Monthly Archives: November 2010

Rocking Horses


When I was little, my dad built a rocking horse for me. It’s one of the only things I have from him, and Justin and I have had it in our bedroom since we got married. I’m not sure why it’s been in our bedroom. But, that’s where it’s lived. It’s been in the corner more often than not, occasionally with a stray shirt over its back. For years, the rocking horse has just been an oversight.

Rocking horses, in my mind, defined my father when I was little. He had an amazing workshop in the basement, and it seems like he must have spent weeks making rocking horses. There was tracing the patterns, cutting out the pieces, sanding them down, staining them, and shellacking them. I loved when he would give me the chance to help. I remember the feel of the sponge brush in my hand. He made ten of them to donate to our school’s fair when I was in the first or second grade. One of my favorite pictures is him standing next to the stacked horses with my sister and me each sitting on one in our pajamas.

Later, when we moved to Delong Road, he still had the workshop in the basement. He didn’t build horses as often, but all the equipment was still there. I got to build a rocking horse of my own out of a “mistake” horse. When I was finished, my mom helped me donate it to The Nest, a nonprofit that helped women and children leaving abusive home situations. Even now, I can remember taking the horse to the center with my mom. It was worth all the effort to see the kids run to play with it.

And so, thirty years later, Robbie is old enough to appreciate this piece of my childhood. In the past few days, he’s figured out how to make himself rock back and forth. He’s even started to work on his dismount, although they haven’t all been successful. I keep assuring him that real riders get thrown all the time, but that doesn’t do much to dissolve his tears. Fortunately, pretzels continue to do the trick.


Culture Shock


As many of you know, Robbie goes to Chinese daycare. I guess Justin and I never gave much thought to the Chinese culture, although we regularly appreciate the food. However, seeing Zhining every day has given us a glimpse into Chinese culture (and a son who thought his name was QiQi – his Chinese name – and not Robbie for the first six months of his life). And last night was no exception. Which is why I didn’t get to write last night…

Zhining sings with the Boston Beijing Opera Association, and last night was their annual performance. I had planned to go see a former student’s play, but Zhining presented me with tickets as a gift, and I just couldn’t say no to her. She was so excited that we were finally going to come see her (we also saw her perform at the Dragonboat Festival in the spring, and Robbie burst into tears when she held him in full costume, as pictured).

Justin and I made a night out of it, with the help of Micah and Allie who watched Robbie for us. We took the T down to Central Square and ate at an Ethiopian restaurant we like. It was so nice to sit, relaxed, at a restaurant. Of course, the people with the three extremely loud children didn’t add much to the ambiance. Especially when the mother busted out the Obama picture book and opened with “What does Obama say?” and then proceeded to loudly talk about how “Obama is in charge of everybody in the United States.” I thought Justin was going to die!

And then it was off to the Chinese opera. Justin and I weren’t quite sure what to expect, and we found the sixteen acts in the program a little daunting. But, they opened with a drum corps performing the Chinese Opera Overture, which was incredible. Zhining was amazing. And the 75-year-old woman who sang two numbers? She gave me chills. The orchestra that performed two numbers? Incredible.

I have to be honest; I was not looking forward to a night at the opera. It didn’t really strike me as a fun thing to do on a Friday night, particularly when I knew that Justin would be in class all day today and that he leaves for San Diego for five days early tomorrow morning. But, it wound up being a fun date, despite the horribly uncomfortable chairs that we sat in for two and a half hours. I do wish I could have understood what the host was saying. He seemed to be really funny… But, like the descriptions of the songs in the programs, it might have lost something in translation. Did you know that the Chinese army has a head coach? And that “oftentimes” is a popular word? That might have been the best part. Except for when Zhining saw us after the performance. What did she have to say? “You came! But where is QiQi?”

Favorite Stage?


When Robbie was first born, I remember talking to my older (and wiser) cousins at my Aunt Barb’s house. They were talking about the stages their kids went through and talked about what their favorite stages were. I couldn’t wait to experience all the different stages. But, I have to be honest, I thought the stage with the baby who loves to cuddle and needs me for everything was the best stage. I couldn’t imaging life being any better than that.

And then Robbie started hitting new stages. The smiling stage. The sleeping through the night stage (still an all-time favorite!). The sitting stage (this freed up so much time!). The holding-your-own-bottle stage. The crawling stage (still not a big fan). The talking stage. The walking stage. And I’ve loved them all (except, as noted, the crawling stage), always convinced that the current stage is my favorite. But this time, it’s really true. I’m sure of it.

Robbie is like my partner in crime. We do everything together: shopping, going to the gym, school dances, visit garage sales. And he gets it. He knows that he’s on an adventure, and he seems to get a kick out of it. He’s also in the stage where he’s putting everything together. The other day, he tried to put the leash on Barkley, not that the dog was happy about it. He’s figuring out new words and actions every day. Today, it was how to jump and say the word jump in Mandarin (it sounds like “bomb” and he kept saying it and saying it and saying it). I love the participate-in-life-and-laugh-all-the-time stage. And I hope this one lasts for the rest of his life.

Quality Time


In the fall, Justin and I don’t get a lot of time together, so I relish whatever I can get. Today is the first night we’ve had together without travel plans, class, or company in nearly two weeks. We met up at Wilson Farm to shop for tonight’s dinner (and tomorrow’s lunch). Sure, Justin could have gone on his own. Or Robbie and I could have stopped by on our way from the base (I finally got new glasses – all for just $183.15!). But it wouldn’t have been something fun to do as a family. We get into so much of a routine that it’s nice to do something other than dinner, bath for Robbie, and story time.

We all ate dinner together and enjoyed playing with Robbie while he took a bath. Actually, my pants did not enjoy it. Rob soaked them. Twice. And thought it was hysterical. It was nice to just sit and talk and play. No work. No school. Just a boy and his bubbles.

We’re currently sitting on the couch, watching Survivor, as Justin rubs my feet. That’s right. I don’t think he’s rubbed them since I was nine months pregnant. Of course, I’m not so sure that I’ve asked. It’s not an exciting night. It’s probably not one that we’ll even remember in a week. But it feels so nice to just be. To sit quietly on the couch with Justin, not saying a word. With all the time I spend alone while Justin travels or is class, it’s nice to have another adult. Especially my husband.

Dinner and Dessert


My friend Julia is in town, so we went to one of our favorite haunts for dinner tonight. No, not Brigham’s (can I mention here how devastated we were to find it closed during one of Julia’s visits?). That’s right. Ixtapa. Really the only good Mexican place we’ve found up here (coming from Georgia where there was some pretty fabulous Mexican). Roberto was kind enough to escort us and proved to be quite the entertainment.

Zhining tells me that Robbie colors in daycare, but I have never seen this. Until tonight. He sat right down at the restaurant, grabbed the crayons, and got to work. I quickly got involved in conversation and forgot about Robbie’s coloring. I didn’t really forget about him; I more left him to his own devices since he was so quiet coloring. Novice mom move. I looked back at Robbie and saw that his mouth was covered in blue and red wax crumbs. Closer inspection of the crayons revealed that he had indeed bitten the ends off… I’m sure Zhining will be asking questions when he has red and blue poop tomorrow. And I can’t even throw Justin under the bus on this one (yes, I’ve done it before).

Dismayed at the loss of his crayons, Robbie began grabbing for tortilla chips. That wasn’t enough. He saw us dipping our chips into queso (I know, the model of healthy eating with queso and crayon on the menu) and wanted some. I wasn’t sure he would like it, but there’s no telling Robbie that. After all, this is the kid who drank my iced coffee in August. And, once again, I was wrong. He dipped his chip into the queso (where does he learn this stuff?), put it in his mouth, smiled, and gave me his famous, “Mmm!” What do I know?

After dinner, we went to the only Brigham’s left that’s open near us. They don’t serve the good food the one in the Center did, so it was really just good for ice cream. I wanted to get Robbie a little of his own and asked if I could just get a spoonful of ice cream in a cup. What I got was a $3.00 tiny scoop of ice cream… So much for a little customer service. Having worked in an ice cream store for over a year during college, I know that it’s really OK to give a little ice cream. Especially for a baby who isn’t going to eat more than a spoonful. But, I digress. I’m sure Robbie was thrilled with his own ice cream. He sat on his knees in the booth and practiced spooning ice cream and feeding himself. He was a little bit of a disaster, but the smile. Oh, that smile. Worth all the mess in the world.



Robbie had a nightmare tonight. It was the kind he couldn’t wake himself up from; he was screaming in his sleep when Justin went in to get him. It was one of those pitiful screams, the kind where you just want to make it better as soon as you can.

Justin brought Robbie downstairs, and he immediately glommed on to me. I have to be honest; it melted my heart a little. Rob looked around, confused, for a few minutes. I’m not sure he realized that the dream was over, and he was checking out his surroundings.

It only took a few minutes for Robbie to cuddle into my arms, which means the dream must have been pretty terrible. He never cuddles with me. Ever. He fights his way out of hugs and holding. There are too many things for him to get into. So, for him to nestle in my arms was heaven. He cuddled up to me and fell into a deep sleep. It nearly broke my heart to have to put him back down in his crib because I don’t know when he’ll do it again. As much as I hate for him to experience a nightmare, I do love the cuddling that comes afterwards.

Hullabaloo, Take Two!


I’ve never been notoriously bad at remembering dates and times of events. Ever. Even when I was pregnant. Or when I was a new mom. But now? I just can’t win. Earlier in the month, I missed a Sox/Yankees game because I was sure it was on Saturday. But our tickets were for Sunday. Yesterday, I was positive the Halloween Hullabaloo was at 3:00. It was at 2:00.

Today, Rob and I met up with Pete and Rebecca to go to the parade around Spy Pond. We were pretty close to on time, but we didn’t see kids in costumes anywhere. I started to get a little nervous as we got closer to the park where the parade was supposed to take place. There were actually a lot of kids around, but they were all dressed in regular play clothes. Surely dressing up as a child wasn’t the it costume this year… So, I called the friend who had originally told me about the parade. Somehow, I missed a key piece of information in the email she sent. I was confident that the parade started at 1:00. I should have read a little closer… I missed a zero. The start time? 10:00.

Luckily, Rebecca was quick to forgive, and we turned the wagon in the direction of Jam ‘n Java for a late lunch. The boys (err… wild jungle animals) did well through lunch, Robbie perfecting his “more” and “mine” with regard to my fruit. Rebecca unknowingly demonstrated why she doesn’t like to give Pete a cup to drink from with an open bottle of water of her own. I like a mom that takes the extra step to really tell a story. She looked so surprised when the water hit her face that I almost believed she didn’t do it on purpose!

After lunch, it was down to East Arlington for trick-or-treating around Capitol Square. This should have been fun and easy and trouble free. But this is me we’re talking about. Several blocks in to our mile walk, the boys decided they were done with the wagon. I put Robbie up on my shoulders and my glasses in the pocket of my sweatshirt. He seemed pleased with the change of pace and we continued on. After awhile he got heavy, so it was back to the wagon. And Robbie kept standing up. I turned to Rebecca and asked if it was bad that I kind of wanted him to fall out (in a safe, soft place – I’m not that hateful) to scare him into sitting. No sooner had we finished discussing that… All of a sudden, Robbie was on the ground on his back. Thank God for the lion head and piles of leaves. He was well-cushioned and unscathed. And still not afraid of standing in the wagon. About fifty yards down the road I realized my glasses were missing.

It was time to retrace our steps, so I took off with Robbie and Rebecca waited with Pete. They were nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere, and we looked the entire way back home. I have an ad up on craigslist for them… We’ll see if I hear from anyone. Trick-or-treating was fun, but I’m not entirely convinced that it was worth a new pair of glasses.

We slowly (so slowly) made our way back up Mass Ave. Neither boy wanted to ride in the wagon. We let them push the wagon. We held their hands. We barely grabbed them before they ran into the street. We put them on our shoulders. And, what seemed like hours later, we finally made it back to where we started. And this is where Pete and Rebecca left us and all hell broke lose.

Robbie and I had another third of a mile to go, which can seem like eternity when you have a squirmy toddler and an increasingly heavy wagon to transport. Rob still refused to sit in the wagon like a nice lion. So I carried him the best I could. Until he threw a full-blown temper tantrum two blocks from home. We’re talking a sit-down-in-the-middle-of-the-sidewalk-and-put-your-head-on-a-low-wall-and-scream-your-brains-out tantrum. And it just kept going. I couldn’t even pick him up because he kept throwing himself out of my arms. And there was no way he was going to sit in the wagon.

We finally made it home, where I discovered a major culprit. Robbie was soaked up to his armpits. And did I forget to mention that he didn’t nap today? So, at 4:15, Robbie went down for a nap until Justin got home at 6:15 for a little trick-or-treating. I realize the poor child has been dragged from house-to-house and business-to-business three times. But Justin never got to take him. Actually, Justin hasn’t been home for Halloween since we lived in Georgia. So, a little after 7:00, the whole family headed out. Robbie and Justin, hand in hand, made their way down the street. Seeing this was worth every bit of temper tantrum.

I remember liking Halloween as a kid, but it’s so much better as an adult. It’s so much more fun to watch Robbie practice his roar (he kept roaring when he saw his costume this morning) and take him to different Halloween activities (especially when we have the time right). It makes me that much more excited for Christmas this year. Hopefully I’ll be on time for that.