Monthly Archives: October 2010

Halloween Hullabaloo


I’m learning what great company Robbie is. It’s something that I figure out a little more every time Justin goes out of town. Last fall was so difficult with all of Justin’s traveling because Robbie mostly slept, ate, and pooped. Actually, other than cry and spit up, that’s all he did. This year is so different. We have a blast together, and the hullabaloo that was our Saturday was no exception.

This morning, Robbie and I were up early to head to the Topsfield fairgrounds for a “toy fair” (real world translation – used toys at cheap prices for charity). I love that he’s young enough to go shopping with me and not know that I’m going to give him these toys for Christmas. In all honesty, it would have been easier to do it without Rob. But not nearly as fun. We got a wagon, which should be an fabulous adventure. It’s a little rusty, but I figure that will make me less paranoid about him throwing sticks and rock in it when he gets bigger. We also go a fabulous tool kit with more tools than I can identify and a tool belt. Throw in a bunch of books, an alligator xylophone, and a few other toys, and we’ll call my Christmas shopping finished – for a mere $52!

The real action didn’t start until after Robbie’s nap. We headed down the street for me to get a haircut, Robbie in full costume. He was ready to look adorable for Wish Salon. And he kept himself entertained by playing with a drawer full of rollers… I’m not sure if this means he’s looking to a career in hair styling. Especially since we found him curled up in his bed with a brush a few weeks ago…

We went to an actual Halloween Hullabaloo at the Watertown library later in the afternoon and met up with Rob’s best buddy, Pete, who was dressed as an adorable monkey. Now, a Halloween Hullabaloo is not as exciting as I thought. I envisioned lively entertainment and some refreshments. Maybe some decorations. No. It was two relatively creepy middle-aged adults in terrible costumes (Really? You thought, “80’s rocker. Yeah. The kids will totally get that.”?). And they kindly lectured the parents on modeling good “concert” behavior. Rob and Pete stayed engaged for most of the performance – far longer than their mothers.

Next we traveled up to Haverhill (yes, we spent about three hours in the car today) to go trick-or-treating with a friend from work, some of her friends, and four other kids. I think the kids had a blast. But I had no idea how much work it was going to be. I had naively envisioned Robbie calmly sitting in the wagon, independently walking up to houses, and actually carrying his bucket. What really happened was that he tried to eat candy through the wrapper, stood up more times in the wagon than he sat down, and had to be carried or strongly guided to go in the right direction. I earned every bit of candy he collected!

When I told my mom about our plans last night, she asked if we had any down time. Really just enough for Rob to nap. Any more than that, and we all start to go crazy. There’s just too much to get into. So, tomorrow there’s church, a parade, and more trick-or-treating. Bring on the hullabaloo!


Soothing Sounds


When I was at the doctor with Rob yesterday, she and I talked about common things that Robbie might be doing. She told me she always felt guilty when she asked parents if the sound of the vacuum soothed their children because she doesn’t ever actually run the vacuum. At this point, I knew she was my kind of woman. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to answer that question either. We have all hardwood floors, and our vacuum is somewhere in the bowels of the basement.

Keeping hardwood cleaned is more difficult than I ever would have thought, especially with four cats, a dog, and a baby. There are accidents and spills and general traffic issues. We Swiffer. I’m not happy with the wet Swiffer, and our WetJet broke so long ago that any remaining liquid has evaporated from the bottle. So, when people at work started talking about the Shark, I was all ears. In case you aren’t familiar with this amazing invention, let me fill you in.

The Shark is a combination of a vacuum cleaner and a steam mop. And I was skeptical. But, let me just tell you that it was worth every penny (I recommend getting it from Bed, Bath, & Beyond with a 20% off coupon). It took about ten minutes to clean then entire first floor. I put on a clean pair of socks right after I finished, and they are still white! This could be a new addiction; I may actually be steaming the floors every night.

And, in case you’re wondering, I did try out the vacuum part of the Shark. Robbie absolutely did not find it soothing. He ran, screaming, to the other side of the room and didn’t stop until I’d held and soothed him for five minutes. I guess I have a new reason to avoid vacuuming…

Halloween Party


Robbie attended his second Harvest Dance at Willow Hill tonight. Last year, he went as Santa Claus, mostly because I knew he would be too big to wear the Santa suit when Christmas time rolled around. This year, he was a lion, complete with the roar. He ran around in his costume, being the life of the party, for about half an hour. He refused any dinner, mesmerized by the lights, the music, and the big kids.

It’s hard to tell that Robbie is actually a person in his costume because of the little lion head. Some parents who were coming in couldn’t figure out quite what he was. One lady nearly fell down the stairs because she was laughing so hard when she realized the lion cub was Robbie; she thought he was a remote control toy moving around on the dance floor! I didn’t expect Rob to really like his costume, but I think he likes to put on a show for other people. At one point, he crawled around on the floor just like a lion. I had to take the costume off after half an hour because he got too hot. But he never whined or fussed. In fact, I think he was a little disappointed when it came off.

Taking off the costume didn’t put a damper on his fun, though. He ran around like a mad man, dancing right in the middle of the big kids. Students took turns dancing with him, and he loved every second of it. He drank water out of a cup and ate cookies and pretzels and part of a Rice Krispie treat (hey, it was a Halloween party!). He never batted an eye about the noise or all the people. I’m so glad that I have a little boy who likes to be around people and can fit in anywhere.

He also had his 15-month-old check-up today with his new doctor. Robbie is a whopping 25.5 pounds and an impressive 33 inches long. He’s in perfect health and had a big time playing jokes on his doctor. Thank goodness she was a good sport!

Half an Hour Behind…


Justin had a 6:00 flight this morning, which meant that I was up at 3:30 and didn’t go back to sleep until after 4:30. I remember the 5:55 alarm going off. I have absolutely no recollection of the 6:10 alarm. I was completely shocked to wake up and see 6:44 flashing in front of my face. There was no “Jesus Loves the Little Children” playing to remind me that it was a weekday and I needed to get up. Just Cindy Fitzgibbon giving me the forecast and reinforcing that it was indeed 6:45.

Robbie and I managed to get dressed, fairly fed (Barkley ate most of Robbie’s breakfast), and out the door only three minutes late. When I dropped him off at daycare, I told Zhining that Robbie would probably be hungry. This is when I found out that he actually eats two breakfasts every day. I feed him at home, and then he has a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and dumplings (really?) with Zhining. She really summed it up for me: “QiQi (pronounced CheeChee) is a hungry boy. He eat a lot.” Apparently!

Roberto is doing all sorts of big boy things, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. He watches everything I do and has started imitating me. He’s figured out that he needs to buckle his car seat and has started trying to buckle himself in. He knows a few parts of his body (only in Chinese) and points to them when you say them. He runs around like a maniac, calling an orange a ball and eating through the peel. Well, maybe that’s not a big boy thing. But it’s pretty cute.

I think I’ve mentioned that Robbie likes to play with the broom and the Swiffer before. Today, I gave him the broom and left the room for a few minutes. When I came back, I saw Robbie walking around with the dustpan, acting like he was brushing the dirt into it. That was adorable enough. But then he walked over to the trash can, opened the lid, and pretended to empty the dustpan into it. How does he even know to do this? Makes me really pay a lot more attention to what I do… I think I’ll start doing even more chores in front of him.

Jesus Loves the Little Children


Robbie has never had a favorite toy, unless you count Justin’s cell phone. He’d rather explore drawers and sweep the floor than play with any of his toys. But now, at long last, he has a favorite toy.

We try to read Robbie stories every night before he goes to bed. When he was really little, I would sometimes “play” the teddy bear that sings “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” And Robbie would scream at the top of his lungs, terrified. Eventually, Robbie grew to tolerate the bear, and, within the past week or so, he started pointing to it after story time. He quickly learned how to make the bear sing by pressing its paw. And, with that knowledge, I created a monster.

Recently, Robbie had been crying a lot when we put him to bed. Last week, I had the brilliant idea to put the bear in his crib with him. Surely that would entertain him. He would listen to the song once and slowly drift off to sleep. Right? Kind of.

Robbie plays “Jesus Loves the Little Children” over and over and over and over. Not in its entirety, though. Usually he gets through the first line before starting over. Sometimes he just gets the word “Jesus” out before starting over. But, by God, he doesn’t cry when we put him to sleep any more.

Now, a smart parent would take the bear out after her child fell asleep. But, I am not a smart parent. Instead, Robbie alerts us to the fact that he is awake with a rousing rendition of, you guessed it, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Over and over and over and over. Every morning. Especially Saturday. We’ve decided that we much prefer that to the fussing that used to accompany Roberto’s wake-up call. So, for now, we’ll stick with “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” After all, there are far worse ways to wake up every morning. It’s kind of refreshing to greet the day with God.



Robbie loves fish. More specifically, he loves HIS fish, Jake. Jake lives on Robbie’s dresser, and he is the first thing Robbie looks for when he wakes up. Last week, Robbie took a nap at his friend Pete’s house, and he looked everywhere for “fis” when he woke up. In the interest of full disclosure… It isn’t really Jake who lives on Robbie’s dresser. It’s Fake Jake. The real Jake met an untimely demise when we were in Kentucky for two weeks. I’m not sure if there was a lack of communication about the need for the fish to be fed or if it was just Jake’s time to go… So, we transferred DunKley, who was living in the kitchen and looks just like Jake, to Robbie’s room.

While we knew that Robbie loved his “fis”, we didn’t really know how much attention he paid. We wave to Jake every day, and Robbie has recently started blowing him kisses. Feeding Jake is always fun, since I make sound effects when Jake goes to get his food from the top of the water. Tonight, as we were putting Robbie to bed, we stopped by the dresser to say good night to Jake. Robbie yelled, “Fis!” and grabbed the jar of food. Unsure of what he was going to do, and a little shocked that he had grabbed the food so quickly, neither Justin or I took it from him.

Robbie turned the jar upside down and shook it over Jake’s bowl! He’s been watching me closely enough to know that I use that particular jar. I took the jar from Robbie and opened it for him, and he fed Jake! I’m not sure who was more tickled – Robbie or Justin and me.

Now, if only I could get him to take a legitimate interest in cleaning the litter box…

Appreciating TIme…


A former colleague of mine lost his daughter last week, and that’s really been on my mind. I can’t imagine the pain he and his family must be going through right now. It’s one of my biggest fears. I know Robbie will make a lot of mistakes in his life, and I know there are going to be things that go wrong. I pray every night that none of it is irreversible because I cannot imagine my life without that little man in it.

We let every day pass, sometimes barely getting through it until bedtime. We do mundane things. I put Robbie in the Pack ‘n Play to clean the house instead of playing with him and waiting until he is asleep to do it. I turn on the TV to get a few minutes of quiet. I pass him off to Justin for bath time. I don’t always appreciate the time that I have with my baby. And I need to.

I don’t want to look back years from now and feel like I wasted precious time with Robbie. That’s part of why I blog every day. I want to be able to remember even the little things, like the first time he gave me a kiss or what he looked like for Halloween. So, please, hug your children extra hard tonight. Look in on them a little longer when you check on them before you go to bed. And spend a few extra minutes playing. I’ve heard that the dishes can wait, and I’m going to see if it’s actually true.



For the past five years, I have heard about the Spooky Walk at the park down the street from us, but we’ve never gone. This year, I decided, would be different. Since it was the Spooky Walk, Robbie couldn’t go in just anything. After all, adorable baby isn’t a good costume if that’s what you are every day… And thus began the quest for the right Halloween costume.

We started our journey not actually looking for a costume. We went to the other park down the street for their field day. Robbie ran around and danced to music like a mad man. He picked up rocks and sticks and stirred the dirt. He climbed and slid and swung (swang?). He laughed and “hi”ed all over the place. He stole Justin’s ice cream (yes, the ice cream truck was there in late October). He had a blast.

After attempting to tire the child (and succeeding in only tiring ourselves), we set off for TJMaxx, sure we would find a great costume at a bargain price. Oh, and we needed adult socks since all our pairs are missing one sock. There were a few costumes there. For girls. And, although we did find the socks we needed, the overall mission was a fail. So we moved on in our search.

Justin initially steered the car toward the mall, which I decided wasn’t the right option. This was mostly because the only place we’d be able to go was Gymboree, and I’d left the coupon at home. I was not going to go in that store without a coupon! So we went to Target. Surely Target would have an ample supply of costumes. Right? Wrong. They had a few toddler costumes, but they were wicked expensive ($40, really?!) and a size too big for Robbie. Fail. Times two.

And so we headed home, me feeling like I had failed as a mother. After all, we only have a week until Halloween. And, knowing me, there won’t be much time for costume shopping during the week. Not to mention, we have a Halloween dance Thursday night. This was time for something serious. Thus began my Internet search. I naively started with “homemade Halloween costumes.” That’s really not me. So, I headed to Amazon but didn’t want to pay outrageous shipping.

Then it hit me. Where do I always look when all else fails? That’s right: craigslist. Place of breast pumps, baby slings, and rocking chairs. Surely my perfect costume would be there. And surely I could find one in the right size relatively close. Right? RIGHT! At last! Success! Believe it or not, the costume was living in a home only a mile and a half from our house. And a bargain at just $10. I got it just in time for the Spooky Walk. Not only was Robbie festively attired, but he was warm. And adorable.

Be fairly warned before watching the video. He’s pretty scary. I just want you to be prepared…



No, not the abstract headaches of Robbie, Justin, Barkley, or any one of the four cats. The actual pounding headache that has been throbbing in just behind the front of my skull for the past two weeks. I’m giving into it tonight and going to bed. I just had a massage, and she miraculously made the headache disappear. I’m not sure how, but about thirty seconds into massaging my left foot, the pain just disappeared. So, I’ll take her advice and head straight to bed to keep the relaxation going as long as I can. And just think, by only reading a short paragraph, you can get to bed that much earlier, too.

Tomorrow promises to be rich with fodder for blogging. Lots of Halloween fun for the Manna family. I’m going to need this good night’s rest to keep up with Justin and Robbie tomorrow. Sleep well!



It’s everywhere I turn. Last night, it was down the side of the tub and in Robbie’s shoe. I’m not sure how the poop got into the shoe (I was too busy catching up on my magazine-reading…); I didn’t even know he had pooped. But, man, do I wish I could have seen him finding the poop in the tub and deciding it didn’t need to be there anymore. I can only imagine the thought process, and I can see the mischievous smile spread across his face as he found it and decided what to do with it.

There was more poop when I went to bed… I smelled something funny when I walked into the bedroom and was devastated to see that Barkley had pooped in my new black dress shoes. Granted, they were a cheap pair from Target. But, still, No girl wants to see a pair of shoes go down like that. The trend continued at 4:00 this morning when I work up to go to the bathroom and found more presents from Barkley downstairs. Now, he normally doesn’t do that. I found him in the backyard with an expired jar of sour cream that had been thrown out last Saturday… Hopefully the worst of that has passed.

And then we got to bath time tonight… Robbie and I video chatted with my sister, Hilary, tonight. He blew kisses and batted his eyes and clapped his hands and had a fabulous time “playing” with Hilary. I went to wash him after we finished chatting, and my hand brushed up against something. Something hard. And brown. Yes. That’s right. Robbie pooped in the tub. Again.

I’ll count my blessings about this. It was solid (diarrhea in the tub is terrible). Robbie didn’t throw it over the edge. But I’m tired of all the work it takes to get everything cleaned after a poop incident. He’s too young to start potty training. But, would it hurt to stick him on the potty for a few minutes before bath time?