Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Lately, Margot has been saying things that sound a lot like sentences. They generally are missing verbs, but you get the idea. Examples are: "Mama outside" (generally referring to Daddy being outside) and "Margot outside" (to mean that she would like to go outside). Today, we had the start of communication at an entirely new level.

Margot was standing next to Jolly's crate, eating her toast. Jolly was unexpectedly in the crate looking very excitedly at M's toast. I walked over and saw that the door to the crate was closed, presumably by Margot owing to Jolly's lack of thumbs. Somewhat confused, I asked, "Margot, what are you doing?" to which she responded "I close dog". My brain heard, "I closed the dog into the crate, mother". It was amazing AND involved the use of a verb!

Ahh, the unexpected wonders of parenthood.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Warning to Unintended Houseguests

While a thank-you present is thoughtful, and hearing a gift hint while you're staying over is a lucky break, try not to trump the Host's christmas presents to the Hostess!

Umm, and always leave behind toffee.  That was good.

PS - No seriously, thanks for the coffee.  But, umm, I swear I ordered it first!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Clown College, Here She Comes

I believe that I've mentioned that Margot has a thing for shoes. For a while now, she has been trying to put on any shoes she sees regardless of whether she is already wearing shoes or whether they are anywhere close to her size.

This is probably a developmental milestone. Margot successfully put on a pair of Adam's shoes (even on the right feet!) and walked all the way from the garbage can to the island (a good three feet) in them before becoming distracted by something shiny.

Adventures in Napping

Napping with snow boots on is hard, but Margot is up for the task!

was followed by

A Warning for Husbands and Boyfriends

When your wife/girlfriend/mother/any woman you know asks if there is anything you would like for [insert gift giving reason here], do not then go out more or less immediately and buy this item for yourself. Sheesh!

It Deliciously Didn't Work*

With Christmas coming, homemade present making is in full gear. I normally dive into some entirely untried project and get very mixed results, but not this time. I've tested the recipe a bunch of times and gotten consistent results.

Of course, it was time to throw a wrench into the system. These cakes would be sooo cute if I made them with my awesome mini-bundt pans and look, we're out of white flour. No problem, we'll just use a little whole wheat in there (then they'll be healthy!).

Then, I overfilled the bundt pans. I knew that I should only fill them half full, but the first one got overfilled and then the rest followed. No problem, a cookie sheet under the cakes will catch any overflow.

So, where did this all go tragically wrong? The cakes wouldn't come out of the pan. They were greased and sugared like we use in every other container we've cooked these in. Maybe the thick metal of the pan meant that they needed to rest for longer before being removed. The cute bundt cakes of my dreams turned into ugly crumbly misshapen globs. Not exactly present material! Well, we now have a holiday season supply of yummy cake bits.

It wasn't a complete loss, the whole wheat flour actually added a yummy nutty flavor, so I think I'll stick with that change to the recipe. Now I just need to figure out what else to make!

*The title is a reference to one of my favorite Homestarrunner cartoons. It's full of so many wonderfully quotable lines, good for any occasion. Thank you, Ben, for introducing us to this awesome entertainment!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Storm Pics

This pine is in the same stand as the birches in the previous post. It didn't fare as well - all the broken limbs you see are new breaks. Again, this was not much damage compared to a lot of the region.

Needle from the pine tree, encased in ice. Actually, this was a cluster of three needles.

Power-company trucks in the parking lot at lunch Friday. There were 9 or 10 of these large trucks at midday Monday.

One of two large limbs that came out of the old oak down the block. And Jolly providing scale :).
Posted by Picasa

There are worse things in life...

(with apologies to Robert Frost - I had to stop for pics of these "swung" birches near home)

OK, so this post is a bit delayed . . . it turns out we've been busy as you'll see.  New England got a bunch of rain and ice/sleet overnight last Thursday - in our neighborhood, the trees and bushes are glazed, not merely frosted. I haven't seen this level of small-to-medium damage in previous storms, and in fact there are a significant number of large trees and big branches down.  However, further west and north there are serious downed limbs, trees and power lines, and well over half a million households in MA/NH lost power for a significant amount of time.

Our friends Brian and Edith, from a couple of miles west, didn't have a lot of damage, but they didn't have power either, until Sunday afternoon.  Neither did Brian's workplace in Littleton, although Edith's work is on generators in much harder-hit Worcester.  By Friday afternoon, their house was in the low fifties, not to mention dark and without running water (they have a well with an electric pump).  The solution?  Party at Christi and Adam's for the weekend . . . they brought over their spoilable foods and an extra Guitar Hero guitar, and we rocked it even hahdah for most of the weekend (as well as getting xmas trees, setting ours up, cleaning up their yard and draining their pipes, Edith getting some work done, and Christi and Margot surviving lingering colds).

In the end, B&E's power came back Sunday afternoon, but Brian had drained the pipes Saturday afternoon to prevent a burst in the 15-degree overnight temps.  So, Monday was refill-and-monitor day for their heating system.  Since I haven't heard sob stories, I guess everything went OK!

Other folks at work were in a similar boat or not as lucky.  Multiple people had three- to five-day power outages, lots of downed trees/branches, and even significant roof damage from falling limbs.  Hang in there, folks!

What we do While Dad's at Work

Play with expensive camera gear!

Initially, Margot picked up my big camera, held it upside-down and pressed her face to the back. I exercised more restraint than usual by not just running straight for another camera to take a picture with. So, here's a reenactment that has the expensive camera gear well supported by my grownup hands.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


As I've mentioned, Margot likes to clean things. She has even been known to repeatedly spill something so that she can wipe it up. If I don't get her a paper towel in time, she will just use her hand. It's all the same to her as long as that spill is gone.

Well, today the concept took a big leap forward.

While walking in the kitchen with her favorite mustard bottle (another story) and eating a biscuit, Margot tripped. This was distressing because 1. the mustard bottle went under something and 2. the biscuit left crumbs on the floor. Once I had safely rescued the mustard, Margot jumped to her feet and grabbed for a kitchen towel while exclaiming today's new word "mess!". She then came back and proceeded to "wipe" the crumbs up with the towel.

Ok, so she needs some work on her cleaning technique and should probably be taught how to use the vacuum soon, but her new vocabulary was most impressive!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Directionally challenged

After months of saying "up" for both climbing up and climbing down things, Margot has switched to using "down" all the time (pronounced "gow!"). This led to special frustration tonight when Adam was holding her, but she wanted to be held by me so she plaintively cried "gow!" and then was super frustrated to find herself held by no one. Ahh, the frustrations of learning!

For all her fans out there, here is Margot being unimpressed with a chocolate cookie sandwich from Hi Rise in Harvard Square. There's no accounting for taste.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't get used to it, Dad!

It seems worth documenting, since it probably won't happen again.

Margot has just indicated that she actually listened to something her father said to her.

With the cold weather, our heat is on, so the radiators get hot. We've been trying to teach Margot not to touch them so that she won't hurt herself. This morning, Adam pointed at the radiator, said "hot", and told Margot not to touch it. But, he says lots of things to her, so I didn't think too much of it.

Fast forward to this afternoon. While Margot and I were upstairs, she pointed to a radiator, looked at me and said "hot!" The look on her face was a mingling of stern in the touch-that-and-you'll-be-sorry way and educational as if she were talking to someone to whom she expected to need to explain things a few times. This was an awesome moment for showing how quickly she's learning new things as well as showing how low her expectations are of my ability to do the same thing. Believe me when I say entirely without irony that parenthood is amazing!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Glamour Shot

While I'm at it, here's one more recent shot of the car, in summer mode. I'll post something from a past or oncoming winter in the next month or three, to give you an idea of the difference a few months makes.
Posted by Picasa

Onset of Autumn - more pics

Posted by Picasa

Sad Days of Autumn

I love autumn in New England - crisp, clear days; slanting light; changing foliage; wood smoke on the breeze. However, for those of us who also love certain convertible, front-engine/rear-wheel-drive modes of transportation, there are sad days in the fall - like the first real frost telling us that soon we'll have to live through another five-plus months of keeping our heads inside the windows, so to speak.

Last week one morning I found the calling cards of cold-weather-driving on my soft-top: frost and fallen leaves. I think the end is near.

(Technical notes: you're not supposed to move the Miata's soft-top when the temperature is less than 45 or 50 degrees - the vinyl gets brittle in the cold and can crack. The soft-top is permanently attached to the car, but for the winter I fold it back into the open position and use a detachable hard-top with better headroom and heat retention, and a significantly larger rear window. I also put on snow tires on dedicated steel winter wheels, which improves my chances in snow and ice to "possibility of survival", and lets me use dedicated performance tires in the summer instead of all-seasons.)

(Procrastinatory note: last year I tried to squeak by on one too many "last nice days", and only got to put on the hard-top and snow tires on the first weekend of January in an unseasonable 60 degrees.)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Margot vs. Daddy's Art

We went to visit my parents recently - Uncle Bill and Grandpa Bob are in town!  More on that later...

Since my old toys are now Margot's toys at my parents, Daddy got to make an awesome tower of blocks.  I mean, it was like, twelve hundred feet tall.  Or, three.  But very rickety.

Margot wasn't that interested while I was building, but became interested once I was done, and dealt with Daddy's creation appropriately.
(Video has sound . . . I tried to cut it down to a quiet level.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I'd post video, but I can't find the cable to get the magic moving pictures off of the camera. So, you'll just have to take my word for it that Margot has mastered language.

On her first birthday, she could say "hi!", shake her head "no", and make a sign for "more". Each of these were subtle and humorous. For hi, Margot will hold her hand up to her ear like she's on the phone. No was only used correctly 75% of the time. We frequently were heard to say "by no, you mean yes" when feeding her something she really did want. And more was an interesting case of "I want more food, but not the kind you're giving me" and was signed repeatedly while accompanied by a face that said "what sort of idiot are you for giving me more cheerios".

A month and 10 days later, Margot's vocabulary has exploded! She has added:

- ball (bah!)
- up - This meant both up and down for a long time. After repeating "you mean down" enough times, she will sometimes say "gow" for down, but she says it in a tone like she's only humoring your crazy belief that up isn't appropriate in that situation.
- buh bye (frequently waving her hand towards herself while she does this)
- apple (her new word for food, which almost never ever means she wants an apple)
- pointing at her mouth to indicate that she wants food, frequently followed closely by the word "apple"
- puppy (pronounced pup-oh)
- cracker (quack-ewh)
- cookie (cuh-cooh)
- she pats her head and says "ca" when she wants her hat
- she pats wherever she wants you to sit, like next to her on the couch, on a pillow on the floor, or on a rock in the yard
- she twists her torso back and forth when she wants to dance or hears the word dance

And, today Lisa has taught her that "shoe" is the word for those things Margot is obsessed with. This kid will spend hours reorganizing our shoes, making creative piles of them, and carrying them over to anyone who is nearby.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tag Sale Find #1: Pink Hoodie

Cute details you might not be able to notice are a little butterfly on the zipper pull, ruffles at the pockets, and striped tape on the inside edge of the hood. All in all, adorable and well worth the $4.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Child Labor

During bath time, Margot has taken to cleaning herself, mostly by rubbing soap on her legs. She has now translated this into house cleaning behavior. After dinner, she took a napkin and started rubbing it on the table and then on her toys. I'm not sure who has taught her this, because I'm not a cleaning role model, but I would like to thank whoever it was. If this cleaning thing becomes a habit, having a kid just got a huge plus added to the pro column!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not at all Cranky

After a full morning of attending the semi-annual kids-stuff tag sale here in Acton, we swung by Maynard for breakfast and a visit to the farmers market. There are only 2 weekends left for the farmer's market, so we're trying to get in all of the great local vegetables and fruit. In spite of all the moving around and not having eaten, Margot was still in a great mood.

It was 37 degrees out (!) when we went for the puppy walk, so Margot got to bundle up for the first time this fall. This is a jacket that she wore last year and managed to squeeze into one more time. We got some cute actually-her-size options at the tag sale this morning. If you're lucky and real nice, she'll do a fashion show of them here.

Meanwhile, here's Margot in the midst of enjoying a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese.


At the end of Friday, Margot helped me tend the veggie garden. She spent at least 5 minutes diligently bending down and removing things from this one patch of the garden. It was helpful when she took out the first few leaves from nearby maple tree, but she didn't stop there. Apparently large clumps of dirt, small pieces of rock, and everything else that makes up dirt all needed to be taken out. Luckily, she did the entire removal process (bend down over the garden, select offending object, stand up, bend down outside of the garden, place offending object on the grass) for each individual thing that she found, so all of her hard work didn't result in any actual damage.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

1st Birthday Preview

I've been getting requests for a post about the birthday extravaganza that happened last week. I won't spoil any of the surprise, but here's a picture to tide you over until we get a full post together.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great-Grandad Smith

Margot's great-grandfather, Robert, came up to visit and spend a little quality time with the small one and the rest of the family. Margot's in a shy, suspicious-of-people-who-aren't-mom-or-dad phase, so we were curious to see how their time together would go. They basically marveled at each other and smiled a bunch. I'd call it a great success!

Now that Robert has returned to Florida, we're all missing him and counting the days until his winter trip back this way.

Here's a shot of Robert, Margot, and Murray for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More New Toy

Margot's obviously getting better and better at the walking push-toy that was featured last post. Evidence follows:

Actually, in all seriousness, she's great at standing and walking with the stroller, and is starting to want to go faster. In this case, I don't even know what she managed to hit to "catch an edge" and go straight over on top of it this time. She's so good natured: given that nothing actually went bump on the floor or got pinched or anything, we had time to grab the camera like good, caring parents and snap a picture of her in this state. Awesome Parenting Magazine, here we come!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Toy

Once again, Margot's friend Soren has generously allowed her to borrow a gently used toy.  Thanks, Soren!

In this case, as we head for the 11-month mark, Margot has been getting more and more interested in spending time standing, and she's pretty good at sidling around the coffee table or around the couch, or recently even "finger walking" holding onto Mom or Dad's hands.  So, we figured it was time for a "walker" toy that she could clomp along behind.  Over the last week, she's gone from rank amateur to being really pretty good with the toy.  Which is OBVIOUSLY how she got herself into this photo-opportunity:

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Margot has been fascinated with phones and computers for a few weeks now. She has noticed that I spend all of my time on them and she's been trying to figure out what the attraction is. The result is that Margot now picking up my cell phone and holds it to her ear while saying "hi". This seems like a much more complex level of mimicking us than banging on the computer keyboard or repeating sounds that we make. She has figured out both how to interact with the phone (hold to ear) and that you say hello into it. (And, yes, I do actually answer the phone "hi" if I know who it is from caller id.) She's cute and a genius!

Monday, June 23, 2008

At Least One Photo (Again?)

Hmmmm. Compounding how busy we've been not posting to the blog, I just got an error trying to upload this post.

Suffice it to say that we're good but all over the place, Margot's amazing, and we'll have to tell you all about it. Soon. Meanwhile, a photo.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An Ace at Sitting

Given the previous post, I thought it was only fair to Margot that I post an example of her sitting well. She's doing a lot of expert sitting these days! Not only can she exist happily on the floor by herself (and even scoot around some, though usually not in an intended direction), she's capable of riding in her stroller or a shopping cart seat without the car-seat, and even sits in the high-chairs in restaurants comfortably. Actually, she loves the high-chairs, because usually she can then get a taste of the table by just leaning into it and gnawing.

I love the following shot, 'cause I think it looks like she's focused on making a good selection in the store. Although, about 60 seconds after this shot I pointed out to Christi that Margot was leaning sideways to bite on the horizontal metal bar at the side of the cart! Yay, teething...

Think she's ready for a career as a sitting-model? ACE Hardware ad copy, here we come...
Posted by Picasa

Grace Happens

Margot's fancy stroller comes has a bar across the front that is at first used to secure the car-seat in the stroller, but then becomes the anchor for the snack/drink tray once she is big enough to sit in the stroller properly. However, "properly" may not be the right word, since she's come up with her own favorite method now that the tray is in place. She's a delicate flower!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Margot Trap

Margot was making unhappy noises, so I looked down to see what toy had moved out of reach. Instead, I was surprised to see Margot caught with her hand in the shape toy (you put the right shapes in the right holes). Margot had stuck her hand in to get a shape and wouldn't let go of it, so she couldn't get her hand out. Being the caring parent that I am, my first reaction was "we need a picture of this" rather than, say, helping her. At least events like this will be nicely documented for any future therapy sessions.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Margot and Pop-Pop, 4/19/2008

Margot's Grammy and Pop-Pop came to visit ten days ago. She's sitting up tremendously, and looking at the world and the people and things in it with a whole new intensity and attention, at least to my eye. I think you can see a bit of it in this photo. I think Christi's working on some posts as well, so I won't spoil some other recent developments yet. Stay tuned!
Posted by Picasa

Margot and Daddy at the Playground, 4/19/2008

Posted by Picasa


Pop quiz - What did I spread all over my yard this weekend?

I'll make a straw-man proposal: it's straw, man. This weekend we aerated most of the back yard, seeded, fertilized, and spread milky spore to cut down on the japanese beetles. Christi found info on the web saying that a layer of straw is good for keeping warmth and moisture down on the grass seed/sprouts, and can be mowed in as compost once the lawn starts to grow. I'm just hoping that the whole exercise goes better than last year, when I tried to re-seed half the yard WAY too late in the summer and ended up with scorched earth for the rest of the year.

Things I've learned in the process:

  • hay has seeds, straw doesn't
  • straw/hay generates lots of very fine dust when you break up the bales
  • this dust is not pleasant to breathe
  • my back yard can be covered using approximately 1.25 large bales of straw
  • I can be covered with dust using much less straw

In related news, we handled the trickiest spot in the yard (over the top of the septic tank, average depth 1.5 inches of crappy topsoil) by planting a quick flower garden in a few inches of new topsoil/manure/peet mixture contained with a couple of 4x4s pulled out of the scrap pile. Thanks to C&K for bringing us some of the lilies torn out of their garden - the new centerpiece for ours!

(Note the straw all around the new garden, and the hose for the sprinkler setup to water the yard obsessively until the grass gets going. Went to the hardware store for an extra hose-splitter so that we could run three hoses/sprinklers and have full coverage without walking on the grass seeds to re-set the sprinklers. And I only soaked myself twice setting up the sprinklers!)

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cutting Her Teeth


Margot's having a rough few days with what looks like four new teeth coming in. Four!

Teeth shift out and in, so we won't know for while how many are out for good. We'll try to document her new toothy smile when we're past the worst of it.

Here is a photo from the other day in which, if you look closely, you can see her existing two bottom teeth poking up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More than Half In the Bag

Margot got pretty caught up in doing the laundry the other day...

But, at least she seemed to have fun with it...

Posted by Picasa