Tot school conflictions

I have been compiling a list of Montessori items I wanted to slowly make or buy to have ready for next spring or summer. Mostly because I know we won't be doing much in the fall and the main period for these items in Montessori schools is 3-6 so I'd like to have them ready. I'm also trying to come up with a few busy bag type of activities to have prepped for when the new baby comes. Just little things to have on hand so when Dewey is having a rough day and I can't really focus on Lucy, I have a trick up my sleeve. Of course, this means I've been busy perusing the interweb and pinterest in search of fun activities even more so than usual. Which brings up several dilemas:

What to do?

One of the great things about the internet is that there are so many sources of fun and educational things to do with toddlers. One of the awful things about the internet is that there are so many sources of fun and educational things to do with toddlers. I could spent a whole afternoon finding fun stuff to do with Lucy but at the end of the day I would be completely overwhelmed by all the ideas, not to mention frustrated that I spent so much time on the computer that I  never actually got around to doing anything fun with her. I tend to focus on Montessori and Waldorf blogs, not just because I am attracted to the philosophies behind them, but because it helps me narrow my focus a bit. Even so there are still a million ideas that I just won't be able to get around to and trying will only get me farther from my goal of simplifying our lives. 

So we'll be focusing on the math activities at first, in addition to practical life. I tried focusing on one area this spring, in that case art, and it really did help. And I'll be trying to stick with the traditional Montessori activities. While many of the Montessori blogs have different themes each week or two with matching montessori style activities and there isn't anything wrong with that, but it just isn't us - at least right now. So with the exception of sensory bins, which are so much more fun to put together with a theme, I won't be showcasing a week of frog matching and frog counting and frog pinching activities.

How much to do?

I'm struggling a bit with how much to do with Lucy.  I want to expose her to things but I don't want to push her. And I truly believe that what kids need most in their first few years is time to play and explore, not a set list of things they need to learn. Yet sometimes I feel like I'm deliberately holding her back so as to be more "Waldorfian" and that seems counter-productive.

For instance, she loves numbers and counting, which is pretty normal for her age I think. We've been going along with it, asking her questions about things "How many red rocks are there?" or "Can you bring me three blocks?" but I specifically haven't shown her any numerals. I briefly thought about making sandpaper numbers but decided not to as it just seemed a little too much for a 2 year old.

But all my plans were for naught when she learned them herself in the hotel elevator on our trip. Well, she learned up to 7 because the hotel only had seven floors :-) And the first night we got back home, she took all her foam numbers in the bathtub and told me what they were -except 8 and 9, she just threw those behind her, as if to say, ":I don't know what you are so I'm not even going to bother with you *" although she has since learned those as well.

Honestly, I wish I could take credit for it. The concept to symbol relationship is a big educational milestone and she didn't even need my help :-( So last night when I was perusing Montessori blogs and websites, I saw this free summer counters and numbers printable from the Montessori Print Shop and gave in and printed it for her. She loved it. I didn't even have time to laminate it like I wanted to before she took it and started. I only gave her the counters and numbers from 0-4 to start with but each time she would say "again but how 'bout more" and point to the extra pieces I had tried to hide behind my back until we hit 7. We only stopped there because I was hungry and made her stop for lunch. I should be happy about this but part of me just wanted her to go play with her blocks or doll or something. 

I'm probably just overthinking this. I have a tendency to do that. The beauty of knowing I'm going to homeschool is that it really doesn't matter if she is "gifted" (although I will say that I hate hate hate that word), average or even slow. I don't have to worry about if she is "prepared" for preschool or kindergarten. 

And in theory, even if I get those montessori items and she isn't ready for them, she probably won't use them for a while. I think I just recognize in myself a tendency to want to push her ahead to the next big milestone as much as I always want to push myself that same way to. And of course I think she is the smartest, best-counting 2-year old in the world, she's my two year old, I should feel that way. But I don't want my bias to influence my decision making and I really don't want to be one of those crazy moms with flashcards trying to get my 2 year old to learn all these facts. So if I ever bring up the idea of my baby can read - somebody promise to come over here and tie my hands down please!

The results:

Spindle box: (Make) -  If I can find a cheap box somewhere, I might go that route but I really like the roll up felt ones since I already have felt and hot glue and Craig can cut down dowels in about 3 sec (times 45 :-)

Number Rods (Make) - These should be pretty easy to make although to speed things up I might only use one color since blue and natural wood is just as easy to distinguish as blue and red. 

Colored tablets (Make) - I made sets one and two already and she has those down pat but now I need to get around to making set three. 

Dropper work/color mixing (Make) - Well, I'm not going to make my own droppers :-) but I'll make my own "tray" by letting Lucy explore water transferring with droppers and then I can easily color some water and turn it into a color mixing activity. She already loves color mixing with her paint now that I have finally allowed her to use two colors at once.

Pink Tower (Buy) - I've seen people make these but they aren't that expensive and seem like a big pain to make accurately enough to be useful.

Sandpaper numbers (?)  Can't decide if I want to make them or buy them from here. I don't think they would be hard to make but I would probably be annoyed at my lack of quality control.

Binomial Cube (Buy)-  I don't think she is quite ready for this, although I'm not sure I completely understand it myself so once I see it I might decide she is. But either way, if I'm already placing an order for two things, I'll just get this one as well and save on S&H.

Sandpaper letters  (?) -  Again, I think I want to hold off on these for a while although I'm sure she could pick them up easily but I'll go ahead and make/buy them at the same time as the numbers. FYI - We won't starting with the traditional alphabet like you would hear from the song but will be doing the Montessori thing and teaching the letter sounds first.

Knobbed cylinders (Fantasize about). Okay, I would love love love to have these but I just don't think I can justify spending $100 on a single manipulative, no matter how long lasting and wonderful everyone says they are.

Other activities:

Lauri puzzles - Lauri stuff is pretty awesome in terms of quiet sitting activities. 

Homemade necklace kit  with colored pasta and shoestrings - Also good for math if we focus on patterns or sizes.

Sensory bin dump kits (everything bagged so all mommy has to do is empty old bin and dump new one in):
-Garden - pinto beans, plastic bugs (from her birthday), plastic flower or two, plastic sandbox shovel
-Ocean - Colored rice or water beads, plastic ocean animals, felt seaweed, blue aquarium beads (already own), plastic aquarium plants (already own)
-Safari - Cloud dough (we've made this before and she really liked it), lion, tiger, giraffe (we already own), rocks for boulders, sticks

Cutting strips - Lucy loved cutting things a while back but she still needed help holding the paper but would get frustrated if I didn't do it just "right" and always wanted to cut when I was not available to sit and help her so I put them up for a while. I'll probably get them out again soon and by the time baby comes, I expect she'll be a cutting fool so I'll just have a few cutting skill printables on hand.

Other "Tot school" goals

Nature time - I want to keep us in the habit of spending time outdoors. As it gets hotter and I get more pregnant, I really fight this but we both do better when we spend time outside. My goal is at least one hour a day and the weather should be nice enough in the fall that even with the baby, this can still happen. I would love to start a natural journal for myself and whenever I do my bible study, Lucy insists on getting out her bible and notebook so I thought I would get a similar notebook for her. Lately she has been enjoying drawing pictures of what we have been doing and she often writes "lists of num-nums for daddy to get at store when home from work."  (Can you tell who took over the grocery shopping when mommy got pregnant?) and when I ask her to tell me what is one them she "reads" it back to me - milk, milk, raisins, milk, dates, ice cream, raisins, milk. So I think she would enjoy starting her own natural journal although I have no expectations other than her pretending/copying me. 

Music - I  also want to be better about listening to good music during the day, maybe a composer a month? I don't intend for us to learn anything about the composer, just to listen to it during our afternoon activity of the day (cleaning, art, baking, etc). 

*One trait she has that is cute for now, but not something that I want her to keep, is that she doesn't like to try things she doesn't think she can do. She'll just say "I no how" (and yes, it is clearly "I no how" not "I know how." We are working on that :-) 


Doing My Duty

I have always enjoyed watching courtroom dramas. As such, and unlike most people, I have long wanted to serve on a jury. I also thought that I would make a perfect juror, because I am not a moron, because I have come to have what I think is the proper amount of skepticism of the state legal apparatus, and also grasp of the Bill of Rights, and because I would take the task seriously.

I had never had that chance until recently. I got a jury questionnaire from my county, which asked some basic questions, including my availability during the May-June timeframe. I quickly filled out the form and sent it back in.

In late April, a jury summons arrived. It gave me a date to report, along with a phone number to call the evening before, to see if they actually needed me. I called the number, and it turned out that they did not. I was sad. But I received another summons, and on the appointed day before, I called the number, and was told to show up the next day. My time to shine had arrived!

Without being too specific, I will recap the proceedings. Things moved pretty fast in the courtroom. The morning was devoted to the jury selection process. After being questioned en masse by the prosecutor and defendant's lawyer in turn, and being given time to plead why we were unable to serve, we were sent away for lunch while the lawyers picked a jury. After lunch, the jury was seated, and opening arguments began in the DUI case before us. The only key to escaping jury duty I came away with, for those of you who would, for whatever reason, want to do such a thing, is to admit to having previously been cited for the offense being tried in the case at hand. It seems to also help to claim the citation was unfair.

The opposing lawyers were a marked contrast. The prosecutor was kind of nerdy, worked alone, and wore a nondescript, off-the-rack suit. Defense counsel had slicked-back hair, an expensive suit, and an attractive young assistant. They did their thing, and the trial wrapped up at around 7 pm, at which time we retired to the jury room.

Since I like to take charge, and since I figured nobody else would want to, I volunteered right off the bat to be foreman, and there was no opposition. My first act was to laboriously read out the judge's instructions, then the question arose as to whether we should vote right away. I was against this, because a) the instructions said to start by reviewing the evidence, and b) I didn't want our deliberations to end after five minutes, in the case of unanimity. But the sentiment in the room was against me, and so we took a hand-raising vote, and it was 6-6 (I asked if people wanted to vote on paper, but those who spoke up said no). So we started to chat.

Because of various doubts the defense raised, sentiment moved towards an acquittal. At this point, one guilty voter changed his mind, openly giving the reason that he wanted to wrap things up. He tried at various times for the rest of the evening to give the remaining guilty voters ways to change their vote without completely violating their conscience (e.g."he's already suffered for some time under this cloud of suspicion", and "that lawyer cost him a lot of money"). A bit later, a second guilty vote changed for similar reasons. At this point, I was part of a small band of holdouts. As we could not reach a decision, we were sent home for the evening.

At this point, I was somewhat disillusioned, due to the two get-things-over-with voters, and also because of some of the lame arguments I was hearing from some of the jurors ("the Breathalyzer must be wrong, because if he was really that drunk, he'd have been falling all over"). But a remarkable thing happened the next day.

Upon reconvening, we took another vote right away, and several jurors had changed their minds. They had found the Breathalyzer evidence too difficult to ignore (the reading was well over the legal limit), even though it was attacked during the trial. This noticeably had an effect, as the remaining acquittal votes, who had seemed so resolute the night before, started to waver. After some discussion, and further movement towards conviction, we requested to review some of the evidence. I had intended to wait until it arrived to vote again, but I sensed that 12 votes were there, so I called for a show of hands. As the evidence finally arrived, I was simultaneously able to hand a guilty verdict form to the bailiff.

On a sad note, I did not get to read the verdict in court. The judge read it, and I was merely given the task of confirming that it was correct.

Of course, jurors are ordered not to do outside research while a trial is in progress, but once it ended I looked up our fair defendant on Missouri Casenet to see if he had priors, and he did, having been involved in (from what I could gather from the legalese on the website) at least two prior drinking-and-driving incidents. When I read that, I wished I would have been able to call every member of the jury to say "See?! See?!"

As a takeaway to future jurors out there, here are my major lessons learned:
  • People's opinions often aren't as firm as they might first appear, so early verdict momentum may be meaningless, and your deadlock may not be as intractable as it seems.
  • A night's sleep can make a big difference in deliberations.
  • Not every juror approaches the task with anything like the conscientiousness of Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men.



Good for what ails ya

I'm not sure if that title really describes this post but it keeps popping in my head so I'll stick with it. First off, thanks for your comments about the kitchen, it is great to look back and see the progress me made but even better to realize that we no longer have to feel any stress over what needs to be done.

One question I've seen on several DIY blogs and have encountered once or twice myself is "How can your marriage handle all that renovation?" or it's statement variation "Oh, I'd love to renovate/buy a fixer upper/do more projects but I think my husband and I would kill each other before we finished." Sometimes it seems like people say that to make themselves feel better about not doing things which is odd, it's not like I'm judging someone because they haven't done a bunch of projects. But I do understand the idea behind the thought because I worried a little bit about that before we started too, not so much that my marriage would suffer but that the reno would take too much family time. Now that we have finished our first big projects, I see things different for several reasons.

1) Making our home
Now most of what Craig and I spend our time on could be considered making "a home." I'm a stay-at-home mom and "homemaker" so I spend my days with Lucy taking care of her and our home. And while Craig isn't at home, he is out in the world providing us with the money we need to pay for our home and the things we need to fill it like food and clothing and decorating supplies :-). But there is something much more real about physically transforming your space into the house and home you want it to be, that fits your family's needs. The more we work on the house the more it feels like it belongs to us, like it is our home and place of refuge from the world. And I'm not just talking about big expensive projects either, our garden hasn't been that expensive but probably has done the most to foster the "home feeling" in me.

2) Partners in crime
We also have our own spheres when it comes to our roles in the home. They are flexible - like when I'm at the beginning of a pregnancy and Craig takes over everything or he is gone and I have to take the garbage out or put gas in the car (yuck!) but basically, we have our jobs and we do them. But when we take on a projects, we collaborate a lot more. We still have things we know we are better at - I know better than to let my clumsy self go anywhere near a saw and Craig knows that the final say in design decisions should probably rest with me, but we go over ideas and make decisions as a team and that's nice.

3) The "romance" of working side-by-side.
We haven't had a lot of date nights since Lucy was born, at least not traditional date nights. But we've spent many evenings working together, talking with each other and just being. And it may not seem as romantic as a fancy dinner or night at the symphony, but I don't think I would probably remember those 10 years from now but I'm pretty sure I'll remember the evening we spent tearing down our walls or the one where we accidentally nicked our pipe and water went everywhere (its funnier now than it was at the time :-) and the one we spent painting until my eyes hurt from all the yellow. And at the end of a long night of working on the kitchen, we are both desperate to get into bed and isn't that the sign of a good date night?

4) Say you're sorry. 
If you aren't as good at saying you're sorry as you'd like to be, well, you'll get lots of practice when you take on a big project. Because when it is midnight and you are completely overwhelmed and out of energy but know you have at least an hour until you reach a stopping point, you will snap at your spouse. And yes, he'll know that you aren't really mad at him for handing him a pencil without an eraser, putting ice in your water bottle or using a grammatically incorrect phrase three times in a row but it's still good to say you're sorry so that he knows you know you aren't really mad about those things either. And then will come the big mistakes, like when one of you puts a gash in the beloved floor or loses that one teeny tiny screw that is so important the house will fall apart without it, and your sorry-saying skills will suddenly come in really handy - as will the other's forgiving skills.

5) Reasons to relish your spouse
This is the gift that keeps on giving. Craig works hard all the time but it is sadly much too easy for me to forget that, or at least forget to appreciate him the way I should. But every time I mop our floors, I think about how much time and effort Craig has spent on our floors. He has sanded and installed and stained and polyurethaned his heart out for those things and I love them, not just because they are gorgeous and easy to clean, but because I see them as a sign of his love for me. He likes the floors too but if it was up to him, he probably would have just left the carpet back at the beginning.

So I'm not saying that you should go out and start renovating your house to save your marriage. And if you or your spouse really hates working on house projects, you might want to find another "fun activity" to do together. But if you like DIY stuff, don't be afraid of it. Just look at those late nights and "this will be funny later but right now I'm about to explode" moments as marriage builders.


Mama needs a make-over.

I would start this post by saying I'm trying to be honest but that is a such a weird thing in the blog world. I mean, I can't be totally honest about everything, nor should I be and even if I wanted to, this blog can't portray all of me. It's just whatever random bits and pieces I write about. Not that I want you to think it's a big lie either :-) The point being (and no, I don't expect you to be able to guess from that rambling paragraph above)...

I've been struggling with body image lately. And really, this is one of the first times in my life I can say that and it's been hard. Not that I think my body has always been perfect or that I've always had a put together exterior - haha - it's just even in middle school, I knew it wasn't about my body physically, but about my ability, or inability, to make the best of it. I'm not a super fashionable girl, I can't do hair and my makeup skills are pretty minimal. But I never blamed my body for any of that and I always knew that if I could just get put on "What Not to Wear," I would end up looking pretty awesome.

This time it's different. I feel frumpy and fat and just kinda bleh. And then I feel like a lame hormonal pregnant women because I feel that way. Of course, there is part of me that still knows that it isn't really me. (And if any of you want to nominate me for WNTW, I won't get offended :-) I feel "fat" for a reason but its a pretty good reason if I do say so myself. But whatever I tell myself about gaining weight and pregnancy, outgrowing maternity clothes is hard on the ego.

Part of it has to do with my mom. 90% of my make-up was given to me by mom which of course means that 90% of my make-up is over 2 years old. She used to send me packages every other month or so with cute shirts she found on sale that she "knew would look great on me" or mini-set of make-up she saw on QVC that was "too young for her". It made me feel special and well, pretty. I miss that.

The other part of it is that I just haven't been trying and I can tell. So I'm going to do something about it. For the next two weeks, I'm going to wear make-up and my hair down. Not that wearing your hair up is bad but it had become my default and I want to stay away from that. 

I'll also be going through my make-up and getting rid of a lot of it because it is liable to give me some weird infection (at least according to good housekeeping). I'll probably replace a few things too but weirdly, I think having less choices will make me more likely to actually use it. I need it to be easy and having to decide between blushes when the all look the same to me anyway (I told you I'm not a make-up girl) just slows me down.

Finally, but certainly not the least important is I'll be working on my prayer life. Not just praying about this issue, although I will be. But I've recently started a bible study that has convicted me on my lack of dedicated time spent talking with my savior. That makes no sense because He is the most important relationship in my life, so why do I find it hard to make that a priority?!  And I think that as my prayer life grows, so will me confidence in that relationship and I think I will see the effects spill over into this part of my life as well. I'm not sure if I'm explaining that well but it makes sense in my head.

To kick it off tomorrow, Lucy and I will be painting our toes. I just bought her some piggie paint and we need to give it a test run. Wish me luck!


A little venting is in order

I've mentioned many times that I love my Ergo. And while I don't wear Lucy nearly as much now that she is a proficient walker and I'm already carrying another baby, I did wear her in the Ergo at least part of every single day we spent in DC - except I didn't. I found out a few days ago that my ergo is a counterfeit.

I thought I had bought a gentle used Ergo on ebay but I guess I was taken. I didn't even know that counterfeit Ergos were an issue until I spotted a blog post that got me thinking. I did a little digging which prompted me to contact Ergo and yep, mine's a fake. And it makes me mad. It's not the money. Yes, even used we paid a pretty penny for it but we also got over 1.5 years of use out of it. It's the safety issue. I carried my baby around with this thing and it's not safety tested buckle (the buckle was the big clue it was a fake). Yikes! It's one thing to use a knock-off purse or pair of sunglasses but I don't want to take chances with my kids. Even thinking about it gets my blood boiling. This wasn't a case of a "too good to be true" deal where I bought a $20 ergo from some random website like cheapergos.com or anything super sketchy like that and it even came in a box with a manual and everything but I'm still kicking myself for not paying the extra money for a new one.

So we'll be looking for a new soft structered carrier. Having researched, it seems like Ergos were the top/only good ssc for a while but other brands have since surpassed them with some features so I'll probably try something new. I have lots of babywearing friends so I was able to look at several but I am still torn between a Boba and a Kinderpack. Ideally, I would buy a Boba for baby number two and a toddler sized Kinderpack for Lucy now that I know how much she still likes to be worn but I don't have the funds for that so I'll probably settle for just a Boba since Lucy still fit comfortable in the Ergo and the Boba is taller - but honest opinions, how not manly is this?

I think it is adorable (and it comes in a matching mini!) and Craig says he would still wear it although I know he would prefer the black but is it really really girly and I'm just not willing to see it? Keep in mind that to some people, babywearing is inherently "girly" so even a black one could not be considered manly although personally I think seeing Craig wear our baby is really sexy. Just sayin'

I do know that whatever one we get, I will be buying it directly from the source. And I would really really encourage you to do the same. Ebay is great for somethings but apparently not baby wearing gear.


DC: And going (the end!)

Monday we headed off to the National Building Museum. Lucy fell asleep in the Ergo on the way there so I got to explore a couple of the more "boring" exhibits - although I really enjoyed them. Lucy woke up in a great mood, just in time for our play time in the building zone. (Does anyone else have issues with Blogger randomly deciding they can't  center a picture?)

She had a blast playing with another dollhouse,


 built herself a bed,
 and giant tower. There were quite a few other kids there so we basically found whatever was the least occupied and played with that - she's so very social :-)

 Then we toured another exhibit about houses which I really enjoyed but Lucy rushed through. She also rushed through the Lego buildings exhibit but that was to be expected since right next to all the buildings was an open area full of Legos to play with. She hadn't ever seen the little ones before but liked her creation so much, she made me take a picture to show daddy since I told her she wasn't allowed to bring it home.

The National Building Museum is definitely a smaller museum but it was nice break from the larger, more crowded Smithsonians. I really enjoyed the exhibits although I am fond of architectural and design stuff so while I picked it for the kid area, it really was a good fit for both of us.

Tuesday we took a break and just hung out at the hotel but Wednesday we were back in the sightseeing mood with a trip to the National Aquarium (the DC location). This is much smaller than the Baltimore location which I've also toured but perfect for a toddler. There were alligators, frogs, turtles, sharks, lots of fish as well as a couple random things I had never heard of and can't remember the name of. I can tell she really enjoyed it because all afternoon she drew pictures of different sea creatures and then would "hide them" by scribbling over the pictures. I'm going to have to scan one for our photo album since it is my favorite drawing of hers to date.

Before we headed back to the hotel, I wanted to swing by the White House. Even with all my trips to DC, I had never done the standard tourist picture in front of the White House. So we did it. Lucy was upset because she couldn't go in the garden to see the water but we still managed to grab a  fairly decent picture.

Thursday was our last day and we had already seen everything I had planned and more so we just spent a little over an hour at the National Gallery of Art (West). I wasn't sure how Lucy would do but I found some things to keep her busy. She loved finding all the "mommy and baby Jesus" paintings - and there were a lot!

My favorite Lucy moment was when she saw a statue, stopped and looked at it a minute, then said "Wait a minute, that lady is nated. No shoes, no socks, dust toes. Dat's funny." She didn't seem to think the fact that the lady wasn't wearing any other clothing very remarkable I guess.

And that was the end of our DC sightseeing. And yes, I am completely exhausted!


Third Trimester here we come!

No official belly shot but you can clearly see the baby belly in this White House shot.

Wow, this pregnancy really seems to be flying by now.

I'm finally feeling good, like really good. I have lots of energy - for someone who spends her day chasing a toddler at least. I was worried that I wouldn't feel up to getting around DC much but Lucy and I were all over the city and I didn't get a nap most days but still managed to survive (although I'll admit I'm looking forward to a nice quiet week at home).

Dewey must be feeling pretty energetic too because he/she is really active now. I've been feeling kicks for a while but lately its been crazy with kicks and perhaps flips and punches. I don't remember this much activity with Lucy so either I'm having pregnancy amnesia (totally possible) or this baby is just a little energy machine (also possible). Time will tell :-)

Lucy is finally excited about the baby. She's "gotten it" for a while but was very negative at first. Now she at least says she is excited and talks about the baby fairly often. She is also completely convinced it is going to be a boy. In the beginning, if we would ask she would sometimes say boy and sometimes say girl. But since about 20 weeks, it has always been "boy/brother." I try and tell her that it might be a sister but she will have none of it. Luckily, she tends to be fairly flexible about changes as long as I give her lots of warning since if baby comes and its a girl, there isn't really anything we can do about it (nor would be want to :-)

I'm been having a lot of Braxton-Hicks. I did have a lot with Lucy too and I know they get more common with each pregnancy so I think I'm pretty normal is that regard but hopefully now that we are home again and I can sit, relax and make sure I drink lots of water, I'll get a bit of a break. My back and hips are doing better, they are still trouble spots but getting adjusted has helped as consistently exercising. I've started having some serious pelvic pain this last week or two but it's better than the first trimester so I try not to complain too much.

One of the things I've most been looking forward to about the third trimester is a new workout dvd. I've been doing the same one 3x a week for almost 3 months now so I'm ready for a switch. I'm also trying to be more consistent with my exercises - squatting and sitting butterfly style are easier the second time around since I'm always on the floor with Lucy anyway but finding time to practice relaxation techniques and do some of the others like pelvic rocking is more challenging. Maybe they will balance out :-) Craig and I haven't done much together yet but we've both review our Bradley material and will start soon.

I've also started my list of things to do before baby comes - mostly unpacking stuff and checking/cleaning it to make sure I have what I need. Getting out those teeny-tiny diapers and onesies will probably make the impending birth seem even more real so maybe it will provide that extra motivation I need which is just what I need because baby should be here in just about 3 more months!


DC: And going...

Saturday and Sunday were daddy days so we did a little bit more intensive sightseeing. Craig and I have both spent quite a bit of time in DC (Craig even lived here three summers ago) but neither one of us had ever done Mt. Vernon so that was how we spent our Saturday.

The day started out a bit rough. We got a bit lost and Lucy started screaming to get out of the car. Then every decision for the next 30 minutes become a battle of wills. Right here she stopped her tantrum to look at the camera. Eventually we distracted her with rocks and were able to continue.

We walked through Washington's garden to kill a few minutes before our tour time.
Lucy enjoyed sitting in the shade and laying rocks (and later leaves) onto the bricks, nice and orderly. It must have been cathartic because her attitude improved quite a bit after that. Which was good because it was time for our tour.
Here is the outside of the house. The inside tour was pretty neat but no pics allowed. Fun thing to note: the colors inside were green, blue and yellow and in very similar shades to our house. Great minds think decorate alike you know!

And here is the family picture that a nice stranger took for us. I only wish she had stepped back a bit so you could actually see the house. But beggars can't be choosers so I'll take it. 

Next up we explored the grounds, saw his chair cart, dung pile, stables with a horse and donkey

then fought a thousand or so middle schoolers for a chance to see Washington's grave. Actually we fought the group leaders. There was a fairly long line and one group came up at a 90 degree angle to it, stood there and the leader said out loud "Okay guys, gather in, as soon as this group finishes up we will push our way in." Excuse me? Do you not see the long line of people standing right here? It is bad enough when 2-3 people try to cut a line, but 30+, you think that's okay? I don't like rude people, especially those in control of massive amounts of 8th graders. But we did eventually get up there.

We then headed to the museum and educational center. This was really neat for the two of the three of us, I spent most of the time trying to slow Lucy down and speed Craig up - without too much nagging of either of them. But the one room Lucy really liked was the kids room and it really was well done. This neat display made animals sounds and a quote from Washington about how he loved his house. 

And Lucy loved this Mt. Vernon doll house. There was a display version in the visitors center which completely disappointed her with it's "No touch" rule so she was thrilled to see another one that she could play with.  

Then we all had a little tea party.

 And took a presidential oath  it's never to early to practice right?

We had gotten an early start so by noon we were all needing a break. We relaxed that afternoon with a nap, some swimming and playing at the hotel. A nice little break so that we were ready for the Newseum on Sunday. This isn't really a kid museum, not that it is not friendly towards kid or full of delicate breakables or anything, its just kinda boring for anyone under 13 or so.  But Craig has been wanting to see if for a while and between the two of us, we managed. 
 Lucy spent a lot of time exploring random things around the floor while Craig read everything and I glanced at all the pictures :-)
 She was really excited about the "painted rocks" - also known as the Berlin wall,
 especially when she was allowed to touch.
 My favorite exhibit was about the FBI which started out with a posing opportunity.
 Of course, daddy had to show some things to his girl, like historical news documents.

In the end, I think Craig was a little underwhelmed by the Newseum whereas I didn't expect to really enjoy it but did. That was the end of our weekend, but Lucy and I still had a whole week of exploring left!


DC: We keep going

Wednesday was Dupont Circle day. It got off to a slow start because it took me forever to find the textile museum. It wasn't my fault though -first of all the city had signs as we left the Metro but they ended right when the road made a Y without any indication of which way to go. So then I used my map and I actually got to the right spot, according to the map, after wandering around for a while but the museum wasn't there. There was a nice lady unloading groceries so I asked her and she hadn't even heard of it. She looked at my map and said I was in the right place, but apparently the museum wasn't. But I also had the address from a different guide book so I wandered around a bit more and found it! (I wasn't the only one who had trouble, as we were walking back to the metro stop, a group of women stopped me and asked if I knew where it was and I was more than happy to point them in the right direction). It was small and not quite as kid-friendly as I had been lead to believe; Lucy still enjoyed it since again, it was quite and fairly empty, but I wouldn't take most 2 year olds there. There was a discovery room with things to touch like different materials before and after processing (silk, cotton, linen, wool, etc), a weaving tool to try and a art station to make your own patterns using stamps and pattern blocks and Lucy loved those but she also enjoyed walking around with me and talking to me about all the "petty (pretty) and booty (beautiful) things." I wish I had pictures of her but they weren't allowed inside :-(

Right across from the textile museum was a park and since I had actually remembered our lunch this time, we took a little break there.

 Anyone have tips on getting a toddler to smile and/or look at the camera? We aren't having much luck.

There we go, a sort smile :-)

 Then it was on towards St. Matthew's Cathedral. I was planning getting cupcakes on the way back after St. Matthews but we were running a bit late and I didn't think Lucy would stay awake that long so we stopped off for some gelato. After mulling over her choices for a minute, she selected strawberry with chocolate bits. It was delicious and apparently Lucy agree because she didn't really want to share.

I think she is smiling because I'm taking a picture, and therefore, not eating her gelato.

They gave us two spoons, a blue and a green. At first she said I could have the blue and she would take the green. Then when she saw me take a bit, she said she would take the blue spoon and I could have the green. Then after I took another bite, she said blue for Lucy, green for Lucy. I thought we were going to have a bit fit right there when I said that ice cream was for sharing but I guess she knew I meant business and said "okay, Lucy share".

By then, she was getting sleepy so I put her on my back in the Ergo and we trekked over to St. Matthews. She was awake but resting on my back as we walked around the church, which was perfect since she was very quiet and I was able to stop and read the signs and look around as long as I wanted. And she was totally asleep by the time we got to the Hello Cupcake store that I had read about so I could pick out a few to take home to share with daddy (the ended up being good, but a little too heavy with the frosting.)

Thursday was going to be the National Building Museum but I could tell Lucy and I were both tired and I didn't want to pay to get into a museum only to have her melt down so I changed our plans last minute and we headed to the Natural History Museum instead. She really loved this place.

Telling me all about the baby and daddy turtles. Anytime there were more than one of an animal, she would pick out the biggest and smallest and tell me that was the daddy and baby. Sometimes there was a middle sized mommy too :-)

Ready to move on. 

We saw all the animals and dinosaur skeletons then headed up to the insect lab. At first, she was really scared but then we found some neat and not so scary water bugs and bees (just like on Pooh!). Right as we were about to leave, the bug lady came up with her little cart and got some bugs out for touching. Lucy touched the millipede then insisted I do so as well. She didn't want to touch the giant caterpillar so I tried first thinking she would after me - nope, but she kept wanting me to touch it more! Yuck. The things we do for our kids. We also watched a big australian mantis eat some leaves. She's always trying to feed the caterpillars in our backyard leaves so she got a big kick out of seeing it eat and then seeing the little marks in the leaf afterwards.

Honey bees - like in Winnie-the-Pooh!


We ended by going through the rock area which was probably her favorite. She quickly learned what the "Please touch" sign meant and found them all over.

 Feeling the rough side...
 then the smooth side. She did this over and over again. 

 tried putting paper clips on this magnetic rock 

and worked very hard at (not) picking up this huge one. She also loved to count the rocks and say all the colors she saw (have you noticed the color theme lately). The one thing she wasn't impressed by - the hope diamond. Someday she'll probably change her mind about diamonds :-)

 We picnicked on the mall then headed back to the Metro and I thought I would try getting a monument picture one more time. She was so tired she didn't want to get out of the stroller (and she normally hates that thing) then a nice gentleman stopped and offer to take our picture so I finally got one of the two of us in front of something historical! He also thought I had a foreign accent for some reason and seemed disappointed when I said we were from St. Louis. I'm not really sure where he got the accent idea from, maybe I was so tired I was slurring my words?  But we were tired at that point so we headed home.

Friday we just hung out at the hotel so we could get caught up on laundry and be ready for our big dinner out at an Ethiopian restaurant Craig had been wanting to take me to after he had been there a few years ago. It was a little fancier than I expected but we went early and were able to get a seat and be served very quickly so Lucy did great. She even tried some of the food (although I had packed a pb&j for the stroll home just in case :-). She loved the Ethiopian bread injera and called it a treat (her word for dessert) and ate all of my saucy hard boiled egg although she didn't quite get the concept of using the injera to pick up the other food so your hands don't get messy - luckily they brought wet ones for all of us :-)  And that brings us to the weekend!