The question of Summer!



I have come to the (obvious) conclusion that summer camps are wayyyy too expensive. $200 for a basic week of camp and $300-$400 for a “specialized” week of camp is insane.

I have three children.

Of course my middle child is going to go to “preschool” for integrated therapy….to make a long story short it looks like he has a significant learning delay. They are upping his integrated (i.e. school and therapy at the same place) from 3x a week to 5x a week, and then recommending a Special Ed. program for preschool. This is not unexpected, but still hard for me to take in, which is a post for another day.

My youngest is two years old, I’m not paying anything for his summer entertainment.

My six year old, is creative. He probably needs a theater camp but (really) I don’t have that time/money. So I’ve decided to find cheap/free things, and a combination of summer classes, because one week of camp is not enough, he needs some ongoing/structured environments.

Plus I just didn’t have the wherewithall to sign the kids up for spring/summer sports, maybe I’ll get the time/energy to do that next year

I’ve basically come to the same conclusion I did last summer (which prompted this blog) we will be spending as much time as possible at the library and at parks/playgrounds


6yr old Activities

So far it looks like VBS at the end of summer ($25 for one week of materials) at a church we know of

Farmer’s Market/Playgroup/Babysitting all of Tuesday ($100 for the entire summer) i.e. playgroup in the morning, babysitting during which I exercise and then some playtime at the farmer’s market All at our church

Violin Lessons on Monday (technically costs a lot but the grandparents are paying)

Karate (maybe?) About $150 for the entire summer either on Mondays or Wednesdays

Thursdays Lego Club at the Library (free)

Weekly Reading Club (free)<–altho all at home, so that’s more work

Swimming Lessons (hopefully?) $125

Total for summer= $400 (+undisclosed Violin cost)

4yr old activities

M-F morning Preschool/Therapy (free)

Mon Evening Dance Class $80

Tuesday afternoon babysitting and Farmer’s Market at the church $100

Total for the summer=$180

2yr old summer activities

Tues Playgroup, Babysitting & Farmer’s Market at the Church $100

Total for the summer = $100


Luckily my husband and I can swing the schedule to minimize babysitting and eliminate the need for fulltime care, so the entire summer is going to cost us about $680 for regular activities, but still its crazy


In conclusion its back to the playgrounds

I think I should probably schedule a Regular day at the playground for us. Then I’ll try to set up a regular playdate with friends, it would be super helpful…

Advantages: My kids will not be overscheduled, will have to deal with boredom and will get their fill of family time

Disadvantages: a lot more work for us, a lot to juggle, and my children are super social

Also probably should start more free programs at the church for people, because if I’m feeling the crunch surely everyone else is too….


Coping Mechanism #13: The Drink of Water


When a child falls down in my house and begins to cry (which some do more than others 🙂

I tend to offer to

a. kiss it better (which is a wonderful cure)

b. a glass of water<–Why you may ask? Because it is impossible to cry when drinking!

Therfore, love and water tend to cure most ouchie….colorful band-aids are awesome too!


except broken arms…those we have to go to the hospital for 😉


Visual Storytelling: Fun Books and Shows


Westley loves electronics, they are easy, they are visual, they don’t demand conversation.

In addition to building on his narrative play, we’ve been trying to encourage Westley with the stories and shows he enjoys!

I have also noticed that he likes characters like himself….those who talk minimally.

Here’s the List (off the top of my head)

1. Dinosaur’s Binkit by Sandra Boynton Review: Oh No! The Binkit is missing, its hard to look for things, esp. when you can’t tell anyone where you had it last

2. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems Full Review Here: Lost Bunny, again frustrating (wonder how often this situation happens for my child that he wishes he can talk and he can’t)

3. Pete the Cat and His Brand New Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin Review: Going with the flow (which West does) the Cat keeps singing his groovy Song

4. Songs as Books/Nursery Rhymes: probably because the sound is still enjoyable even if you don’t get the words

5. Jack and the Beanstalk: Probably partially because big brother likes it, but also because you get to Stomp around yelling FEE! FIE! FO! FUM!

6. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) the Comic Book because a. we are familiar with the story b. lots and lots of pictures


1. Pingo: Penguins speaking another language? No problem, Westley gets it

2. Curious George: Curious and PHYSICAL little monkey gets into trouble, esp. when he misunderstands/has to guess at the grownups rules

3. Live 101 Dalmatians (I know, I like the original better, although Glen Close is AWESOME) a. there’s cute live dogs b. the dogs SHOW what they do instead of talking about it

4. The Nutcracker Ballet conceptualized by Maurice Sendek : Dancing, very little words (only a bit of narration), plus you can dance along! (I still can’t believe he’ll watch the close to two hrs)

5. The Cat in the Hat THEATER PLAY (note: not the movie). Rhyming words (which I think helps) and LOTS of PHYSICALITY, that is both easy and fun to copy

6. Most musicals, again because we can enjoy the music even when we don’t follow the plot, BUT there has to be enough music to stay interesting….


Westley loves electronics, they are easy, they are visual, they don’t demand conversation.

In addition to building on his narrative play, we’ve been trying to encourage Westley with the stories and shows he enjoys!

I have also noticed that he likes characters like himself….those who talk minimally.

Here’s the List (off the top of my head)

1. Dinosaur’s Binkit by Sandra Boynton Review: Oh No! The Binkit is missing, its hard to look for things, esp. when you can’t tell anyone where you had it last

2. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems Full Review Here: Lost Bunny, again frustrating (wonder how often this situation happens for my child that he wishes he can talk and he can’t)

3. Pete the Cat and His Brand New Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin Review: Going with the flow (which West does) the Cat keeps singing his groovy Song


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Broken Arm :(


My almost 4 year old broke his arm…..he slid off the end of the couch.

Luckily Urgent Care was both open, had an x-ray machine and was not busy (yay)

Sadly, 4-6 weeks in a full cast.

This is my physical child (who ironically did not really break it while doing anything extremely physical) who has been surviving the cold boredom with jumping on the bed, indoor playgrounds, school, bathtime and dance…..

No playground for a while…tricky bathtimes, no jumping on the bed, and worst of all NO DANCE

He put on his “green bandaid” which looks like a “frog arm” (our way of explaining) and he likes it when the long sleeve covers it up…..

After he got the splint yesterday he started to immediately feel better–he got a cast today, the only time he cried was when we said no dance 😦

This is going to be a REALLY long month

On the other hand….I don’t think I’m going to freak out about the hurt, good thing kids tend to bounce back well…but ugh!!!




My eldest hands me a pencil and a piece of paper “Mom, text me a message”

HAHA, because that’s what we do…we text messages of all kinds to each other…we don’t “write notes” or “write letters”

My eldest hands…

Parenting Vocabulary


Sleeping Like  baby: Only long enough for you to start to think about going to sleep

Kidnapped: when the kid incapacitates you by falling asleep on you


Worn out at Grammy’s a couple years ago, all children magically fell asleep at the same time…trapping Grammy

Giving a Lift: Congrats, you are now your child’s lift….to everywhere, and even when they are old enough to climb the steps–they will often take the lift (you) up

Need a Hand?: an easy expression that grownups use for times to help out, but for kids, it means they literally need your hand, to cut things, to keep things in place…or best of all…to hold 🙂

Darwinfancy: The ability of any child to turn unspeakably cute just when you feel like your going to expode….survival of the cutest

Babysitter Stress….or is it guilt?


My life is fairly complicated….luckily I have 1 and 1/2 boys in school (my eldest is in kindergarten, my middle is in 3 morning a week nursery school) and my husband quiet a crazy hrs job, so this year has been LESS crazy.

But, my job required flexibility.

Most of my meetings are at night, and lots of things happen on Saturdays. Plus emergencies come up, my work varies from season to season, etc. etc. As such, its rather ridiculous to put my children in full day childcare–very rarely would that cover all the times I need childcare

My job is very flexible: it can be pretty flexible for me and I have to have a lot of flexibility for it.

My husband gets his schedule the Friday before for the following Mon on…

So…I have great babysitters, they are awesome people. I have even more amazing friends who step in when I need babysitting.

For example, on Weds I promised to meet with someone in immediate need on Thurs: Reality was my husband worked both Thurs & Fri, we needed to meet before Sat and it would give me time on Fri to follow-up on the meeting. Plus I have a sitter who tends to be free Thurs…Bad news; this week she wasn’t. So there I am Weds night, then Thurs morning with no sitter….luckily thru fb and 2 friends I got the details together, but it felt really dicey (ex: I could move the meeting to Fri, but I don’t have anyone who is usually available Friday, so how could that help, Yikes!). Thank God it worked out.

However, it put me thru my usual dance of Babysitter guilt/stress. When I have to get a babysitter and have trouble my head immediately fills with the following thoughts

“Can I possibly bring the kids if this doesn’t work out…”

“How many kids do I have during that part of the day….”

“Should I try to get my husband to call out…”

“Who else can I call?”

“When should I put the cry out on fb….?”

“Should I start asking for random references…” ie strangers

“Should I have started this search sooner???”

“Why do I not have enough sitters that I know…”

“Do I know anyone who has kids who might have other people for me to try?”

“If I set up the TV at work, can I bring my children to work?” This thought repeats in various forms

“Do I feel ok asking my secretary to babysit at her house for this?’

“ugh, who else do I know? Time to get really creative..”


The real issues with babysitters are as follows

1. I am the worse housekeeper ever, some people might not feel ok babysitting/bringing their child to my house….sometimes I can have the kids at the church, but sometimes not

2. I have three children, I want someone who can handle 3 children

3. I need babysitting during the school day so my youngsters/schoolteacher friend can’t do it then

4. that whole trust thing

5. that whole last minutedness of my life thing…

When I can’t get a babysitter I get the privilege of feeling like a bad mother and a bad employee both at the same time…thus the stress/guilt factor.

I don’t think its really my fault (at least most of the time) life is complicated and it was my choice to have 3 children, but usually I give as much as a lead time as I have to find a babysitter, and I do a bunch of friends and sitters who I can call, and usually it works out…

Good points

1. I do not feel bad leaving my kids with sitters a. they love it b. they are typically home with us 80-90% of the week

2. I love my flexible job, if I need to swap around my day off, I usually can, plus sometimes I CAN take my kids to work

3. Sometimes my kids get a playdate and a babysitter

4. I think showing kids other adults way of relating (as long as they are trusted of course) and that is good experience

5. babysitters usually focus a LOT of attention on my kids, because they are not trying to pay the bills or work while they are with them, I consider this a good thing for my kiddos

In conclusion: Man, do I love babysitters 🙂

Childbirth Stories: Child # 1


My eldest was born while I was in graduate school, none of our friends (close or far away) had children yet. So ours was a fun long awaited birth.

Due in June, the baby (we didn’t know the gender because I LOVE surprises) was due two weeks after class let out (yay)

which felt like forever.

My mom came out early and since we are really really bad at being bored with sewed cute pillows and decorated the nursery and preboought dry goods…..and waited….

My parents family a shore vacation, and we went down to the beach (90min away) with them. Since it was our first child the midwives (yay midwives) thought that it was safe to go. We took LONG walks and tried to wait

4 days after the due date, my husband and I waded (carefully!) in the waves…….

Suddenly the waves weren’t the only thing, the braxton hicks seemed to be a little more regular (like every 20 min!)

I went to bed…woke up about 4am and felt labor, taking midwives advice, rolled over and slept til about 5am

Drove 20min towards home with my parents and ate breakfast.

By the time we were 15min from the hospital (in rush hr traffic) it was VERY hard to sit still!

6hrs of labor still to go….my entire family came down from the shore, as well as my in-laws from Philly….and my best friend from NYC! They all played card games in the waiting room.

I was let to Labor Down for a while due to a big emergency in the next room….so I might have been able to push sooner, but that’s not how it happened.

When the baby was born around 6pm in the evening, my sister Noelle thrust her cards in her pocket and one by one the party came in….everyone had their picture taken with the baby.

It was magic…there was NOT ONE BAD picture taken, every single person looked on the baby with wonder….and my father-in-law kept getting back in line to squeeze in extra turns 🙂

We were in the hospital for 3 days…Seminary friends visited, brought us games and we tried very hard not to be bored. No one tells you that you are exhausted yet babies are boring. The reason why we talk about how long they are (22inches) and how much they weigh (8′ 13″ and a big head, altho I don’t remember the inches) and dress them in cute clothes and what their name is and why….is because they don’t do much else.

From the first day, I started to call the baby boy-boy, it just seemed like that was what he was….and thus our first boy-boy arrived.

My sister’s cards appeared in the wash later–a hand nicely fanned out, and completely glued together by the water…. 🙂

Artistic Truths: The Truth about arts and crafts with children


Dear Mom and Dad,

As an artist, I thought I would inform you about the truth about art in my life

Playdo tastes good….face it, the saltiness is addictive….

The tops of markers are especially designed for teething

The world is my canvass….literally….

The water for the paint will be spilled and/or drunk shortlyPhoto on 2014-01-07 at 15.47

If there is a permanent marker in the world, I will find it, and use it.

Scissors are great, aren’t they?

I will go through a phase where I want to paint every single day, probably when you are busy cleaning

Finally, I will go through thousands of sheets of paper creating art, and I love the wall of hot dogs (inspired by The pigeon eats a Hot Dog) and wall of butterflies. The Falcor Banner going up the stairs is perfect (who doesn’t want a dog dragon?) I especially like it when you display my art at my eye level.
Photo on 2014-01-07 at 15.57

Thanks for letting me make a mess

Love Westley (Ashburn and Franklin)

P.S. Crayons are edible too–I especially like to bite off the points


My just-turned-two-year old kissed the tv goodnight last night. We brought him down to check his diaper (negative, the crying was due to the “I’m all alone” feeling that comes when your two older brothers pass out before you)….let him run around (adorably of course, because we know where our bread is buttered) for 10min. When we told him to say nigh-nighs…which he usually adorable says to us. He kiss the tv……….

My just-turned-…

Childhood Cliffnotes: Switch!


Oh, can I use your crayon mom?

Can I use your guitar big brother?

Can I use your game controller dad?

Can I use your kazoo friend?

Mine isn’t as good as yours, it isn’t working as well…I know, I’ll use your instead!

We can switch

Childhood Cliffnotes: What do you mean you don’t want me to share?


I just want to put my half chewed food in your mouth, because I love you, besides wiping my nose and sharing food, dirty tissues and my dirtiest toys are just what you are telling me to do..that’s not event to mention sharing about my parents potty habits or anything else that might be embarrassing….

What do you mean you don’t want me to share???

The Little Things: Experiencing Parenthood, Experiencing Thankfulness


For the five minutes all the dishes are done in the house

For simultaneous naps

For TV shows that the whole family gets to watch

For beautiful days to play outside

For those days when the mess doesn’t bother me

For the kisses and cuddles

For the hot tea being ready

For enjoying these and other moments

I give thanks!


“I’m so b’excited to go to Eddie’s wedding!”

The more you parent, the more you develop your own language for things. You start to refer to the passy or the binkie or the nummy. You talk about poo-poos, stinky butts (mine) or yuckas. And you can ALWAYS tell a parent because they start to refer to the bathroom as the Potty ALL the Time (no children necessary).

And as time goes on your child starts to participate in the language development, adding their own words, picking out some of the phrases you say as particularly entertaining–and so they become a part of your vocabulary.

Whenever we couldn’t of what to say with my youngest sister we would say “then I’ll stand on my head and go wubba, wubba, wubba” (Grover reference). With my children we tend to use tickling on a regular basis “We’ll go the store, have lunch and then I’ll tickle you” etc.

For my oldest Franklin, he says regular words with “Be” at the beginning for emphasis…which of course is not something I now pick up and do. “Let’s go have a B’aventure” “Let’s B’imagine it together” Instead of correcting him, we have learned to use it ourselves 🙂

So naturally, we are very “B’excited” this weekend for a wedding.

I LOVE words!

“I’m so b’excit…


“Where true inner freedom is, there God is. And where God is, there we want to be…When we meet a truly free person there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.”

Henri Nouwen

We have been practicing breath prayer of “Freedom, in Christ” some thoughts for that…

hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God. It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic (hermit) tradition of prayer known as Hesychasm (Ancient Greek: ἡσυχάζω, hesychazo, “to keep stillness” stillness, rest, quiet, silence). The prayer is particularly esteemed by the spiritual fathers of this tradition (see Philokalia) as a method of opening up the heart (kardia) and bringing about the Prayer of the Heart (Καρδιακή Προσευχή). The Prayer of The Heart is considered to be the Unceasing Prayer that the apostle Paul advocates in the New Testament. St. Theophan the Recluse regarded the Jesus Prayer stronger than all other prayers by virtue of the power of the Holy Name of Jesus.

“Where true inn…

Surprise! (or It’s not my fault)


There we are at the farmer’s market, when my 5 year old notices a cat in a tree.

Immediately he brings it to my attention. After it lept into my arms (note SHE approached me*) much petting occurred. (Meanwhile my husband, whose eye I caught, emphatically shaking his head…we already have 3 cats)

Then I told the kids the cat was probably a local cat, and we would be leaving it at church…

My son–having already named the cat Peter Parker–supposes that must be true and my kids leave without a fuss.

My husband then clarifies that he wants no more creatures in the house–no more children, no more cats and no more wives (LOL I’m not sure what cracks me up more, the no more wives comment or the fact that we are all creatures)

The next day I go to work. Its a crazy day. We are about to purchase another car after our last one was ran into and totalled (yay for no longer playing the 1 car game, I’m sick of it!). My middle son’s preschool is at work, which is great. My oldest son and middle son have to be different places by 9am. My eldest, the busstop and my middle at preschool–which is tricky, but doable with 2 cars.

But we have 1

So I got the kids ready (I am the get the kids ready in the morning person in my family) took my husband, youngest and oldest to the busstop. Took my middle child to preschool and worked for 1 and 1/2 hrs by myself. Then I ran home to pick up my youngest, and drop my husband at work. Commence working for 1 hr with a (newly)-terrible-two-yr-old. Then I pick up my middle child from nursery school.

I’m in the office with two children, working on the bulletin. My secretary is out of town (Yay for vacations). Naturally a million people who normally don’t come by the office, do at this point a. clarifying contracts (multiple times), b. fixing a paycheck c. updating themselves on our smoking policy (the cigarettes outside are getting TOO messy from AA, yuck), etc. Meanwhile the entire time my 2 year old is thinking it to be hilarious to turn off the copier while I’m finishing the bulletin.

It was at this moment an AA person came to tell me that a cat had snuck in the window, and was begging for food.

What could I do?

I told them to bring the cat into my office. I then let the cat know that if she couldn’t survive the time in my office with 2 preschoolers, she coudn’t come home with me.

She survived and stayed accessible without hiding.

She rode on my almost-two-year-old’s lap all the way home.

After cuddling and feeding, I called the shelter to discuss options…..we successfully kept the cat a secret (in the spare room) all day, but by that night we decided to try her out…..after all, as I told my husband, its one thing to leave a kitty (about 7months old) for one night knowing you’ll check on her the next day. Its quite another to leave her when you know she is hungry and you won’t be in the office the next day

Guess who has a new cat? Her name is Peter Parker…..

(I maintain its still not my fault. Note how I tried to leave her, did not use the kids emotionally to support the kitty, note how the cat jumped in my arms & behaved & was cute on the ride home, note how I called the shelter..its not my fault…but it is my cat ;P)


*the Honor Harrington books are SO right about cats choosing you

Coping Mechanism #8: Not Intervening


I try not to jump in to every conflict.*

If there is a problem, I try to ask “Did you tell your friend/brother that?” Then start there…

I don’t want to negotiate my kids’ interactions, I want to teach them how to negotiater. I have a friend who calls it “mm…mmm…” parenting, where you try to listen to a child, but don’t “jump-in” or “respond” until the child asks an actual question (assuming they are a talking child)

I picture my job more as a referee, calling the shots as I see them, rather than being the mediator who everything has to go through.

After all, usually a mediator is only called in wh


all other options have been exhausted….

(although sometimes we are Definitely TOO exhausted to negotiate–that is when the  mediator should step in!)

But until then, I am NOT necessary for every interaction my child has…

*note: I “try” this is not a hard and fast rule, more like a goal!


Real MOMS! and DADS


“They don’t see bandages placed on knees. Kisses on foreheads at night. Pillows pushed just the right way and blankets tucked to the perfect demands. Laundry folded and folded and folded. Tears that sting your eyes as your keep going. Dinners prepped over the stove. Times of laughter over silly things. Hair brushed and pulled back into pony tails. Prayers over wandering teens. Prayers over little babes. Nights spent sleeping in a chair holding a sick child. Days where the house is a wreck but you’re reading books. The brave smile on your face when you’re weary”

Coping Mechanism 7: Chocolate


Chocolate is therapeutic…..


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

Data: I have observed that the selection of food is often influenced by the mood of the person ordering.                                                                                                                              Q: I’m in a dreadful mood. Get me something appropriate.                                                   Data: When Counselor Troi is unhappy, she usually eats something chocolate.                        Q: Chocolate?                                                                                                                             Data: Mm. A chocolate sundae for example. Although I do not speak from personal experience, I have seen it have a profound psychological impact.                                           Q:[to waitress] I’ll have ten chocolate sundaes.                                                                  Waitress: Ten?                                                                                                                            Data: I have never seen anyone eat ten chocolate sundaes.                                                       Q: I’m in a really bad mood. And since I’ve never eaten before, I should be… very hungry.’

Star Trek, the Next Generation

“He turned and reached behind him for the chocolate bar, then he turned back again and handed it to Charlie. Charlie grabbed it and quickly tore off the wrapper and took an enormous bite. Then he took another…and another…and oh, the joy of being able to cram large pieces of something sweet and solid into one’s mouth! The sheer blissful joy of being able to fill one’s mouth with rich solid food!
‘You look like you wanted that one, sonny,’ the shopkeeper said pleasantly. 

Charlie nodded, his mouth bulging with chocolate.” 
― Roald DahlCharlie and the Chocolate Factory

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.” 
― Joanne HarrisChocolat

But, the most important reason Chocolate is a Coping Mechanism is…

Because Chocolate keeps the Dementors away!

My favorite is nonpareils….

Ash turned 2 this week…


Developmentally at least.

He has developed free will! (and the puckishness of being two 🙂 Its that Peter Pan confidence and sense of fun that 2 year olds have a monopoly on

He now will giggly come all the way to the door only to turn and run the other direction.

He will now tell you “NO” firmly, with a smile

and my favorite, he will hit you while your holding him in order to see what you will do (I put him down, then he cries)

I couldn’t believe it happened so fast, the 3rd child is completely unexpected in his development, because I always seem to be taken by surprised

My thoughts unfolded as followed) (about 2 weeks ago)

Did he just run to the door and go away again…wait is he laughing…that is rather two year old of him…wait, is he that close to 2 already….Oh my goodness 22 months, yep it makes sense…

My husband and I have a joke, its “Who decided to give this child free will anyone” its esp. funny since I’m Presbyterian, and Presbyterians LOVE free will lol

Coping Mechanism #6: All Together Now!


My children are All Together Now

1. They sleep in the same room–no one has objected (yet), I figure its easier to train kids to sleep apart than together (although there is this adorable story of the first summer my brother and I didn’t share a room and he ended up asleep in the hallway right outside my door most nights), the room mess is contained in one room, + my kids can now sleep thru anything

2. They take a bath together–sometimes my oldest one now “phases” in after someone else gets out, but still more than not, they are all in one bathtub, that way I only run and watch 1 bath. Cleaner kids (because how oft will I bathe 3 kids in one night?) and saves time and energy, +again they seem to like it: even with the option to be *more* separate, mostly they aren’t…

3. Enforced Naptime, at the same time: I don’t care if they really sleep or not. This naptime or quiettime (for the oldest) means the kids have to stay upstairs for at least an hour and entertain themselves (note: the “quiet” in quiettime is for the adults, I do not make my children actually be quiet)…they do it all at the same time, if they sleep GREAT, if not, that hour is still wonderful.

4. Same Bedtime: mostly for the same reasons as above

5. Peers, doing things together: I loved having siblings. I think there are a great number of skills you learn by interacting with someone who is (practically) your peer. I think these experiences can help someone in the long run. And since I am not built for single-child-parenting (entertaining is not my cup of tea)….I had multiple children….now I like to make the most of it (hopefully without scarring anyone). Plus I like to believe family is being together with each other and dealing through the annoyingness 🙂


Coping mechanism 5: heading off meltdowns


I have three kids so even tho everyone was still doing fine last night bedtime was creeping up and I decided to go home esp since my husband was busy doing stuff for kindergarten.  Home we went without any meltdowns. All parents can sense the signs–and if you don’t yet, you will ;).

It’s why we ask for the check at restaurants as soon as we get our food,

it’s why we leave events early

and it’s why we opt for redirection (let’s do something else) instead of disciplining a recalcitrant child.

It’s so we get out before!!! The tantrum, meltdown or its not the end of the world conversations…




There are some stories I don’t like to read out as much as others…there are ones I don’t get, ones that feel WAAAAYYYYY too long (despite being short), and ones that I feel send a bad message (remarkably few that are requested as of now…).

There are some I LOVE to read out loud. If I had a dragon by Tom and Amanda Ellery is about replacing one’s little brother with a dragon.

1. I have three boys so the little brother thing is awesome

2. Dragons

3. It’s succinct

4. The pictures tell half the story

Coping Mechanism #4: Boxed Mixes


Popovers, Scones, Muffins & occasionally Brownies:

Usually I have at least one of these in my cupboard. Baking is therapeutic, its hands on, it has a finished product and its delicious. Boxed mixes seem infinitely more manageable than from scratch (plus my oldest likes to “read” the pictures for ingredients). This with a steady supply of frozen fruit & vanilla to add to the ingredients make it certain that almost all of these are tastier than a regular boxed food. They cost a little bit more, but they are less than buying already made bakery items.

Thus I survive, with good food!



PK’s ask the toughest questions.

Two weeks ago Franklin asked how we can REALLY, REALLY see angels.

He continues to ask me about how heaven works.

Last week it was this one?

“Mama what does God look like?”

Me….very afraid this will end in a meltdown “No one really knows!”

“But is there a picture, so we know what God looks like?”

Me “No, but lots of people painted picture of how they guess God looks”

Franklin “Ok, I”ll paint a picture than”



“I think God is very big, because God takes care of everybody, and I think God is a rainbow, because God likes all colors. See these dots? These are all the people, they are all different colors too.”

Who could ask for a more accurate theology than that?

Coping Mechanism #3: Tickles


When in doubt we rely on tickling.

Tickling is a great subject changer, a great physical activity and a great way to threaten…I oft use the “If you complain one more time I’ll tickle you” it lightens the subject and prevents me from yelling and my kids from shutting down.

Thus tickle..or at least threaten to 🙂

(PS although I overused this an annoying big sister–I am much better as a mother)

Operation Kindergarten, 1st full week….


Dear Teacher,

Franklin would like to know if you have a show and tell time at some point and whether or not you have blocks because he would like to work on building a really big tower. He wasn’t sure when a good time to ask you questions was, so we are writing this note. Please let us know when a good time to ask questions is too.


Mom and Dad and Franklin

Franklin’s Teacher called today…

Automatically I reacted with “is Franklin allright?” when the teacher called me (which is silly since I did write a note but I guess I’m more nervous about this kindergarten thing than I thought)

He was of course..

The teacher clarified that almost ALL the day is structured (which is what I got from Franklin when he said there was no time that was obvious to ask the teacher these questions)

That Franklin had a minor meltdown when his milk leaked (again!) despite the new thermos we bought to be better (sigh)

and she wrote a note, but it had wash

ed away last time…and Franklin had told me (in the middle of the night!) and I believed him, but he wanted the note as proof, so I think he was doubly upset that we had tried to fix it, and that I neve

r saw the last note…

Since Franklin is a little dramatic

, the whole don’t cry over spilled milk thing def. applies

Then she said there’s no show and tell, there are blocks but they are currently put away……and that the times to talk are getting backpacks, snacktime, lunchtime and bustime……..

So Franklin was right, there isn’t a lot of free time in kindergarten…his teacher said they are academically structured…..

I bought a different kind of thermos off amazon–he doesn’t want juice, I don’t want to buy cold milk (he likes his milk lukewarm) at school, and many many thermos’ are too big for the lunchbox that already is too heavy for


At least he got his questions answered! and I’ll try not to cry about his spilled milk 😉

Coping Mechanism #2: Facebook


I don’t physically hang out with people much…someone needs to always be home with the kids and that sad, sad truth is when I go out at night I should be working. If I were wise and brave and good, I would have night out when I invited different friends over every week….still this has yet to happen.

As my friends without children get older, they are on fb less and less, I personally get more annoyed by how commercial it is…but it is a major source of news and social interaction for me…so there you have it…I “almost socialize” on a regular basis….

Dear Mom on the iPhone, #DearMom


If it looks like I’m barely holding things together, then imagine how bad it was….well don’t imagine, just know that I’m doing a HELL of a lot, and its not due to my lack things are difficult, but due to the complications of and multiplicities that make up my (I believe everyone’s) life

In the midst of filling out paperwork Re: Franklin’s first day of Kindergarten, Westley’s Speech Evaluation, The Totalled Car and the buying of a new Car, Agendas for meetings, advertising for work’s next major event, Doing my regular 40 hr week, playing the 1 car game (dropping everyone everywhere), interviewing a new babysitter for work and you know the clothing, feed and otherwise caring of my three children…..

If it looks lik…



My sister was born on Sept 14th.

This is important because where we were the cutoff for kindergarten was for Sept 15th.

My sister is super-social–she breaks the extroverted scale on any and all personality tests.

My parents figured she was ready (despite being basically 1year younger than everyone else)

She was a terror, she yelled, screamed, tantrumed and bit the school principal…a few days later, still the same…

Quandary: Let the child get their way be removing them from school OR figure they are too young and pull them out?

My parents kept her in (consistently) and made tweaks. She didn’t act up as bad for my dad so he did the dropoffs, etc.

About the time they were going to pull her out, she stopped (I think it was about 2 weeks in)

Whenever I’m transitioning (potty training, sleep training, pacifier free, new nap schedule, etc). I try to give two consistent weeks to the cause. If I put forth 2 weeks of effort and there isn’t VAST improvement, I figure that the child isn’t ready yet.

More often than not by the time I hit 2 weeks the transition is almost over…

It helps to have a time line…………and to remember most things come in phases


Westley is 3 1/2 years old. He doesn’t have a lot of words (still). He is a middle child, and doesn’t get a lot of time to shine…

But yesterday we happened by a dance studio grand opening, and Westley was all out.

He danced to it all, copying the girls, interupting their moves, smiling, laughing–shining.

So naturally–we signed him up….(real dance lessons are expensive, ouch!)

But this is the child who LITERALLY has to stop for dance breaks, no matter what he is doing…this is the child who finds rhythm in coffee grinders and sink grinders to groove to…..This is the child for whom turning off music is a real punishment….

As Franklin said “Mama, can’t we stay and watch Westley dance more? I love to watch Westley dance, he is SO good at it, we should really stay and watch him”….this from my little performer…….


Gotta Dance

Kindergarten Orientation


Me “Be sure to ask about how long recess is, so I can know if Franklin is getting enough outside time”

Dada “Ok”


Dada “They don’t have recess”


Dada “Well, sometimes they do, but sometimes they have time outside that is structured, or they look at books together or something.”

Me “But they don’t have recess? Are you serious”

Dada “yeah….well, they have it…but not recess per se”


Dada “Well…..what can you do?”

Me “Nothing, but…..all the research says that recess is the most important time of the day….and they don’t even have it!”


1st Day of Kindergarten: The traditional letter


Dear Franklin,

As you begin kindergarten on Sept. 6th 2013, I have to admit I’m jealous. I love school, and I wish I could be going too. This rather selfish thought is the carpe diem that I tend to be living these days. The Carpe Diem you are living is in a chatter filled story, filled with weekly obsessions (101 Dalmations and Peter Pan are recent) and your more long term ones (Dr. Suess was the last big hurrah!). Of course, you continue to try to convince me to create plays for you to be in, ever since I did Charlie Brown last Christmas, and you love to repeat yourself (a family trait) and sometimes drive me nuts by asking the same question over and over again, or arguing for something I’ve already agreed to just to keep the conversation going. You love to play with other kids, and of course you like music and crafts<—–Hopefully your allowed to keep these loves, a lot of grown ups tend to lose them, especially boys.

We have in depth conversations about who and where God is, what happens when people die (Jesus puts a ladder down) and the ongoing battle with learning to play by yourself and what exactly privacy is. You still think mama and dada know everything demanding answers to impossible questions and often querying “how do I make myself really Peter Pan? How do I really go to the Jungle?” and the most recent “Mama I want my dream to come true, how do I make my dream come true”

You eat almost everything (except tomatoes), and are more than ready to be done with naps, you are finally pedaling on your training wheel bike. Sadly you’ve outgrown your love of walks and your daddy dates, but playing outside is still one of your favorite things ever. You are still campaigning for a dog (since age 3) and we still don’t have the time/money/space to do so….

You love your babies, jumping on the bed with the family and feel compelled to snuggle whenever mom and dad are….Westley follows you around never needing to talk, attaching onto whatever activity you do. You both listen to music constantly! Ashburn trails after climbing chairs, practicing jumps and trying to talk as much as you do.

But I hope you remember, I hope you never forget what it is to take children seriously, I hope you remember how to really, really play, I hope you remember love and laughter as the primary pieces of your childhood, I hope when you remember who you were, so you can become who you are!!

I love you!


I believe in Playgrounds…and Imagination people!


I have a friend (hey Melissa) who is a teacher. She notes that many children don’t know how to play during recess. They are used to activities, electronics and being ALWAYS entertained….They have lost the art of boredom and imagination.

My grandmother had no patience for boredom. An only child who lived way away from any neighbors, she learned to entertain herself. (This was a really firm statement from a woman who never yelled and couldn’t make a decision about anything, ever)

Note: Loneliness is different than Boredom. I’m against feeling lonely, and for experiencing boredom.

Lots of my best creativity came from boredom, a lot of my spirituality came from boredom (I now try to tell kids that boredom is a necessary part of church) and of course a lot of learning how to do self-care came from boredom.

In a blog, a mom sums up the problems with parenting as follows

“1. Birthday Parties

What in the hell has happened here? I remember going to birthday parties as a kid. We simply played for a bit, sang “Happy Birthday”, ate some friggin’ cake, and watched our buddy open up some presents. Why on Earth have these things morphed into themed parties that take hours of planning, hundreds of dollars and are only appreciated by the people who aren’t being celebrated? It’s crazy! For HJ’s first birthday, I fell victim to this whole fiasco. We had a Milk & Cookies theme and I stressed myself completely out as I accounted for food allergies, activities for older kids, balloons during a helium shortage, and the perfect shade of pink in every corner. I was still so stressed out by the experience that HJ had a grandparents only party the next year.”

YES Birthdays should be fun, not entertaining

“2. Elf on the Shelf

Simply singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” used to be enough to put kids in check. Now they have a snitch. Not just any snitch, but one in which Mom and Dad have to place in humorous and cutesy positions every night to entertain the kids and remind them to be good. Because completing Christmas shopping, baking for holiday parties, seeing family, going to light shows, and wrapping presents isn’t enough to keep us busy during that month. We need to add a stupid elf to the list. (Full disclosure: HJ and B’s elf is currently in my closet, ready to make her debut this Christmas.)”

UGH! Please let me never be an elf on the shelf parent this self-purported “Charming family tradition” creeps me out SOOO much, and then the crazy parents who do secret things with their elves, UGH!!! I believe in Christmas Magic, not Christmas shame.

“3. Organic EVERYTHING

Yes, organic is the best way to feed a family. Avoiding pesticides, GMOs, additives, and other preservatives is preferable, obviously. I get it. That being said, I still need to be able to afford to actually feed my family. Have you noticed how organic food is nearly double the price? AND everything can be organic these days. There’s organic t-shirts, organic cleaners, and organic candy. There’s even organic diaper bags. Seriously? We really need the bag that carries my kid’s poopy diapers to be organic? Are we eating it later?”

Um, no, I’m working on most meals being home cooked, I value that more than the organic thing, and farmer’s markets where my kids connect to their food and where it comes from. I am a bad Obie (Oberlin Grad) and am not on the organic train…

“4. Kid’s Sports

I played sports as a kid. I was in dance, gymnastics, tee ball, softball and volleyball. The difference between kids’ sports back then and now is the fact that our sports didn’t eat up every free friggin’ moment of every day. Thankfully my kids aren’t old enough for this yet, but I have seen it from family and friends. As soon as their kid starts a sporting activity, I NEVER see them again because it never seems to end. They are always at practice, a game, or a tournament. As soon as the summer league is over, then the fall league starts. Fall’s over? Oh, great! The spring league is here! I don’t blame parents. I blame the coaches and league organizers. Do these people even have kids?”

Similarly I don’t (and may never) have this problem, however I will push group sports first (soccer, T-Ball, etc) and see what happens….for issues like these I let the kid take the lead….and usually I give the kid a couple of weeks, ask them if they want to continue, if they do they are committed for the year, but can step down the next year.

“5. Pinterest

As much as I love it, I have to admit: Pinterest is an a-hole. It further perpetuates the notion that parents must do everything perfectly and be the best at everything. Just the other day I saw a pin that taught parents how to apply tattoos to bananas for school lunches. Are you kidding me?! It’s not enough to make lunch for your children, but now we have to decorate it? Ridiculous. Also, because of Pinterest, I am guilted into thinking I should have a water table, a colored rice sensory table, make my own finger paints, sew pillowcase dresses, put lunches artfully into cute little bento boxes, and that I should be setting up monthly photo shoots with my wiggly kids. No. No. And no. It’s difficult enough to keep them alive, fed, clothed, bathed, and away from my secret candy stash.

Can we collectively agree to take it all down a notch?””

Pinterest: I love arts and crafts, but I DON’T have time with three preschoolers, so it sadly just depresses me…plus I tend to think up good ideas on my own (yay)….so I’ve not succumbed…….yet……………..

Here is a full on response!


What I notice is that a lot of this is trying to make better choices for our children.

What if we taught them (instead) to make better decisions for themselves? What if we let them take the lead and didn’t stuff their day with activities but left time free for family, friends, maybe even church and/or boredom (see what I did there because church and boredom are not necessarily mutually exclusive)……..

This also helps with one of my constant problems. Money. My family can never seem to get ahead, we are always, just barely, making it…but craft materials are free, playgrounds are free, churches and informal playgroups are free….I don’t believe in Paying to Play, I’m not a big fan of making entertainment the center of my children’s life (hint that’s why I have three, so I can be referee instead of entertainer)…… anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the issue!

Potty Training


My kid did a lot of potty training at home, but at church he tended to use the handicapped bathroom…why? Because it had the changing table for his brothers of course and you might as well change diapers for the babies at the same time….


One day, looking at a handicapped parking spot, Franklin told me “this is my potty picture mom, its to remind me to go potty” I asked him why and he said “because see the man is on the potty”

I’ll never see handicapped parking the same way again!!!



Mother Confession: we are on a tight budget, but we DON’t buy from consignment. We don’t consign our clothes either.


Here is why

1. Grandparents buy most of my kids clothes (and my mom is great at Goodwill), and when we buy things it tends to be socks, underwear and pjs, which are tricky to get used)

2. I have 3 boys, we wear things out. And when we are done with them we give (or throw them) away. I have never ever consigned things.

PS ever notice that clothing doesn’t sell at yard sales? Plus most people don’t do yard sales, they do craigslist instead…..





I love nicknames…real nicknames, all of my kids have at least three different versions of their name that I can call them…on the other hand I limit the “cute-factor” nicknames. My special name for them is boy-boy, and sometimes I call them kiddo or childling…but no little man, no dude, and I try to cut out the “baby” at around age 3 .

I would like to feel superior and say that my nicknames are cooler/not as embarassing as others, but I’m not sure that’s it….I guess I just like to relate to my kids in my own fashion and for me the macho names don’t cut it (ps Princess and Cutie-pie would never work if I had girls either and I never call my husband hubby ::ugh:: so at least I’m consistent)


In my only other life….


I’m only 30, so I haven’t really had time to develop another career, but my part time jobs and interests, etc. have always been preschool age. I think this is why parenthood is where I feel like I’m on solid ground.

Previously I worked in a. a Montossori School (with babies) b. Children’s Director for Wizard of Oz c. An America Reads Tutor d. a Certified Nursery School Teacher e. NurseryCare Worker f. Sunday School Teacher g. VBS director  h. a Christian Ed. Director for 50+ children and i. of course babysitting wherever and whenever possible

Thus: Motherhood seemed a natural fit



Our version of childproofing is to tie a string around the chemical cleaning cupboard, put the knives in the back corner of the cupboard in a cup (as soon as a child is tall enough to indiscriminately open drawers), close the toilet lid and/or the bathroom door if a child gets too interested…..and to put many many things up on the fridge and on top of our bookshelves*…yeah….that’s our version of “childproofing the house” probably helps we don’t own many valuables

*which apparently I do too much of which drives my husband nuts…

#parenting Goals, The Basics


Many of us have parenting goals.

Some days mine are lofty…or high and mighty in nature

Most days though, I realize what I want for my children, the basics

  1. That my children will be able to independently play outside: the exploration, exercise, responsibility and fun that happens outside cannot be beat by any program, and the more I can encourage my kids to do this the better our lives will be
  2. To treat all human beings as human beings: which is something I’m still working on myself but being polite and thinking of others are big keys to this, and I hope my kids at least understand the importance of treating human beings like humans–especially before they master it.
  3. That my children can depend on me for help/safety and that I listen: When I watch movies children are never ever listened to by their parents, so I am aware that there is a developmental truism to this fact. Children have many times when it feels like their parents don’t listen, but most of the time I hope that I do listen (and that I convey I listen)

Wonder, How to Love and a Sense of Play are the things I feel kids already bring to the table.

Thus I think this is enough. Its a good enough basic list to create the building blocks my children will need in the world.

All of my children are not the same, and achievement is a somewhat arbitrary idea–but I think these goals are both doable and important

Le the hard work continue

Prayer for Special Needs Parents


Inspired by Prayer for Special Needs Moms

I wrote my own to be a little more inclusive and reflect what I feel more…

Please, oh please let this be a good year for my child.

Please let our teachers’ classroom be structured, but not rigidly so.

Please let all the teachers have patience and humor, but be firm enough to set boundaries.

That we communicate clearly when things go wrong and when things go right!

Help me to hear when my child tells me what is going on, to listen when others offer opinions and options and to remember that no decision is final and that we are all learning who my child is and what that means together.

That the best of my child that I get to see all the time is witnessed by other students, peers and friends.

Heavenly God you welcome the least of these, let this be an opportunity for better community to be built, for people to truly get to know one another and to wonder at the variety you created in the world.

I give thanks for each and every one of your children. Today and every day.


The Meaning of Children


Because Children are so meaningful 🙂


There is  a great series about parenting, faith and life going on here.

Sadly I was too overwhelmed to officially attempt to join, but these are my thoughts.

I have known and loved so many children already, and its been a blessing. I cannot remember a time without young children in my life. I am the eldest of four children, my youngest sister is 10 years younger than me. She is about to graduate from college this weekend. At Oberlin I worked at Headstart, at Princeton Seminary I was the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at a local church, and then I started having children of my own.


Three Boys

I like to say…I have all the stuff.

My children have taught me a lot about individuality and acceptance in that each and every one of them is unique and different.

My eldest (7) is a dramatic leader, he love…

View original post 327 more words

#parenting #expectations


A lot of what goes on in parenting is about expectations. There is what you think you should be as a parent, and what everyone else thinks.

To have a special needs child can free you from some of that pressure. The truth is, I will never be the perfect parent for my middle child. Partially because I still don’t know exactly what he needs (no one really does) and partially because its not my fault that he has special needs.

I mean it may be my fault, I did go to Israel when I was pregnant with him, I might have taken pseudafed at the wrong time because I don’t remember when I figured out that it was a no-no during the first trimester, etc. ect. But the truth was, I did everything I could to protect him when I was pregnant and when he was born, and my guess is that my middle son would have special needs regardless.

When parents really worry about whether they are pushing their children enough and protecting them enough, I feel for them.

However its hard for me to hear that if their child messes something up its a failure of them as a parent–I mean we hold some responsibility, but its important to figure out what we can control, what we have to cope with and what we have to live into.

On the one hand I know they are trying their best to be the bestest (yay for made up words) parent in the universe.

On the other hand, I also know that if you child doesn’t excel at everything, if your child isn’t completely safe at all times, that is ok too.

It reminds me of when my middle child broke his arm. This kid has low core muscles and cannot communicate well…Yet he is the one who is on the top bunk, he climbs on top of the play-house and loves to climb the ladders off the slides.

I try to keep a good eye on him when he does these things. Then what happens? He slides off the edge of the couch. Literally, I was sitting right next to him and saw it happen in slow motion.

He crumpled on top of his arm…and sure enough it broke.

However, it made me feel better, because he didn’t break his arm because I was being a “bad parent”…and when he broke his arm we were able to figure it out becuase Mr. Tough was whimpering….just whimpering….and we knew enough to pay attention. I would argue this was a moment of good parenting.

That’s not to say I haven’t had bad parenting moments. When I’ve yelled when I really didn’t need to, or when I first realized that my middle child didn’t understand I was addressing him unless I called him by name, specifically (and I had been addresing him in other ways all of his life thus far …about 3+ yrs)

If your child has special needs, it is not necessarily a reflection of your parenting skills, if they have special needs, it may take a while to figure them out.

Don’t give up!

Do the best you can.

And mostly, just love your child. Let them know you love them, they are safe and that you are proud of every achievement.

Currently its that my 5 yr old special needs child knows how to use the potty–when he’s naked…

It may not be ideal, but its a huge accomplishment for him, and I’m so, so proud of him. Maybe we will understand the entire concept by the end of summer before he goes to kindergarten.

But if he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed.

It means we’ve been working hard on that whole parenting-childling relationship.

and that’s important too!