Category Archives: Kids


Tonight at bedtime I relaxed on my bed while the girls brushed their teeth, put on their pajamas and basically procrastinated the actual going to bed part.

Krystal came in and lay next to me on my bed.

“We don’t cuddle anymore, Mommy,” she said.

“I miss cuddling with you,” I said. And I realized it was true. She used to come into my bed early in the morning and we’d cuddle before getting up.

Then Belle came along, and our routine changed. Belle has one speed and it is HIGH. She is awake before anyone else in the house, and has strict instructions on clock-reading so she doesn’t start everyone’s day before a decent hour. Each morning — weekday, weekend, holiday, it doesn’t matterĀ  — she bursts into my room, often startling the dogs into a frightened bark, and always setting my own heart a-jack-hammering. I don’t need an alarm clock, I have Belle.

Belle is not a cuddler. She is a bouncer, a mover, a kicker – a tornado. There is no relaxing in bed once she has arrived. So she and I usually get up and take the dogs out, feeding them and doing any little morning things we need to do. Krystal is still asleep, or pretending to be, at this point. Any time for cuddling has passed.

I miss cuddling with Krystal, and at age nine her cuddling days with mom are in their twilight, I fear. I miss the cuddling Belle and I have rarely done because she’s wired differently. I have a friend who predicts Belle will be the one tweezing my chin hairs from my nursing home. Maybe our cuddling days are still ahead of us then, roles reversed.

Sleeping Rivalry

Picture if you will this scene:

It is about 4 am. An exhausted mom slumbers in her bed. Surrounding her are the family’s two dogs, cuddled as close as can be on either side, and also sleeping peacefully.

Enter one very frightened six year old who bursts into the room!

I’m not sure if she scared the dogs, or if the dogs scared her, but Belle was screaming and the dogs were barking and the sleeping mom (that was me for a time) was awoken with a start.

Belle had had a bad dream and wanted to sleep with me. I sleepily agreed, and we all, people and dogs, settled down to go back to sleep. We all got up normally (me a tad less energetically than usual). Belle was her usual on-fire self and there seemed to be no lingering affects from her dream.

Until her sister got up.

The first thing Belle said to Krystal was “I slept with Mom last night.”

Krystal called her on her motives immediately, “Are you saying that to try to make me jealous? Because it’s not going to work!”

Why oh why is everything a competition with these two?

Bye Bye Hair

Yesterday, December 20th, was the day Krystal had written “Bye Bye Hair” on the calendar. She’s been growing her hair out for a good year now, always with the end goal of donating her hair. Several of her friends have done it over the last few years, and for a long time she was excited about it. As her hair got longer though, she started to cling to the idea of long hair.

We woke up to snow yesterday, and rather than deal with it, we decided to postpone the donation by a day. Today after school we washed it, and headed off for the big event.

The “before” photo:

Sectioning the hair into ponytails for easier cutting:

She is really not so sure this is a good idea:

Showing off the goods!

She sulked in the car all the way home about how ugly her new hair was. I aboslutely love it and think she looks completely adorable. It wasn’t till we got home and she was able to really look at herself in the mirror that she changed her tune. She asked for this photo to be taken and the smile is genuine:

I’m so proud of her. She can always grow it out again and donate it again (and again, and again), but for now I’m really looking forward to not fighting with her over keeping her hair brushed and out of her face!

Music to my ears

We have a new nighttime routine in our family. Like most things, it sort of evolved slowly over time, but I’d say we’ve been living our current version for several weeks now.

It goes something like this:

I leave work and pick up one child. Usually Krystal is first, but depending on my schedule for the day it might be Belle. Either way, whichever child and I have an enjoyable enough drive to pick up the other child. Sometimes we share parts of our day, sometimes we talk about what is for dinner, sometimes we sing along to the radio. It’s nearly always a pleasant time.

Then we pick up the next child. Cue the ominous music now.

Bicker, bicker, bicker, bicker.

That’s mine! You did it! No, you did it! Get out of my backpack! Don’t touch my homework! Mom! She’s touching me! Make her stop looking at me! She pinched me! Copycat!

I am serenaded by this all the way home. It really puts me in a “coming home at the end of a long day” state of mind.

Once we get home it’s not any better because suddenly there are chores to do. I need to get dinner on the table. Dogs need to go out and get fed. Krystal has homework. Often laundry needs folding and putting away and of course there are always toys, clothes and whatnot to be picked up everywhere we look. Couple this with the duet my children play with each other and it’s a real recipe for stress.

But last night in the car, somewhere after a “Stop breathing at me!” from one child to the other, my hero intervened. Taylor Swift, singing “You Belong with Me” started wafting over the radio, and both girls were suddenly focused only on that song. They quieted down to hear it, and then joined in.

Music to my ears.

The Highs and Lows of Meeting the Teacher and New Math

I look forward to meeting the teacher each year at the Open House. Last night I got to meet Krystal’s 3rd grade teacher.

Now, for most of the past year, Krystal has been saying “I hope I get Mrs. C. for 3rd grade!” I heard it so many times, and I kept telling her that I was sure all the teachers would be great and that she shouldn’t get her hopes up for one particular teacher. Class lists were posted at the school the week we were away on vacation, so the day we came home we didn’t even go home first – we went straight to the school to check whose class she was in.

Of course, she didn’t get Mrs. C. She got Mrs. M. Tears ensued. It was not a great homecoming. (Plus, it was cold and raining! Insult to injury I tell you!)

On the first day of school (last week), Krystal came home saying it was a horrible day because none of her friends were in her class, and oh yeah, her teacher yelled at her. Yelled at her? She says it was for putting a chair up on the desk the wrong way.

Two days later she was forgiving Mrs. M. for the chair incident, chalking it up to stress on the first day of school. By day 5 she was declaring her love for Mrs. M. Phew.

My first impressions: Wow, Krystal’s school grows some tall teachers. Her 2nd grade teacher was quite tall, and so is this one – 5’10” I want to say. I loved her attitude, her apparent sense of humor and her honesty. She described the curriculum and said it is heavily weighted to reading, writing and math (the ole 3 R’s haven’t gone out of style!). She said any social studies or science they do is usually tied into reading and math. She even said, quoting here as best I can – “Our social studies program is a little weak. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say that.” I appreciate hearing that from her – I know she has to follow the guidelines she’s given, but it also gives me the chance to supplement it at home, especially since Krystal is interested in history and current events.

When talking about the math program, she said, “We use Everyday Math (which Krystal has been using since 1st grade) and a lot of parents hate it. The math is totally different from the way we all learned it.” The kids are thick into multiplication this year, which Krystal got a good head start on last year, but 3rd grade is the Year of Multiplication (or so I have deemed it). She said they use the lattice method to teach it. Hanging around the room were various things the kids had done in the first week of school, including a sheet on their expectations, hopes and dreams for the year. Krystal’s said she was excited about learning lattice math. So I asked her about it. Turns out she had no idea what it was, but thought it sounded cool.

So I looked it up. Let me see if I can give you a picture (you’re welcome to read more about it by following the link). Try this problem: 14 x 56.


Oh. My. God. What a mess! I get it…..but I don’t get why you would want to teach a child to use this method. It takes up a lot of scratch paper, way too much pencil lead and is confusing as heck! What’s wrong with the way I learned??

I suppose I’ll have to help Krystal work on her problems this way, but I think I’ll teach her my way too.

Crazy new math.

Well Blow Me Over and Stick a Pig in my Eye

Krystal and Belle are both attending the local YMCA day camp this summer. It is near our home and my work and is a (relatively) affordable option for full time care for them while I work. This is Krystal’s third summer there, and Belle’s first. Despite having to send them off in jeans and sweatshirts everyday for the first two weeks, they’ve both been having a great time. Krystal has been reporting major drama with the other girls in her group (oh, I am never going to survive the teen years!) but Belle, who I was originally worried about, has been having a BALL! She loves camp!

Every Friday at the morning opening ceremony each group designates a “Camper of the Week”. The other years Krystal has attended it’s been one camper for the whole camp, but this year the counselor(s) of each group, which consists of 8-10 kids, pick a camper, so there are a lot more kids getting this honor each week. As you might expect, this goes to the camper who has been the most helpful, with the best attitude, blah, blah, blah.

Two weeks ago Krystal was Camper of the Week and I was so proud! Her certificate (with our last name spelled wrong – oh well) is displayed with pride on our refrigerator.

Tonight when I arrived at camp to pick up the girls Krystal couldn’t wait to tell me that Belle was a Camper of the Week this week! I could not have been more surprised! And proud, of course! Her certificate, which also has our last name spelled wrong (oh well again!) is there on the frig now too.

Two Campers of the Week.

And one of them was Belle.


Real Sisters

Yesterday Belle came home from camp and announced:

“Beth [her counselor] asked if me and sissy are real sisters. I said yes, because duh, what else would we be.”

I was at once annoyed with the counselor for asking something so personal, and proud of my girl’s answer, even if she didn’t really understand the meaning behind the question.

Later, after dinner, I brought it up with both girls and asked if anyone else had ever asked if they were real sisters, and what did they think that meant. Krystal supposed it meant that they weren’t step-sisters or friends, but she clearly didn’t really have any idea*. I prodded by asking what sorts of things did sisters do? What let you know that two people were sisters?

The list we came up with was that sisters have the same parents (check), love each other sometimes (check), drive each other crazy (check and check) and are a family (check-a-rooni).

Yep, my daughters are real sisters, all right.

* I also explained what people really meant when they asked the question.