Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Continuing the day camp saga:

On Tuesday, C and I again arrived at camp. In a remarkable and unusual display of social skills, he sat down next to a counselor who was playing cards with two other kids and said "hi." The counselor ignored him. He said "hi" again. The counselor ignored him. The third time, the counselor looked over and sort of smiled at him. Then C asked how to play the game. The counselor ignored him. (He had no excuse now, since he definitely knew C was there and was not just a nattering little voice inside his own head.) I couldn't take it anymore and forced the counselor to acknowledge him- not that it was too helpful, since the counselor was apparently too hung over to be able to explain the rules of "War" in a coherent way. (One of the other five-year-olds was somewhat helpful, at least.) After the thankfully short game, I told C I was going to go, and asked whether he wanted to stay where he was or use the cardboard bricks, and he (unfortunately) stayed where he was.

Dan called the parks department as soon as I came home with my new report. The woman in charge of the program apologized, said that she had told them to be sure to introduce themselves, etc., and assured us that she'd meet with the staff that day and have words. (She also said something vague about "trying to make it better this year," implying perhaps that last year was pretty darn bad too. Hmm, maybe SUPERVISION would help?) She also asked Dan to call her again later in the week to report improvement or lack thereof. (Seems to me that she should go spy on her own staff if need be, but whatever.)

Today seemed slightly better in the morning; most of the staff were at least engaged with the kids, although many kids were still at loose ends and no one bothered to help them. Another parent was clearly annoyed, and I caught up with her as she left and asked her to also call the parks department so they realize this is a real problem and we're not the only ones who expect camp staff to at least feign interest in their jobs. It sounded like she probably would. I'm really hoping that the administration realizes that they need to have someone on-site who actually cares. (I'm also really disturbed that there haven't already been complaints- this is the third session of the camp. None of the other parents stayed more than five minutes, even on the first day, despite the clear lack of- well- anything positive.)

Moving on. A is sleeping worse than ever, but having a lot of fun crawling and pulling herself up during the day. She's trying a lot of new foods now that she's decided to eat; so far she's had rice, millet, sweet potato, banana, lentils, raspberries, blackberries, and tahini. (And tomorrow she can try the first summer squash from our garden!)

Last weekend, we went to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. We had beautiful weather, and the kids were reasonably well-behaved until the ride home (which was hellish, and that theme carried on through the night), but given our focus on child-management we barely got a chance to enjoy any of the music. So while we had a good time, I think we'll wait a couple years before trying anything similar again.

Monday, July 25, 2005

In addition to crawling more determindly, A is starting to point/ touch things with one finger- a precursor to using the thumb and finger to pick things up, rather than raking at objects with the whole palm of her hand. It's amazing how she's making enormous strides in both gross and fine motor skills simultaneously, especially since she's also making more and more sounds. (She's not saying "hi" like C clearly did by this age, but she MIGHT have said "mama" and "da-da" a few times. We like to think she did, anyway.)

C began a morning day camp sponsored by Bethlehem Parks and Recreation today. It was so poorly run that I almost didn't leave him there, but with kindergarten coming up, I was worried about setting a precedent of backing out before giving the program a chance. (We'll be fully prepared to pull C out of kindergarten if it's not working out, but we want him to go for at least a month before making that decision.) None of the teenage counselors (there was no one there over 20) there introduced themselves to either me or C, and none of them made an effort to engage C in any activity. I might have excused them since I was still there and they may have figured I wanted to work with him, but there were two other kids who clearly needed help yet were just left to stand by themselves looking hopeless and confused. After half an hour, despite C's protests, I forced a counselor to take charge of him and left (feeling horrible). Once at home, Dan suggested that before we decided to pull him out, he'd check it out again and see what was going on now that I was gone. The kids were on the playground and a school administrator let Dan into a classroom facing the playground so he could spy on the kids. C was trailing behind the counselor I'd left him with, talking continuously, so obviously doing okay. Probably in the hopes of shaking C, this counselor was actually engaging with the other campers. The rest were chatting amongst themselves, except one who was sleeping on a picnic table. (Keep in mind- this was the FIRST DAY of a camp session for PRESCHOOLERS. When I was a day camp counselor, I certainly had days I sort of blew off, but I was working with grade-school aged kids that I knew well enough to know if one of them needed attention.)

Expecting the worst when I picked C up, I wasn't surprised to find him milling aimlessly around the cafeteria where the camp is based. But when I brought him out to the car, he was in a pretty good mood- apparently someone managed to break through their apathy for long enough to organize a game of duck-duck-goose, which for whatever reason he loves. And he said, "Maybe we'll play it again tomorrow!" So despite the mediocrity of the program, we're hesitant to pull him out when he's willing to go- again, because of kindergarten coming up. (Which raises a whole lot of questions about whether we should even be considering sending him to kindergarten if we think a camp where the kids are ignored is suitable preparation for it, but we have another month to contemplate them.) After tomorrow, we'll decide for sure whether or not to keep him in; either way, Parks and Rec will be getting a call from us demanding that they monitor their employees better. (There was a grown-up supervisor at the camp I worked at, and it definitely made a difference.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A's newfound mobility is keeping us on our toes. It's been so hot that we haven't had the energy to completely babyproof our house, and we're not entirely sure how to go about it since her brother strews choking hazards in his wake wherever he goes. So I've just been sticking really close and, when she goes for something dangerous, distracting her until I can remove it. But the aforementioned brother has the right to play outside of his room, and A is already throwing fits when I keep her from devouring his Playmobils. (I plan to have him store them out of reach, but this is when he was actually PLAYING with them.) Removing un-baby-friendly temptations made it a lot easier to keep C from getting frustrated when he was little, but I'm trying to console myself by remembering that he was more often bored because he didn't have another kid to entertain him.

Until today, she's been only marginally interested in solid foods. Maybe she's burning off a lot of energy now, because she devoured all the rice and sweet potatoes we gave her, and threw fits until Dan gave her the black raspberries he'd been picking for the rest of the family. Looks like we'll be making big batches of baby food soon!

from our trip; hike up Balm of Gilead (few other photos cuz our camera died) Posted by Picasa

we baked many large cookies Posted by Picasa

the balloon pump is a big favorite Posted by Picasa

C opening birthday presents (note his 5 shirt) Posted by Picasa

pre-crawling baby Posted by Picasa

pre-crawling baby Posted by Picasa

flying the kite from Uncle Matt and Aunt Candace Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 17, 2005

home again!

We just spent a week at Twin Trees and had an completely delightful time. Overall, the weather was great (and certainly an improvement over the heat wave back home), we got to be outside a good amount, the bugs were bearable, and we loved getting to hang out with our friends who met us up there. C spent two nights with Nana and Ye-ye at Racquette Lake. He apparently had a wonderful time but we missed him. (Though I did not miss checking on him every 4 minutes for an hour while he fell asleep each night, or waking him up at midnight to give him a last chance to use the bathroom.) A learned to crawl for real now, and she's still pretty pleased with herself every time she does it. (Given her past developmental milestone patterns, that'll probably last about two days, when she starts to get frustrated that she can't walk. Gee, she's never satisfied with where she's at now, and always wants to be another step ahead. That doesn't remind me of anyone else in the family, nosiree; where could she have gotten that from?) The very first day she became semi-mobile, she started trying to take away toys from our 19-month-old guest. Can't wait to see how that plays out with C over the next few months....

The only real damper on our vacation was the travel. A screamed for large chunks of the trip both coming and going, and our trip home today took 3 1/2 hours (twice as long as it should) due to make-the-baby-happy stops (and she still screamed for about 1/3 of the in-the-car time). C was tired and whiny after such a busy weekend too, and at one gas station both of them were screaming. While I tried to get the pump to accept Dan's credit card and Dan tried to get A out of the car, the woman at the pump across from me started laughing, "They're both screaming now! Ha ha ha!" Not quite knowing how to respond to such a bizarre comment about a truly not-funny situation, I ignored her. (An assault charge would not have helped improve our day.) Anyway, A seems truly incapable of sleeping in the car, which means that she and I will probably not be able to accompany Dan and C on two long-distance trips they have planned over the next 2 months. We're hoping she'll improve after she's one and we can turn her carseat around.

Pictures will follow when the camera-keeper is able.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The weather did not cooperate for C's birthday party, so we ditched our outside-group-game plans the morning of and came up with several carnival-type indoor games to do instead- throwing balls in a basket, driving remote-control bumpers cars over Xes on the floor, getting timed on the Sit-n-Spin, etc. This change, however, solidified Dan's insistence that we needed plenty of dollar-store-plastic-crap prizes for all the kids. (Another party activity was decorating t-shirts, which I had bought to limit the plastic-crap we were handing out. Just the day before, C attended his friends' pirate party and was handed a bag of what is best described as garbage as we left, and I really didn't want to contribute any more to our local landfill. But I was overruled.)

Luckily it stopped raining so we could do the t-shirts outside. We had the kids lay leaves, stickers, cardboard cutouts, etc. on their shirts and I used a spray-on dye over them, so when it dried and we took away the decorations they were left with the image in white. Then Dan supervised an egg-in-spoon relay race and we brought out dessert. (C wanted chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. Could I go out and buy Chipwiches? Of course not! I spent forever making a double batch of enormous cookies from scratch and spreading ice cream onto them instead. They were excellent, I've been told- not that I could have any since A is still offended by dairy. And I'm not bitter or anything.) And then it was 3:00! Time to go home! We made it! And we're never having that many small children in our house again!

(Well, Ashley stayed until about 3:30. She wasn't actually invited; she's Megan's little sister. But she wouldn't leave. Dan said she could sleep under the pool table in the shed with the dog, and she was okay with that. But her mom ended up carrying her kicking and screaming to the car.)

A's been trying hard to crawl for the past couple weeks, but isn't quite there yet. She is able to sit up from a prone position now, though, and she likes to do that when she's supposed to be going to bed. So what used to be a 10-minute naptime routine has morphed into at least 25 minutes, and tonight nearly two hours. Given that she wakes up at least every hour in the night as it is, we're not too thrilled. She's been pretty cranky too, but doesn't seem to believe us when we tell her that getting more sleep would solve her problems.

Pictures are coming soon. Starting tomorrow, we will be spending a week at Twin Trees, so expect no updates until we return. (Should that be if we return?)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

now THAT'S a pancake... (black raspberry flavor of course) Posted by Picasa

C is thrilled to take nightly black raspberry walks lately. The railroad track-less trail provides plenty for all... Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 04, 2005

Overheard at playgrounds over the past few weeks:

a six-year-old humming Black Sabbath's Iron Man over and over again (I thought he was pretty cool)

"You are picking up ants? You're such a freak!" (said by a parent, and NOT in an affectionate way)

"Don't go in the sandbox. You'll get dirty." (heard at least 6 times, even when the sandbox was dry)

"Rich hurt his toe getting out of the pool. He doesn't like little people. Little people don't make him happy in his heart." (from a 3-year-old girl)

"My mom says babies are too little to sit on the ground." (from a 4-year-old, whose mother had clearly been talking about my dirt-covered baby)

"The doctor says that I need to feed him at night 'til he's four months old, so we have another month before we can let him cry." (no, I'm no making this up)

"Finish up your juice so you can have your gummi worms!" (the "juice" was, incidentally, Capri Sun)