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...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Box Tops

The Tumbleweed's latest "obsession" is with taking "Box Tops" to school. I am talking about the little symbols on certain grocery packaging that earns money for her school. Her new school participates in this program and rewards the kids with a prize from the prize box each time they bring in 10 Box Tops. She thinks this is the best thing ever!

She has started taking this so seriously that when we went to the grocery store last week she picked the yogurt that had Box Tops (Dora) over her current favorite (Hannah Montana). It was a great math lesson as she tallied how many Box Tops we had in the cart as we went up and down the aisles. She was almost offended when we picked things that didn't have them and even told the Dandelion that we weren't buying Cheez-its because they didn't have any. Fortunately she doesn't have the last word when it comes to what goes in the cart.

Everyday as we prepare for school she insists that she has to do a coloring sheet and attach her Box Tops (that's how they turn them in). Fortunately I have been saving Box Tops all summer and haven't run out yet --- that is going to be rough news to break to her, but at this pace I don't think we can eat enough food to keep up with her!

I suppose it could be worse... she is taking an interest in grocery shopping, doing addition, coloring fancy pictures, signing her full name, counting out the Box Tops, and looking forward to getting to school every day.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The Dandelion is clearly more ready for college frat parties than he is for potty training...

Yes, he came up with this idea on his own.
Yes, I will save this picture to show his first girlfriend.
Yes, the Pull-up was clean.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Saturday Triathlon

While the Eagle was off at the Duxbury Beach Triathlon for the morning, the Tumbleweed & I got started on our own triathlon... Soccer, Safety Street & Cycling. Actually, I was merely the transportation - she was the one with all of the activities which happened to all land on the same day.

First Event: Soccer Game - Millbury - 10am

The Tumbleweed (and her whole team) started to look more "together" in this their 3rd game in 8 days. She got her second goal of the season and did much better playing defense & goalie.

Second Event: "Safety Street" School Event - Sutton - 11:30am

The Tumbleweed's school had put together a visit from a school bus & safety exhibitor, plus a police car & an ambulance for the kids to learn more about how to be safe and about the people who keep us safe in the community. She had a good time at the event, and also introduced me to some of her new friends and gave me a little tour of the classroom.

Third Event: Mayor's Cup Cycling Race - Boston - 3pm

From school, we hit the road to meet up with the boys for an afternoon in Boston for the Mayor's Cup cycling race. The Tumbleweed raced in the first heat of the kids' race, which kicked off the entire event. She had a great time, but wished she could ride her bike around more.

After dropping her bike back off at the car, we took in some of the Women's Criterium before heading for dinner. We ate at "Sam's Cafe" - a replica of the bar from Cheers at Faneuil Hall. The Tumbleweed was pretty intrigued by all of the street performers - particularly the man making really elaborate balloon hats. We then watched the end of the Men's Criterium before heading home. The professional racers were quite a sight to see!

It was a crazy day, but as much as I hate going into Boston, I was reminded that there are lots of simple things, like street performers and the T, that the kids can enjoy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hold Up

Okay, a parenting situation has arisen and I need some advice. Here's the scenario...

The Tumbleweed takes a dance lesson at local studio. While she is in the lesson, the Dandelion plays in the lobby. During this class, there are several other kids also hanging out - an 8 or 9 year old girl, a 5 year old girl and two boys about 3 or 4 years old. One of the families brings a bag of toys to play with in the lobby that they have been more than generous in sharing... monster trucks, motorcycles, airplanes --- and a toy gun!

Last week the boys were so busy playing with the gun, the Dandelion couldn't have gotten his hands on it, but today I had to tell him "no, you aren't allowed to play with that" because it was left on the floor. Now the moms of these kids hang out & chat while their kids play and were not within earshot when I told him this. The 5 year old girl was, and was quick to tell me "It's just a toy gun". I'm sorry, but toy or not, I don't want my two-year-old playing with it. While I was consoling the Dandelion, who was mad that he couldn't have it, the 8-year old girl took it out side and played "stick 'em up" with her friend as they waited for the next class. Her parent, and several other parents, witnessed this and found it funny.

So now I am left with the problem that I don't want the Dandelion playing with the gun, nor do I want to have to take it away, every week. If they bring it again next week I am going to try again to explain to the Dandelion that guns are not for little boys, but if the parents are still clueless is it wrong of me to ask the dance teacher to tell them they can't bring a toy gun to play with in her lobby?



Nearly a month after the first clinic, the Tumbleweed finally had her first soccer game! We have been rained out of two practices and two games already this season, so she was eager to finally play. This season she is on a team of all girls and they have pink uniforms. It is very Pinkalicious!

The Tumbleweed did very well, playing in the second group (ie - "the big kids") for the first time. She didn't have any goals but she did have several shots on goal and an assist. I was very proud of her for not getting upset that she didn't score and for not getting upset when one of the other team's kids fell on top of her. She also did a great job giving high fives to her teammates during the game. It was so great to see her running across the field smiling after the game.

The Tumbleweed traps a throw in

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The Tumbleweed read has really grown as a reader over the past few months. Her willingness to try to sound out words and confidence to read new books has greatly improved. She does not give up when she doesn't get it the first time, and sometimes asks for help (which she used to refuse).

With her increased appetite for reading, combined with the fact that she has memorized most of the books we own, I figured that we had better start getting to the library more often. So, off to the library we went.

Once we were there, I found out that age kids can get their own library card is 4. The Tumbleweed was delighted. She wrote her full name on the application, and since the lines were so small, dictated her address and phone number to me to fill out. We had spent some time this summer working on learning them, and I was really proud of her for getting it all right.

With her library card in hand, she went and picked out some books to take home. She told everyone in the children's section "I am four and a half, and I just got my own library card! [jumping up & down]" She even picked out a Thomas story "to read to my brother". She was so proud when the librarian scanned all of her books & told her that she needed to bring them back in three weeks.

Now, we still need to work on our library etiquette, as the Dandelion was running up & down the aisles and the Tumbleweed was not really using her "library voice", but otherwise it went pretty well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The Dandelion is 2. He is wild and crazy, clingy and whiney, independent and fearless, unfocused and stubborn, smart and funny. All the things he should be at two. He desperately wants to keep up with his big sis and do all the things that she does, but at two he can't really do that. He's too little for soccer, too young for summer camp and not old enough for pre-school.

But, now that he is two he old enough for playing at Pump-it-up and a child admission at Davis Farmland. He can also take karate, move up a level in swimming, and he can go to "school". Okay, so it isn't pre-school, but it is a special program just for toddlers to learn what pre-school is going to be like - but with their toddler needs in mind (ie - potty training not necessary). I thought this would be a great bridge for the Dandelion to get ready for pre-school, since he has struggled when I've left him at child watch and has often been in the shadow of his sister at playgroups & classes.

I was nervous that he wouldn't do well when it was time to drop-off, but it was just the opposite. He seemed totally comfortable and excited about his "school". He said "good-bye" to the Tumbleweed & I with a quick wave, and we had an hour & a half of free time. I was worried that when I returned that he would have realized shortly after we left that the car was gone and cry, but that was not the case at all! He was very excited to see us when we returned, and gave me a big hug and said "I ha fun at 'cool". The teachers said he did great, only mentioning that "Thomas in Mommy car. Come back Mommy car" briefly at the beginning.

Yay! You are getting so grown-up little buddy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day of School 2009

The Tumbleweed was very excited for her first day of school at her new school. She is attending five days a week in the afternoons this year, so when she excitedly woke up at 5:30 am she still had quite a while to wait!

At her previous school, the parents were invited to stay for the first day (orientation), so we got to spend time in the classroom, seeing the kids interact and visiting with the teachers & other parents. But this year, her school had a parent meeting prior to the first day, so we just watched her hang her bag on her hook and take a seat in the circle before heading home for nap time. She was very independent & matter-of-fact about the whole process. Very grown up.

And even when I picked her up, she was very nonchalant about everything. I didn't really get much window into how the day went.

me: "How was school?"
her: "It was good"
me: "What was the best part?"
her: "Everything"
me: "What types of things did you do?"
her: "You know, school things"

Maybe someday soon I will find out what they do at school every day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall Schedule

At various times during Labor Day weekend I was able to catch parts of the SuperNanny marathon. Once again, I found some inspiration and decided to make a schedule for our activities. It will help the kids to know what we are doing each day, keep me organized and help the Eagle know what our plans are for the day.

So after spending a bit of time searching for clip-art, and finally resorting to my own pictures for some things, the Tumbleweed & I put together the chart and hung it on the kitchen wall. It has been up for a few days and she has been checking it regularly. On Saturday, she helped me re-set it for the coming week and was later quoted as saying "Daddy, my swimming starts on Wednesday" when he told her after swimming that maybe she could "start swimming lessons again soon".

While the clip art/picture process was a little time consuming the rest of the chart is very simple. I found a dry erase calendar at Staples. I printed out the activities & their pictures and covered them with clear packing tape to make them more durable. Finally, I added some Velcro dots to the chart and the back of the activities. For the special events, I just used Post-It note stars. Here is what it looks like:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 12

The Final Week - Week of September 5, 2009

Theme of the Week: The Home Stretch. This week was a combination of things around the house, shopping for the final back-to-school items, and squeezing in a few more special activities before school & activities start.

Saturday: Kind of a boring day - laundry, lawn mowing & dishes. The kids spent time hanging out with Daddy before he left on his business trip to Israel. Then it was just the 3 of us for most of the week.

There's nothing like doing laundry in a tutu

Sunday: The Sunday paper came with several reasons to get out of the house to shop, so the kids & I headed out to find some deals at AC Moore. We got a cool Crayola crayon tower that provided entertainment all week. Then we were off to the grocery store before heading home for nap time.

Monday: What do people with no plans do on Labor Day? Go shopping! The kids and I spent most of the day at home, but went to "Apple House" [what Cameron calls Applebee's] for dinner and then did some shopping afterward. I still failed to find the navy blue Mary Janes for the Tumbleweed... argh. I wish she hadn't outgrown her old ones!

Tuesday: Today was not a good potty day, but aside from that we had a good time at walking group and Bounce open play. The Dandelion enjoyed playing with his little buddy Ariana during the Tumbleweed's gymnastics class. After gymnastics, we had a fun - although a little chaotic - HOOTs & HOWLs dinner with our MOMS friends at the local pizza place.

Wednesday: Today was supposed to be the first morning of our Y classes, but we had our MOMS Club social at the same time so we went to that instead. After the social it was off to Walmart - where I found the navy blue shoes! Who knew that would be so hard? I had a meeting at the Tumbleweed's school that evening, and with the Eagle away we had a sitter for the evening. I don't think I have ever looked forward to attending a meeting as much as I was looking forward to these two hours without kids.

Thursday: I had one last special treat planned before summer wrapped up... a trip to Bitty Fun Day at the American Girl Store. Fortunately we left the house on time because we got to sit in some traffic - making us the last ones to arrive. It was a bit difficult to manage the Dandelion during storytime, but the Tumbleweed really enjoyed it. Afterward we spent some time at the mall playspace to get some of the Dandelion's pent-up energy out before driving home --- and straight to gymnastics practice.

The Dandelion's doll was a store loaner

Friday: Rain, rain, go away! Our playground playdate was canceled, so we got to attend the first Toddler music & movement class. For once the Tumbleweed had to sit in the waiting room while her brother took a class. She was pretty good, but did spend a lot of time talking to the dance teacher in the office. The Eagle returned from his business trip and much of the afternoon was spent wondering if we could hold soccer practice. In the end, it was good thing we moved practice a little earlier because we got about 20-25 minutes of playing in that we wouldn't have otherwise.

Saturday: Another rained out soccer game & canceled scrapbooking class actually made life a little easier. We had lots of family fun at the Thomas the Tank Engine events at Toys R Us and AC Moore. At the Y, both kids enjoyed family swim - with the Dandelion swimming with floaties by himself for a few seconds and the Tumbleweed doing her biggest cannonballs off the side and demonstrating how she can put her face in the water.

Sunday: Finally a soccer day without rain! The Tumbleweed had a great time at the clinic put on by the high school team & coaches. She played great in the scrimmage, despite being held by the shirt by one of the kids on the other team, and registered 19 mph twice on the radar gun - one of the best in our group. I spent the rest of the day doing the final preparations for all of our activities, including school, which start tomorrow... labeling things, doing laundry, laying out clothes, packing backpacks for each activity and doing a "back to school photo shoot" with each kid out in the yard.

And that is the end of summer vacation... time to go back to school!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Plan T

For the second time this fall we have been rained out of the first soccer game. At this point I am starting to wonder if Zeus (the Greek God of Rain) has our soccer schedule and decides to head to Massachusetts on soccer days. So it was a sad morning when we reported to the Tumbleweed that there would be no soccer game today. ["Not Again!"]

And it was on to "Plan T" --- T for Thomas the Tank Engine --- to make the best of a rainy day. With the release of the new Thomas movie this week, several stores had planned free activities for today... which now worked out pretty well for us.

We started at Toys R Us - where they had coloring and storytime and a train table with lots of trains to play with. They had a free give away of collector cards in a case and a wheel with all of the Thomas characters on it. The kids were quite well behaved and shared well so we stayed for about 45 minutes (and didn't buy anything!)

Then it was on to AC Moore - where the kids got to color their own train cars and each got an activity book. While the Eagle kept an eye on the artists, I did some Christmas shopping and picked out two trains (James & Gordon) which were on sale at 40% off - and I got a free Thomas with my purchase! The only bummer was that they didn't have the train that the Tumbleweed had asked for "for Christmas" when we were at Toys R Us - Hiro. Oh well, she'll probably change her mind by then anyway.

Since Barnes & Noble was right next door, and both kids knew they had trains, we went and sat around the train table so the Eagle & I could take turns doing some looking around. I was surprised that there weren't more people there, since it is usually quite crowded and difficult for the kids to find a train.

Our final stop was the Y (which had nothing to do with trains). The Eagle had promised to take the Tumbleweed to the pool so, off we went to family swim. Both kids had an absolute blast and looked very comfortable in the water. Fortunately we got there early, because it started to get crowded right as we were getting ready to leave.

And it was so nice to return home to the crock pot chili the Eagle started before we left!

Friday, September 11, 2009


As I come to the end of my "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" posts, I wanted to reflect briefly on why I started blogging...

Because it is a great way to record memories, thoughts & milestones. When I first set up the blog (actually, the Eagle set it up), it was part of my New Year's Resolutions to keep better records for my scrapbooks. Over time, things have evolved from a paragraph here & there, to pictures & stories.

From time to time, I have blogged in different patterns and styles to use in my scrapbooks. "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" is one of my "works in progress", but it is along the lines of my holiday layout from last year. Below is the layout I created from the blog posts from November-December 2008.

So, my apologies if I bore anyone from time to time with these themed posts, but I do find them to be quite useful in my "creative process" :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School

My favorite movie quote... and probably the only movie quote I know...

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms." - Joe Fox [Tom Hanks], You've Got Mail.

I do love this time of the year. And I love buying school supplies!

As a kid, I loved getting to go shopping to buy some new clothes & picking out an outfit for the first day of school. I loved buying notebooks & pencils & folders... and color coordinating them. I anxiously awaited the day my teacher/class schedule arrived & quickly called my friends to compare. I packed my backpack weeks in advance and counted down the days until the first day... which at the time was always the first Wednesday after Labor Day.

Now that I have a child in school, I am again eagerly awaiting the first day of school... and so is she. Unfortunately, her school is the last one in the area to start. I have to say the past week has gone by so slowly. Almost everyone we know has already gone back to school, some more than two weeks ago. The Tumbleweed asks at least twice a day how long it is before she gets to go to school.

So, in the meantime, I have been trying to fill the "extra" time while everyone else is in school. Against my best judgment, I waited to do our back-to-school shopping until after September 1. It practically killed me. Although, she doesn't really have a back-to-school list so we just needed to get a new back pack, a couple of pairs of shoes, and a few "cool weather" outfits. I am kicking myself over the back pack - since she had picked out a very practical & cute one from Lands End, but it was back-ordered by the time we went to get it. But, the one she did get was on 50% off sale, so I suppose that helped.

And, on the first Wednesday after Labor Day, I got to go to school ... for parents' orientation night. It was good to meet the teachers and see her classroom before the craziness of the first day. I am still a little apprehensive about the school year. It is hard to make decisions for your kids. Did I choose the right school? Should I have done mornings instead of afternoons? Is she going to like her teachers? Is she going to make friends? But I feel better knowing that she is super excited to go - and doesn't seem to be worried about anything.

So anyway, things haven't changed over the years ... I have been "planning for fall" since school got out in June, and was practically jumping for joy the week that the YMCA Fall Schedule came out so I could "put together the puzzle" of our weekly activities. I enjoyed picking out the perfect outfit (for her, not me). I am "scouting locations" for first day of school pictures.

And, I am still counting the days until school starts...

4 days to go!

Monday, September 7, 2009

"I cared"

About a week and a half ago, the kids were playing quietly together in the family room while I prepared for dinner. The windows were wide open, so when a loud dirt bike decided to turn around in front of the house and speed off in the other direction, the sound filled the house.

Instantly I hear the Dandelion screaming and running into the kitchen. My first thought was that he had fallen and was hurt the way he was crying. As I hugged him and he calmed down, he managed to say, "Mo-cycle....I cared [scared]...." He was shaken up for a good half hour - even after we confirmed the motorcycle had left.

Since then every time a motorcycle (even the not as loud ones) goes by he drops everything and comes running to find me for some hugs saying "I cared". I wish I could put a "no Motorcycles" sign in our front yard when we are home so he doesn't have to be scared... possibly next to the "kids sleeping" sign that I need to prevent weed-whacking during nap time.

I guess the thing that surprised me the most was that he was able to verbalize that he was scared. I was so proud of him for that. Identifying his emotions will be a big part of his growth from 2-year-old toddler to 3-year-old preschooler this year and I was impressed that he knew he was feeling scared.

I suppose getting some extra cuddles every day (yes it happens multiple times every day) isn't so bad... but why do motorcycles have to be so loud!?!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 11

Week of August 29, 2009

Theme of the Week: Here, There & Everywhere! We really got around this week --- Western Mass, Cape Cod, Providence --- we certainly spent a fair share of time in the car. We saw lots of friends an had a lot of fun, but boy was it tiring! Only one more week before we have our full fall schedule.

Saturday: We took the long drive out to visit friends in Western Mass for a cookout. It was the first time they got to meet the Dandelion and the first time we got to meet their new baby. Fortunately, the rain that canceled the Tumbleweed's morning soccer game was nowhere to be found 'out west'.

Sunday: The Eagle had the Cranberry Country Triathlon. The kids & I were supposed to go, but decided at the last minute to change the plan to make for an easier day. Instead, the kids and I joined everyone at Nana & Papa's for the post-race dinner and spent the night.

Monday: We spent the day down around the Cape. First Papa took the kids swimming & kayaking at the Pine Hills. Then the kids & I drove to Hyannis to stop at a scrapbook store before meeting up with everyone else to take Nana out for a birthday dinner at the Chart Room. After dinner we headed home to sleep in our own beds.

Tuesday: Off to the zoo. The kids & I went to the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence with friends. The Tumbleweed was super excited to find out that they had a butterfly exhibit and that was definitely her favorite part. Both kids were challenging at times, but seemed to do a little better with their friends along.

Wednesday: A little closer to home, with grocery shopping, berry picking and karate on the agenda for the day. We had lots of fun at the berry patch, picking a whole bunch of raspberries and even some more blueberries. Then it was off to the Dandelion's make up karate class. It was only two kids (and not the one who was afraid of cameras). He really came to life as he interacted with the teacher and class materials.

Thursday: We got out the door nice & early for walking group (yay!). Then it was off to the playground in a neighboring town where we were meeting our MOMS friends. It was more crowded that I would have thought, but the kids had a blast. The Tumbleweed spent a lot of time on the swing, and even the Dandelion spent time swinging! In the afternoon the Tumbleweed had gymnastics and got her first two blisters on her hands - she was so proud, until one popped while she buckled her seatbelt.

Friday: With the Dandelion's check-up in the morning & nap in the afternoon, we didn't venture far. In the evening the Tumbleweed had soccer clinic and then we went out to dinner. With the Dandelion's track record of eating, we didn't order him anything figuring he might eat a few french fries but not much else. But for the third night in a row, he decided to eat! My BBQ burger was his target - and he really seemed to like it!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Two Years (and two months)

The Dandelion had his two year check-up today, which worked out well because I was able to leave the Tumbleweed at home and the Dandelion got to have a solo trip to the doctor for once. He came in at 24.6 lbs and 34 inches (10th percentile & 20th percentile, respectively), which was less of concern to the Nurse Practitioner than I had expected. I was pleased to talk to someone other than our doctor - always nice to have a second opinion, but I often don't care for our doctor's attitude. No shots this time, but he had the finger prick lead test and blood drawn to check for Celiacs (something our doctor wouldn't do before, despite my request).

He was such a trooper! He never cried about the finger prick and only let out a small whimper during the blood draw. It was so much easier than the last visit when I had to hold each kid while they got their shots - I don't know which one was harder, but they egged each other on and it was no fun.

Actually the solo visit was nice on so many levels --- I filled out all of the paperwork before they called our name, I didn't take the stroller in and I was able to talk without being interrupted by the Tumbleweed trying to tell the doctor her life's story. And I remembered to ask for the school forms.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Chocolate Popsicles"

In the epic saga of the Dandelion eating (or not eating, as has been the case lately) dinner we have tried lots of things. Buckled/unbuckled, high chair/chair, same food/different food, eating as a family/eating separately, promising rewards/going to bed without food... and nothing has worked.

But tonight... The Dandelion ate ALL of his dinner, and more!

The Eagle had made grilled steak/onion/pepper kabobs, and the Dandelion had peppers & steak cut up on his plate. As we all started eating he noticed the extra kabobs in the center of the table. "pop-cle" he said pointing at them, "I have pop-cle". So, thinking fast, I found a chopstick (not sharp like a skewer) and speared a piece of steak on it. He ate it right up. Soon we had a rhythm going and he ate all of his meat from the chopstick and said "I have more chalk-wate?", pointing at steak that the Eagle was cutting up for the Tumbleweed (who was also enjoying her dinner). And more he got... and when it was gone, he ate the peppers... soon all of the food was gone and we clapped as he asked for more. Picking our jaws up off the floor, we offered up some skewered grapes. Finally he asked to get down and wash his hands.

Phew - what a relief to have him actually eat a meal! Thank goodness for "chocolate popsicles"! Maybe he will put on a little weight before his check-up on Friday...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Ahh, spelling. As a parent, I do this a lot. Sometimes without thinking.

Last week I spelled "c-o-o-k-i-e" to the Quiznos employee who looked at me like I had three heads, and then said "you don't want the cookie?" Duh. I wasn't testing to see if you could spell, I didn't want the kids to know what they weren't getting!

But I kind of screwed up my spelling plan when one of the sight words I taught the Tumbleweed this week was "play". I discovered that this was a mistake today as another mom spelled "p-l-a-y-g-r-o-u-n-d" to see if we were going, and the Tumbleweed interrupted "ooh-ooh, Mommy are we going to the playground now?" Oops.

Moral of the story: don't teach your kids the words you often spell, but when they get older & hate spelling you can tell them what they will need it for when they grow up. And don't expect minimum-wage teenagers to keep your secret.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Some days I wish I had one of the cartoon bubble force-fields. You know, the kind you can see through and move around in, but no one can touch you. Yes, I think this would be great. I could cook dinner and keep the kids a safe distance away from knives, hot trays and boiling water. I could sit at my computer and not suddenly have a child in my lap pushing buttons on the keyboard.

Then again - if I could actually have a fictitious television ability, maybe I should just go with the ability to make anything I want happen when I twitch my nose. Then I wouldn't need to keep the kids out of the kitchen while I cook - I could just wiggle my nose and we'd have some gourmet food! Additionally, I could transport us from one activity to the next without having to drive there. Now that would be nice!