Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Good Thing

Caroline began a new camp season at our beloved Nature Place yesterday. Her time spent there last year was among her happiest of times. When she learned that her two camp friends from last year were not returning, despite her love of camp itself, I had to work hard to convince her to return. I was able to find a friend to join her for the first two weeks of camp but our goal was for her to attend throughout the summer, for six weeks. Leading up to yesterday, Caroline had remained firm that she would stay only as long as her friend did.

Yesterday, she came bounding off the bus, happier than I have seen her months. She talked and talked about all the fun she had had. Drama John singing at Morning Share, a long swim in the pond, time on the playground, planting strawberries at the garden, the creation of a nature book to collect leaves and flowers at art. She talked on and on and on. I am sure I received more information about yesterday's time at camp than I did about her entire school year.

At dinner she told us that not only did she want to stay at camp for the entire six weeks regardless of what her friend did but that she wanted to spend her summers at the Nature Place "for as long as she was allowed to."

There is nothing better than finding a place that makes your child happy and we have found it...

Monday, June 29, 2009


Joy is the beach being an hour away.

Joy is the fact that we decided to go for a day trip on Sunday and had a fabulous time. Rob even commented that he thinks it was the happiest three hours our family has ever had- maybe an exaggeration, maybe not.

Joy is the fact that both girls love the beach as much as their mom and dad do.

Joy is the looks on the girl's faces as they jumped and splashed and swam.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Caroline loves learning. New information just fascinates her. The other day, Rob was changing the dehumidifier in the basement-which is filling almost twice a day in this crazy rain! Caroline stood watching and listening to every word as Rob explained what this mysterious machine was doing.

I have often wondered why I buy Caroline toys as almost any toy becomes a prop in en elaborate imaginary world, not the toy it is intended to be. Now I really wonder as her first comment to Rob after his 'dehumidifier lecture' was, "Wow! Can I have my own!"

Caroline's birthday is coming up. Maybe she should be careful what she wishes for...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Caroline's Kindergarten Memories

Today Caroline went to meet her new teacher and classmates at our neighborhood school. In September, she will be leaving the comfortable and familiar nest of the Montessori world. As proven by the memory book she completed with her kindergarten teacher, she is ready.

In it she writes..

My favorite thing that happened this year is... reading.
My favorite subject in school is.... math and reading.
My favorite special class is... art.
I like it because.... we make fun things.
I like to play on the playground because... we get to run.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Over a month ago we decided to give up TV during the week. I was pretty convinced that it was causing more stress than relaxation. Caroline was constantly asking when they could watch what program.

Driving home, I would often hear "Will Toot and Puddle be on? Are we going to miss Toot and Puddle!?" Or earlier in the day, "If we watch Franklin now, will be able to watch Miss Spider later? Will we, will we?!" The stress in Caroline's voice suggested crisis, not tv.

All the scheduling and questions combined with the research that suggests that tv is not the ideal thing for the developing brain, led to a decision- no tv during the week. After a few weeks, I felt great about my decision. Our weekdays were calmer and I was sure that Caroline's behavior was better on tv free days.

At one point, without realizing her wisdom, Caroline asked "Is it like there is caffeine in tv?"

I have decided that for her, yes, it is like there is caffeine (or something stronger!)in tv.

Last week with school out and non-stop rain, I decided that watching tv during the week might be ok- at least until camp started. Mid week Caroline's behavior began to deteriorate. You could argue that most of the problem was a different schedule but if you were living it, it truly felt like more. By Friday, we decided to turn the tv off. And amazingly, Caroline's behavior had improved dramatically by Sunday.

There is something to this. I hate to think what Caroline's brain is going to do on real caffeine...

Monday, June 22, 2009


Today marked the beginning of a new phase in my life. Both Katherine and Caroline were at camp for 5 hours. I have not had that much uninterrupted in 6 years- literally. I spent most of the time consumed with Mommy guilt.

I knew that Caroline would be fine as she's been at school full day for over a year now. But I did worry about Katherine. Her school day has only been two hours and she has never had lunch away from home.

She was smiling when I picked her up and she was quick to tell me all the things she had done- splashed in the pool, had a snack, read a story and played princesses. But the very first thing she said when I asked her about her day was that she had "gone potty a million times."

Perhaps tomorrow I can relax into my newly discovered free time knowing that Katherine is happily peeing at camp.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Rob arrived home as I was doing the dinner dishes last night.

I had just finished cleaning up Katherine's third potty accident of the day. Prior to that I had discovered the remnants of a 'stew' that Caroline and a friend had made during an afternoon play date. Apparently, the mixture of nail polish remover and kitty litter straight from the litter box was intended for the friend's big brother- a 'gift' of sorts. I had found the stew all over the house in various small containers. Behind Caroline's bed, on a chair in the basement, under the dining room table.

When I asked Rob if he was ready for dinner- a homemade pasta primavera that I had whipped up while stew was being created- he said he would have a little. He wasn't too hungry because a client had taken him to Morton's Steakhouse for a delicious lunch.

And I laughed because really what else was there to do...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

Both girls are reciting the words to Rain, Rain Go Away and The Old Man is Snoring multiple times a day. I suppose more frequent exposure to poetry could be the silver lining in our ridiculous weather.... In the meantime however we all desperately need the sunshine. We need to be outside, breathing in fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun and running, swinging and sliding. This has been our first week of summer vacation and while the girls are doing remarkably well given the weather, it sure would be nice to be outside.

Last night, Katherine was watching baseball with Rob while I read bed time stories to Caroline. Often, Katherine will sit as I read chapter books with Caroline, which I always find amazing, but last night was not one of those nights. As she climbed up on Rob's lap she said, "I love balls. I want to play baseball now." Rob convinced her that perhaps she could wait to play ball until the morning.

As she looked outside a few minutes ago at the rain pouring from the sky, she said thoughtfully, "Well, maybe I'll play baseball tonight."

Or maybe next month at the rate things are going...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Caroline's Mall

Yesterday the girls spent part of their morning playing with friends from our babysitting co-op. When I picked them up, I was able to catch of glimpse into Caroline's mind.

The children had spent a ton of time creating a town with side walk chalk. There were roads, cars, a hot dog stand, trees and stores. One of the main attractions was "Caroline's Mall." Within the mall were the stores that must, on some level, represent what is important to Caroline. I stood and imagined myself window shopping and relaxing at the restaurant, the book shop, Pottery Barn Kids, the beauty parlor, the ice cream shop and my favorite, 'Nice Shoes'.

Sounds like a pretty nice place to me too...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Village

In today's world, it is a special thing to be surrounded by a community of woman. I often hear stories of "the good old days" when generations of women raised their children together. If you weren't living with your mother or grandmother than she was down street. And if that weren't the case, you had a neighborhood full of woman to rely on to help you or just to provide company. There were often extra hands on deck. Now a days, it's common to be far from family and many of us are so busy that our neighborhoods are often empty.

Today, I felt a bit like I lived in the good old days- thanks to my babysitting co-op. Our day began when one of our co-op members arrived at our doorstep at 8am. This woman also happens to be Katherine's speech therapist and we had a session scheduled. With the girls out of school and nothing but rain in our past or our future, I had been wondering if I was going to be able to go running all week. Suddenly, I realized that we could kill two birds with one stone. While Katherine and Caroline worked with our speech therapist, she earned co-op points while I ran.

Shortly after our session was over, I brought the girls to another co-op house so that I could attend the final meeting of my wonderful writing group. On the way out the door, I mentioned that I would be going to the grocery store on the way back and the co-op mom asked if I could pick something up for her.

When I went to pick the girls up, I had another idea. We had a special play date scheduled for Caroline this afternoon that would have been a bit boring for Katherine. The co-op mom who was watching the girls had mentioned that their day was pretty empty and it was actually helping her to have the girls in the morning. That gave me the idea to bring Katherine back in the afternoon and have time with Caroline and her friend without a toddler who might slow down the big girls.

When we came to pick Katherine up, we all decided to go out together for cupcakes. A satisfying and yummy treat.

As the day has come to a close, I can't stop appreciating how helpful and relaxing it is to live, even for a day, in a close knit community. So many people won today. I ran. Our speech therapist, who needed co-op points, got points. I spent the morning with my writing group. The girls spent the morning playing with friends and a mom had new faces to help her entertain her twins. I saved a mom a trip to a grocery store- a trip I know she dreads with two three olds by her side. I spent an afternoon with Caroline while Katherine played happily outside with friends. And we all ended the day with cupcakes.

It takes a village and today I had one.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Potty Training Contiues

We've had a long and wet week, with many downs but an equal number of ups. Katherine is making some significant progress and I think she may actually be potty trained by the time her camp starts on June 22nd.

In addition to conquering the challenge of potty training, Katherine is showing us her will, her intelligence and her humor. One day this week, she was accident free through dinner time. After dinner, Rob found Katherine standing in her room with pee streaming down her leg. He asked her what had happened, to which she replied, "My pee thought it was night time." Katherine is still sleeping in diapers. Apparently, her pee believed that she had her night time diaper on.

Now how can you get frustrated with that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Diaper Man

After dinner tonight, we told Katherine that it was going to be a big weekend. She looked at me expectantly until I said, "We are going to say 'bye bye diapers'." Her expression then went from expectant to worried to thoughtful.

Suddenly, she began to talk.

"Can you call the Diaper Man?"

"Just tell him that I am big girl."

"Tell him to come to my house and you can show him my room and he can put them (the diapers) on a tray."

We asked her if the Diaper Man was a bit like Santa to which she replied,

"He looks like Santa and he lives by the runway and he wears pajamas. The Diaper Man is a lady and she tapes wipes over her mouth to keep her quiet."

We then asked her if the Diaper Man might also be taking her changing table to which she said,

"He brings it (the changing table) to another house where the baby comes out of the Mommy's tummy and then he goes back to the runway."

And then I said to Katherine, who has now had three failed attempts at potty training, "You sound ready for the Diaper Man."

She looked up at me, as proud and confident as she been upset and nervous, and said,
"Yes I am!!"

As luck would have it, Rob's parents were going to be close by at a church function tonight. We called to see if they would be interested in playing the role of the Diaper Man. They agreed and shortly after the girls fell asleep, Rob's dad tip toed up the stairs to carry the changing table to their car. The diaper champ is hidden in the basement, extra diapers are stashed below our bed and the undies are ready to go.

Let's hope that the Diaper Man has worked his magic... We are ready...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Power of Reading

It is hard to describe the level of temper tantruming raging through our house these days. We have been trying, on and off (probably the problem, I know, I know...), to potty train Katherine for a few weeks now. She turned three in April so it is more than time. For some reason, Katherine has decided now to let us know that she is not a shrinking violet. She will not use the potty and is clearly having fits of rebellion. I'm talking about 45 minutes of straight crying and screaming, multiple times a day...

The one way I have found to snap her out of it, believe it or not, is by reading. I will hold her forcibly on my lap, through minutes of kicking and screaming, reading the whole time. Eventually, she calms down and begins to listen. There may still be a few bursts left in her but typically by the time I have finished the book, she is calm and jumps off my lap to grab another title.

This morning the crying began as Katherine woke at 6am. I had very little fight in my at that time and apparently, not much brainstorming either. I let her carry on for quite a long time... checking in, asking her what was wrong every so often.

After about thirty minutes of this routine, I had crawled back under my covers in defeat. I turned my head a few minutes later to see Katherine, climbing up on to my bed, still crying, with a book under her arm. She held it out to me and sat on my lap. She calmed down immediately and was ready to start her day.

I would be lying if I said we had no more fits this morning but that one at least was quieted, again, with a book. A book brought to me by the temper tantrumer herself.