Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coming clean

Years ago when I was in middle school my family drove from our home in Ohio to my grandparent's house in New York in a rented van. It was a disastrous 12+ hour drive filled with pretty much every automotive disaster you could dream up. At one point going full speed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike the window next to my brother's seat came loose and with reflexes I still today do not understand, he caught it and ended up hanging out the window of the crappy van clinging to the pane.

The story of course became family legend and was repeated by us all, each recounting it from our individual perspectives. He was just sitting there! And the window just came loose! And he grabbed it right out of midair! We would praise my brother's quick movements in one breath and curse the van in the next. Flash forward fifteen or so years and my brother is sitting through another retelling of the story. Out of nowhere he mentions that right before it came loose he had been messing with the little pop-up release thing that opened the window. We all turned and stared at him. "I thought you knew that," he says innocently.


This evening Dan and Anna sat on the couch chatting while Rachel bounced around the room apparently annoying her big sister. Whatever those actions were they led to a conversation about being naughty and telling the truth. Dan asked Anna if she'd ever lied and she very candidly told him yes. When prodded for details she admitted that one time she told me she'd finished her sandwich when in fact she'd thrown it behind the red chair. Dan and I looked at each other and then back at Anna. "Is it still there?" he asked her. She nodded and watched me as I crossed the room and pulled the chair away from the wall. There on the floor was half a slice of muenster cheese and a sandwich bun.

What camera settings work best for fossilized food?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is so totally THEM

Out of nowhere Anna asks me if she's old enough to start cutting things with knives. I think about if for a second, consider a scenario where she uses a butter knife to cut a soft piece of food and decide that she is probably ready to try that. I announce my decision to a stunned Anna and secretly enjoy her surprise. Of course being four-and-a-half she had to ask me over and over again, really? Really she could try to cut food with a knife, really? Could she? Because she's old enough? She's four-and-a-half so she can try to cut food with a knife? Really?

Rachel watches this scene passively, thumb in mouth, blankey clutched in her right hand, big brown eyes taking it all in. Meanwhile, Anna continues her questioning. This knife situation, is it going to take place in the next few minutes or shall we wait for an actual scheduled meal? What about that ice cream you mentioned, does that require a knife? I finally get her to understand that we should just wait for the next time the need for a knife arises and she agrees to stop forcing the situation.

Rachel pops her thumb out of her mouth and stretches casually over the pillows on the couch. "Mommy? Am I old enough to use a knife?" I smile sympathetically and break the news that she is not. Next to her Anna gloats. "Wah! When I am four-and-a-half can I try to use a knife?" "Yes," I tell her. She pauses, then smiles brightly and claps her hands. "YEAY!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sometimes you just have to find the joy in the small things

Today was a rare day with nothing on our schedules. Swimming lessons are over for the week, a tentative play date did not happen and we had a nice relaxing day together. The girls were in a good mood and we all laughed a lot. So to spread the joy, here are a few examples of how my children made me smile today.

Thanks to Daddy the girls experienced their very first Pop Tart. There was chocolate involved. I'm not sure they will ever be the same.

They made me lift them up on my feet so they could pretend they were swimming through the air.

They told each other they looked "stylish," which is apparently Anna's new favorite word (I blame Fancy Nancy).

When our awesome next door neighbor stopped by with a plate of chocolate chip cookies Anna grabbed two. Before I could reprimand her, she headed straight for her sister and gave her one.

Anna fell asleep and didn't even wake up when I vacuumed right by her head.

During said nap Rachel kept wandering over to her big sister and kissing her cheek.

They played catch with each other with a big pink ball.

Rachel fell asleep on the couch in her undies.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is that a threat?

I was assembling the ingredients to make dinner when my sister called and as I foolishly tried to begin an adult conversation Rachel expressed her desire to assist in the preparations. Specifically, she began shouting, "I want to help!" I assured her that she'd get a chance to help if she'd just let me get everything ready first. That did not seem to calm her, as evidenced by the fact that she continued to repeat, "I want to help, Mommy! I want to heeellllllp!" I tried to ignore her as I raided my spice cabinet but she only increased in volume. "I want to HELP!"

Finally she changed course. "Mommy. There are going to be tears in a minute!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bye bye ballet

As I've written about previously we are in the thick of summer activity season and along the way we are all learning some important lessons. Lessons about preschooler confidence and ego, about letting go as a mother even when you don't realize you were holding on, about knowing when enough is enough.

This last one came crashing down on us last Wednesday in a frustrating scene of music and tears at ballet class. I will be the first to admit - not proudly - that I was the most frustrated of the bunch. But Anna got upset within the first 10 seconds of class, which set Rachel off and once they cried loudly enough to have to leave the room they flatly refused to go back in. When it became apparent that I wanted this class for them more than they wanted it for themselves Dan and I made the decision to just leave. I was embarrassed to have gotten so crazy about it and I realized that my emotions were likely to taint their view of the whole experience. I felt horribly guilty for the rest of the day.

The next day when things had calmed down I talked to the girls. Rachel wanted to continue with ballet but only if Anna would be in the class. But when I told Anna that we could just not do ballet at all, she got such a relieved smile on her face that her view was perfectly clear. It was nice to come to a decision together like that and Anna was visibly happy that she had a say in the matter. We celebrated by using my mother's new Y membership and going swimming.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

When exactly did this guy take over?

Behold the latest obsession of my completely random children:

I have no idea what fancination this little claymation penguin holds for my girls but they could seriously watch this show all day. If you haven't seen it, here is a sample:

I think that because they aren't speaking any kind of real language the girls can sort of experience the story the way they want. Rachel especially loves Pinga, the little sister. She tells me, "Pinga is so cute! When I go in that movie I'm going to hug her like that."

Thursday, July 16, 2009


As part of our ongoing attempt to keep the girls in their own beds at night I decided to move them into one bedroom. They've always had their own rooms but lately when we try to tuck them in at night they have complained that they don't want to be alone in their rooms. I floated the idea of moving them in together a few months ago just to get their reactions and since then they have consistently asked when they can share a room.

So two days ago I moved some furniture and fit Rachel's bed into Anna's room. They reacted by immediately jumping on every surface they could find while singing unintelligible songs celebrating the occasion. Also, I'm the best. In case you were wondering.

Of course the true test came at bedtime and Dan was understandably skeptical. I got them settled in and explained the rules - talking to each other was ok as long as they were quiet and if one girl wanted to be quiet and sleep then her sister must respect that. Above all, and this cannot be stressed enough and let me say it again: stayinyourbed stayinyourbed stayinyourbed. It was all going smoothly until Rachel got a monster case of nervous giggles. She just could not stop and every time Anna made even the slightest noise in response it escalated. I totally understood because I do the same thing and I couldn't help but laugh along with her as she spread both hands across her cheeks and closed her eyes as she let the giggles take over. There is no more beautiful sight really.

It took an hour but Rachel finally calmed down and Anna as always displayed more tolerance with her sister than she does in any other area of life. The result? Rachel still came to our bed around 3am but Anna at least waited until daybreak. More importantly bedtime has been easier the last two nights and they love having their "sisters only" room. Now if only Dan and I could have an adults only room. A mother can dream.

I might be drawing a blank, but someone else wrote something funny

Hysterical Daddy blog post: What We Can Know

Happy reading. Hope to be back with something original very soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scenes from a busy week

Please excuse the recent lag in posting. I've been busy watching my babies grow up. It's been a big week in our household and I believe I've uttered the phrase "I'm so proud of you!" more in seven days than I have in the past year, and I've meant it every single time. The words seem so small next to the sight of one's child overcoming a fear or bursting with new confidence, but other than hugs and high-fives it was the best I could do.


On day three of soccer camp Anna was lined up with four or five other kids awaiting instructions for the next game. Her counselor was looking the other way consulting another counselor when the two slightly older boys standing next to Anna turned her way. One them suddenly reached out and knocked her ball out of her hand and then the other one kicked it away. I could see that they weren't malicious, they were just bored and they didn't really mean any harm but I watched Anna's confused face. I waited for her to say something but she just stood there glaring at them. Her counselor then directed the kids to another part of the field and I saw her bend down to listen to Anna, who told her "I just want my ball back." Having not seen the incident the counselor simply assured her that she didn't need her ball for this next activity and so Anna shook it off and followed her counselor. It wasn't until that moment that I realized two things: one, I had stood up out of my seat and taken several steps toward the field. Two, she had never once looked my way. I had to take a deep breath before I returned to my seat.


On Wednesday Rachel asked for Grandma to take her to ballet and my mom obliged. After the previous week's debacle of clingy tears I gladly gave in, hoping that Rachel would be more likely to participate if I wasn't there to hang onto. I waited at the soccer field watching Anna and when I saw Rachel return I knew there had been some level of success. She strutted down the hill in her favorite purple dress, a huge smile appearing under her pink flowered hat and sparkly Dora sunglasses. "I did it Mommy!" she announced proudly. "I was brave."

A few minutes later Anna had a water break and she ran over to see if Rachel had a good ballet class. Rachel was so proud to report to her big sister and when it was time for Anna to go back on the field she gave Rachel a hug. "Good job, Rachel!" "Thank you Anna."


Thursday evening when Dan got home from work we gathered around the computer to look at some videos I had taken of Anna in action. One video was her first scrimmage against a boy eventually won the point. We gushed to her about how much she'd improved since the beginning of the week as she and Rachel fought for position on Dan's lap in front of the monitor. The fight escalated until Dan had to intervene and when Anna wanted to storm upstairs to her room (something she very rarely does) I pulled her into the kitchen instead for a talk. When I asked why she was so upset she told me: "Rachel won't let me look at the pictures. Daddy yelled at me. That boy took the ball from me."


Saturday afternoon and it's raining outside. Leotards and soccer socks are overflowing from laundry baskets and I have no food left in the kitchen because the girls have EATEN IT ALL. Anna lies on the couch with her feet up on the back where Tiger is dozing. She rubs her feet along his fur and he purrs in response. Rachel is curled up in her "little spot," a small ottoman next to my chair where her red curls spill over the edge and almost reach the floor. Thumbs are in mouths and eyelids are drooping. My girls haven't napped regularly since December but it is clear the week has taken its toll. But Anna has one more thing to say before she drifts off. "Mommy? This was the best week ever." I smile and cannot disagree.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I'm just going to say it

Man do I love this kid.

Anna's week-long soccer camp started today. On the way to the field she announced that her tummy was so excited and wondered aloud whether any of the other soccer kids would have pink socks. When we arrived she grabbed her ball and went flying down the hill toward her group, letting out an ecstatic shriek as she blew right by the line of teenage counselors waiting to greet her and headed straight for the group of kids at midfield getting started.

My big girl spent three hours running, dribbling, kicking and working in the occasional hug during water breaks. She did it all with a confidence and unbridled enthusiasm that just floored me.

We definitely got our money's worth with this one, the girl was completely worn out by the end of the morning.

At home she begged to keep on her cleats and spent a good hour showing her grandma what she learned. She can't wait to go back tomorrow. "I just love soccer, Mom!" she explains.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A bonus of sorts

I just realized how massive my previous post ended up being so I thought I'd reward my precious readers with some cuteness. Specifically, a picture of my girls at gymnastics, posing in their cute little outfits. Taken with my Crackberry. Possibly uploaded to Facebook while I was seated near the soda machines. Shut up. Aren't they cute?

Adventures in summer activities

My first ever children's summer activity season is currently in full swing and I'm not sure who has been getting the wilder ride, me or the girls. Aside from a drawing class that Anna took last summer neither of the girls has ever participated in any organized activities, but this summer I was determined to keep them busy. And what better way to ensure they stay active than by assigning that task to someone else? Here you go Coach, exercise my child for me. I'll be sitting over there by the soda machine with my Crackberry uploading pictures of my kids in their cute little uniforms to Facebook.

My girls and I discussed their interests and I researched our options. After explaining to Anna that there were sadly no whale training courses for four-year-olds in central Ohio we settled on gymnastics, ballet and soccer. We paid the registration fees, bought the supplies (ok we still need soccer shoes but I swear we are getting them tomorrow), signed the releases and pulled our girls off the walls they were climbing in excitement.

The girls were excited for obvious reasons; my reasons were a little more complicated. Lately I've been worried my staying home with the girls has caused them to become overly clingy. Just a few weeks ago Anna called me to come pick her up from an overnight at Grandma's house, something that had never happened before. She can be quite outgoing if I'm nearby but she still stops whatever she's doing several times a day just to come get cuddles from Mommy and often follows me from room to room because in her words, she wants me.

Of course as soon as I start worrying about Anna, Rachel prances in and steals the mommy anxiety show. Sometimes Rachel does such a good job of keeping up with her sister that I forget she's only three. She wants so badly to get out there and do new things, she just wants me to hold her hand while she does it. Literally. While Anna takes to the gym like a fish to water, Rachel clings, she tears up, she goes in to try to participate, sometimes she retreats again, sometimes she actually starts to cry. And I sit there, cheering, encouraging, stifling my occasional urge to roll my eyes or even to scoop her up and leave and try again next season. It doesn't seem to matter how many other kids are doing the same thing, I can't help but worry that my child just isn't ready and it's somehow my fault that she isn't more independent in these situations.

Our third gymnastics session was this afternoon and the whole way there Rachel told me she was going to be brave and let me sit with the other parents behind the glass (as opposed to inside the gym close to whatever equipment she was on at any given moment). She repeated the promise to her instructor once we arrived. When class started though she insisted that I come inside again. I sighed but I went in and spent the first three minutes inching farther and farther away from her and even though she kept sneaking glances back at me, she was also smiling.

Finally I was sitting against the wall by the door and before I knew it she was racing across the gym in the opposite direction and lining up for her next activity. I watched as she climbed, balanced, rolled, swung and even interacted with the other little girls. Anna was sitting next to me waiting for her class to begin and she was just as proud of her sister as I was. At one point Rachel climbed up onto the parallel bars she had refused to touch during her first class and scampered across them as instructed. When she was done she called across the room to me and blew me a kiss. I blew one back at my sweet girl as Anna leaned over and told me "your child is really doing it!"