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Posts tagged ‘summer camp’

It’s a Wrap


Well, that was fun, one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time. It ended for all intents and purposes when Mae returned to school today. She saw one of her classmates from last year as we were walking into the school building. She promptly ditched me and went about her business. I think she said bye, but I’m not sure.

Jay has two more weeks of camp, and I expect a similar ditching from him when his school opens after Labor Day. Over the summer, his attitude matured more than his body. He’s still a sweet kid over all but he developed a smart mouth somewhere along the way this summer.

Ahhh, it was a sweet summer. We rested, we took it easy. I took it easy. That’s unusual for me. I did it and I’m proud of myself. I read at home, not just on the train during my commute. I did only one day of yard work. The yard was plain and boring, and I was ok with that; fortunately, Hubby kept the grass at a decent level.

I baked for no reason or special occasion. I even took naps on a couple of days. I started the summer with a plan for the kids to have 20 minutes of study time per day. I wasn’t a stickler about it, so they had 20 minutes most days. And, most days, I didn’t check the work to see if it was correct. Bless their hearts, they didn’t complain much. They acted like studying during the summer was normal. Mae especially surprised me because her summer workbook was all math. I asked her to focus on fractions, multiplication, and division. She struggled most with fractions. Still, every time I suggested that she go to the multiplication or division sections of the book, she said she wanted to keep working on the fractions. That’s my plucky girl.

She and Jay enjoyed their camp at Jay’s school. Since it’s Mae’s old school, she got to see some of her old classmates. Jay is easy; if there are Legos available, he’ll be fine. I thought for sure Mae would be bored out of her mind. Nope. Day after day, she told me camp was fun. In fact, she didn’t have a meltdown until the last day. Some girls yelled at her because she bumped into one of them. She thought they were being mean to her and she said they had been mean to her before, for no reason. I could tell from some of her daily reports that she’s still learning how to pick up on the social cues and keep her distance from children who don’t like or accept her. Otherwise, it appears that she got along with her fellow campers ok.

The kids had swimming lessons, and Mae had Tae Kwon Do and Jay drum lessons. It was manageable, no overscheduling. We actually had several free Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes both in the same weekend. That was a beautiful, lovely, awesome thing.

One of the best parts of summer was that Mae had no hypersensitive reactions to bug bites. Like the doctor said, she outgrew the sensitivity (it appears). This was the first summer since she was about 3 years old that the mysterious brown spots and sores did not appear.

We all needed that relaxed break; last school year was grueling. I think I’m ready for 4th and 1st grades. Deep breath in . . . .

Pretty Brown Thing


Honestly, my primary reason for this post is to display this cake. I saw the cake pan, or the product thereof, in Cooking Light magazine. I ordered the pan and it came with a recipe for Lemon Ginger and Pepper Cake. Fresh lemon, fresh ginger, a pound of butter, a cup of buttermilk — how could anything with those ingredients be less than good? Ground white pepper? Weird, but worth a try. The cake turned out fine, just fine. I’ve been enjoying it, though I’m not sure I’d make it again, especially since I think I’m the only person in the house eating it. This is one area where my family consistently lets me down. They will let me eat a whole cake by myself. Even if they have some, their rate of consumption isn’t fast enough to keep me from doing a lot of damage. Jay is the only person in the house who comes close to appreciating cake the way I do. He pronounced the cake “sour, but a little good.” No help. I took slices to a good friend and some co-workers, all of whom said it was awesome or delicious.

In other news, we’ve been gearing up for next school year. The kids have had their annual well-child exams. We have Mae’s school shoes and uniforms, and the bottom halves of Jay’s uniform. Jay is registered for aftercare at his school, and aftercare is almost in place for Mae. The good thing about public school near home is that we will have many more options for aftercare, and transportation will not be an issue.

We have three more weeks of summer camp and then my mom, bless her, is coming to town to watch the kids until school starts.

Camp is going ok, although today was particularly bad for Mae. She’s gone to bed late every night this week. So, I’m not surprised that she had a whiny, tearful day. She wanted to do her own thing in her own time and became uncontrollably upset when other campers didn’t want to play with her.

Tonight, we’re back to our regular routine. Hopefully, she’ll have a better day tomorrow.

Spiderman and the Last Sip Save the Day


Peep the little trash can in the alley.

It was a winning weekend.  I will pay for it tomorrow a.m. when the alarm goes off at 5:15.  Still, I’m grateful for it all.

We celebrated Jay’s 5th birthday on Saturday.  He and about 12 of his closest friends ran and bounced and slid their way around an inflatables place before settling down to pizza, brownies, and ice cream.  Jay enjoyed himself thoroughly.  He rewarded me with big eyes and a resounding “wow” when he saw his Spiderman brownie towers.  I have to say that the result was better than I expected.  I baked and froze three batches of chocolate brownies and two of red velvet over the course of two weekends.  I didn’t start “building” the scene until Friday night at around 10 pm.  I was nervous, and I had a Plan B that would have involved an early morning, shame-faced trip to the bakery section of the neighborhood grocery store.  Then, I told myself that if it looked crappy, I could say that Spiderman visits the Projects too.  All in all, I’m pleased with the outcome, and so was Jay, which is what matters most.

This morning, we enjoyed french toast and bacon, two of Hubby’s favorite breakfast items, before the kids and I went off to Dharma.  In the afternoon, as a Father’s Day gift, my sister came over to babysit while Hubby and I went to lunch.  We drove over an hour to get to a riverfront seafood dive on the Potomac.  There are many other seafood restaurants closer to us, but it’s an easy, straight drive and one of my favorite things to do with the Mr. is have alone time in the car.  It’s nice to be sheltered from the outside world, whether we’re having uninterrupted conversation or just listening to each other’s silence.

Today’s lunch was actually our second date this weekend because Grandma (Hubby’s mom) volunteered to babysit for us last night.  So, we saw Prometheus.  Or rather, Hubby saw Prometheus while I napped on his shoulder off and on.  I did see enough to know that Idris Elba, love him like I do, is no good at a Southern accent.  He was going from Southern to generic American to British.  The other characters represented a multi-national mix, so Elba’s British accent would have fit perfectly.  Perhaps he wanted to stretch himself, which is admirable.  At any rate, Hubby liked the movie, and I needed the rest anyway.

Tomorrow begins the second week of summer camp, and Mae and Jay will return to their regular school’s camp.  They were at the Y last week, and it went very well.  Mae and Jay adjusted well and had fun.  So, I expect more of the same or better since they will be in a more familiar environment starting next week.   Mae at home has been another story.  She thinks she should have more freedom now that school is out.  The last two weeks have been a battle of wills when it comes to bath and bed time, in addition to a general attitude of teenage-quality snarkiness.  Her insistence on challenging or questioning almost every instruction, including routine stuff, is remarkable.  I frankly do not know where she finds the energy.  The time and effort that she puts into explaining why she should be allowed to do what she wants to do or trying to negotiate some middle ground exhaust me.  This morning, she wanted to take a toy into Dharma, which I told her would be a distraction.  She told me that it would help her focus and keep her from rubbing my arm or the Dharma teacher’s arm.  Clever girl that she is, she knows those are matters of importance to me.  I reminded myself that there will be days when her persistence will pay off, and there will come a time when she will make extraordinary contributions to her community or the world because she won’t give up when someone told her no.

In the meanwhile though, many of these conversations have been ending with Mae being disappointed, if not crying herself to sleep.  Yet, she will take just as strong a position next time.  Someone told me on Friday that I have a “patient spirit.”  I laughed.  My paid job does require extreme patience; however, compared to parenting this eight-year old, work is a breeze.  Mae thinks I’m mean and unfair, and those are her nice words for me.  Usually, these transitions after a change in routine take 2-3 weeks to take hold.  Hopefully, we’re not far off from settling down.

Challenging as it is some days, I am grateful for this family.  On our way home from Dharma, Mae and Jay were sharing a juice box.  She gave him the box and said, “You can have the last sip because I want to honor you on Father’s Day since you’ll be a dad one day.”  Her spirit, I know, is good, and I’m glad she showed it to me (and Jay) today.  I needed that.

I Should Start Saving Boxes

It’s official! I have another pre-school graduate. Jay’s class had a nice, simple graduation ceremony yesterday. I’m so proud of how he did inside and outside of the classroom in pre-school. He’s kindergarten-ready and we’re one step closer to a kid-free house (just saying’).

I’m proud of Mae too. This school year was sooo much better — only one phone call from the teacher and less crying and impulsiveness. Mae surpassed her goal to earn 50 stickers for “awesome” days.

I know we’ll be starting over with summer camp next week, so I’m going to ride this wave of good feelings this weekend!

We have a house guest this weekend. One of our young cousins, nine years old, will stay with us while her mom goes off for drill duty. When I told Mae that E was coming for a sleep over, her smile went from ear to ear and then she got a worried look.

Mae said there might be three problems. I swear, her sense of self-awareness is sharper than most adults I know. This is what chica told me about herself:

1. “Sometimes,” she’s “bossy” and she likes to choose what to watch on TV.

2. Sometimes, she doesn’t wait for people to answer a question before she asks another.

3. Her room is messy.

I asked Mae what could she do about each of those problems. For one, she offered that she can ask E what she likes and what she wants to do. I agreed, and encouraged her to always allow guests to choose first what to watch or play.

Mae said that she would give 15 seconds for E to respond to a question and then ask again if there was no response. I said it might be easier to watch for facial cues instead of counting. I reminded Mae that people should be thinking before they speak and she has to allow time for that.

And, woohoo, Mae said she would clean up her room, and I told her I would help. Fortunately, there wasn’t much of a mess.

Items one and two are ones that we’ve spoken about recently. Hubby and I keep reminding Mae to give Jay a chance to pick a TV show, and generally be more considerate of his interests. And, recently, she started a habit of repeating impatiently a question or statement that barely left her lips a moment ago. It is annoying!

So, E arrived this evening. During dinner, Mae said, “After dinner, you choose what we’re going to do, ok?”

I breathed a little sigh of relief. You never know what or how much sinks in. I loved that she’s making the effort.

She and Jay both give us so many proud moments that are nice reminders of the up side of parenthood. That said, I’m not going to stop looking forward to their moving days. 🙂

Moving Up and On

20120403-102450.jpgIt’s Spring Break! We’re free! We’re free!

Yesterday, I was talking to a girlfriend whose 2-year old is on Spring Break this week too. My friend was talking about her plans for events all around town. I felt bad. I have plans for all around the house. The kids and I were in the yard yesterday afternoon. Jay said, “I like pulling up weeds.” I thought to myself, “. . . until you go back to school and hear your friends talk about their trips to Disney or other exotic places.” Oh, well. We did have a play date today at an inflatables place. The kids ran, bounced, and slid for two hours straight. I felt better. I reminded myself also that they have had several busy weekends in the past two months. We’ve been to the National Building Museum twice, the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, Maryland Science Center, and the Natural History Museum. That’s in addition to birthday parties, field trips, and park visits. They get around. The father of the little girl we met today spoke of an article he read recently about how we schedule our kids’ time such that we deprive them of opportunities to use and develop their own imaginations. Instead of learning to plan and organize and be creative, they look to us to tell them what to do and play. And, on that note, while I spend the reminder of the week cleaning and organizing, Mae and Jay will be free to figure out what they want to do.

Last night, Mae had her last appointment with the therapist for what will be a while. During the visit, we talked about improvements she’s made and how it seems that the gap between her emotional and intellectual development has narrowed significantly. She has better self-control, and Hubby, her teacher, and I know better how to anticipate and head off triggers. Things have been relatively quiet on the school front, and issues she’s had — like losing time off recess for talking during class — are typical 8-year old behaviors. She rarely complains about not having anyone to play with or feeling left out. I think she’s accepted that she is not a part of certain circles. She doesn’t like it, but she doesn’t obsess about it. Right now.

The last quarter of school will be more challenging academically, and that will take extra coaching. When she doesn’t breeze through her work, she gets down on herself, saying that she can’t do anything. I have to coax her out of that frame of mind by reminding her of past success, which can include getting the previous 19 problems on the page correct with no assistance, and giving constant encouragement. I expect that transitioning to summer camp will take some special coaching as well. The therapist and I agreed that I’ll give her a call in early to mid-June to talk about how that transition is going.

I’ve given up on finding another social skills playground. So much effort, so little results. If she continues to have play dates and other social events where we can monitor her interactions with other kids and intervene as necessary, I think we’ll be fine. For now.

Jay had his follow-up appointment with the gastroenterologist today. I think his heartburn issues resolved shortly after our first visit in February. He continued to complain about more general stomach pain for a few weeks after, until about a week ago. Hubby and I became skeptical after we noticed a pattern of complaints after lights out on school nights. His stomach seemed to be pain-free on weekend nights and also at certain special times, such as when he had his blue comforter instead of his brown blanket, or when he listened to soft music at bedtime. There were many nights that I wanted to put my nose to his and say through clenched teeth, “Will you please just tell the truth?” That would work with Mae. Jay is my sensitive one. When I use a stern tone with him, he ignores the message and focuses on telling me he doesn’t like “that voice” and asking me to apologize. The conclusion is that his stomach did hurt sometimes, most likely due to constipation. So, we’re on to more fiber, water, and exercise.

My new job has gotten off to a good start. I swear this was a good move for me, and not just because I’ll be working from home two days a week. It’s going to be more intense and focused on employee relations (ER). After spending the past 6 years splitting my time between ER and other areas, I feel as though I finished my undergraduate degree and now I’m in graduate school. I’m excited about the new skills I’ll develop and new relationships I’ll build. It’s not that I wish for people to have problems at work or that I enjoy basking in other people’s problems. It’s just that problems are bound to happen because we’re human, and I like helping to solve them. So, I’m looking forward to talking to the supervisor of the “creepy old guy” who keeps putting his hand in his pants, much to his cubicle mate’s dismay. Ha’mercy!

“Take chances. Make Mistakes.”


Mae took the School and  College Ability Test (SCAT) today.  It’s an exam that, if she scores well, will allow her to participate in summer camps and academic programs through Johns Hopkins University.  I registered her almost two months ago.  I thought I read all of the pertinent material about the test at that time.  When I went online this morning to get directions, I saw a link for a practice test.  So, there I was 40 minutes before test time asking her to answer sample questions.  She answered a few of the verbal questions, said that she got the idea, and turned to go back to cartoon-watching.  I said, “Wait, there is math too.”  She made a pouting face and came back to the computer.  She looked at the screen and asked, “What’s a whole number?”  I started explaining, inadequately, I think, because I didn’t see a “lightbulb” moment.  Cramming is probably a bad idea for a second-grader anyway.  I let her go back to the TV.  I felt bad about not noticing the practice test earlier, and, for that matter, not doing anything in particular to prepare her. 

At the testing center, she was the only kid amongst a bunch of adults taking the MCAT and whatnot.  As the proctor signed her in, I thought, “Oh, no, she’s going to be fidgety.  She’s going to whine if she doesn’t know an answer.  She’s going to distract someone who has been working long and hard for something that will determine their life’s destiny.”  The proctor gave her instructions about staying quiet, logging in, using the tutorial, paying attention to time.”  Then, I realized that she was going into the testing room on her own.  I wasn’t even sure that Mae was paying attention to the instructions.  When the proctor asked if she had any questions, Mae said no.  I thought about backing out.  I wasn’t sure she was ready for this.

Then, I thought about something Mae had said to me once.  She was trying to convince me to buy some sugary cereal and she told me to “take chances.  Make mistakes.”  She learned this from Ms. Frizzle on “The Magic Schoolbus.”  Ms. Frizzle was probably talking about something other than sugary cereal.  Nonetheless, it’s good advice.  We were there already; the $55 exam fee was spent.  If Mae scores well, it will open doors for some challenging and exciting educational opportunities.  If not, so what?  This isn’t the type of thing that would upset her.  I took a deep breath and let go.

The test should have taken 60-75 minutes.  Mae went through the verbal portion in less than ten minutes.  Umm, that seems too good to be true.  She used the full time allotted for math, and didn’t finish all the questions, which she didn’t seem bothered about at all.  It’s an above-grade level exam, and it’s meant to be difficult.  We’ll know the results in about five days.  Now,  off to home to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Thank Me Later


We left Mae and Jay in SC yesterday.  They are with my mom for the last two weeks of summer.  Mae was crying when we left, pleading with us to stay with them.  Jay was the trooper.  He said, “It’s ok, Mom.”  I did feel bad, and I started thinking that maybe this is the last year that we should leave them in SC.  Then, I thought, ‘It is what it is.’  Hubby and I have to go back to work, camps are closed and school opens after Labor Day.  Before we left, I reminded Mae and Jay that at Nonny’s house, they can have treats like sugar cereal and chocolate chip frozen waffles (which I even bought myself this time) that they can’t have at home.  I told them to try to enjoy this break from our rules and routines.

If they don’t appreciate it now, perhaps they will in time — whether it’s spending time with Nonny, getting to know cousins, or the freedom.  And, how many of their friends will be able to say that they picked scuppernongs (a type of wild grape, also known as bullets) from a vine in the back of someone’s yard?  Mae and Jay saw their first pear trees, which was a “wow” moment.  The pears were too high for them to pick, but they will get to enjoy them (if they get over the fact that these pears look funny compared to those from the grocery store).

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