Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Resolutions

It's been summer break for a week and a half, and I am already missing preschool. Even though Clare only had school two days a week, the change in schedule has thrown us all for a loop. And the main thing that has me wanting to scream and tear out my hair? Sunscreen. I complain all winter long about how annoying it is to get everyone out of the house. Well, it's just as hard in the summer, at least if you are planning to spend any amount of time outdoors.

I've decided that the path I am currently on, however, cannot last. I cannot spend every day this summer screaming at or being annoyed by my children. I've decided to make some summer resolutions. Or, really, one resolution.

1. Relax. I don't have to be anywhere so important that it is worth yelling at the kids to get them out the door. Being a few minutes late will not hurt anyone, especially since most of the time I am just meeting friends at the park.

2. RELAX. Bring humor to the situation. That works so much better than yelling.

3. R-E-L-A-X. Summer is supposed to be fun. When I am getting frustrated with all the whining, demanding, and other general annoyances, I am going to take a deep breath and assess the situation before I say one word.

Okay, I feel a little better now.

On a completely different note, we had Clare's 4th birthday parties last weekend. Yes, parties. We had cake and sandwiches with her friends at our house in the morning, and a cookout with our families that night. I remember in college we used to go out both nights of the weekend until the wee hours, and still be fine for class on Monday. Yeah, I am still recovering from a 4-year-old's birthday weekend on Wednesday. (Hmmm...maybe that's why I am not dealing so well with the kids this week. I am just plain tired.) Along with the parties, Clare got to have her first sleepover. She stayed at my sister's house on Friday night, in the same room with my parents. She loved sleeping in her new sleeping bag and didn't seem to care that mom and dad weren't there.

Anyway, Clare had a great time with her friends. Her guests included Benjamin, Simon, James, Fern, Alice and Heidi and assorted parents. Her cousin Josie was there, too. My parents were in town for the weekend, which was fun. There is still leftover cake. She got a lot of loot. She was excited about all of it, of course. The biggest present, though, was the sandbox Ben built for her. (The gift is from Ben's parents, but he did the construction.) It looks great. I was so excited to give it to her, that I didn't even mind staying up until midnight the night before filling it with sand.

Christopher is not getting a party this year. (Okay, maybe just a small one. Stop me before I get too out of control.)

The kiddos at Clare's party. 
Excited about Abby Cadabby from Uncle Robby and Aunt Andri

Post-party snuggles on the couch.

Target/Coffee shop date with the birthday girl, on her actual birthday.

The joy of summer. RELAX.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


On Clare's last day of preschool, the teachers put together a presentation for the parents. They said a little something about each kid. It was sweet. They had obviously interviewed the kids beforehand. I want to put Clare's responses here, mostly so I remember, but also because it is a good summary of some of her favorites right now.

"Clare loves to play hide and seek. She enjoys playing with the doll house at school. Her heart is happy when Christopher hugs her. She loves to eat strawberries. Clare wants to be a teacher when she grows up. We will miss her stories that she shares in class."

When we heard that last line, Ben and I looked at each other. What stories is she sharing in class? Not that there is anything particularly bad that she could say about us. Except that Mommy likes martinis.

There's no denying this has been a tough year. People talk about the terrible twos, but I think they're wrong. It is most definitely the terrible, no-good threes. Despite all of that, though, I am so proud of my little girl. She is smart, funny, kind, creative and fun. I sometimes forget that she is only just turning four. She talks like a much older kid. Maybe that was part of the struggle this year. I expected her to behave a certain way, and she just wasn't ready to do that.  There was a moment a few weeks ago when she was upset about something, and her tear-streaked face made her look like she did when she was a baby. It reminded me that she is still just a little kid. I should also say that she is a really well-behaved kid for everyone except me. She did not have a single behavioral problem at school. The only criticism her teacher had was that she sometimes "spaces out" during rug time. I didn't say this to the teacher, but my guess is she loses focus because she is bored.

Her mind is just going constantly. Have you seen that Louis CK stand-up where he talks about kids asking why? If not, go watch it. It is hysterical. (Warning: inappropriate language, not safe for work.) That has been me this year. Clare wants to know everything about everything. And she knows so much. She remembers almost everything you tell her. Except that it's time to turn off the TV and go take a nap.

One of my favorite things right now is watching Clare play with Christopher. She is so sweet to him, and they play together pretty well, actually.  I just love watching them interact. She has been very generous to Christopher, letting him carry around her Big Bird doll. He has become very attached to it. She calls Christopher "Buddy" nearly 100 percent of the time. (Christopher's middle name, Lewis, comes from Ben's grandpa. Ben's grandpa was also known as Buddy to his family.)

Clare has very specific ideas for how things are supposed to be. This includes playing tea party, or anything else, for that matter. She can be very bossy. I can already see what will happen a year or two from now: Clare will painstakingly set up some activity, and Christopher and Josie will take great delight in destroying it or otherwise thwarting Clare's plans. All well, she'll need to learn how to cope with this sometime.

She is still anxious and has many fears, but she is learning to manage them. I also understand her temperament much better now, so I feel like I can help her better prepare for new or potentially scary situations. (Except when I take her on a log chute ride with terrifying statues.)

She still loves being outside: the slide, the swings, playing catch, helping water plants, riding her bike, riding her scooter. Anything. She runs with a pack of boys, and keeps up with them just fine. She is a pretty fast runner, actually. She is able to ride her bike to our neighborhood park, which is about six blocks away.

Her other favorite things are art and books. She colors, paints, plays with stickers, and makes creations with play doh. She has about a hundred books in her room and has many of them memorized. She has too many favorites to pick just one, but she loves "Madeline" and "Miss Rumphius."

Her favorite TV shows right now are "Sid the Science Kid" and "Jake and the Neverland Pirates." She is still a super picky eater. For example: she loves cheese, pasta and tomatoes, but will not eat lasagna. She doesn't like pizza. No food can touch or be combined. We are slowly working through this. Her favorite foods are frozen mango, sweet potato fries (homemade, so they are actually baked, not fried), and refried beans. She also loves cereal. Her best friend at school was Ella, who I heard about daily. Outside of school, her best friends are Simon, James, Benjamin, and Brendon. (Brendon told his mom he and Clare are probably going to get married.)

And now she is four. I have a four-year-old. As we all know and say constantly: where did the time go?

Happy birthday, sweet Clare. I hope this year is full of fun.

She requested this pose.
I see both of these particular facial expressions a lot. Clare was upset because Buddy sat on top of his moose rather than next to his moose.

She decided to join in. (And those are bruises, not dirt, on her legs.) 
With one of her favorite people, cousin Josie.

Goofballs at the Aquarium.

Sharing a popsicle at our favorite park.

On her last day of preschool.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

20 Months

Christopher is very helpful. He is into putting things away. I am sure it won't last.

He has started using more problem-solving skills rather than just getting upset when something doesn't immediately go his way. It is fun to watch him think things through.

He is fearless at the park. There is a tall metal slide at our favorite neighborhood park. It is fairly fast. Clare wasn't comfortable going down it until she was three. Yes, you guessed it. Christopher flies right down that slide. He goes down on his belly, but with no hesitation whatsoever.

He has started shaking his head no. He sometimes shakes his head no when he means yes, but most of the time he does it correctly. He has gotten better at using signs to communicate on a regular basis. He has been signing for awhile, but they seem to come more naturally now. Hungry, thirsty, all done, more, please. His vocabulary is slowly expanding. His list of words includes eat, cheese, cracker, cookie (as in the dessert and the monster), boot, Clare, Mama, hi, bye, hello, milk, uh-oh, Josie, banana, apple, ball, go, car, baby, window (I am the only one who understands this), and thank you. I think he is trying to say Katie. (His aunt.)

I am sure I mentioned this last time, but outside his is favorite place to be. Yesterday I asked the kids if they wanted to play in the backyard. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur run by - it was Christopher bolting for the door.

His other favorite things: books, cars, playing with Clare, watching videos on my phone, and running with his hands in the air.

He is still a good eater. His favorite food is fruit. Any fruit. Anytime. He would actually probably be happy if I just served him fruit with a side of cheese for every meal.

He is still very affectionate and gives the best hugs. I think I mention his hugs every month, but I want to savor them because I know a time will come when he doesn't want to hug me 10 times a day.

He looks so grown-up now, especially in his polo shirts that he has been wearing now that it is warmer. I am excited for a fun summer.