Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Baldischwilers (my mom's family) love Christmas music. Year-round. If you have Baldischwiler genes, you will at some point in your life get a small, secret thrill from listening to some Christmas music alone in your car in July. Or perhaps once in a while after a stressful day in the office, you'll come home and put on a little Vince Guaraldi Trio while you zone out to a couple hundred games of Spider Solitaire on the computer. Even I, the family Grinch, am guilty of doing this once or twice in my life. There's something therapeutic about it. I guess all that Christmas falderal just speaks to us Germans on a molecular level. We invented most of it, after all.

So it was not shocking when Maggie asked if we could listen to some Christmas music in the car on the way to school last week. She's the one in our immediate family of four most likely to ask for holiday tunes, no matter what the season. I always put on "A Charlie Brown Christmas" when she asks because it's the Christmas album that I tolerate best, especially when it's still October. It is, in my opinion, the best Christmas album ever made. A classic.

When Kate and I got back in the car after dropping Maggie off, she asked me to turn "that Snoopy music" back on. I smiled as I watched her in the rear view mirror doing her air drumming thing that she does, head hanging down, eyes closed, totally in the music. (She often falls asleep in the car doing this, no matter how raucous the music.)

I asked her, "Do you like this jazz music, Kate?" She asked me what jazz was, and I did my best to explain it to her without interrupting her drumming too much. We don't usually listen to a lot of jazz (Mike and I prefer blues), so we didn't really have any more examples on our iPod except for some old ragtimey stuff. She didn't want me to turn it off the Vince Guaraldi Trio anyway. She said, "This is good drumming music, Mom. I love this jazz music." When I asked her what she liked about it, she told me, "it beeps and it bops." Bee Bop!

We talked about how Boston has one of the best music schools for jazz musicians in the country (Berklee College), and I told her that she could go there when she grows up. "Are you going to play jazz piano?" I asked. "Or jazz trumpet? Or jazz bass?"

"Jazz drums, Mom! I'll play jazz drums 'cause I'm a drummer!" she says. Well, we shall see. But I guess she's got that in her genes as well.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Katie Sez...

... look at this sailboat I made with my imaginary Daddy.

Me: Oh, I'm SO glad someone finally has an imaginary Daddy so it's not just imaginary Mommies (who are always so much better than me) around here all the time.

Kate: Well, my imaginary mom died.


Also, yesterday afternoon, Kate was struggling to draw a ghost and getting frustrated when Maggie zipped into the kitchen excitedly trying to show her how she had roped Earl into a harness and was pretending he was a dog.

Kate stomped her feet and shouted, "Maggie! I do not want to look at your re-dick-ree-us dog! I just need some pwivacy! Maggie! Can you please give me a pwivacy! Gah!"

The fact that she pronounces it re-dick-ree-us just makes it so much more... re-dick-ree-us. I was crying I was laughing so hard.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breaking News

We survived the earthquake! Yes, we had a little earthquake up here in New England last night.

We were upstairs putting the girls to bed when it happened.  I was sitting on Kate's little toddler bed between the two girls reading a bedtime story out loud and Mike was sitting on the floor on a bean bag chair. I didn't feel a thing, but Mike did and mentioned that the house was shaking. A plane was flying over our house right at the moment of the quake. We both said that it didn't seem like it was low enough to cause the house to shake, and we puzzled for a moment over what had caused the rattling. Later, Mike checked the news and saw the articles about the earthquake in southern Maine! It was just a little 4.0 magnitude and lasted only about 10 seconds, but we definitely noticed it all the way down here. Weird.

"Strange things are afoot at the Circle K."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This song is one of Maggie's current favorites. She and Kate refer to it as "Amy's song" (replacing the previous "Amy's song," Hey, Soul Sister by Train) because Auntie Amy played it for them first and because it includes the line "took a bus to Chinatown, I was standing on Canal and Bowery."

However, this is my favorite Lumineers song (unfortunately, it's not on their album):

This one's a goodie too:

I Love Money, Continued...

I found it! I found Maggie's book about loving money. I remembered it wrong, though. The real title was, "I Love Mommey." I recall now how when I first saw her handiwork I got a bit excited that she had written a book about how much she loved me! But no, she loved pennies, like the one she drew on the cover.

I Love Momey

Page 1, Drawings of Coins

Page S, Self Portrait with Piggy Bank

[Ed. note: Sorry these photos are blurry. I'm not a great photographer and my camera was freaking out about the huge white spaces on the pages. (I guess... I'm not really quite sure what it was freaking out about.)]

My great hope is that someday when she's the head of Doctors Without Borders I can tease her with these photos about her sillier 4 year old self - or perhaps show it off as an example of her precocious artistic talent when she's a famous children's book illustrator - and not have it used as evidence against her in her white collar criminal trial.

Holiday Advice for Pregnant Ladies

What to Expect When Expecting (in the Village of the Damned)

Oh, don't act like you haven't considered this as a real possibility...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Time Machine

I need a time machine.

I was looking at some old photos of the girls the other day - they periodically ask us to show them pictures of themselves as babies - and was struck with a bit of nostalgia about those tiny-fingernails days. It's kind of a strange feeling for me because I remember being SO stressed out back then, and I really have zero desire for another infant now. I have learned that I am not capable of taking a philosophical view of sleep deprivation, and I remember that I often felt like I had no idea what I was doing and that everything was so fraught with danger. My love was so big. My need to get it right was so intense. I can't say that I really enjoyed it, I just NEEDED to do it. In all caps - I'm surprised everything I wrote back then wasn't littered with italics and all caps and exclamation points, just like a teenager's diary - I just CAN NOT believe this is happening to ME!!!!!! (OK, half the stuff I write these days still looks like that. Oh, well.)

Maggie - 1 Week

And yet, from my current vantage point, I did seem fairly competent back then. Their needs were basic, and fulfilling them was hard physical work but fairly straight-forward. Being a good mother felt good to do, unlike being a good mother to a 5 year old, which sometimes results in them telling you that you are a meanie and they don't like you anymore. True, that first baby is a circus of self-doubt and confusion, but the second is much more manageable - you're a pro! I feel like now I could look like an expert in baby-raising if I had the guts/insanity to do it again... but I don't, so don't get excited. Because the reality is that being a good mother to a screaming, colicky baby when you are totally exhausted does not actually seem simple or feel good at all. Oh yeah, it's all coming back to me now. The grass really is only greener wherever you've spread the fertilizer.

Maggie - 3 Weeks

My mother warned me about wishing away their childhoods. She told me how easy it is to keep telling yourself, "I just have to get through this. Just a couple more months. As soon as she gets old enough to do this or that or not do this, then everything will be great." And then one day it's all behind you and you can't go back. I'm not sure that this wishing away is entirely possible to avoid, at least perhaps for people like me. Maybe I just don't handle the stress very well, but I find it mostly impossible to just relax and enjoy everything, and coaching myself to practice endurance is sometimes the best I've got.

Maggie - 7 Months

It's such a shame really, because one solid truth about raising children is that each age has pros and cons. No single stage is all good or all bad, and as soon as you get past this current one, you just land right in the middle of the next one with all it's joys and horrors. I do believe everyone has certain ages you are just better at parenting, based on your personality and lifestyle, and the cons of those ages are diminished by your feelings of competence. Hooray for those little seasons of calm! However, the flip side is that there are going to be ages that you are not equipped to manage smoothly, and consequently even what joys there are to be had are obscured in shadows. Parenthood loves to pull the rug out from under you just when you think you have something (anything) figured out.

Maggie - 16 Months

This is why I need a time machine. What I most wish is that I had the ability to jump back and forth in time to witness and experience my children in smaller doses so that I could appreciate each age and stage better. What heaven to be able to take a short vacation from a tantruming three year old and zip back to that long dark night awake with a nursing infant. I've slept decently for days in a row at present, so how lovely to be able to relieve my weary 2007 self and spend a few hours rocking my little tiny one in the silence of a sleeping house. My 2007 self can flash forward and enjoy that extra 30 minutes of laying in bed at all of 7 am (luxury!) on a Saturday while the girls screech and torture the cats but blissfully do not come out of their rooms and demand breakfast.

Maggie - 23 Months, Kate - 1 Day

When my preschoolers are telling me another inane story while they watch the same episode of Dora for the 60,000th time - or being deliberately irrational about a pair of socks or something equally stupid - it would be so nice to jump into the future to have a conversation about life or anything interesting and meaningful with my teenagers, or even just be there to introduce them to Monty Python movies or Douglas Adams books. I just have to remember to get the heck out of there before they ask my permission to go to a punk club in Slumaville at midnight or want to talk to me about anything embarrassing!

Kate - 1 Month

But it's not really about only avoiding the negative situations in life as much as it would be about gaining some perspective when you (I) need it. Besides just surfing through happy birthday parties and Christmas mornings, I'm sure that after a big fight about independence and boundaries with my 11 and 13 year olds, I would really appreciate being able to flash back to observe my 2 and 4 year olds throw themselves on the ground a weep over lollipops (or lack thereof) ...and laugh my freakin' ass off!! What was I so upset about back then?!? What a piece of cake! No you can't have a lollipop. The end. Your behavior is ludicrous, and I am not moved by your crying. Period. Or maybe when you need to give yourself a time out before you strangle your potty trainer for peeing on the kitchen floor while you are cooking dinner (even though you just asked her twice if she needed to go), you could flash forward to the night when the cops bring your junior high schooler home. That mess is not quite so easy to clean up. Simpler times, man.

Maggie - 2.5, Kate - 6 Months

I guess this is why our parents are so hell-bent on forcing us to make them grandparents. Being a grandparent must be a little bit like having your own time machine. "This baby looks quite a bit like my baby and reminds me of how happy I was having a baby - and now I will give it back to its parents and go home and take a nap! Yay!" It also may explain why people with children are always trying to convince their friends and relatives to have babies. "You should TOTALLY have a baby! Then I can come over and visit your baby!" And then I'll go home and say, "Thank GOD I don't have a baby anymore. Whew! I'm going to watch three episodes of House Hunters while my kids play Legos by themselves in the playroom. Yay!"

Maggie - 3, Kate - 16 Months

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to be getting that time machine anytime soon. I'm just going to have to learn to deal. Looking back at pictures and hanging out with other people's kids does help put things in perspective now and then. But really, I'm on this fierce personal growth crash course and I'm going to have to keep struggling to be more patient and more present and less anxious and less expectant. Even though I know better than anyone that it's easier said than done, I really should try to appreciate where and who they are right now. My memories of the past are hazy and rosier than reality, and the future remains uncertain. Watch out, the next step is also a doozy.

Maggie - 4, Kate - 2

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maggie Jane, CPA

I've been hunting around for a photo of a book that Maggie wrote a while back called "I Luv Munny," but I can't find it (or the book itself) anywhere. I thought that I had posted it here, but apparently not. Maggie luvs munny. It's a little disconcerting for a bleeding heart like me to see such fiscal obsession in one so young. It reminds me of that 80's sitcom Family Ties where Michael J. Fox played Alex P. Keaton, the young Republican son of a couple of old hippies. It's not really that Mags is any more of a consumerist than any young child who watches too many cartoons with advertising, she just likes to count and stack her filthy lucre - and probably roll around in it - like Scrooge McDuck.

The Evidence:

Maggie had been playing quietly up in her room for some time the other day, and when I went in there later, this is what I found. She'd been happily humming to herself while she divided out her allowance money (she never spends any of it) and clipped stacks of it it together with sparkly flower barrettes. Fiscally feminine!


Would you like to know the real kicker? The thing that really makes me shake my head? Each of those little packets is arranged by the first letter of the serial number on each dollar. She's organizing her allowance by serial number. I'm not kidding.

See - all A's!

This is how my 5-year old spends her free time. Something tells me that I should kiss up to her a little more so that she'll take care of me when I get old and she has all the money.

Monday, October 8, 2012

NSFW - Not Safe For Work

Last week at Mike's work, a group of people were having a conversation about food. One guy was describing a vegetarian lasagna that his wife made that didn't even have lasagna noodles in it. (I've heard of using sliced zucchini in place of the noodles, so that may have been it.)

The only woman in the group naively said, "What do you call that? Veg-agna?"

All the men just stood there staring at her in uncomfortable disbelief until the original story-teller said, "Yes, last night my wife made us all eat vagagna at dinner."

*ba dum ching*

True story.

(I usually send copies of my blog posts to my grandmother so she can read them and see photos of the girls, but I think maybe I won't send this one.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Katie Sez...

First you follow the treasure map...

...to where X marks the spot...

...where a castle has two people with crowns. One crown has a shoe and one has a flower...

(Two people)

(A crown with a shoe and a crown with a flower)

...Then outside the castle and outside the woods there is... A BEAR HAND! (Kate usually screams the words BEAR HANDS!!) The bear hand is picking flowers.

...Next there is a tiny balloon and peanut snacks and another BEAR HAND! This bear hand is also picking flowers.

...And in the field with the bear hands is a crown with a flower, but no people because the people are afraid of the bear hands and they are hiding out in the castle... hiding from the BEAR HANDS!

Good story, Kate.

Also, here are some apple picking photos from last Thursday:
Sampling the goods
We also got to pick two pumpkins.

Besides picking apples and pumpkins, we also got to go on a hayride and eat apple cider donuts.

Pick your own flowers field

They had chickens, goats, sheep, and bunnies to feed.

Hay Maze

There were little battery-powered tractors on a track. Fun!


I can't watch this video without my mouth hanging open at how talented each one of the band members are. The guitar player and the bass player especially just blow me away.

Here are a few more songs from Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three to enjoy. Happy Tuesday!