Friday, March 30, 2007


Everyone who comes to Washington wants to visit the Smithsonian. That means different things for different people. Some think it's the museum where you see the lunar rover. Some where you see the Hope Diamond or First Lady dresses. Some are looking for a Renoir. In fact, the Smithsonian Institution is a network of 19 museums. These include famous museums such as Air and Space, and Natural History (but not the National Gallery of Art) and lesser-known museums such as the Postal Museum.

Never heard of the Postal Museum? It's actually pretty new and quite small, but I've gotten to know it pretty well the last few months for one reason: the semi-truck. The museum is home to a life size semi truck cab (semis travel the "star route" hauling mail cross-country). Joseph LOVES this truck. We once sat in it for over an hour. We try to hit the museum when it's not too crowded (which isn't too hard at this little-known attraction) so that there aren't too many other competing kids.

The best part, of course, is that it's free just like the rest of the Smithsonian museums. I'm really going to miss that about Washington. That makes it okay to go to the Postal Museum twice a week, or to leave Natural History after ten minutes because the dinosaurs are too scary.

We have a sitter.

I'm not sure how it happened. Last week she couldn't sit up. Then, last Sunday, she could. She sits up and looks around and plays with toys and leans over to pick up things off the floor. She occasionally gets tired and flops over but more often she falls over because Joseph "helps" her. Amazing.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Is this my kid?

Those of you who had the pleasure of eating dinner with me as I grew up can probably guess my least favorite food: broccoli. It's true that, on the whole, I was not a green vegetable fan, but broccoli was, by far, the worst, and I try to avoid it to this day. I've been known to voluntarily add green peas to my cooking and I even invented a now-famous dish, Brussels-sprout Pizza (my father-in-law has been avoiding our house since I threatened to make it for him). But I try to avoid cooking broccoli whenever possible.

However, we get weekly deliveries of fresh produce and have little say over what comes in the box. This is our third week in a row of fresh broccoli. Guess who's been eating it all?

Joseph, what do you want for lunch? Broccoli.
Joseph, would you like a snack? I would like some broccoli.
What's for breakfast today, Joseph? Some broccoli!

I've even had to keep our freezer stocked with broccoli in case he eats all the fresh stuff before more arrives in the weekly box.

I guess it could be worse . . .

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Margaret's makeover

I give all the haircuts in this family, so I was pretty excited to have a daughter this time--less haircutting! Right? It seems I've been blessed with scraggle-haired children. I first cut Joseph's hair when he was four months old and he's needed a trim almost monthly since then. Margaret has the same fast-growing hair and was beginning to sport a mullet.

Trimming the hair of a five-month old baby is no small feat. Eric tried to keep her both entertained and still while I approached from behind with the sharp haircutting scissors. I've learned a lot about cutting hair over the last four years, but I was a bit concerned about this job. I certainly want her to look like a girl--we get enough people assuming she's a boy already, despite her exclusively fluffy pink wardrobe.

I think we were successful and Margaret seems pleased with the results. The camera probably doesn't show it, but she's beginning to turn blond just like her brother. Once that summer sun hits, we might have another towhead in the family.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The quest for order

I think Joseph is inspired by his parents' recent zeal for organizing the apartment and putting things in order. This is his latest thing, too. At Christmastime he'd line up all the Nativity figures along the couch and announce they were "going on a journey." Where" "To Bethlehem." Smart boy. Now he likes to pull down his basket of cars and line them up; first the large vehicles and then the smaller ones. He even knows that this is called a caravan.

Joseph is, in general, eager to help out any way he can these days. Last week I said, "Let's play! What should we do?" Answer: "Clean up!" He sat in Margaret's infant rocking chair for awhile and swept the walls with the large kitchen broom. I'd really been meaning to catch up on my wall sweeping, and now I don't have to! As soon as the wheelchair arrives (any day? next month?) we'll get him folding laundry . . .

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Playing together

Joseph and Margaret adore each other. Every morning they wake up grinning at each other. When Margaret is sad we take her to see Joseph. He is the only one in the family so far who can make Margaret laugh. He always wants to hold her and, so far, he's very happy to share his toys with her.

Things do sour a bit when Margaret grabs the train track and turns it into a dozen track pieces. Or when Joseph decides to "feed" Margaret. I've resumed my vigilant scanning of the environment for potential choking hazards. Then there's the mobile stander and soon-to-be wheelchair. It's a bit hard for a two-year-old to understand that running over his sister is painful.

It is a great joy of parenthood to see them have fun together, though. I won't delude myself into thinking it will always be this way. Certainly my own childhood has plenty of evidence to the contrary: games of GI Joe turning into shouting matches. But we all love each other, now. Right?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Margaret's musical ambitions

We certainly want our kids to be musicians--with a lowercase "m". Both of us were reasonably talented musicians and I think it's reasonable to hope that our children will inherit this skill. (By contrast, we do not expect to produce anyone with any athletic ability whatsoever.)

Joseph used to hate when I played my flute. He'd scream and cry and it was pretty traumatic for everyone. He's pretty sensitive to sounds in general. The result has been serious neglect of my beautiful instrument for the last couple of years. I took it out again recently because one of our current students is a fantastic player. Joseph doesn't mind so much now. The bigger challenge is trying to explain why he can't play it. Our myriad recorders, tin whistles, Bosnian pipes, etc. are no substitute for Mommy's shiny keys.

He will tolerate it, though, so I've been playing several times a week. Margaret is a big fan. The case makes a pretty good toy while I play.

We hope to start Joseph on something--maybe piano, maybe violin-- after his next birthday. Maybe Margaret will be another flute player and I'll finally have someone to play duets with me.