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I think we're all signed up for summer camps.  So far the total spent (mostly down payments - the total will be 3+ times as much) is $803.40, which is making mint.com go "what the hell is wrong with your child care budget?" The total time spend waiting in lines is about 7 hours.
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I don't do Yuletide; Actual Christmas has got enough bears for me.  Yesterday we managed to take a picture, send it to CVS, and pick up the resulting cards (viva les internets), and I addressed them all.  Now I must write thoughtful notes to the people I only talk to once a year at Christmas and mail them (including acquiring stamps).  I am waiting on a package to arrive, then need to turn around and mail a package out, I hope tomorrow morning early.  I pushed and got mr. flea to deal with his family's gifts on Saturday, so that is done.  We attended the neighborhood Christmas party and exchanged small gifts with our neighbors.  No more excess gifts cluttering up my kitchen counters.

The major issue is The Big Present for the kids.  We have not acquired it/them, nor decided what it/they is/are going to be.  And the "last day to buy!" emails I am getting this morning from all the big catalog/online shopping emporiums are not helping my stress levels.  And mr. flea took Dillo to Target Sunday to pick out a present for Casper and everything was so picked over they couldn't find what they wanted.  So I think we're going to run out to Toys R Us on our lunch hour today, and try to be done.  But I'm terrified we won't find anything.  The backup is Amazon with rush shipping this evening, if the toy store (and possibly Dick's sporting goods) don't work out.  Curse you, evil craigslist piano seller!  The down feeling of that is still hindering me in the picking of some other present.

Good things: We figured out how to video chat with mr. flea's sister, and the kids got to do that with their cousins, and it's easy (they are on macs as are we) and we can do it any time.  I also tested gmail video chat with my sister, although her bandwidth or processor on the netbook can't really hack it.  But we achieved proof of concept so Grandma can chat with the kids on Christmas.

We built amazing train bridges in the kitchen/dining room Sunday morning, and there was cooperation and creativity and fun.

I told the kids a version of the story in The Hobbit at bedtime Friday night, and we started reading it Saturday, and Casper ADORES it and begs for another chapter at odd moments.  We're five chapters in, and finished Riddles in the Dark last night (Dillo listens some but does not fully have the attention span or sophistication necessary; he fell asleep during a very tense scene!).  Casper was full of really probing and intelligent questions about Gollum and his background and history, and I explained some of the stuff we learn in LOTR, that's not covered in Hobbit.  You can keep your Harry Potter - The Hobbit beats it all hollow as far as being a good read imo.

This morning the kids are at the YMCA for the first of three "dynamic days."  This is Dillo's first time at the Y and he was not at all happy about the idea.  He was scared and was able to tell me he was scared.  His main concern seemed to be that he would have to be with the Chiefs and separated from his sister, but the dynamic days are small enough that they keep the ages all together.  So after a lot of crying I got him dressed and we arrived, and lovely Miss Jacquie who used to work at his school was greeting everyone, and she was wonderful, and they're going bowling today, and after only about 5 minutes he went off with Casper who was teaching him how to dribble a basketball.  So now my only big worry about the day is the possibility of him pooping in his pants, which is unfortunately quite likely, given that he did it several times yesterday.  He has a packed change of clothes, so whatever happens, happens.  Hopefully not in the swimming pool.
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I am at my wits' end with this Dillo child. We had a terrible night last night, with deliberate misbehavior and the customary fight to brush teeth and spanking and yelling and fighting. He can cry for 45 minutes, then start laughing at a joke as if he'd never been crying, which makes me concerned that he is fake-crying for 45 minutes. We fight - to the point of having to hold him down and force the toothbrush in - over dental hygiene almost every night. He is spanked most days. It has no effect on him and frankly doesn't make me feel much better either.

We need to change something but I don't know what. What seems to keep him fairly even keel is to pay constant attention to him when we are at home. Like, constant. Since we have another child, who needs intensive homework help every night, and we need to do things like cook meals and clean up after them and so forth, we don't manage this perfectly, and then he starts to throw things and break them, act up, and then I get mad and ignore him because I can't deal and we are in the downward spiral.

Every day he doesn't want to go to school and we are planning to send him to the YMCA Dec. 20-22 (where he has never done camp but has had swimming lessons, and I think for the Xmas camp they keep the ages together so Casper would be with him mostly.) He had already said he doesn't want to do that, and got so upset when Casper was trying to tell him it is fun that we had to direct the conversation elsewhere. I could take the whole week off before Christmas, but I can't take the whole summer off, and this is in a way a trial run for summer camp at the YMCA. I was planning to take the forms in today but I am torn now. But, as mr. flea put it, "Do you really want to stay home with him two weeks in a row?" (since I am going to be home with the kids the week of Dec. 27).

We are meeting with his teacher in a routine conference this morning but she's not the kind of teacher who will be much help in terms of dealing with him - she is old-school, not a modern philosophy of parenting type. In general he is doing well with the content at school - they think he is clever - and fine with the social part (which is the real work at this age). He has stopped having accidents for the most part and we never have a bad report of his behavior. He just acts up at home. And knows how to push my buttons BIG TIME.
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I am hosting one. On Sunday. Less than 48 hours from now. My level of preparedness: low.

I have made 3 batches of cookie dough. I should start baking tonight; there are lots of cookies to be baked. I need to run by the YMCA to pick up a form to register the kids for the out-of-school days coming up (they take PreK students, Halleluia!). I was going to make latkes for dinner but I think we have no onions. I could make latkes without onions, right? It's not like my (nonexistent) Jewish grandmother would be ashamed of me.

Tomorrow we need to rake some leaves, pick up the tree, set it up, hang some lights, generally prep the house, and grocery shop like mad, at both the Kroger and Trader Joe's. And bake cookies.

Sunday I am going to make lasagna in the morning, for lunch, on the grounds that that will reduce cookie-eating. (Not that lasagna is notably better for you than cookies in the saturated fat department, but I think it wins on sugar.) I need to bake cookies. I need to make frosting.

Aside from cookies, I am not sure what I will be serving. The party is tree trimming and cookie frosting; most of the cookies will be our spice roll-out cookie recipe, with butter-and-powdered sugar frosting. About half of the planned 30 or so guests are children. I also want to have popcorn and whole fresh cranberries available for making garlands. I will have a batch of seriously addictive gingersnaps (the cookies I bring to parties and everyone asks for the recipe).

For drinks, I was thinking good apple cider in the crockpot, cocoa on the stove. Unfortunately I only have one ladle. I think we have about 12 little mugs from Michael's grandmother's dishes (plus our everyday ones) so we don't need to buy paper ones. I was going to put out some Kahlua if an adult wants to add some; I was not going to get wine or beer, I think. It's a Sunday afternoon. Is that chintzy?

I have hummus, so I was going to put out hummus and carrot sticks and pita chips. (Side note: Stacy's pita chips are a seriously addictive food for me.) What other food? I was going to throw myself on the mercy of Trader Joe's. I am not sure what and how much to get.

I have 2 Christmas CDs and we can alternate them in the dining room, where the cookies will be happening, and watch Prep and Landing and The Grinch on the TV in the living room, where the decorating will happen. I have a nice smelling candle (I don't think anyone coming has big scent issues.)

What important thing am I forgetting? Oh, we have to put the table back together - half of it is currently out on the front porch. We can do that tonight, I guess. (My tablecloth will cover for its current lack of finish.)

Okay, I talked myself into a plan.
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And you know what that means - a new crop of names!

Dillo is in a PreK class with 13 boys and 7 girls. His teacher, Ms. R., has been with the school a long time, is well-regarded, and reminds us both of Casper's old nanny Tonya. His classmates (all born before 9/1/2003): Clayton, Devin, Jimmy, Antoni, Deyanira, Dhaijah, Justus, Tekit, Brendan, Eli, Jaylen, Amos (who was the only one we met - total cutiehead!), James, Trinity, Yvana, Lizabeth, Jeimy, Kayden, Michael. The paraprofessional is Ms. W.

Casper for second grade has Mr. H, who has been at Chase since 2004 and has a good reputation as on the silly/goofy side (a major plus for Casper!), hand-on and pro-science. I've also been told he is much more comfortable with children than parents, and this was pretty obvious from our interactions. No parapro at this level. Casper's classmates from last year who are with her again are Danilo, Eliza, Angelo, Roan, and Dynasty. New this year are Owen, Anyssa, Dhuntez, Ja'Quan, Braiden, Taneia, Kourtney (too old to be blamed on the Kardashians!), Skylar, Anatasia, Gavin, Tyreon, Aydan (Siena's twin), Cassius, Da'Naya.

We registered for After School, and learned that the new after school director is about to leave, back to her old job within the school system. So they will AGAIN be basically leaderless, which is a problem. Two kids is only $10 total per day, which is a nice little bonus. There was no solid information about whether Tae Kwan Do will happen, but the rumor is yes, Tu/Th like last year. Two of Casper's friends are doing swimming at the YMCA Tu/Th, and we are thinking about that for Casper to. (Y after programs start at age 6, so not an option for Dillo.) There was no info about Girl Scouts, so I need to email a parent I know and ask what is up. If they are dying for troop leaders for Brownies, I could use my flex time from working Wednesday nights and take Friday afternoons off to do Girl Scouts. We'll see.
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The kids started a 2-week cycle of swim lessons last night, which makes these two weeks extra-crazy, since the lessons are at 6pm. But it's good. Casper is in the most advanced group, 6 kids, ages (guessing by eye) 5-8. She is the best swimmer in the bunch, fast and direct and not splashy or flaily. I guess twice-daily swimming at the Y camp has paid off, although they just play and don't have actual instruction. She did a quite passable Australian crawl last night. She told me she listened to the coach and pointed her toes and kept her legs straight, and man was she fast! She really likes swimming, and it's definitely a sport she could be good at, in terms of build. There is a swim team for kids locally that might be worth looking in to.

Dillo was in one of the low groups, but did well. His group was 5 kids of a mix of ages - one girl who was probably 6, and two boys who were either two or young 3s, and a girl about Dillo's age. He listened well and was game for things (one of the little boys cried a lot) and floated really well. He has a tendency when trying to dog-paddle with a noodle-float of not going anywhere - it's more like treading water than swimming. And even kicking while holding the side of the pool, his butt sinks. Need to work on that. But he's in the water and comfortable and happy, which is the basic goal at just-4.

mr. flea and I sat and watched them and goggled at how adorable and accomplished they are.

I had a talk with Casper early this morning about the YMCA; I asked her who she was friends with in her group. She said nobody; the coaches were her friends. This wasn't bothering her, though; she said, "I've figured out the YMCA without friends." She said she swims to suit herself, and has gotten good at dribbling a basketball in the mornings (where she does spend time with one girl.) I guess it's good that she seems content, but it's a little sad, too. If her birthday weren't so late, most weeks she would have been with friends from school in the 7-8 year old group. S. talked to me about trying to coordinate our kid's schedules more next summer (alternating various camps but keeping her daughter and Casper together), but next year we'll have the complication of Dillo, who will only be 4 and not old enough for most activities. Would it be fair to have Casper doing different camps with a friend and Dillo stuck alone at the YMCA all summer? It's not like they'd have any contact at the Y anyway, since they keep the age groups apart.
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Dillo has had an ongoing issue with another kid in his class named Adam. Adam is about Dillo's age - I think a few months older - but he is a tiny guy. So, in classic Napoleon complex style, he's really aggressive and physical, and Dillo is often the recipient of his aggression. He also has an older brother, who maybe models this kind of behavior. On Monday Dillo came home saying, "Adam hit me 5 times today," and mr. flea has gotten to the point that he's encouraging Dillo to fight back. Not physically, but we suggested that he yell really loud, "ADAM STOP HITTING ME" whenever Adam hits him, which would have the dual effect of reacting strongly without hitting back, and notifying the teachers. One of the big issues is Dillo's main teacher is off at Montessori training for 6 weeks, so they have a new person who needs to get a handle on all the issues. I'm so disappointed that the main teacher is gone, right at the end of Dillo's time - like we needed a transition 2 months before the big transition to public school.

Casper, for her part, is back to last summer's anxiety about clothes at the YMCA. Yesterday she had a "topsy-turvy day" - got roughed up playing basketball at dropoff, in line, and then during some outside game. One of the coaches had a talk with her and she was able to pull herself together and not let it ruin her day. She told us all about it and was proud of herself at pickup. But then this morning she got all small and said she didn't want to go to camp because kids were telling her she looked like a boy because of her (really cool and awesome) skull sneakers (which are in fact boys'). When pressed she said this kind of comment happened from different kids, not specifically boys or girls, at different times of day. So I spoke to a coach this morning about it, and Casper wore her purple Lands End shoes (which she HATED last summer, geez.)

mr. flea is taking both situations hard partly because he was teased as a kid (at school, for his name, to which Casper said, "That's not a weird name!?!", and in the neighborhood because he was the youngest). So it's hard for him not to project.

So, we're limping along this week. And I've been up at 5am or before every day (thanks to Dillo the incredibly early waking boy).
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Well, the YMCA summer camp is suddenly registering now, as opposed to their previous plan to start in early April. So we need to hammer out summer plans.

I think we are going to Cape Code the week of June 18-25. I have a fare alert for plane tickets and it's down to $276 today and I can't see it going much lower (it's been $341).

mr. flea would like to get Casper to do a summer art camp, since she loved spring break at Good Dirt so much. Good Dirt has camps, but for 6 year olds they are with a preschool group (4-6) and only run 9am-12. And they're expensive. Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation has camps with a good reputation, but again, only 9-12, and they are in Watkinsville (a 10-15 minute drive). The county has art camps, I think probably located at Lyndon House, which is downtown. They have two art camps that run 9-3pm and take 6 year olds, the weeks of June 7-11 and June 14-18 (the rest only run 9-12 or are for teens). These are a more reasonable possibility, but I think we'd need to find an afternoon pickup and babysitter situation. Having had the spring break experience of coming with Casper to the office at 8, leaving at 8:40 to walk to downtown, getting back at 9:15, leaving again at 2:45, getting back at 3:20, and having Casper in the office with me until 5, I really don't wan to do that on a planned basis. I have a flexible office and Casper was no trouble, but it felt and feels unprofessional. The trouble is finding an appropriate babysitter/pickup situation.

I think our plan will be to sign up for the YMCA, for the whole 9 weeks (omitting the week we'll be in MA). We'll only take one week in MA in case we don't come up with a child care solution for the first week in August (no YMCA camp and the school board changed the calendar so there is a blank week). That way I'll have the vacation time to cover it if we can't find something else.

If we drop out of 1 week of the YMCA, it will only be a loss of the $25 deposit. I think the peace of mind of having things settled is worth that for me.

I wish we had a wife, though. She could clean the house as well as taking Casper to fun developmental and art camps.
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Yesterday I was on furlough, Dillo's school was closed for the day, and Casper had her first day of spring break. We had a pretty nice day. Dillo watched TV in the morning while Casper helped me bake biscuits and played Sasha dolls. At 11 we went for a walk to Ike & Jane's, the local indy coffee/donut shop. The kids were very sweet at sharing their donuts - Dillo would give Casper a marshmallow off his "lucky charms" donut, and she's give him a bit of her chocolate (she had red velvet chocolate frosted.) I was hoping to visit the liquor store and a consignment shop over there, but the troops were a bit restless, so we visited the hardware store (where they did not have stakes, broccoli seedlings, or low-impact paint stripper, but did have polyurethane and wheelbarrows, both of which I ogled.) We walked home and had lunch on the porch in the warm warm sun, and then Casper built fairy houses in the garden while Dillo did water gun stuff and I washed window frames. A very brief TV break and then Casper spontaneously asked if we could go to the playground at her school. We coincided with people we know, which was fun. No real problems until 5:30 when we started making oatmeal cookies and they started bickering and whining.

Today started off with a huge ball of suck, however. We got to the YMCA for spring break camp, paperwork filled out and check written, only to be told they were full. Oops. It never occurred to me that might happen. I'd have signed up earlier if it was online, but they only sign up on paper and their office is only open 9-6, and we just didn't make it over there what with one thing and another. So Casper came to work with me. mr. flea suggested we call Good Dirt, the local pottery shop, which we know has spring break camps and I was just lamenting would be fun for Casper except it's so pricy and their hours are not geared for working families. Well, they had space, so I walked Casper up and signed her up for the week. It's $55 a day, but a small group (10-12), nobody we know but a bunch of little girls in her age group. It only runs 9-3, so I have to go fetch her. I am still working out how we'll swing it with my 8-5 work day. It's a 15(me)-20(me + Casper) minute walk from my office. She was happily watching Secret of NIMH on Hulu before I got through to Good Dirt, so maybe we can do some office afternoons, and maybe my neighbor can pick her up some days.

While Casper is adequately cared for at the moment, I am still feeling completely terrible about the mixup, and expect to be for some time. As usual, I feel like our lives are just barely hanging together, and the house of cards may tumble at any time. It's not a good feeling, and this mishap adds extra "you're an idiot" feelings on top. Joy.
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I ought to, like, actually post something occasionally, eh?

mr. flea went to the final meeting about Dillo's new school yesterday night, and everything looks like it's going to work out. The old school closes this Friday, and the new school opens next Wednesday. Next Thursday is the first day of school for Casper. So I'll be home with both kids Monday, mr. flea Tuesday, and then just me and Casper Wednesday (which means we can paint! and go to the Open House and learn her teacher assignment and collect baby names.)

The other news from the meeting was that Dillo peed in the potty at school 4 times yesterday and kept his pull-up dry all day, reported Keitha (who I thought for the longest time was named Keifa, since that's the way Dillo says it). We had a great weekend for potty - nakey pants at home and no accidents, pooped in the potty each day, and underpants when we went out, and also no accidents. I am starting to talk about when he'll be ready to wear underpants to school. (Need to ask mr. flea if Colin will be in the primary room at the new school - Dillo can't move up to primary until he's in underpants, and if Colin is moving up that would be a serious motivator.

Casper is finally settled and happy at YMCA camp, for the most part. Her two swimsuits, bought this summer, are falling apart from the chlorine abuse. They swim twice a day, and the suits are Lands End, but still falling apart. Friday night I am tossing the worst one. We are also having to wash and deep condition her hair every single night because of the chlorine. She's all tan and lean and hard-muscled and bug-bitten and extra-blonde - like an outdoorsy kid! It's especially noticeable in contrast to Dillo, who has a little tan but not much, and is still all soft and round baby flesh.
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The clothing issue around camp has moved on to the shoes. (We haven't solved the clothing issue around clothes, per se - there are only three pairs of shorts/capris she will consent to wear right now, and she won't wear a skort or a dress to camp, but I do laundry on weekends and one load midweek anyway, and she doesn't mind wearing the same thing every other day, so we're coping.)

Here are the shoes my daughter owns:
1. New pink Stride Rite skimmer style sneakers. Bought a month ago by grandma. Make blisters if worn without socks. Are "embarrassing" to wear with socks. Worn today, with socks, in tears.
2. 3 year old Old Navy $1 flip flops that are too small. Naturally, these are her favorite shoes. These are the only shoes we have forbidden her to wear to camp; I want her to have more stability and foot protection, although in our daily argument about shoes she tells me that lots of other kids wear flip flops.
3. Black Keds sneakers bought in early spring that were her favorites and worn every day for the second half of the spring. Now are somehow horrible and "too small" (although the same size as her other shoes).
4. Navy crocs with no backs. She wore these without socks to camp yesterday and got blisters.
5. Multicolor crocs that have backs but are really too small (12-13 and she's a 1 now) and I should pull them and donate.
6. New Balance traditional athletic sneakers, bought new in January, rejected after a few wearings because she had trouble tying them. She wore them Wednesday to camp (without socks) and figured out how to tie them herself for the first time, but could not be persuaded to even think of them today.
7. Lands End Mary Jane trekkers which are purple and adorable and I kind of want a pair. Bought new this spring, with the intention of them being her default summer shoe. She wore them occasionally during the school year and now says she hates them.
8. Stride Rite black leather Mary Janes, bought for $5 on ebay, which is a good thing because she wore them once to school and will not consider them at all. I should resell these as there is no hope for them.

Eight pairs of shoes, all but two of them bought in the last six months, with her in on the choice. One pair that she will wear that doesn't cause blisters, and that's a pair of flip flops. Argh. Sigh.

So far, only one of her three bathing suits is "embarassing," and it's the rash guard one, and I am heartlessly making her wear it once a week when they have lengthy outdoor play in swimsuits at camp, to protect her skin.

ugh

Jun. 11th, 2009 09:07 am
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This morning with Casper was sort of reminiscent of the bad old two year old days of screaming fights over getting dressed. Or the bad old four year old days of the same (remember that time mr. flea had to drive Casper to school in her underpants?) She did not want to wear any of the choices she had (i.e. everything that was clean - I was not limiting her choices). She ended up going to camp in a YMCA t-shirt and plaid shorts that she likes but I agree are a little bit too small, and there were floods of tears and I had to basically leave her there crying, with no support from the stupid (male) counselors (and no help from Casper at pulling herself together).

We've had a lot of trouble with clothes this summer. Nothing is right. A couple of weeks ago I went through all her clothes with her and pulled out everything that didn't fit or she said she didn't like. (Including two brand new pairs of Gap Kids shorts that she picked out.) This left nearly nothing, with a special shortage on the bottom. This weekend she picked two new pairs of shorts at Old Navy and I told her that was it as far as me buying her new clothes this summer. But of course they are both in the laundry, and I refuse to do extra laundry simply because Casper can't frickin decide what she wants to wear.

I have no idea what the problem is, and while I'm somewhat sympathetic, I feel like we are offering her as much autonomy about clothing choices as is reasonable. She can wear anything she owns - even jeans even though it's 90 degrees - and at this point she has had input into the purchase of almost all the clothes she owns. I explained this morning about the laundry and the environment and the fact that doing laundry is work for me.

I think some of her social anxiety about the YMCA is getting focused onto the clothing issue. I just don't know what to do about it, beyond what we are already doing.
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Last night was a rough one for Casper - she freaked out ostensibly over the fact that her brother disturbed the hideaway she had built in the living room out of pillows and a comforter, but actually over the stress of the first week at YMCA camp, I think.

In practical terms she seems to be doing well - is drinking enough water I think, has enough food. She and Dillo both sported rashes starting Wednesday at bedtime; his was cleared up by Thursday morning and hers has persisted and gotten worse. I thought at first it was prickly heat - she was wearing black leggings on an 80 degree day the day it started - and then we thought about a reaction to the chlorine in the pool, or an allergy to the sunscreen. Neither hypothesis suits all the facts, but we bought a different brand of suncreen today.

But she's having a lot of social anxiety - reported being embarrassed because she can't swim and avoided the swim test (on inquiry, Coach said only 10 of the kids in her age group have passed the test so far, and the only purpose of the test is to make sure they're safe to swim in the outdoor pool, which lacks a shallow end where most 5 year olds could stand.) Today rejected most of her clothes because she worries about what people think of them. I had a long heart to heart with her last night (topics covered: evolution vs creationism, true friends know what's in your heart, etc.) and tried to explain about how change is hard and this is new.

Feeling like crap mom because NEXT week she'll go to a different new camp (our only "enriching" camp, for inventors - her friend S. & A. will be there too, so hopefully not so socially overwhelming.) Then back to YMCA for the rest of the summer.

In the course of our heart to heart she proposed that we put the bunkbeds together and she and Dillo could sleep and keep their dressers in the big bedroom, and the little bedroom would be "my playroom." I said we'd think about it (this was actually my original plan, except for the "my" part, and we'd put the futon in there and have a guest room). Then she told me about visiting our neighbor Duckie's house last week before our trip, when they went over to ask Duckie to watch our cat. (Duckie is 11 or 12, and that is not her real name.) According to Casper, Duckie's room is a "bedroom of luxury." The walls are pink and her bed is painted pink and she has a dresser with a big mirror over it and makeup! I asked mr. flea about the Bedroom of Luxury visit after Casper fell asleep, and he said that when she saw it, Casper said to Duckie's father, "I wish YOU were my dad!" Hee.

Anyway, if anyone is getting a Bedroom of Luxury in this house, I am first in line, dammit.
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That is the name of the robot at the YMCA. He visits every morning assembly (introduced by the strains of that "I got a secret" robot song from the 1980s, and the kids chanting, with arm motions, awesome-o-o!) and there's a little improv skit involving him and a couple of other counselors, and then his arm spits out a note card with the thought of the day, which is a little message about being a good friend or something like that. It's a cute way to do a "lesson" without banging the kids over the head with it.

As you may have gathered, last night was Family Night at the YMCA day camp. The counselors are a bunch of wacky college kids, there are lots of improv skits (the camp director appeared as Bare Belly Bill, apropos of the pirate theme, wearing a tiny little striped red shirt that left his belly indeed bare), and chanting, and cheers, and warm-up dances performed to "Istanbul was Constantinople," and my husband was basically another 7 year old camper in the mix. Dillo loved the robot and the gymnastics room and did a lot of running. It went too long and there were tears and recriminations as we left, and bedtime was a mess. But it seems like a good camp. Casper was in the mix and knew the score and jumped around like everyone else.
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The Dillo had his first full-on two-year-old-style tantrum the other morning. It was about clothing, natch (which was a Terrible Struggle with Casper often enough at this age.) I took off his shirt, you see. Never mind that he'd worn it the day before and all night (we don't do summer pajamas, really - it's diaper or tee-shirt and diaper, depending on temperature). He wanted to keep wearing it, damn it! I misjudged his level of ire, since he does sometimes put up a minor fuss at the changing of clothes (though more usually at the putting on part - he likes to be nakey) and this exacerbated the tantrum. A calming down session in his crib helped a little but not for long. It all went on until well past my departure for work.

So, while he is a mellow dude in some ways, he does have a temper on occasion.

He's picked up a lot of verbs lately, although he's not conjugating them, of course. He also has acquired two pronouns: my and mine, of course. He says "no" now, too, most usually when contemplating something he is not supposed to do or touch, he'll say, "No no no no no." He's talking lots more at school, and about his teachers. Miss Apryl was on vacation last week, and he told me so every evening at nursie time, "Apryl bye-bye." Yesterday he told Miss Apryl, "Apryl, I sleepy," before lunch. (Oh, hey, that's another pronoun!)

After a phase of several weeks when he wanted to sleep in our bed, he is back to sleeping in his crib. He did a funny sleep schedule switch a few times this week - down from bedtime (now often enough after 8pm - it's so damned light outside) until 12:30, then up to nurse, then sleeping in until 6:30!! I like this new routine, if that is what it is.

Casper is liking YMCA camp. Yesterday was the first Wacky Wednesday and the counselors all dressed as smurfs. This amuses me. Since I don't do the drop-off I have very little idea about what goes on, but mr. flea informs me that their morning assemblies are a marvel - the roomful of kids doing cheers with hand motions and such. Casper does some of the cheers at home - last night as I was digging iris with Dillo wrapped around my neck, she was riding her bike in the landlady's driveway and cheering, "You're Boom! You're blowin' up, you're blowin' up!" The YMCA does seem to be a little heavy-handed about pushing some of their values. Casper gave us a diatribe at dinner the other night about how we should always respect God, for example. But on balance it seems like a good place. I like the diversity and the energy of the counselors. I do worry about her being so little sometimes (though they have rising K and first grade together, so most of the time the littles are not mixed with the huge kids).
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Soccer last night was Casper taking her shoes off and showing her blue toenails to her coach, playing "take shots on goal" for about 5 minutes, declining the next practice-game and twining herself in the goal net for 5 minutes, then wandering about behind the bleachers and ultimately trying to play with the two 8-year-old big sisters for the rest of the hour. We asked her occasionally if she wanted to play but didn't push too hard. I am discouraged, though, and wonder if we should even keep showing up, if things are going to be this way. All the other kids were there and played the whole time; there was one girl who got upset towards the end and took breaks to cry in her mother's lap, but Casper was by far the least engaged. I also found out a lot of the kids are younger than I thought; Grady is just three, Ny is three, Amir is four (he looks the oldest of the lot).

This brings up all sorts of social anxiety in me, of course. Maybe Casper's just not a joiner. I am certainly not a joiner, but I wish I were a joiner, and I wanted her to do soccer so she would have a "normal kid" activity. I think right now we should make her keep going to the practices and the games, because of the obligation she has to her team, but not force her to play or participate, and not sign her up again unless she asks.

Names: The "Caitlin" is actually "Kaetyln" (sigh), and Ny is short for Tah-NY-ah (not sure how spelled). Siblings: Amir's sister is Naima (and a very very pretty 8 month old she is); Jimmy's older sister is Ingrid and younger brother is Gus; Santana's younger brother is Jordan.
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We attempted to explain to Casper, in 4.5 year old terms, what God was at dinner tonight. I told her I don't believe in God. She said that she does.

She also, as it turns out, thinks that God is female.

That's my girl.

+++++

In other news, the spring break YMCA day camp buses the kids to the other Y to swim every day. This is great, except Casper was delivered at pickup time wearing only a skirt and a velour cardigan. Apparently at the re-clothing time after swimming, Casper was unable to find her tights, shirt, and underpants. And nobody noticed or did anything about it; mr. flea noticed when he picked her up.

Not so good. They will be spoken to tomorrow (mr. flea didn't realize the extent of the problem until they got home.)
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I am so impressed by them, really. Their facility is a little shopworn, and they are clearly on a budget, but they really understand the community's needs - they provide after-school care, intersession care for year round schools, and summer day camps for the ENTIRE time school is out. The sports programs seem good so far, too.

For 10 weeks of full-day summer camp (1 week in August planned for the Cape), our costs look like $1802. Happily they only require a $25/week deposit up front, then it's pay by the month as you go, so if we do move in May and lose the entire deposit, it would only be a loss of $250 for the summer. That's decent insurance, if you ask me. Better than I was expecting, frankly. Ellie is going to do the summer camp; I should ask the twins' parents if they are, too.

Second soccer session tonight. We need to figure out how to work in dinner before practice, given the tight schedule. Last week was not ideal. Also haven't had a chance to buy shin guards or a ball yet.

Milestones

Mar. 20th, 2008 08:25 am
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We had our first experience with Youth Sports last night; Casper is starting soccer at the YMCA, with one-hour practices once a week and "games" on Saturday mornings. Her team is 3-PreK, about 12 kids, about evenly divided by gender. (Though, sadly, there were a couple of 2nd-3rd grade teams playing nearby, and both were about 85% male, so it looks like it doesn't stick.) Her coach seems good; he's a father of 4 and has been coaching for 10 years, and his youngest daughter is on the team. They did some dribbling - chasing the coach while dribbling, then chasing one of the kids in turn. They alternated with practicing taking shots on goal (with the coach defending). They also spend some time cheering and creating team spirit. Their color will be green, so they decided to name themselves the Monsters; when it started raining lightly they decided they would be the Rain Monsters.

Casper was adorable. She was shy at first and also trying to eat some dinner, since there was no time between when we picked her up from after school and the start of soccer. She got freaked out when the team yelled "Hello Casper!". She tended to get frustrated and discouraged when "her" ball got taken by someone else (after a shot on goal, or in the mixup of dribbling) and would put her hands on her hips and pout. She runs like a girl and isn't very coordinated, but then, she's my kid, the tallest on the team and hency gawky looking, and we have never done any sports with her. She kept up okay. Other kids had issues too, and came to sit with parents on the benches at various points, and the coach was good at noticing who needed encouragement and letting them score on him. He gave out lots of stickers, too.

So, we will be shopping for shin guards (the built in to socks kind are recommended, and are $4 at Target) and a size 3 soccer ball.

Dillo loved soccer more than Casper, if anything. He sometimes got into the mix but held his own. I cleverly brought ball-ball, so he'd have a ball of his own to play with.

In other milestones, Casper brought home a Junie B. Jones book from the school library, and mr. flea has been reading it to her. It seems to be providing a good opportunity to discuss social issues at school, and how to be a good friend and classroom citizen. mr. flea also finds it hilarious at times.

Dillo has been so consistently interested in watching us use the toilet that I have encouraged him to start playing with and "using" the potty we have. He sits on it fully clothed, with the lid down only. Opening the lid scares him a bit, and when he is naked and I suggest he sit on it, he is not interested. But he says poo-poo and pee-pee when we talk about the potty, and I tell him that when he is a big boy he will do these things on the potty. I am hoping to avoid the mistake we made with Casper, which I think was waiting too late and turning potty-training into somewhat of a battle of wills.

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