"they say the owl was a baker's daughter. lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Very Campy Christmas

Who doesn't love the merriment of Christmas? The boys had so much fun decorating the Christmas tree, and even though they don't believe in Santa Claus, Liam calculated that "if" Santa were real, it could be possible to visit all of the children of the world in one night because of "time zones". You see, he's very rationale. Yes Santa, you and your eight reindeer have time zones on your side.
Another thing we love about Christmas is getting to spend so much time with our friends. For one great evening of wrapping, those amazing Beverly-women gathered together to share good tidings of great joy. We also drank a lot of wine, and wrapped a lot of gifts. We were just doing our part to make sure Santa makes it around the world, and through each time zone, with a gift for every girl and every boy. (you know how they say that married people start to look alike ... well, even though we aren't married, I think that Sara, Kelly, Andrea, me, and Sarah are all sort of starting to look alike. Is that what happens after 25 years of friendship?)

On Christmas Eve, the Campos women played a little game of charades. Can you guess what we are in this photo? Go on. Guess. Nope! Guess again. Nope! Take one more guess. Nope! You couldn't guess it? Alright, I'll tell you ... we're the bars of service icon on your cell phone ... see it now?

Whatever you do Jeannette, don't drop your champagne glass.

One last thing we like to do on Christmas Eve is get rowdy in the kitchen after all the guests have departed. We thought Santa might like to participate in a little after-party. So, we did some dancing before opening our gifts. Here's our take (the good, the bad and the ugly) of The Cupid Shuffle. My husband witnessed this crafty little line-dance at an office Christmas party this year, and our lives have been forever transformed by its catchy beat and overly simplistic choreography (To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right ...) If nothing else, in this season of miracles, this video proves that every girl believes she is the world's greatest dancer after consuming two or more glasses of champagne.

And for parting words this holiday season, "Whoever said that the Snuggie was a stupid gift, couldn't have been more wrong ..."

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Days of December

People often refer to the dog days of summer. I like to refer to the dark days of December. I don't think there is a darker month than this one. With cold afternoons, bitter wind chills, and dark evenings that preclude outdoor recreation, the boys find themselves in search of things to occupy their time. When I'm not busy putting them to bed at 6:05 PM, they like to entertain themselves by playing on their new jungle gym: their stepbrother Alex. Alex is the perfect height and body mass for tag team wrestling and every other form of renegade martial arts. He also moonlights as a pull-up bar (which is great for Eamon who can already pass the APFT (the Army Physical Fitness Test) with flying colors.

Liam, on the other hand, prefers dancing it up in the kitchen with his stepsister, who has taught him some recent moves, including the Cupid Shuffle. In this short video, Liam demonstrates his mad skillzzzzz while performing the classic dance routine, The Robot.

The other great thing that happens in the dark days of December, is that Duke has a birthday. And that, my friends, gives us ALL something to celebrate. Here's a great picture of all of us enjoying his birthday dinner. (By the way, that entire meal was made from scratch, up to AND including the salad dressing and pasta dough. I even shelled Lupini beans -- whatever they are -- and had some extra-special scotch whiskey shipped in from overseas with a little help from my friends on Twitter ... and I would just like to see one of you try to pull that off ... smile ....)

I know, I know, the way the camera is angled in this photo, we all look like a bunch of pins at the end of a bowling alley, with three colored balls coming at us. What can I say? It's a perfect ten.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Very Nerdy November

I happen to enjoy November more than most months, for obvious reasons. First, there is an entire day dedicated just to me AND I get to spend the better part of the month making excuses to bake pies, cook food, and prepare fancy drinks for other people. I also like the crisp smell of late fall air, the anticipation of the first snow, and putting my kids to bed at 5:30 PM when its pitch black.

The other day, I was driving in the car (where I spend 90% of most of my waking hours) and I overheard this conversation.

"Eamon, there really is such a thing as a rhombus you know."

"No there isn't Liam. I learned my shapes already and rhombus isn't even a real word you know."

"Eamon, I am 8 and you are 4. Which one of us do you think knows what a rhombus is? Here, give me that paper bag and I'll fold it into a rhombus to show you." (origami project silently underway)

"LIAM, that is a DIAMOND, not a rhombus." (sound of origami rhombus being crumpled and thrown on the floor). End of conversation.

In other family news, my sister has been babysitting my kids, and I have been babysitting her kids, and I am sure a this point, none of the kids know which one of us is their real mother. Even though Liam has mono in this photo, it is still a very fabulous capture of all four cousins on the sofa together (Liam (8 1/2), Hunter (5 mos), Eamon (4 1/2) and Austin (2). A striking family resemblance, if I must say so myself.

Another great thing about November is that outdoor soccer ends, and that leaves plenty of time for revisiting basketball. Duke set up some dribbling drills for Liam in the driveway and taught him how to do lay-ups with both his left and right hands. Liam also explained to me that he is working on his "deep shooting" too. Whatever that means. Eamon is getting in on the action too. The kid is a ball-handling machine.

The last, and most fabulous, thing that happens in November is that I get to see those fabulous ladies with whom I grew up in Beverly. For one great afternoon, most of them descended upon Mallard Drive, for lots of sharing and caring. I love this photo of all of us sitting on the sofa with all of our kids. I like to think that in the future, our kids will look back on this picture and remember that afternoon as the thing of urban legend. Yeah, you know, that house where we jumped on the beds and that lady set up the entire tot-city, complete with tunnels, tents and domes all interlocking into a wonderland of Thanksgiving gratitude.

And in case you don't believe me ... just watch this video of Ava getting the party started.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Red Sox Nation (October 2009)

October 2009 was a great month for us! To start, Liam attended his first Red Sox game at Fenway Park. His mother told him that he had a dentist appointment and she braved the Friday evening traffic into Boston for his first visit to Yawkey Way. When he realized that he was going to Fenway (and not the dentist), he exclaimed, "I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life!" We had great seats in the first row of the infield grandstands, and I credit my sister-in-law Diane for the tip about StubHub. A great service that made this magical evening possible for my super-special son. Be sure to view the pictures from our awesome evening in the slideshow above.

Liam receiving his Bible was another super-special event for us this month. Not only did he look exceptionally handsome in his shirt and tie, but he was exceptionally gracious when being awarded his Bible, and the sound of his steadfast, "Thank you!" to Rev. Chaloner echoed throughout the sanctuary. What a courteous and polite boy. He told me later that he was "so happy" when he got his Bible that he almost cried. Pop-Pop came for the event and that was really special for Liam. There's a nice slideshow picture of the four of us heading to church. I love that boy.

Eamon and Duke took advantage of the fine weather on October to do some yardwork. My 4 year old is not the type of person to be restrained by his size or strength. He stacks wood, rides the tractor, and evidently, he also operates the leafblower, as evidenced by the photo above. (Please note the protective earwear he is also wearing. What a kid!)

Eamon is one of the funniest boys you'll ever meet. As my husband puts it, "He's like an animated comic strip!" The boy doesn't WALK anywhere ... it's always a shuffle, a march, a dance, or a sockhop. All the world is a stage for Eamon James Welsh. Here's a little video of him doing a presentation for me on urban planning in my office. "

According to these lines, these lines are important. These lines are the city lines." For the full effect be sure your speakers are on.

Eamon also benefits from, and seeks out, a daily dose of Alpha Dog in his life. He is always in search of Duke ... and even when my husband tries to take a short break and catch up on some rest, Eamon finds him, and hangs on for dear life. Casey took the slideshow photo above of Eamon clinging to the side of the sofa while napping with his hero. Anything to be in the presence of greatness.

Like most Octobers, we closed the month out with a festive Halloween. Liam was Jason Varitek (former catcher and team captain for the Red Sox) and Eamon was a red PowerRanger. It was the oddest Halloween. Almost seventy degrees and windy to beat the band.

I'm a lucky girl to have these three boys in my life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Working for the Week-End

Sepember 2009 has proven to be a busy month. We're all getting used to our schedules, and being back at school. I love September in New England. It might just be my favorite time of year.
I am enjoying my tenure as a soccer mom. What I like the best about this new role is that I get to sit down for 90 minutes at a time, and not go anywhere or do anything. Sometimes, I don't even talk. It's almost like being in a coma, except that I am fully conscious and sitting up straight in folding stadium chair, usually sipping an iced coffee from Starbucks.
Sometimes, Liam likes to play goalie. Sometimes he doesn't. It all depends on how many points the other team scores on him.
Another nice thing about living in New England is the apple-picking this time of year. Fulfilling my mother-of-the-year duties, I chaperoned a field trip to a local farm. There was a tractor ride, apple picking, apple eating, pumpkin picking, hay play, lunch, and feeding the animals. Needless to say, I took Eamon straight home and sterilized him in a boiling hot bath for about an hour. Something about walking around on dusty dirt paths, sitting on hay and touching farm animals (including chickens) just makes me feel all kinds of dirty. My little bottle of hand-sanitizer was not up to the task of eating lunch in a virtual dustbowl surrounded by goats (or were they sheep)?
Sometimes, you stop at a red light and turn around to smile at your son, and you realize, he's a total giant and he doesn't really fit in his car seat anymore, and it makes you miss your baby (but not enough to have another one).
Here at Mallard Drive we believe that everyone should do their part to contribute to the household. So, we recently put the boys to work pulling out carpet staples in the stairwell, after Duke ripped up the carpet. The boys were none to happy to help, and you should see our new hardwood floors.
I think my kids like my husband better than me. That's ok. He is way more fun than I am. The other night, I asked Eamon to put on a pair of sweat pants. He wouldn't do it. About an hour later, I see him putting on some sweat pants, so I said, "Oh, Duke must have asked you to change your clothes." And Eamon said, "Yeah, he told me to put on sweat pants." And I said, "Well I'm glad you listen to him because you sure don't listen to me." To which Eamon relpied, "Don't worry mommy, I'll listen to you someday."
I can't wait.

Monday, September 7, 2009

School Days

It's back to school for September 2009. Liam starts
third grade, and Eamon goes to pre-school. When I asked Eamon what he wanted in his lunch box for his first day of school, he said, "Steak." So, ok. I can do that. As my friend Sarah commented, nothing like making the other kids jealous when he whips out a sirloin on day one.
Liam is very excited (and proud) to be playing on his first competitive sports travel team. We had his first practice. When we were walking back to the car, he held my hand and said, "Mama, you don't really look like the other moms. I just think you look like my mom." I almost cried.
Eamon was telling me all about what his classmates' parents do for work. "Cody's dad makes sandwiches all day." "Ashley's dad makes pizza all day, he just makes pizza all day long: pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, sausage pizza." (dreamy voice, sort of like Bubba waxing elogquent about shrimp in Forrest Gump). So, I said, "What do you tell your friends that your mommy does all day?" And Eamon said, "Well, pretty much I don't really talk about that."
Liam got his first set of golf clubs for his birthday in May but we haven't had a chance to use them yet. I told the boys I would take them to the driving range. As we were getting in the car, my husband told Eamon (age 4), "When you are older, I'll teach you how to be a great golfer." To which Eamon replied, "Well, I'm already amazing." Turns out he is pretty amazing for a 4 year old, and Liam needs left-handed clubs.
The kids love swimming in the pool. The last few years, we've been able to keep it open until Columbus Day because the weather has been amazing and the heater works. Eamon will only swim with the assistance of a pink-dinosaur flotation device. God, he loves that thing and I've already told him he can't take it to the YMCA when he starts swimming lessons next week.
Liam loves jumping, diving, and being thrown into the air. My husband can thrown him to the moon. I suppose that will change once Liam finally establishes a body mass index that actually registers on a scale.
I started classes this week too. I am teaching the same grad course at UMBC as well as a bunch of professional development courses for different business. My first email from a student this semester asked, "I hear your course is really difficult. I am a straight A student. Will I be able to get an A in your course?" How am I supposed to answer that? Oh wait, I know: "Not if you keep sending me emails like this."
I am also taking a Research Designs class at Plymouth State University, where I was accepted to continue my post-graduate studies, and eventually earn my EdD. Research Design wasn't my first choice this semester, but it's a course I need to take, so might as well get it over with. The good news, is that I think it is going to harmonize nicely with Constructivist Instructional Design (C-ID) (Jerry W. Willis, 2009) a book I recently purchased. I have been asked to design, develop and deliver a new grad course at UMBC and I am thinking that this book will be the basis how/what I design.
My husband and I recently attended a wedding together, which is always great fun. The wedding and the reception were delightful and I think my husband was the most handsome man there. He wore a three-piece suit. And if i must say so myslef, he is single-handedly bringing back the vest. He had cuff links too. Now, if only he had pulled out a pocket watch. I might have lost my mind.
I love Californication. It is the saddest, truest love story ever told. Thank you David Duchovny.