly until I was out of breath. Sofia, ever mindful of what I'm up to, was making sure I wasn't really hurt. Someone's got to keep an eye on the old gal...

*In the photo where I'm lying down, trying to breathe, Sofia is trying to help me up and I discover as I grab her hand she's got some mashed up food in it from the cookout. Hence the face I'm making.

Nature or Nurture?

My mom was out visiting these last two days and she was playing with the kids while I got dressed for the day. I came out to the mudroom where the three of them were gathered and she told me they had been "cleaning up" and that Sofia had been using her wooden horse's mane as a broom and sweeping the floor with it.

"She even moved the chair and swept up behind it! She must have been copying what you do when you clean," my mom told me.

I think for a moment.

"Hmmm...No, probably not, " I say.
"Oh, sure, she's seen you do that before," my mom insists.
I shake my head. "Nope, don't think so."

So when you come to call, please don't look behind my chairs or couches. Unless my daughter has been cleaning, that is.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Summer So Far from a perfect summer. Trips to the Boston Aquarium, eating cotton candy, chillin at the lake, catching some bass. Hmm...but one of these pictures doesn't seem to fit the perfect summer profile. Which one could it be? Look closely...

Sunday, July 09, 2006


We thought it might be fun to take the kids camping this weekend.

Ahem. We thought it might be fun to take the kids camping this weekend. Just to be clear.

I loved camping when I was a kid. I don't know how often we did it, or even where exactly we went, but the smell of a campfire, the sound of a tent unzipping are such powerful memory triggers for me. I can almost still see myself, maybe sitting in my mom or dad's lap, feeling the heat of the fire on my shins, pulling the charred skin from a melted marshmallow. A big, midnight blue sky above, filled with swaying pines, rustling sounds coming from the brush around the tent site. Me, feeling tired, content... happy just to be outside at night. I remember reading in my baby book an entry my mother had written that mentioned an overnight camping trip when I was two months shy of my first birthday. "We'll make a camper out of her," it read. And indeed they had.

Forever after that if I had an opportunity to camp, I'd take it. When I was fifteen I camped for two weeks with a group of kids from school on a cycling trip from Norfolk, VA to Charleston, SC. Camped somewhere in the middle of the Catskills one winter on a hiking trip the year I lived in NY. Camped again in SC at Myrtle Beach for a week with Ernesto when we first started dating- The first true test of our relationship. And there are countless other times I pitched a tent, just for the sake of doing it. Just for the fun of it.

But getting out of town with your friends or boyfriend for a weekend camping trip is vastly, VASTLY different than camping with your young children. First there's the packing. One night away, and an entire carload of gear is required. And we didn't even bring everything we needed. And the bugs. Oh, the bugs. They eat my poor son alive every time we're outside, so even though we doused him with spray repeatedly, he still got chowed and has got two puffy eyes and is covered with red welts. He looks like he lost a boxing match.

And even though we're outside and the kids are free to run around we can't let them run just anywhere and I heard myself repeating the same commands, "Watch out for the fire, kids! Watch out for the sharp sticks! Watch out for those big rocks!" Sofia is almost as clumsy as I am, so I have to really keep an eye on her. I'm sure I was absolutely no fun at all.

And when things go a little awry and it's just you and some other folks, no big deal. You can handle the little upsets. When you've got your kids, there's no just going with the flow. No just having a few beers and saying, "Eh, so what about the air mattress and who cares we don't have a sleeping bag. Whatever, dude!" Okay, so I probably would never have said, dude.

No, with the kids and something unexpected comes up you are held accountable. You need to explain the situation. Many times.

Lying next to David in the tent, trying to coax him to sleep:
David: What happened to the air mattress, mommy? Why is it all flat?
me: I didn't bring the right plug for it. It was too small and won't stay in.
David: So what happened to all the air?
me: Well, it came out because the plug doesn't fit so it can't hold the air in.
David: Oh. Why didn't you bring the right plug?
me: Because I couldn't find it so I grabbed the one from the pool and I thought it might fit but it didn't.
David: Oh. So why don't I have a sleeping bag?
David: Why are you making that sound, mommy?

And there wasn't much in the way of Ernesto and I just sitting around the fire, talking and enjoying the night. Sofia woke up crying because of some people who were setting off fireworks around the lake so E went in to try and get her back to sleep and I poked at the fire for a while with my beer and felt kind of tired and lonely sitting there by myself. This isn't what I had remembered from my camping days.

Maybe it was the wrong campground for us, or maybe we should have planned better. I don't know how my parents did it with three kids. Maybe they were more organized, more relaxed than us. Who knows.

Or maybe it's like some genes; Once in a while it just skips a generation.

*To read more about our camping misadventures, check out Ernesto's take on this weekend...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Country...

...but apparently you cannot take the country out of the girl's city home's back yard. With the exception of the meandering deer and the occasional black bear, we've got as much wildlife here as we did in Vermont. On 4 1/2 acres of fields and forest you have to expect to see lots of critters, but we've seen plenty in our new neighborhood, and with a much smaller yard to share with the little beasties. It's cute to watch a woodchuck munching wildflowers up on an old cow pasture overlooking your old farmhouse, all bucolic and earthy, but when it's eating all the tops off the sunflowers you're trying really hard to grow in a little 2' by 3' flower bed, well- it's just kind of annoying.

I call him "Little Fatty". He's not really that fat, but he rolls around in the grass eating clover (when he's not munching the Gerber daisies and other fauna) scratching himself, with his bad boy, woodchuck attitude as if to say, "What you lookin at, lady? How bout you make yourself useful and get me a beer, eh?" Oh, the little dickens.

Whenever David sees him out the window, he gives him the same treatment he gives all the squirrels who try and eat the bird seed, and runs out the back door, screaming like a banshee. Little Fatty waddles under the shed and then goes and does who knows what under there. I heard that if you keep mothballs in the area they visit, they will keep away, but these guys are persistent. Any suggestions out there? I will overnight you some lovely sunflowers...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pets As Kids?

I made a trip this weekend over to the local Petco because we needed a pet door so our cat Whisky could have access to the basement, where we now keep the "stink box". We're feeding him quality food and he doesn't eat too much, but man, he goes a lot. So anyway, the stink box needed a home away from the family room, and also to give the little beast his privacy. Now that it's super hot he prefers to be in the cool basement, so it will be nice not having to open and close the door per his every whim.

Now I like the cat. He's nice. He's good with the kids. Doesn't scratch. Purrs a lot. He's a good family pet. But that's it. He's not our "baby", he's not our "precious". I like him well enough, but he doesn't rank up there with the kids. He's an animal, and I can see the beauty of God's design in him, and all other animals, but I don't love him like a person. Not even close.

But I know that there are people who feel differently. There are folks who love their pets a whole lot and are willing to put up with great frustrations, just to have them near. I think I saw a demonstration of this at the pet store this weekend.

I had no idea how many people bring their pets to these places. All I can think is that it's just a novelty of being able to bring their pets into one of the few public buildings where they are allowed. It was wild. I was one of the few people not toting around a cat or dog. There was barking, howling, hissing and lots of disciplining, it was all eerily familiar... like a scene right out of a grocery store on a weekday afternoon...

"Stop that Trina. No, honey, that's not for you. Put that down. I said put it down!"
(Dalmatian reluctantly drops bone)

"Mommy just needs to get one more thing and then we'll...oh, Buttercup, would you look at this collar...Do you like it?"
(Calico cat rolls its eyes)

"If you don't stop that right now we're leaving without getting anything... I'm not kidding!"
(Unruly Cocker-Spaniel, tongue drooling furiously, all tangled in the squeaky ball display)

I felt so out of place, kind of like a childless adult in a Chuck E. Cheese. What am I doing here?, I thought. Oh yeah, cat door. I got the thing and ran like heck.

I do care about you, Whisky...enough to never bring you to the pet store. Ever. You can thank me by not eliminating quite so much.