One Last Q

October 3, 2017


As you observe your children’s behavior out in public, do you ever think to yourself Anyone watching this right now would probably assume I’m a terrible parent?

And do you ever think, just a split second later: …and maybe they would be right?

Case in point:

As you can see by the way he’s dressed from the ankles up, it wasn’t exactly a balmy day.

It wasn’t for lack of trying that Nate wasn’t wearing shoes, in the middle of the woods on a chilly fall afternoon.  In fact, I think it was largely because I was actually carrying his boots with me, as proof, that I wasn’t reported to Child Protective Services by half a dozen people who passed by us on the trail that day.

Little do they know that Nate has had an aversion to footwear for months.  His feet have been absolutely filthy since… oh, about March.  I often wonder, as I debride the most superficial layer of caked-on dirt every evening: why do I even bother?

(That last question was rhetorical, but if either of you knows the answer, please fill me in.)




September 24, 2017


I know from reading this blog that you have been busy.  I believe your menagerie now includes two boys, patients, fish, butterflies and tomato plants. Meanwhile, Co-counsel and I are barely managing two tiny humans and a dog.  Our bird feeders and planters are empty, but our diaper pail and hearts overflow!

Life with two children is both easier and harder than I thought it would be.  When Willa was an infant, I had so many questions.  Am I doing tummy time right?  Is that a normal poop color for a baby?  Why am I wearing two different shoes?  I looked forward to the day when she could tell me what she needed.

Ellen’s infancy seems easier. I have fewer questions – a result of greater confidence and diminished time to worry. But I’ve reached a state of tired that I didn’t know existed. I’ve also learned that talking with a toddler is not always informative – sometimes it’s just bizarre.

For example, for several weeks we fielded Willa’s questions about buying things. Glancing around the kitchen one afternoon she asked, “Did you buy these walls?”

“Who bought that toothpaste?” she asked Co-counsel one morning, his mouth too foamy to answer.

Willa inquired about the providence of books, canned goods, appliances, and toys (among others).  No item escaped Willa’s questioning.

“Who bought Willa?” she asked one day.  Co-counsel paused, struggling to find an appropriate response.

Potential Answer 1:  “No one bought you Willa.  You don’t buy people.  Well, except . . . uh never mind.”

Potential Answer 2: “No one bought you Willa.  Mama and Dada made you.”

Astutely, Co-counsel distracted Willa instead, leaving thorny discussions about political corruption, slavery, and human reproduction for another day.

Like her questions, Willa’s answers are often unexpected.

One morning, I noticed Willa sifting through my briefcase.

Me: Willa, what are you doing?

Willa: Looking for somethin’.

Me:  What are you looking for?

Willa (appalled by my inattentiveness):  Somethin’!

A few weeks after Ellen was born, I walked into the bathroom after losing track of Willa.  To my horror, the baby monitor was resting in a puddle of water.  “Willa, why is the baby monitor wet?” I inquired.

“I washed it!” she exclaimed proudly.

Another evening, I noticed a package on the mantle far from her reach.  “Why is that package on the mantle?” I asked Willa.  “So Dad can take it upstairs?”

“No, probably so Willa doesn’t open it,” she replied.

At the end of the day, after all the questions have been answered and the answers have been questioned, I ask myself a question as I crawl into bed: “How long until Willa or Ellen wakes me up?”

I have a feeling we’ll run out of answers before they run out of questions.

All Pumpkins, Great and Small

September 24, 2017


I was secretly hoping someone else would post during my 2+ month absence, but apparently you’ve both been busy (with what I can’t imagine), and my imaginary friend Angus is a very slow typer.  Not to worry, though – I’m sure our faithful readers (my mother, mother-in-law, and maybe sister?) won’t hold it against us.  The real shame of it is that this blog is traditionally where I “showcase” my container garden (not my kids, interestingly), and now I’ve squandered the opportunity for this year.  The best I could do this late in the season is the above photo of part of our pumpkin harvest.  (No, Nate has not turned into a giant; those are “jack-be-little” pumpkins.)  Next year I will be sure to keep everyone on the edge of their seat with a daily report from the container farm on the back deck.  In the meantime, please enjoy a long-awaited update from one of the A’s, below.


Cape Crusaders

July 11, 2017


You’ll be happy (or, at least, you would be, if you were reading this) to know that our family survived another summer vacation week in Cape Cod.  Sure, we had a few mishaps – behavioral meltdowns, wasp stings, mornings we were up at 5:45 for reasons known only to my children – but by the end neither Partner or I felt compelled to put an indefinite moratorium on family vacations.  I call that a success.

Here are the highlights:

That’s right, we opened the Lego store in the mall on the way down.

Somehow Partner managed to get a photo without 500 other people in it at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Watching for whales…

Lighthouses and men in pink pants: classic Cape Cod. (Yes, that’s Partner.)

Thomas celebrated his 7th birthday… again.

Photo bomb at the botanical garden in Sandwich.

Happy summer travels…


Not So Father’s Day

June 24, 2017


One of the many joys of motherhood, I have discovered, is watching a child’s intellect blossom as he begins to make sense of the world around him.  Nate, for example, is not yet writing letters, but is beginning to internalize the concept of using symbols to code meaning.  This is what presumably led him to create this adorable sign, honoring Partner for his dedication and self-sacrifice as a parent:

In case it’s not obvious, the x means “No” and the figure represents Partner.  So the sign says “No Dad!”  I’m not sure what Partner did to deserve this – probably told him he couldn’t have ice cream for breakfast or to stop hitting his brother.  Whatever it was, I’m sure the No Dad sign was well-deserved.  And it could be worse – at least Partner is smiling in the picture.  And (bonus) he has hair!


Crash-landing into 7

June 23, 2017


Today is Thomas’ 7th birthday.  We tried to keep it low-key, and celebrated with taco dinner and some cupcakes.  Apparently, however, two hours at the trampoline park after early dismissal (last day of school!) finally took its toll:

In case you can’t tell, that’s a truck crashing into his right ear.

After appreciating how he managed to capture (unintentionally) exactly how I feel after a day of long surgeries, complicated patients, and a pager that won’t stop beeping, I extracted the truck, got all of his limbs into bed, and turned out the light.  He’ll be ready to go again by 6 am (but I won’t!).


Benign Neglect

June 11, 2017


“Benign neglect” is a parenting technique Partner and I do not typically employ.  Experience has taught us that the results are anything but benign.  You know what I’m talking about: the kids are playing, quietly (this is key), in some remote corner of the house, and you think to yourself: I should probably check on them.  Then you think …but maybe I’ll wait until I finish this magazine article, because they’re quiet, and I haven’t sat down for more than 5 minutes all day except when I was on the toilet, and even then I had to carry on a conversation through a locked door about when we might be able to see the Captain Underpants movie.  By the time you actually do go investigate, there are indelible marks on the walls, hundreds of dollars of damage has been done to expensive stereo equipment, and a hellmouth has opened up in the basement and the kids are about to jump in.  True story.

Benign neglect is not a common strategy of mine in any situation*, in fact, but I was forced to try it recently with the tomato plants you may remember from an earlier post.  They were looking pretty spindly at that point (March 20), and trust me when I say that two more months indoors in the anemic early-spring sunlight did not do them a lot of good.  Shortly after re-potting them outside, I realized that they were not going to make it until summer (August 20-26).  The forecast called for two weeks of rain, however, and so I decided to wait until the Biblical flood was over before spending more money on sturdier seedlings at the garden center.  So, in the most benign way possible, I neglected them.  And look:

It’s amazing what a little sun and a lot of water can do.

Somehow, we are going to have completely homegrown tomatoes, in northern New England, in June!  Granted, we are only going to have about five of them, but productivity has never been a metric for success in my gardening pursuits.

By the way, I realize you guys are busy caring for babies, and no one cares about my tomato plants.  But it’s my blog now (apparently)!  Stay tuned for next week’s update on organizing my sock drawer.


*With the possible exception of housekeeping.  And this blog.

p.s. Since this is supposed to be a “mommy blog” (that’s so 2008, isn’t it?), here is a picture of the kids:

I hope you guys are hungry for tomatoes!


Small World

May 28, 2017


You would think, between my kids and my patients, that I would feel that I have enough living creatures depending on me for their survival.  It’s therefore hard for me to explain why I seem to keep adding to my list of responsibilities.  Maybe I need a distraction from said kids and patients.  Maybe I’m trying to instill in my children an appreciation for the natural world.  Maybe there are some days – after I’ve had to give bad news, or found out that a patient’s cancer has recurred – that I need the barrier to finding beauty in the world lowered just a little bit.  Whatever the reason is, I’ve added a couple of tiny creatures to my menagerie this spring.

One is a collection of ruby-throated hummingbirds, who discovered our new hummingbird feeder (the Hummzinger!) shortly after we put it up outside the dining room window:

I swear I’m a better surgeon than I am a nature photographer.

After spending a few minutes researching feeders on the internet, I discovered that hummingbirds actually prefer to perch, not hover in the air, to feed.  This felt a little bit like hiring a birthday clown for a kid’s party only to have him show up, sit, and eat cake.  I’m not paying the hummingbirds, though, so if they want to chill on the perch and eat I’m OK with it.

I also started a “butterfly garden” with Nate.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this product, it’s basically a cylindrical enclosure made of netting, with a zippered opening on one end.  And you put bugs in in it:

For the truly lazy parent who can’t be bothered to find caterpillars outside, for free, you can order them in a cup from California.

Nate and I were able to observe the life cycle of these fascinating creatures over a period of several weeks.  Here are some notes:

Stage 1: Are they dead?  Luckily, the answer was no, but apparently 3,081 miles is a long and arduous journey for a caterpillar, so they took a while to become active.

Stage 2: Wallowing in their own filth.  The caterpillars live in that little cup, growing to about 4-5 times their original size, until they form cocoons.  By the end of it, it looks like a caterpillar frat at the end of Greek Week; I’ll just leave it at that.

Stage 3: Wait, are they really dead?  This time, one of them was, but the other four did finally manage to hatch from their chrysalides (that’s the plural of chrysalis) to become…

Stage 4: Butterfly!

Hopefully this is not an invasive species. Does it look venomous to you?

How precious is it that I’m surrounding myself with hummingbirds and butterflies?  The next thing you know, I’ll be riding a unicorn to work.  As long as it doesn’t require more than 10 minutes of weekly upkeep, I’ll be happy to add it to the list.


Hammock Time

May 18, 2017


This was going to be my Mother’s Day* post, but I guess time slipped away from me a little bit, as it often does.  No matter; every day is Mother’s Day on this blog, right?  Here, then, is the titular hammock:

From this photo, we can learn two things about me, as a mom:

  1. I have two wonderful boys, whom I love more than anything in the world (and who would not cooperate with my request for a photo)
  2. Thanks in part to these two wonderful boys, but mostly because of my job, I am in desperate and constant need of a way to relax and unwind, and so I got myself a hammock

It should come as a surprise to no one that the hammock had to be decommissioned and relegated to the garage about 5 minutes after this photo was taken, when the boys failed to heed my repeated requests to stop jumping in it and flipping it around.

Luckily, the hammock is pretty easy to deploy, and so I made a point of getting home from work early today, before everyone else returned from an after-school event, to do this:

As usual, don’t stare directly at my legs; the glare may be damaging to your retina.

I only spent about half an hour suspended between trees, enjoying a slight breeze and the sound of birds chirping.  But it was enough, for now.

Hammock time: you can’t touch this.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)


*…and a belated, happy one to both of you!

Rare Sighting

April 23, 2017

…And I’m not even referring to this:

Thomas demonstrates the proper technique for self-defense in case of a Bigfoot attack. (Nate would be a goner.)

Actually, I’m referring to Thomas and Nathan actually playing together for up to an hour at a time this weekend.  If anyone were reading this, they would be thinking: so what?  But trust me when I say it’s about as rare as a Bigfoot sighting.  (Which I guess is not necessarily that rare depending on what channel you’re watching – but you know what I mean.)

They actually played together long enough for me to escape to the attic for a brief yoga session, and it only set us back the cost of a small electric fan they dismantled for some unknown reason.  If you take into account the $12 it would have cost me to go to the studio, which is what I usually have to do if I want to do yoga before 9 pm, then I think we about broke even.  Not bad, for this family.