Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of School, Part Two

It’s official. I’m the mom of two preschoolers. Today was String Bean’s second day of pre-K, and Peanut’s first day of preschool. It helps that with all of our pick-ups Peanut has gotten to know the school, the classroom, the teachers, and even some classmates who are now in her class with her. Today at her drop-off all of the teachers said hello and how excited they were to have her as an official student, even the ones who don’t teach her class. Certainly, a reception like that helps with the transition of being left in a class alone for the first time.

As expected, String Bean was a little moody as I said good-bye. She was tired this morning, and a little weepy before we even got in the car, and like with all new things, she’s shown a little resistance to her move to the Pre-K class. She managed not to cry, but just barely.

Peanut, however, seemed a tad puzzled about my leaving, and I had to explain again that from now on she’ll be in class without me. So she gave me a hug and a kiss, and watched me go, completely dry-eyed. Luckily, the one girl she adores (and plays with on the lawn outside every day we after we pick up String Bean) is in her class. So mostly she was just anxious for her little friend to finish her goodbye with her father, so they could play together.

At pick-up, Peanut’s teacher said she did fine. She also said, “She has a bit of her sister’s stubborn streak, doesn’t she?” Which made me laugh. If she thinks Peanut has only a bit of her sister’s stubbornness, then they got off easy. I asked Peanut if she had fun at school, and she said, “I played with so many friends!” which sounded like a yes to me. Then, when I was putting her down for her nap, she said, “I don’t want to sleep, I want to go back to school.” So, day one down, a success all around.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Little Gymnasts

On Friday one of our play group buddies had his fourth birthday. His mom threw a great party, for 20 (yes, 20) munchkins. She had the usual pizza and cake party staples, and she hired this very cool tumbling-gym-in-a-bus ( to entertain the kids. The instructor/bus owner sets up a circuit of gymnastics/tumbling areas (balance beam, rock wall, rings, hurdle, slide, ball pit, monkey bars, and even a zip line) in the bus, and helps each child master each apparatus, followed by a fun song and dance time. My girls loved it.

Peanut, always so fearless, led the way in every challenge, and what she lacked in skill she made up for in brute determination. It didn’t matter if she was a little small for some stuff, she tried it all, and loved it so much that I couldn’t get her off the bus. The kids were divided into 2 groups, because the bus couldn’t accommodate all 20 kids at once. But Peanut managed to finagle her way into both groups, so she got to go twice. I expected her to be a little wary of the zip line all of the kids got to do at the very end (which ran the length of the bus, from the front to the ball pit at the back), but she never even looked at me for reassurance, just grabbed onto the handle, tucked her little legs up, and ripped right along. She crashed into the ball pit, and came up with a huge smile. I can’t wait to get this kid on a roller coaster.

String Bean surprised me with her skill. She loves to dance, pretend to ice skate (socks on our kitchen floor), do pull-ups on her daddy’s pull-up bar, all kinds of athletic activities that show of her ridiculously long legs. But I’ve never really tried her out on gymnastics equipment. She was a pro at the balance beam and was the strongest one on the rings. The bus driver/gymnastics teacher asked if she’s already taken gymnastics, and when I told her she hasn’t, she said I should sign her up. She’s a natural.

It was a terrific party, a great time was had by all, and I even learned a few new things about my kids.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Day of School, Part One

Today String Bean starts her pre-kindergarten class. She’s at the same school, just moving into a new classroom, with a new teacher (but one she already knows, who has subbed for her class before), with mostly the same classmates, so it’s a big deal and it isn’t. She’s been complaining, during the break between summer classes and fall classes, that she misses her school friends and wants to go back. Of course today she cried at drop-off, even though her best little girl pals were already there, beckoning her to come sit with them for morning circle time.

I’m glad that even though she has her occasional tearful drop-off when she claims she doesn’t want to go to school, that overall she enjoys the experience, and complains just as much when it’s a school holiday. I’m also glad to have the morning alone with Peanut today, who will be starting school herself on Monday. We’ve spent the morning feeding her toy horses imaginary food and water, and just sitting together on the couch playing 200 questions (the main question being “why?” asked in response to every answer I give). I’m curious how she’ll do when I drop her off on Monday. And curious how I’ll do, on my first morning home without kids in four and a half years. After all these years I don’t remember what it’s like to be alone in my own home. Quiet, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One of Those Weeks

Last week started out a little rough, with String Bean in one of her snotty phases, where the answer to every question is no, and delivered in as sassy a tone as she can muster. I try to humor her as much as I can in these phases, reminding her of concepts like saying please and thank you, and explaining that it accomplishes nothing to scream at me for preparing her the exact lunch she requested, just because it’s on the blue plate instead of the red one. In quieter moments I talked to her about what was going on with school, with her dad being out of town, with the busy weekend we’d had where I knew she got a little worn out, trying to find the cause of the attitude. I never got specifics, but through these quieter talks, she slowly came back to herself, and we seem to be back on better terms now.

So then, of course, it was Peanut’s turn. One of the fun things about a two-year-old is all of the growing independence, the ability to accomplish certain tasks alone, the excellent communication skills to avoid misunderstandings. One of the least fun things is that they are two, which means that they have these moments where something is going on in their body or brain that renders them incapable of a coherent thought, action, or sympathy for the poor addled mother trying to figure out what caused this epic tantrum to burst out of nowhere. Peanut had at least one doozy of a tantrum each day for four straight days. We’re talking thrashing, head-banging, throwing, hitting, scratching, pinching, screaming herself hoarse, chasing me around trying to bite me tantrums. And considering what a sunny, peaceful child she is 99% of the time, these moments are pretty disconcerting. I know the solution is to ride it out, wait until she’s blown off some steam and calmed down enough to want my comfort, when she’s back to my loving girl who asks me to wipe her tears and hold her for a while. But knowing that in the end it will all work out doesn’t make the tantrums any easier.

So, last week was kind of a long, exhausting week. Yesterday was a better day on the tantrum front. Let’s hope the trend continues this week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Moving On

My step father passed away, quite suddenly, two years ago. It was a shock to all of us, left us all grieving in our own ways, but my mother, of course, was hit the hardest of all. Recently retired, poised to carry out a long list of post-retirement travel plans together, she suddenly had to envision an entirely different kind of life for herself.

Holidays haven’t been quite the same without my step-dad, who was one of those bigger-than-life joke-teller types. Always the loudest one in the room, holding court with a funny story, as well as one of the best cooks I’ve known. There’s a whole list of things my mother gave up doing after losing her husband, and one of them was celebrating her birthday. Each year I’ve offered to head up to see her, or have her come down to visit, for a little gathering, and each year she’s begged off, not wanting a fuss, not feeling up to doing much. Until this year.

Today is my mother’s birthday, and this time, when I asked if she wanted to get together to celebrate, she surprised me by saying what a great idea that sounded like. So, with less than 24 hours notice, I planned a menu, ordered a cake, invited some family and friends to join us for a celebration, and hosted my first real dinner party. Not a barbecue where hubby does most of the cooking, not a potluck where I only have to worry about a few dishes, but my first time preparing all of the food by myself. And it was a success.

It was great to see my mom, who is such a social person by design, back in her element, holding her newest granddaughter while catching up with friends, relaxing and enjoying an evening that was all about her, instead of working in the kitchen the whole time like she does for holiday gatherings. I’ve also noticed that she keeps talking about moving back to the Bay Area, to be near her grandchildren, into a smaller place that requires less maintenance, maybe into a retirement community where she’ll have a wider social circle. In short, I’ve noticed that she’s making plans for the future. I know that she still misses my step-father, and that she always will, but it makes me happy to see her moving through the grieving phase, and forward to a new, happier, phase in her life.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jewelry Making Girl

One of String Bean’s favorite projects at school is making necklaces. They have lengths of thin cord and an endless supply of beads that she simply cannot resist. It’s gotten so bad that we’ve got maybe twenty necklaces in a huge tangled mess in the toy box now, and every time she comes home with a new one, I return it in secret the next time I drop her off at school, to be disassembled and recycled. When I pick her up, and she runs to her cubby to fetch her artwork, her sweater, and whatever other treasures are waiting in there, her teacher will warn me with a good-natured apology if there’s a necklace coming, too.

I can tell the teachers are steering her away from the necklace station now, as she’s coming home with more artwork and pipe cleaner and paper cup flowers and other creative crafts. So, she’s taken the art of necklace making home. Now, I find my nail clippers threaded through a couple of pipe cleaners which are tied together with a rubber band, which String Bean proudly hands me and asks me to wear. She loves these pipe cleaner necklaces, and can string two or three of them together, complete with charms, also made out of pipe cleaners, dangling in the center. I find these on her, her sister, the dog, the rocking horse, every stuffed animal she owns, and hanging from every doorknob in the house.

Not that I’m complaining. I like all of her creative streaks, and even if I dismantle most of her projects when she isn’t looking, I coo and fuss over them whenever she presents them to me. I like any expression of artistic ability, and want to foster that side of her, as we all know the arts are getting cut left and right in schools. I also know that some of my favorite earrings were made by my very gifted jewelry-making friends and family, so I’ve got hopes that she’ll soon be making me not just nail-clipper necklaces to wear around the house, but beautiful jewelry sets to wear out and about.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I usually don’t even answer the phone between 6 and 8pm, because even though we’re on the big “do not call” list, we still get those pesky telemarketer calls. But tonight, since hubby’s out of town, when the phone rang just after dinner, I answered it, thinking it might be him. No such luck. But the man on the other end was polite, and asked me how I was doing, and because I was still lingering in chat-with-hubby mode, and was distracted by the Facebook Scrabble move I was in the middle of making, I said I was fine, then asked how he was doing. He stopped and said, “Well, I’m fine. Wow, I don’t get asked that very often. How nice of you!” I felt all warm and fuzzy, until he assumed I was making a commitment to his vague cause to support some group of unnamed kids with a $100 donation. When I told him I was sorry, but I don’t make donations without knowing more about a cause, he hung up on me. So much for the feel-good variety of telemarketer call. And he wonders why people never show him any kindness when he calls…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Courtesy Lives

Last week we met our play group at a park with a water feature for the kids. The girls love this place, with its fountain to rush under, and the terraced “stream” that runs down to a shallow concrete pond to wade in. We brought our buckets and shovels, for digging in the sand under the play structures, then for filling with water as the girls “washed” the rocks around the pond.

When String Bean needed to use the bathroom, I left the buckets in the care of one of the other moms as we headed for the restroom. A little boy, maybe seven years old, came running up behind us, to ask if we were done with our bucket, and if so, if he could use it. I told him we weren’t done, just taking a potty break, and the girls would want to keep playing with the bucket as soon as we finished in the bathroom.

“Sure, fine. But can I just use it for a few minutes, until you guys get back?” he asked. His pleading face was hard to say no to, and we were in a hurry, so I agreed, figuring if we never saw it again, it’d only be a dollar to replace it. As soon as we made it back to our play group, he recognized me. “You’re back. I’ll get it!” he yelled, rushing over to his friends, dumping out the wet sand they’d filled it with, and bringing it back to me. “We were making a sand castle inside the slide,” he said, pointing at a monstrous heap of wet sand inside the tube-shaped slide. “Now we’re going to slide through it!” And he was off and running, climbing up the play structure with his buddies.

The girls had a great time rinsing the sand off the bucket, until they noticed their matching shovel had disappeared. I followed the flow of the bricked-in stream, until I reached another young boy, about the same age, holding it over his head and waving at me. “Is this your shovel? Careful or you’ll lose it down there.” He pointed to the run-off pool at the bottom of the water feature.

Now, I don’t know who the mothers of these polite young men were, but whoever they are, I’d like to thank them. One thing I’ve noticed during our many park visits, especially during the summer, is that aggression and competition among school-age boys is rampant, and often little toddler girls get the brunt of it. I’ve seen my girls knocked down and run over. I’ve watched boys steal their toys then refuse to return them. They’ve had sand thrown at them, and water dumped on them without cause. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough that whenever older boys are dominating a play structure, I steer my girls toward some activity away from them. I’m happy to say that these respectful young men-in-training have restored my faith quite a bit. Thanks, moms, whoever you are. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mommy Do It

One of my kids’ favorite expressions, and their father’s least favorite, is “Mommy do it.” They say, shout, scream this whenever he tries to do any task that I normally perform in his absence (yes, this means just about everything). From buckling them into car seats to putting pajamas on them to filling their morning cup of milk, they lob this little demand around like it is a perfectly reasonable request. It frustrates hubby and I to no end. For one thing, he’d really like to help, and he’d like a little cooperation on their end when he tries to help. For another, I don’t want to have to do everything kid-related, and when he’s available to help, I’d love to have an extra set of hands pitching in, without all the fuss about dad pitching in. So why the big battle on letting Daddy help out? This has been going on for so long that we’ve just accepted it. We’ve tried every solution to getting past the “Mommy do it” demand, from forcing them to accept his help (often resulting in ridiculous tantrums that, in the end, hardly seem worth it), to bribing them to accept his help (“no dessert for girls that don’t let daddy change their diaper!”), to just giving in and doing the kid-related stuff myself, while hubby handles the dishes, toy pick-up, and various other non-kid-related chores. I don’t have any pearls of wisdom to offer on this as-yet unresolved issue. I just wanted to complain a little. I feel better now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My School

Last week, String Bean was talking about her school playground and the new spongy surface they just put down instead of tanbark. Peanut piped up, “And now it’s my play ground!” String Bean was quick to point out that it wasn’t, yet. Every time we drop String Bean off for school, Peanut asks, “Is it my school yet?” She has two weeks before she starts preschool, and while I’m feeling all sentimental about my baby going off to school with her big sister, she feels no such nostalgia for the good old days of hanging out with Mommy while big sis is off playing with her friends on the cool new play ground. Peanut wants to go to school, now.

Monday when I was signing String Bean in, Peanut looked around the classroom that’ll be hers in two short weeks, and said, “Is it my school today?” The teachers all laughed and promised it would be soon. So, I don’t anticipate any of the crying drop-offs we had with String Bean when she started preschool. I knew when I started sending her that it was to teach her some much-needed independence and that she wouldn’t like the lesson at first. But Peanut has been an independent sort since the day she was born. And while String Bean always needed a little nudge to approach other kids and make new friends, Peanut is always running up to other kids, older or younger, and flashing her big blue eyes and winning smile, waving her little hand and saying, “Come on! Come play!” and the kids come running. I have no doubt that she’ll do fine at preschool. And no doubt that I’ll be the weepy one at our first drop-off.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Personal Trainer

One of the nice things about my daughter is that she makes a great personal trainer. Just the other night, as I was attempting to read her a bedtime story, she turned to me and said, “Why don’t I color instead, and you can do some exercises?” She wasn’t content until I agreed to do my long-forgotten abs routine right there on her bedroom floor. When my stomach muscles started burning and I paused for a moment to rest, she looked up from her coloring with a stern expression and said, “Why are you stopping?” I had been planning to quit, but not liking the feeling of being judged and found lacking by a four-year-old, I started right back up. I kept at it until she pronounced both of us done, put away her coloring, and gave me a kiss goodnight.

I remember a time when I was little and my mother put me in charge of her diet. It was my job, as the kid with no interest whatsoever in food, to serve her reasonable portions and put away the rest of the dinner before she could go back for seconds. At the time I thought it was fun, despite being an added chore to my day, sort of taking on the parent role for a few precious moments each day. But now I get it on a deeper level. Moms have this way of holding themselves even more accountable when looking at themselves through their children’s eyes. After all, we aren’t just caregivers, we’re role models. Sure, it may just be a few crunches you hadn’t planned to do that day, but even still, why quit if you don’t really have to? I’d like her to grow up thinking of exercise as a normal part of any day. And thinking that you don’t quit just because you start getting a little tired.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mouse in the House

Okay, so it’s not really in the house, just in the garage, but having a mouse anywhere in the vicinity of our home is something I have a problem with. First off, we have both a cat and a dog, so what is the little bugger thinking? He’s probably thinking, “Hey, that dog and cat never come into the garage,” and that’s why he’s living in there. There is no food out there, we’ve made sure of that ever since the ant infestation that discovered an old bag of cat food out there, so what is our little resident mouse up to out there?

We’ve heard the tell-tale mammalian rustling sound in the corner of the garage behind the storage cabinet, and have seen the little poopy calling cards he’s left behind, and lost not just one, but both phone lines one night. We followed the trail of phone cords across the garage to find a row of neat, tiny teeth marks all along the cord, and a couple of places where the mouse chewed clear through our ability to communicate with the outside world. Enough is enough.

So now we have borrowed a fancy, expensive mouse trap from my father, and are waiting to get rid of this pesky problem. We re-routed the phone lines and have put up barricades to (hopefully) keep the little critter from venturing into the house in search of other phone cords to eat, or even tastier snacks. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dog Sitting

For the next ten days, we’re dog sitting one of our dog’s littermates. Now, just about the only thing more excited than a vizsla is two vizslas, so it stands to be an energetic and chaotic week and a half. The girls are looking forward to the dog chaos, as anything new and different holds some special allure at this age.

We’ve kept our dog’s big strong brother on several occasions now, so we’re all old friends and have a system down. First there’s the competitive feeding for the pair, where they race to finish their food just in time to race over and check their brother’s just-emptied bowl. Then there’s the trick of settling them down to sleep at night, instead of staying awake all night playing, waking the entire house with their high-flying antics and crashes into furniture—crate training is a must for any dog owner. And of course it’ll be great to see our dog so exhausted from playing all day every day that I won’t have to feel guilty for not walking him more often.

Really, the only member of the household who won’t be thrilled to see our dog’s brother return is the cat. But thanks to a run-in with our now-gone cat Alley, the 8-pounder who took on this rambunctious 55-pound vizsla visitor and left him with a Zorro-like tattoo across his chest, he has a healthy respect for (okay, call it fear of) cats.

So, let the wild dog-rumpus begin…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Glowing Stars

Peanut has had a packet of glow-in-the-dark stars in her drawer for a long time. Possibly since last Christmas. Today, as a means of negotiating some nap time cooperation, I put a few up as a reward for her getting into bed without a fuss. Then came the fuss. Because, of course, at 2pm, the glow-in-the-dark stars don’t glow.

First she demanded that I turn off the light. Then, when I showed her the light was already off, she demanded that I turn it “really off,” as in, turn off the sun, so she could see her stars glow. It’s a tough concept to explain to a two-year-old, this whole notion of things that glow all day, but can only be seen glowing at night, but I think she got it. But then at bedtime, when I wanted to leave her light on for a few minutes to charge up the stars, she demanded that I keep it off so she could see them glow, and we got to have the conversation all over again.

And then there’s the whole fact that it’s summer and it stays light so late that it wasn’t really dark when she went to bed, so she could just faintly make out a hint of glowing in the darkening room. But a couple of wonderful things about this girl, she’s got a terrific imagination and, for the most part, a great positive outlook on life, so she just looked around at the barely glowing stars and started giving them names. This one’s the mommy star, this one’s the baby star, that one’s the sister star... I snuck out and left her and her new stars to the business of getting to know each other.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Airport

We have a local airport here in town, where small planes and helicopters take off and land all day, right next to a nice little enclosed viewing area where the girls love to run and watch take-offs and landings. We took the girls over there this weekend, to watch them race around the fenced off area with their arms spread wide, mimicking the revving of an airplane’s engine just before takeoff, soaring around the viewing area for a few laps, before coming in for their own mock landing.

It was hot, and there is no shade there, so after about forty minutes of this the grown ups were ready to go, but the girls, red-cheeked and damp with sweat, had no interest in leaving. We had the place to ourselves, which isn’t unusual for noon on a hot, sunny summer day, but even when there are others there, far too often our kids are the only girls at the viewing area. Hubby and I both feel strongly about exposing the girls to male-dominated fields, reminding them repeatedly that they can be anything they want when they grow up. They’ll have enough people trying to limit them as they grow, we figure it’s our jobs to introduce them to as many possibilities as we can, encouraging them to seriously consider all of them, regardless of whether it’s mostly men or women who work in that field. The fact that String Bean’s life goal right now is to become a princess when she grows up notwithstanding. Surely she could be both a princess and a pilot.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Today String Bean looked at me and said, quite passionately, “I want to see the dinosaurs!” Thinking that she meant one of the many toy ones we have, or maybe one of the books about them that we own, I reminded her that she knows exactly where they are kept. She rolled her eyes, made that exasperated sound that my mother says sounds exactly like me, and said, “No, I want to see a live one!” I apologized for having given birth to her so late in the game that all dinosaurs had been extinct for 65 million years when she came into the world, but she wasn’t easily appeased.

While I have no means to meet this new demand of hers, and she doesn’t quite have the capacity to understand the mysterious extinction of an entire species, I have to admire her passion on the subject. When this girl wants something, she feels it with every ounce of her skinny little body. I hope she’ll keep this same level of enthusiasm up for school, life, career, love, and a few happy hobbies as she grows up. And I hope she never stops dreaming big.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Baby Brother

Tonight String Bean informed me that she doesn’t play with boys much at school, because she just doesn’t like boys all that much. I chuckled and told her that’s pretty normal for her age, but that she’ll like them more as she grows up. She considered this briefly, then said, “Except a baby brother. I would really like to play with a baby brother. He’d be so cute, and I’d be very good friends with him.” She gave me a knowing look (or knowing, for a four-year-old). Rather than telling her there’s no chance of that happening, as both hubby and I agree we’re done having kids, I just changed the subject.

I remember having my own phase of wishing for a baby brother. It was derailed temporarily by my parents’ divorce, but then resumed when my step-father moved in with my mom. But I never got my baby brother. Instead, I learned to stop fighting with my sister so much, and we became best friends. Since my girls are already best friends, I haven’t got that in the pipeline to satisfy her wish. Instead, I guess I need to get her a little more cousin time. Sure, her cousin is a girl instead of a boy, but at 4 months old, baby girls and baby boys aren’t all that different. And after that, we’ll just see if another cousin comes along (when my sister and brother-in-law are ready, although my sister is already saying she wants another baby, and soon is fine by her), and maybe it’ll be a boy, the kind of boy String Bean thinks she’d like to play with and be very good friends with.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Every Day is Halloween

Luckily, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It isn’t a tough one to love as a kid, all that candy and getting to wear fun costumes and getting to stay up late all amped up on a couple of pounds of sugar. But if Halloween is the day after your birthday (as it is for me), it’s even easier to love. Picture a night of presents, cake, ice cream, and staying up late to play with new toys as you celebrate being one year older. Now picture waking up the next day, a little sad that your birthday is over, only to remember that today is Halloween. I always felt like I had a two-day birthday growing up, and the first part was just for me, and the second part was when the rest of the world got in on the festivities.

Birthdays aren’t what they used to be, and neither is Halloween. Once you have kids, so much more is about them than you. I’m lucky if I can get a sitter for a dinner out for my birthday, and I no longer host the pizza, tarot reading, and horror movie party I did for ten years on Halloween. Now Halloween is all about the kids. And, luckily, the kids are all about Halloween.

We have only two kids, and at 2 and 4 years old, they’ve only had a few actual dress-up and go-out Halloweens between them. Yet we somehow have acquired about eight Halloween costumes, plus a vast assortment of dress-up outfits. The girls manage to wear almost every one of these costumes each week, sometimes four or five of them in a day. Sometimes it’s fake-Halloween to them, and they’ll trick-or-treat for their breakfast or lunch from me. Most times it’s just time to pretend they’re a dog, ladybug, lion, Tinkerbell, witch, ballerina, Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz)…you get the idea. And I wholeheartedly approve. Of them playing dress up, and celebrating the second part of my birthday, every single day.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Shark Week

This week is shark week on the Discovery Channel. I’ve long been fascinated by sharks, especially Great Whites, so I tape a lot of shows during shark week, watching them after the girls are safely in bed, so as to avoid subjecting them to any gruesome footage.

But then Peanut saw an ad for shark week, and now is demanding to watch the “shark show” over and over, all day long. So now I’m pretty much taping the whole endless array of shark-related shows, pre-screening each show to see if it’s about people being viciously attacked or just cool stuff about these perfectly streamlined top predators.

I like that, without any prompting from me, she’s also fascinated by these creatures. I can’t say why I’ve always loved sharks, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love them, so it’s possible my interest started around the same age. I also think it’s important that she get the positive image of sharks, as misunderstood and over-fished animals who need protecting, before she sees Jaws and gets the flip side of fearing them and wishing they were wiped off the planet.

I guess in that way it’s a little like everything about parenting. Load them up with the facts as young as you can, so when the other stuff comes they’re not swept up by fears, or myths, or propaganda. I’m not quite sure yet how to take all of that on. So this week we’ll just focus on sharks.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Last Month of Summer

It’s August now, which means that at the end of the month, four-year-old String Bean will start her pre-K class (sort of advanced preschool), and two-and-a-half-year-old Peanut will be starting preschool for the first time. On the one hand, it means I’ll have a little more alone time, on the two days per week that they’re both in school for three hours. On the other hand, it means that my baby is definitely not a baby anymore, and this makes me feel a little sad.

My husband and I both agree that Peanut is in one of her most adorable phases right now: still perfectly lap-sized, with pinch-able hints of toddler chub in her cheeks, able to communicate clearly and walk everywhere by herself, and past the worst of the terrible-twos, but not sassy yet. She’s ticklish and giggly and excited about everything (except food), she loves to sing and play make-believe, and she’s a little bundle of joyful energy and enthusiasm, who laughs more than the rest of the family combined.

So, of course, what I’m saying is that while I can’t wait for those extra hours of freedom per week, I really don’t want to spend any less time with her. At least not until this very cute and agreeable phase of hers is over.

Swim Girls

We had our last play group gathering at a beach-type pool nearby (Contra Loma in Antioch, for those in the Bay Area). They have a large, shallow pool, with a nice sand bank on one side, perfect for young swimmers and tots who can’s even walk yet but know how to sit on sand in shallow water and splash up a good time.

The girls were thrilled to wade and play with their play mates in chest-high water, and were equally excited to wear their life vests and water wings (not at the same time) and try out the deeper water. There were lifeguards on duty who spent most of their shift yelling at kids to stop throwing sand (not to mean that the kids there were out of control, but to point out that the mass of little swimmers kept it safe enough that the lifeguards had little else to do but scold the sand-throwers).

Hubby came with us, which means I actually got to socialize with my friends a bit (not always possible at play dates, with two girls to watch who are always running in opposite directions). My sister, now at the tail-end of her maternity leave, and her 4-month-old baby came, too, and a good time was had by all. The girls had a tough time choosing between staying in the water and camping out under the beach umbrella next to their favorite baby in the world, and we had to drag them out of there screaming for more swim time and more cousin-love time. They were good and tired after all that, so we had successful naps and early bed times. It’s a bit too far away to go on a regular basis, but that’s not stopping the kids from asking every day if we can go back.