Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Here's a quick tip I gave to a friend of mine the other day. We were talking about bathtime, and she was saying that her little girl is not a big fan and she was talking about getting bath crayons (which are great, too!). I mentioned that something that my girls have enjoyed, is playing with bubbles in the tub. We have a little container of bubbles, with a little bubble wand, and my older daughter LOVES to play with that in the tub. The other day I had both girls in the tub at the same time, and my older daughter entertained my younger daughter by blowing bubbles, while I washed her hair! Bubbles are so inexpensive -- you can even make your own with dish soap and water -- and kids love them! And the bathtub is a great place to play with them -- it's a novelty for the kids to get to play with them in the house, and there's no need to worry about a mess!

Catching Up

I'm still here -- it's been a crazy week in our house (what else is new, right?) -- I have still been researching mini-vans and we are planning to go out Friday and try to make a deal -- I'll keep you posted on that!

We survived "Spring Break" in our house (my daughter's one week break from first grade). There were the usual moments of boredom -- which is funny, because we were trying to talk her into taking a dance camp this summer and she FLATLY refused. We said, "Ok, but you are going to be bored being home all summer, "No I won't!" Fast forward to halfway through the FIRST day of her week's vacation, "I'M BORED!" Really? We did talk her into taking a mini-camp through her dance school and it's called, "Me and My Shadow", I believe, and she can bring her sister along with her -- how cute!!

In spite of the initial boredom, she did get to do some fun things including a family trip to the Strong Museum -- that was really a great day! Grandpa took the girls to the indoor playground at the mall near our house, which is a lot of fun for them. We had movie night one night, and what did she pick to watch, "The Santa Clause 3" -- a Christmas movie on the hottest day of the year, thus far -- I believe it was 86 degrees that day/night! She was a little apprehensive about playing outside in the backyard -- big "bee fear" that we need to work through... But the weather has been nice and spring-like and I think we are all anxious to move the lawn furniture out and get out of the house!

Tomorrow is my father's birthday, so we have been getting ready for that -- Nana and my girl baked cupcakes for him this afternoon, so when he is here watching the girls tomorrow they can have a birthday treat! We signed his cards before bedtime and my older daughter signed her own name and her sister's name and she drew a picture on the card for Grandpa. I then turned the card over to my little one and gave her the pen and she made her own "drawing" while her big sister had a breakdown over the possibility of her artwork being scribbled over... We worked through it. She also made a happy birthday sign for Grandpa, and we are looking forward to going out to dinner with he and Gramby, and the two great-grandmothers for dinner tomorrow night!

Oh! We have an unexpected treat to look forward to this weekend -- my older daughter and I were invited to be guests of a friend of hers from school, and her mother, who were lucky enough to get 4 free tickets to see the ballet "Cinderella" performed by the City Ballet this weekend. We are very excited about that, and it was so thoughtful of them to think of inviting us!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Down to the Bottomline!

After spending the better part of Saturday morning trying to get myself and my two girls ready to leave the house for a simple trip to Target, dealing with my older daughter's whines and cries about having to get out of her jammies and how she didn't want to leave the house, helping my little one who was struggling to carry out the essentials for a trip to the store - a dolly, a cardboard box, her purse, and a small basketball - I finally got them all into the car and strapped into their seats and lo and behold -- THE CAR WOULDN'T START!

Now, of course, since finishing paying off this car recently, it has been to the garage no less than 3 out of the past 4 weeks. I'm becoming a regular there. You should only be a "regular" at a restaurant or a coffeehouse -- not a car repair shop!! So, much as we'd like to put it off, we are in the market for a new vehicle!

My husband and I have been talking about getting another minivan -- we had leased one for 3 years and loved it, but we were buying our current home at the time the lease was up, and decided to get a less expensive car, to go with the more expensive house! Anyway, 5 years and another child later, we are ready to go back to a minivan! I've been trying to do a lot of research -- looking through Consumer Reports, researching on the internet, etc. But today I finally found a website that really cuts through the dealer and car manufacturer "mumbo jumbo" and speaks to what is important to me, as a mom!

It's a great website called Mother Proof: Car Reviews By Real Moms and you can read all sorts of reviews on different makes and models of cars -- all from a mother's perspective! This is great, because they tell you about how easy it is to get your kids in and out, how easy the doors are for kids to open and close, how good or bad those "swivel" seats are on some of the new minivans, how many cups holders there are for sippy cups -- you name it, if it's important to a mom, it's in there!

Ok, I'm off -- back to my search!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

End of Break Project

My daughter will be on her Spring break this coming week, and as much as we would love to, between work schedules and tight budgets, we will not be taking a vacation. Now, just because we are not taking a trip does not mean that we will be sitting around like lumps not doing anything all week! So far, we are planning to take the kids to a hockey game this weekend (last of the season for our city's pro team - we're a big hockey family...), next weekend we are planning to take the kids to The Strong Museum (can't miss the last week of "Grossology!" - my daughter - and husband - would be devastated!), and if it's nice we can squeeze in a trip to the zoo. Of course, that doesn't include art projects, playing outside, and getting to spend time with Nana & Grandpa.

Sounds like a nice, fun, busy week, right? Here's the thing though -- if your children are like my daughter, when the week is over and she's back at school hearing about her friends' trips, she won't remember ANY of the fun things we did together! I found that to be the case last summer as we were getting down to the weekend before school started. Last summer we did not take a trip to Long Island or to New Hampshire to visit family as we have in the past. However, my girl took sailing lessons, swimming lessons, went to the museums and the zoo, had her first dance recital, had play dates with friends, and had lots of out of town relatives come for visits. I can remember my husband being at work that weekend, and my girl was moping around the house feeling sad that "we didn't do anything this summer!" WHAT? Kids have short-term memory about certain things, and other things they will remember forever (the embarrassing things that you want them to forget)!

So, anticipating that on the first day of school they would probably all talk about what they did on their summer vacation, I came up with a project to help jog her memory. I got her a big piece of poster board, and I gave her old magazines (GREAT to save someplace in the house for rainy day projects), markers, glue sticks, and her safety scissors and we sat at the table and made a collage of what she had done on her summer vacation. We looked through the magazines and she cut out pictures and words that described all of the things that she had done over the summer. By the time we were finished, she couldn't believe how much great stuff we had done -- she hadn't thought about it all until we put it down on paper.

It was a lot of fun - my girl loves art projects - and it helped her to remember what a great summer she had had, and she was all ready when she went back to school and she was able to talk about all of the fun things she did. This was such a fun, simple activity to do -- we'll definitely work it into our plans for her Spring break!

Play Date Manners

Last Friday, my littlest one and I were invited (along with another friend and her daughter) over to my girlfriend’s house for a birthday play date for her daughter who recently turned 1. My girlie is only about 9 months older than my friend’s daughter, so I am excited that they will probably grow up as friends, which will be nice for them! However, my girl was not making the best impression last week, so we will have to be working on our “play date manners!”

For example, even if it is NOT their birthday, it is still impolite to plow down your little friend with their own toy shopping cart… My girl has her own shopping cart at home, which she loves to play with. She puts her purse on her arm and she pushes her shopping cart around the living room, shopping for toy food and stuffed animals – very cute! Well, we got to our friend’s house and there was a new shopping cart to play with, and my girl wandered around pretty much minding her own business, playing with the cart. Until she was trying to get through a bottleneck of 2 little girls and a bunch of toys…

Unfortunately, the birthday girl, all dressed in her fancy, pink dress, was standing in between my girl and wherever it was that she was intending to push the cart to. So, my girl simply ran the birthday girl down with the shopping cart! Nothing malicious, certainly, it was definitely an “Oh, something’s in my way and the shopping cart is stuck, I’ll just have to push harder to get through!” thought process on my girl’s part. So down goes the birthday girl (unharmed, fortunately – just a little stunned, I would imagine) and I’m saying, “No, no! We have to be careful!” Well, the birthday girl starts to pull herself up (using the shopping cart to steady herself) and surprise, surprise, she is STILL in the way of my girl and the cart, so, of course, my girl plows her down AGAIN! Again, fortunately no harm was done, but really, we need to work on her play date manners!

Aside from that episode, it really was a nice visit – the 3 grown-ups got a little adult conversation in, the kids had a good time playing together, and we look forward to doing it again soon – hopefully without my girl running anyone down! I need to work on that with her, otherwise she’ll be a menace in the grocery store when she’s older! ;)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Wheels on the Bus

It is so interesting to be the mother of a nearly 2 year old and a 7 year old. It is fascinating to see the similarities and differences between them - developmentally, socially, emotionally, and of course their likes and dislikes. An example of their differences was driven home (pardon the pun) to me in particular over this past week, with regard to my girls very different feelings about -- the bus.

My older daughter is a first grader, she attends elementary school and she rides the big, yellow school bus to and from school (almost) every day. She does not care much for it.

My toddler, on the otherhand, seems to be fascinated with buses – one of her new favorite songs is “The Wheels on the Bus” (big hit with her!). Her language skills are developing and she is learning new words all the time, but two of her favorites are “Lulu” (which is what she calls her sister) and “bus”. And she will say these words together no less than 20 times a day! When we are out running errands, she gets very excited when she sees a bus drive by, and she LOVES to watch through the front window for her sister’s school bus. I'm sure a lot of this stems from her love of her sister and relating the bus with her sister coming home (she doesn't usually see her leave on the bus).

In contrast, my older daughter does not love the bus these days (did I mention that?)! Many mornings, she wakes up saying, “I don’t want to go to school – I don’t like the bus!” One of her big complaints is that her afternoon bus, admittedly, takes quite a long time to get to our house. It seems to me that she is one of the last kids to be picked up in the morning (short ride), and one of the last kids to be dropped off in the afternoon (long ride). In addition to the long ride, she never seems to be able to finish her lunch at school, and she is not allowed to eat on the bus on the way home. I can appreciate that the bus driver / company does not want to have to pick up after the kids, but I also can understand that when she’s on the bus for 45 minutes after a long day at school, that a few Goldfish crackers would go a long way toward keeping her in a good mood!

My husband has a rotating schedule, and is frequently off for a day or two in the middle of the week. And he, being the sweet dad that he is, has taken to grabbing our little one and driving up to school to pick our girl up, thus saving her from the horrors of the dreaded bus ride home! This is great, however, she has become accustomed to being “a car rider” as she refers to it, and BOY does she get crabby when something interferes with her being a car rider! For example, a car repair… My car was at the mechanic’s over the weekend and was not going to be ready until sometime on Monday (they weren’t even starting until Monday, I should say). So, on Sunday, I started to prepare her for the fact that Daddy, who was off on Monday, would not be able to pick her up because he would be home without a car. WELL, let me tell you about the hysteria (hers, not mine – well, not much of it was mine…) over THAT information! We went back and forth and I explained that Nana, Grandpa, and Gramby all walked to school, and that Daddy had to take a train to and from school and that took at least an hour each way. And of course I pulled out the “No one ever picked me up from school unless I had a dentist appointment!” argument.

Trying to rationalize with a 7 year old makes you say lots of things that you don’t picture yourself saying. I now can completely relate to that “In my day, we walked 10 miles to school up hill – both ways!” joke – but now I realize it’s not a joke – it was a desperate parent losing their sanity over their child wanting to be a “car rider!” By the way, you'll be happy to know that Daddy was off again on Tuesday, and so she was able to be a car rider!

Oh, and our new solution for the long bus ride home is for her to take one of her favorite books to read on the bus, to pass the time!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"What Do You Say?"

I just have to share this awkward “Mom Moment” that I had recently. About a week or so ago, I was in the company of some of my family members, including some cousins and my grandmother. At one point of the visit, my grandmother said to one of my cousins, “So, did you get anything for your birthday?” Now, I recognized immediately that my grandmother was trying to be subtle and inquire as to whether or not my cousin received the birthday card and birthday check that Gram had sent to her. This was not as evident to my cousin who said, “What?” Gram repeated the question. (I know Gram well enough to know that had she received a call or a written thank you, she would not be asking this question…) My cousin answers, “Oh, yeah, I got it.” So Gram says, “Did you get something nice with it?” And my cousin replies, “I haven’t gotten to the bank to cash it yet.” And awkwardly (to me), that was the end of the conversation!

Here’s the “Mom Moment” – I was sitting right next to her, taking this all in, and I was having to physically restrain myself from saying what I would have said if she were my child, “What do you say?” To which my child would respond, “Thank you, Grandma!” Now sometimes I wish that she (my daughter, not my cousin) were better about saying it on her own without the prompt, but I am very hopeful that with the occasional reminder, by the time she is in her mid-late twenties, she will be able to say it on her own in situations like this!

I’m going to keep plugging away and hope that “the magic words” become second nature to my girls – wish me luck!