Friday, December 04, 2009

Bad Mommy

Morgan and I gave up television about 20 years ago.  Didn't much miss it, either.  But when I was pregnant with the twins, we realized we'd pretty much never get out to the movies again, so we bought a TV and a DVD player.  Netflix wasn't far behind, and we've lived with this arrangement for the past 6 years.

Well, earlier this year when you could get a partial payment for one of those digital converter boxes, we applied even though we don't watch broadcast television.  "Just in case", we reasoned.  I bought the box back in April, and maybe a month ago, we finally hooked it up.  Without an antenna, it didn't change anything.  Still no channels, so we were still in DVD land.  This lasted about a week, at which point we bought an antenna.  We now get about 8 or so channels - all the networks plus several versions of PBS.

Ah, PBS.  Back in the day, this meant Sesame Street and Nova.  They now have 4 separate channels that show a wide range of programs.  And I must say the children's shows are actually quite good (well, the ones we've been watching, anyway).

But here's the rub.  I've always thought we did pretty well when it came to screen time for the kids.  They maybe watched an average of about an hour a day, with many days TV free.  Now they have a list of shows they enjoy on PBS.  Aside from the educational value, I find myself enjoying the calming effect it has on the boys.  If the TV were off, they'd be racing around the house or fighting or something.  I know that TV is like a drug and can make you kind of lethargic (from personal experience).  My kids spend pretty much their entire school day running around outside, so they aren't lacking in physical activity.  Is it so bad that I'm letting them watch this much television?  I sure feel like a terrible parent for enjoying the peace it brings.

And of course now they're asking why we don't get some of the cable channels they've seen at school.  God, that's all I need - more channels with nothing to watch!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Self Serve

We have one of those lazy Susan corner cabinets in our new kitchen.  It's part of the bottom cabinets, not the ones over the counter, so the kids can easily get into it.  Mind you, I wasn't really thinking about that aspect when we designed the kitchen, but that's what we have.  In this cabinet I store cereal, crackers, pastas, rice, and a few random miscellaneous items.

Cannon recently figured out how to work the door.  He still occasionally gets a finger pinched in it, but for the most part he's got it.  When he's hungry, he'll waddle over and open it, spin it around, and pick out whatever it is he wants to eat.  Sometimes cereal, sometimes raisins, now and then the crackers.  And he always eats whatever he's picked out.  It actually works out pretty well since he doesn't have more than about 4 words in his vocabulary.  No guessing games!  Of course, I'm beginning to wonder if this arrangement is preventing him from developing his language skills....

For a mostly non-verbal kid, he does a pretty good job of communicating.  He'll point at a desired object and nod his head vigorously if he wants it.  I can ask him yes/no questions, and he'll either nod or shake his head in response (and remarkably, he means what he "says" about 90% of the time).  Even so, I'm ready for some more words.  I get that he loves balls, and saying "bye-bye", and he's always super happy to see "dada"; but I want more.  In his defense, he's trying to say "play", but "mama" would be nice.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Everything Tastes Better With...

Ketchup, apparently.

It's such a strange thing.  Cannon is a terrific eater - the kid will eat two slices of chard tart at a sitting and pretty much anything else we offer him.  Kale jambalaya was a big hit.  Tacos.  Enchiladas.  Most meats, even if a little spicy.  Fruit is a huge favorite, and he'll eat some veggies.  But sometimes, like most kids, he's just not in the mood.  This seems particularly true when we eat out.  I have found, however, that if you dip his food in ketchup, he will gobble it up.  If he even sees the bottle on the table, all bets are off unless his food is dipped in it.  French fries?  He doesn't eat them.  He merely uses them as a ketchup delivery device.  He'll double and triple dip them, sucking the red goop off, until the fry begins to fall apart.  Then he starts all over with another one.  Just this very evening he was refusing his dinner until I broke out the sauce.  I suppose it isn't such a far cry from salsa to ketchup, but I can't get terribly excited about chicken quesadillas with ketchup.

I was a ketchup eater as a kid.  Not like this, I don't think.  But I would eat bologna and ketchup sandwiches almost every day for lunch.  I still eat it on my fries, and on most ketchup-appropriate foods.  Even so, I don't understand the attraction.  Rowan is also a fan, though like me he pretty much limits it to burgers, hot dogs, and fries.  Kemper won't touch it with a ten foot pole.  If there is one speck of red on his food (if, for example, he wants the last few bites that Rowan didn't eat), he won't eat it at all.  Even if you remove the offending morsel.  Once contaminated, always contaminated, I guess.

Friday, October 02, 2009

We All Scream...

Recently we went on a weekend trip to Maine.  The drive took us about 3 hours or so, and was actually pretty painless.  We've discovered that Rowan and Kemper are old enough to really listen to a book on tape, and this was our second trip trying that out.  It works really well.

Anyway, as we got relatively close to our destination, there was a Dairy Queen.  Of course we stopped.  I went in with the boys to order, while Morgan waited with the sleeping baby in the car.  It took forever to make our ice cream; not sure why, but seriously we waited about 20 minutes for 2 chocolate dipped cones and 2 blizzards.  Whatever.

So we load back into the car to continue our trip.  Now normally I wouldn't let the kids eat ice cream in the car. I'm conflicted about allowing any food in the car, but usually give in and let them eat.  But the baby was sleeping, there weren't any tables anyway, and we wanted to get there, so exceptions were made.  It was a beautiful day, and we were on a local road, so Morgan put the windows down.  This generally results in complaints from the back seat - Rowan doesn't like the wind blowing so much (as a toddler he'd say, "NO WINDY!!!" when it was too cold outside for him).  But there was ice cream so it was pretty quiet.

For about 5 minutes.  Then there was a sudden cry from the back seat:  "The ice cream is all over me!"  Sure enough, once we pulled over to assess the damage, we saw ice cream everywhere.  It looked like someone had turned on a high-speed fan and held the ice cream cones in front of it.  The wind dug little eddies out of the chocolate coating, then forced the rapidly melting ice cream out of the holes.  It took me a full 15 minutes to get it clean.  And the boys stood on the side of the road to finish the cones while I cleaned the mess.

It sort of reminded me of the time when I was a kid riding in the backseat of a friend's car.  The windows were down, and her dad spit out the window and it came in through the back window and hit me in the face.  I'm guessing it isn't quite so gross when it's ice cream, though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In a house of boys, I generally find it a challenge to get them to put shoes on.  In the first week of school, Kemper "lost" his shoes at school twice, as he'd much rather run around barefoot than wear shoes.  So imagine my surprise yesterday when Cannon, on three separate occasions, brought me his little shoes and extended his feet so I could put them on for him.  I mean, this kid can barely walk and doesn't even need shoes!  It's really very cute, though.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Eating Locally

We belong to both a meat and a vegetable CSA. The CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture) concept is one we've supported for a number of years. You basically share in the risk by paying up front for a season's worth of produce. That way the farmer has the money to run the farm, and the members get fresh, local stuff all season long. It usually works to our advantage - I typically feel like I got more than my money's worth. Occasionally the farmer ends up feeling really glad that the risk got spread among many people, as is the case this year with the tomatoes. We often get between 10 and 20 pounds of tomatoes a week when they're in season (plus the pick your own cherry and plum varieties), but this summer there was a blight that wiped out nearly the entire crop.

That said, even in the less productive seasons we get tons of delicious stuff. This year is no different. I'm not always so good at using everything we get, but I've really been trying this time. I've gotten much better, I must say. Our meat CSA has a monthly pickup, and I am always careful to make menus that incorporate whatever meat we have with the veggies.

Last week while eating dinner, I realized that with the exception of the butter, celery, and seasonings, the entire meal came either from our farm memberships or a local farm stand. We had Shepherd's Pie with ground lamb, corn on the cob, fresh picked green beans, and a fruit plate with cantaloupe, nectarines, apples, and fresh picked raspberries. It was very satisfying.

Something Fishy

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I have wrinkles. Crow's feet around the eyes, and laugh lines around my mouth. I generally don't think about them much, but I am aware of their existence.

A while back, Kemper said to me, "Mommy, you have ****** when you smile". (The ****** indicates an indecipherable word.) Kemper frequently seems to mumble, or maybe just talk too softly, so I said, "What?" Again, he said, "You have ****** when you smile". We went back and forth like this for several exchanges, until I finally understood him. He was telling me I have gills when I smile.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Cannon is a really cute baby. Whenever I go out in public, I am constantly being stopped so people can admire him. "Oh, he could be the Gerber baby!" is a fairly common refrain. "Those cheeks! Those legs!" is another. When Kemper and Rowan were babies, they stopped a fair amount of traffic, but that was the twin thing. People just can't help themselves around twins, it seems. I figured with one baby, it's just a baby and not any big deal.

I would estimate that Cannon gets about twice as much attention as his brothers did. I was not expecting this. I figured if everyone else thinks he's so cute, maybe I should take him to a modeling agency and see if he could cash in on those good looks.

I did some poking around, and eventually went to the baby open modeling call at a local agency that a friend uses for her kids. They gave us a brief talk about the industry in general, and the agency in particular. We saw pictures of some of the kids they represent. Then each child/parent couple went up, photos in hand, for a brief (really brief, as in 10 seconds) one-on-one with the owner. This was on a Wednesday morning, and we were all told that if they were interested, we would get a phone call by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Apparently Cannon doesn't have "it", whatever "it" is. We didn't get a call. Oh well. He's still the cutest baby ever in my book.


I am constantly amazed and surprised at how much fun it is to have a baby around. Being able to see the wheels spin in Cannon's brain as he learns new things is just great. Even when the new skills are not particularly useful or desirable, I find it fascinating. For instance, we have one of those corner cabinets in the kitchen that spins open. Just yesterday he figured out he could open it himself. After that great accomplishment, he then proceeded to remove the various boxes of pasta stored in there. Which, of course, led to the dumping of an entire box of spaghetti all over the floor. He just grinned and giggled, then started whipping my leg with one of the noodles. (His big brothers have already begun instructing him in the fine art of swordplay, and he uses every opportunity to practice.)

I cheerfully cleaned it up, taped the box shut, and took a quick look at the other boxes to make sure they were safe. I deemed them to be so, and let him continue his exploration. Within 2 minutes, he had dumped an entire box of angel hair all over the floor. He had managed to remove the tied plastic bag that the box was in.

Now, 5 plus years of sleep deprivation have not made me the most patient mother in the world by any stretch. Had one of the older boys done this, I would have been mad. But not with Cannon. I'm sure part of it is that he doesn't know any better, but I still manage to feel guilty that I'm not as patient with the twins.

As I watch Cannon's progress, I try and remember similar moments from when Rowan and Kemper were this age. They are pretty hazy, and while I can vaguely recall being excited about various milestones being reached, I just can't remember being as patient or really taking the time to enjoy those moments. I have to believe that this can mostly be attributed to them being twins and therefore way more work, though it makes me kind of sad to think of what I might have missed as a result.

I love all of my boys, but for now the joy of just having one baby is really amazing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Po' Boy

Wow. While searching the web a few weeks ago for ways to use up a leftover pot roast that wasn't very good, I came across a recipe for a roast beef po' boy with debris gravy. I kept it in my binder of recipes to use the next time I had a roast to cook, and today was the day.

If you haven't had the pleasure of eating one of these in New Orleans, your life is not complete. The po' boy is more than just a sandwich. If you get it from the right establishment, it can seriously be better than sex.

I have to say the meal we had this evening came pretty close to the real thing. If I had been able to find better bread, it would have been incredible. Sadly you just can't find New Orleans french bread here in Boston, and the bread really is the key to the sandwich.

It still amazes me that we survived without the Internet for so long. Cooking has become much less intimidating and a lot more fun for me now that I can search for recipes and cross-reference them with several cookbooks. I still probably spend more time cooking than I really should, but I'm getting more efficient. It's the one thing I feel like I can really do for myself amid the never ending childcare duties, since we all have to eat. And though I do have a few things I keep on hand for those days when I simply don't have the time, energy, or whatever to cook dinner, I'd much rather cook a full meal that we can eat as a family. Most nights I succeed. The house is a wreck, but hey, the eating is good.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Several months ago, our pediatrician predicted that Cannon had a pretty good chance of being an early walker. This was somewhat surprising, given that he is a sturdy, plump little guy who apparently is built very much like his uncle. Said uncle has been described as having been "too fat to crawl, he just went straight to walking", but that he didn't do that until kind of late.

Well, Cannon isn't walking yet. He's working on it - he can do many of the things necessary to walk, and seems to be working on them pretty hard. I expect he will be early on this. However, he's a whiz at the stairs. I didn't give it much thought until his 9 month check up yesterday. "Cannon can climb all the way to the top of the stairs already. Is that normal?" I asked innocently. "Um, no!" was the response. "He should be cruising, but not climbing stairs." This was followed by concerns that he always be supervised while on the stairs, as well as eliciting promises from the big brothers that they'll always tell one of us if Cannon is headed up the stairs.

This morning I was reading an email about "your baby this week" and found a chart on what babies do when. Climbing stairs? That isn't supposed to happen until 16 months. Yep, I'd say he's a bit early on this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Love You Too

Well, I've finally done it. I'm such a bad mommy that Kemper announced this morning, "I'm leaving and I'm never coming back!" as he left for school. You might be wondering what awful thing I did to prompt this. Well, I *gasp* asked him to clean up all of his Playmobil stuff from the living room floor so Cannon wouldn't eat the tiny pieces. I know, I'm a mean, horrible person. What was I thinking?!

(Rowan, by the way, had this to say in response: "Well, I guess we'll just be four again." How's that for brotherly love?)

But Kemper is so funny when he's really mad. He can make the most hurtful comments or the meanest faces. Of course, if we laugh at him, he goes through the roof. What was really funny this morning, though, was that as he was fastening his seat belt in the carpool car, he gave me his meanest scowl and in his deepest, grumpiest voice said, "Have a good day. I love you forever." I know he meant it, but part of it was simply that he is a creature of habit. A couple of months ago he got started on this "I love you forever" business at bedtime and when saying goodbye at school or when he leaves the house. So I know that the primary reason for the comment this morning was that if he hadn't said it, he would have been even more upset for breaking his routine.

Eating Disorder

I made the mistake of mentioning at dinner the other night that hot dogs are among the most dangerous foods for small children because they could be a choking hazard. Kemper now is completely paranoid about choking, refused to eat another bite of his hot dog that night, and now worries about every bite he takes. Last night he took one bite of his hamburger, chewed it for at least 10 minutes, then went and spit it out in the bathroom trash can. When I asked him why, he said he was worried he would choke on it.

Now, this kid loves meat. He particularly likes hamburgers. I'm not sure if it's because I served it on a hot dog bun (the burger ones were moldy), and that made it too similar to a hot dog, or what. And never mind that he has actually choked before and thought nothing of it after the fact.

Of course, there's always the possibility (probability?) that this is all for my benefit. He seems particularly interested in pushing my buttons these days, so this wouldn't surprise me. And he's eating lunch at school, so he's not starving or anything. Then again, all I know for sure is that the lunch box is coming home empty and he says he ate it all...

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Out at school there are nearly daily fundraisers for one group or another, mostly the music corporation. They sell hot dogs and sodas, ice cream, and, once each week, lunch. Occasionally there will be a student selling baked goods, and I'm told by a staff member that at least one of these kids is trying to raise part of her tuition.

Rowan and Kemper asked one day if I would make them cookies to sell at school so they could have more money to buy Gormiti (their current toy of choice). "Sure", I replied. Then I didn't hear anything about it for a handful of weeks. It came up again recently, so I decided to do it.

First, I calculated the cost for all the ingredients. Then I made the boys help measure, mix, and bake the cookies. We talked at length about how the whole operation would work, that they would first have to pay me the $6 for the ingredients before they got to keep anything, and that every cookie they gave away to their friends was one less quarter for their piggy banks. "We understand, mommy. We aren't going to give any of them away." I reviewed the process with them several times, and even gave them 8 quarters in case they needed to make change, then piled them into the carpool car with good luck wishes.

About 6 hours later, I picked them up from school. Normally the kids are all waiting for me up near the parking lot, but on this particular day they were still playing outside so I walked down to help them get their things together.

"So boys, how'd the cookie sale go?"
"Mommy, we only sold 3 cookies."
"So where are the rest?"
"Oh, we ate them."

I sent them to school with 48 chocolate chip cookies. I guess I wasn't terrifically surprised, but must confess I had higher hopes for their success. When I asked them where the money was, they didn't know. We found it the next day in the office, and the container had 9 quarters in it - the 8 I had given them plus one they had been paid. Neither could tell me what happened to the other $.50 they had earned the day before.

Kemper said, "Mommy, I don't ever want to sell cookies again." But he's mostly mad that they still owe me the $6. Which, of course, I have already told them they didn't have to pay. What a sucker.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Melt Down

Kemper and Rowan are now fully ensconced in school; this week was the first week they officially became full time.  They really love it there, look forward to going every day, and are disappointed when weekends come and they don't get to go.  Which I guess is nice, as I certainly never felt that way about school.

The one down side is that they come home really, really tired.  I mean, tired is good in that they go to bed pretty easily, but let me just say that behavior suffers with this level of fatigue.  Yesterday when the carpool dropped the boys off at home, Kemper was screaming, writhing on the car seat, and practically foaming at the mouth.  Anne, the mom who drove, couldn't tell me what triggered the fit, just that it had been going on for about 5 minutes.

Well, he managed to get himself inside, where he continued with the writhing, screaming and foaming.  After a full 20 minutes, I finally managed to get him calm enough to tell me what had upset him.  This is a direct quote:

"I had my window at a perfect ajar and then someone closed it and it was ruined!!!"

Poor kid.  If this was my worst problem, my life would be a piece of cake.