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...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Quietest Baby in the Restaurant

The quietest baby you have ever seen at a restaurant was the one at the table next to ours tonight at TGIFridays. Picture this...

A family of four is passing the time as patiently as possible between ordering and receiving their meal. The kids are attempting to "share" the four crayons that came with the menus, the parents are trying to make sure no one drinks their entire drink before the food comes, and the waitresses are trying not to trip over the high chair so rudely being used at the end of our table. Overall things are going pretty smoothly all things considered.

In walk the people being seated at the table across from us... the staff gets a high chair... the "woman" takes her tiny baby (which was cradled in her arms and swaddled) and puts them in a high chair. It didn't take a genius to realize this was not a real baby, but rather a doll. Well, maybe it did, because two waitresses stopped to look at the baby and began to compliment it before they noticed that it wasn't real. Hello people, a baby the size of newborn does not sit in a high chair.

So we spent the rest of our dinner sitting next to three teenagers one of whom was caring for a doll for health class. Talk about hysterical. The one who was caring for the "baby" was commenting how the doll was programmed to cry randomly during the day and would wake up every 2 hours at night. Hello! I would have gladly taken that "kid" home. If they really want to discourage teenagers from having a baby they should program the doll with colic, constipation and nipple confusion.

More than a couple times I wanted to switch the two high chairs and see how they liked having a toddler who doesn't want to eat, bangs his silverware on the table and constantly tries to get out of the high chair. I bet they would have stopped whining about the doll's behavior. Or they would have decided his blowing bubbles in his drink was "cute" and entirely missed the point...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Moment of Glee

Right now I am the happiest I have ever been to see a child out of bed in the middle of the night.

The Tumbleweed just came out of her room, walked into the dark bathroom, hopped onto the counter to turn on the light, went to the bathroom, flushed and washed her hands and climbed back into bed - by herself!

Too stunned to say anything else. She'll definitely get a sticker in the morning!

[note: my moment of happiness was briefly interrupted as soon as I wrote the title of this post when the Dandelion started crying. I guess you take the good with the bad.]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tiny Shoes

It's that time of the year. The time of the year when every TV commercial causes a child to yell "Mommy, can I have that?" We haven't even gone trick-or-treating yet, but the begging & pleading is already in full swing.

This means parents have a new partner in discipline... Santa. Yup, he is watching us. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! Hey, if the kids can start asking for stuff, parents might as well use it to our advantage!

So now that we've established that Santa is watching and the kids have promised to behave, it is time to make a Christmas List. The perfect tool for this arrived in our mailbox this morning... the Toys 'R Us Big Toy Book. Frankly, I wasn't that impressed with the toys in it this year. In past years I have found at least a few things worth noting, but not so much this year.

But with or without the toys the kids "really" want (ie the ones we want them to have), the Big Toy Book can be useful. I discovered this evening that the Tumbleweed wanted everything on one of the pages. Now this lead us to a discussion about how she could make a list for Santa but she would have to keep it to 5 things. That got her thinking as she went off to decide which ones were her favorites.

A little while later she was back, looking at a new page. "Mommy, can I have this?" she says pointing to a $225, very large doll house that must have been the size of our living room. What an excellent time for a lesson about money and size! We compared prices of all of the doll houses on the page, talking about "more" and "less". Then we did a little size estimating using the assumption that the girl in the picture was her same size, and talking about how tall and wide the dollhouse would be - and how we didn't have room for it. In the end she agreed that maybe the doll house wasn't quite right... "Maybe I'll put that on my list next year." Okay, so she didn't completely get it, but at least there is time for her to forget before next Christmas.

In the end, it looks like most of the things she wants have lots of little pieces. This is hard for me because I hate the idea of having toys with missing pieces - specifically dolls with missing shoes. As it is I keep close tabs on all of her Princess, Barbie, and Strawberry Shortcake little shoes. I had better step up my game because I think we will have some new contenders in the tiny shoe competition this Christmas!

Cherry Cuddler & Crepes Suzette put on a show for Ginger Snap, Rainbow Sherbet, Strawberry Shortcake, Angel Cake and Lemon Meringue.

Monte Bear's First Visit

The Tumbleweed's school has a traveling bear that the children take turns hosting for an evening. Last night was our turn to have Monte sleep over.

Monte put on a leotard and joined the Tumbleweed at gymnastics...

Then went with us to the Y for science class about bats...

Monte got to play in the "Dark Slide" at the NAZ, eat Mac & Cheese for dinner and stay up late while the Tumbleweed worked on her page in the Monte book.

In the morning, the Tumbleweed was up at her usual time and when I asked where Monte was, she said "He's still sleeping." When he did get up, we found him a costume for the Little Tots Halloween Party we were going to.

After a quick bite for lunch, Monte went back to school with the Tumbleweed. She was so excited to share what she and Monte did. She had put two drawings of her and Monte in the class book, and had written (with spelling assistance) the story of what Monte did during his stay.

So far it was the most involved homework assignment to date... but she really seemed excited about it, so it was worth the extra time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Some Things Never Change

I'm not quite sure why, but I decided to look back at some old posts. It is kind of strange to look back a year and a half to see posts about the Tumbleweed's potty training, a crawling Dandelion who ate the Valentine doilies, and to a time where the 24th of every month was "Cupcake Day". Sadly, those memories don't really feel like "yesterday" anymore. I am very glad I wrote them down when they happened. Reading them is like a window into the past.

Oddly, some of those old posts could have been written yesterday because they are completely relevant to today and things haven't changed in the 1.5+ years since I wrote them.

Still true is this post about the books on my "to read" list. Well - I have actually started "7 Habits of Highly Effective Families", but perhaps I should have put "Never Check E-mail in the Morning" on the top of my pile, because I am only about halfway through "7 Habits" [I guess that makes it "3.5 Habits for a Somewhat Effective Family"].

Still true is this post about the endless supply of paper that clutters up the house. I guess after a year and a half I now know that the "new system" I attempted back in January 2008 isn't working.

And finally, this post about procrastination could have been written on any of about 100 nights that I have been up doing late night cleaning/prepping for a playgroup in the morning. In fact, I am pretty sure I will be doing some more midnight vacuuming tomorrow night.

So like I said, for all of the changes that have happened in our little world since I started this blog, some things will never change.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The Dandelion has been pretty good at identifying a few symbols/logos for a while. Of course he knows the logos for "Cars" and "Thomas & Friends", his two favorite things. He also knows "Dunkin' Donuts", "Starbucks" and "McDonalds", whether we see the sign on the road, a delivery truck, billboard, or even a person with a coffee cup. But lately he has added a few more...

Mazda logo (little metal insignia on the back of a car) = "Daddy's Car"
Volkswagon logo (VW in a circle shape) = "Sophia's car"
Addidas logo (three lines in a triangle shape) = "soccer"
YMCA logo (Y on the sign) = "karate"

He has also started to notice things in the world around us while we are driving, pointing out stop signs (Octagons) and gas stations ("We get Gas?") and soccer fields ("Soccer game?") whenever we pass them. He generally asks to go "this way" or "that way" or to go home or to go back to wherever we have just been (library, gymnastics, school, a friends house, etc).

He and the Tumbleweed have also had some cute exchanges with him copying her when she says she is "four and a half". After a couple of times getting angry, she set out to teach him that he is "two and a quarter" and he has just started picking up on it. This week he has actually told other people his first and last name, "I two and a quarter" and "I a boy"... all of which are things the Tumbleweed has been trying to teach him. I guess I don't need to get her a pet bird, she has a little copycat for a brother!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swimming solo

We had a bit of success this week at swimming lessons! Both kids have struggled at times this session and have been completely unpredictable as to how their lessons are going to go each week. For both kids to have a good lesson in the same week was almost worth a trip to Chuck E Cheese!

The Dandelion is in the Parent & Pike class for the first time. It isn't too different from "the baby class", except the kids are all at least 2 and are closer to gaining some independence in the water (in preparation for solo lessons at age 3). As he has in the past the Dandelion dislikes certain parts of the lesson (singing songs in a circle, for one), and does OK with other parts most of the time (playing with rubber duckies). In this class he has started wearing "bubbles", as that is what the Y uses to teach in their preschool classes. For the first time this week he swam by himself (in his floaty)! He swam by himself across two lanes of the pool, which is no small feat for his size! He was so proud of himself and he just wanted to keep swimming! I couldn't have been happier :)

Swimming by himself!

The Tumbleweed also had a great class this week. She is in the Eel class for the first time (the second independent level), after spending more than a year struggling with putting her face in the water and jumping in off the side and getting her head wet in the first level. She still doesn't particularly like having to do what the class is doing (especially swimming on her back) and would prefer just to play on her own in the water. She has been completely hot & cold this session, some weeks swimming great, some weeks screaming, crying and refusing to do things. Poor Miss Bethany! Well, she finished this session on a high note swimming with no bubbles for the entire class, jumping off the blocks with no help and swimming to the side, attempting to swim to the bottom of the shallow end and retrieve a dive toy, and most importantly NOT CRYING!

Ready to jump, looking quite comfortable!

Typically, I only have the kids take lessons in the warmer weather - late spring and early fall, and we have skipped the summer for the past two years due to scheduling. But this fall the Tumbleweed has asked to continue, so we are going to try one more session and see if we can build on today's success. However the Dandelion and I will be hanging up our suits until the snow comes & goes :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jingle Bells, in October?!?

This morning we awoke to chilly temperatures and little white flakes falling from the sky. Apparently, to the kids this was one of the most exciting things that could have happened. The Tumbleweed instantly started singing "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells..." and before long continued into "I love snow, I love snow, everyone do - es... hey!..."

When the skipping and dancing died down, and breakfast had been eaten, we gathered the winter clothes from all corners of the house and made our way out into the snow. The Tumbleweed was skipping & hopping all over the yard. The Dandelion was a bit unsure. Last winter he played in the snow only a few times for a few minutes, so this year is going to be his first true introduction into snow. I think he appreciated it more looking out the window than he did when he was outside in it.

That brings me to some thoughts on winter clothing... As we begin my 5th winter dressing the kids, I am starting to develop a list of "must haves". I am sure it will evolve each year, but here is the current list...

The Obvious: Snow Clothes

1. Winter Parka/Heavy Coat - with hood. This year I lucked out finding a coat for the Dandelion at the clothing swap. Last year I got a snowsuit for the Tumbleweed at the swap, but this year we needed to buy one, and I found a good deal on a 4-in-1 jacket at JCPenney (size 6X - which I hope will mean she can wear it for 2 years)

2. Snow Pants - which I now buy in black, so they can be handed down.

3. Hats - the kinds that tie on are best, as even velcro can be pulled off. Having 2 or 3 per kid is helpful so you don't have to search the house for one that has gone missing.

4. Mittens - nearly pointless until age three, but I keep trying. Once again, multiple pairs are helpful.

5. Snow Boots - must haves for those big snows (buy as late as possible - and as big as manageable - to try to get multiple seasons out of them)

The Outdoor Extras:

1. Fleece Jackets - good for medium weather days, as well as for car rides where big coats are too bulky.

2. Hiking Boots - must haves for the slushy, muddy, wet days. Also great for hiking in the fall & spring. A good option when there isn't enough snow to need the big boots, but you don't want to ruin other shoes.

3. Wind Pants/cargo pants - waterproof, lined pants in dark colors. Good for questionable weather, chilly soccer games, early spring trips to the playground, etc. [For those of you with girls - check the boys section for these! Most stores have them in black, brown and navy which work just fine with pink & purple shirts. I have found that girls sections seem to have them in light, dirt showing colors - cute, but not as practical.]

Other Go-to items:

1. Turtlenecks/long sleeve tees - in solid colors (I usually get a couple in white & black). These are great wardrobe stretchers when put under short sleeve tees and summer dresses.

2. Tights/leggings (for girls) - for girls who like to still wear skirts & dresses in the cool weather these are must haves!

...and of course sweaters, sweatshirts, slippers, fuzzy jammies, fleece lined jeans, thick socks, sweatpants, flannel sheets, bathrobes, and blankets are also good when trying to keep warm!

What are your key winter items?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Weekend

Despite the onset of colds, we went to my parents this weekend as planned. We took in my mom's photography show at the Image City Photography Gallery, where she is a Guest Photographer this month. We all thought it was pretty neat to see her work featured with the other artists. And, fortunately for everyone there was a playground right next to the gallery, so we were able to keep the kids happy & stay a little longer.

On Sunday we all went to a nearby Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch. It was the first year of business for this location (Stonewood & Waters - Rush, NY), and they did a great job. The kids had a great time in the maze and it was the perfect length for our kids (and a bargain at $3/person!). The Tumbleweed was completely into finding the clues, and the Dandelion enjoyed following her and ducking into the corn rows where grown-ups didn't fit. Afterward the kids played in the corn crawl, did the tube slides on "Pee-Yew Peak" and we all went for a hayride. The hayride was beautiful as you could see much of the surrounding area at the top of the hill. Before we left we bought a pumpkin - $3/pumpkin! - I should have gotten 2!

The rest of the time we spent around the house, playing with our old toys (MarbleWorks) and other hand-me downs (Take-long Thomas Trains) that my parents have collected. Each time a "new" toy appeared, it was almost like Christmas morning.

The kids also did some projects with Grandma & Grandpa, including harvesting veggies from the garden, using the drill press, making applesauce and feeding the cats. And most importantly - the Eagle & I got to go to a movie --- We definitely recommend seeing Couples Retreat. We had a nice time :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Last week the Tumbleweed's school was chosen as the "My School Forecast" on the NECN Morning Show. If you missed it - here is the 6:41am My School Forecast. The Tumbleweed intently watched the weather all morning, and was super excited to hear her name on TV.

She was even more excited to share the weather report at school! All morning she practiced saying "cum -u -lus" so she could tell the other kids about the clouds in the 7:41am forecast. (The Dandelion also practiced a new word - "meteor-nol-gist"). After spending some time looking at the sky and identifying the cumulus clouds (puffy ones that make shapes), she noticed that there were other kinds of clouds there too, specifically the ones that looked like feathers. So, off to Barnes & Noble we went to look for a book about clouds.

At school, her teachers brought all of the classes together to watch a DVD of the weather report. Afterward, Daniela was the class meteorologist for the day and put the weather icons on the bulletin board. She also took in her new book and showed the class about cumulus, cirrus & stratus clouds. At recess, her teacher said all of the kids were finding shapes in the sky. It was a perfect day for watching clouds - even the Dandelion & I looked at the clouds from the car while we waited in the pick-up line!

Even a week later she is surprising people with her cloud knowledge! It just goes to show you that teaching moments can happen at anytime and you have to take advantage of them when you can! Thanks Matt!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Toddler Classes

I am failing in my quest to find the appropriate class for the Dandelion to learn how to listen, follow instructions, interact with other kids and have fun learning a particular activity.

Last year we did gymnastics, which was mildly successful by the end of the year, but for the most part was a lot of me chasing and him doing things other than what the class was doing. In the spring we did swimming, which he seemed to be 50/50 about. Some days it was good and he tried "scoopers" and kicking, and some days he yelled and wrestled and tried to climb out and run away. Either way, because of me needing to carry him in the water he wasn't really going to gain much independence or learn to wait his turn. This summer we started a karate class, which he really enjoys, but it is very "free flowing" and there isn't really much in the way of learning to follow the leader or do what the instructor says.

Which brings us to the fall, and since he was now two he could try a few classes that he couldn't before... One is "Toddler Time" (at the Y) which structured like preschool but shorter & parents stay. The Tumbleweed loved this class and thrived in it. He is not interested and he spends most of his time trying to run out the door. He doesn't want to sit in the circle & sing songs, he is mildly interested in the craft, but at least he eats the snack. The other is a Music & Movement Class (at a local dance studio) which includes finger plays, follow the leader & parachute activities. He is not totally into this either, despite knowing almost all of the other kids in the class. He has some moments where he seems very interested, but if he has to wait his turn he loses interest before he gets a chance to go or I have to sit and hold him in place while he squirms (in an attempt to show him that he will eventually get a turn).

The Dandelion has snack at Toddler Time and does "Finger Poppin" at Music & Movement... which proves he can sit still, at least briefly

So at this point he really seems to enjoy his "School" class (which is mostly unstructured, although the only one where I leave him), playgroup (as long as I don't try to make him sit for storytime) and karate, and I am left trying to decide whether it is worth a little struggle in the "structured" classes so he will learn some of the life skills that he needs (how to wait his turn, stop/freeze and follow directions) and how much "struggling" is appropriate. I know it takes some time for kids to learn the expectations of a class, and I don't want to give up if he just catches on a little slower than the other kids... but I also don't want to force him to do a particular activity or have him be disruptive in class.

Will I ever figure this kid out?!? What does he like to do? How do I teach him that he will get a turn if he waits in line? When will I be able to trust him enough to let him walk next to me with out holding my hand? Is he going to protest circle time when he starts preschool?

Oh, little escape artist, please give me a sign!