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(same day)

I highly recommend Sandy Creek Nature Center as a birthday venue. The turtle and snake and lizard were awesome, the kids and adults loved it, and the "make a reptile out of playdoh" project was a huge hit.

Then we packed up and drove to NC and found no room at the inn - at any campground anywhere, and not a free hotel room to be found in Asheville. And Casper pitched six kinds of fits and awfulized, and we finally got a room in Flat Rock, and then the kids were insanly bouncy and worked up and downright rude and I had to flee the room for fear of doing them violence. I am so tired, you little fuckers, shut UP and got to SLEEP and stop LAUGHING at my anger and pian.
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Sunday night Casper cricked her neck and was in terrible pain and up several times in the night. I thought small children were supposed to be like unto elastic bands, but perhaps she is getting decrepit at her advanced age of 7. She stayed home Monday with mr. flea "working from home" (=watching Harry Potter IV.)

Tuesday night had some issues (Dillo woke up needing to pee - why do my children not wake up and take themselves to urinate in the night? Instead they cry loudly half awake and the parents must rescue them and deposit them on the potty. Both of them do this. Is it me?? Anyway Dillo made so much noise it woke Casper and she freaked out about her neck and spent the night in my bed, again.) Then when we went to take Dillo we found he'd had a nosebleed in his sleep. Sheets and mattress pad into the wash. Casper got off to school okay; Dillo too (and reported that the big blood-booger in his nose, named "Bloody," natch, came out at school.) mr. flea got a last-minute invite to a social event for work, and went, so I dealt with dinner and bathtime solo.

This morning Dillo had a nosebleed at 4:30. Sheets and mattress pad into the wash, again. I had randomly missed 3 hours of work in the last week (2 hours after Dillo refused to go back to school after his dentist appointment last week, and one hour dealing with Casper Monday morning) so I came in at 10 and will be here until 10pm. Joy.

Thursday we need to grocery shop and prep for the weekend and it's trash night and a bath night and we have the farmer's market pickup and... that's all, I think.

Friday is Bike to School Day, and a parent coffee until 8:30, after which I must dash to a meeting at work at 9, so maybe we will drive and not bike to school. At the parent coffee I hope to corral some parents into making Girl scouts happen. I emailed the PTO list asking for volunteers at 11:30 am today and have had no response yet. Very worried. Oh and it's FACT (Families and Children Together) day for 2nd grade, but I really cannot make it to school to spend time in Casper's class on Friday (see above: parent coffee and 9am meeting); must remember to ask mr. flea if he can.

Friday night we've been invited to cocktails with the Classics faculty (5:30-7) and a baby shower for mr. flea's coworker (7pm) and have not yet secured a babysitter. We are deeply incompetent about babysitters.

Saturday at 10am is the birthday party, so some cakes need to be baked and frosted at some point, and all the other assorted things associated with a birthday party (like PLATES and DRINKS and maybe FAVORS remember my birthday party paralysis, people?)

Then we're going camping. Which needs its own separate planning and organizing (but I really really needs to get out and it will be good to do). And then back Monday in time to catch Casper's makeup dance class at 5:30 and grocery shop for the week.

Have I mentioned I dismantled the dining room table to refinish it on Sunday? We've mostly eaten in the living room or on stools in the kitchen. The polycrylic is rather harder to get off than I'd anticipated, but I have only one coat of tung oil left on the table base and I am hoping to set it up with the spare leaves so we'll have some flat surface to work with by next week.

I hope next week is much less eventful.
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Sorry, due to a computer malfunction, we are temporarily unable to post pictures of the newly four year old boy. I can report that this morning, he anxiously demanded whether the underpants I was proffering were FOUR-year old underpants? Weren't they his OLD underpants? I reassured him that they were, in fact, rated for a four year old. He also asked if he was as tall as a four year old was supposed to be. I didn't know there were such stringent requirements!

My grandmother used to warble two songs to me when I was a baby -

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good
She was very very good
And when she was bad she was horrid!

And then, this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgJq4YLRWbA - a 78 record, which captures pretty well her vocal tone when she sang - I only remember her singing the chorus:

When it's springtime in the rockies
I am coming back to you
Little sweetheart of the mountains
With your bonny eyes of blue
Once again I'll say "I love you"
While the birds sing all the day
When it's springtime in the rockies
In the rockies, far away

Four!

Jul. 11th, 2010 07:50 am
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Birth Day:
happy face!
One:
IMG_3687
Two:
birthday with monkeys!
Three:
DSC_0029.JPG
Stay tuned for FOUR!
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There's nothing as consistently stressful for me as the children's birthdays. Dillo's is Sunday, and do we have a plan? We do not. He's old enough now that he expects something to happen. mr. flea was going to see if we could do something at his school Friday, and invite the two friends who have left already (assuming they are in town, which I doubt.)

Part of the problem is that the dates of both kids' birthdays mean the chance of its being incredibly hot are high. So it's hard to plan a simple "run around in the yard" birthday party (our house being small enough that 4-6 children in it is a houseful, never mind their parents).

We're also going ahead with the refinance, which means collecting documents, and the planning commission will meet in 2 weeks on our roof proposal, and the kids are taking swimming lessons soon, and then mr. flea's parents are coming and then school starts. Blah.

enrichment

Jul. 1st, 2010 04:09 pm
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Not financial; rather the reverse of financial enrichment.

With Casper about to be 7, I'm thinking about activities. She's asked about dance classes; there are two studios (at least) in town, and they enroll for the school year. Prices are by number of hours a week she attends class, and seem reasonable ($50-100 a month for 1-2 classes a week). There are a few classes on weekends or late enough in the evenings that we could make it work. If she did the classic ballet/tap, we'd have to buy the clothes. There's also a hip-hop class for 5-7 year olds at 6pm one evening that looks cool, though.

I'd really like to get her into a musical instrument, though. I was made to take piano lessons at 6, and hated them, and stubborned my parents into letting me quit within about a month. I also had a slightly longer experience with Suzuki violin at the same age (my main memory being how much it hurt to hold the violin under my chin). I don't think my sister did any instrument, and my brother did trumpet through school for a couple of years and practiced approximately once every 6 months. mr. flea was in the drum corps in school; I'm not sure when he started. But my cousins had music lessons and were pretty serious (my oldest cousin still plays bassoon in an orchestra), and I think a) it's a good skill for a kid, and a kid who is somewhat mathematically-minded and artsy like Casper is likely to have a good experience with music and b) even basic-level lessons as a kid are great if it means you can sit down and play sing-along songs on a piano or guitar for the rest of your life, right? I sort of regret not having that skill, myself.

The Uggaversity has a community music school; they have a piano program for kids that starts at 5 and they have violin and cello starting at 4. It's $800 for the year, payable in installments, with one 30-minute private lesson and one 45-minute group lesson a week. The group lesson is held ebtween 4-6pm on Thursdays, which is kind of a problem, potentially, and I can't find anything on the web site about scheduling the private lesson (maybe more flexible?) The big deal here is, of course, the need for a piano. You can use a keyboard, but it has to be a fancy one, or of course we could obtain an actual piano. Either of these has the potential to be quite a bit costlier than a leotard and ballet slippers.

I dunno, and I should totally be worried about Dillo's birthday, in 10 days and completely unplanned, and not wasting brain cells on this, when sign-ups don't close for another month.

oh, help.

Aug. 14th, 2009 08:00 am
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Yes, it's child birthday party season again. Dillo's went off relatively easily - the child is 3 after all, so social complexities are limited. But Casper is turning 6 and for the first time is wanting and expecting a REAL birthday party.

(Recap: 2: one friend for ice cream cake; 3: family from nanny share for pizza and cake; 4: cupcakes to day care, grandparents in town for family dinner; 5: cupcakes to school, new neighbors with kids invited over for kid playtime and cupcakes.)

I've got a plan. We're doing fairies. It's to be 10-12 am on the Saturday after her birthday (2 weeks from now). I have acquired the Klutz book on making little wire-and-bead fairies, and need to look at it in more detail (practice) and possibly acquire some additional fairy-making supplies at Michael's. The plan is to do a craft time of making the fairies (dining room table), then have some playtime outside with the fairies, and then have lunch and cake outside. I was thinking of making tea sandwiches on the tiny Pepperidge Farm bread, and having "tea" to drink. (Fairies can have tea parties, right?) I'd like to hang the mesh bed canopy in a tree and have blankets underneath as a fairy bower. Not sure if that will work given our actual trees - I plan to delegate the dilemma to mr. flea.

So far, so good.

The complication is who to invite. There is who Casper wants to invite, then there's who I feel like we owe an invitation due to our social connections and the role of reciprocity. Casper's interested in inviting the first 5 only.

Penny: Casper's best friend. No question.
Shannon: Casper's 3rd grade friend from after school last year, who appears to be attending a different school this year. As I do not know her last name nor how to contact her, I think we cannot invite her.
Siena: In Casper's class and after school, and we are friends with her parents. The only dilemma here is not inviting her twin brother, but I think they are old enough that he will understand the concept of an all-girl fairy party and not want to attend. I can explain that to his parents, and if they have any sense they will have him have a boy playdate.
Allison: Lives three houses down, in Casper's class and after school, dad is the principal. Casper wants to invite her, although they are not especially close and there was some issue about Casper not being invited to Allison's birthday party.
Dynasty: In Casper's class both last year and this year, and in after school. Luckily I met her aunt at the open house, and she works at the Tae Kwan Do school, so I have a way to get in touch with her family (I want to avoid passing out invites in class, as potentially hurtful.)
Eliza: Lives a street over, in Casper's class, Casper went to her birthday party and they've had her over for a lot of playdates. They don't seem to have much in common, and Casper doesn't care about inviting her, but I think given how many overtures her parents have made to us we have to invite her.
Hannah and Owen: Neighbors. Hannah is 5, but very tomboyish, and Casper and she don't have much in common. But we spend a lot of time with them. I think if I explain to Mary that we're having a girly party with her classmates it will be fine, and they will not feel excluded.
Spencer and Ruby: Ditto, except Spencer is 4 (and Ruby is 1). I will need to talk to Gretchen also.
Evelyn: In Casper's class, lives in our neighborhood, but they were in Brazil for 9 months & just got back so we haven't had much social contact with them lately. Is good friends with Allison and Eliza, though, and they are all in class together, so they will talk.
Katie Sue: In Casper's class and after school, though she and Casper don't seem to be especially friends. Know the parents in the 'nod in the hallways' sort of way. Could probably not invite her. But if I invite all the other upper middle class girls from Casper's class, she would be the only one left out.

ARGH. My size goal is 4-6 girls. I hate this whole 'being human with social connections' thing.

birthdays

Apr. 24th, 2009 10:10 am
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My coworker is fretting that she is not being "crafty enough" in preparing for her son's upcoming first birthday. This weekend Casper is invited to our neighbor's birthday party, which will include a bouncy house and a spider-man theme (birthday girl is a serious tomboy), and next weekend she is invited to a Princess birthday party ("wear your own princess dress and we'll provide the crown and wand".)

It got me thinking, why don't the adults who are expending so much energy and creativity on their children's birthday parties throw some adult parties occasionally? What wouldn't I give to have an excuse to dress as a princess, eat cake, and come home with a goody bag?

(Possibly these parties exist and I am just not invited to them. Possibly *I* need to throw such a party.)

Side etiquette note: the princess birthday party is held jointly for two girls. Casper knows one and has been on playdates with her, but I don't think she knows the other at all well (goes to the same school, but not in her class or in afterschool). Do we have to bring presents for both? (Yes, I know you never HAVE to bring presents.)

Amusing Casper note:
me: Tells Casper she has been invited to Hannah's birthday party.
Casper: She's turning SIX?
me: No, she's turning five.
Casper: Oh, she is four now? No wonder she is so greedy!
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First, it is my birthday, but I'm sort of over it already. I've got a lot going on today (must do all homework for the week, and pack, since we're driving to visit friends in VA right after work tomorrow). I accidentally opened my (very nice) present from my mother, though I asked mr. flea to wrap it since Casper thinks "birthday = opening presents." Not sure what/if he got me anything. Don't expect much else; I bought myself some Dansko Roxys in purple suede off ebay (finally! only $51 including shipping!) but they won't come for a while yet.

My current obsession is this: http://www.flickr.com/groups/theworkingcloset/pool/ A blog I read has people posting what they wear to work every day for the month of September. It's mostly mothers - working at work, working from home, working as a mother. Well, it's keeping me off the streets, anyway.

The new routine has begun, mostly: I am working 8-4:30. mr. flea does the morning domestic shift, getting Dillo to daycare at around 8:30 and Casper to school by 9. At 3:30, Beth picks up Casper and Emmett at school. Yesterday they went to the library. I leave work at 4:30, get Dillo and am usually home by about 5. I have been carrying him from the bus in my arms, but today I'm trying the big Kelty backpack. We switch to the double jogger and walk up to pick up Casper from Emmett's house - about 12 minutes. Then home. So, with all swiftness, it's about 5:30 by the time we are all home, and I'm all sweaty (at least when it's 95 degrees). So I'm going to have to work on pre-prepping meals, weekend cooking, that sort of thing, which we've done before. I got spoiled over the summer when mr. flea picked us all up at 4. This way he will get more work done, though.
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We took in cupcakes to Casper's old school last Friday. Here she is showing she is turning 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/1270701162/

First day of school was Monday (yes, she's wearing the same dress, but it was washed over the weekend, I swear!): http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/1269852415/

Tuesday afternoon we did PresentPalooza, including The Bike. http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/1269934135/ (The cheap $10 Craigslist Bike; the helmet grandma D. bought cost 3.5 times as much, it turns out!). New Hannas are off ebay; there were Tinkerbell panties, and nice new Carter's school set from Grandma and Grandpa T., and the Madeline doll Grandma D. bought for Casper when she was 2 days old, and a Barbie brand Rapunzel with snap-on clothes, and Grandma D. got both kids alphabet trains with their names. More presents are in the mail, I hear. She's pretty good with the bike already (with training wheels, natch) and Dillo LOVES the bike and wants to ride it. Seriously, he climbed up onto the training wheel and was trying to get in the seat.

Casper picked the dinner menu ("butterfly" pasta, meatballs) and we had a chocolate cake frosted pink with blue decorations. The cake was from the recipe in the back of the book The Bake Shop Ghost, noted as adapted from CI, and was very yummy. Not too sweet, quite chocolately (contains 8oz unsweetened chocolate and 3/4 cup cocoa powder.)

Casper loves her new school so far and didn't want to go back to day care yesterday. Dillo had a rough day yesterday during his visit to the toddler room; I think he was tired and overwhelmed. mr. flea is meeting with his new toddler teacher today. I think this transition is probably the toughest - it's at an age where there's a lot of clinginess and fear of the new (in addition to the striking out on one's own). Dillo's still not walking much by himself, but that doesn't seem to be a problem at school - they give him a push toy to walk with and he's great with that.
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To do tonight:

-Meet Casper's teacher (home visit) 3:15
-Go pick up Dillo at day care
-dinner: grill? chicken breasts, black bean/corn/tomato salad
-bake cake for Casper (what to do about necessary ingredient, buttermilk powder, I was unable to find? substitute powdered formula, which I have some of? what, it's made from milk!)
-make sure Dillo gets a bath
-wrap Casper's presents
-make plans for tomorrow (Casper school, Dillo daycare, when to do family birthday thing, when to assemble/frost cake)

Have I mentioned my in-laws are visiting? They are staying in a hotel, and they are taking Casper out after school today and tomorrow, when she has half days, but I still feel like I'm supposed to DO something with them.

After Wednesday, the week will get much easier.

He walks!

Aug. 15th, 2007 07:56 pm
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Dillo took his first steps before dinner tonight. He was cruising along the couch and took about 4 steps over to the blue chair (didn't make it and fell.) We all saw it happen, and while Casper was a little whiny and grumpy, we managed to get her excited too.

It turned out the reason Casper was whiny is she's running a fever. She doesn't seem too sick, but is very hot to touch and ate only watermelon for dinner.

I have a "wonder mold kit" and a soccer ball cake pan in my shopping cart at wilton.com. There are some seriously obsessed cake people out there. (A wonder mold kit includes a bell-shaped cake pan with a special rod to ensure even baking, and a doll pick. A doll pick is half a barbie doll, the top half, with a big spike at the bottom. For making princess cakes, of course.)

We acquired a $10 red bike for Casper last night, from Craiglist. It's just okay; the seat is duct-taped a bit, and it's a little dinged up. But, you know, $10. We're discussing whether we should try to paint it pink or something. mr. flea still kind of wants to buy Casper the used $120 Trek bike (pink) she rode on at the local bike store. And since I just sold his backpack on Craigslist for $100, I suppose we could do that. But I mean, $120 for a used bike for a 4 year old? I kind of rebel.
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On my recent shopping spree with veejane ( total: 7 items: black pants, brown pants, black skirt, black t-shirt tunic, black t-shirt with puffed sleeves (but they're very discreet!), white linen-cotton shirt, white office-y shirt, white short-sleeve blouse with embroidered black daisies - most expensive item $24, least $3), so far I have worn this (the skirt) to work:

http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_7/601-0411734-6671312?%5Fencoding=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B000FH7NAI

I very much recommend it. It's not really a circle skirt, though it is rounder than an a-line. Simple, black mostly wool but all-season really, flatterig to nearly any figure, and, hey, $23! A size note, should you be tempted - I am currently on the big side of a 10, including in pants in the same brand, but bought this skirt in a 6, and now I'm thinking I should have bought the 4. Go down at least 2 sizes.

Lands' End has reintroduced lingerie; my current favorite black cotton underpants, or something very like them, are now available, but at the outrageous price of $12 a pair. They have cheaper black cotton panties, too, which I may try. I am again in panty crisis, as veejane can attest (though she considers me to be insane about the whole "only black" thing.)

http://www.landsend.com/cd/fp/prod/0,,1_2_1930_28541_150722_128349_5:view=-1,00.html?CM_MERCH=PAGE_21676&sid=6519178187115154990

A peach raspberry pie is baking and we are having steak Diane for dinner. I am one (wee) glass of wine gone, hence my loquacity, and my lack of certainty that such is, in fact, a word.

Harvest:
21 pole beans
40 carrots
1 pink girl

HB to me

Sep. 6th, 2006 10:44 am
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I am 34 today.

I was thinking the other day about accomplishments. Something I am really proud of is my summa cum laude graduation from college - I worked hard, earned it, and it's there to be recognized forever. (And I only found out at graduation rehearsal - it was a small enough school that they did a full rehearsed walk-through, and the cheering at the summas, first announced there, was spontaneous and heartfelt; I was so surprised and proud and loving my colleagues for being so proud of me.)

I haven't accomplished much since. I have a husband and two children, but they aren't accomplishments - they're people. I got a master's degree and passed comprehensive exams for a PhD and have published a few articles, but somehow those don't feel like real accomplishments the way finishing the PhD would have.

Need to think about what I want to accomplish in the rest of my life.

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