Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When FEELINGS need to be enough

I hesitate to write this post, lest anyone think I doubt our decision to send the Salad to half-day Kindergarten at a local catholic school.  Thus far, it has been an excellent experience, that my babes and I have both enjoyed.  There have been relatively few growing pains.  We are learning a lot and have made many liked-minded friends.  We have new sweet routines, like individual homework time and helping button uniform shirts. 

However, I have been feeling nostalgic since the weather turned cooler.  There are days when I would love to stay in our PJs all day and snuggle under a blanket and watch movies.  There are days I miss holding my gaggle of children's hands as I walk through the supermarket parking lot.  Certainly, we still do those things, but they are left for the weekend.  I prefer more spontaneous days. 

Lately, though I realize there are things we used to do each week, that we'll never do again.  I watched the toddler story time begin at the library this morning, as I searched for an advent book.  I got choked up as I watched little babes, back into their mommy's laps to settle in for a story and then hurry over to the table for a simple craft.  We've outgrown those story times and while we've moved on to other reading rituals, they aren't so sweet or simple.

I passed our playgroup building earlier in the week.  We spent 3 fall's/winter's worth of Wednesdays there - playing with our friends, sharing snacks, struggling to settle at the end for circle songs, watching out 2, 3, 4 year olds push bins of toys into the closet at cleanup.  I asked the Salad what they remembered about it later that day.  M said he couldn't remember what I was talking about.  My heart shattered.  Not for the growing up, not for the loss of routine, not for the 2 hours apart each day.  I'm not even sure why.  I guess I don't want the last 5 years to be for naught.  I've poured every once of energy into filling their days with joy, I'd prefer them to remember specific days, habits, rituals.  Though in the end, if they look back at their childhood and remember feeling joyful, isn't that enough? 

I guess so, though I'm going to be better about updating this blog.  For photographic evidence.  Look, dang it!  You had fun!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Win, Schmin

R coached the Salad's soccer team this season.  He wasn't supposed to, but when the email came that the person who was supposed to coach had backed out, he felt obligated.  Our last name is 1/4 of the roster, after all. 

Out of the 9 kids who regularly came to the games, one boy played in the dirt patches, one boy wore the sideline cones on his head during the games, one boy spent more time than he should have whining, and one boy's mom told me he was too polite to actually try and kick the ball away from other people.  So that left the girls to rally together.  And most of them played really well.  Just not well enough to, you know, win a game. 
I am so proud of my family.  The Salad didn't complain once about losing every game.  They just got out there and played their little hearts out.  Of course, the promise of snacks and playground time with a new soccer friend didn't hurt. 

And I'm proud of R too.  Those kids had fun.  Granted, they didn't know that each Saturday R would wake up and ask me "Do you think I can talk the opposing coach into 4 - 3 minute quarters?"

Listen, what people don't know won't hurt. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

There's no crying in Running!

Last spring the Salad ran in a local race series. It was a 50 yard dash against about 30 other preschoolers. M came in 2nd and the girls were maybe 6th and 7th? Most importantly, they all had fun. Our family rules for the races were:

1. Don't look back.
2. Don't stop running.
3. Finish with a smile on your face.
This fall, they bumped up to 1/4 mile race. It was not an easy transition. In each race, A broke at least 2 of those rules. Most heartbreaking of all was the "Finish with a smile on your face" one. It's tough to do with tears streaming down your face as you scream, "I can't do it! My side hurts!" I ran the second half of each race with the Salad, staying close to A to shout words of encouragement. But that's tough to do with tears streaming down your face and your side hurting. So even though she begged to quit after each of the 5 races, she finished every one, with both of us hiding our tears and clutching our sides.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Darn Post Office

The post office sent a piece of mail today with the enticing promise "Tips inside to save you time this holiday season!" Save time? I thought, who doesn't need that?  Except this ad was one of those folded over, perforated, possibly glued deals and when 5 minutes later I still couldn't open it, I realized I had just lost valuable time I'd never get back, even with all of this time the post office had just promised me.

Full of resent, I threw that bit of false advertising away. 

The Salad doesn't stand a chance at a normal childhood, do they?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Internationale

S:  Mommy? Can you French braid my hair?

Me:  I’m sorry, baby girl. I don’t know how to French braid.

S:  (after a moment of silence) That’s fine, Mommy. You can just do an English braid.

Me:  Well then, of course, I can braid it!

She pressed her hands together and bowed, as she said “Arigato Gozaimasu”

What the . . . ?




Monday, October 22, 2012

Real Make Believe Conversation

S:  Hello?

A:  Hi Goldilocks! It’s Mary had a Little Lamb. How are you today?

S:  Oh, I’m OK. I have to find a new house to live in now though. The Three Bears don’t live with me anymore.

A:  I’ll come help you move.

S:  OK, it’s over the river and through the woods.

M:  Ring Ring

S:  Mary had a Little Lamb? I’ve got to go. My phone is breaking up and I’ve got another call coming through.  Hello?

M:  Hi! This is Little Bear. Do you want to meet me at a new park?

S:  Sure, can you call Mary had a Little Lamb and give her directions?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dreams

M:  Mommy, are the fuzzy things in my dream catcher dreams?

Me:  I think they must be, buddy.

His eyes widen, he catches his breath.

M:  Come here and see, Mommy!

He points to a small fuzzy in his catcher.

M:  See?  There's my dream!

Me:  Yep.  I wonder what is was about.

M:  I think it was the one about Army guys.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Keep your tonsils for as long as you can

A had her tonsils out Monday August 6, the day after we got home from our month long DC vacation.  It sucked.  And I don't just throw around crude words like that.  Not often, anyway.  But it really bit. 

She was exceedingly brave, marching into that surgery center, looking everyone in the eye, answering all of their questions.  She was given medicine, lead groggily away from me for 45 minutes, and then next time I saw my baby, she was a hot mess, screaming and crying, coming out of her anesthesia with "emergence delirium."  She was like a child possessed.  But I got to rock her and put ice on her neck and eventually she drifted off into an unsettled sleep on my chest. 
Where she remained for the next 10 days.  Seriously.  People who say their kids were fine the afternoon of their surgeries are liars, liars pants on fire.  I will say day 1 and 2 were the better of the days.  But days 3-10 were complete misery.  She wouldn't eat.  She wouldn't take her gross tasting pain medication.  She couldn't go to the bathroom.  She slept all day but hardly at all at night.  She had nightmares.  Her breath smelled.  She asked me 752 times if her throat would hurt forever.  She wanted to know if she'd ever be able to eat again.  She lost 6 pounds.  I lost 5 years off of my life.

M and S were lost without her.  They slept together in M's room for the first 4 nights, while I slept with A in the girls' room.  On the third night, M woke up at 1:30 in the morning crying that he "missed playing with his buddy."  Later, as I rocked A back to sleep after a crying fit of pain at 4:00 in the morning, I softly told her about M's and my exchange earlier.

"I miss him too" she whispered as she drifted off.

Finally on day 10, she woke up and her light had been switched back on.  S was so happy to have her "old A back" that she planned the "Great A Gathering," a party to celebrate A's return to the land of the living, complete with a tea party and a "pin the horn on the unicorn" game.

I love my Salad who love each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A little slice of Heaven

Original post written July somethingorother, 2012

On the Salad’s daily constitutional the other afternoon, we ducked into a DC metro station to pick up a map. We were greeted by a 200 foot escalator. M was thrilled. “Mommy, I’ve never been on such a long EX – calater!” Imagine then how happy he was when two armed guards with their police dogs, asked the Salad if they’d like to pet them. I laughed so hard imagining those 3 minutes in M’s mind. I think it went something like this “Ooooh! I like EX-calaters and this one is super long! Wait! This is a train station! Wow! These guys have guns! Oh boy! I love dogs! What?! We get to ride this super long EX-calater again?” He was literally vibrating with excitement.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In which I roll 3 days into 1 blog post

Our last days in Washington were a blur.  There were things the Salad wanted to do one last time - ride the elevator to the top floor of our apartment building, take a final swim at the indoor pool, say goodbye to Ms. Deborah - our favorite concierge, throw rocks in the courtyard fountain for the last time.  We did them all. Typing those last wishes out just now made me realize how innocent 5 year olds are still.  I think many adults forget that.  I'm getting sidetracked and teary eyed, so I'm going to continue. 

R had a few things he wanted to treat the Salad to, as well.  Trips to the Lego Store and American Girl doll store, for example.  Should you not believe that R was along on our trip, here is photographic evidence.
And finally my request was to walk the 9 blocks to the White House and Washington Monument (have I mentioned that the Salad nicknamed it the "Big Pencil"?) 

One of my favorite nights that last week, though, R and I got to see old friends that we haven't seen in 5 years.  R and Matt met 9 years ago.  Matt's wife and I met shortly after, when the menfolk were stationed in DC together.  We've managed to keep in touch, even though they have since lived all over the country.  Sometimes you are lucky enough to meet people you know will be in your life for a good long while.  That's Matt and Cassie.

The awesome thing about this night was that we picked up right where we left off years ago.  And the even more awesome thing was that our 6 kids did the same thing.  Despite the age difference, despite having met only twice before when the Salad was a mere 6 months old, despite having only 3 hours together, they were instant besties.

Maybe friendships are hereditary?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

3 different kinds of crazy

I headed out to a dinner with the other triplet moms a few months ago.  I had kissed the Salad goodbye, but they were involved in a heated game of wrestling/dance class dress up, so it was lackluster at best.  I quietly walked out the door, yelling one final "So long!"  When I got to the van, I heard crazed pounding at the bay window and looked up to see this.
Good gravy.  That Salad is all kinds of crazy.  And I am all kinds of lucky.  I mean, look at A's lips?  And you guys.  S is wearing a choker!  And do I even have to mention M's penchant for headbands?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

CRAYONS!

Original post written on June 29, 2012

We visited the Crayola Factory with our friends Maeve and Maura at the end of June. R was able to join us as well, so we were feeling doubly blessed that day. We had a great day, topped off by a trip to the Crayola Store, where we filled a tin with any color crayon we wanted.  Macaroni & Cheese orange?  Yes please!Crayons are probably our most beloved plaything, so this was a special treat.
Stacey and her family followed us out of Easton on the way home. Once we were on the turnpike, I realized we had lost her, so I sent her a text message.

Me: You ok? Thanks for a great day!

Stacey: We’re good. We had fun. Girls are asleep.
Me: Damn. You’re lucky. Mine are using their canteens as “breathe tanks” for their “outer space adventure”. Sigh.

For serious. They. Never. Stop.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's all fun & games, 'til someone cries on vacation

Original post written June 12, 2012 (I know, I know!)

R has been so excited to take the Salad to Great Wolf Lodge all winter long. Took us until this week to get the timing right. We got up early Tuesday morning for an 8:25 AM ENT appointment for A and continued up the turnpike to the Poconos for 2 days of indoor water park fun. The Salad splashed and showed off their swimming skills. We ate at a buffet where we let them get anything and everything they requested, even though it meant a dinner of 6 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 slice of pizza, 1 lemon, some buttered ziti, and cranberry sauce for M. They were seriously giddy when they saw they would be sleeping in their own bunk beds! In their own room! With a TV! And R let them stay up until 9:30 to let them watch PBS! It would have been later, but A came and asked if we could please put her to bed, that "it was time."
We were back in the water the next morning by 9:00 AM. At noon, I told the kids it was time to wrap up, dry off and head out for lunch and then home. S cried. Hysterical. Sobbing. Sat at the side of the pool, refusing to move in protest. Demanding we bring her back someday. Begging for more time.

You know it's a been good vacation when your kid leaves in tears.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

So long, Farewell

Real time update, I had a breakdown of epic proportions on Thursday of last week.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was overwhelmed by things that should have been done months ago.  Like unpack that last box from our month in DC or finally call the insurance company about that pesky bill I don't understand or clear a path in the laundry room, so at least I can, you know, DO the laundry?  The straw that broke my sanity came in the form of 3 red shirts that the Salad should have worn to school.  I didn't forget.  It didn't slip my mind.  I just flat out did not think it was Thursday they were supposed to wear red.  I think my brain is still in vacation mode, but the rest of my life is moving ahead in actual mode without me.  This blog is evidence of that.  Many important things have happened in the past few months.  And the blog posts either have not been written, or the pictures have not been downloaded or the dog ate them.  Not that we have a dog, but you get the picture.  Those red shirts gave me the push I need to get caught up.  So once again, I will be blogging about the past, while we continue to have playdates with new friends and hikes and soccer games that may never be recorded for posterity.  Rest assured, posterity.  Those things are happening too.    

Original post written on July 12, about July 2, actually posted on September 30, 2012

Our good friends Peter, Lucy and Thomas are moving sheer across the country. It took me months before I had the courage to tell the Salad. M was especially heartbroken. Most of our friends are girls, and while he usually prefers girls’ company, he definitely notices the lack of testosterone in our friendships. When he first realized that his best buddy would no longer be here in the fall to hike with, his eyes welled with tears, as he wondered aloud, “Now who will I catch my froggy friends with?”
The week we had to say our good byes, Philadelphia temperatures soared into the 100s. Ms. Amy suggested a South Philly sprayground and then a free lunch at IKEA. So we headed off and the kids ran and chased and splashed and played in the water for a good long while. We took a break to have our last “Pirate Booty party.” I’m not sure how these “parties” started, but they consist of me opening a fresh bag of booty and 12 hands wildly grabbing at the bag, shoveling fistfuls of popped goodness into their mouths. They usually take place in the privacy of our van and end in me having to vacuum out the car. I think these booty parties are going to be missed very much, as A has requested a virtual pirate booty party. I sure hope they sell Pirate Booty in California.

After we’d had our fill of the sun and water, we drove to IKEA for mac-n-cheese and chicken lunches. Yo Gabba Gabba was on in the kid’s area. It’s one of the Salad’s forbidden shows, mostly because it gives me the creeps. And Peter, Lucy and Thomas watch even less TV than we do, so the 6 kids sat and stared at the television like zombies, with one of us moms occasionally having to remove a child from actually standing in front of the TV. Not much food was eaten. Of course after lunch, there was a trip to the bathroom, where so much preschool humor takes place. The poop talk! The stalls! The hand dryers!
Then it was time to bid our bestest friends farewell. Each child hugged each other. I held back a tear as M got Peter in a bear hug and said “Bye, Peter!” I’m not sure anyone understood the finality of this moment. M occasionally will have a moment of clarity. Today for example, as he bit into his peanut butter and fluff sandwich on the steps of the Department of Government Accountability, he lamented “Now Peter won’t be here for me to share my sandwiches with.”

I’m hoping we see our friends again, but should life get in the way, I’m glad my baby boy will remember his sweet friend that way, catching frogs and sharing food.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hike, interrupted.

This post was written in May.  Seriously.  May, people.  I have issues. 

The Salad wanted to take R to one of our favorite places to hike. So we loaded up snacks and sunscreen and headed out for the morning. It started out well, M caught a tiny frog just as we started down the path to the pond. But when we got to the bottom of the hill, we noticed how . . . different . . . the area looked since the last time we visited with playgroup. The pond was higher. The foliage was thicker. The ground was soggier. The bugs were . . . abundant.

But we pressed on. Suddenly a 9 year old boy showed up, literally out of nowhere. He just appeared and took a liking to us. It wouldn’t have been awful, this strange Lord of the Flies kid tagging along, except he was being a wise a$$ and the Salad is too naive to know. I couldn’t ditch this sarcastic punk fast enough. As R hacked a path through the woods, I came up with every excuse to end our hike. Finally, the promise of ice cream at Front Street Fountain lured the Salad away. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief as we trudged up the hill to our car, watching the orphan? boy disappear back into the woods from which he came.

I think we were all fine to cut short our hike, though, ‘cause like I said, the bugs and all.

Note to self – instate hiking hiatus until September – effective immediately.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

Original post written some hot July day, 2012

There are occasions when I hear myself in the Salad. I’m not always proud of what I hear. Sometimes it’s a harsh tone, sometimes it’s an unkind word. But twice today I heard myself in my Salad and I liked what I heard.

S began to play with a slightly older girl at the Air & Space Museum hands-on area. She introduced herself and asked the girl for her name. When the girl ignored her, S continued to ask until she got an answer. The girl said “Kate” and S’s immediate response was “It’s nice to meet you, Kate!”

It got hot on our walk back to the apartment, so I thought the Salad might enjoy and iced tea lemonade from Starbucks. As they slurped down their treat, S said, “Well this was a lovely surprise. Thanks, Mommy!”

“It sure was!” M shouted with enthusiastic approval.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We took them out to the Ball Game

Original post written on August 2, 2012

We had a very low key day. It was our first such day since arriving in DC. We spent the morning coloring, reading, and playing in the apartment. We ran a few close errands, drycleaners, CVS, farmer’s Market. We had a just-for-fun bath. We didn’t even go to the pool. I was trying to keep them calm and rested because I knew we’d be up late this evening. R had bought tickets to the Nationals/Phillies game. So when he got home, we headed straight for the metro.

The universe seemed determined to spoil our night.  It was 96 degrees at 6:00.  A was jumping up and down and gave herself a cut on her forehead.  The stadium ran out of hot dogs.  There was a thunderstorm brewing.  There was a metro card dilemma.  The Salad lasted 5 innings before R and I decided to cut our losses.  We headed over to a fountain we had seen earlier in the month that S had been asking to revisit.  It's clean, right on the waterfront and open for public wading.  Since it was close to 9:00, almost dusk and stormy, we were the only people crazy enough to be there. 
There was much eye rolling and growling through gritted teeth between R and I.  But you know, some nights are like that.  All in all, the night ended well.  And provided some cute pictures.  And isn't that what a blog post is all about, anyway?   

Monday, September 10, 2012

On hippies and hummingbirds

Original post written on August 1, 2012

The Salad and I drove to the National Arboretum on Wednesday. It was unlike any other arboretum than we are used to. You had to drive to each different area. Thank God I realized it before we’d gotten too far on foot, or it would have been disastrous. After feeding some GIANT koi, we headed straight for the Youth Garden, walked through the Butterfly Garden and caught sight of some beauties. The Salad was thrilled with all of the vegetables they found growing. The lack of upkeep and yet still abundant growth inspired me to double the size of our garden next year. If weeding isn’t necessary (and apparently staking isn’t either) I’d be much more inclined to commit.
We were on our way to our car when a group of hippies that apparently had squatted in the Youth Garden and were living off of the land cooking homemade pesto and tomato salad, asked if we had found the hidden play area behind the garden. We hadn’t, so we headed back into the woods and stumbled upon an area full of cut tree trunks, log balance beams, digging areas, musical instruments and a stage. We performed and played and dug and did gymnastic for another 75 minutes. Thanks, hippies!*

Most thrilling for all of us were the pair of hummingbirds we spotted. They were so tiny, I thought at first they were very large bees. And I got scared. And tried to hide my fear from the Salad. But I had already thrown myself into the fetal position on the garden floor. And then I picked myself and saw they were just birds. Parts of that story are true. I leave it to you to decide which parts.
Here, S hides behind her big sister, while M hairy eyeballs me cowering behind a shrub as if to say, "What the hell?!  They are just hummingbirds!"

*In retrospect, I think the hippies may have actually worked at the Arboretum. I’m only 45% sure about that though.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Flying High

Original post written on July 31, 2012

I’ve been trying to get to the Georgetown Waterfront for their Tuesday morning kid’s concerts, but it has been ungodly hot or thunderstormy. This Tuesday, the weather promised low 90s and cloudy. Perfect. We packed lunches and a picnic blanket and headed to the waterfront. There were 17 women with children, 15 of those were very obviously nannies. It was a strange audience, and an even stranger children’s performer. She sang a few Laurie Berkner songs, typical. But, the majority of her set was Grateful Dead songs. At least I think they were, most of the music was drown out by the many military helicopters, planes taking off from the nearby airport and air boat fire rescue drill that happened in the middle of her performance. She didn’t seem to notice. I spoke to her briefly afterwards and I’m pretty sure she didn’t notice because she was high. You gotta make it through the day anyway you can, I guess?
*
We had an early swim and dinner that evening. R had found a Marine Corp Silent Drill Platoon and Marching Band performance, so we headed to Arlington National Cemetery to take the free shuttle to the Iwo Jima Memorial where we’d watch the performance. The shuttle was M’s favorite part of the night. His least favorite part was a very unexpected 21 gun salute. He was leaning against my leg at the time and I could feel his little heart practically beating out of his chest. The performance was inspiring, but once again confirmed my suspicions that anything longer than 45 minutes is no bueno for us at this age. It made me feel a bit better watching the other families with small children fend off the same whines “I’m thirsty! How much longer now? Do you have any snacks? Can I go climb that statue? I have to go to the bathroom.”

* - OK, OK.  You're right.  That is actually Janis Joplin.  But it's a pretty accurate picture of what the performance was like.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

He knows how to use it

Original post written July 30, 2012

We had our third and final class at the National Gallery of Art today. I’m not going to go on and on about how wonderful and free these amazing classes have been, that would be redundant of me. I love that they are learning something, as evidenced by S shouting at “Little Einsteins” artist of the day, “Claude Monet?! We know that guy! He got old, went blind and painted his blurry gardens in France!”

But the thing I want to remember about this week concerns M. Just before class today, he asked me if he could wear the headband that I had in my hair.

Me: “To class, buddy?”

M:  “Yep. Can I have it?”

So I gave him the headband and he pulled it on over his mohawk all 80s “Footloose” like.

He sat through the entire lesson on Degas and rocked that headband.
This kid has style.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Testing my Knowledge

Original post written on July 28, 2012

R and I took the Salad to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. I pulled the Salad aside at the entrance to read them the sign stating, “Please conduct yourself with dignity and respect. These are hallowed grounds.”

“What is dignity?”
“What does hallowed mean?”

Thus began their questions.  We just thought the kids would think the Changing of the Guard was cool to watch – guns and soldiers and all. They were reasonably interested. But the questions, oh the questions!

“What is a soldier?”
“What is an unknown soldier?”
“What is a war?”
“What is a tomb?”
“Is that a real person in the tomb?”
“Will the guns be loud?”
“Are all these peoples dead?”
“What does solemn mean?”

I had a question too.
What on earth was I thinking?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pride

Original post written on July 27, 2012

I took the Salad to see a planetarium show at the Air & Space Museum this morning. I had low expectations, seeing as our last planetarium show was an epic failure. This show was geared towards children; Big Bird and Elmo were the stars. Judging from the “Wows!” and “Ohhhhhs!” I’d say they loved it. S was so proud that they made it through the “dark movie” that she made me call Grammy to share the news.






















We headed down to the Astronauts section, where a little demonstration about flight suits was going on. As soon as we walked in, the woman asked for a volunteer. Each one of my babes shot their hands straight into the air. She picked M. He marched bravely onto that stage and sat on the stool. The woman told him he was going to put on a space suit. The first part of the suit was called a mag. The mag looks like an adult diaper. M saw it, looked like he was going to cry, shook his head no and told the lady he didn’t want to be the volunteer anymore. She told him he’d been brave, asked everyone to clap for him and asked for another volunteer. A and S shot their hands back into the air. This time, she called on A. A walked onto the stage, kicked her sneakers off and pulled that diaper right over her skirt.

It's strange to feel proud of your 5 year old daughter wearing an adult diaper in front of a roomful of strangers, but I did.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Life Lesson from 5 year olds

Original post written on July 26, 2012

I drove the Salad to Maryland this morning to the Launch Zone of what is called the National Children’s Museum. I searched Yelp to no avail. That should have been my first clue. Apparently, the actual museum closed many years ago and this storefront “launch zone” is the first action in a series of actions that will eventually result in a new National Children’s Museum. So basically, I drove 20 minutes to a room barely bigger than our house filled to the brim with toys. I’ll admit I was disappointed. I should not have been though, because here are the good things.

1.  I found parking on the street right outside. 
2.  It was free.
3.  The Salad loved it.
4.  There was a building “event” today.

Essentially there were huge blue building blocks and tubes and the Salad set to work. An employee was there taking notes today. Apparently, her job is to see if kids like the “event.” If they do, it will eventually become an exhibit in the new Museum. She kept asking the Salad (who played only with these blocks for 2 hours) what they were building. Here is the list:

a car, a bench, a robot, a bird’s nest, a seesaw, a catapult, a limbo stick, a slide, a balance beam, a horse, a ballet bar, a ball run, a princess castle, and a tricycle.

I need to remember, if I align my expectations to those of a 5 year olds, I’ll rarely be disappointed.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

105 glorious extra minutes

Original post written on July 25, 2012

We’ve been in DC for 18 days now and have been to the National Museum of Natural History three times. Today makes 4 times and we still haven’t seen the whole museum. I intentionally kept the hands on Discovery Room for a day when we needed a break. It’s only 2 blocks away and meant for kids 2 – 6 so I knew it wouldn’t be too crowded. The Salad had full reign of the room for the first 15 minutes, which was perfect because there were exactly 3 microscopes. One for each Salad ingredient!

They colored a little, made some music with unusual instruments, checked out bones and bugs with magnifying glasses, played with toys from around the world. A played with a Jacob’s Ladder for 30 minutes. Note to self – get A a Jacob’s Ladder for her birthday.
After a while, M’s blood sugar started to plummet and I knew we better get the heck outta dodge. We headed out to the National Mall, found a bench in the shade and ate a picnic lunch I had snuck in our backpack.

Our last leg of this trip included a ride on the famous carousel. We opted to ride the spinning bench together and I spun the dressing right out of the Salad. As they stumbled off trying to regain their balance, A said “Best.Carousel.Ever!”
Last night, we checked out the Enid A. Haupt Garden. It’s a tiny green sanctuary on the roof of the Sackler building. I had heard there were fountains good for stomping, but they had been turned off by the time we got there. The only water left was a small fountain water fall, which the Salad was perfectly content to dip their tootsies in and throw pennies for wishes.
I love living right in the heart of the city. I love that R wants to take full advantage of living right in the heart of the city. I love that R can walk to his temporary office in less than 5 minutes, which means we get an extra hour and 45 minutes with him each night. I love that each day R sends me a text message asking what we are going to do with those extra 105 minutes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Come on and wade way out into the Water

Original post written on July 24, 2012

The Salad had their second of four classes at the National Gallery of Art. Today, they learned about Monet and his gardenscapes. They were read a book, lead to Monet’s “Garden at Giverny" to analyze the painting and then turned loose to create their own “water lily garden.” Seriously, y’all. 30 4-7 year olds were turned loose with oil pastels in a building that houses masterpieces. Talk about the honor system.

It started sprinkling as soon as we stepped out of the building, which thwarted our plans for a picnic. However, by the time R had gotten home from work, the weather had cleared up nicely and we went for an evening wade in the National Sculpture garden fountain.

On our walk home, there was yet another concert at the Navy Memorial. This time there was a beautiful “Advance of the Colors.” M was beside himself as he watched the flags and gun salute. He asked me 3 different times, “Make sure you video this, OK Mama?”

Oh, I taped it alright, though the main subject of my video was S shaking her "thoin" to a rousing rendition of Gaelic Storm’s “Scalliwag”.

Real time update on September 1, 2012

While looking through the 595 photos that I took of our month long stay in DC, the only picture I had of this day was this one of a strange robot in a crosswalk I stopped in the street to take. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Friday, August 31, 2012

Breathing - the Secret of Life

Original post written about July 21 - 23, 2012

We had a whirlwind weekend, full of family visitors. We had been away from home for 13 days and the Salad very much missed Grammy and Poppy. They already have a sleepover planned at Aunt Jo and Uncle Pat’s house. We packed 2 days full of the Hope Diamond at the Museum of Natural History, the Air and Space Museum, lunch at Fudruckers, gelato, a metro ride, a walk to the Navy Memorial, another visit to the Old Post Office Pavilion, and the Library of Congress.

And that’s what I want to talk about. My dad wanted to take a tour of the Jefferson Building. The Salad and I had 35-40 minutes to kill. I had done my research and the four of us headed straight for the Youth Reader’s Center. We had been busy showing our many visitors the sights around town for the previous 5 days that this quiet place, filled with books, was a much needed respite. They each picked out a handful of books, found a spot and “read.” Little did I know it was the quiet before the storm.
After 40 minutes, we headed up to meet my parents. M spotted them across the Great Hall, still in the middle of the tour. He wanted to go get Poppy, and when I told him he couldn’t, the crying started. And continued for the next 30 minutes. It was not pleasant for either of us. Thankfully, A and S occupied themselves by taking pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.
Why are problems so easy to solve in retrospect? If I had taken a minute to breathe through the crying, I would have thought to take him outside the building. He could have run up and down the steps and been perfectly content.

Note to self – breathe.

Note to the Library of Congress - shorten up those tours.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sleep with because of the Fishes

Original post written about July 19 & 20, 2012

My sister and Ian visited us in Washington. Ian was interested in the Art of the Video Game at the American Art Gallery. It’s half a block away from our apartment, so we all walked to see it. The Salad patiently waited in line to play video games on the big screen. Pac Man was most popular, of course.
After our afternoon swim, we headed out to see some monuments. We walked through the huge stone entrance at the Martin Luther King Memorial and spent a few minutes looking around. The Salad got antsy when I wouldn’t let them parkour the smooth marble walls, benches and metal railings. A summed up what they thought of the site when she said thoughtfully, rubbing her hands together as if searching for just the right words, “I thought this would be a lot more . . . ummmm . . . fun.”
The next morning the Salad, Aunt Jen and Ian headed off to the National Aquarium in DC. It’s definitely the runt of the litter when it comes to the aquariums the Salad has visited. It was tiny. It was dark. And unlike virtually everything else in DC, it was not free. Nonetheless, I am determined to jam in as much of the city in the month we have here. It took under an hour to see each exhibit. On our walk home, I asked M what he thought. “It was alright, Mommy. There were too many fishes though.”

Huh.  Imagine that.  Too many fishes at an aquarium.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Native American

Original post written on July 18, 2012

Have I mentioned that I am absolutely in love with Washington DC? I mean we’ve always loved DC, R and I were engaged here, dontchaknow? But I’m seeing it for the first time through the eyes of a parent of 5 year old, and I love it even more. There is always something going on and it is always free. And clean. And not overly crowded. It’s paradise. With the 100 degree days, like a tropical paradise, of course, but paradise nonetheless.

We have a series of visitors coming in the next few days, so I’m saving some of the more traditional DC attractions to visit with them. Many of the items on my must do list are outdoors and we’ve had to find alternate plans because it’s 100 degrees here. Did I mention it’s 100 degrees here? Again?

That is how we found ourselves at one of the less frequently visited museums in DC, National Museum of American Indians. But man, did we choose a good week to visit. The museum paid for a group of 20 something Hawaiians to spend the week in Washington, teaching classes and putting on shows at the Museum. Not only do they have an incredible building, with rainbows streaming through a crystal wall and a cafĂ© that looks like the fountain outside is streaming towards you, but they have an awesome Children’s area. The kids pick up a “passport” and travel through interactive displays. Once they have completed the assignment (weaving a giant basket or listening to the call of 8 birds) they stamp the passport themselves. The Salad loved each display. All the while, there were men and women playing the ukulele, singing Hawaiian folk songs and Hula dancing. We had signed up for 2 classes. The first was painting with banana trees. There was one “teacher” and one set of “banana brushes” per 5 kids. I was proud of how well the Salad sat and took turns waiting to make their picture of a coconut tree. M liked it well enough to move to the next table and make a second banana tree painting of a crab.
Unfortunately, we had to get back to the van because our meter was about to expire. Sadly, this meant we had to miss the cedar bracelet making class. Poor S was heartbroken. She told me she knew it wasn’t my fault, she was just disappointed because she thought Kaya (her American Girl doll from Aunt Nicky) would really love that bracelet. “Because you know Mommy, Kaya is a Native American.”

Should you be wondering if Kaya is a Native American, rest assured, she is.

• We did get back the next day so that S could make her bracelet for Kaya. She was so appreciative, you might have thought it was a diamond tennis bracelet.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On butterflies, scooters, ice cream and kids

Original post written on July 17, 2012

Tuesdays at the Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian offers free tickets to their incredible Butterfly Exhibit. We were at the Museum when it opened at 10:00, headed up to get our timed ticket and got 10:45. It left us just enough time to find a restroom and water fountain and head back upstairs to read through the outer part of the exhibit. I gave the Salad a camera and told them to take a picture of their favorite butterfly. When we were through in the exhibit, I had printed out a lesson page on how butterflies wings are symmetrical and I asked them to draw the butterfly they had liked the best. While they drew I read them interesting butterfly facts. M really tested the limits of the exhibit’s rule. For example, they asked you not to touch the butterflies. Though they said that they often landed on people as they walked through. So M would see a butterfly sitting on a wall and place his hand a millimeter away and wait for the butterfly to crawl onto him, exclaiming “What?! I didn’t touch it! It just landed on me!” When we were through, we went right into the Insect Zoo and spent another hour checking out the bugs.

After some quiet time that afternoon, the Salad got it in their heads they wanted to scooter. The only problem was that it was 100+ degrees again. I fought the good fight, explaining the heat wouldn’t be good for their health. But they persisted (insisted?) and I finally broke down, because the thought of spending the afternoon listening to them complain about how I hadn’t let them, would have been equally bad for my health. So off we went, armed with plenty of cold water, to scooter in the sweltering hot sun. They hung in there like champs, until at one point, I noticed A’s cheeks were red and her hair was matted down with sweat. I forced them home and into a cool bath.

After dinner, A had set up a family game of Zingo and we still had time to explore a bit more. I had read that the best point to look down on the city was the observation tower at the Old Post Office Pavilion. It’s only 4 blocks from our apartment, so we headed over to check it out. True to all the reviews, the views were amazing. In fact, the building itself is amazing, a cross between Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and Reading Terminal Market. We grabbed Ben & Jerry’s for dessert. As an aside, Ben & Jerry’s is some seriously expensive ice cream! What’s that all about?

On our way home, we stopped at the US Navy Memorial to hear 2 songs by a Navy Band called Country Current. We had seen them setting up earlier and R wondered aloud what time they’d be starting. M heard R wonder and marched right up to a man setting up the stage. “Excuse me? What time does the music start?” No fear. No hesitation. Just incredible. I love kids.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lazy days indeed

Original post written on July 16, 2012

Today we walked 3 blocks to the National Gallery of Art. I had read that they were starting a program called Stories in Art and thought it sounded like something the Salad might enjoy. It's like glorified story time at our local library. Except sitting on the floor of a Gallery, surrounded by Monets, Renoirs, Pissaros. And, like most other things in this amazing capitol city, it was free! So they listened to a story about Paris, a docent taught them how to view a piece of art, and answered questions about Renoir's "Pont Neuf." Then we headed to an atrium with a fountain and a small garden and sat on the floor to paint a picture of the Eiffel Tower. Another mom pulled me aside and said, "I've been watching your kids and they look so . . . friendly. My daughter is 5 and very shy, do you think you could ask them to talk to my daughter?" I called the Salad over and introduced them to our new friend. S took her hand immediately. A and M gathered around her, as if to shelter her. They made me proud. After we finished up our morning at the gallery, I strolled them through the Sculpture Garden and we all dipped our feet in the fountain for 30 minutes before we walked home for lunch.
We watched Sword and the Stone at quiet time. I had forgotten how good that movie is. After the movie we headed down to the pool for our afternoon swim. We met more new friends and barely made it back to the apartment before R got in from work. We changed into nice clothes, called Grammy, practiced some numbers and headed out for some low country BBQ, where we checked off one of the more interesting items on our "Summer of Trying" list - fried pickles. Screw those lazy days of summer. We are jam packing as much living into each summer day as we can.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Night at the Museum

Original post written on July 15, 2012

We began our day early at the Eastern Market. Apparently it’s a Sunday morning must-do in Washington, when in Rome and all. We’re lucky to be here in the height of produce season, fresh fruits and veggies at every turn. And free “stamples” at almost every booth, as the Salad was thrilled to discover. We stopped at each booth and estimate that M ate 3 whole tomatoes and 1 whole peach.

We took a quick afternoon swim and ate an early dinner. R suggested that we take advantage of the American Museum of Natural History's extended summer hours, so we arrived around 6:00PM. We headed to the Hall of Human Evolution. The Salad was fascinated by the busts of Homo sapiens throughout the years. I gave them my camera and let them pass it among the 3 of them when they saw something interesting. Here’s a conversation M and I had:

M: Mommy, can I have the camera?

Me: Sure, buddy. Why? Do you see something you want to take a picture of?

M: Yes. See that statue? I need to take 2 pictures of it.

Me: Two? Why two?

M: Yep. One of the front and the other of the hiney. That’s what I’ve been doing. Taking pictures of all the bottoms.

For your viewing pleasure, may I present “The Homo sapien’s Hiney.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Through the eyes of a 5 year old

Original post written on July 14, 2012

R had Saturday off, so we headed to the National Zoo before the weather soared again later in the week. While we were waiting in a long line of traffic to find a parking spot, a deer ran in front of our car to join 3 does on the other side. The Salad screamed with excitement and we weren't even in the Zoo yet. Interestingly, I had been on the Zoo's website the night before and it had made a point to say that children, for reasons frustrating to parents, often find common things at the Zoo exhilarating and to allow plenty of time to stop and observe ant hills or sparrows eating leftover sandwiches.

R and I were continuously astounded that this, along with so many other amazing things in DC, was free! The bathrooms were clean. The exhibits were lush and green. The animals just different enough from our usual stomping grounds of the Philadelphia Zoo to be exotic. We spent the most time at the alpaca exhibit watching them pee and poop. The Salad (and dare I say R and I) were fascinated by how patiently the 3 stood waiting their turn in line to pee and poop in the same hole. Certainly more patient than the Salad are at waiting their turn on the loo.

We capped off the day with a tapas dinner at a Spanish restaurant. I was proud of the Salad for trying everything - squid, shrimp, lamb chop, asparagus, sangria. Oh, come on now. Just a coffee stirrer full. Geez. If they're willing to try squid, you'd better be dang sure I'm gonna let them chase it with sangria.
If pictures speak 1000 words, then this one is War and Peace

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Crisis Averted

Original post written on July 13, 2012

The Salad and I took the Metro to the US Botanical Gardens today. It was humid and 91 degrees, but overcast, so I thought we should hit the outdoor stuff before the temps soared into the high 90s later this week. The day didn't seem to be heading the way I wished. Within minutes of getting to the garden, A complained she was hot and sweaty, S complained she was thirsty and hungry and M became overly obsessed with finding out if the Gardens housed any frogs. Normally that trifecta would have done me in. But I took a minute and regrouped. We walked into the conservatory and I asked the guard where was there air conditioning, where there was a water fountain and where we could eat. On our way to please A and S, I accosted a worker in the Jungle room and asked if there were any frogs in the Gardens. By the grace of God, he said there were several and told us where to look. We drank and snacked in the air and headed out refreshed, equipped with the Botanical Gardens plant scavenger hunt in hand. We ended the trip on a high note, thankfully. Though, we never found M's great white whale, er . . . I mean small green frog.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Building Blocks

Original post written on July 12, 2012

Before breakfast I explained to the Salad what a blue print was and asked them to draw a blueprint of our house. They gladly obliged with rudimentary sketches of an oven to denote the kitchen and smiling faces for each of our bedrooms.

Then, we walked the 4 blocks to the National Building Museum. Every website I’ve read said, stop in just to ogle the building itself. I told the Salad it was built with over 15 million bricks and M noted that was like a really big Lego project. Indeed, little boy.

We headed straight for the traveling Lego exhibit, with some of the world’s more famous buildings built entirely out of Legos. Then we found our Holy Grail. A room with small chairs and low tables outlining every wall. And Legos. Millions and millions of Legos, all at our disposal. Washington does things right, I tell you. This place was clean, organized perfectly (a difficult task for sure when contending with gobzillions of tiny bricks) and spacious enough that even though there were at least 50 kids plus their adults all rummaging for this color or that size, we never once felt crowded. There weren’t overbearing guards waiting for a little body to climb on a table. There weren’t any broken pieces. There wasn’t anyone rushing us away from our masterpieces. We spent an hour playing, breaking only because we had timed tickets to another building area of the museum. The Salad liked that area as well, but M kept asking to go back to the Legos. “I’m hoping the Titanic I’m working on is still there.” Sure enough, his project was there, waiting to be finished. It was interesting to watch those 3. My girls can usually sit at a task for a good long while and most often finish that task. M, on the other hand, needs to be moving, whether his body or on to another task. He just moves. But here, the girls were up and searching, starting one project after another. And all the while, M diligently sat at his “Titanic.” 2 hours and 8 minutes in total.
That, my friends, is a new record.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Honesty – is it REALLY always the best policy?

Confession time.  We just got back from a month long vacation.  30 days!  R took a temporary assignment in Washington DC so that the Salad and I could go with him and tool around the city while he worked.  It was incredible.  The Salad and I are blessed.  We had very sketchy Internet access, so though I wrote about where we went each day, I didn't blog.  This means the next 20 or so blog entries (as well as the previous entry about the Hirshhorn) took place in DC.

Original post written on July 11, 2012

S is recovering from an ear infection so we played our 4th full day in Washington easy. We walked to the movie theater up the street from our apartment for the 11:50 AM showing of "Brave." Or as A calls the movie every time we mention it, “Disney Pixar’s Brave,” as in “Mommy, thanks for taking us to see Disney Pixar’s Brave!”

11:50 AM is such a strange time for an hour and forty minute long movie. Right smack in the middle of lunch. And you’d really have to twist my arm to make me pay movie theater snack prices. So I snuck in some turkey pepperoni, cheese sticks, freeze dried mangoes and skittles. S is terrified of breaking rules. She refused to eat any of the food, because we hadn’t purchased it there. Every time someone walked into the theater, she would panic and scramble to hide the cheese stick in A’s hand. She was a nervous wreck, poor thing.
Her anxiety peaked this evening as a very kind Metro worker, who was fascinated with the Salad being triplets, escorted them through the turnstiles, rather than R and I buying 3 additional Metro fare cards. I’m talking streaming tears.

I’m walking a fine line between breaking the rules and bending the rules.

This is gonna be a hard lesson to teach . . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Art you can touch.

Original post written on July 9, 2012

After our morning swim, we set off to find the Hirshhorn Museum. You may question taking 3 - 5 year olds to an art museum and I would scream a resounding “Hell yes!”  Besides all of the obvious - teach them how to behave in public and teach them a lifelong love of art, it is the most super cool art museum ever. Right now, they have an exhibit called Suprasensorial, which actively invites visitors to participate in the art. Like tunneling through 10’ strands of rubber hanging from the ceiling, walking through white rooms lit with colored fluorescent bulbs or laying on mattresses and pillows to watch a video.
We had friends who visited earlier in the year and they suggested taking fluorescent markers to experiment with in the room with the free standing fluorescent “sculpture.” I brought black paper so they could see the yellow highlighter in the room and watch it disappear into the black paper when seen in regular light. It was so cool, that it drew the attention of at least 7 other kids who came to see the “magic.” Thanks for the suggestion, Ms. Amy!

These same friends told us about a large sculpture of a naked man huddled in the corner of a room. When we happened upon it, M covered his mouth and giggled, “Peter was right! He does have a big penis!”

I wandered about the museum, thinking that museums and galleries really put a lot of faith in humanity. Allowing 5 year olds to come within inches of a Brancusi sculpture? Crazy. Letting curious viewers almost touch noses with a Mondrian? Unbelievable. I kept imagining A tripping over her own feet (as she is prone to do) and smashing hands first into a pedestal housing some metal sculpture which would echo as it hit the marble floors. Thankfully, the Salad was on their best behavior, especially since moments after we got there, a slightly older boy touched a glass bottle sculpture and a LOUD alarm sounded.

I think it scared the good behavior into them.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oh, so long ago . . .

In May, I picked the Salad up from school on a particularly beautiful day.  I decided to drive home a different way, and passed a cute coffee shop.  I happened to have a coupon for a free smoothie, so we stopped in Burlap and Bean.  It was quaint and quiet, with folk music playing softly in the background.  There were dark leather couches next to tables filled with coffee beans.  There was a mom and daughter sitting outside sipping iced coffees, while their golden retriever lay at their feet.  There was a group of older women, playing bridge inside.
I ordered a chocolate banana smoothie for the Salad and an iced mocha for myself and we found a seat.   We sat drinking and chatting about the paintings on the wall by local artists and their school day for 30 minutes.  30 minutes!  
I like my 5 year old Salad.  They are so . . . human.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Rest in Peace, Shadow Gal.  The Salad wishes you many dog treats, lots of delicious bones and a big field to run in and poop on.  What?  They're only 5.  Poop talk is the stuff heaven is made of.   

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

Playgroup has been trying to plan a trip to Winterthur for the last 2 months, but I swear every Monday and Tuesday this spring has been rainy and thunderstormy. And yes. Thunderstormy is a word. Back to my story, though. The first Tuesday in June was finally nice! So Ms. Amy and I packed the kids up and hauled a$$ to Delaware. We spent the day exploring a beautiful new garden. We climbed trees, played tag, poked frogs with sticks, picked wild flowers, and rode on a tram to boot! After we tooled around outside, Ms. Amy suggested heading to a room full of antiques that the Museum encourages little ones to play with. I think the Salad could have carted those glass dishes and cast irons pots from table to stone fireplace all day. It was getting late, though, and I know our good behaviour is finite. So we ended our day on a happy note. Kinda.
We got stuck in traffic on our way home. Which wouldn't have been an issue, as I had doled our snacks and books for the ride. However, about 20 minutes in, A started screaming crazily that there was a "bug with a lot of legs stuck into her skin!" Then silence.

Me: "A? Is everything OK?"
A: "Yes, Mommy. I pulled it off."
Me: "And then what, babydoll?"
A: "I threw it at your seat."
Me: "Oh, OK."

For the next 20 minutes, I imagined a tick burrowing it's way into my shoulder. I couldn't wait to get home and do the tick check on all of us. I needn't have worried, though. Our hairdresser/barber found and removed that pesky tick from A's hair the next afternoon.

Mr. Matthew at Great Clips got a big tip that day . . . a big tip.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Love?

It would be awkward to address the 35 day break I took from blogging.  It wasn't intentional.  It just kind of . . . . happened.  So I'm diving right in.

In May, the Salad helped a friend celebrate his birthday at a bounce house. I put M in shorts and a short sleeved shirt. He was so excited when he saw that he was wearing both shorts and short sleeves. Our spring weather has been inconsistent. We could wear a bathing suit one day and a winter coat the next. Anyway, he got a plastic burn on his arm going down a giant slide. On our way home, as he lamented the lost skin on his elbow, he made sure I knew it was my fault for not having properly covered up his body with long sleeved clothing. "It's because you gave me this short sleeved shirt, Mom! But don't worry. I still love you." It made me wonder if his love for me is so tenuous that it hinges on me picking out appropriate-for-every-situation clothing. Am I walking such a fine line? Could I so easily fall from his favor for getting the minutiae incorrect? All I know is, I better be dang sure I keep his favorite cereal in stock.
There you go, buddy, all covered up.  Happy?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An effort to catch up

How far behind does one have to be in blogging before the outings and events become null and void?  Is it one month?  Is it 6 months?  Because it's May and I'm certain I have things to write about that happened in December.  I think I'll go for it.  The blog will seem incongruous for a while, but since this is the place I'll come to when I'm in my 90s and my mind no longer functions up to specified parameters, I have to do it for posterity's sake. 

Post originally written April 15, 2012:
R has been in Hawaii this week.  I'm tired.  The Salad and I got up 10 minutes early to put finishing touches on our first project for school.  It's for a contest.  Winner gets free tuition for a month.  Well, for one child, anyway.

We read "The Empty Pot" by Demi.  It's a book, set in China, about having the courage to be honest.  We showed a map of China, the Salad made a Chinese Flag and we talked about some symbolic colors.  For a craft, S painted an empty terracotta pot and suggested planting sunflowers seed at home.  For science, A colored pictures of what a plant needs to grow - sun, soil, air and water.  She was really stumped on how to draw the air part.  For a snack, we cut up an orange and spread the segments into a flower shape and used sunflower seeds for the pistils.  Finally, for Music and Movement, we described and discussed the symbolism of a Chinese Ribbon Dance and M made ribbon sticks to dance with.

It was only after "ribbon dancing" at home, that I realized I had once again given preschoolers a bona fide weapon.  Let's cross our fingers that no one loses an eye before the votes get tallied.

That 1/3 month's tuition would pretty much rock.

Coincidentally, I tried to explain what the phrase "bona fide" meant to the Salad.  I told them it meant "Like for realsies."  They got it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Twelve Acre Wood

We went on a spur of the moment hike with playgroup this morning.  The weather called for storms all day and we wanted to be close to home, should the skies open up.  Luckily Ms. Carol happened upon the Saul Wildlife Sanctuary on her bike the day before, so in record time of 45 minutes, I changed the Salad, showered, packed lunch, bug spray, water shoes and an extra change of clothes for everyone.

It was a perfect day for a hike, warm enough to go in the water (though cold water wouldn't have swayed this group of kids) and not hot enough to be uncomfortable.  We have to do as much hiking in the next few weeks as possible, before the bugs come. 

The 9 preschoolers caught sight of the creek about 4 minutes into the walk and by 6 minutes in, 7 of them were drenched.  I stood watching them find pebbles, hide treasure in the sand, wade tentatively to the big rocks, race leaves in the current, "fish" with big sticks and I realized just how many times in the past 3 years, I've seen this exact scene - many small children sopping wet on the bank of a stream - and felt lucky that we have amazing, adventurous friends.
We stopped for a snack break just before we left and about 15 kindergartners came along with their school.  It was cool to see how well our worlds collided.  They were friends within minutes, S holding hands with one of the girls, waving heartfelt goodbyes when we had to leave.   

4 hours later we emerged, muddied and happy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Strict or Slack

A while ago, a fellow blogger had an interesting idea to blog about - what are you strict about? (in the parenting world).  I started thinking about whether I am a strict mom.  And as with most things, I find myself hovering along the middle line.  There are areas in which I am rigid.  For example, I still make the Salad hold my hands when we are crossing any street.  I keep a set bedtime of 7:30, for the Salad.  We have limited screen time.  The Salad knows the shows that I will not allow in our home (Tom & Jerry - oh the violence!, Sponge Bob - the unkind tone!, Yo Gabba Gabba - so annoying!).  We have a clean up time before dinner each night.

But, then there are times when perhaps I fall too far toward the other end of the spectrum.





M dangles from a train trestle.








S drives our van down our street. *









Here, M climbs to the top of a 20' tree.










S drives a Road Roller over A.

    








* Oh, come on, you guys.  Take it easy.  Of course S isn't really driving.  That's not even legal.  OK, she is actually steering.  But that's it.  She's not working the pedals.  You know, 'cause her legs were too short.  Someone else is working the pedals.  I'm not gonna tell you who, though.  Because it's super fun to imagine M squished in front of the driver's seat pumping the gas with his hands.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Drink Up

The Salad's school had Multicultural night last month.  As part of the festivities, they served virgin Margaritas in tiny plastic Margarita glasses.  The Salad took the job of taste testing both strawberry and lime very seriously.  M also told the teacher doling out drinks that it's "just like Mommy drinks." 

Yep.  Sounds about right.

Anyway, when R suggested Mexican food on Sunday, the Salad begged for Margaritas on the car ride to Delaware, where you can get the best Mexican food in the tristate area.  After we were seated and our waitress asked what we would like for drinks, M piped up for the table.  "Margaritas for everybody!"

How have we made it 5 years without even one visit by CPS?  Amazing really.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

If you're happy and you know it,

kiss your mom.

In the middle of our yoga class, I saw S raise her little hand.  When Ms. Lisa called on her, S said, "Can I go see my mommy for a minute?"  I got ready to take her out to the bathroom, but instead S grabbed my cheeks in those little hands and planted a lip kiss on me.  She let go of my cheeks and as she ran back to her mat, she shouted over her shoulder to me, "I needed that so I could be happy."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

S gets by with a little help from her Friends

Playgroup visited Longwood Garden 2 weeks ago. Most schools were on Easter break and we wanted wide open spaces to run in, as opposed to crowded children's museums where we'd be up to our undies in spring breakers.

The day was mostly uneventful, though we explored a few new areas, snacking along the way. In the children's garden, a staff member had set up a crafting station where the Salad each made a crown. They weren't anything special, a few markers and some stickers. What I'm trying to say is that they weren't going to be lovingly placed in our "art to be saved" box.

So it wasn't that big of a deal when, while feeding the giant catfish a bag of leftover crusts, a gust of wind picked up S's crown and landed it in the pond.  She lamented for a minute and then we moved on to the treehouse exhibit, narrowly escaping the Longwood Security who ambled over to see what the fuss was all about. 

As soon as we got to the treehouse, S mentioned that she had to use the ladies room, so while Ms. Amy kept track of the other kids, S and I ran off.  On the way back to our friends, she looked up at me to say, "Mommy, I don't need that crown.  All I need is my brother and sister and friends to have fun."
So young, and yet so wise.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Frogs and Toads Together

We spent a perfect morning at Glen Providence Park with playgroup.  We chose there because it was close to 90 degrees today and we knew we could wade in the many streams and ponds.  Nature did not disappoint.  We caught about 5 frogs (well, really 4 toads and 1 frog - we jumped on my handy dandy smart phone to research the difference and observe the characteristics right then and there!), 20 tadpoles, 1 fish and a close call with a water snake.  Everyone who wanted held the obliging toads, though one surprised A as it tried to wiggle free and she . . . well . . . kind of . . . threw it.  And then it . . . kind of . . . somersaulted . . . down a hill . . . toward a stream.  We watched it swim away, so the other thing we learned about toads is that they are pretty resilient.      
After 3 hours exploring, we packed up and headed home for some quiet time.  When A laid her head down on my pillow, she sighed a contented sigh and said "Mommy, you make the best days."

No, baby girl, you make my days the best.