Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 10

Week of August 22, 2009

Theme of the week: Summer Exhaustion. It has been a busy summer, and with the heat still here to start the week it had me saying "is summer over yet?" frequently. By the end of the week it seemed that fall was in the air... literally, as I have been sneezing like crazy all week. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.

Saturday: The beginning of another race weekend - this time in New Hampshire. We drove up in the morning, stopping at a scrapbook store on the way, and headed straight for registration. Then it was over to the race site for the "TimberKids" race. The Tumbleweed participated in the half mile obstacle course and did a great job. We spent the night with the Eagle's cousin, who lives nearby.

Sunday: The kids & I headed to the TimberMan Half IronMan course a few hours after the Eagle, and were able to see him make the transition to the bike shortly after we got there. After that, it was a long wait to see him again - and by the time he finished we were hot & tired from being in the sun all day. Despite the sweltering heat, he was pleased with his time.

Monday: We recovered from the weekend. The race conditions, and poor hydration on my part (gave all the fluids to the kids), had really drained my energy. We spent most of the day at home - with the only diversion being a trip to the air conditioned grocery store.

Tuesday: We went to the zoo. I thought the kids would be more interested than they were. Maybe it was too hot. Maybe they were too hungry or tired. The Dandelion had a hard time seeing some of the sleeping animals & lost interest fairly quickly, despite my efforts to find familiar animals for him to see (tiger, giraffe, monkey, flamingo). The Tumbleweed wanted to hurry from one animal to the next and wasn't thrilled when we stopped to watch for a bit. But with ice cream, a playground and the opportunity to hold a macaw right before we left - it was declared "awesome" by the time we went home.

Wednesday: A morning with no plan rarely works out - and this was no exception. Despite my best efforts, the kids were antsy until naptime... but I did get some chores done once the Dandelion went down for his nap. He had karate in the afternoon - but I still don't have any pictures (didn't get there as early as I planned).

Thursday: The most perfect day weather-wise --- sunny & comfortable - hooray! We got together with friends for a playdate, and the kids had a great time playing soccer, Hi-Ho Cherry-O! and dress-up. After naptime, it was off to the gym as this week marked the first week of "Fall" practices at gymnastics. The lobby was so crowded! The Tumbleweed got right back into the swing of things & enjoyed the fact that they will be warming up with the Level 2s ("big kids" to her - ages 5 & 6 - LOL) all year.

Friday: Well, one day had to be jam-packed... We had a good time at the Barnes & noble "Back to School" storytime, where the Dandelion actually made the craft!!!! (sorry, huge accomplishment for him) After assessing the options - we had lunch at Red Robin before heading to the MOMS Club Ice Cream Social. It was chocolaty, it was messy, but we had fun :) On the way home we stopped to do a little back to school shopping at Carter's since I had an expiring coupon. They were having an awesome sale on some jammies - I got the Dandelion 4 pairs for $2.23 each! From there we picked up the soccer shirts (which are pink this year), but unfortunately the rain rolled in canceling our first team practice (and eventually the first game on Saturday too).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer School

Despite the long summer vacation - 5 days shy of 3 full months - we have been doing a lot of learning this summer. When school ended in June, the Tumbleweed seemed a bit disappointed, so I let her pick out a couple of workbooks so she could play 'school'. Well, she totally took to this, completing two pre-K books in nearly a week. I must admit, they were sort of impulse purchases with characters she liked and I did not fully check the content. They were a little too easy. But since she was quite eager to get new ones, I put a little more thought into what we were selecting.

Since early July, she has been working on her "Sight Words" (one of the workbooks from round two). Besides learning the words, she also gets a lot of handwriting practice with her lowercase letters - without just practicing "handwriting" (which she tells me is too boring). It has been neat to see her be able to put together the sight words she knows and the words that she can sound out to really be able to read some of her books (although sometimes it is hard to tell because she has memorized most of them quite well). In addition to her workbooks, she has also become a fan of word searches, color by number and connect the dots.

In order to keep the Dandelion out of her way, he too has a little workbook. Obviously, he needs lots of help and only has about a 30 second attention span, but he is making some progress. He has gotten quite good at his shapes - especially octagons, which he likes to point out while we drive. He has shown more interest in coloring recently, but does seem to be struggling to learn his colors a little bit. I am hopeful that he grows to like coloring even more, because I could really use an activity that will keep him busy while the Tumbleweed does gymnastics, soccer & dance.

To keep our new activities organized, I have set up an activity box. In it are all of the workbooks, stickers, crafts & flashcards. I only pull out a couple of featured things for each kid when we need a quiet activity, so they remain interesting & special. I also have a grab bag of papers with activities written on them. The Tumbleweed can choose one of these activities to do while the Dandilion naps --- play-doh, lite brite, puzzles, markers, stamps, board games, etc. So far it has worked pretty well, and she usually accepts the activity she drew first.

But, not all learning is organized. Here are some of the other things the kids have picked up this summer...

The Dandelion:
~how to climb out of his crib
~how to sing "C is for Cookie"
~how to build with (duplo) legos
~how to walk down the stairs
~how to turn on the water at the bathroom sink
~how to close the car door from the inside
~how to dump ingredients into a bowl
~how to put ice on a boo-boo
~how to put money in his piggy bank (and not his mouth!!)

The Tumbleweed:
~how to pick all kinds of fruit (raspberries, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, cherries)
~how to climb a rope & a rock wall
~how to [happily] swim with her face in the water
~how to tie her shoes (sometimes)
~how to jump rope (she goes backwards?)
~how to paint her nails
~how to make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich
~how to put sippy cups away
~how to pull weeds

Now is it time to start school yet?!?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Don't Fence Me In"

It has been more than a month since I took down the family room gate. It had lost its effectiveness. The Tumbleweed had been able to climb over for more than a year, and in that time had demonstrated what needed to be done thousands of times. So it didn't surprise me that the Dandelion figured out how to use chairs, toy bins and even toys themselves to boost himself over the gate. Finally I couldn't remove all of the "stools" from the room, so it was time for the gate to go.

Since then it has taken everyone some time to adjust... I no longer have a way to keep the kids out of the kitchen when I am about to open the oven (I also had to put more cabinet locks on so all of my bowls & pots weren't dirty). The Tumbleweed has no way to keep her little brother out of her room and away from her "big girl toys". And most of all the Dandelion can go anywhere he wants!

His current favorite places are the bathroom sink to play with the water (he hasn't started setting up tea parties on his bed like his sister did, but he still makes a mess), the kitchen counter where the snacks are (he pulls up a chair), and the Tumbleweed's room to play with her Littlest Pet Shop & My Little Ponies (specifically the ones with buttons that play songs or light up). I have tried setting up little things for him to play with in his own room, but I guess the other things are more interesting for now - or - no one is going to tell him what to do.

Now we still keep a gate on the stairs, but I am no longer fearful of him falling down them. It is more to keep the kids out of the basement (where they can get into things they shouldn't or where the Eagle is working), so sometimes we do leave it open and let the kids go down on their own.

The only other remaining barrier for the Dandelion to beat was the side rails of the crib... and yesterday morning he did just that. As the Tumbleweed put it when they came bounding into my room together yesterday morning "he just flipped himself out" (I know she didn't help, because she had just been in my room moments beforehand).

Looks like we can't keep him contained forever... yikes!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 9

Week of August 15, 2009

Theme of the Week: Some like it hot, but I do NOT! I guess summer finally kicked in this week, because the entire week was hot, humid and practically unbearable most of the time. We definitely avoided staying home in our hot house, and were crazy busy most days with regular plans and additional activities to help us cool off. After avoiding putting the window air conditioner in the bedroom for two months, the Eagle put it in on Sunday - at least at night we are comfortable! I can safely say, I am ready for fall.

Saturday: A laid back day, with mini-outings & chores. During the Eagle's morning ride, the kids & I did a little shopping and spent a few minutes at Michael's doing their back-to-school pencil box craft. The kids also got to spend some time with Daddy playing in the bouncy house before we headed to a (semi) local wading pool to cool off. Afterward, we went to Friendly's for dinner & ice cream.

Sunday: I spent the day getting things done around the house (cleaning out the car (again), laundry, blogging, and other household chores), while the Eagle took the kids out on some errands. We had grilled pizza for dinner, to avoid turning on the oven.

Monday: The Tumbleweed had her first day "Flippers Camp" at her gymnastics center. Lucky kid gets to swim everyday of this hot week. In the afternoon, we went to a new glow-in-the-dark indoor mini-golf place with friends. Both kids enjoyed it and I think the Dandelion is still trying to find his ball (it went in the last hole and disappeared). Later, we headed over to the Y where the Dandelion and I hung out in the air-conditioned NAZ, while the Tumbleweed tried a cheerleading workshop.

Tuesday: After a quick drop off at camp, the Dandelion and I hosted his little friends for a splash playgroup. All the kids had a lot of fun playing at the water table & in the spray pad in our backyard. In the afternoon, we headed to the farm to weed the children's garden before CSA pick-up.

Wednesday: We got an early start, picking our first raspberries of the season right after the farm opened at 8am - since we had to drop the Tumbleweed off at camp at 9. The Dandelion and I went to sign him up for a toddler program at a local center and played in their A/C until camp pick-up. Then it was my final "afternoon from hell" as the Tumbleweed had her last summer dance class, followed by the dash to karate. I had planned to finally have a karate picture of the Dandelion, but can you believe that there was a kid in class afraid of cameras? I had to put it away before taking even one shot :( After class we went to family swim to cool off before bed.

Thursday: Another day of camp, followed by a trip to the splash pad with our MOMS Club friends. The Dandelion wasn't too keen on the water spraying him, and only wanted to play on the playground. After HOOTs & HOWLs dinner with our MOMS Club friends, the Tumbleweed and I had "girls night" (shopping, smoothies and nail polish) while the Eagle took the Dandelion to the movie (Cars) at the Y for "boys night".

Friday: The final day at camp, and the Tumbleweed was begging to go another week (however this was the last week it was offered). She really gained a lot of confidence in the pool by being able to play in the 2 foot depth, and even the 3 foot depth by the end of the week. I will definitely sign her up again next year! After camp, we went peach picking with friends which the kids really enjoyed, even the Dandelion was able to reach the peaches. We picked some more raspberries & played on the playground before heading home --- both kids fell asleep in the car! And if that wasn't enough, the Tumbleweed had her first soccer clinic for the fall season.

Monday, August 17, 2009


When you have two kids (or more) it is hard to achieve balance.

When the Tumbleweed was 2, she was the only child (although the second one was on the way). When we went to playgroups it was for her, family outings were chosen based on her likes, food we purchased at the grocery store was what she liked, and she picked the stories at bedtime. We spent lots of quality time doing things one on one with her. Life was simpler.

Now that the Dandelion is 2, I am struggling with balancing both kids' needs and managing daily life. For example, when the Tumbleweed was 2, she would play in the bathtub with toys & bubbles for 30-45 minutes. But that isn't the case for the Dandelion, he is in & out in under 15 because we have two kids to bathe. And when we go places, he often has to ride in the stroller for me to manage both kids (I know I had stopped using the stroller with the Tumbleweed at this age because I remember taking her along to my OB visits and I have pictures of her walking along the ramp from the parking garage).

Over the past year it has be harder to choose activities. I didn't want to go the the playground or the beach because the Dandelion would run away or eat bark chips & sand. I have had to hide the kid scissors because the Dandelion will run with them. I don't ask either of the kids to help me cook or bake as often as I used to, because I am afraid the Dandelion will get hurt or break something.

Two is certainly a challenging age, and now that the Dandelion has reached it, I want to recognize the person that he is becoming and foster his interests. He is growing into quite the little boy and I need to give him more space to explore & discover. I need to keep reminding myself that he is not a baby anymore, and he can help me cook & clean, paint pictures, play with playdough and follow simple directions - but he needs to be taught these skills just like I taught the Tumbleweed.

As fall approaches I am excited to have some one-on-one time with him while the Tumbleweed is at school. I am also looking forward to him having some playgroups & classes of his own where she does not overshadow him. I think he needs a little of both to grow into a confident little preschooler by next fall.

In the meantime, I am searching for new ways to keep him occupied during the Tumbleweed's afterschool activities this fall. I am sure we have many years of one kid watching & waiting for the other during classes, and I have yet to figure out how make this a pleasant experience, for both of us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 8

Week of August 8, 2009

Theme of the Week: A glimpse of our future? This week week we had a sampling of what life is like when sports take over dinner time. The kids each got to do some new "big kid" things this week, and I was reminded frequently how much they are always growing & changing.

Saturday: Finally a weekend at home. The Eagle & I did lots of projects around the house. He spent a lot of time with the Tumbleweed hanging a climbing rope and setting up the tent. The two of them slept in the backyard for the Tumbleweed's first time "camping". She was so proud to be "a big girl".

Sunday: Another day of work around the house. In the evening we took the kids to "Apple House" (aka Applebee's) for dinner - the Dandelion has been asking to go there for months. After dinner we did some errands, one of which was getting the Dandelion his first pillow. He was so excited to sleep on his McQueen pillow like a "big boy"

Monday: A relatively slow start to the week, with gymnastics in the morning and the afternoon at home visiting with the Eagle before his trip. In the evening we had the first night of soccer camp #2 - the Tumbleweed loved it & even played with the 5-6 year olds, while the Dandelion & I battled the heat and the bugs on the sidelines until after his bedtime.

Tuesday: The Tumbleweed went to her "new school" for camp, giving the Dandelion & I time to run some errands. I was surprised how much he seemed to miss her. She really enjoyed the camp and came home begging for school to start. Due to a poorly timed nap, the Dandelion was a bit of a disaster for CSA pick-up and not much better for his second late night watching soccer camp.

Wednesday: We had a great morning at the playground with the MOMS Club, with both kids climbing high & testing their limits. Unfortunately, the second half of the day did not go very smoothly. I attempted a "two parent kid shuffle" alone, and was irritated (to say the least) when made the trip from dance to karate only to find out karate was canceled, again. Needless to say I was a teensy bit annoyed by the time we made it to soccer camp.

Thursday: All good things must come to an end and today was the last day of summer gymnastics and soccer camp. The Tumbleweed made me so proud by climbing to the blue line on the rope at gymnastics, something she had not even been close to before. She thoroughly enjoyed both activities and will start fall practice for both in about a week.

Friday: Hot & humid, it was the perfect day to head to Wallum Lake to go swimming. The kids enjoyed the water & sand behaved quite well. I had been a little doubtful about taking both of them by myself, but they are definitely getting better at handling such activities. In the afternoon, we "strolled" to two scrapbook stores, meeting a friend there so the kids could play while we shopped. And to top off the day, I headed out to a midnight crop & got 4 pages done!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Black Sneakers

Do you remember something that you really wanted when you were a kid, but couldn't get?

When I was about 10 (I think), I really wanted a pair for black Reebok high-tops. (I know, it seems silly now) Anyway, my mom drew the line at "black sneakers" and I got white with teal piping. To this day I don't understand the reason that we were not allowed to wear black sneakers, but this rule lasted for as long as my parents were buying our shoes.

Over the weekend I was standing in Payless eying a cute pair of black sneakers with multicolored piping for the Tumbleweed, thinking "black sneakers, that would be practical, they would match everything and wouldn't show dirt". Hmmm. I bet that was my logic when I was 10, too. Actually, it was probably more like "but mom, black sneakers are in. Puh-leese."

In the end, I didn't get them for her. Mostly because we found other shoes that she liked (and she never even picked up the black ones). But maybe it was just in case I decide when she is 10 (or 12 or 16) that I don't want her to have black sneakers. The last thing I would need then is a picture of her wearing them when she was 4!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Opposite Day

Following an episode of Little Bear the Tumbleweed has been playing "Opposite Day" all the time. It is an "On & Off" kind of thing, so one minute she is saying things normally, and then next she is saying "Mommy, I don't need help" (when she really does) and "This tastes terrible" (when she really likes it). Over all it is generally cute and amusing most of the time.

I am not sure if the Dandelion is playing along with the game or confused about his opposites, but lately I am noticing him using the opposite of several words. Now, I can't seem to recall him ever using them correctly before so it could just be that he is learning them and hasn't quite gotten them right yet. Some examples are...

~"I wan to go ih side" (when we are inside and he wants to go out)
~"I get" (when he is struggling to climb up onto something)
~"Turn off" (when he wants you to turn something on - a light, fan, water, etc)

Well, it is cute despite being slightly confusing from time to time (think tantrum when one of us does the opposite of what he actually wanted). He'll figure them out soon, and the opposite phase will be long forgotten.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 7

Week of August 1, 2009

Theme of the Week: In the Swing of Things. We finally seem to be finding our summer rhythm - the weather was nice and we had a good amount of activities, but not too many. It is sad that we only have one more week of "summer schedule" left and we'll be back to "winging it" until school starts.

Saturday: We headed down to the cape first thing in the morning. We spent the morning with friends before heading to Nana's & Papa's to celebrate the Eagle's birthday. At the end of the evening, I headed home alone to get some things done around the house.

Sunday: Me time! I spent the morning working on scrapbooking kits for one of my classes, then I headed to the scrapbook store for a crop and book club. A much needed break.

Monday: We have finally gotten into a pretty good rhythm getting to gymnastics, although I am still struggling to keep the Dandelion occupied/contained. In the afternoon we went to the Y for their Monster Crafts class. It is the one special Monday seminar that includes 2 year olds, and I thought it would be fun for the Dandelion. I was glad that he tried some of the art project, but he lost interest pretty quickly. I really hope he grows out his short attention span!

Tuesday: First Little Readers Book Club, then a little shopping. I went to Goretti's to stock up on chicken - $1.98/lb every Tuesday. Our last stop was the farm for our veggies.

Wednesday: I finally made it to walking group - yay! Then we were off to make Origami Cranes at a playgroup. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed origami as a kid. The Tumbleweed had dance in the afternoon and the Dandelion was actually tolerable during class. Unfortunately, his karate class was canceled - he might have been a better mood this week.

Thursday: After gymnastics we headed to the Millbury Library picnic - lots of fun, friends & free food. My only regret is that I didn't take the time to let the Dandelion go on the fire truck (or "red bus" as he called it --- I was so thrilled that he got the color right, we have been working on learning colors). Next time.

Friday: A busy morning. We headed out early for walking group, then up to Kohl's & Target for back-to-school clothes shopping and we finished up at the playground with the MOMS Club. It was great to find a new playground - and the kids had a blast. In the evening the Eagle took the kids out to dinner while I stayed home and scrapbooked. I am finally feeling creative again.

Outside Kohl's

At Treasure Land

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Life with a two year old has it's ups & downs. This week has been tough. We have been struggling at dinnertime to get the Dandelion to eat anything. And I do mean anything.

Every night, the Dandelion comes running in yelling "dinnertime" and climbs into his chair with enthusiasm. But as soon as he is buckled & pushed into the table he wants to get down and "go play". He yells, he kicks, he throws his fork, he throws his food, he takes off his socks & shoes, even asks to go to "Time Out". Anything but actually eat.

Sometimes I blame this on the rest of his eating habits for the day - big lunch, late snack, big drink before dinner... but this week we have eliminated all of these things and it hasn't helped. He still won't even pick up the food on his plate and he certainly doesn't put it in his mouth to taste it. [so far this week he has refused hot dogs, pasta and steak - all of which he has eaten at some point].

I do think he is hungry. But I think he is throwing a tantrum because he only wants to eat yogurt (last month it was rolls), and he is testing to see how quickly he can get us to give up and give him yogurt. Well we haven't done that, and he has sat at the table until after everyone else has finished. Then he has gone to bed (upset, but he is always upset about bedtime).

Right now I feel like he is never going to "get it".


Speaking of getting it... he has several new phrases that he likes to use - some of which he uses correctly, some he is clueless about. All of them are pretty cute & funny.

"I di i fuwst" - he definitely doesn't know what first means, as he will say this when he hasn't even done anything.

"That no bear" - [That's no fair] - he has been saying this all the time for about a week, I don't think life can be unfair all the time, right?

"I duper duper MAD"- sometimes he uses this correctly, but it almost always makes me laugh.

"Don't you dare that" - I think he knows what this one means, and he usually says it to the Tumbleweed when she is doing something she shouldn't. His first form of tattling, I suppose.

So he is speaking his mind and testing his limits --- and we are dealing with it. Such is life with a two year old.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Soccer Mom Shoulder

I think I have a new condition. After several days of my shoulder bugging me, I finally think I can attribute it to something... My right shoulder hurts from passing out food & drinks to the kids in the car. Oh the aches in pains of a soccer mom*.

Now it is not new that I pass food to the kids in the car (hence the messy car), but I think that after the last clean-out (two weeks ago), I think I might have moved the Dandelion's seat back an inch or two --- which means it is slightly more of a stretch to hand him snacks & drinks. Thus the new pain in my shoulder.

Tomorrow morning I am going to move his seat up a bit and see if it helps.


*side note:
definition - The phrase soccer mom broadly refers to a middle-class suburban woman who spends a significant amount of her time transporting her school-age children to their sporting events or other activities. She is sometimes portrayed in the media as busy and driving a minivan.

...well, my kids aren't exactly "school aged" and my car isn't technically a mini-van, but otherwise I guess that sums up my life pretty well.

Monday, August 3, 2009

To fix or not to fix

That is the question.

"It bwoken, Mommy." "Not wookin." "Fi sit." I seem to hear these words a lot. Whether it is a crayon that has snapped in half, a toy with dead batteries, or a tiara that has been stepped on, there is always something that is broken. Sometimes the solutions are easy ... a broken crayon is now two crayons and I can replace the batteries (provided I want the toy to make noise again).

But then there are the other toys. Whether they require hot glue, careful taping or sewing I stick them up out of the way. They seem to be piling up on the mantle these days. Should I just throw them away? Maybe. Is it worth repairing them? Sometimes. Do the kids miss them when they have been on the mantle for a while? Mostly, no. Would they be crushed if I threw them away? Mostly, yes.

I suppose one of these days I will actually plug in the hot glue gun and fix them, but for now I have an ever growing pile of magic wands, tiaras, pop-up books and necklaces. It will be like Christmas when they are all fixed.

They don't make toys like they used to!