Archives for the month of: August, 2013

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Do you shave your big toe?

Nolan’s most popular adjective at the moment is “soaking.” I think he heard us say things like “oh,  your clothes are soaking wet” and assumed it means “very.” So, he applies it to most descriptive phrases such as “The Marshfield Fair was so soaking awesome!” “I was soaking scared!”  I think it is so soaking adorable, I don’t have the heart to correct him. It is actually a pretty cool new slang word and I’m hoping it catches on…

When Greta turned 8 weeks old, I had to make a decision about returning to my job teaching high school English. Luckily, our school district allows for a one year leave of absence without pay. At that time I was on maternity leave, my father was back in the hospital and my mother had been the caregiver for our kids while I was at work. It was a hectic time and decision was difficult, but at the same time… it wasn’t. I knew I wanted to be home with our kids. I kind of used my parents situation to justify the decision to stay home. I told myself that I had to stay home because there were too many unknowns about where our family life would be next fall, especially in terms of my fathers health and my mothers being available to watch the kids. But, if I am really honest with myself I used it as an excuse to give people. So many people told me to stay working. Told me I had the perfect hours. Told me I loved my job.  I did have the best hours ever (7-11 am) and I do love being in the classroom with my students. But, I didn’t love the  meetings, the grading, the constant juggle if there was an inservice day, a sick baby, a husband out of town… Having someone at home to hold down the fort is an amazing stress relief for everyone. And as much as I love my students, I love my kids more and I want to be home with them to watch them grow. 

As the summer went on it felt weird not to have the back to school anxiety that approaches each labor day. And it is only natural to second guess such a big decision. Was taking a leave of absence the right thing to do? Would I go crazy at home all day with the kids? I’ve been on maternity leave and summer vacation with them… what is the difference? All that second-guessing was thrown out the window the night before teachers were to report back to school. Emmitt came down with strep, had a really high fever and was throwing up. Instead of worrying about who was going to take the day off to stay home with the kids, it was all taken care of. And our focus could be on what was important, taking care of Emmitt. I knew it was I was supposed to be home for times like these.

Well, today was the first day. It didn’t feel much different from summer vacation (or my other maternity leaves). We were a little cooped up because I didn’t want to bring Emmitt out and spread the germs. Here is what our day looked like… it started with Emmitt and Greta hanging out in bed with me around 7:00 am. When Nolan woke up a few minutes later we all went downstairs to eat breakfast and watch TV. Nolan was starving and ate two waffles, a bowl of cereal, pretzels, strawberries and chocolate milk. Emmitt was cranky because he still wasn’t feeling great. Great rotated from her playmat to exersaucer and was a happy little girl all morning long. We hung out at the kitchen table and they drew with bingo ink dobbers. Nolan made the most adorable smiley faces with them, while Emmitt chose to make as many dots as possible in the lower right corner of every piece of paper he was given. Greta sat in the high chair with her crinkly purse and smiled (and drooled, OMG she drooled so much today I had to change her shirt like 5 times. I guess that is what bibs are for?) Then Nolan did some pages in his preschool workbook, he loves doing mazes and stuff like that. But hates drawing letters & numbers. We moved on to playing legos. The boys built lego vehicles and then we used the wooden blocks to build “highways, tunnels and ramps” for them. That lasted like 10 minutes. Then we went outside for a walk around the block. In the mix, I also did a load of laundry made myself a fried egg and cleaned up the upstairs a little. When we got back from the walk the boys played in the yard, while Greta hung out in the carriage and I weeded a little around the house and driveway. Then we went inside so Greta could nap and Emmitt played dots again & watched mighty machines on the computer. Nolan & I baked a banana bread with chocolate chips and walnuts. Then it was time for lunch… they had pasta, grahm cracker and peanutbutter sandwiches and green beans. After lunch they watched Calliou and Emmitt went up for a nap. Nolan & I played carnival which involves rounding up every stuffed animal in our house and lining them up in the kitchen as “prizes” and I make a series of games he has to play in order to win the stuffed animals. He has to throw foam balls into a big bucket, knock over a tower of blocks with a ball and then pick up a bunch of little toys using a robot grabber hand. He loves it and it creates a huge mess. After the carnival we went outside and I cleaned up the yard a little. I didn’t want to use the weedwacker and wake up Emmitt, but the grass in and around the swing set was annoying me so I trimmed it by hand with hedge trimmers. Greta played with her stuffed frog in her carriage as I worked and Nolan played with a long roll of trash bags by throwing them off the deck. He also rode his bike a little. We went inside for a little while and Nolan watched Dora while I worked on some prints. When Emmitt woke up we all packed up and went to Shaws to buy some chicken & rice pilaf for dinner, it is Emmitt’s favorite. We stopped at the farm stand on the way home for corn on the cob. And then played on the swing set until it was time to start cooking dinner, by that time Steve had arrived home from school. 

That is what a typical day looks like when staying home with three kids. I left out the temper tantrums, 15 diaper changes, time outs, 80,00 requests for snacks and drinks, 10,000 requests for shows and computer games, and just as many snuggles and smiles. All in all I am happy to be home with these guys. They are the best. 

ps- I apologize if this post was terribly boring a monotonous to read… if anything it will be cool for me to read years from now and I can’t remember what I did on a day to day basis with little kids!

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When Chris Christie left his house for the Little League World Series wearing those pants did his wife just kiss him goodbye and say “have a good time?” Or did she suggest he change? She is not doing her job if she just let him walk out the door like that. I am worried about the circulation to his legs. I also would like to know if those pants were altered to allow him to jack them up that high? 

 

 

Here are few new designs I worked on this past week… 

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Class of 2031

It’s all about safety, people. Safety.

My husband and I celebrated 7 years of wedded bliss on Monday by going out to dinner at Alma Nove at the Hingham Shipyard. We had the best time. We honestly could have sat at the table and talked all night. Don’t get me wrong, we love spending time with our children, but it was really nice to enjoy each others company without interruption.

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As I was getting ready, I decided to accessorize my outfit by putting on a chunky yellow necklace I stole from my sister, Sarah (she has the best necklaces). I came downstairs and Nolan immediately asked “what is that?!” And Emmitt followed me around the house for 10 minutes repeating “I try it?! I try it?!” It took me a little while to realize that my almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old have never seen me wear a necklace. Made me laugh to think I never go out of my way to get dolled up, but when I do… It really wow’s them!

This reminded me of the time I wore mascara to an internship interview in college. I went out to the campus pub afterwards. My alma mater is run by Benedictine Monks and the monks often drank at the pub. Well, I walked into the dimly lit pub and my favorite monk yells from across the bar… “Oh, my god Jessica! Are you wearing mascara?!” You know you don’t wear make up often when a monk notices your mascara.

My father passed away in June after a year and a half battle with pancreatic cancer. In the couple months since his passing, we have had to get through the “firsts.” The first third of July on Peggotty, the first trip to Haddad’s, my parents anniversary… etc. One of our favorite traditions as a family is to go to the Marshfield Fair. My dad loved the fair. He loved the food, the animals, seeing his grandkids going on the rides. It didn’t matter how much money he had to throw down, he would keep paying until you won a stuffed animal or dunked the obnoxious clown. And I knew our first trip to the fair since his death was going to be hard. I got all teary eyed as I drove by the fair grounds a few days before our family planned to attend. And I worried how hard it would be for my mum to go to the fair without him, considering all the amazing memories we have made there.

When we got to the fair we followed our routine. We have to get a bowl of French Fries and eat them on benches in front of some random stage. These are no ordinary french fries. Our family calls them “dog bowl fries” because they come in what looks like a giant dog bowl. Appetizing, I know. But, we load them up with salt and vinegar, make a well of ketchup and enjoy every last one before heading out to see the rest of the fair. Here is a picture of my dad from the fair a few years ago. He’d probably kill me for posting his picture of him with a mouth full, but it sets the scene!

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Now back to last night. I am walking ahead of most of my family as we make our way to the stage area and benches. We had been at the fair no more than 5 minutes and he was all on our mind. When suddenly the song “Do You Believe in Magic?” by the Lovin’ Spoonful starts playing. And I turn around. My sisters all look at me and say “He’s here!” This song is incredibly significant for many reasons.

When I was in high school, I played AAU basketball for a team called the Bay State Magic. We were the state champions and went to the Nationals in Indianapolis. It was a huge time commitment to be on this team. We practiced 4 days a week in West Roxbury and then played tournaments all over the Northeast and beyond each weekend. And because of the commute to practice and hotel stays every weekend, my dad and I spent an insane amount of time together.

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This is me at age 15… yeah, and I definitely never said that my hobbies included computer games. They totally made that up!

Before every practice and every game, because we were the Bay State Magic, we played our theme song… which was “Do You Believe in Magic?” We must have heard that song over a 1,000 times during my AAU basketball career. It was our trademark. I think opposing teams simultaneously mocked and feared that song.

So, years later when I was planning my wedding, I had to pick out our father/daughter dance song. I wasn’t going to pick some emotional song like “Wind Beneath My Wings,” because that just wasn’t “us.” And I had the idea to surprise my dad by having our dance be to “Do You Believe in Magic?” I didn’t tell him what we were dancing to and he had to wait until the wedding. It was the perfect song for us. We spent so much time together in my high school years and that song is playing in the background of so many memories.

When it came time to dance and the first few notes played, my dad’s reaction was awesome. He leaned over and took my hand and pressed it against his forehead as he laughed. All I have is this fuzzy picture of the moment, but I loved his reaction!

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When he gained his composure we danced and smiled…

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As you can imagine, that song playing at the fair was no coincidence. It was definitely a sign from my dad. Telling us he is still here with us in spirit. He may not have been able to share a dog bowl of fries with us, but he was definitely a part of last night. And I think it was his way of saying he is glad we are keeping up the family traditions he loved so much. I have to say… I Believe in Magic!

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Critical Analysis of Children’s Programing 
 

I occasionally let my children watch TV. *cough, occasionally* And if I have to sit through these 22 minute episodes, you better believe I’m going to  critique the plot lines, characters & themes… Do these shows producers think the parents don’t watch the shows with their kids? Because I do…

 
I think the biggest question on everyone’s mind when watching Max & Ruby is where are their parents? It’s like Ruby is the original Teen Mom having to take care of Max all by herself at such a young age. She is constantly trying to juggle work earning bunny scout badges while caring  for a mischevious younger brother all at the same time. Not to mention the fact that she is no where near equipped to handle a bunny like Max. For starters she should probably get Max a speech eval, since it appears he is three or four years old and still unable to form sentences. He repeats the same word for the entire episode and makes Ruby’s life a living hell. Then Grandma swoops in at the end of it all and praises him for being the perfect grandson. While Ruby just continues to work harder to impress her (& her bunny scout leader). I’m really worried about the amount of stress this bunny takes on and how it is going to impact her later I’m life. She is bound to unravel at some point or turn to drugs… I can picture her pouring out her heart to Dr. Drew on Celebrity Rehab 15 years from now.

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Stan and Jan Berenstein must have really regretted naming the Bears Brother & Sister once they ran out of story ideas and needed the third kid to arrive on the scene to rejuvinate the series.  I would have gone with the name baby bear, but they had to change the whole name theme and call her “honey.” And the characterization of mama & papa is just irritating. Papa is a complete doofus, while mama is all-knowing and completely condescending in her tone of voice. They are totally headed for splitsville, then will there be a stepbrother & stepsister bear?The side characters are completely unrealistic… Especially Queenie Bear. First time I saw her on the screen I thought she was a middle aged gym teacher not sister bears best friend.  Even my sister’s agreed that Queenie bear was a characatire of Ms.Wolfe the Gates School gym teacher.Oh and Ted the bus driver also owns a summer camp in which he serves as director, counselor, cook, swim instructor, teaches archery, canoeing and serves as bus driver. It couldn’t meet American Camping Association standards.  I will say… I absolutely love their theme song, so they got that going for them.

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Speaking of theme songs, we cannot watch Curious George without singing the theme song as “Bi-curious George” It’s to the point where I don’t think my kids know the real song because Steve & I are always slipping Bi-Curious in there. And if my kids ever sing it in public that way, people will just think we are really progressive or perverted. Either way… It’s a nice show. No big issues with the man with the yellow hat.

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Another PBS favorite is Sid the Science Kid. First of all, I would love to see a spin off featuring just Gerald & Sid’s grandma. Both those characters are just plain weird and it would be wicked entertaining. I can’t believe Sid’s parents allow Sid to ride home from school with Grandma everyday. I don’t think she’s all there. And Gerald is straight up hysterical, I love that boy. As an educator, I really struggle with teacher Suzy and her favoritism. You see, everyday Sid wakes up and has a question about his surroundings… Like why are my shoes too small or where is that ant going? And suddenly teacher Suzy has a perfectly tailored lesson plan that answers all Sid’s questions with an experiment and song and dance. It’s like his mother emails Suzy every morning and she just whips up a lesson plan for Sid. But what about the rest of the kids in his class… It’s so not fair.
 
Doc McStuffin’s is blatantly the Obama family.  I don’t know how the president of the United States has the time to do voice overs for the Disney Channel when we have way bigger issues facing our country today. I just hope it isn’t impacting his ability to lead our nation…

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Poor Calliou. Everybody hates on that boy. He is a critical part of the Maguire family nap routine. So, I’m not gonna hate. Plus, anybody that talks trash about a bald Canadian preschooler with a lisp has issues of their own. I have no problem hating on Rosie or  the grandparents… They are wicked annoying. Oh, and will someone please help his neighbor Sarah with her bangs? She cut them herself, right? Because if they paid a hairstylist for that… I’d ask for a refund. 

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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse would be the bomb if they didn’t count so freaking slow, eliminated Martian Mickey from all episodes, & integrated even more They Might Be Giants songs into their programming. I am also really concerned about the message they are sending young children with constant references to Goofy’s pineapple underpants.
 
Can all problems in life really be solved in three special steps? Special Agent Oso’s creators seem to think so. But, unfortunately life is more complex and we are setting up our children for failure if they really think learning to fold laundry can be done in three special steps. Also, all of the episode names are a parody of James Bond movies or novels and with 60 different episodes it is a total stretch for most of the episode titles… Like coldfingers, carousel royale, & thunder berries. It’s just stupid.
 
Okay. It’s 11 pm and I need to stop… I could go on forever. People already must think I am insane for devoting this much thought and energy to these shows. But if you have a second, in the comment section tell me your favorite or least favorite kids show… And then go visit www.peggottyprints.com browse awhile!