Friday, December 21, 2012

One Week Later.

One week later.

On Monday, our school district had a 2 hour delay due to ice. I imagined all the parents were grateful, for once. 2 more hours before the parents had to be brave, and have faith, and send their kids back to school.

My pre-schooler goes to school at the elementary school building - and most days they buzz us in (outer doors are locked during school hours) and we just walk to her class. Monday when we were buzzed in they asked us to sign in at the office.

The flag outside of the school was at half-mast and coated with ice. Banging against the flag pole with a thud, dull and metallic at the same time.

I wasn't sure if more parents than usual picked up kids from school, rather than letting them take the bus. The kids sounded the same, that I do know. Parents were quieter, though.

My pre-schooler doesn't take the bus, but it does stop at our apartment complex. Most days only one or two parents are waiting for the bus. Monday there were 5. Including a neighbor who usually just watches from her window for her two kids to get off the bus. She was quiet. Smoking. Eyes cast down. Waiting outside, scanning down the road to look.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Conversation with teacher.

Most days, at pick-up, I ask Charlotte's teacher, Mrs. R, how the day went. And how Charlotte did. She was telling me about a conversation she overheard between Charlotte and her friend A.

A:  You could come to my house and we could have a playdate and watch "The Little Mermaid!"

Charlotte:  My mom and dad do not prefer "The Little Mermaid." But you can come to my house and we can watch "The Polar Express!"

I was laughing and kind of sheepish.  "It's true!" I said to Mrs. R. "She gets to watch lots of things but I just find 'The Little Mermaid' kind of creepy now. The part where she gives up all this stuff for a guy she doesn't know..."  Both Mrs. R and a friend agreed that it was a little off-putting.  I still felt a little sheepish about it, I don't want to be That Mom....but at the same time, "The Little Mermaid" is kind of an awful message wrapped up with some really catchy songs.

hipster ariel hated little mermaid before you did

hipster ariel jpg copied from buzzfeed

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Santa has all the best tech, I bet.

One of those long and winding Charlotte lines of reason. One of Charlotte's favorite shows is Wild Kratts on PBS.  It's an animated show where they talk about animals and all their features and how they are kind of like super-powers. One episode, called "The Gecko Effect" talks about how geckos feet aren't like suction cups at all, they are covered with tiny cili (cilia? cilie? just doing this from memory, folks) that have an electrical charge. Basically, geckos stick to the wall with static electricity.

Charlotte & I were picking up Matt from work one day and she was telling him what she learned about geckos. She had picked up from the show that people had not found a way to re-create this yet. Matt said that he had heard that there was a lab in Germany that was figuring it out, and Charlotte was very excited. She and he talked about other developments in science that came from the animal world - she had also learned about spider silk from another episode of Wild Kratts.

Today, sitting at lunch, Charlotte was talking about the basilisk lizard and how it can run on water. "Hey!" she said. "I need to ask Daddy. Maybe Santa has figured out basilisk lizards, and he can help me for Christmas."

Charlotte wants Santa to help her walk on water.  Heh.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Letting it go.

Slowly, since Charlotte has been born, I've become the kind of person who cleans things.  Actually, it's been since I was pregnant with Charlotte and suddenly realized, like some pregnant people do, that the world is filthy and OMG-I-can't-believe-we-live-like-this.  I went from being someone who never cleaned my floor to being someone who was obsessed with cleaning my floor.  I went from being vaguely sure that we must have a vacuum cleaner to actually vacuuming things.  And while I've always kept the kitchen clean and the bathroom clean (running water is my happy place), I never really cared about keeping the rest of the place clean.  Just clean-ish.  "A place for everything and everything in its place," just didn't apply.  And then, quite suddenly, it did.

Keeping things clean(er) became more of a second nature to me.  There are still some things I don't do, or don't do that frequently that would probably give my mother-in-law a heart attack.  Or anyone's mother-in-law.  Possibly even my own mother, though she is a little more...relaxed...about housework.  But I do work hard on keeping things clean.  Until very recently, though, I still had a major problem with clutter.

When I went to college, and moved in, I took basically everything I cared about.  Because my mom told me if I didn't, she'd go through what I left behind and sort it or chuck it or pack it up as she saw fit.  And I had a fear of anyone going through my stuff.  (Rightfully so - she did go through the dresser that I left behind and found a drawer full of empty cigarette cartons...Mom was PISSED.)  So I brought my crap with me to college.  And then to my first summer sub-let.  And then to a storage space.  And then back to college.  And then to another summer sub-let.  And then to our first apartment together.  It's not like I had less stuff, either. I felt a need to keep all my college books (I spent so much on them!) and all my notebooks and binders (when -if- I went back to school I would need them!) and all our relationship memorabilia.

Fast forward 13 years.  To just a few weeks ago, in fact.  I was going through a bag of stuff, and I turned and looked at Matt and said, "would you be hurt if I threw some of these out?"  It was a pile of greeting cards.

"No," he said thoughtfully.  "I mean, if I wrote anything good in one I would be impressed.  But at this point, less stuff is probably more important than cards."  And so I threw out quite a few of them.

A few days later, I was talking to my sister, and we talked about how we had saved all the greeting cards and notes from when the kids were born and their first birthdays, but....why?  "My girls are seriously going to suffer from second-born syndrome," Nicole said.  "I'm reading the cards as I open them and just chucking them as I go."  And I've started to do the same thing.

Today, in an effort to make our space a little more useable, I started to go through my "craft" cabinet.  I want it to be for Charlotte & me, to be able to say to her, "You know where it is," when she asks to do something.  I want her to be able to put it away, too.  And to turn the bookshelf into a board game & magazine shelf, not a game & craft & papers & broken things & laptop-holder shelf.

Going through the craft cabinet I found a lot of stuff I didn't need to keep - a lot of greeting cards from other people going back to 2007...and a lot of blank greeting cards and note cards I bought but never sent.  I think a safe goal for 2013 would be to not buy a single greeting card; I've got almost every occasion covered, and those that I don't, I have a blank notecard I could send instead.  I'm also throwing out old craft projects of Charlotte's - I've photographed a lot of them, and some of them really can be lost to the aether.

For some reason, in the craft cabinet I had stashed an old journal - it starts on 9/18/07, the week before Charlotte was born.  That was really, really, really hard to read.  Five years later, I haven't really forgotten anything, but I have healed a bit.  The most heartbreaking thing to me was a timeline - I had documented in my journal 24 hrs worth of feeding/changing Charlotte, and it was mostly a list of how little I was able to nurse Charlotte.  "5mL of colustrum from an eyedropper" and "refused to nurse, just screamed" and then a "I'm being sent to ICU, almost the worst thing that could happen for nursing."  A note of how the doctor told me "basically you have heart failure" and then the next note is me obsessing about if I could still pump while I was in the ICU.  A little sample of how out of my head I was.  No wonder we were all a little shell-shocked for a while.

It took me four years to accept that I wasn't able to nurse Charlotte, and that even if I only tried 85%, that was okay.  It was an uphill battle against my own body, and I was mad at it enough already for heart failure and inability to have a vaginal delivery.  It took me another year after that, until this very summer, to forgive myself for all of it.  It sucked, I really did do my best, and that best wasn't that bad.  My kid is awesome, and I love her to bits, and it needed to be more about her than me.  It isn't always about me - and that means that everything isn't always my fault.  Sometimes you just need to let it go - no matter what "it" is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Favorite Things, Right Now

It's been a long time since I blogged, for a lot of reasons.  But certainly not for lack of material.  Charlotte is such a funny little person, and I definitely owe the blog a post of Charlotte quotes.  But to ease into things, here are some things that Charlotte is really into right now:

* Pirates.  Charlotte is into the tv show Jake and the Neverland Pirates, but also the book The Pirates Next Door, and Talk Like a Pirate Day, and anything piratical that isn't "too spooky."  This includes certain snippets of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie (enough to recognize Captain Jack Sparrow).  She even had a vaguely pirate themed birthday party for her classmates, and wore a pirate shirt to her family birthday party.  She has a "pirate playlist" in Spotify, and she's going to be a pirate for Halloween.  Here she is at her birthday party, in the museum's dress up clothes.  (We should have taken that jacket, I swear.)  When she really likes something, she gives it "two hooks up" - holding her thumbs up, but curved like hooks.

* Making Books.

* Representational art, finally.

* Reading.  I can't believe I have a kid who is old enough to read, but she is.  Charlotte is pretty good at reading short words, and sounding things out, and very good at remembering words she's seen if someone tells her what they are.  She's constantly surprising us by saying, "Oh, that says X," and we say, "How do you know that?" and she says, "I read it."

* Pre-school, friends, and marriage. Specifically, she wants to marry a boy in her pre-school.  Luckily, he wants to marry her, too.  When I dropped her off today, he said, "It's Charlotte! Hey Charlotte!  You wanna come sit next to me?"

* Family.  Grandparents and cousins especially.

* Playmobil, LaLaLoopsy, anything else small, plastic, and with a million tiny pieces.*

* Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

* Holiday planning.

*  Music.  Imagination Movers, Blues Brothers Soundtrack & Nightmare Before Christmas (soundtrack only).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It is representative of me as a person that almost every time Charlotte goes to her grandparents' house for an overnight, I have the should-I or should-I-wait debate with myself about trimming her bangs.  Her bangs are hanging in her face, she's getting a tic from shaking them out of her eyes all the time, and she just looks scraggly.  But cutting them NEVER works out well (at least not since the beginner's luck case of when I initially gave her bangs, back when she was almost three), so there's the risk of sending her to Grammy with blunt, new, crooked bangs.

I used to feel bad about how I could never manage to get her bangs to come out well, but after a while, I realized that none of her hairdressers can either.  So at least that doesn't make me feel inadequate anymore.  I posted on Facebook this morning that I'd rather save the $12 and 20 minutes and cut them myself, since Charlotte's inability to keep still means that her bangs look the same no matter who cuts them.

I went with the trim, because I figured it's best to look like I made the effort, no matter how misguided.  Tell you what, though - the week before school starts her bangs can be someone else's headache.  Because she needs a trim, too, and there's no way our relationship can take that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Astronaut Training

Bizarrely, tonight was the night I was going to write about Charlotte's new physical therapy program, which is called "Astronaut Training."  It seems kind of weird to write a blog post about astronaut training that has nothing to do with astronauts or Sally Ride, who passed away today.  But, here I go anyway.

It's been weird posting about Charlotte's PT & OT needs.  I'm not sure how much to say, or how much even merits saying.  Right before she turned 3, we noticed (and her grandmother noticed, I better make sure I mention that) that she spent a lot of time walking on her toes.  Like, a LOT of time.  Way more than half.  Almost constantly, actually.  Matt & I dismissed it, thinking she'd probably grow out of it, but her grandmother elicited a promise to have us ask the pediatrician about it at her 3 yr physical.  So Matt did, and the doctor agreed that it was an awful lot of toe-walking, and observed her for a bit.  Then, after testing her range of motion, diagnosed tight heel cords and excessive toe-walking, and referred her to a local physical therapy program.

We got her into physical therapy, with a really great therapist, Arlene, at the tail end of 2010 and beginning of 2011.  Between weather and car troubles, Charlotte got 8 appointments spread out over 4+ months.  After some initial rockiness while we sounded out Arlene and she figured us out, it was a really great fit, and we learned a lot about what was going on with Charlotte.  Namely, some sensory processing issues of the vestibular variety, with attendant physical issues of low tone, poor core strength, and tight heel cords.

Aside - I have a hard time writing about all of this.  Not because I'm ashamed that my kid isn't perfect, or that I fear that I did something wrong and that's why this stuff is going on.  Nothing like that.  More like, I hate to make a fuss, make it seem like this stuff is more important than it is.  Or a bigger deal, I guess, since I do consider it important.  I don't want to be like, OMG, my kid and her therapy, my kid has a disorder, blah blah - nothing like that.  But it is part of Charlotte, and actually, a big part of Charlotte, and we can see how this kind of thing, left unadressed, could snowball as time goes on and in her later school career.

Kids who are hyposensitive to vestibular stimulation, like Charlotte, crave vestibular input.  Spinning, twirling, moving fast, hanging upside down, jumping up and down are all things she loves to do, and these are things that satisfy her craving.  Problems sitting still, issues going down stairs, and easy motion sickness are also signs of vestibular integration disorders.  Kids with vestibular processing issues might also have low muscle town, poor sitting posture (W-sitting) and walk on their toes.  Poor hand-eye coordination & trouble crossing midline visually are additional signs, though I am less sure how that is related.  I do know that it's another thing on the checklist we can tick off, though.

None of these things really bother Charlotte in everyday life as a 3 or 4 year old.  But it was actually really good to have this "diagnosis" (it's not actually a medical ICD-10 diagnosis, this is relevant later) going into her school career.  It's something to talk to with the PT & OT folks in Charlotte's elementary school, as well as her preschool teacher.  It's easy to see how some of Charlotte's behaviors, while fine at home, might be trickier to assimilate in the classroom.  Spinning around in circles in your living room because you need input is fine - doing the same during, say, story time is less acceptable.  Problems sitting still in the proper posture becomes a little disruptive.  And difficulty using scissors and pencils is really not convenient when you are learning to, say, write & cut paper.

Charlotte had those 8 appointments last year, but that was all our insurance would cover.  Since "vestibular integration disorder" is not an accepted medical diagnosis, the only thing that we could bill for was "tight heel cords", and only 8 appointments a year was deemed acceptable.  I learned a lot from Arlene in those 8 visits, and we made some goals to work towards until we could be covered again.  Last year, the big concern was working on Charlotte's muscle tone and core strength, since that would help her feel more secure in her balance, and maybe offset some of the toe-walking & spinning.  A year later, at Charlotte's 4 yr old physical, we had the doctor observe Charlotte's toe-walking again, and got another referral to get back into the PT program.  Amazingly, a space with Arlene opened up, and, a little over a year after her last appointment, Charlotte got back into a PT schedule with Arlene.  Arlene was really pleased with the work that we had done, both at home and at school (where Charlotte had started a PT evaluation process, and had a few 20 minute sessions before the end of the school year), and decided to get down to the nitty-gritty of vestibular integration therapy.

This brings us to the titular Astronaut Training.  It's a vestibular/auditory/visual series of exercises developed by an OT.  They gave it a theme of "astronaut training" to get the kids interested in the exercises.  They are described using space words, and with a space theme, and even the background music on the accompanying CD is kind of "space-y" sounding.  This is the program Charlotte & I are doing for the two weeks while Arlene is on vacation, and we are missing our PT appointments.  So far, it seems to be good stuff, and Charlotte really loves doing it, which is the important part.  Part of it involves laying on a spinning board (checked out from the PT department) with her eyes closed while I spin her - this is pretty much her favorite thing in the world.

All in all, I'm happy this is something we're working on.  Learning why Charlotte does what she does, and learning that some of her more disruptive behaviors are actually related to something going on with her physically, not just a sign of stubbornness, was enlightening.  And having this fore-knowledge made some of her preschool transition issues a little easier.  It also made our decision to keep her in another year of preschool, instead of fighting to get her into kindergarten this year, a no-brainer.  For a kid who still has trouble sitting still and holding a pencil, it makes sense to do another year of preschool - and almost more importantly, physical therapy - rather than fighting with the school district to let Charlotte start kindergarten 3 weeks before she turns 5.

Here's some links to both Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and the specific vestibular stuff:

* Astronaut Training
* The Vestibular System and SPD
* really good article by an Australian SPD organization on vestibular processing
* Vestibular Dysfunction
* What is Vestibular Disorder?
* wikipedia definition of Sensory Processing Disorder

I'll post more about the occupational therapy side of things, the fine-motor stuff we've been working on, and some of my favorite resources.  It's kind of funny, funny weird, that this would come up with Charlotte.  Back in 1998, when I worked in a day care, one of my kids, I'll call him Sam, had some major sensory processing struggles.  The teacher recongized it for what it was, not a stubbornness or behavior issue, but a processing one.  Her son had similar issues when he was a toddler, so she had a feeling there was more to Sam's behavior than just acting out.  Because of her, I learned about what was then called Sensory Integrative Disorder, SID, and I was intensely interested.  I did some research, and even wrote papers for one of my child development classes.  This interest never went away, and stood me in good stead when I related to some other kids in my life who definitely had some processing issues.  So by the time Charlotte came along, and I watched her spinning and running in circles for ten minutes at a time at the end of the day, I was able to say to myself, "You know what?  This behavior looks really familiar."  It was good to start the conversation with at least some knowledge of what Arlene was talking about.  To have her say, "I think what we're dealing with here goes beyond heel cords," and to have me say back, "I've been wondering if there's some sensory processing stuff going on," was just a good way to begin all this.

So here we are.  Almost five years old, and deeply involved in astronaut training.

(edited to correct a PT/OT slip-up!)

QOTD: Ambitious

C:  I think I could be a brilliant artist when I grow up.

Mama:  I think that's a great idea.

C:  Because you always like my art.

Mama:  I really do.

C:  And my art could be in a picture museum and I could be the richest girl in the world.

Mama:  What does that mean, richest girl in the world?

C:  It means everyone knows I am brilliant.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

cell phone pictures from swim lessons

ready to go, day 1!

first day of lessons, it rained, but they swam anyway

day two of lessons looked completely different

after a dip

warm water!

Daddy said, "She is NOT Dr. Doolittle."

Today Charlotte:

1. got her first ever bee sting.

2.  's pet snail Ben died.

3.  got scratched by the cat.

She's doing okay with the death of Ben.  She goes between crying about it, to pragmatically discussing the life cycle, to asking when she can get a new snail.  And then cries because he's dead and she doesn't want anything to die.  Like, can we get a new snail tonight?  Or do we have to wait until tomorrow?  Typical four year old stuff.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

September to June.

Charlotte's last day of her first year of preschool was this week.  I just typed "last week" because it seems like it was a million years ago already.

Friday, June 15, 2012

QOTD: That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

c: Wanna hear a joke?

Me: Not really. I want you to eat.

C: What did one cannibal say to the other cannibal?

Me: Wait, WHAT?

C: What did one cannibal say to the other cannibal?

Me: What do you think a cannibal is?

C: You know, that thing, a ball a pirate shoots out of a cannon.  A canni-ball.

Me: Okay, fine.  What?

C: Well, the first cannibal says, one cannibal says, "Hey, who's that lady?" and the other cannibal says, "That's not a lady, that's my lunch!"

Me:  uh....

C: Isn't that funny?

I have NO idea where she learned that joke.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

At CVS today, Charlotte scratched my leg so hard she drew blood.  I don't know if it was a fingernail or a toenail; she was wearing flip-flops and thrashing around on the floor.  Charlotte wasn't having a temper tantrum, or being malicious, she just cannot stand in line like a normal human being.  Why stand quietly when you can flop around on the floor?  This is why she rides in the cart 85% of the time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

QOTD: The Director

Charlotte, in a tone of indignation, "Daddy, you're improvising!"

(playing a tightly scripted scene where Charlotte is Captain Hook and Matt is the Tick Tock Croc)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fashionista. Or color blind. Either/Or/Both.

Charlotte, watching me finish up a knitted purple sweater.  "What are those squares for?  Are those tiny blankets?"

"No, those are pockets."

Charlotte, perturbed, "But they're purple.  They'll blend right in."

"This sweater is purple, honey.  And the pockets are purple.  What color do you think the pockets should be?"

"Orange.  Orange would be right."

Too bad I don't have any orange yarn.  Too bad, indeed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Murphy's Law of Parenting: If you are already having a bad day, there will be at least one catastrophic bathroom incident to cap it off. If it's a Monday, there will be poop.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A day.

Today was one of those days.  This week has been one of those weeks.  I said to Charlotte's teacher today, "She's been having kind of an up and down week."  She just kinda nodded.

Four things from today -

1.  I told Charlotte that at 3 we would go to the farmstand to look for fennel (her idea, a weird impulse) to plant in our garden. At 3:03 she came up to me and said, "Okay, Mom, time is ticking! Let's go!

2.  We went to pick up Matt and then run an errand.  He went to the pet store to get cat food, we went next door to Whole Foods to see if we could find any coleslaw dressing & "snacks" aka samples.  It happened to be "local food sample day", and there were representatives everywhere with "snacks."  Charlotte ate a lovely raw milk soft-ish but not runny cheese from Twin Maple Farms, a cube of monterey jack of unknown provenance, a few cubes of tofu and a sip of chocolate soy milk from Vermont Tofu, a cup of chocolate goat's milk, a piece of African bean patty, a piece of falafel with tzatziki, and, finally, a palate cleansing sample of grapefruit sorbet.  On our way out, we saw the boys' aunt and said hi.  The next trip to Whole Foods is going to be *such* a disappointment.

3.  She came in and said, "Daddy asked me to get the kielbasa and tongs. And could you get the door for me?"  As I held the door open, she said, "He's going to be so proud of his little genius."  Little humble genius.

4.  Listening to the Blues Brothers Soundtrack - 
Charlotte: Who is singing now?
Jenn: Her name is Aretha Franklin.
C: What does she look like?
J: She is a dark-skinned woman who sometimes wears fabulous hats.
C: Oh, like Cee Lo Green. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Three Little Pigs

Right now, The Three Little Pigs is one of Charlotte's favorite stories to act out.  She has this little cardboard playset that she has colored.....fancifully....and she will play the roles of both the wolf and the pigs.  She likes me to tell her the story, too, while she's eating or in the bath, or otherwise prevented from reading the book or playing with the toys herself.

Charlotte has come up with some alternative storylines - this afternoon she has added a line to the recitation:

Wolf:  Little pigs, little pigs, let me in!

Pigs:  Not by the hair on our chinny chin chins!

Wolf:  Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!

Pigs:  My house is stronger than you think it is!

I think this has something to do with what she told my sister yesterday, which is that the house of straw and the house of sticks now have poured concrete, so that they can't be blown in.  (Unclear as to what she means exactly, is she saying that they poured concrete over them?  Or does she think that "poured concrete" is one word?  Another Charlotte mystery.)

I think it's time to unleash the Green Jelly:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

QOTD: Happy Mother's Day quotes

Since Saturday...

"You are so wonderful!"

"You're the only best mommy."

"You're my favorite."

"I love you so much! Happy Mother's Day!"

I love that kid.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

...just in case.

When Charlotte was packing some toys to bring to her grandparents' house last weekend, she packed two little doll type toys and a pig figurine.  The pig was "just in case they get hungry."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Family Dinner Night at School

A couple of weeks ago, several things kind of came together and we missed a school event.  It wasn't exactly a big deal, but it did kind of convince Matt that he wants to make sure we don't miss a thing.  (Cue Steven Tyler.)  Tonight's event was a Family Dinner Night - they served a free dinner, had some games and healthy food information, and handed out goodie bags of math supplies and a free book.  We had fun, got some schwag (or whatever counts for swag among parents of elementary school kids) and said hi to some parents that we know from pre-school.  And Charlotte go to show off her fancy hair.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

QOTD: Carnivore-style

Me:  Charlotte, do you want some more chicken?

Charlotte:  Oh, yes.  I'm really enjoying it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

She excels at non sequitirs.

After saying prayers tonight, Charlotte asked, "What does 'God Bless' mean?"

I told her, "It means, 'God, please watch over this person I'm mentioning.' "

Charlotte 's next question - "What does 'amen' mean?"

"Uh, it means 'the end of this prayer.' "

"What is a prayer for again?"

"It's for thanking God and maybe asking him to take extra special care of someone or something," I said.

"I can see in the dark now.  I ate lots of cherry tomatoes."

Thanks for lightening the mood, babe.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break, Day 1

This week is spring break week for Charlotte's school.  She doesn't have school, but I do have to work, so we're striving for a balance of fun things, social things, and Mama getting shit done.  Today was actually a pretty good start, all things considered.

* Charlotte woke up EARLY, before 6 am, to play with her new Lalaloopsies.

* She got to play some PBS kids games (Peep, Electric Company, Cat in the Hat), watch an episode of Powerpuff Girls.

* We walked to the playground at school & played some on the little kid playground. She got to play on the equipment and do all the things she's not allowed to do.  Chuck rocks down the slide, go down headfirst, kick dirt into giant dust clouds, swing on her belly on the swings, twist the swings into knots.  We also acted out the Three Little Pigs.  Charlotte was all the pigs, and I was the Big Bad Wolf.

* I took the old pictures off of Charlotte's camera so that she could take new pictures.  She took some really hilarious videos.  They are like tiny micro-plays.  In some of them, the camera is both a tool and a character.  "Hey, are we friends?"  "No, we aren't friends!"  "Fine!"  "Fine! I'm going to turn you off now!"

* We listened to the first few chapters of Charlotte's Web on audiobook.  I've read her the first few chapters a couple times, but she isn't always that interested in me reading books without pictures.  She was impatiently waiting for her name-twin when I was reading it to her.  We're listening on cassette, which means she can't listen to it in her room on her own; we listened together during dinner.  I wasn't sure she was listening, but she really seemed to like it, and asked for more when side 1 was done. 

* Charlotte almost fell asleep during dinner.  First time in a loooong time.

* Charlotte, up for 14 hours straight, had one of the most epic meltdowns ever at bedtime tonight. Of course it was over something ridiculous - which pajamas to wear.  I told my brother, and Matt agreed, that it was in the top 10 most epic temper tantrums she's had in her whole life so far.  I stayed very calm - I have lost it worse at less provocation, but really, we had such a good day, and she was so clearly overtired and not herself that it didn't bother me as much as it would have on another day.  And I even giggled a few times, which I tried to cover, because, god, how furious would that make her?  And really, of course it would and it should! Can you imagine trying to express the most extreme serious emotion you have in your four-and-a-half year old body and have your mom just giggle at you?  I didn't want to hurt her feelings, even as she was doing her best to scream the loudest she ever has in her life.

* Charlotte was asleep in less than 7 minutes tonight.

Monday, April 2, 2012

the quotable miss charlotte emily - cribbed from facebook

* "Hi-ho-the-dairy-o the duck's wife takes the chick! Hi-ho-the-dairy-o the duckling takes the chick's friend."

* Charlotte told me, "I woke up crazy today."

* Charlotte just used the word "whatnot" correctly. "Oh, Saturday. A family day. A *big* family day. A day to visit with your friends and whatnot."

* Me, foolishly trying to bargain: "I'm pretty sure even pirates brush their teeth."

Charlotte, indignant: "They do not! Pirates do not brush their teeth! Baby pirates do not brush their teeth! Big pirates do not brush their teeth! All people who live in the wild do not brush their teeth. Hmph."

Bonus parent quote:

* Shit parents say: "That's it. You are in time out for kicking the toilet."

Friday, March 30, 2012

representational artwork!

I can't take a picture of it right now because it's too bright out, but Charlotte just used her window crayons to draw a picture on the window.  It's a picture of herself, splashing in the rain.  It has a figure (her), blue vertical lines (rain) and some blue irregular circles (puddles).  There are also a lot of blue dots that she says are "reminder dots."  Not really sure what that means.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

so grown-up.

Went out for tacos tonight, after the parents had a really stressful work day.  Charlotte amazed us with her Big Kid behavior.  She waited at the bar for a table, sat at her seat and amused herself with her tote bag of stuff.  Charlotte ordered a cheese quesadilla, which came with rice & black beans.  We told her that she didn't have to eat the beans, but it would be nice if she tried them.  She tried them, ate some, ate some rice, and even used her fork and knife properly!  I don't think we've ever given her a knife to use (except to cut a banana), and she did a great job pushing rice onto her fork with the knife.  We were kind of blown away.  She also drank her water from a glass and managed to not sit there fishing ice cubes out with her fingers.  Seriously, we were so impressed.  Kind of had us sitting there, jaws open, while she sat and ate like a civilized little human being.  Wacky.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


One of the most rewarding and scary things about parenting for me is how similar Charlotte and I are, and how different.  There are so many things that she says and does that remind me of me.  Lately, at four and a half, she has begun developing a temper, lashing out physically when she never has before.  She stomps her feet, throws things, and kicks out when she's mad, which more and more happens as she's tired or hungry, and completely unable to self-regulate.  This is something I know about myself, and seeing it in her makes me half-smile in recognition.  There's another side to her, a cheerful, open, friendly side with an especial interest in older kids that I just don't recognize.  She will go up to any kid that catches her eye, even a seven or eight year old, and try to strike up a conversation or join in their game.  Was that me as a kid, and I just forgot?  Has my shyness as an adult shut off those memories?  Or was I just never like that, more reserved?  The adult me just doesn't recognize that side of her, and sometimes it just leaves me at a loss.

Charlotte's preschool is a public one, part of the elementary school here in town.  I love that she's in the same building she'll be in for kindergarten, that she's meeting the "specials" teachers and the principal, and that she knows where the gym and library are already.  By the time I'm leaving her at school all day with a lunch packed and putting her on the bus, she'll already know the lay of the land, and the names of her classmates. 

There is a smaller scale playground, fenced in, that is off the three-classroom wing that makes up the preschool and kindergarten classes.  The preschoolers play out there before pick up, and sometimes the kindergarteners play too, an extra recess when they need to shake their sillies out, or when the weather is too good to be believed.

Today was one of those days, and I have to tell you, any time you see a kindergartener and think how cute and tiny and little they are, just unleash a pack of them on a bunch of preschoolers, and you'll be amazed at their transformation into raucous giants.  Here is another of the places where my own memories of four years old fail me.  I can't remember how I felt when I was four and a half and faced with a flock of six year olds, seemingly all blond, tall boys who yell.  But I know how I feel as a mom when I watch that swarm descend on the pre-schoolers' recess.  It makes me tense, stand on the balls of my feet.  My jaw clenches a little.  For the most part, unless they have a sibling in the preschool, the kindergarteners have no interest in the "little kids."  There is this group of boys, however, that has picked up on Charlotte's desperate interest in the big kids, and they have decided, for whatever murky six year old reason, to encourage her.

What they do, as a pack, is run up to Charlotte and scream, "Oh no! She's going to get us!" and then run off.  Then she tears off after them.  Back and forth across the playground, over the equipment, around the baby slide, well out of the way of the swings.  The teachers seem to be okay with it, but it makes me nervous.  Because, while Charlotte doesn't get it, I can read their faces.  They aren't playing *with* her.  They are using her desperation to be one of the big kids for their own devices.  It shouldn't bother me.  There's no reason for it to bother me.  There's no real mockery or mean dialogue going on, not that I can hear, just a lot of "Nah-nah-nah-nah-na-na, you can't catch me!" sing-song, and "Oh no! She's getting close!"  But when Charlotte is chasing them, she has no sense of self preservation, and no interest in listening to me at all.  I'm calling at her that it's time to go, and she doesn't care, and why should she?  Chasing is more fun than getting caught, less scary then getting caught.  If they were chasing her, I would put a stop to it instantly, and I know the teachers would too.  It's pretty sinister to have five kindergarten boys chasing a preschooler, even one who is four and a half and the size of a kindergartener herself. 

The other part of this is that she's saying things to me, while I'm trying to get Charlotte to stop chasing the boys and come home.  Some of the things she said today is "I have to defend the preschool kids," and "I have to defeat the big boys."  She's saying that she has to protect the other kids from them.  I know that she's just playing a game, but I'm worried she's going to get to rough.  She's a bruiser.  She's inherited my Swedish peasant physique.  It's kind of hilarious that she has declared herself the preschool's champion.  I just don't want her to take it too seriously.

I have enough experience with kids and playground dynamics to know that this is "all good."  No one is doing anything out of line, the teachers have an eye on things, and this is all normal healthy kid stuff.  It's just surprising to me that even how I know it's cool, and I can see that it's cool, I can't help but feel on edge.  I feel the same way when Charlotte approaches older kids on a public playground.  I want to intercede and steer her away.  I don't want her feelings to get hurt, or for her to get made fun of even if she doesn't realize it.  Because of her size I am usually pretty confident that she's not gonna get picked on physically, but watching her try the monkey bars (covered with kindergarten boys, who, to give them credit, never once stepped on her hands or anyone else's) it occurs to me that she quite possibly could try something far beyond her skill level and get hurt by accident.  Though, given Charlotte's personality (and my own as a child) that's just as likely under her own inspiration as from following anyone else.

It's the same parenting quandary all over again.  As a parent, your job is to protect your child - but from what, exactly?  And how far?  Today I settled for watching from afar as Charlotte tore up and down the playground, purple coat & pigtails flapping from exertion, and occasionally tried to get her attention so we could leave.  I have to promise myself that if the same thing happens tomorrow, I'll just take her coat, take a breath, and just let her chase.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Water Bees

Charlotte decided that "Water Bees" is a more appropriate name for brine shrimp than "Sea Monkeys."  Sometimes she remembers that she calls them water bees, sometimes she calls them sea monkeys.  We started them in the beginning of January, and they have done quite well.  We had a large initial batch; they are supposed to keep reproducing themselves after you hatch the packet of eggs.  It seems to be working - though we just had a massive die-off as the first bunch, hatched from eggs, all, ahem, "aged out of the system."  However, we can see some tiny ones growing, which is exciting.  The circle of life!  It moves us all!

When we had, say, 20 big sea monkeys swimming around, Charlotte didn't really bother naming them.  Sometimes she'd say, "That one is Long Taila, and that one is Big Taila," but it wasn't a big deal.  Now that there are two big ones left, one medium one, and a few tiny ones, she is constantly telling me their names.  Here are their names, in order of size (and presumably age):


Monday, March 5, 2012

There's a wocket in my pocket.

For those of you not in the know, March 2nd is considered "Dr. Seuss Day", since it is the anniversary of Theodore Geisel's birth.  Charlotte eagerly embraced Seuss week at school, and it looks like her teacher is extending it into this week.  She did Seuss stuff at school, Seuss stuff at home, and is loving sharing little facts with me.

"Did you know that Dr. Seuss lived in Springfield?  And Springfield is really close?"

"It is his birthday, that is why it is Dr. Seuss Day.  But he is dead.  How can it be his birthday when he is dead?"

"When will he be alive again?  Can we give Dr. Seuss some medicine and he won't be dead?"

"Did you know there is a wocket in my pocket?"

I printed out a page of Dr. Seuss finger puppets (free from Michael's) and Charlotte colored them (all one color, she was too excited to color carefully) and I cut them out and taped them.  She noticed that two of the finger puppets were Sam-I-am and "the guy who does not like green eggs and ham."  Charlotte got the book Green Eggs and Ham off her bookshelf and acted it out with the puppets, roping in her daddy to be the other guy while she was Sam-I-am.  I almost wish I taped it, except that I know it would have interrupted the flow.  It was adorable to witness, though.

Last week, while I was still recovering from the cold from Hell, I couldn't really read stories to Charlotte at rest time.  It would send me into horrible coughing fits.  So I asked her to read to me instead.  She picked Hop On Pop, and was able to "read" the whole thing to me, with occasional prompts. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

QOTD: Charlotte, Cat Scientist

C:  Mom!  I made a discovery about [our cat] Virgil!

M:  Oh?  What kind of discovery?

C:  Look, his tooth sticks out of his mouth. You can see it.  Actually, two.  I think he's a vampire.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

State of the Four Year Old

Just a bulleted list of the stuff that is going on right now, in Charlotte-ville.

* Charlotte still loves school, and is seeming to be doing a better job in general of following instructions & schedules.

* We've pretty much decided not to push her into Kindergarten in the fall, and instead red-shirt her.  Her birthday is September 24th, and the cut-off is September 1st in this district.  This deserves its own post some day.

* Matt really decided to get on the ball and prod the school in the PT area.  Charlotte is still doing a ton of toe-walking, and while the rest of her gross motor stuff seems to be working out (fine motor, too), it's still worth another detailed evaluation at school.  Her teacher is totally on-board and was going to bring it up in a meeting yesterday.  So we'll see where that goes.

* TV-wise, Charlotte is still very into naturalist animal shows, both live-action and animated.  She's way into the Wild Kratts, the animated series, and its predecessor, Zoboomafoo.  She also just watched an episode of Dirty Jobs with me that was about an animal ranch, a whole hour long, and usually adult shows just do not hold her interest.

* Charlotte is dipping her toe back into representional art.  They have been talking at school about healthy foods, staying healthy, getting excersize and getting sleep.  So she drew two pictures last week; one about being sick and throwing up on the side of her bed, and one about the sorts of things she sleeps with.  (Tiggy, special blankie.)

* Had a late but awesome Christmas and visit with our friends in CT and went to the Wadsworth Atheneum for their free Second Saturday.  They had crafts set up for the kids, and Charlotte made an awesome "barn owl" mask, complete with eyelashes, mustache & beard.

* Right now Charlotte's main interests are Lalaloopsies toys and fairies and Playmobil people.  She's way into creating these elaborate landscapes and storylines.  They all really center around one tree house that she has carefully set up.

The whole set up. Note the Nutcracker out front. He's there to indicate that is is Christmas, apparently.

This is Scarlet Riding Hood's bedroom. She has the Playmobil boombox for music, and a jewelry box for a bed. Charlotte sets her alarm for her every night.

Two shelves. Storage area. Books on one shelf, paint tube, bug in a jar, and bug catching net on the other.  

* Back in January, Charlotte got to meet her newest cousin, my brother & sister-in-law's baby daughter, R.  Charlotte was surprisingly into it, and did a pretty good (well, okay-ish) job of being gentle and protective of the baby.  At least as well as the dog did, anyway.

* While we were in Central New York meeting the new baby, Charlotte also got to go to her first zoo with Daddy, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.  They had a really great time together, and I'm glad that they got to do something so special just the two of them.

* Valentines Day was awesome, as far as she was concerned.  She helped me make cards that we sent out to family, and we made a heart-shaped icebox cake for dessert on Valentines Day.  We also had heart-shaped homemade pizzas.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

wherein we watch the Superbowl Halftime Show

C, upon recognizing one of Madonna's guests:  "I didn't know Cee Lo Green knew football!?!"

C, watching Madonna: "What is that girl dressed like?"
Me: "What do you think she is dressed like?"
C:  "I think she's an armor girl."

Matt, to Charlotte, when it becomes apparent that Cee Lo is about to duet with Madonna to "Like a Prayer":  This is about to make your Mama very, very, very happy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

QOTD: Super Sappy Edition

Charlotte:  We love each other!

Me:  Yes, we do.

Charlotte:  Even, even when we, when we are happy.

Me:  Yup.

Charlotte:  Let's be best friends forever and ever and ever and ever!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

QOTD: Oh my god, she's a Republican!

Talking tonight at dinner, about what Charlotte would do, hypothetically, if she got a talking Buzz Lightyear for her birthday.

Matt:  What if it was in Spanish mode, like in the movie?

Charlotte:  I would find the instructions and put it back to real talking.

Matt:  Wait, what?  So if the lever is on this side, what is Buzz doing?

Charlotte:  Talking Spanish.

Matt:  And if I change it to that side?

Charlotte:  Talking real language.


QOTD: Only in Massachusetts?

Another "Overheard in the Bathroom" moment:

Charlotte:  This is Massachusetts.  You have to watch out for bicycles.

QOTD: A week or so late.

Matt is a huge football fan - specifically, a Patriots fan. Large amounts of my family are Christian and/or Denver fans, so, Tim Tebow fans.  Matt and I were talking a lot about Tim Tebow last week, and at bedtime, Charlotte surprised me by saying, kind of hilariously dismissively,

"Tim Tebow, Spit-tee-bow."

Because "spit" is a silly, dirty, slightly naughty word to her.  She was clearly pleased at her insult, and I totally cracked up.  She now repeats it when she is fishing for a laugh, and I pretty much always indulge her.  Heh.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I guess "The Negotiating Fours" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Charlotte is hardcore into the bargaining stage of childhood.  Everything is a negotiation or a deal or a swap.  And she has a memory like an elephant.  Here's an example of life with a four year old.

One Monday you are eating dinner with your four year old, when said four year old suddenly gets a yearning for peanuts.  "Mom, can I have some peanuts?" she may ask.  "Sure," you reply, "Once you have finished what you have on your plate, if you are still hungry, you can have some peanuts."  After some time has passed, and food starts to get pushed around the plate instead of eaten, your four year old might repeat her request.  "Now can I have peanuts?" she asks, hoping that maybe you'll just forget what you said before and absently put more food on her plate.  "Not yet," you reply, patiently.  "I can see that you aren't really eating anymore, let me set a timer for 7 more minutes."  You calmly re-iterate the terms of the negotiation - 7 minutes, all the cucumber, 3 more pieces of kielbasa, and THEN the peanut payload will be delivered.  7 minutes later the timer dings and the cucumber is gone but the kielbasa has just been picked into tiny pieces.  Adorable four year old moppet deteriorates into crying, heartbroken child.  You, Mom, calmly remind the child that the peanuts are not going anywhere, and peanuts are promised on the morrow.

Stage 2: room cleaning.  More deals commence.  Child wants help cleaning, parents insist that child cleans their own mess.  It is really only two jobs, a huge pile of stuffed animals and 8 million pieces of Playmobil playset.  Even though it is a jillion cutely sculpted plastic pieces, it is not that hard to clean up.  They all go in a giant drawer.  It would take one adult with medium sized hands approximately 45 seconds to clean up the Playmobil mess, and another 60 seconds to put the stuffed animals away in their bins.  Child manages to drag out process over 20 minutes, and eventually the ultimatum comes out again, "Put these things away in 5 minutes, or you will not play with them tomorrow.  I am setting the timer."  Five minutes passes, of course the toys are not picked up, and the announcement is made that the four year old will not be allowed to play with the playset the next day.

As a parent, you now have two VITAL pieces of information to remember on Tuesday:
a. Peanuts were promised, peanuts must be served.
b. Playmobil is prohibited as a consequence.

If your day and life is anything like mine, you will wake up tired and too late on Tuesday and rush your way through the day.  Tuesday night, as you are tucking your four year old into bed, they will burst into tears and announce, "You promised that I could have peanuts today and you never gave me peanuts!"  You apologize profusely, and your way-too-canny child will then throw in your face, "Well, you said I couldn't play with Playmobil but you forgot and I DID play with Playmobil." 

And that is what it is like to parent a four year old.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Overheard in the bathroom....

"You're a dirty warthog!....I'm an underground fairy...then, a warthog puffed out of the earth!"

Some interesting story telling going on in there while she procrastinates going in to her room for rest time.

"She tried to get out, but her legs were crossed!  It was too small, so she uncrossed her legs..."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

QOTD: Master of the Segue

Mama:  Charlotte, do you want some hot chocolate?

Charlotte:  Yes!  Speaking of hot chocolate, how about we watch The Polar Express?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quick OT/PT notes for myself

* We've made progress in the large motor/strength arena, but...

* Major regression in toe-walking. Back up to 75% toe walking, even just around the house.

* Influx of art supplies at Christmas has improved pencil grip, and length of time spent drawinig, but...

* Regression in representational art & shape drawing. Back to scribbling, less about control and more about color on paper.

* Really worried we're going to have to go back to weekly PT appts, and foot/ankle taping.  Still paying off deductible from last year's appointments.  :(  Gotta do what you gotta do, though.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"I've wanted one of these my whole life!"

 Charlotte's catchphrase this Christmas was, "I've wanted one of these my whole life!" followed closely by "This is the best [whatever] of my whole life!"  Those are both kind of from Polar Express - at one point The Boy pulls the train's whistle and say, "I've wanted to do that my whole life!" and at another point Billy says, "I've wanted one of these my whole life!"  Charlotte clearly understood the concept, and re-iterated it frequently, and to the amusement of all her adult relatives.

Things that Charlotte (apparently) wanted her whole life:
Lite Sprites
a tea set
a tea shirt with a penguin on it
a tricycle
a coloring book
a Squinkies dispenser

This was the year that Charlotte got wowed by toys, bikes, and all the STUFF about Christmas.  She wasn't outright mercenary, but she totally understood the present side of Christmas for the first time ever.  And since she wasn't bratty about it, it was actually pretty fun to indulge her, and just watch her lose her tiny mind over all the toys she got.  The big present, in every way, was the tricycle from Santa.  It was a Big Deal for her mom and dad, and it's awesome how much she loves it.  Charlotte is great at riding it, and I took a bunch of videos I'll have to upload.  It's been a long road to get to bike riding, and I'm so proud & psyched that she can do it.  At physical therapy a year ago we really realized just how behind she was on some of the big physical stuff, and riding a trike was so hard for her that she couldn't even go 20 feet without stopping.  Fast forward to this week, and Charlotte is pedaling all around the apartment complex.  It's terrific.  Part of it is the tricycle design, part of it is her age, and part of it is the hard work we've all been doing with her big muscle needs in mind. 

Watching my kid ride her tricycle around and around, all I can think is, "I've wanted this my whole life."