Monday, December 31, 2007

brand new cousin!

Derek Joseph Dowcett was born on December 29, 2007, at 1:03 am. What a cutie!
Proud parents Joey and Kim, cuddling the fruit of a very long labor. Dylan and Alexa can't wait to meet their new cousin.

the big day

Even though we forgot to leave him milk and cookies, Santa was a good sport and left some goodies for the kids.
The big gift was a wooden kitchen, though Alexa was more excited about the fact that Frosty was perched on one of the shelves.

Dylan couldn't believe that Santa had taken the time to assemble the puppet theatre Kaytie got for him and his sister.

Alexa enjoyed lounging in the fancy pink chair from her Uncle Joey and reading her new book of poems from Santa.

If we ever get some real snow, Dylan will be able to test out his snowshoes on the trail. He did sport the trekking poles for a while when he and I hiked up Sleeping Giant later in the day. After about 20 minutes, though, he handed them over to me, along with his backpack.

All in all, it was a good Christmas. It was the first year that both kids really got into it, which made it quite a treat for us as well. Of course, Alexa still thinks that Santa lives "at the mall," but overall, she gets it.

Christmas Eve at Auntie Annie's

These few photos can't possibly capture the craziness of our Family Christmas Eve at Annie and Bob's house in Waltham. Is there some kind of record for how many family members can be squeezed into a one-story house?Proud Papa Gregg (Merloni) with Little Alex.

Escaping the mayhem, Dylan and Alexa, who don't spend enough time with the extended family to have become accustomed to the crowd, watched "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with Grammy.

Dylan enjoyed posing as the Fat Guy.

And Lexi was reluctant to give up the hat, thinking it possessed some sort of magical power.

family gift exchange

Christmas Eve has typically been the big holiday in my family. We headed up to Massachusetts and did a gift exchange with Grammy, Grampy, Joey, and Kaytie before going over to Auntie Ann's for the Extreme Family Gathering (we're talking wall-to-wall cousins, aunts, uncles, spouses).
Dylan's favorite gift was a Monster Trucks set, complete with paints and decals for customizing, from Uncle Joey, who always gets the perfect gifts.
Here's Alexa being tickled by Frosty.

And tickling Aunt Kaytie with her new turtle puppet, which came with the awesome puppet theatre that Kaytie bought for the kids.

Kat and I can't wait to hit the town sporting our matching caps and gloves.

The only thing missing, of course, was Michael, whose presence is always felt most heavily on holidays such as these. Mike, wherever you are, hopefully your Christmas was filled with Star Wars Guys, He-Man dolls, and a glass Barney Rubble.

Happy holidays. xoxoxoxox

O white stuff from heaven fall

Every once in a while, though not nearly often enough in this too-southern New England state, we get this stuff called "snow." When this happens, we arise as if filled with new life (well, after a few cups of coffee, that is), run for the barn, and retrieve the precious flexible flyer (which still looks pristine as a result of these snowless, mild winters. Never thought I'd be thinking with longing of those sub-zero degree days in Anchorage, where the frost bit my fingers harshly as I struggled to turn the ignition in my well-worn Subaru wagon).
Inspired by this fluffy manna from above, Dylan puts all ambivalent feelings toward his sister aside and, reveling in the crisp joy of winter, offers to pull her around the yard. (Usually such spontaneous acts of kindness are met with responses like, "No! Leave me 'lone! Ont Daddy do it!").

Here's to hoping those cute little sleds get some more use this winter. To snow!

talking politics

When asked what they thought of the presidential candidates for 2008, Dylan and Alexa had this to say:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

out of the mouths of babes

This morning, Dylan and Alexa were playing with Lexi's baby dolls, putting them to bed, changing their diapers, throwing them down on the floor--the usual. Lately, they've been experimenting with different family roles: sometimes, Lexi plays Dylan and Dylan plays Mommy, or Dylan plays Daddy and Lexi plays Dylan. Today, they tried a variation. Dylan said, "Lexi, let's play family. I'm Mommy."

To which Lexi replied, "I'm Bob Dylan."

As yet, she hasn't quite developed the role--the game continued on as if she were playing Daddy, or Mommy--but I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

alexa turns two

My good friend Teresa sent Alexa this dress and hat just after she was born. I had almost forgotten about this outfit. Glad I found it. Lexi was in love with the hat and kept it on all day.
Trying on her new watch. At the end of the day, she looked at it and said, with a yawn, "It's bedtime, Mom."

For most of the party, Alexa and Molly, her pal from daycare, were inseparable.

Dylan took a liking to Lexi's new sleeping bag, and donned his backpack for a dining room excursion.

green party
We tried hard to keep the party as "green" as possible, and Bryan and I were pretty excited about how little waste was generated. We used cloth napkins, reusable plates and "silverware," cloth table covers, and reusable decorations.

We tried to institute a "no gifts" policy by writing a note to that effect on the invitations, but Lexi's friends and family are just too darn generous and couldn't resist the urge to bring something for the birthday girl. We couldn't complain, though, because the gifts were thoughtful--and many of them were in reusable bags :].

Monday, November 19, 2007

our yearly date with thomas the tank engine

Edie couldn't get enough of her cousin on the Essex Steam Train.
Gramma Bev (Bryan's mom) and Little Andy Cay (Bryan's sister Sue's 6-month old)

What's that out the window??

Dylan, Edie, and Alexa being cousin-ly.

o hushed october morning mild*

Dylan and Alexa with pal Maggie at West Rock Nature Center in Hamden.
The pine cones and feathers and fallen leaves abounded, but Alexa found herself drawn to a piece of scrap metal.

Ain't life sweet?

*Robert Frost, "October"

it's been a while. . .

. . .since I last wrote, so here are some recent fall photos. This one is of Dylan the Dinosaur with his pals Princess Zoey and Spider-Ben at Cheshire Nursery School.
And this beautiful house recently went on the market. I've been eyeing it for the last year--it's about 2 miles from where we live--and when I saw the "For Sale" sign I had to look. I'm still trying to talk Bryan into buying it. The inside is even more charming.

Whoops! Alexa fell off the horse. . .

but she's okay!

Monday, October 29, 2007

there's a party goin' on 'round here

Everyone who knows me knows
that I adore the beautiful and majestic state of Colorado. . . .
But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy watching the Red Sox take the World Series at Mile High stadium last night!

Here's a flashback to 2004. Who's that guy with the long brown hair?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

dance, little sister, dance!

This morning, while I was drinking my coffee, Bryan yelled from the living room, "Hey, Trish, NPR is doing a feature on Mick Jagger."
The kids jumped up, dropping their trains and Little People on the floor, and went running across the kitchen. "Mick Jagger!" Alexa squealed. Dylan echoed this. As the radio played clips of the Stones and Jagger solo, the kids danced around maniacally (much like Mick). Dylan added his own favorite lyrics to the musical menage: "Don't you know the crime rate's goin' up up up up UP!"
Proud? Hmmmm, I'm not sure. Kindermusik it isn't. I can't say I don't feel a little twinge of mom-guilt when Dylan walks around the house rapping "Hit me, come git me" a la Red Hot Chili Peppers. But I do relish their interest in music. On Sunday morning, Dylan asked Bryan to play his guitar, then proceeded to join in with every auxiliary instrument he could find: Guatemalan drum, kiddie rattle, tambourine, harmonica, castanets. Alexa, wearing jeans and no shirt (we took off the shirt because she was eating applesauce and refuses to wear a bib), put her arms up and twirled around, head back and hair flowing, like she was at a Dead show.
This isn't to say that they have discriminating musical tastes. Lord knows, they're just as excited--if not more so--to hear the Wiggles as much as anything Mom and Dad listen to. But it is fun to hear Dylan singing along to Neil Finn or Bruce Springsteen or whatever else is in the CD player.
"It's no hangin' matter. It's no capital crime."
I guess, in the end, it's only rock-n-roll (and we like it).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

happy birthday, little brother

This is how I like to remember Michael: boyish, flippant, and self-assured. Always ready with a smart-ass comment, a spot-on impression of some comedian or other, or a witty observation.
I miss my little brother. Especially on those "marker" days, those anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays.
Michael would have been 33 today, had he not been so haunted by the demons and shadows that slowly ate away at his vitality, his self-image, and his belief that he could ever pull himself out of the dark depths of his addiction and into the world again.
But he never lost his humor. During his worst periods, he was still as funny as hell. Joey once said that, at times, you wanted to hate him, but when confronted with that cocky smile, you couldn't. You just wanted to throw your arms around him and say, "Oh, Michael."
With each year that passes--almost four years now since he died--I am more reminded of those childish qualities that drew people to him, even people who swore they would never speak to him again. And I still look for reasons, and I still beat myself up and tell myself I could have been a better sister, less the advocate of "tough love," more the gentle guardian.
And I look into Dylan's eyes and see the resemblance, and I wonder if I he can sense the intensity of my love, even though I know that a parents' love, for as much comfort as it can provide, can never be a savior.
And I lament the fact that Michael never met his beautiful niece and nephew, that he will not meet Joey's son, who is soon to arrive.
And sometimes, in those moments, I feel panic that Dylan and Alexa have only each other.
And I wish that they could have met their impish, frustrating, magnetic, and maddeningly funny uncle.
I love you, Michael. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

hay jumpin'

Had to add this image of Alexa jumping in the hay at the Berkshire Fall Festival. She's been talking about it ever since.

berkshire bash

While we were in the Berkshires, we went to a down-home fall harvest festival, done the Berkshire way: children dancing in tye-dyes and "peace"t-shirts, hay-themed rides, hula-hoop shows, bucket-truck rides, crafts, cider donuts, caramel apples, the works. Dogs were welcome, which was a nice treat for Sasha. Alexa donned a large helmet for her pony ride, and she was pretty jazzed about the whole thing.
Dylan was a regular equestrian.

The hay maze was very kid (and parent)-friendly, as you can see.

Zombie kids: the result of night #1 in the tent.
Smile (but not too hard)

fall camping

We spent the long weekend camping in the Berkshires, in Western Massachusetts. Grampy (Dowcett) and Kaytie met us there. Dylan enjoyed lounging in the camp chair (as you can see by his "genuine" smile).

A little fireside scene, with Bryan playing pack guitar.
By Day 2, Alexa was a little dazed. She probably needed the coffee as much as I did.

We all found it amusing when Fred made a rare appearance at the stove. We made sure to capture the special moment on film.

Kat and the kids, fireside.

All in all, the weekend was a success. A little rain, a little lost sleep, but overall, the kids (and the dog) were well-behaved, the company was pleasant, and the scenery was fine.