Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lean To


For about a month the three of us have been working on the above lean to.  It is a slow project, mainly because I am the only one that can cut stuff, haul stuff, or dig fast enough to get something done, but I am fairly certain that's not the point. 

Tonight, after a great dinner and a fabulous spring weekend, Ethan, Isaac, and I went back to work on the lean to.  It was the first really warm evening and after some chopping and carrying, Isaac got a bit hot.  So he ripped his shirt off and kept going.  Ethan, not one to ignore his older brother, did the exact same thing about ten seconds later.  I, being more modest and less shapely, decided to keep my shirt on.

Still we worked quite well.  The basic structure is up and the fire pit is ready.  The boys can be seen here, combing the resting area for large rocks.  Isaac used a branch as a screed board and Ethan "chucked the big ones" into the pit.  All in all, I can't imagine having more fun in an abandoned lot.  I also cannot imagine two little boys more filthy.  By the time we came inside, they looked like 19th century kids straight out of a coal mine. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ethan GPS

Isaac was an okay car kid.  He didn't like it too much when his car seat faced the wrong way (and who would) but even after he switched directions he was never thrilled.  The iPad in the car has been a patience saver for us when Isaac's riding for more than 30 minutes. 

Ethan on the other hand is a positive joy in the car.  I don't have him in the car alone all that much, but when I do I am stunned at how good he is.  From his tiny seat, in either my car or Biancas, Ethan will call out locations.

"Are we on the highway?"
"I like Summer St.!"
"When is Water St.?"

No matter where we are, Ethan is calling out spot.  He knows when we are in Worcester because he asks about his hospital.  He knows when we are near Rota Springs.  He knows if we are going to Church. 

The best part is when he calls out not just where we are but where he thinks we are going.  If its around dinner time and we are over by Panera he will notice and ask:

"Are we going to Panera?"

But if it is a different time of day, even in the same location, Ethan will look around and ask:

"Are we going to the doctor?"

And then if we are near Isaac's karate, he will make sure Isaac knows (because I am not sure how much Isaac really pays attention to this kind of stuff): "Brudder, we are near your karate!"

I love my little GPS and boy is he smart. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


If you are at our house these days (circa March 2018), there is one word and only one word that matters--buttcheekola. 

Isaac had a bit of potty talk working its way into his vocabulary.  This meant that Ethan was also getting an injection of potty talk.  At some point Bianca and I decided that we needed to give them a word, not an actual bad word, but a word that they felt was a potty word.  This way they can "swear" without swearing.  They get the thrill of profanity without being profane.

After making the terms of the deal clear with the boys, they picked a word Isaac made up: buttcheekola. 

So now if you poke your head in at dinner time or just randomly listen in on our conversation in the car, you will hear the word "buttcheekola" more than 100 times an hour.  Isaac is a buttcheekola, Ethan is a buttcheekola.  Isaac is mad that Ethan called him a buttcheekola.  Ethan is furious because he is NOT a buttcheekola.  Its a swear, an exclamation, a joke--everything that little boys want and it is all found in one made up word.  Its just scandalous enough that it SOUNDS bad, but no one on Earth would mistake it for an actual swear word.

In a word, buttcheekola is perfect.  A solution to many problems for both parents and kids, all in a single four syllable word. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Isaac Anthony, Esq.

Twice a year St. Bernard’s hosts a book fair.  They convert the library into a mini bookstore and the kids browse the offerings.  There are a lot of books that are from popular series—Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc.  There are also kids “refernece books” like the DK guides to Star Wars movies and the like.  I had book fairs too and this is where I feel in love with Guiness World Records (which I still get annually to this day).

In previous years it was alway a bit of a hassle because one of us had to go at some point and pay for the books that Isaac had scouted out all week.  This year they instituted a new e-wallet system.  Bianca loaded up Isaac’s e-wallet with $25 and explained to him how it worked.

Bianca: Isaac, this year they are using an electronic wallet.  You do not need Mom or Dad to pay for things.  You have $25 to spend.

Isaac: What if I don’t spend it all, do I get what’s left over?

Bianca: No Isaac.  The book fair supports your school.  This $25 is for you to spend ONLY at the book fair.  Do you understand?

Isaac, with slightly stooped shoulders: OK

Well, that night I came home to a bit of controversy.  Apparently, Isaac spent his money on a car poster (McLaren 720, if you are curious).  Bianca was upset because he didn’t buy books. When I confronted him he told me:

“You guys said the money was for the book fair.  I bought something at the book fair.  You didn’t say I had to by books.  I don’t think it is fair that you are mad at me.”

I had to preserve the Parental Facade and be stern, but deep down inside, the lawyer in me was tickled by this argument.  We decided as punishment, Isaac had to use some of his money to pay for the poster.  When he conceded and paid the cash ($5), we rewarded him for taking responsibility by giving him $2 back.  Or least that’s why Bianca gave him the money back.  Personally, I paid him for making a good argument.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Prognostication and Total Recall

Nanna was in town for Isaac’s winter break (thanks Nanna!) and the last day she was here she and Isaac had plans to go out to Amherst to visit the dinosaur museum.  Through a series of events, Isaac ended up convincing Nanna to take both he and Ethan.  Then while there, Ethan got a bit bored with dinos and found a window that opened up on to a construction site.  He sat there and watched for a good chunk of time (which is, of course, age dependent).  None of this seems particularly odd, except for this point—the night before, during family hug Ethan told Bianca, Nanna, Isaac and I that he was going to a construction site the next day.  We just assumed it was more wishful thinking than actual prediction.  But through a series of improbable events, Ethan’s little prognostication came true.

Paired with this feat of prediction is Isaac’s feat of memory.  As we were riding to karate this morning Isaac asked me if I had ever broken the law.  I told him the truth: everyone has broken the law at some point.  He seemed stunned, then I explained—everyone has sped, parked illegally or violated one of the billions of stupid laws out there like the one that requires not one but two functional lamps on a license plate or the law that bans items hanging from the rearview mirror.  He then asked me what is the dumbest law.  I told him that there are still laws on the books, all of which cannot be enforced, that ban black and white people from marrying each other.  Then he asked me who made those laws and I again told him the truth—racist people, mostly racist men.  Then he said “those people sound like a-holes.”  After this came a close interrogation about where he heard that word.  I was certain I said it, but then he told me he heard Bianca say “a-hole.”  He had perfect recall and it was only because of that that I was able to remember the exact (and only) moment when Bianca slipped up with language.

Kids are amazing.  Their ability to predict the future and recall the past shames us adults.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Great Wolf Lodge and Vegas

This morning is the morning of Great Wolf Lodge.  The boys have cranked it up to 11 and then broke the scale.  Ethan and Isaac were playing in Isaac’s bed and then Mom gave us the warning for karate. Isaac took off like a bolt and went downstairs.  Ethan, however, refused.  After about ten minutes, I told him that I had to go downstairs and that I was leaving him in Isaac’s room.  I walked out, switched off the light, and started towards the stairs.

Instead of his protest cry, I heard a genuine sad cry and I sprinted back into Isaac’s room.  I picked up the Beeth and cradled him as he rested his sad head on my shoulder.  As we walked downstairs, he stopped sobbing, but said in the saddest voice I have ever heard him use: “I still wanna go to Great Wolf Lodge.  Please don’t leave me here while all of you go without me.”

I then reassured him that there was no way we would go to Great Wolf Lodge without him.  He asked me if we had ever gone without him and I told him that we had, but only before he was born.  I told him that from now on, if we go, he goes.

Such rules, apparently, do not apply to Las Vegas.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Second Grade Mock Trial

At parent teacher conferences, when Isaac’s second grade teacher learned I was a lawyer, the orgin of all of Isaac’s behavior became clear.  By way of apology, I offered to come in and teach the class about government whenever she wanted.  Two weeks ago, she sent home a note and we worked out the logistics.  This past Thursday, I came in and we did a mock trial, albeit scaled to second graders.  Here was the fact pattern:

There will be three groups of kids: the prosecution team, the defense team, and the jury.  Carter will be the person who lost his lunch box.  Isaac will be the person accused of stealing the lunch box.  I will be the judge.  After reviewing the fact pattern the defense team will make their argument, then prosecution will make theirs and then the jury will decide.  


Carter brought his lunch box to school.  On the day the lunch box went missing, it was outdoor recess.  All of the lunch boxes were in the cafeteria.  Carter placed his lunch box in a pile with the other second grade lunch boxes and then went outside.  When he came back in it was missing.

Carter asked about what happened and Savannah said that when she went back inside she saw Isaac pick up Carter’s lunch box.  Maddox also talked to Carter.  He said he saw Isaac after Savannah came back outside and Isaac did not have Carter’s lunch box.  

The jury has to decide: Did Isaac steal the lunch box?  

Some Legal Points:

Theft: taking something that belongs to someone else without their permission.

Burden:  The prosecutor has to prove their case.  If they don’t or if it is a tie, the defendant wins automatically.

How Sure: To find Isaac guilty you must be completely certain he did it.  

The kids were really excited.  I divided them up in to the prosecution, the defense, witnesses, and the jury.  I gave each side time to talk to the witnesses and I listened in and helped guide them with arguments while they prepped.  Isaac gathered his time and gave them tips about why he was not guilty.  The jury asked questions about procedure and voting, just like a real jury.  They also asked about how to figure out who is telling the truth with two people tell different stories, just like a real jury.  

After some nervous moments of prep, the two sides made their arguments to the jury, with each prosecutor and each defense lawyer taking a turn.  In the end, the jury deliberated and there were 5 guilties and 2 not guilties.  When I asked the class what would happen in real life, they all told me that Isaac would be guilty.  I then told them that many states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire, require unanimous verdicts.  Given that Isaac was not guilty.  They were all surprised and riveted.  Isaac then said to the class: “I would like to thank my defense team.”  

All of the kids were amazing and they really got it into.  After the mock trial they asked me questions about criminal cases for a half an hour or so.  Many of the questions were the same questions that adults ask when they find out I am a lawyer—how do you defend someone who did something bad, how do you defend someone who you know is guilty, and what if they don’t have any evidence—they even asked questions about DNA, which is stunning.  60 years ago cutting edge science just learned about DNA.  Now second graders ask about it and how it is used in a criminal case.  

I prepared for a while and I was very nervous, as nervous as I was arguing in federal court for the first time.  Coincidentally, the second graders and the federal judge both peppered me with questions.  It was also fun to see Isaac.  He was in seventh heaven.  At the end, all of the kids, spontaenously swarmed me, giving me hugs.  I asked Mrs. Doiron if this was normal and she said it was.  

It was a very good day.