Thursday, July 2, 2009

Little Drummer Boys

At dinner last night Chris asked me my name. I turned the question back to him and said "Chris, what is my name?"
He answered "Mommy."
I asked what my real name was and he said "Mommy Eppley."
I pushed further to see if he'd say "Mandy" and I asked what adults call me. He looked confused for a second and said "Mary nodded," which took some work to decipher out of the blue.
I finally figured out what he said and said "Chris, did you say 'Mary nodded' like from 'The Little Drummer Boy'?"
Chris nodded emphatically and said "Uh-huh! I did!"
Alex muttered "rum pa pum pum."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bee stings and independence

Chris has had more bee stings in his life than I have in mine. Last Friday after he came inside from playing I noticed a red spot on his neck under his ear. I looked more closely, afraid it may be a hive from something he ate or got into and it looked like a bee sting, but I wasn't sure. Here's the conversation that followed:

Me: "Chris, what's that on your neck?"
Chris: "A bee stung me."
Me: "When?"
Chris: "When I was playing in the sandbox with my baby brother."
Me: "Did it hurt?"
Chris: "Yes."
Me: "Did you cry?"
Chris: "No."
John: "Where was I?" (He was outside with the boys.)
Chris: "In the garden."
John: "Did you try to tell me you were stung by a bee?"
Chris: "No... why?"

Apparently he's been stung so many times it's just commonplace to him now.

Yesterday, while I was doing dishes, my little Mr. Independent walked through the kitchen holding his shoes and socks. I asked him where he was going and he said "outside to play with my train on my water table," and proceeded to open the door and walk out back. He made it to the porch, sat down on the step and struggled with his shoes and socks. He came back with one sock partly on and said he needed help. "With your shoes?" "No, filling the water table." Unfortunately, I'm thinking he's still too young to play outside alone.

Alex - 1yr

Alex is ONE! I figured now was a good time to keep track of what he's up to...

Although he's not walking on his own yet, Alex is pretty stable on his feet. He'll stand up without holding on, until he remembers he's not holding on. He's a fast crawler, though, and seems content to move around on all fours.

Alex is much gentler with Joey than Chris was at this age, and still is. Alex mainly crawls up to Joey, lowers his head, and nuzzles with her. Of course being the affectionate dog she isn't, Joey doesn't enjoy this much more than the fur pulling.

Not so many real words yet, but Alex gets his point across. He points all the time and kind of grunts if he wants something. He'll say mama and dada and um-a for food. Speaking of which, Alex will eat anything you hand him. No dairy for now, but literally anything else. A couple weeks ago he downed half a dozen kumquats before I tried one and realized they probably aren't meant to be eaten with the skin.

He's started trying to sing along in the car, especially with the Buddy Holly song "Not Fade Away." He likes the ba ba bum bum part.

He's definitely started to explore more and show interest and curiousity in everything.

He also enjoys waving goodbye and blowing kisses.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


As soon as I decide I'm ready to stay home for a while and learn to enjoy it, something comes up. THis time I decided to run for planning board. I figure it's something I'm interested in and have a good background for. And it will take a reasonable amount of time (mainly evening meetings) which would work well with staying home with the kids and still having a career type thing going on. I turned in my nomination papers at the end of the week.

Then, over the weekend, I read about the incident in Oakland where a man shot and killed 4 police officers. When I looked for more info, I found that it happened just blocks from Frick, and I found another story about an 18 yr old who was killed right down the street. He had the same name as a former student of mine who would be about 18, so I got a bit worried. It turned out to be a different 18 yr old, but in finding that out I also got more info about the man who killed the policemen. Turns out he went to my school, and so did his 16 yr old sister, who was in my class 2 years ago. He fled to her apartment, and she was shot in the leg in crossfire as the swat team came in and killed her brother. So then I heard from one of my favorite former students to tell me that she's okay, but she does live across the street from this house.

Now I know there's nothing I could do to change something like this. But I also know that I could go into my classroom the next day and give my students a safe place in which to discuss it. My classroom was a community, and we were able to have very real discussions about current events, local and otherwise. It's not that hard to do, but it doesn't happen very often. People blame it on the tests, but it's also not always the easy way out. When I walked into my classroom in Oakland I had the choice. I could make my students focus straight off on the text book, or I could start with the news. I always checked the headlines before I came in so I knew what was coming at me. ANd I was still surprised by stories on many occassions. I vowed during my first year to never back away from a discussion with my class because I was uncomfortable. I think that's why my students were able to have the discussions they needed to have. That's what I feel like I could bring to the table. I cdon't think I could fix the problems that happen now, but I think I could give the students a space to figure it out and try to make sense of it.

ANd then my choice is to stay home with my 2 kids in Hopedale. And I don't even necessarily enjoy it. I sometimes feel a little like I'm backing away from the whole conversation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I've been calling Chris fickle, but I think I know where he gets it from (and it's not just from being 2).

After a wonderful week in Houston, I didn't want to leave. It made me wonder why we chose this climate to call home, and whether I want to live here forever. To make matters worse, the kids both raced for the door everytime it opened. They clearly vote for the sunshine. But I guess February in MA is not the time to decide to move for sunshine. There are other good things about the climate here. Yesterday morning it was snowing when we woke up. I came downstairs and angrily said "What's this white stuff outside?" Chris said "Snow! Yay! Snow! Can I go play in it?" We told him that we only say "Yay snow" in December, not in March. But he loves it and reminds me that I do too, sometimes. Anyway, we're not planning to move south anytime soon.

So then we decided we needed a more livable yard. We're in the process of planning out a patio, which we will hopefully start and finish in the next month or so. Nothing too complicated, but we just want a bit more space to sit outside with the kids. I also think we're going to tear down the old play structure (before it falls down and takes kids with it). It'll be garden time soon, too.

Since the snow killed my plans yesterday to go to Lexington with Chris to visit KP and Oliver, I decided to make it a useful day. Chris and I bought paint for the bathroom, and I painted most of it. The trim isn't done yet, but we're almost there. FINALLY!!! The bathroom has been there for a year now, and it's about time we actually finish it.

We also started thinking about if we could redo the kitchen at any point in the future. We both really want a bigger kitchen. Enough so that we probably won't plan to stay here for the long haul if we can't do something with it. We got a couple ideas. Of course when we decided that it was impossible, our next thought was to consider moving to Medford. Then we decided the kitchen might work so we'd stay. I'm still a bit perplexed by our logic. Do we want to move to Medford? Who knows. I do know that I'd like to be able to decide if I want to think of this house as our future or not.

Alex is on anti-daylight savings time. He's been awake since 4:30am. Luckily at least Chris is still asleep.

Monday, February 16, 2009

TV Time

With the TV in the kitchen, the kids really watch almost no TV. It had gotten bad before we moved it. I think there were days when Chris watched 4 hours in one day. So we moved the TV (in September), and decided to limit him to an hour a day. By Christmas he was really only watching TV with his grandmother two mornings a week, and he'd stopped asking for it altogether. Since I stopped working I've decided he can watch TV after his nap/before dinner on Fridays, when we're home. But then I usually forget to turn it on. I'm really not anti-TV. I think it's fine in small amounts. But we've basically forgotten about it here.

Anyway, Chris has been sick, off and on (he was fine Saturday... weird) since THursday. With the TV in the kitchen, it's hard to offer the nice, relax and watch TV thing that I like when I'm sick. He can sit up at the kitchen table and watch TV, or we can read him a book on the couch. Now that we've read every book we own (and we own a lot of books) at least a thousand times in the last 4 days, it was time for something else.

He's very sweet and pathetic while he's sick. And I've been having flashbacks to Chris at 1 yr old. He needs constant attention. "I need be held," he says constantly. I can't even get the dishes done. He's usually so good at entertaining himself. Not today. So it was time for desperate measures.

This morning John took an old TV and VCR up from the basement and put them in the play room. Of course there's no cable in there, and with the digital thing, the old TV gets nothing. So we're down to the VCR. But we haven't used it since before kids, and Chris is still a bit young for Christmas Vacation and Bring It On.

Auntie Jenny came to the rescue with a bunch of videos she didn't even know were still in her attic. Chris watched Sesame Street Kids' Favorite Songs this morning. It's 30 mins long. He managed half before lunch and half after. When it was over he came downstairs crying about how it was broken. But at least we got him sitting still, without us having to do anything, for 30 minutes.

Monday, February 2, 2009


After the 25 random things facebook page caught me, I seem to have gotten a bit nostalgic. I spent the weekend trying to figure out what Ultimate tournament I could go to, and how to get my friends I used to play with to go with me. Of course things are different now. Some of us have kids, some are pregnant, some have continued playing, and I'm sure wouldn't enjoy much playing with those of us who haven't, some are injured (well, I guess that's no different), and some travel all over the world so much that there's no way to figure out when we'd all be around. I think enough people are interested that we'll be able to play at a beach tournament this summer. Wildwood is on the Jersey shore. I played there a few times, and it was always fun. We even won the tournament once... of course there's no worry of that this time around. But it should be fun with the kiddos. Coming uip with the random things just made me start thinking a little. I am happy with the direction I have chosen for my life, and I quit Ultimate way before having kids for many reasons. But I really do miss having the opportunity to catch up with friends who live all over the place every once in a while. Maybe we could get a tradition going of a once a year, bring the family, tournament. It'd be a nice way to get to spend time with people I love and don't see enough.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

2 days in

My last day of work was Wednesday, and for 2 days now I've enjoyed being home full time. It's not much, but last time I was miserable and ready to pull my hair out on day 1. They're both at good stage s right now. Chris is really fun - communicating well, even talking enough to have a small conversation, and he likes doing anything. Alex is very portable. He likes seeing people and watching kids, and he's been a lot happier lately. Chris was the age Alex is now when John went back to work full time and I was ready to die being left alone with Chris all day. I honestly did not think I could make it a day. But Alex is a much more chill 7.5 months old. He is starting to move around, but his first goal isn't always the single worst thing in the room for him to touch. Plus, all those things are gone now anyway.

I've been looking into preschools for Chris, which is hard to believe. There's one in Hopedale that seems fine (the public one). It's about a block and a park from my house. Maybe a 5 minute walk, which is enticing. Then there's a Montessori school in Grafton on a farm. I'm very tempted. It's probably a 15 minute drive. We're going to check that out, too.

And as for the use of this as a sort of journal to remember milestones... Chris is finallly starting to get the colors right, although sometimes still forgets. He wants to know the name and singer of every song that he hears (which is more difficult to answer than I would've thought). He loves the Indigo Girls:) - especially "Cold Beer and Remote Control," which he knows far too many words to. He also has continued his obsession with counting, and he can count to 20 in English and Spanish, and to 10 in French (almost to 20), Japanese and German, and to 5 in Vietnamese (and is limmited by how quickly John and I can memorize the cheat sheet my dad wrote out for us. Alex is starting to move around more and more. He rolls, scoots backwards, etc, and can scoot along on his bum while seated (and change direction that way). He hasn't figured out forward motion, though, which drives him nuts as he can only move away from where he istrying to go. He's also trying to be part of our conversations, but of course none of the noises sound like words just yet. He hasn't really tried to pull lup, but he can hold his weight if you balance him on his feet.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What to do?

So I haven't even stopped working yet, and I'm already wondering what I'm going to do with the kids, all day, every day. I'm excited to spend more time with them, but I'm a little worried we're just going to be staring at each other and bored all the time. I think last year I didn't do much with Chris when I was pregnant and lazy. So I don't have much to fall back on. Plus, right now their nap schedule is ridiculous, so something's going to have to give. Alex naps from about 9:30 - 11, Chris from 1-4, and Alex from 2-2:45 and 4:30 - 5:30. So 9:30 - 11 and 1-5:30 is naptime. THat's basically all day. On a good day, Alex will sleep longer in the afternoon and not need the third nap. And I guess if I went somewhere after Chris's nap, Alex would fall asleep in the car. But we're going to have to do some nap consolidation or I'll be home all day long. My biggest fear right now is boredom. Now I know from last time I stayed home that I will never be bored in the sense of sitting down doing nothing. However, I'm worried about being bored in a different way... the way the creeps up on you and builds and you don't realize you're bored until you're out with adults for the first time in forever and have nothing to talk about other than the kids. DOn't get me wrong, the kids are wonderful, and I talk about them a lot, but it's nice to have another topic, too. Gardening?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eggs and nuts

The real hassle with his allergies turns out not to be about finding foods for him to eat, but about my emotional reaction when adults seem indifferent to it. Comments like "I just fed my kid everything and he/she did fine!" drive me crazy. Um.. yeah... I fed him peanuts and he blew up like a balloon and couldn't breathe, so yeah, that's not the answer. When adults who know him well help him up to a seat in front of a plate of eggs, I start fuming. They don't understand - thinking no harm, no foul I guess. The whole thing has been a series of episodes where I get angry and defensive for what seems to others like no reason at all.

On that note, we had two kids' birthday parties this weekend. Chris loves parties (because he loves people), but it's always a struggle with the food. I feel like I have to watch him to make sure he doesn't get his little mitts on anything he's allergic to (which at this point is just eggs, peanuts and hazelnuts). And then there's the birthday cake. Of course he can't eat it, and if I were a good mother I'd remember to bring something he can eat as a treat, but half the time I forget, and then I spend the whole party trying to figure out the best way to handle it. I hate to tell him no cake when all the other kids are eating it, and he loves it, just because I forgot to bring something for him.

Anyway, we had 2 parties this weekend, and, to my surprise, both made cupcakes that Chris could eat. It never occurred to me how happy this would make me, and just as I have seen others not understand why I'm upset with the lack of concern for his allergies, I have a feeling the parents who made the egg-free cupcakes don't really understand how grateful I am that they did. The idea that he can go to a party and eat what everyone else is eating makes me feel so lucky, in a very strange way. Of course he's so young I don't think any of this has mattered to him for better or worse. But the fact that they both thought that much about his well being, for their party, and I didn't have to bake myself and remember to bring anything, makes me really grateful.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I just heard through an email to the faculty from another teacher that Obama has called on Americans to make Martin Luther King Day a national day of service. I can't find information about it anywhere, and I had no idea. So now I feel like an idiot for 2 reasons. First, that I didn't even know, and second, that I can't figure out what I should do to do my part. I'd like to do something, but with the boys being so young I get stuck in neutral. I decide that it's important for them to be a part of it from the start, but then I decide I could get more done without them. Maybe we can do something really simple. There's a bunch of trash in the woods across the street from our house... would cleaning that up count? I'm so excited for the Obama administration, but part of me really wishes it happened a few years ago when I had more time and opportunity to get involved. I guess in some ways I have more time now. I don't know. I do know that I'm pretty excited that this is the first president either of my boys will ever be able to remember, and that the impact this administration has on our country will shape the country of my boys' childhood.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Computer Improvements?

So my laptop died the other day. The harddrive seems fine, but it won't start up. Instead of the happy apple, I get a "not" symbol, like the one over a cigarette in a no smoking sign. Anyway, I was able (or John was) to get all my documents and settings off it, but it's done. So we came up with a brilliant? new solution. I don't really need a laptop, just some sort of computer access. So I thought it'd be a better and cheaper idea to get a computer instead, especially since we have a monitor, keyboard and mouse with a dead computer in the basement. John took my idea and ran with it. Why hook up a monitor, when we can connect it to the TV? That way we can watch all the instant netflix stuff, any sports online, etc, right through the computer/TV connection. All sounded great.. I guess I just didn't quite think it through. So now I'm typing on the TV in the middle of the house. Weird. We'll see how it works out. I"m not sure how I feel about checking my email and typing documents, etc where everyone can watch. Plus, the size is a little weird. The screen is so far away that I have to zoom way in to see it. We'll see. It's either a brilliant way to kill 2 birds with one stone, or it's a terrible way to make sure neither one works the way we'd like.

Meanwhile, for some unknown reason, I keep checking job postings. I want to stay home for a while, spend some more time with the kids, getting the house stuff in order, etc. So why do I keep looking for a job?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What next?

So I've been working part time since August, and my job ends in a couple weeks. I enjoyed teaching, but I'm ready to be done with it. When I started, I wanted to work full time, and now I'm ready to take a break and stay home with the kids. I kind of think I avoided some of the worst of the 2 under 2 time. Chris is doing great these days, and Alex, now almost 7 months, is more fun all the time. I'm excited to spend more time with them. I'm also afraid I might go crazy again, though. But I think I need to try being a stay at home mom while not pregnant with an out of control 1 year old who can't talk.

I'm thinking of other things to do. Marie and I submitted a proposal to present our work from this semester at the NCTE conference. We'll see how that goes. I've considered trying to volunteer at the school, but only if I can come up with some job to do for them that I want to do and will look good on my resume. Other than that, I'm planning to focus on the family, planning a bigger garden, preserving more food during the summer, cooking from scratch, etc. We'll see how long that lasts.