Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter (in pictures)

In this year's Easter basket? H and S got their first box of crayons (sniff, sniff) - sun hats, watering cans, a strawberry plant (which I put into the ground for them and they run up to and scream "Oh!") homemade coloring books, a children's text on the Saints and?

Spill-proof bubbles (speaking of Saints). Have you seen these things? Absolutely incredible. They. Don't. Spill. Like ever. And they have handles. When you are 1, life doesn't get any better. Especially when you're mother doesn't make you wear your Easter dress all day. Actually? Just wear the tights for a few hours. And we'll call it a truce.
We had our own egg hunt in the back yard after the 7:30 Mass. Sophia showed the bubble wand around. And Henry?
Climbed in the basket.

The official formal-wear pictures were less-smiley than bubbles. But they're still edible, aren't they?


 (Answer's still yup).

(Yup - still yup - her dress was from a consignment shop - isn't it lovely?!).

You get the picture - they are cute. Period. In addition to bubbles, Easter eggs, filled with crackers, was a perfectly appropriate task for a 1-year-old. We may be doing them until September in the backyard.   


There was this fabulous combination of surprise paired with violence when Henry and Sophia discovered there was something inside and they smashed them on the concrete. But we won't show you that - instead you can see the adorable baby, delicately removing the eggs from her basket.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the week in highs (and lows) in pictures

On Saturday we went to the UMass Teddy Bear Clinic with our own bears in hand, and head mirror bands (on foreheads, and in hand). 

The clinic was all about introducing kids to health, safety and fear-free medicine/hospital themes via an a la carte experience at loads of little booths staffed by a UMass Team at Greendale Mall.

In short? It was awesome. I learned a lot. The kids learned so much. And now want to become doctors. Admittedly, they were a *bit* young and had to stay in the stroller while we walked around and visited demonstrations from everything including a reading corner, to lung and allergy, dermatology, casting booths to Dr.-Dress-up, pediatric anesthesiology and child abuse prevention. Sometimes when I take pictures from Henry and Sophia's thigh-eye-level I realize that they will be shocked to discover people exist above the waist. Another occurring realization at events like this? People with double strollers are like lepers. Ah well.

Speaking of child abuse, after a fear-reducing time at the Teddy Bear Clinic, Tony and I felt it appropriate to reinsert some of that childhood panic into them.

And so we visited the Easter Bunny at the Hebert Candy Mansion for the biannual costumed-picture on a total stranger's lap. Look somewhat familiar? Yes, it is

Maybe its the teeth they're afraid of.

And before you call us monster-parents, it was quickly followed by the conciliatory ice cream with two spoons.


We're not that bad.

And while I usually don't care to document bath-time (my digital camera and water sadly do not mix), I couldn't resist with the new, now nightly occurring bath time ritual of soap-beards. Henry and Sophia watched me do it once, lost themselves in hysterics, and now do it.

Every night (seriously, couldn't you just eat her?)

And speaking of bubbles, if you had told me two years ago I was going to be "that guy" I would have to you that you Were Absolutely Crazy. But I am.

That Guy.

Here I am, scouring shops for second-hand plastic balls, filling the sink with soap, hot water, and scouring (again) like mad (future pictures to come of H & S playing in our makeshift ball-pit).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

goodnight worcester

Once upon a time I wanted to be a writer. Any kind of writer. YA. Children’s. Journalist. Essayist. Picturebook writer. Nonfiction. Novelist. Mystery. Romance. Okay, not romance. Back then, I was in Mrs. Hague’s English class and I thought I could be a writer.

Then, for a long time, I realized I couldn’t.

But one of the magical things about having little people around is this re-opportunity. The ability to re-be what you want. Where stories start tickling your toes and (try as you might) you can’t hold them back. And before you know it, you’re making up crazy scenes and asking two fifteen-month-olds if they think there is enough suspense or if that modifier is dangling. 
The itch to write again came like…minutes after Henry and Sophia were born. In a way, I started this blog as a way to ease back into writing. Because who wouldn’t want to write about their children and post pictures? (Yet, harder than I thought it would be). But one thing which ripened quickly was not writing about them – but for them.

Last summer I got the somewhat crazy idea to write them a book about Worcester. People may disagree with me on this one (and I have my arsenal of responses, so if you challenge me on this, watch out!) but – I. Love. Worcester. I went to school here. I met Tony here. I work here. I have my best friends here. I live here. How can I share that with my babies?

It actually was a lot easier than I thought. I set the task to write a poem about the city. Featuring structures, teams, places, themes (you’ll notice in my above desire to be a writer ‘Poet’ was not an occupation? Yes, not an accident. Poetry. Terrifies. Me). 

Then with Henry and Sophia loaded in their stroller or car seats we went to these places. I included Shrewsbury and Water Street, the American Antiquarian Society (a no-brainer), the Sharks and Tornadoes, Union Station, Library, City Hall, Hanover Theater, Mechanics Hall, colleges, universities, Green Hill Park, Elm Park, the Ecotarium, the Worcester Art Museum, Higgins Armory, Tuckerman Hall and other Worcester landmarks. And I squeezed it into the pre-scribed 32-pages to make it a children’s book.

Together the three of us sat. Observed. Sketched. Photographed. And returned home. Armed with my pre-work I created quasi-finished watercolors (to the artists – have you ever tried to lay a flat wash with not one, but two infants in your arms? Difficult. Yes.) And finished the pen, ink and paint in bed at night while watching Law and Order intellectual shows on PBS. I then scanned in my watercolors, typed up my poem, imported it into iPhoto, arranged it, and sent it to Apple to print and bind. Thank you Steve Jobs.

And done in time to give it to Henry and Sophia for their first birthday. It was pretty amazing. They’ve only just started “reading” it (voracious readers. We have no idea where they get it from). But I can’t wait (no really) to write them more.

In addition to the two I had printed for H & S, I had some printed as birthday and thank-you presents. And they’ve made the rounds. I had a stranger email me and want to order four of them as gifts (which was exceedingly cool) but I am totally embarrassed by what Apple charges per/book. So my quest has been to find an affordable printer (Apple’s books are pretty quality…) so I can order a couple dozen and sell them at cost.

I wonder how that would translate into a story? Where the fair matron-mother writes to Steve Jobs and asks for a price break and…

I've included the cover page and two interior illustrations below for those who are interested (and know little of my project). For the non-Worcester readers the views include Water Street (best. bread. ever) the Worcester Art Museum and Ecotarium.


Friday, April 1, 2011

An afternoon at the orchard

On Wednesday we went to Brookfield Orchards; they have a nice size sandbox, dozens of Tonka Trucks, sturdy baby swings and a merry-go-round. 

Another plus?

Its usually pretty quiet (I’d like them to get a bit sturdier on their feet before they get muscled by older kids...)

Another plus plus?

They have fresh apple dumplings. 

Year. Round.

Henry and Sophia haven’t been in swings since early last Fall; they’ve never been in a sandbox. And a merry-go-round?!


I tried to photograph as much as I could and still provide sizeable, healthy pushes, pulls...
and castle-building-assistance.

However, I failed to capture Henry watching the mini-Caterpillar clear away some of the trimmed apple wood (Henry is, through-and-through – a boy. I expect one of his new words to be t-r-u-c-k spoken, of course, with a deep-manly-voice).

He ooh-ed. Ahh-ed. And waved at the driver. 

The two hours we spent there inspired me to meditate on how my children are just like apple trees. The trees themselves provided a metaphoric backdrop and a nice place to contemplate on the upcoming Spring. 

They’re a little awkward, unsure, of few words but filled with so much mystery, power and promise. They grunt, groan, thrill in the breeze, speak in sign, need to be watched carefully for subtle change. 

They dance to their own tune, laugh with each other in a language only they understand. 
Change quickly. 

And for some strange reason, refuse to eat apple dumpling with me.