September 2013

This has been a busy month! We are all finally getting into the swing of the new semester, new school year (K2) for Marcus (at the Quincy School in Chinatown), new daycare for Samantha (near his school), and new scheduling logistics. Three days a week I bring Marcus to school early for the pre-orchestra class before school officially starts, and two days a week he takes the bus. Samantha loves waiting for the bus with him. Karate started back up, and Marcus is in the older kids' class (supposed to be ages 6-8) and just got his first blue stripe on his orange belt.

Marcus got a bag, a bell, and some other accessories for his bike at the beginning of the school year, and we've tried to take advantage of the nice weather to get some good bike rides in afternoons and weekends.

We've also been catching up with friends after the busy summer and just enjoying the start of Fall together.

We take a car so seldom that Samantha now doesn't typically hate it--it's a novelty to her, and she'll usually sit fairly happily in it when we do have to drive somewhere (maybe 1-2 times a month, so not often at all). The picture at left below was en route to some city event--maybe the playoffs for Robert's softball game, I think--and the picture at right was at the JP Urban Agricultural Fair (Marcus was not feeling well, and refusing to look at the camera, naturally).

Three days a week I pick up Samantha and then meet Marcus at school; sometimes we go to the park afterward, and periodically meet up with Mulugeta and his sitter. Boston has 75 decorated pianos installed outside this month for an art project--here Marcus is using the pedals and Samantha is trying to play.

This is her favorite position to sleep in--two different days.

One Sunday we took the commuter rail to the Life is Good festival in Canton--Marcus loved the tug of war and other games, and Samantha liked the Yo Gabba Gabba concert, though she was alternately entranced and terrified of the characters.

On Thursdays I've been taking Samantha to an art class--she wears their tee-shirt-smocks, paints giant murals, paints dinosaurs, and plays with water extremely happily.

One Saturday after karate we took Alex to the jazz festival right on Columbus. The kids loved the bouncy houses, free cotton candy and Italian ices, bubble entertainment, balloon animals, airbrush tattoos (Alex--Marcus can't stand the feel of someone drawing on his skin), and music. We shared Indian food for lunch, and generally had a great day.

Toward the end of the day, after Alex had gone home, Bob met us, and after we walked around a bit more and sampled one of those spiral fried potatoes (awesome), we got Puerto Rican food from a stand that was closing (half-price!) for supper and brought it upstairs to eat and visit.

One Sunday after church we went to another of those family art days at the MFA. Marcus loved sketching in the Audubon room, making cloth collage clothes for a paper doll in the "Hippie Chic" fashion gallery, and walking through the Egyptian rooms. With wings afterward on Huntington, it was a great day.

September also brought our 20th anniversary of meeting/dating (we got cupcakes for everyone and made it festive for the kids--Samantha loved saying "Cupcake!" and eating the cupcakes, and Marcus rejected them as too sweet), the return of the Friday night kids' fellowship at church (we go out to dinner, usually with Samantha, and sometimes with another couple, enjoying a night out downtown), and the Boston mayoral primary election (Robert was away for work, so I brought both kids over after dinner to vote; we saw several candidates for mayor and city council on the way, but the highlight was this very cool house just two blocks away that I've always loved and now Marcus is starting to appreciate as well).

One Saturday, with Robert at a statistics conference, we joined Miriam, Davis, Garrison, and Clarinda in their car and met Sarah, Sean, and John at the Big E in Springfield. It was a fun-filled (and food-filled) car ride over.

Samantha was typically nervous around the mascots, but Marcus liked talking to them and taking their free candy.

We all met at the cheese curd booth, and returned there later in the day as well. My kids can sure devour fried cheese curds.

I tried to get a group shot in front of the state house, but I failed. Davis and Garrison were there, just not here.

Marcus was, as always, fascinated by the guy selling drills and drilling holes in assorted other tools. He also loved getting his pony ride and watching the Clydesdales get hooked up to their wagon for the parade.

We spent a fair amount of time camped out on the lawn of the state houses, letting grown-ups take turns making excursions inside for our favorite treats (pulled pork parfaits, Maine baked potatoes, lobster rolls, kettle corn, whoopie pies) while the kids ran around and played.

Marcus and Garrison went on a dragon-themed kids' roller coaster that technically you were supposed to be 48" to ride alone. Neither of them were. "They're not alone," Miriam rationalized. They looked utterly terrified at first but soon settled in and loved it, asking to go again. We did not say yes--it was starting to rain (again) and we were getting ready to head home. Everyone had a fabulous day, despite the rain!

Two quick movies for you--Samantha enjoying her pockets, and the kids playing at a little South End playground between school and piano lessons one Monday.


Marcus went for his five-year-old well-child visit this month. He allowed the nurse to measure his height (44") and his weight (40lbs) and his blood pressure (normal), though he writhed and mimed screaming during the blood pressure test, stage-whispering "TOO TIGHT! TOO TIGHT!" to the ceiling. In the actual examination room he refused to put on the johnny the nurse suggested or to take off his clothes. The nurse tested his hearing.

"Raise your hand when you hear a beep," she said.

She put the instrument in his ear.

He sat there, not moving, a silent smile frozen on his face.

After about fifteen seconds, she said, "You didn't hear anything?"

"Yes," he said. "There were five beeps."

"How come you didn't raise your hand?" she asked.

"I don't know," he said.

She tested his other ear, with exactly the same results, except that he reported there had been six beeps. "He's right," the nurse said.

I sighed.

Then she tested his vision. "Do you want to do letters or shapes?" she asked.

He stared at her.

"Do you know your letters?" she asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Do you know your shapes?"


"Well, which one do you want to do--letters or shapes?"

"Shapes," he said.

The row included black outline drawings of what looked to me like an apple, a house, a circle, and a square, all mixed up. Every time the apple came up, he would hypotheize about whether it was a heart or something else ("The little thing on the bottom doesn't LOOK like a part of a heart. . . " he said). On the third row down he gave a huge sigh. "I'm tired," he said. "I can't do this anymore."

"You mean you can't see?" asked the nurse.

"I GUESS I mean I can't see. I'm just too tired," he said. The nurse checked off something on her clipboard.

Then the doctor came in.

"Why do we see you every year?" Marcus asked.

The doctor answered him by saying he was just here to examine him and make sure he was healthy.

Marcus said, "I know! But why do we see YOU every year?"

The doctor asked if he knew what grade he was in.

Marcus was silent.

The doctor repeated his question.

"I don't know," said Marcus.

"I think you do," said the doctor. "You're in K2, right?"

"That's not a GRADE," said Marcus. "After K2 comes FIRST grade, then SECOND grade, then THIRD grade. . ."

He kept going up to ninth grade.

"Do you know what the 'K' stands for?" the doctor asked Marcus then.

"No," Marcus said.

I sighed again.

"It stands for KINDERGARTEN," the doctor said. "That's a German word."

"We're going to Germany at Thanksgiving!" I said.

"Oh my!" the doctor said. "Maybe you'll come back speaking German, Marcus. Kids' brains are better than adults' at learning languages--"

"And at not getting dizzy, and at hearing things, and at something else I forgot," said Marcus.

"Well, yes," said the doctor. "Here, let's see if you know your letters. Can you read this word?" he showed Marcus a printed sheet of paper, putting his finger under one word.

"Cat," Marcus said.

"Yes, that's right," said the doctor.

"But what's this thing at the bottom of the 't'?" asked Marcus.

"Oh, that's a comma," the doctor said. "Commas sometimes go after words."

"No, THIS thing!" Marcus said.

"Oh," I said. "Is that a serif font? He prefers sans-serifs. He'll always comment on the serifs."

"Yes, it IS a serif font," the doctor said. "Hm. Very interesting. An eye for detail, eh?"

"You could say that," I said.

"Okay," the doctor said. "Can I take a look in your ears now?"

"No," said Marcus.

"How about your mouth? Can I start by looking in your mouth?"

"No," said Marcus.

"Why 'no'?" the doctor asked.

"I don't know," said Marcus. "I just like to say 'no' to everything."

"Okay," the doctor said. "Can you take a deep breath for me?"

"No," said Marcus.

The doctor did finally look in his ears and mouth, and did finally listen to his heart and lungs. At the end of the visit, it was time for the flu vaccine. The doctor offered Marcus a choice between the shot and the nasal mist (which he'd never had before). Marcus chose the mist, and afterward announced that it "felt funny" but he liked it more than a shot.

"When I grow up I'm going to build a robot that makes all the shots into things you spray into your noses so no one has to get a shot ever," he told the doctor and nurse. They shooed us away down the hall.


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Created: 9/30/13. Last Modified: 10/6/13.