Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Andrew and Will Visit the National Gallery

Today, Katie and I took the boys down to the National Gallery. We parked right out front on Madison (per Brigham's instructions as he guided me telephonically to our resting spot. If only he could apparate in case of parallel parking requirements or diaper changes.) We had 2 hours to get in and out. At stake was a ticket for an expired meter and an expired registration on the car.

The boys were wonderfully behaved, even if they prefered eating Katie's french fries from the Cascades Cafe to the pizza I tried to force feed them. (The cafe and the gift shop alone are reason enough to take kids to the National Gallery.)

We focused on three exhibits: 18th century Dutch Christian, Native American, and Modern. Modern was a big hit. We were not allowed to take photos in many parts of the modern section, which I still don't understand as much of the art looked like it could be purchased at Target or from me, but anyway. The mobiles were great and the boys took delight in blowing on one and making it change shape. The guard took delight in them. Really. Above is the airplane the promise of which acted as a silent magnent on Andrew and thus enabled our party's progress from one side of the exhibit to the other. Will quacked at the Warhol of Donald Duck. Really, modern isn't my thing but it sure was great for the boys.

Katie got Andrew to smile in these by telling him not to, Brig wanted me to include a joke about how Will was moving so quickly he was just a blur, and I wanted to add that Will and Andrew were being playful and that no bodily injury was intended or actualized.

And I imagine the above photo in a gallery frame and added to the other pieces of my own personal art collection.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Ok, I will admit that I really love watching tv. I just do. A good tv show brings me a very real sense of well-being. I even feel an emotional bond with my favorite shows, and sometimes I find myself thinking about the characters as if they were people I really know. Because they are.

I also associate books and programs with the time in my life during which I read or viewed. Since I always view the past much more rosily than the present, this nostalgia is always positive. Scrubs will bring me back to the winter of 2006, living in a large pink Victorian house in McLean (we were house-sitting) where I made crock-pot pot roast every day and Andrew was just toddling around in sweater vests, too little to really appreciate the playground equipment in the backyard. I really could go on and on, but I will save that for some other time.

I just wanted to say that we are sort of in between tv obsessions right now. Since we--and I think we are viewing geniuses for this--watch shows years after they have aired, we can get through the entire run in a short burst of joyful speed. We watched a few seasons of Alias and 24 this way, on our laptop, while we fixed up our first home in 2004 (before those series got weird and boring).

We have seen all the Malcom in the Middles, all of Arrested Development (and the last season is so dumb), all of Scrubs (though I re-watch just for old times' sake). Law and Order is cranking out some new ones, but I still miss Claire and the ADA that followed her (I can't believe I am blanking! Her daughter is Katie. And I have never recovered from the loss of Adam Schiff.)

We have settled on House for now, though it has not been as fulfilling as our other programs. It does have funny moments, but I do wish the constant analysis of the subconscious thoughts and motives of the characters by the other characters would at least be slightly less frequent.

Tonight we watched a mediocre House and I pointed out the shortcomings of the show for me. Brigham added, "House would be a lot more realistic if someone would just punch House in the face every once in a while."

I thought that was blog-worthy. So, too, a request for tv programs we can bond over. Our relationship might need it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Adolescent 3 Year Old

Andrew has been remarking often these days that he is "almost a teenager!" or that he "will be a teenager soon!" He then adds that I "will be so sad because [he] [is] not a baby (or little boy) anymore." He has assured me that we will still be best friends, however.

Andrew is sort of like a teenager already in some of his behaviors. One of them is that he likes to stay up late and sleep in. Last night he went strong all day long (we even had preschool at our house) and resisted bedtime until after 10pm. (And no, he has not napped in a year.) We had check-ups with the doctor today, so I let him sleep until he woke up naturally, knowing that I would pay the price tonight with another late bedtime. He slept until 10:45 am. He is still up now. He is in an excellent mood, and I am glad to he is hanging out with us. He is laughing in these shots because he had snatched an entire cookie dough ball off the sheet while the oven pre-heated. He thought it was very funny.

After his bath, he got to spends lots of time with Daddy, who got home after 7:30. He left his NFL viewing to come bake some chocolate chip cookies with me (he did all of the dry ingredients). Then we made a bunch of Thanksgiving crafts, one for every member of our extended family and Will. Right now he is drawing lumbermills with crayons (in honor of a recent toy).

So we have not watched The Office, and maybe we won't tonight. But I don't feel deprived. These late nights with Andrew are actually really fun, and the sleeping in is nice for me and Will, too, since we get our own one-on-one in the morning. When school starts in a few years, we won't be able to do this stuff anymore, and when Andrew really is a teenager, he won't be staying up late to bake cookies with me.

And he is right, he will be a teenager soon. And I will be wondering where it all went. I will hold him to his assurance that we will still be great friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering Veteran's Day

My Dad, Captain C. William Smith, K Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, 1967.

Today is the anniversary of Armistice Day. This day commemorates the signing of the World War I armistice, ending the war most terrible for the soldiers fighting it and unquestionably the most pointless that the modern world has seen. For over four years, Britain, France and Germany lost an average of over 1,000 men each day. By the end of the war, Britain's casualty rate was 45%, and most every young man at that time served in the defense of their country. A whole generation of men was lost.

The ceasefire was to take place at the eleventh hour on what happened to be the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Fittingly for the wasteful nature of that conflict, some of the generals on the allies' side ordered an offensive on the Germans that morning, immediately before the ceasefire (that all the world knew about) was to take effect. Several thousand additional soldiers' lives were pointlessly squandered.

If you ever want to read some depressing poetry, you cannot get better than the stuff from WWI soldiers like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. I know. That is what my dad thought would be appropriate for our bedtime ritual when I was a small kid. While I don't think I will be introducing that to Andrew anytime soon, I think it might have been sort of good for me. At least, I learned what an amputee was at an early age.

Maybe it is fitting, too, that Veterans' Day be celebrated on the anniversary of the end of the most wasteful and pointless war the world has known, because it serves as a reminder the horror of war.

I hope, though, that we can also remember on this day that, while World War I was not a worthwhile endeavour, there are things worth fighting for, and there are things worth dying for. Our freedom was bought with a price, and continues to be paid for by a dwindling number of brave soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice for us. For that, they deserve our everlasting respect. Unfortunately, that often does not seem to be something they get from many politicians or citizens.

In the mid-late 1960s, Charles DeGaulle demanded that all U.S. troops, stationed there ever since we had to liberate them during WWII, be withdrawn from France. It was critical during the Cold War era that we keep soldiers stationed throughout Europe, but with the dawn of the Peace Movement, it was no longer very popular. "No more American troops on French soil!" became the mantra of the French leader. Dean Rusk, Secretary of State under Johnson, was called upon to respond, and his response could not have been better:

"Shall we remove our cemeteries, too?"

I think this story exemplifies the too-frequent instances of the sneering ingratitude of nations whose freedoms our brave soldiers have laid down their lives to win back or protect. The world owes our soldiers a debt of gratitude (and more) which they can never repay, and so do we. Let us repay what we can in remembering.

I am proud of our nation and grateful for the millions of soldiers who have sacrificed their time, their careers and sometimes their very lives to keep me as unacquainted as I am with the horrors of war and to protect the freedom which I so often take for granted.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Baby #2 gets his 1st Birthday Party, Finally

Will with his cupcake. He was mad because I removed the football candle-toothpick.

First, I made a cake (that I ripped off from my friend Ashley.)

We gathered with my family at my parent's house and sang.

Then we had the blowing out of the Candle. Will loves blowing out candles, has been practicing this for weeks, and did it all by himself.

Finally, we let them eat cake.

We can pretend that it was Will's first cake ever.

Andrew looks really funny here, so I thought it was worth including. He was very concerned about Will's presents and wanted to go to the store immediately when I told him that Will did not have any.

Will's age progression, 2 and 30 years from now. We love you, Baby!

Halloween Festivus

After my typical combination of worrying and inaction, Andrew wore the same Halloween costume as he did last year (size 18-24 months) and Will wore a wolf suit we picked up at Costco when the plan was still for us to be a family of wolves and a Mom Red Riding Hood.

We started out on Embassy Row in DC, where the embassies provide candy to hordes of college age adults and a few kids. We did what we could for the GoP. It was Andrew's idea: he wanted the sticker on his back, even if he did sometimes tell me I should vote for Obama.

Andrew flapped his wings whenever anyone paid any attention to him. It was completely precious and hysterical. He did it with a solemn face, but he loved the attention. I loved his wedgie.

We ran into our wonderful friend Jackie and her little kids. It made me nostalgic for Halloween of '07. Our kids were so different then, and Will was not even born until all the festivities but Halloween itself were over.

Even though Andrew was a bit sick, I knew that candy was definitely the best medicine.

Then we wrapped ourselves in tin foil and went to Chipotle Grill in our old neighborhood in NW. We each got a free meal (tin foil costume promotion). Andrew and Jessie bonded.

We spent our second Halloween trick or treating in my favorite neighborhood in the world (perhaps I am not well-travelled): Macomb St in Cleveland Park. My dad grew up on Ross Pl, a little cul-de-sac in the middle of Macomb. We got a photo of us on his old front porch. The new owners weren't home, but when we tried the door we found that it was not locked! We went in and wandered around, reminiscing. just kidding.

I have better photos, but they are on Katie's camera.

The candy from that night is gone now, but the house envy our evening on Macomb St inspired in me has yet to completely subside.

I felt like the character Emily in Our Town, only I would be addressing the residents of Cleveland Park from my townhouse development in Oakton rather than my family from beyond my grave. The sentiment is the same: "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?"

Thus passed our Halloween '08, walking my Dad's old haunt from 1954 and my old wistful stomping grounds from last year. And my little bunnies keep getting bigger. How many more Halloweens will I get to spend this way?

Ward Halloween Party

We took a dragonfly and a caterpillar to the ward party where they got a lot of candy

a little bit of hotdog

and a viral infection that lingers to this day.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Like Father Like Son

My boys really do look like their dad. I submit that they are cuter, but I suppose that is because I am their mother (both the reason for me thinking it and the reason for it being true! just kidding) Here is some evidence of the similarities:


I love how Will looks here. Those are my favorite pjs of his. They are so snuggly and warm, which is important to me bc I end up snuggled next to them from about 1am on. And Andrew looks just like Brig did when he was little in a particular photo taken in front of his home with a backpack on. Do you remember this one, Momo?

After the bath, the boys gather naked either in my room on the bed or in Andrew's room. They jump on the bed in various stanges of dress and get really wound up.

We let them play around and compete. Brigham tries to be involved with whatever energy he has. Usually he lays on the floor when not called upon to dress, clean, retrieve and read.

I take Will and depart and Brig stays with Andrew. Andrew will see one of us again in a few hours in our nightly crusade to prevent him from wetting the bed.

The routine is harder, but gets completed faster on the nights when Brig is not around to help. I guess my desperation is more intense to get them to bed.