On The Clock

  Monday afternoons are a testament to this busy mom’s ability to juggle schedules and various after-school personalities, as we begin our foray into dragging siblings along to one child’s extracurricular activity without the other two losing their damn minds.  I know I am just dipping my toes into the sea of insanity, so I’m glad we’re taking baby steps, but the pressure (to remember all the gear, to bring food no one hates or already ate that day, to bring books, toys and my cell phone charger for all manner of distractions…) is real. On Mondays, Little H and I peel into the elementary school parking lot, grab the big kids and head south to make it to Em’s ballet class just in time.  Their school teachers and I barely make eye contact before the kids are dragged out the door by the handle of their backpacks and herded through the parking lot to the van I left running so we can get in and go (if I haven’t even just parked illegally in front of the school and left Little H in the car to shave precious seconds off our time).  There are updates on our days to share, Purell to be passed around and snacks to be desperately devoured (do these children eat at all during the day at school?), and various forms of entertainment to be doled out to the biggest and littlest once we arrive at the dance studio, all before my attention turns to my tiny dancer, because we are on the clock.  Costume change, bun in place, ballet shoes on and she scurries upstairs to take her place at the barre before I have even had a chance to take off my coat.  Half the time I am still stabbing bobby pins into her hair at random as she is halfway up the stairs, Jax’s voice already echoing behind me that he is bored.  The only thing that gets me through it all are glimpses of this through the classroom window, that make it worth the sweat and tears (mostly mine).

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Once back downstairs, the natives have already begun to grow restless, and beyond Little H’s willingness to play PJ Masks for hours on end (“To the Cat Car!”), I usually come to ballet armed with a bag full of new library books to appease Jax and all manner of distractions for Little H.  This past Monday I knew was going to be unseasonably warm, so Jax, Little H and I took a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy some February fresh air and earn me a breather from little people begging to use my cell phone.

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The sky was gray with no sunshine to be found, and even as the sun sunk lower to the horizon and the chill began to penetrate my wimpy bones, Jax and Little H were having a blast.  Could outside play be the key to my Monday afternoon survival?  Since the two of them have only finally begun to find a middle ground–mostly centered around a shared love for Transformers Rescue Bots–and it’s freaking winter and freezing dark outside before ballet is even over, I have not really attempted this tactic before.  I forced myself to man up and stay outside as long as they wanted to see how this experiment would play out.

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The playground was a soggy mess from all the rapidly melting snow, but to my kids, all the world’s a stage, with plenty of imagination at their fingertips, With Jax in rare Patient and Engaging Older Brother form, and Little H not telling him to take a hike as per usual, these two didn’t need me at all.  When they discovered an actual stage, just perfect for an elaborate performance of Rescue Bots: The Dance Party Variety Show, I was in for quite a treat.

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Jax was born to emcee.

Their play was so elaborate and Little H’s dance moves so comical, I actually was sorry for it to end, even if I was shivering.  Stupid winter.  Never fear, I assume I will be attending Part II of this epic saga next week at about the same time, and will keep you posted on the dramatic conclusion of Which Bot Is The Fastest and What Will Boulder Paint This Week?  Ah, the fleeting joys of motherhood.  Cue the nonstop whining that they are hungry for dinner in 3…2….1…

Such is life in this slushy part of the year, with three kids all on the threshold of big extracurricular things.  Mud season appears to have arrived early, and I will attempt to appreciate these wintery afternoons while I have them, while dreaming of green grass and picnic dinners after ballet (even if that would require one more thing for me to remember to pack!).  I’m glad to have found a bit of a key to surviving the Extracurricular Activity Chaos Black Hole, and will try to look on the bright side and appreciate the chance for Jax and Little H to carve out some time together…at least while they’re getting along!

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School Is In Session

We had a four day weekend last week, but that didn’t stop my kids from declaring school in session!

It started with Jax experimenting with baking soda and vinegar while I was still in my pajamas and eating my breakfast.  It was an entertaining meal to say the least!  Quite educational.

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I was proud of my little mad scientist, who set up the entire experiment himself, but had to put a stop to his explosive tendencies when the mess took on a life of its own.

IMG_4290 I suggested to him and Em that since it was frigid outside and they had lots of big ideas of how they wanted to spend their day, Why don’t you set up a school?  Little H and your many creepy dolls could be your students.  They loved the idea and just like that, I had the table to myself again as they ran off to set it all up.

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Em made the “schedule:” Math, Music, Gym, Library, Art, Science, Home.  If you need help following along, just follow the light saber pointer for assistance.

I was pleased that they insisted on starting the day with the Pledge of Allegiance…

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…and then Jax took over for some early morning math work.  The girls were an attentive audience.

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I had to insist to Jax that he keep the math equations basic, and Em was happy to help her little sister when she was stuck on an answer.

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Star student!

Then Em got out the instruments for a little bit of music, It’s The Hard Knock Life from “Annie,” to be exact.  As always, we are ever-so-grateful to Uncle Chris for Little H’s trumpet.  As delightfully deafening as ever!

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Music was followed by Mr. Jax’s gym class, which began with five laps around the house for warm ups and then a rousing game of hopscotch.

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Then it was time for a super Pinterest science experiment fail with Teacher Mommy: supposedly if you fill two glasses with colored water and place a tightly wrapped paper towel in, the color will “travel” up the paper towel and fill the middle glass with the secondary color revealed when you combine the original two colors.  We tried several hyphothoses–more water, less water, water in the middle, increased length of time, thinner paper towels, shorter paper towels… You name it, we attempted it.  The only conclusion to be drawn from this experiment was this: Pinterest lies.  Or our paper towels are just too damn absorbent.  Inconclusive findings at this point.  Definitely wasn’t Mommy’s fault.

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At least it was pretty.

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To disguise my Pinterest failure, I announced it was snack time and Jax read a story to the students during Library.

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Miss Em really came to life when she was teaching art, actually communicating to her “students” rather than shuffling shyly around in front of them as she had before.  She even had real projects in mind and helped Little H with her work.  Art is definitely where she shines.

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And right before the bell rang, there was choice time.  Jax and Little H decided some dress-up and theatrical play was in order.

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If this is what their days are like in school, I can’t believe they aren’t following asleep in their suppers.  What an exhausting (and completely entertaining!) day of school! I’m so pleased that they love their school and teachers so much that they want to be just like them.  Makes my teacher-on-hiatus heart happy.

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Painting With Cars To Welcome Spring!

Painting with cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

With all these color choices at her fingertips, it was no surprise what Em decided to paint.

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Little H was a little more abstract and mostly just thrilled to get her hands dirty.

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Even Mommy made one. I couldn’t resist!

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And don’t forget about the added bonus–they get to wash the cars when all the artwork is done, taking this springtime craft to a fabulous new level!  Your house has new art, the mess is cleaned up, and everyone has had a ton of fun.  It’s spring!  Let’s celebrate!

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Coffee Filter Snowflakes & Snowmen

As if we don’t have enough snow around here, the kids wanted to add some more, just for fun!  I didn’t think cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters would be so completely engaging for Jax and Em, but they literally made dozens of them.  So many, in fact, that we sent them along to family with their Valentines!  Spreading Vermont snow near and far!

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The kids had tried to make snowflakes out of paper before, but grew frustrated easily when they had difficulty cutting through folded paper.  With the coffee filters, it was so much easier!  We folded the paper various ways, but three folds seemed to be the perfect size for them to manipulate.

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then I gave them a large bowl for the scraps and some safety scissors and they went to work.  Nicely.  Quietly.  No arguing.  Why don’t I do this every day?

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Before I knew it, our home was a winter wonderland, inside and out!

And Em had a great idea all on her own.  She turned three coffee filters into a snowman, with a few construction paper accessories to add realism.  I was so proud of her for coming up with a unique project by herself.  She is definitely my little artist.

Coffee Filter Snowman @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Making the most out of our many snowy days!

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Pretty Princesses

I’m so glad Little H has embraced her inner princess and joined her sister in the dress up club.  Certainly helps keep things adorable during these snowy winter days!

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Em continues to be a stellar big sister, showing Little H everything she needs to know to be perfect royalty: a kind heart, grace, a perfect smile, and, of course for these girls, perfect accessories!

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Days like this are pretty much exactly what I hoped for with two little girls!  Darling little ladies.

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Tutu Cute!

So remember the other day how I said Little H had finally been turned on to dress up (which, by the way, is an everyday staple of existence in this house)?  Well, it looks like she’s hooked.

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I can’t even stand the cuteness!

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Okay, seriously?  What is there to say about her?  Sassy, adorable, fabulous, perfect?  Yes, all those things and more.  And mine all mine.

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And she hasn’t even realized her dress up potential yet!  Em is just getting started showing her protege the ropes of all things poofy, purple, or pink.

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Be still, my pink- or purple-poofy-loving heart!

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Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

On the way down to my parents’ in Massachusetts one weekend in July, we made a very special pit stop.  It was a great decision.

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The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is a slice of childhood heaven.  With illustrations from some of our favorite children’s authors like Mo Willems and Jon Klassen, the kids were thrilled to explore the exhibits as well as the grounds.

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Since we went on one of the Free Fun Fridays in the greater Boston area, there were tons of extra treats for the kiddos, like ice cream, live music, a Hungry Caterpillar parade, tattoos, and a scavenger hunt.  As the day was unfolding, I found myself grinning because it really was everything I could have asked of a family excursion.

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Speaking of hungry caterpillars, Jax found one of his own!

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Literally–it took a little bite of him!

It was pretty much the greatest pit stop of all time.

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Books, bubbles, and sunshine?  One of my favorite memories of this summer.

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