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We're in Week 7 of the summer this week - there are 11. The last one is the camp-free week, which I am taking off, but it looks like mr. flea has no vacation for, so maybe his mother and his sister and her kids will come down (his father has jury duty, which I'd have thought you could postpone for a family vacation, but he's not that kind of guy.) All up in the air, mostly.

This week Casper is at her second non-YMCA week camp - the local nature center, run by the city. She wasn't as wild about it as I'd expected - she was much more enthusiastic about the first day of Zoo Camp. Her friends the twins are there, but have been for several weeks so have a regular gang, and S. didn't sit with Casper at lunch. (In Good Save news, a friend of hers from Zoo Camp is there this week, and sat with her.) Her small group is all boys but her, and nobody interesting she says, and her swim buddy is a girl she knows from school but thinks is weird. I emphasized that she needs to be friendly to swim buddy girl just like she wishes S. would be friendly to her.

She's had a good social summer up to now, and this was supposed to be the highlight, with her close friend, but oh well. She's made good friends this year at the Y (so strange to have met none of them) and has successfully navigated some mean girl social stuff there (a girl told her her parents have stupid jobs - that girl's parents are apparently a musician and a tattoo artist. So sue us for not being hipsters!)

Dillo does okay at the Y, but he's not very happy. Like with school, he would much rather be at home, and tells me so. Several boys - at least 5 (Clayton, Michael, Eli, Cooper, and Baptiste) - from PreK - are at the Y too, but they are all already 5 and in the older group. He is with the little dudes - they have nap time! (Dillo hasn't napped in YEARS). Every Monday (this week, Tuesday) I have to use all my persuasive powers to get Dillo to go to the Y successfully. Luckily I am damned good.

He's also had a couple of evenings when he's overtired, and at bedtime segues into a litany of worry and fear and complaint about the upcoming kindergarten. He is afraid of homework (which they do not have in K, and he knows). He once wailed, "They are going to teach me to SPELL!" and it was all I could do not to laugh. I have talked about the cool K teachers (teacher assignments aren't until right before school starts) and how he will have some old friends from his PreK class and some new friends, but he isn't buying it. He's started to ask me to homeschool him, though not in so many words. Poor guy just doesn't like change, and doesn't like organized stuff, and wants to do his own thing. I hope we get the teacher our PreK teacher recommended, who is said to work well with the independent. He used to like school...
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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.

Summer Camp

Apr. 2nd, 2011 01:19 pm
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So, we agonized and decided to send Casper to summer camp at the local nature center for a few weeks, with her friends.  Dillo will be at the YMCA all summer. (That was a very short version of the agonizing. There were other issues.)

Signup started at 9am.  Due to some printing problems, mr. flea didn't leave the house until close to 9:30.

He came home at 12:55.  He was number 144 when he got there; apparently people started lining up at 6:30, they started giving out numbers at 7:30, and they started taking applications at 9.  We got one of the 3 weeks we wanted, and are on a waiting list for the others.

SERIOUSLY?? I really hate this shit.  It's the worst part of parenting for me - the constant striving and anxiety about getting your kid into the best thing, and is it enriching enough.  It's all upper middle class status- and class-anxiety, and I hate it.
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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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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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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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Allowing your 5 year old to watch 2+ hours of TV after she gets home from all-day activities that involve new people and/or physical extertion: allowing a necessary brain- and body- rest, mindless vegging of the sort that many adults enjoy, or allowing child to get away with murder while justifying my own laziness about not making her do other stuff?

juggling

Jun. 1st, 2009 06:57 pm
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Casper is attending Camp Invention this week, which is on campus. Camp goes from 9-3:30; registration started at 8:30 today. Today Casper and I got dropped off at my work at 7:45, left my work at about 8:10 to make our way down the camp, which is in a building at the other end of campus (I intended to walk but forgot how slow children are; we took the bus after walking 1/3 of the way). I registered her, chatted with an acquaintance, and booked it back up to the Main library. Then I worked, then left work at 3:15, got a bus after waiting 8 minutes (it was 90 degrees by then, no fun walking at my pace for 20 minutes), back down, picked her up, bus back, we got to my office by about 3:50. I set her up on the computer of my coworker who was out today, and she did a little playing with Teletubbies. I had to go over and help her figure out what to click approximately every 3 minutes. I got my one email drafted and mailed. We left at 4:55 and went to get picked up.

Tomorrow and Thursday a friend is taking Casper home after camp, because I have 3-4 and 3:30-5pm meetings. Because the friend has a swim lesson at 6, we have to be prompt at picking Casper up right at 5. No, I have no idea how I'm going to go to a meeting that lasts until 5 and then be across town also at 5.

I was mentally exhausted and stressed out all day about this (and also, again, still, about the stupid vacation we are having to take in 4 weeks, and money). This is why I like the YMCA, because they run from 8-6.

Also, my bedroom will never be painted at this rate. Also also, my son will be 3 in six weeks and still have NEVER peed in the potty. Am I going to fail at potty training TWICE?
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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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I broke out shorts this afternoon while mowing the lawn (unsuccessfully; we need to borrow a power mower) and am stunned by the Blinding White Legs of Springtime. I am pondering one of those self-tanners that are sort of lotion and build up gradually (because I fear The Orange). Anyone got a recommendation? I don't want to look tan, just not, like, hurt people.

We had a day yesterday of errands - visited all three historic cemeteries in town (that I know of): Old Athens (1802-1892), the main cemetery for everyone for the first half-century of town, Oconee Hills (1856-now), the fancy 'suburban' cemetery inspired by Mount Auburn and full of Victorian pathos as well as modern monuments, and Poplar Grove, an African-American cemetery in use from the late 19th century to as late as the 1970s, and only recently surveyed and cleared of brush. There are photos of the first and last at flickr; Oconee Hills asked that we not take pictures.

Then we signed Casper up for the YMCA camp, saw lots of faces I recognized, though no friends of Casper's.

We went to the nice independent kitchen store and bought a fancy blender so we can make smoothies instead of buying them for big bucks (and this morning it occurred to me we can make frappuccinos!). Online recipe recs, or favorite blends, anyone? Dillo basically ran amok (no nap). Then to the grocery store, where they were nearly sold out of Easter candy the day before Easter (WTF?) and picked Casper a beta, which she named Rosalina.

Today more quiet, at home, except mr. flea took Dillo out from a "drive" to make him nap, since he was crazy boy again. We've dyed eggs, made and frosted a bunny cake, had an egg hunt in the yard, and are prepping our fresh ham roast to go in the oven.

I leave you with Casper's really incredible bedhead:
boy will we need detangler

ugh

Apr. 7th, 2009 08:42 am
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You know how sometimes you suddenly feel like crap (mentally) for no logical reason? The trigger today is a Facebook conversation, continuing the conversations at the school playdate and birthday party last weekend, about the summer camp scramble. All the other families spent hours this weekend waiting in long contested lines for all the best summer camps, and all they could talk about was how stressful it has been and how so many more people are signing up for camp this year, perhaps because they are not taking long vacations because of the economy, and would they get a spot? We didn't have a lot to say in any of these conversations. Because we are going with the YMCA, whose sign-up starts this weekend. Because the in-demand camps are not full-day and don't cover the whole summer, and since we both work full-time, we need something that does both. (Also, several of them don't take kids who aren't yet 6, which Casper won't be until after school starts in August.)

So, totally irrationally, I suddenly feel like THE DORKIEST GIRL IN THE SEVENTH GRADE. Ugh.
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-what do do about my dentistry. Mouthgard, crown, not covered by insurance. Wisdom tooth pulling, covered (but cheap). Fillings, sorta covered. Switch dentists? Order of doing things? Scheduling?

-summer family travel. Have booked tickets for May wedding. Trips under consideration: Cape Cod late June; Sandusky OH? some time. Temporal factors to consider: my class 7/7-8/10; Casper school starts early August.

-summer camps for Casper. One week booked. Three options known (YMCA, county gymnastics-y camp, campus day care center camp). Leaning YMCA but feeling like bad middle-class parent if we choose it (least enriching.) Casper's peers are mostly 6 so have more options (most local camps are for 6+ and don't run a full work day).

-money balancing: new car will be likely in next 2 years, possibility of house projects (roof, porch, etc.), better to pay off student loan than invest right now? How to decide what is most important?

Gosh we are bad at decision-making.
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mr. flea and I had lunch together outside in the 75 degree sun and tried to make some decisions. Then dropped by home to pick up the forgotten cell and saw adorable children not yet running amok on their grandmother.

Plans made (I think):

Memorial Day weekend in New England. May 21-25. Brother's wedding 5/23 (our anniversary is 5/24); need to plan some other activities. Discuss staying with mother but also maybe B&B it. Probably too short a trip to leg it up to Machias ME. Annoyingly, last week plane tix were $160 and this week they are $300.

Easter weekend in Ohio (April 10-13)? mr. flea is tasked with this. Plane tix to Cleveland are $180 today. Not sure what city we'll be in though.

June 27-July 4 in MA (Woods Hole). Plane tix can wait; today they are $207.

This means summer for Casper would look like:

Last day of school May 20 - to MA
May 26-29 YMCA (short week)
June 1-5 Camp Invention on campus? (With S & A; short days, but we could work it out)
June 8-12 YMCA
June 15-19 YMCA
June 22-26 YMCA
July 6-10 YMCA
July 13-17 YMCA
July 20-24 YMCA
July 27-31 YMCA
August 3-5 - need something
August 6 - first day of school.

YMCA Camp open house is 4/11; regular registration starts 4/13.
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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.

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