Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I had a busy week at work, but was able to catch the early train home tonight.  Just us Friday afternoon commuters and a whole herd of ghouls, goblins, and witches on their way to Salem to go Trick-or-treating (yeah, right).  When I got home, we gobbled down a slice of pizza and got our own goblins ready.  They've been gone almost an hour already collecting candy, while our giant bowl of candy sits here with not one visitor (we're going to have so much candy).

I don't have the photos of their costumes, yet (the battery in the camera died), but in the spirit of Halloween, here are some of my face-painting masterpieces.

(By the way, this post (here) made me laugh so hard, by eyes were watering.  Warning, it's gross-funny.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Too much time alone with my thoughts today

I had to drive to Worcester and back for a deposition today.  Driving long distances in the car is always good for thinking deep thoughts.  I had two today:

1.  Is the smiley face is going to become the first new punctuation mark since the Middle Ages?  On the one hand, it conveys something that the other punctuation marks can't (like, I'm being ironic, or trying to be funny).  On the other hand, if I need to use a smiley face to tell the person I'm writing to that he or she shouldn't take what I just said seriously, I'd rather say it better so it's clear, or not say it at all.  I'm reminded that in primate body language (that includes human body language), the baring of teeth (smiling) can be a sign of submission: "I'm not a threat to you". Does it mean something that few if any men use smiley faces in their writing? :)

2.  Is "strategery" is going to insinuate itself into American English? I heard two people use the word in conversation this week.  They prefaced it with something like, "As George Bush would say, 'strategery' . . ."  But it's a catchy word ("strategery"), and if people keep saying that, it's going to become like "The Three R's", or "ginormous", words/phrases that people use as a joke so often that they go beyond cliche and start to actually mean something.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Magic Words

I started reading Harry Potter to T1.  I'm so happy -- I love Dr. Seuss, but it's hard to maintain your enthusiasm the 793rd time reading it.  Troy seems to like it, and it made for a funny exchange this morning:

C: (to me) I think T1 likes Harry Potter; he made a wand and he's been walking around all morning saying that spell you were reading about last night.

C: (to T1) (who was in the bathroom) Troy, what's that spell you've been saying?

T1: What?

C: What is that magic spell?

T1: What?

C: What are the magic words?!

T2 (chimes in from the bathroom, in his high-pitched voice): "Thank you!"

(Please note that T2 was in the same half-bath as T1, for some unexplained reason, other than he seems to be tethered to his big brother these days.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photo of the Day

This was Angel, the Boxer we adopted last year. Unfortunately, her seizures (which we knew she had when we adopted her) became worse shortly after we got her, and she only lived for a few months.  She was a sweet dog, and the boys adored her.  I was hopeful that we could give her a nice life for the last years of her life.  Even though it only turned out to be a few months, I'm think she enjoyed it while she was here . . .

We got her from a great rescue group, called Second Chance Boxer Rescue (here).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Some silliness, loosely based on history

I first met my husband's family 17 years ago.  They were suspicious of me at first, I just know it. Or maybe I was just nervous and self-conscious about meeting my boyfriend's family.  Would they like me?  Would they accept me into the family?  When I met my husband's older sister and her kids Amber and Noah, though, I knew my acceptance was sealed, because . . . Amber and I had the SAME FAVORITES!

Amber is in her 20's now and cute as the VW bug she drives.  She was already cute as a button when I first met her, even though as a 6-year-old she was free to interrogate me in a way the adults didn't dare:

Amber (six years old):  What's your favorite color?

Me (perched nervously on edge of sofa): Purple.

Amber: gasp That MY favorite color too!!!

What's your favorite animal?

Me: I like horses.

Amber: bigger gasp THAT'S MY FAVORITE ANIMAL, TOO!!!  (Beaming)

Mom, guess what?  (Runs to tell family the breaking news)

Me (leaning back): Oh yeah. I am totally in, now. 

Thanks Amber!  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inertia Pays Off

Dear Friends,

Tonight I'm going to the Women's Bar Association's annual dinner. I like to go because there's always a good speaker, and being in a room with hundreds of women attorneys always make me feel like my job is more than just a job -- that it's a career and a community of people with similar interests and goals. It reminds me of the importance of what we, collectively, do, and even though I'm just a cog in a little wheel, the legal system as a whole helps society function. It's also nice to see that there are lots of nice, friendly people out there who like their jobs and like to help others.

When I first started going, it felt really awkward, because I was trying to "network", but I didn't know anybody. It's really hard to strike up a conversation, even if you're in a room with 600 people! I'm excited tonight, though, because I've been involved in the organization long enough, that I'm sure to run into people I know. Also, another woman and I arranged to sit together, and we're going to be sitting with the New Lawyers, so there will be others there who are more nervous than me! That's one benefit of getting old, I guess: I get the benefits of having been around longer. Inertia pays off!



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Disco dancing and jack-o-lanterns

Hello everyone,

On Saturday we went to two birthday parties.  T1 and I had fun at
 his friend's sixth birthday party, with parachute games, cake and ice cream.  That night all got to go for a friend's 40th birthday at the Bowl-O-Mat, with a disco ball, black light, 80's music and pizza:

The kids loved it, from the bowling to the disco dancing, to the pizza.  We took it easy on Sunday, though.  We all have a cold, and were feeling a little cranky.  We did manage to carve some pumpkins and go for a walk, and found a boat for Opa:

Happy sailing.


Monday, October 20, 2008

How's That For Superpowers? Award

And the award goes to:

My sister, K, whose stove has been broken for a week, and who has been cooking meals for her family of six on a conga line of small appliances: a two-burner hot plate, an electric griddle, a crockpot, a microwave, and a toaster oven. But that's not what the award is for. Oh, no. The award is because yesterday she made traditional German "Rouladen" (see here) with mashed potatoes and gravy. I can barely do that on a real stove!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crime in a small town

Dear Friends, Family and Visitors,

We live in a small New England town that I will call SoHa.  We feel privileged to live here, where the streets are clean, the houses have picket fences, and the parks have stone walls and manicured baseball fields. The majority of our neighbors are even more "privileged" than we are, from the latest SUVs, to nannys, to second homes.  

A few weeks ago, C took T1 and T2 to the park. T1 and T2 rode their scooters, as they've been doing since they got them this summer, gleefully zipping down the sidewalks of SoHa, keeping up their constant stream of chatter.  When they got to the park, they dropped their scooters at the edge of the grass and ran to the playground. C briefly noticed some teenagers using foul language and messing around on the war memorial, but he quickly turned his attention back to pushing T1 and T2 on the swings. A while later, when they were ready to leave, the scooters were gone. A man nearby told C he had seen the two teenage boys ride off on them.  One of the boys had longish blond hair sticking out from under a baseball cap.

One of the scooters turned up back at the park about a week later (thank you, Charlie, T1's friend, who spotted it and would not rest until it was returned!)  The other appears to be gone forever. About a week after they were stolen, I saw a teenager with longish blond hair sticking out from under his baseball cap, hanging around the shopping center, riding what looked like T1's scooter. Before I could decide what to do, he was gone. 

T1 and T2 were disappointed when they're scooters were taken, but not distraught. C and I were more upset than they were. The scooter could be replaced, but should we take some action so that the teenager wouldn't just get away with stealing a little kid's scooter?  We struggled with whether to report the incident to the police.  

I tried not to judge the boy and his parents, whoever they were.  I know teenagers do foolish things, but I couldn't help wondering, what kind of kid would steal something in plain view of adults like that?  Is he so spoiled that he thinks he can instantly have anything he wants?  Or have his parents failed to instill the most basic values in him?  Or are there kids who do bad things, despite their parents' best efforts? As the parent of two young boys, that was the most disturbing thought for me, that a parent can do his or her best, and the kid could fail to learn right from wrong.

In the end we did go to the police.  We went to the police, not because we thought the boy was bad or because we wanted retribution. We went to the police because he is the son of one of our neighbors, even if we don't know them, and we thought they would want to know what their son had done.  Some day our boys will be teenagers messing around in the park, and I hope that our neighbors will be our eye and ears, helping us to ensure that they never learn the lesson that they can steal something without consequences.  I hope for the best for that boy; I hope the police catch him.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Photo of the day

This is T2, who is three years and two months.
If you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up,
he says "a daddy."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Photo of the day

Can you believe it?  
I baked this bread by myself!  
I just had to take a picture of it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Dear family, friends and visitors,

There is something they don't tell you about being a WMWASAHH (Working Mom With A Stay At Home Husband).  I've only been a WMWASAA* for two months, but I've already become a female chauvinist.  It begins almost immediately,  First, you find yourself coming home from work like a 1950's-style dad in panty hose, dropping your bag at the door, patting the kids on the head, and leaning over the stove to kiss your husband on the cheek while checking out what's for dinner.  It seems like fun until, over the next few weeks, those pesky thoughts start creeping into your head as you walk in the door -- They're watching TV again?  I thought the house would be cleaner now that he's at home all day, not messier! WHAT WAS HE DOING ALL DAY? -- even though just a short while ago it was YOU (me) who, after an exhausting day spent alternating between playing with the kids and battling with them over basic things like not strangling each other, would become immune to the chaos of objects on the floor and plop them in front of the television so you could frantically fix dinner.  

Being a WMWASAHH seems to magnify your worst traits, turning you into a female chauvinist without you realizing it, like the goo that turns Spider Man into Venom.  (Yes, it's true; since giving birth to two boys, all my cultural references are to comic book heroes.)  When I started this blog, it was going to be about the qualities it takes to be a stay-at-home dad.  Only it quickly began to sound like those books that used to instruct women how to be good wives.  I was trying to praise my husband when I said "He's always been interested in fashion and clothes, so he's careful with the laundry and can pick out outfits for the boys."  Huh!?!  That's a compliment?  Suddenly, I realized I was uttering the feeble praise of a closet chauvinist.  What would he say about me?  That I'm a very involved working mom, because I read to the boys every night? Somehow, the (im)balance between us didn't change, we just traded roles. This is a very uncomfortable position for me to find myself in, after years of examining the women lawyers' attempts to find work-life balance, and demanding equal commitment to home and family from men.
In my defense, though, C isn't a SAHD because of stereotyping or because his abilities are undervalued.  He is a SAHD and I'm a WMWASAHH exactly because we are equal partners -- we are equal, so we are each able to throw off gender stereotypes and do what we together decided is best for our family.  I'm working on reforming my female chauvinistic ways, and I think we're going to do all right.

Love, Christina

*For now, pronounce it WUM-wa-sah.  Some day, when us WMWASAHH's are fully represented in society, someone will come up with a better acronym, at least one you can make into an easy-to-pronounce nickname like the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (you're surprised I know what HIPAA stands for? You don't even know the amount of useless information I have stored in brain; now if only I could remember my wedding anniversary). 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halibut Point State Park

Just a note: Hi everyone!  Today the whole family went to Cape Ann, for a walk through Halibut Point State Park, and a picnic down by the water.  It was another one of those amazing fall days in New England, and one of those days when everything just worked and everyone was happy.  I think we've made it through the Terrible Twos (which I think should be called the Terrible 1 1/2 to 3 1/2's!!) Yours Truly . . .

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Photo of the day

We had a great day, hope you did, too!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photo of the day

Five Years Ago Today (T1 and Scary-Cat, from Auntie S.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Photo of the day


I was trying to think of my earliest memory, but I can't seem remember back very far.  I think I have a vague memory of a visit to Germany, to my grandmother's house, the house where my mother grew up.  I remember the hard dampness of the city, the smell of smoked meats coming out of a butcher shop, and the coldness of the bathroom that had no heat and one of those tanks high up with a chain to flush it.

Another early memory is of laughing with my family around the dinner table.  My sisters, K and H must have been about 1 and 2, because H was still in a high chair, but K was a toddler.  H was flinging her spaghetti noodles around, and managed to stick one to the wall.  K, finished with the food on her plate, got up from the table and, as she left the room, nonchalantly peeled the noodle off the wall and ate it.  My parents and I thought this was extraordinarily funny, and we all laughed.  What a strange thing to remember for 35 years!

What's your earliest memory?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thought you might like to know

I stumbled on these a few years ago, and keep going back to them. If you're looking for something to do on the Web with your infant or toddler, try out Kneebouncers. You play the games by hitting any key on the keyboard (so easy, an adult can do it).

For older kids, (and adults who still have some hand-eye coordination left), try the beautifully-designed Orisinal: Morning Sunshine Games by Ferry Halim.

The illustrations and subjects are sweet, and many of them don't involve hitting or shooting. (The ones that do seem innocent and are not bloody or gory.) I like the ladybug one ("Bugs"), but apparently the bee game is the most popular. A bonus: the music is tinkly and calming -- no blasters, driving beats, electric guitars, or other noisy-noise, to drive everyone else in the room kookamunga. I would let T1 and T2 play them, if I could get my fingers untangled from trying them myself :)

Thought you might like to know . . .


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Costume Contest Loser

Just a Note:

Our friend RC makes the best, most elaborate Halloween costumes for his son.  He's made The Wrong Trousers from Wallace and Grommit, Mr. Crab from Spongebob, and Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars.  Every year, when I see The Costume, the competitive streak in me thinks I could do that!  Only I don't actually have time to sew a giant crab out of red vinyl (by hand).  Also, T1 and T2 have already gone through the purchased costumes we have and decided on the skeleton and Spider Man for this Halloween.  C doesn't really enjoy dressing up in costumes (isn't that odd?), so the only one left is Pippa.  In my fit of industry this weekend (see earlier post) I also whipped up a costume for the dog.  Here is my entry into the Make A Better Costume Than RC Contest:

SUPER PIPPA!  Can you top that one?

Monday, October 6, 2008

This Should Be The Start of the Year

Dear Friends,

This time of year always reminds me of my first several years in the City.  The sight of the afternoon sun glowing on the red brick buildings against the deep blue sky always brings me back to those days.  The students brought a busy-ness to the city, and you couldn't help but feel industrious and the urge to get organized.  

Summertime is fun and easy, but there's nothing a like a chilly fall morning for cuddling in bed, a bright, cool day for dressing up in the latest fashions instead of shorts and t-shirts or for running through piles of rustling leaves, or a dreary Sunday afternoon for trying out new recipes.  

Now that I'm back to working five days a week instead of four, I have to cram all this industriousness into two days.  With C taking care of the day-to-day household, though, I'm having fun working on projects.  I went through the baby stuff in the basement.  The toddler clothes are going to baby cousin X.  The infant clothes are going to H's friend who is soon to have a boy.  I kept ONE box of infant clothes (how could I bear to give away the first fifty-seven outfits I bought for T1, or the one I bought for T2?)(please note that I take more pictures of T2, so they will feel equally neglected when they're older :)).  The bigger things, like playpens and highchairs are on Craigslist -- clean out the basement and make some pocket money!

I am in the middle of rearranging the garden, too.  This always sounds easier when Oma says it.  Just plant it there and if it doesn't do well, you can move it.  After 8 hours of manual labor a few weeks ago, I lost steam, so the yard is a patchwork of grass, dirt areas, and odd flower beds.  

One Saturday morning I washed all the upstairs windows, inside and out, and last Sunday I made banana bread and tried my hand at a regular yeast bread.

All of these projects will likely end up half done, lost in the frenzy of  Thanksgiving and Christmas, and seem like chores that I'm forced to finish up next Spring, but for now I'm enjoying the planning and the energy of Fall.


Learning is fun

Dear friends,

Troy is enjoying Kindergarten, and I'm enjoying watching him learn. Last night we practiced the letters they've learned in school so far: t, f, b, m, n, c and a. He wrote each one of them once, and then he wrote his first words: cat man. Then we giggled for several minutes over the thought of "catman", who is clearly much less cool than Batman. Try saying it; I bet it'll make you laugh. Catman.


P.S. Catwoman, now she's cool.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Dear Friends, Family, and Visitors,

We went to the Topsfield Fair today, a real country fair with a Honey Queen, musicians, magicians, prizes for the biggest pumpkin, best carrots, best sheep, etc., and amusement rides.  

T1 liked the roller-coaster (the kids' one, that wiggles, bumps and has one hill.  He's not that brave, yet.) T2 liked the fire trucks and the antique horse-drawn sleigh (just like in his favorites song, jingle bells, which Daddy has to sing to him every night).  

The biggest impression on C and me?  The magic trick of making the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, fly out of our pockets!  $8 for parking, $24 entrance, $5 for 6 apple cider donuts, $20 for four of us to go on two rides, $2 for the game where you throw a football toward a target and miss, $22.50 for two corn dogs, a hamburger, a sausage and one small soda (I brought drinks for the kids and snacks and peanut butter sandwiches, but you can't go to the fair and not get a corn dog and a sausage).  But you know what was priceless?  Seeing baby pigs sleep.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In A Rut

Dear Friends, Family, and Visitors,

After 6 1/2 years of traveling the same commute, I've fallen into some deep habits. I always sit in the same car, on the left side of the train. The left side is where the sun is -- in the morning, heading south toward the city, and in the afternoon, heading north to SoHa. In the mornings when the sun is shining into the train, I sit with my face turned toward the light and my eyes open, as if to fill a tank inside myself with energy from the sun, to make it through the long day in my windowless office.

I always walk the same path from the train station to the office, too. Lately, I've been passing a lawyer I know from a case, every Monday and Thursday morning, about halfway through my walk. We pass on the same sidewalk, in front of the same building, every time. We nod and say hi and smile politely. That soundless kind of "hi", where you open your mouth and raise your eyebrows, and then close your mouth in tight-lipped smile. Finally, one day he said, "I guess I need a new routine," and we laughed weakly as we passed each other. After that I took a different route a few times.

I know every turn and bump on the train tracks between the city and SoHa. Even if I'm engrossed in reading, I can feel when we're getting close. I don't stand up to get off the train on the way home until we pass that place on the tracks where the two tracks merge into one, making the train lurch once and then rock briefly from side to side as it passes over the junction and causing any passengers who are standing to bump into seats and drop things.

Yes, I'm in a rut, but as I write this, I'm filling up with sunshine on Friday afternoon, on my way home. We just left the station.  The train was full when I got on, so I'm sitting on the right side for a change, looking across the aisle and between the commuters on the other side, at the sun setting outside the windows. I'm heading home to my guys and my dog, with the whole weekend ahead of us. The sun feels good.
I hope you have a tank full of sunshine, ready for the weekend.

Love always,