Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mowing Us Over

As much as we comment that Laura thinks and acts differently than the other two, she is following the similar pattern of being more verbal than physical. She didn't crawl particularly early, and at 14 months is not walking independently. She has always been chatty and now has half a dozen or more words (uh-oh, hi, yeah, wow, daddy, bye), and she loves to mimic sounds and especially singing. I'll confess I'm a little surprised that she hasn't started saying "no" yet, but I suspect once she starts, she's going to love to say it.

She also loves her mower. I think she really can't wait to walk, but insists on doing it on her own terms and thus refuses to do so while holding our hands. But she'll push that mower forever, either to get somewhere around the house, or up and down the neighborhood sidewalks. After absconding with some snacks out of the pantry, it seemed she thought it would also work as a getaway vehicle. She should thank Amy P., who passed that thing along back when Danny was learning to walk (a feat he did not master until 16.5 months - kind of hoping Laura moves a little faster than that).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Danny's Winning Loss

Just this morning, while on a lovely walk, Crystal and I were commenting how different our children are from their siblings. Today turned out to produce another prime example. When my carpool dropped the kids off this afternoon, she said, "Danny, tell your mom your big news!" He immediately opened his mouth and showed me a very wiggly bottom tooth. This was quite a surprise, as we had no idea his tooth was at all loose. He was supremely proud of this, and asked if I thought he'd lose it soon. Yes, I said, although I wasn't sure it would happen today.

He proceeded to spend some time playing, occasionally stopping to feel his tooth. Soon after, he commented that maybe with the help of a napkin it would come out. I said that was likely, and he then asked if I would help. I agreed, assuming that he would chicken out after I first touched it. Or not: I gave it a solid twist and tug, he held quiet and steady, and lo and behold it popped out! He was thrilled, and immediately began dancing and jumping around the couch. I could tell he wanted to share this news. His jaded big sister wasn't really impressed enough, so we luckily caught Daddy on the phone. I wish I had taken a picture of him telling Tim, because it was priceless.

This was all a far cry from Clare's first tooth loss. He continues to proclaim his excitement. I can tell this is one of those epic big kid moments to him, as he told me at bedtime, "I wish tomorrow was Monday." As this is a Friday night, these are not words I am used to hearing from him! He is SO eager to share the news with his teacher and classmates. May he always treasure life's moments.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Grocery Cart That Keeps On Giving

Few toys have stood the test of short attention spans, at least as far as baby/toddler toys go. When I bought this grocery cart and groceries for Clare way back when she was 21 months old, I had no idea that three children would get so much entertainment from them! I don't have any pictures of Danny playing with it, but I know he did (and occasionally still does). And as you can see, Laura definitely enjoys it. As her Grammy declared, she looks just as happy as her Grampy does when he's in the real grocery store.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Edumacation, or What's Another $8K?*

*sponsored post

Let me begin on a defensive note. Danny is doing very well in school. He is, according to his teacher, "an amazing reader," and also "the sweetest boy I have ever met." He has only gotten in trouble once at school, for talking out of turn. He has lots of friends and clearly enjoys his days.

Danny is also one of the very youngest in his class. In two weeks he will attend a classmate's 7th birthday party, while he himself will not turn 6 for another two months. In these parts, it is increasingly common for parents to hold their children back, particularly the boys. The official cut-off date here is September 1, which essentially means that if your kid is born past May, you're either waiting a year, doing two rounds of Kindergarten (preschool and then elementary school versions) or, as we are about to embark on, undertaking Pre-First Grade.

What, you ask, is "Pre-First?" In lighter moments, veteran parents joke that it's where your child goes when they fail Kindergarten. But as I have learned from being on the flip side of things, there's a sensitive spot in our hearts that objects to this idea of failing (see above litany of Danny's achievements). Danny's teacher substantiates this, too, assuring me that if CKS did not have a Pre-First program, he would not repeat Kindergarten but would move ahead. She just believes, largely due to his age, that he would struggle a bit in First Grade and would benefit from additional time to develop his fine motor skills as well as his emotional maturity. From conversations I've had with many parents whose children have gone through the Pre-First program, it's an incredibly positive experience, with a marvelous teacher who keeps them stimulated, motivated, and guides them into true leaders.

We believe Danny has a lot of leadership qualities, as well as some sensitivity and goofiness that perhaps need to be ironed out. I think it must be like the decision many parents make when determining whether or not to hire a tutoring company for their child. We don't doubt his abilities, but rather want him to maximize his potential. I will admit to some disappointment that he hasn't completely dazzled his teachers and peers, but then I remind myself, "not yet, anyway."

At the end of the day I'm most concerned with raising respectful, loving children. From what I can tell, we're well on our way to that goal. If they're stellar scholars in addition to that, terrific. If I know we've done what we can to make them feel confident in their abilities and motivated to try their best, then we've done our best.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Tale of Two, Er, Three Valentines

It's time for the annual installment of comparative valentines. In the category of "valentines to give," Clare is holding the steadiest with another round of home-made cards, once again lovingly crafted with supplies from Target's Dollar Spot.

Danny, meanwhile, whizzed right past the Ninjago and Star Wars cards and honed in on some with a sports theme. He had two sets to choose from, but he ultimately went with ones that turn in to actual games (think paper football). He is, truly, all sports, all the time.

Laura will not be distributing cards this year. I'd say she might give out kisses, but she seems to have bypassed that particular trick and moved right on to biting. That's what menaces do.

When it came time to make my selections for the kids, I had it easy with Danny. Since he pounces on Tim's Sports Illustrated every week, I signed him up for a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids. I also found him a Ready Freddy book that features, among other (likely thin) plot lines, an attempt to play on a pee wee hockey team. Our living room is frequently littered with hockey sticks and footballs. Sigh.

I wasn't sure what I would choose for Clare, but knew I'd hit on the right thing when I found it. Now that she's growing out her hair, I have made it clear that she cannot simply let it hang in her face or I will take her for a cut, pronto (sometimes I sort of relish being harsh. Is that wrong?). Good old American Girl came through with what looks like a cute book on hair styles. She also has expressed more interest in cooking lately, and is intrigued by all things international, so I'm hoping she'll enjoy this kid's cookbook featuring different countries' cuisines. Lord, grant me the patience to let her actually concoct from the book...

Yes, I even found a book for Laura. We're making small strides with her interest in reading, so I chose a classic that disappeared sometime after Danny's toddlerhood. The flashing lights at the end won't hurt, either.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's In a Day?

I often wonder how many people wonder what I do all day. I'm surely flattering myself that anyone gives me that kind of contemplation, so in all likelihood it's my superego at work. To his credit, Tim has never once asked me this, nor do I honestly think he ever will, but sometimes I feel the need to be prepared to answer it just in case. Or maybe it's just a fun writing exercise.

On most days, in no particular order, I:

• spend far too much time on my phone/computer/iPad. This blog would be Exhibit A, closely followed by my profile on Facebook.

• spend what I consider a healthy amount of time exercising, but probably too much time obsessing about how I will work it into my day.

• am trying to spend more time cooking healthy food, and a little less time drinking coffee. This can be a thankless task, especially when faced with a child prone to tossing food on the floor if she doesn't care for it or has simply had enough.

• spend a lot of time in the car. So much that it occasionally makes me weep. But then I take a deep breath and recognize that I am blessed to have a car, the resources to pay for endless amounts of gas, not to mention the ability to send our kids to the school and activities where we want them to be, regardless of where they are in relation to our home. Still, it's a lot of driving.

• volunteer at school, and witness Clare's restrained delight as the art teacher holds her sculpture up to the class as an example. Then I drop in on Danny's lunch and revel in the genuine delight that lights up his face as he sees me enter the cafeteria, quickly followed by lots of hugs and happiness.

• meet up with friends. I am blessed with many and don't see them all as often as I'd like, but I enjoy trying.

• monitor homework, enforce rules, and fill out the endless number of forms parenthood requires.

• do laundry, loads and loads of laundry.

• load and empty the dishwasher, and load and empty it again. And again.

• grocery shop, and run other errands. Sometimes these are fabricated to give me something to do outside of the house.

• continuously tidy up baby toys and the kitchen and fantasize about my kids playing with and eating invisible items.

• play hockey, and football, and basketball, and soccer. All of it pretty badly, but well enough for a little boy just looking for a willing and warm body.

• usually shower.

• watch Laura. Not just take care of her, I mean I really watch her (well, okay, except for the times I don't because I'm computing or texting, so she puts little Legos and Playmobil pieces in her mouth that I later have to fish back out). I often take a photo of her while I'm watching her, because it's all so fleeting, and I'm trying to capture every minute of it for myself, and for the family who doesn't get to see her daily progress. Some of these minutes are really boring, and I wonder how many more of them I can endure before it's time for her nap. And then she stands by herself for a moment, or says "wow" for the first time, or even just smiles at me. Only my memory can really capture these things.

• am grateful.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Catholic School Kids

This past week was Catholic Schools Week all around the country. CKS really gets into the spirit of this and offers lots of fun, affirmative, and faith-based events that make it memorable. We have the recognition awards, where each child is recognized out loud, individually by their teacher and then awarded these certificates:

We have the inevitable but always appreciated letters of gratitude:

And on Friday we had Blue & Gold Day. It's so convenient that CKS shares the same school colors as ND, isn't it? Danny knew well in advance what he planned to wear for Blue & Gold Day, and asked me almost every morning if it was the big day. He couldn't wait to get to school to show off his jersey (and was thrilled to find another K boy in an ND jersey, too).

I think what I enjoyed the most about this week was listening to Clare and Danny chit-chat about the days' events at dinner. The evening after the Georgia Tech Laser Fest they were abuzz, comparing notes on which laser-related item they thought was coolest. They eagerly speculated about which team they would root for in the 8th Grade versus Teachers volleyball game. And they loved being secretive about their grade's cheer for Spirit Day (it's a school-wide competition between grades).

Starting with our own parents, we're continuing quite a legacy of Catholic education. It's not cheap, and it requires a lot of time in the car, but it's well worth it. Just look at these two!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


There are so many charming phases of babyhood, aren't there? The ones that keep us coming back for more, like sleeping on our chests, cooing adorably, or offering dazzling smiles that all the cameras in the world couldn't adequately capture. These are the things we post about on our blogs, in our scrapbooks, or even update on Facebook. The stuff we choose to remember.

Then there are the "This, too, shall pass" moments that we conveniently forget about after a while, such that when they resurface you swear your other children were never like this. Maybe that's just a phenomenon specific to mothers, as dads never seem to wax quite as poetically about babies, and Tim is quick to assure me that all of our babies went through the needy, clingy, fussy stage that plagues Laura (and me!) of late. Wow. There is no pleasing her, my left bicep is overly developed, and I have missed 50% of what Clare and Danny have tried to tell me the past several afternoons thanks to Laura's caterwauling (knowing those two, though, you know I've still heard plenty).

We've diagnosed her with the classic frustration of not being able to communicate, or walk, with the added issue of not wanting to share my attention with anyone else. Good times. I get this view a lot lately:

All is not lost, however, as she still cheerfully does this:

and this:

As we repeatedly tell her, it's a good thing she's cute!