Category Archives: Catherine

Rainbows and Unicorns, or, Catherine’s Sixth Birthday

It seems unbelievable, but this past Saturday, Catherine turned six. Six! It’s strange to think that we’ve had a child for longer than the time we spent in college, that we’ve had a child now for longer than we were married without kids. Strange but wonderful.

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

The theme for Catherine’s party was “unicorns,” a theme chosen by Catherine and developed as a family collaboration. Catherine wanted a unicorn cake and to play a game of pin the horn on the unicorn. Rebecca made the cake and the game board, made unicorn-themed invitations, and also made wearable unicorn horns for the guests:

Unicorn Girl

Unicorn Girl

I was pleased to be able to help with enlarging the sketch Rebecca had made of a My Little Pony unicorn to use for the ‘pin the horn on the unicorn’ game board.

How do you like my interpretation of this unicorn?

How do you like my interpretation of this unicorn?

I’m rather proud of my work.

The party itself was a great success. We were spending Memorial Day weekend at my in-laws’ cottage in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, and we held the party right in their yard. Everyone seemed to enjoy wearing the unicorn horns and eating the cake, and everyone was a good sport while playing ‘pin the horn on the unicorn’.

Pin the horn

Pin the horn

Happy Birthday, Catherine! Let’s see what the next year has in store!

Six Candles

Six Candles

For all of the photos from Catherine’s birthday, visit our gallery.

Day with the girls

On Thursday, I spent much of my day with Catherine and Esme. From roughly 9:30am until 4:00pm, here’s what we did.

We started off the day by heading in to work. What? I’m on vacation, right? Well, as it turns out, CBD‘s Bring Your Child To Work day was on Thursday. This is one of the girls’ favorite days ever, and to miss it would be like missing Christmas. So we went in just for an hour to get some company-provided goodies, take a walk around the building, play in the games/crafts room, and say hi to my co-workers. I think it actually worked out better this way, as my job isn’t one that the girls can really grasp at the moment, and usually if they do come in, they end up being more of a distraction to my co-workers than anything else. So this way, everyone got what they wanted.

The games/crafts room

The games/crafts room

Watching packages

Watching packages

After visiting work, we walked across the street to get lunch at the Subway I frequently visit.

Subway lunch

Subway lunch

After lunch, we drove up to Cherry Farm Creamery for some ice cream, and then drove into downtown Beverly for an afternoon of storytime and activities at the library. Esme has a 3-year-olds storytime at 1pm on Thursdays, and Catherine has a science club at 3pm on Thursdays, so Rebecca generally makes an afternoon of it when she does it with the girls, so I did the same.

I played Checkers with Esme while Catherine was in science club

I played Checkers with Esme while Catherine was in science club

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, and I told Rebecca that she could keep her job. 🙂 But overall I did have a good time with the girls. It is good for me to have a chance to spend a lot of time around them during the daily routine, and learn more about what they’re like outside of my usual evenings-and-weekends window.

Catherine and Papa PhotoDay

To kick off my vacation week, on Saturday Catherine and I took the commuter rail into Boston for a day of photographic adventure together. Catherine was taking photos using Rebecca’s Canon PowerShot SD750 compact camera, while I was taking photos on both my iPhone 4s and my Nikon D80 DSLR.

We started off at Beverly Depot, where we watched for our train to come and practiced taking some pictures. One of my suggestions was that we try taking pictures of the same things and seeing how they compared. Here is one example:

Catherine's photo of the commuter rail map

Catherine's photo of the commuter rail map

 

Papa's photo of the map

Next, we enjoyed a short ride on the commuter rail from Beverly to Lynn.

Catherine on the train

Catherine on the train

In Lynn, we had to get off the train and get onto a bus into Boston, as they are doing bridge work on the weekends.

Catherine's hair blowin' on the bus

Catherine's hair blowin' on the bus

The route through Lynn was, as one might expect, quite slow and filled with traffic. At one point, the bus was caught in traffic behind what was apparently a massive traffic accident that had happened earlier. We waited for about half an hour as emergency vehicles squeezed around us on all sides and the bus tried to get around the traffic. Finally the bus had to do a u-turn and backtrack to Route 1 in Revere, and take that into the city. Here’s a photo of the commotion.

Accident scene

Accident scene

We did finally get into the city, about 45 minutes later than intended. We got onto the Orange line at North Station and took it to State Street, where we got out to have lunch at Chipotle.

Catherine on the Orange line platform at North Station

Catherine on the Orange line platform at North Station

Chipotle in Downtown Crossing

Chipotle in Downtown Crossing

Catherine took this picture of the truck that delivers her "favorite fruit snacks"

Catherine took this picture of the truck that delivers her "favorite fruit snacks"

Catherine enjoys her Chipotle

Catherine enjoys her Chipotle

Next, we took a walk through Downtown Crossing on our way to the Common. Catherine saw this funny sign for a Mexican restaurant and thought she should take a picture of it. So I did, too.

Catherine's photo

Catherine's photo

Papa's photo

Papa's photo

We made our way to the Common, where Catherine got a balloon flower from a vendor near the playground. She later told me this was her favorite part of the day.

Catherine and her balloon

Catherine and her balloon

Next we headed over to the Make Way For Ducklings sculpture, which for some reason had the ducklings dressed up as superheroes.

Catherine and the ducklings

Catherine and the ducklings

At this point, Catherine was ready to head home, so we headed back to North Station where Catherine got a little treat.

Catherine and the Yummy Donut

Catherine and the Yummy Donut

Thankfully, the trip home was much less eventful. We both had a great time on our little adventure.

A good day

A good day

Lifting Device

Yesterday before leaving for work, I handed Catherine this small box from a recent Amazon order. I knew she’d do something creative with it.

Lifting Device

Lifting Device

I wasn’t disappointed. This morning I found it and asked what it was. She said, “It’s a lifting device. If I want a snack or something, you can just put it in and I can pull it up.”

The things someone comes up with when they sleep on the top bunk. 🙂

What I Did This Father’s Day Weekend

A Report By Peter Wood

This weekend ranks up there as one of my favorite Father’s Day weekends so far. The weather was great, the activities were fun, and I got to do my favorite thing, spend lots of time with my family.

On Friday we drove out to Harold Parker State Forest in Andover, MA, to go camping with our friends Laurel and Scott and their kids. We had a big campsite where we each pitched our tents, as well as a screen room to put around the picnic table, which our friends had brought.

Our Campsite

Our Campsite

L&S are very experienced campers, so we enjoyed the opportunity to learn from them and benefited from their service. My particular favorite was Scott’s buckwheat pancakes.

Scott, makin' pancakes

Scott, makin' pancakes

Catherine and Esme had a great time playing with the kids. Either family’s tent was fair game for jumping, cuddling, roughhousing, or reading.

Girls reading

Girls reading

I also got to enjoy some quality time with our girls. We walked to the campground’s playground, explored our own campsite, and went to look at the pond. Here’s a photo from one “adventure walk” Catherine and I took while Mama and Esme were napping.

Adventure walk with Catherine

Adventure walk with Catherine

Overall, the camping trip was very low-key. We didn’t have any real plans of what to do, we just relaxed and did what we felt like doing. I checked the time only a couple of times during the trip, but otherwise didn’t have a clock in sight. We had a really great time with Laurel and Scott and their family. It was also a good dry run for our trip to Michelle‘s wedding in July, where we’ll be camping for a few days.

You can see all of the (many) photos from our camping trip here.

After we got home from the trip, we unpacked and spent the afternoon puttering around the house, resting from the weekend and getting things put away. Later in the day, we went out to dinner at one of my favorite places, the 99 Restaurant.

Girls helping me put crackers in the seafood chowder

Girls helping me put crackers in the seafood chowder

After dinner, we went over to Endicott Park to play on their excellent playground and see their farm animals. We saw the unusual (to us) sight of two female sheep butting heads. We also got to see the park ranger feeding all of the animals. The girls were both very excited.

Girls and Geese

Girls and Geese

I was glad to get to spend the weekend with friends and family. I feel very privileged to be the father of two great girls, and am glad to have Rebecca as my partner in helping them grow. Thanks for the great Father’s Day!

Papa with Catherine and Esme

Papa with Catherine and Esme

A line of her own

What can save you money, is earth friendly, encourages discussion, solves discipline issues and introduces life skills to young children? A clothesline!

Catherine has, for some time now, been following me out to the clothesline during my (almost) daily chore. Hanging the laundry is a peaceful, monotonous, repetitive chore that gives me a great excuse to get outside in the morning. Having a five year old nearby clamoring to help can make the experience decidedly less peaceful, I’ve discovered.

My first response to her offers to help were “okay! Please hand me a sock!” That suggestion, as well as “Please hand me a clothespin!”, were met with protests from the aspiring Mama at my hip. “I want to really help!” she’d say. That meant that she wanted me to pick her up and let her pin the clothes up on the line. Not such a problem the first time, but my back can only handle so many ups and downs lifting a fifty pound kid! Also, while I wasn’t exactly in a rush to finish the chore, getting done in a timely fashion pretty much went out the window with this kind of help.

My second response was (I’m ashamed to say) to shoo her away. “Go water the garden or swing on the swings or collect sticks or, or, or…” Read: “Go do anything else and let me be!” Obviously, this option went over like a hot rock, and didn’t make me proud of my parenting skills.

My third response, and the best of them all, was inspired by something I read online somewhere. The author mentioned how she starting hanging her clothes out on a small line that her mother had strung up. The (cfl) light bulb above my head went of and a couple of days later Catherine had her own little clothes line on which to hang some clothes.

This little line has stopped the tugging on my shirt and the begging to help. She now can take her own basket of socks and small shirts and hang them while I’m hanging the rest of our family’s laundry. While we’re out there we can talk about the weather or nature or the best way to hang a shirt. We also talk about plans for the day, upcoming events and whatever else tickles our fancy. What we’ve left behind is the power struggle of who would hang what and the impulse to shoo away a girl eager to learn the ways of her Mama.

Maundy Thursday Drawings

When it comes to taking small children to church, Peter and I are of the opinion that kids are a welcome and loved addition to any service. We’re very lucky to be part of a church family that feels the same way. Our girls are never the quietest or best behaved in the crowd, but they love to be there!

Last night was our Maundy Thursday service, which is traditionally a quiet, contemplative occasion. Peter was already planning to attend (as he was playing his cello for the service) but I wasn’t sure about bringing the girls along. In the end I decided that it would be better for them to attend as long as they could and it would be a good opportunity to see their Papa worship with his music.

Catherine brought along a notebook that hadn’t yet been drawn in. She was fairly intent on her drawings, which kept her relatively quiet and still. Afterwards I realized that it would be the perfect opportunity to see what kinds of things the service had inspired her to draw. I am really intrigued and would love to know just what she was thinking and feeling!

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This one is Peter playing the cello. (I know because it is very similar to some others she has done this week)

The rest here are a little more open to interpretation.

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For larger photos click here to get to the gallery!

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I should also note, in case it makes a difference to anyone, that all these drawings were made using Smencils. So in addition to the pictures looking great they smell fantastic!

Two Girls in a Bedroom

On Friday, with some apprehension, I said to Catherine, “Y’know, Papa and I have been thinking about getting your old small bed down from the attic and putting it in your room so that Esme can sleep with you at night.” I wasn’t sure how she would react to the idea of giving up ‘her’ space and brought up the topic just to start the ball rolling so she could get used to the idea.

Well, wouldn’t you know that Catherine was more than thrilled at the thought of having “two sisters in one room!!” So excited, in fact, that as soon as we got home and put Esme down for her nap she rushed into her room and started cleaning up.

Before
Before

Catherine and I had the room clean and tidy by the time Peter came home from work and before bedtime the two of them had rearranged the furniture a bit, retrieved the bed from the attic, assembled it and made it cozy. Both girls were almost too excited about it all to fall asleep, but they eventually drifted off.

After
After

Esme spent about half the night in her new bed and half the night in ours, but I’d say it was a pretty good first night. Just before bed Catherine told us, “If Esme wakes up and cries I will say to her ‘are you okay, Esme?’ And if she says no, I will bring her to Mama.” So sweet!

The room is so small that eventually I think we’ll have to go to bunk beds, but for now this arrangement will be just fine. [more photos here]

A Day of Friends and Unicorns

Two great things happened today.

First, we had a wonderful lunch with Jackie. She’s in town on business from the West Coast and we were very glad that she could fit us into her schedule.

While out at lunch, Catherine told me that she wanted to make some decorations during Esme’s nap. “What sort of decorations?” I naively asked. “Unicorn decorations!” Catherine whispered. Well, okay!

So, once back at home, we got to work. My first attempts were pretty crude. Drawing is not my best talent!

Catherine and I collaborated on this last one. Definitely the best unicorn picture of the day!

These Days

These days we are enjoying:

Halloween Decorations: This fall has seen a magical intersection between Catherine’s fine motor and scissor skills with her love for papercrafts. The result? Paper pumpkins, bats, cats, and ghosts to welcome the trick or treaters.

the Swing set: This 10 year old swing set is enjoying a second chance at life now that it has been moved into our back yard. Many thanks to Grandpa Lowe for the reconstruction and Grandpa Wood for the blue swing!

the Leaves: Who can resist a big pile of autumn leaves?

New Headwear: The girls have been coming to church with me this week to help set up for the Holiday Fair. Esme found and modeled some fun headwear!

(this last one kills me! I was sorting books and turned around and found her exactly like this. I nearly died laughing!)