Mystery Bag

October 24, 2010

A few weeks ago at a family party, our cousin Cara was talking to Charlotte. Rather than asking Charlotte about school (which she figured everyone was asking her about), she asked her about her summer instead.

Charlotte had no problem redirecting the conversation back to school, her topic of the day, week, month, and pretty much year. She launched into an enthusiastic and detailed explanation of ‘Mystery Bag,’ her favorite school activity. (Normally, when asked to identify her favorite anything, Charlotte’s response is “everything” or “all of them.” But in this regard, mystery bag is the hands down favorite.)

In Charlotte’s kindergarten class, the teacher distributes the aforementioned bag to a different student each day (alphabetically), along with a clue sheet to be filled out. The lucky student is charged with bringing the bag home, inserting a mystery item, completing the enclosed clue sheet, and bringing the bag back to school the next day.

At the appointed time during school, the teacher reads off the clues one by one, giving students in the class a few chances to guess what’s in the ‘Mystery Bag.’

At the time of the conversation with Cara, Charlotte had not yet had her turn with the ‘Mystery Bag.’ By virtue of her last name, her turn would come after most of her classmates had already had his/her time. She was very excited at the prospect of finally being able to create the mystery, and there were numerous discussions of what she would choose to put in the bag without a final decision being made.

About two weeks ago, I got a phone call from a very excited little girl right after school. Apparently, one of her classmates was sick and another one was out for some other reason, so Charlotte got the ‘Mystery Bag’ early. Immediately after getting off the bus, she informed her mother of the situation, walked into the house (with great purpose), and made a beeline to what she had decided would be her mystery item – her bath book, a small, vinyl picture book (in this case, Rainbow Fish) that can be taken into the bath tub.

That night, she filled out the clue sheet with great care. My favorite clue:  “it’s rubber and squishy” (talk about a red herring). The final clue was a giveaway (to a degree): “something you read.”

The next day, she was pleased to inform us that her classmate Joseph had guessed “a book” on the last clue (which was close enough). Mystery solved!

Mystery Bag #2

Another mystery bag in the Putney house is Luke’s backpack (this mystery remains unsolved).

I don’t think he’s opened it more than two or three times since he got it during back to school shopping at the end of the summer. Regardless, he feels compelled to bring it to preschool every time he goes. God forbid we get in the car without it! Once he realizes he doesn’t have his (empty) backpack, he’ll panic and plead, “I need my backpack!”

We’ll then get his (to repeat, empty) backpack so he can bring it into the car, place it on the seat next to him, bring it into preschool, and hang it on his hook with his jacket so that, at the end of the day, after not having opened it or touched it, he can take it off his hook, put it on his back, bring it into the car, place it on the seat next to him, and bring it back into the house to hang on his hook, where it stays until he leaves for the next day of preschool (unless Charlotte asks him to play school).

Luke’s lack of the practical use of his backpack is in stark contrast to Charlotte, who will fill any and all bags at her disposal with her things – items that she’ll need for this, that, or the other. Often, an item will be missing for weeks or months only to be discovered, eventually, in one of Charlotte’s bags.


Charlotte and Luke are currently on a Scooby Doo kick. They got one of the videos from the library and have watched a couple of episodes. If I wasn’t there when they watched it (or usually even if I was), Luke will give me a play by play breakdown of the episode, up to and including the dramatic unmasking of that episodes mystery villain.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’


Put on a Happy Face…

October 11, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we purchased a ginormous pumpkin.  Since then, it’s been sitting on our front steps, uncarved, apparently taunting Luke on a daily basis with its blank face

Just about every time we walk by it, he’ll announce, extremely excited, “I have an idea! Let’s carve our pumpkin! We can do a happy face!” (Sometimes he substitutes “silly” for “happy.”) And each time he says it, he presents it as though it’s a new idea that he just came up with and has never mentioned before.

Classic Luke.

Unfortunately, every time that he’s asked, Karen or I have had to explain that it’s not a good time because either 1.) we’re on our way out (and running late) or 2. we’re on our way in, for either a nap or a meal, (and running late). Plus, we weren’t ready to carve it just yet because it was a little too soon and we don’t want it to start rotting before Halloween.

Undeterred, the next time we walk by the pumpkin, Luke will again exclaim, “I have an idea – let’s carve our pumpkin! We could do a happy face!”

Tonight might finally be the night to fulfill Luke’s pumpkin dreams. (I suppose his pumpkin pleas are the autumnal equivalent of begging to open a Christmas gift early.)

The Halloween season is upon us at last… let the pumpkin carving begin!

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

As an added bonus, here’s some rough video from last year’s pumpkin carving experience:

Big Fish Story

October 3, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the country fair in Karen’s hometown. The fair included a booth with a professional face painter, so Luke and Charlotte both got their faces painted. Charlotte got a princess face and Luke got a shark that was applied in such a way that Luke and the shark shared a mouth – if Luke opened his mouth, the shark opened his mouth, as well. Pretty cool stuff.

Those who frequent face painting know that there can be a wide discrepancy between the talent and competency level of face painters. Sometimes, it’s just a volunteer with little to no face painting experience. And sometimes, it’s a professional – true artists treating a child’s face as a canvas on which to display their art.

Charlotte and Luke have been a little spoiled in this regard. Their faces have been transformed into tigers, monsters, princesses, and sharks by professional face painters at book store events, community concerts, and country fairs.

So over the weekend, when Luke got his face painted by a volunteer, he did little to hide his disappointment. We were back at our college alma mater for homecoming, and the volunteer expected to draw the school’s initials or a football, so she was a little thrown off when Luke requested a shark. She did her best, but it was not up to Luke’s expectations based on his previous shark.

She finished the ‘shark’ and innocently inquired, “How does it look?”

It was a somewhat rhetorical question to which Luke immediately replied, “Not good.”

After we left, Luke explained, “I asked her to draw a shark and she could only draw a big fish.”

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

Dino Love

September 30, 2010

Luke has officially entered his dinosaur phase or, to use a more prehistoric term, his dinosaur era.

Luke went on a preschool nature hike in a local state park, and when the hike leader held up a fox skull and asked what it was, Luke immediately replied, in a voice full of awe and excitement, (as if he couldn’t believe it himself), “A dinosaur!”

Trips to the library have become prehistoric excursions. He inevitably picks out one of three dinosaur books that he borrows on a regular basis, and he always selects a Land Before Time movie.  I believe we’ve seen several of them as many as three or four times each.

He likes dinosaurs so much, he’d eat them and wear them if he could. Actually, he does eat and wear them. We went to a restaurant with dinosaur chicken nuggets, and it took forever for him to eat  because his chicken nuggets kept talking to each other and getting stuck in the ketchup ‘tar pits.’

He wears his two dinosaur shirts as often as possible. He’d never take off his dinosaur t-shirt if we didn’t make him. And he absolutely loves his dinosaur silly bandz – when he’s not wearing them, he’s making them talk to each other and acting out prehistoric scenarios.

So when he was invited to a dinosaur play date by his friend, he was beyond excited, both because it involved dinosaurs and because it was his first play date without Charlotte (and us).  Luke has a couple of toy dinosaurs, but his friend, who has two older brothers, has quite the collection, of all types and sizes. It was as though Luke had died and gone to… well, dinosaur land.

Third Person Dragon

Luke’s love of dinosaurs has by no means supplanted his well-chronicled love of dragons.

He wants to be a dragon for Halloween again this year, and the other day he was speaking in what I refer to as ‘third person dragon’ while narrating his own actions:

            “The dragon is clapping.”

            “The dragon is sitting down.”

            “The dragon has the ball.”

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’ (I know ‘the dragon’ did.)

The Vomitorium & the ‘Hairy Marmot’

September 25, 2010

This summer, my in-laws took a self-guided tour of the Pacific Northwest, visiting several national parks. In their travels, they came across a hoary marmot (which is a pretty funny name, even though the “hoary” contained therein refers to its silver-gray color and not promiscuity). They sent a postcard to the kids detailing their encounter with the hoary marmot.

Apparently, it stood out in Luke’s mind, because “hoary marmot” ‘came up’ (pun intended, keep reading) two weeks later in an altogether different context.

Late this summer, Luke made the big switch from toddler mattress to twin mattress. (We haven’t gotten him a bed yet – the mattress currently rests on the floor.)

To celebrate the occasion (and out of necessity because of a dearth of twin sheets), we got him new sheets. 

Bedtime went well – he was very excited about his new bed and sheets. But an hour or two later, we heard a frantic scream from his room and soon discovered that he had hrown up all over his pillow, the top of his sheets, and onto the floor (it was a voluminous amount of vomit, and not just for a three year old but for any adult as well).

Throwing up was a completely foreign experience to him – he hadn’t been sick in that way since infancy, and he was justifiably freaked out, repeatedly saying, “This came out of my mouth onto my bed, this came out of my mouth onto my bed…” and pointing to the vomit.

Karen and I began to calm him down, and I started the unenviable task of cleaning up the vomit (it was disgusting – I was sopping  it up with his new sheets).

Thankfully, Luke recovered quickly – his stomach must have been pretty upset (he had complained that his stomach hurt after dinner), and he became giddy,  probably because he felt much better after getting the offending food out of his system and because both of his parents were in his room in the middle of the night.  He was excitedly running around his room playing as I cleaned up the vomit (there were a couple of close calls where he just missed stepping in it).

When he asked what it was that came out of his mouth, I explained what happened to him, using the word “vomit.”  I mustn’t have done a very good explaining it, and he must have connected the words “vomit” and “marmot,” because as I was bringing the sheets downstairs, I overheard him explain to his mom what had happened: “Mom, there was a hairy marmot in my stomach, and it came up out my mouth!”

Walking down the stairs, carrying a trash bag filled with vomit and soiled sheets, I couldn’t help but smile – both because my son was feeling better and because of his ‘hairy marmot’ retelling.

My original plan was to take the trash bag and just dump it directly into the washing machine, but  Karen informed me that this was not an option (there were a lot of vomit chunks) and that I needed to rinse out the sheets first.


So at about 11pm on a Sunday night, I stood in our dimly lit backyard spraying my son’s vomit off his new sheets with our garden hose.  And while I couldn’t see it, I could feel the ricochet hitting me in the face, arms, legs, and hair (don’t worry, I showered immediately afterwards).

Yet still, I couldn’t stop smiling because of my giddy little boy and his ‘hairy marmot.’

(Fatherhood is tough to understand sometimes but easy to love.)

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese,’ and that it doesn’t upset anyone’s stomach.

The Case of the Disappearing Bubblegum

September 22, 2010

Until earlier this summer, Charlotte and Luke had never tried chewing gum before.

That is, until the girl next door brought some over to share while they were playing on the swing set.

 Charlotte and Luke were both anxious to try it.

“You chew it,” explained their older, more experienced friend (second grade).

 Luke put his piece in his mouth, chewed a couple of times, and then promptly swallowed it with a big gulp.

“Luke, what did you think?”

“Good,” he replied, continuing on with his day.

Charlotte’s gum lasted considerably longer as she happily chewed away while swinging.

Apparently, she must have been chewing with her mouth open, because that night, at dinner, we noticed something sticky in her hair.

“Charlotte, what’s this, and how did it get in your hair?

 “It’s my gum!” she said. “It came out when I was chewing, and I didn’t know where it went.”

 Until then. Another case solved by the Putney Family Detective Agency.

 I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

In Training…

September 19, 2010

The frustrations of potty training continue.

Here’s a summary of some efforts to date:

Luke’s official, potty-training stance has been to insist that big boys do wear diapers.

Toward the end of summer, we attempted to use preschool (which he’s been looking forward to for quite some time) as leverage, telling him that the other kids would be using the toilet and he needed to be potty-trained before the start of school.

These attempts were thwarted by a well-meaning big sister when Charlotte informed him that he didn’t have to be potty trained for school and that there were one or two kids in her class that wore diapers at first.

Luke was overjoyed at this revelation, coming into my office to triumphantly declare, “Dad, I can wear diapers at school!”

Great, Luke. Great.

Recently we’ve had some limited success in the morning.  Unfortunately, we’ve resorted to bribing. When he wakes up and asks to watch tv, we make him sit on the toilet first (or else no tv). His diaper is often dry when he wakes up, which is an accomplishment, and if so, he usually successfully pees on the toilet.  He still has not poohed on the toilet, despite the promise of a new dinosaur if he does. (We were so sure that would do the trick – he absolutely loves dinosaurs.)

During a visit to see our in-laws in the Berkshires, we were playing in a local park when Luke retreated to a nearby tree, apparently a self-designated interim pooh spot, prompting his grandfather to ask, “Luke, do you need to use a toilet?”

His response, through gritted teeth and clenched jaw, pretty much sums up our potty training experiences to date.

“Yes, but I don’t want to.”

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

A ‘More Better’ Game

September 17, 2010

One night before dinner, the kids and Karen were playing a new game in the kitchen.  Karen would close her eyes and the kids would attempt to run by her, gleefully yelling, “Tickle me, tickle me!”, as she grabbed blindly for them, with a surprising degree of success.  Actually, it wasn’t so surprising because they would essentially run as close as possible to her.

Things got a little crazy (they started running right at Karen and bumping into each other), so I proposed a slightly more controlled version of the game: essentially red rover, two lines on either side of the kitchen, someone on one side would call out the name of someone on the other side, who would run over and get tickled.

We played this game briefly, until Charlotte declared, “Stop! I have a more better game.”  She turned to me to emphasize, “Dad, it’s a more better game than yours.”

She then launched into a complicated explanation that began with, “It’s like ‘Get Me!’ but…,” followed by a bunch of convoluted parameters about who could be ‘gotten, where, and when.”

And than the directions got really convoluted and involved something about kids grabbing onto the back of the shirts of the adults.  Luke attempted to act it out as Charlotte ‘explained,’ which resulted in Luke basically trying to climb up my back underneath my shirt.

While fun and entertaining, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Karen and I weren’t sure of what we were supposed to do, asking questions in an attempt to understand.

Apparently, frustrated by our inability to grasp the simple concepts of her new, more better game, Charlotte decided to revert to the original game, because she then described that game, prompting Karen to question, “Isn’t that the game we were just playing?”

To which Charlotte responded excitedly, “Yes!”, and then both kids started running around again yelling, “Tickle me, tickle me!”

A more better game indeed. I guess I just shouldn’t have messed with a good thing.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

The Struggling Actor & the Big Bad Wolf

September 11, 2010

Luke was so desperate to get on stage he could barely contain himself, emitting short, somewhat muffled bursts of ‘Me!, Me!” with his little arm shooting straight up in the air.

We were at our second KidStage production of the day at the Boston Children’s Museum. The first was a game show format and they took a ton of volunteers.  In a cruel twist of rejection, virtually every child who volunteered got on stage except for Luke (who took it very well but was clearly disappointed).

So when Charlotte and Luke asked if we could go to a second production, which was The Three Little Pigs, I agreed, hoping against hope that Luke would get chosen.

They were taking four volunteers (the three pigs and the big wolf). As they were looking for the third volunteer, one of the actors came over to right near Luke, who emitted a triumphant and premature, “Me!”, only to be informed regretfully, “Actually, I was going to take this little girl here. I’m sorry,” and, in yet another cruel twist (for Luke), the little girl was Charlotte, who had put her hand up to volunteer for what was probably the first time that day.

Poor Luke. The life of a struggling actor.

Thankfully, they must have realized how desperately he wanted to be on stage and selected him as the next volunteer for the plum role of the Big Bad Wolf (the role he most coveted).

They brought him on stage, asked if he could growl, which he did, and then they asked if he could howl, which he did. He was then handed a hat with wolf ears, designating him as the Big Bad Wolf, and was instructed to wait on the stage (stage left) until it was time for the Big Bad Wolf to do his thing.

He was a pleasure to watch – even before his official entrance. He sat on a stool that was a little too big for him, wolf hat on his head, clearly thrilled, watching and laughing along to the initial action of the play, literally slapping his knee at the funnier points.  He was having a blast.

And he didn’t disappoint upon his entrance into the action, following direction, executing the big arm gestures that accompanied all the huffing and puffing.

Charlotte played the role (wonderfully, if I do say so myself) of the beautiful (and smart) Patsy Pig, who had the foresight to build the brick house. She has a slightly more reserved stage presence than her brother (although it might have been due to the roles).

After the play, they reveled in their shared triumph on the stage, with Luke remarking, “Charlotte, I just couldn’t blow down your house!”

Ah, the life of a stage parent.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’


September 10, 2010

Luke has developed some sartorial quirks over the last few months, including a deep aversion to buttons.

On shirts, on pants, if it has a button, he doesn’t want to wear it. Which is really too bad because he has some adorable button down shirts and polos that he absolutely refuses to wear. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to sneak a polo shirt onto him as we were getting ready to go to church and, once he realized it had buttons, he freaked out, clawing at his shirt, frantically pleading, “No buttons, they hurt!”

So, needless to say, he attended church without buttons.  We can exactly bring Luke to church acting as though he’s pssoesed by a demon who’s burned by buttons instead of holy water (though I did consider it, if ever so briefly). 

Luke has also decided to wear some of his shirts backwards. If it has a large image on the back, he insists on wearing the image facing forward, on his chest, so he “can see it.” I tried to explain that he was wearing it backwards, but he matter-of-factly informed me, with a certain degree of finality, that he couldn’t see the picture if it was on his back. He does have a point. That being said, shirts fit a little funny when they’re worn backwards. But it does work on a three-year-old, and I’m glad to see he’s developed his own sense of fashion.

Let’s just hope he’s not walking around with his shirt on backward when he’s 25, although part of me would take a certain amount of pleasure and pride if that does happen to be the case.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

To Infinity, and Beyond

September 6, 2010

We’ve been so focused on Charlotte’s first day of kindergarten that I gave absolutely no thought to her second, or her third, or her 100th.

After Charlotte got on the bus that first day (and eventually came home later in the day), it suddenly struck me that school would now be an everyday occurrence.  Not just Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, like preschool, but pretty much every day, day in and day out — picked up and dropped off by the hallowed (in her mind) yellow bus, a sign that she’s getting bigger and more grown up – a vehicle of increased independence.

We are now inextricably tied to the calendar of the Wachusett Regional School District for the foreseeable future. Years of preparing snacks and lunches, making sure she (and eventually Luke) is ready for the bus at the appointed time, bag packed, homework completed, teeth and hair brushed.

School is now a reality that will take up a sizable chunk of her time for as long as we are legally responsible for her –the  next 12 years, at a minimum, for 180 days a year. It’s mindboggling. Charlotte has officially begun the inexorable march of formal education into adulthood. And to think it all started so innocently with her getting on that bus, smile on her face, ‘Princess and the Frog’ backpack slung over her tiny little shoulders, no idea what she was getting into.

She was assigned homework on the second day, and she couldn’t have been more excited. Nothing  major, just slips of a worksheet on which she can practice writing her name – you know, those dotted letters just begging to be traced over. She only got four or five slips (stapled together), which clearly wasn’t going to be enough for her. So we made extra copies to satisfy her presently insatiable appetite.

That night, as we were heading up to bed, she ran to grab her homework and a pencil.

“Charlotte, it’s bedtime. You can’t do homework now.”

“I know, but I’m going to get it set up on my desk (her vanity), and I’ll do it first thing in the morning, before I come downstairs.”

Poor, sweet, naïve, unsuspecting Charlotte. She’ll learn soon enough. After all, that is why she’s going to school.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

Look, Mom, No Hands!

September 1, 2010

We bought Charlotte a new pair of soccer shorts over the weekend. (Soccer starts in two weeks.) She was really excited, but when she put them on, they dropped to the floor – she has a very skinny waist.

Determined to keep (and wear) her new shorts, Charlotte quickly came up with a solution.

“But Mom, since I don’t need to use my hands for soccer, I can use them to hold up my shorts!”

 Luke immediately saw the flaw in Charlotte’s plan. “But Charlotte, when you run you need to do this,” and begin running in a circle, with a serious look on his face, swinging his arms in the normal fashion of a runner.

Karen suggested they test out their theories, so they began running the usual race course through the kitchen and dining room, Charlotte holding up her shorts and Luke swinging his arms.

It was quickly determined that the arm swing technique resulted in faster running, hands down (actually, hands up and down).

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

The Great Outdoors: Funhouse #12

August 29, 2010

Nothing makes me appreciate my house and bed more than a couple of days of camping.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of camping, but in practice, well, that’s another story.

While I enjoy most of what camping entails – hiking, wildlife, campfires, s’mores, lakes, the camaraderie with others campers – there are certain camping components that lack the more basic pleasures and necessities of life.

This weekend, we took the kids camping. We went to a state park about a half hour from our house (in case things went awry, we could return to our aforementioned home and beds relatively easily). We’ve been camping with the kids before, and sleeping has never gone all that well.

We arrived at the campground on Friday afternoon, enjoyed a nature scavenger hunt, explored the campground (including the beach), saw a porcupine in a tree, and set up our campsite (site #12) and tent.  It was all good.

It was at about 6am the next morning that I woke up (for about the 10th and final time) sore, cramped, tired, and grumpy, realizing, “Oh, that’s right… now I remember… I hate camping.”

Part of the problem is that the kids view the tent as a toy, a funhouse, if you will. When we retired to the tent for bedtime, Luke was running around the tent, bouncing off the tent walls like a pinball.   Charlotte wasn’t much better. She likes to ‘do tricks’ on the sleeping bags in the tents, not just at night but throughout the day, beckoning us toward the tent, announcing, “It’s now time for Charlotte’s funhouse!” (And of course, once Charlotte starts doing her ‘show/gymnastics/tricks,’ Luke joins in and they inevitably bump into each other with one of them getting upset.)

Once they did settle down (relatively speaking) and got in their sleeping bags (after arguing over who got to sleep next to mom), there were more arguments about who was touching who.  (Looking back, I suppose Karen or I should have slept between them.) Then, Karen had to repeatedly ask them to give her some space because they were forcing her into the side of the tent.  I heard the following plea several times, “Charlotte, you can sleep against me, but please don’t climb on my head.”

We all eventually fell asleep, only to be awakened several times throughout the night. At one point, I opened my eyes to find Luke grabbing my nose and trying to force his fist into my mouth, then, seeing that I was awake, announcing, “Dad, I want to cuddle.”

It’s hard enough to sleep on the ground without being six months pregnant (Karen) or having a balky back (me), never mind being crowded by a five year old or a three and a half year old.

After finally making it through the night, we had a quick breakfast and took a walk to the beach to fish (because the kids said they wanted to). Of course, neither kid held the fishing pole for more than 30 seconds.  So after about 30 minutes of trying get the kids to hold their poles while trying to catch a fish (all the while hoping we wouldn’t catch a fish because that would have involved touching it to remove it from the line), I realized, “Oh, that’s right… now I remember… I hate fishing.”

Then we went for a swim and then headed back to the campsite for a snack and to get ready for the park ranger-led hike to ‘carpenter’s rock.’ At that point, right after the snack, Luke had a meltdown (probably because of a lack of sleep), then informed us he wasn’t “up for the hike” before crawling into his sleeping bag for an early nap (which, of course, never came to fruition, despite lying in the tent for an hour). Let’s just say that Charlotte wasn’t her usual joyful self, either.

So for night two, we went to Plan B.

After building a campfire, making s’mores, and changing the kids into their pajamas for bedtime, we climbed into the car, drove the 30 minutes home, transferred the kids (who had fallken asleep quite quickly in the confines of their car seats) to their beds, had a restful night’s sleep, woke up, and returned to the campsite for the final day of our 2010 camping experience.

Worked like a charm. We took a hike (with two much more well rested and agreeable kids), went swimming, saw some frogs and turtles, and broke camp.

So I suppose, what it ultimately comes down to, is that while I like camping (for the most part), I hate sleeping (or not sleeping) in a tent.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese’ (along with a well-made s’more).

Fit to be Five (and Tie-Dyed)

August 10, 2010

Charlotte has been five for over a month now, but she’s still basking in the glow of her perceived (and actual) increase in independence and ability.

She views five as a major milestone.  In the month preceding her birthday, she professed a belief that, at the age of five, she would be able (and, perhaps more importantly, willing) to accomplisg many things she hadn’t done yet.Charlotte can be a little tentative, so we try to encourage her to test new skills:

“Charlotte, why don’t you try the monkey bars on your own?”

“Charlotte, when you wake up in the morning, you can come down the stairs on your own, you know.”

Prior to her birthday, her matter-of-fact response was, “I’m not big enough yet, I’ll do that when I’m five,” as if the age of five is imbued with certain magical, mystical qualities and abilities.  She’s also very excited about five because it also signifies that she’s old enough to go to kindergarten.  She can’t wait.  She even asked for school supplies, including a princess back pack, for her birthday.

So needless to say, her fifth birthday (and birthday party) was big doings.  Charlotte starred in her own video invitation (there were a few takes, but here’s one):

As you may have picked up on from the video, one of main activities at the party was tie-dying t-shirts.  Personally, I was excited and a little apprehensive because I have never tie-dyed before, never mind tie-dyeing with a pack of excited kids who would almost certainly be very hopped up on sugar from the cake and ice cream.

As part of her birthday gift from her grandparents, Charlotte got swim goggles.  Luke also got a pair.  They were very excited to try them on at the end of the day, posing for photos.

Luke excitedly declared, “We look like superheroes.”

His observation, along with Charlotte’s belief in the mystical qualities of five, has turned out to be prophetic.  Charlotte has indeed become a super five-year-old.  In just over a month, she has fulfilled many of her stated objectives.  She has taken significant steps toward mastering the monkey bars, and she comes down from bed on her own regularly.  And, she has become quite the swimmer.

 A super five-year-old indeed.

 I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’

 PS:  A couple of previous ‘mac & cheese’ birthday servings from last year:

Storming the Castle

Lightning in a Bottle

Silly cetera…

August 7, 2010

Despite our best efforts, our kids have been swept up in silly band mania.  We haven’t bought them any, but their friends have given them a few.  Luke loves the ones shaped liked dinosaurs, and our next door neighbors are more than happy to oblige.  (Kids have so many, it’s no big deal to peel one off and give it to a less fortunate friend.) 

Apparently, silly bandz (sic) are somewhat of a status symbol – kids try to outdo one another in how many they have (and can wear at one time).  Toward the end of the school year, our seven-year-old neighbor Grace went to see the school nurse at one point because she was losing feeling in her lower arm.  The nurse’s diagnosis was silly band-itis; the remedy: she used scissors to remove a few silly bandz from Grace’s wrist and restore circulation.

Luke loves to not just wear them but play with them, acting out scenarios with whatever shapes they form. Unfortunately, his silly band dinosaurs got ‘trapped’ in a silly putty quagmire the other day.  When he couldn’t remove them himself, he came to Karen, the ball of silly putty in hand, asking her to get his dinosaurs out of it.

Karen spent the next 15-20 minutes futilely trying to extricate his silly bands from the silly putty before giving up, and then futilely trying to explain to Luke that it’s not a good idea to wrap his toys in silly putty, particularly silly bandz..

The next day, I caught him trying to wrap his Spiderman figure’s arm in a silly putty cast and to force silly putty into the smaller recesses of some of his other toys.

Ugh.  I suppose silly is as silly does.

I hope you enjoyed today’s serving of ‘mac & cheese.’