Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

Best Costume of the Night

So Medusa, M&M, and a bee bump into a strolling toilet on Halloween night... Our neighborhood has lots and lots of young families, and we routinely get 130-150 trick or treaters. (Tootle is one of six kindergartners on our street, and there are six more on the next street over. Doodle is one of eight girls her age in the neighborhood.) We hit the high end of the trick or treater range tonight, actually running out of candy by 8:30: perfect weather and lots of fun as we saw lots of friends going from house to house. The best costume I saw tonight had a built in place to put the candy. Just open the toilet seat and deposit the candy. Very clever.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where's George?

In removing a dollar bill from my pocket last night, I noticed some red text at the bottom of the bill. It reads "Track this bill at" I've heard of Where's George but had never received, or more accurately hadn't noticed if I received, a marked bill before. Doodle wanted to rush to the computer, but it was her bedtime and I put her off for a day. Tonight after Tootle went to bed and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown ended, Doodle and I registered on the site and recorded our bill's information. Unfortunately we were the first to register this bill so it has only traveled six miles, but we quickly discovered that we could look at the travel routes of all the registered bills that passed through our zip code. We spent 30 minutes on the site, discovering bills that have gone coast to coast and one that has been to Aruba. I know that we will be going back again to check on our bill. We will also be examining our bills a bit closer. Doodle and I are still deciding where and on what we will use the bill. She wants me to take it on a business trip, but I don't have one scheduled for a while.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Playing by Ear

From the time that she started to play the piano, Doodle has shown some talent for playing by ear and for writing her own compositions. She also can take a simple tune and translate it to an instrument that she has never played before, like her friends' violas or cellos. But what she did last night left me awestruck. While listening to the High School Musical 2 CD, Doodle took out her flute, whispered "This one starts with F," and began to jam. In most parts of the two songs that she chose to accompany (You Are the Music in Me and What Time Is It?), she played all the same notes as those in the song. In other parts, she improvised, and it sounded terrific. The kid has only been playing flute for a month, about the same amount of time that I played the clarinet in fourth grade before giving up in frustration. I know Doodle won't be giving up, although it's likely that she will add other instruments to her arsenal. She already wants to learn guitar next summer. Play on, Doodle, play on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend Update

This weekend I realized that I can get a lot more accomplished when only one kid is home. Doodle spent the weekend camping with her Girl Scouts troop. Not only did Tootle and I decorate for Halloween, but we also cleaned the garage, decluttered the den, and shopped for winter clothes and part of Tootle's Halloween costume.

I probably posted my Friday photo challenge too quickly. On Sunday, after picking Doodle up in the boonies, we went to a nearly farm and took a hayride to pick our pumpkins. It was a glorious day: good company (one of Doodle's friends and her mom accompanied us), beautiful skies and scenery, and perfect weather. I love fall.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Family FotoFun Friday Challenge: Fall Fun

Our fall fun is a bit tamer than usual this year. We won't be jumping in the hayloft, climbing on the bales of hay, and sliding down the giant hills because of Tootle's broken wrist. It's hard enough to keep her from reinjuring herself at home; the temptation to fly through the air would be too great at the pumpkin festival. Today Tootle enjoyed helping me to put out the Halloween decorations. She found a stash of plastic pumpkins that I wasn't planning to use and designed her own display. The pumpkins are in a "nest" so they won't blow away. If they do get carried away by a strong gust, I'll have to remind her of the conclusion to The Five Little Pumpkins: "Whoosh went the wind and out went the lights. And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Glow in the Dark Cast

I need to figure out how to turn off my flash to capture the cast's glow. There are lots of hearts on this cast; must mean Tootle is well loved.

Miss Manners

Tootle has been a bit more subdued than usual since her accident; just last night her spark started to reignite. At dinner last night, Doodle pinpointed the biggest change in Tootle. As Doodle said, "She got manners." Tootle has always done a good job with her "pleases" and "thank yous" and "excuse mes" in public, but at home, I constantly have to remind her to ask nicely rather than in a bossy tone, especially at the dinner table. Since the injury, Tootle's demands have been voiced in a quiet, well mannered voice. I hope this change sticks.

When Tootle went to the orthopedist yesterday, she chose a glow in the dark cast, just the thing for Halloween. She's excited about having her classmates sign it today. I'll post a picture tonight.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fractured Tootle Tale

Tootle got through her first day well with no complaints about pain. Two things have surprised me about Tootle's reaction to her injury. When we left the soccer field, Tootle pleaded to go home rather than to the hospital. She begged so much that I decided to call the urgent care facility to alert them that we were on the way there. They let me know that five x-rays were pending ahead of ours and that they wouldn't be able to see us for two hours, so I decided to go to the ER despite Tootle's protests. That move saved us several hours because the urgent care facility wasn't equipped to do sedation or the reduction procedure so we would have ended up at the ER anyway. While she was brave, Tootle whimpered throughout the ER visit that she wanted to go home. Tootle has handled her cleft palate surgery hospitalization and ear tube surgeries well, but clearly they have left a mark on her. She never protests visits to the doctor's office but she now seems to be terrified of hospitals. It will be interesting to see how she reacts the next time she needs ear tube surgery.

The other surprise is that Tootle doesn't like being in the spotlight despite her outgoing, exuberant personality. Tootle became upset at tonight's soccer practice as I answered lots of questions from parents and Doodle's teammates about her condition. Tootle had the same reaction earlier in the day as I talked with neighbors and even to friends on the phone. Even when the well wishes came from Doodle's friends, Tootle clammed up, and I had to answer for her. She doesn't want to go to school tomorrow because she knows that her classmates and friends in other classes will want to know what happened. I tell her that it's a good thing because it shows that people care about her, but I don't think I've convinced her.


Tootle's monkey bars/calluses dilemma has been solved. She won't be on the monkey bars for at least a month because she broke her wrist in two places on Saturday. While playing soccer on the sidelines during Doodle's game, Tootle fell as she chased the ball up a hill. In putting her hand out to stop her fall, she managed to break two bones. I was chatting with two of the other moms and watching the game, so I only saw the aftermath: Tootle lying on her stomach and crying harder than I've ever heard her cry. I scooped her up, got her to tell me where it hurt, assessed the situation with a soccer mom/nurse, and quickly headed to the emergency room, located about 5 minutes away. We spent five hours at the emergency room, mainly because they wanted her stomach to empty before putting her under sedation to reset the bone. Fortunately the hospital has a pediatric ER wing, so the experience was as pleasant as it could be and a Dora DVD distracted Tootle for at least an hour or so. The arm is in a splint and will be put in a cast as early as Tuesday. They don't cast it right away because it will be swollen for the next few days.

Doodle was already scheduled to go home with one of her teammates for a playdate so she arrived home shortly after we did, much more concerned about her sister than her team's first loss. Tootle knew that Doodle would want to mother her and that a hug might hurt, so she greeted Doodle with "Don't hug me." That didn't stop Doodle from fawning over her sister until she went to bed about 30 minutes later. I woke Tootle at 2 a.m. for more Ibuprofen and icing and haven't been able to get back to sleep. Tootle is sleeping comfortably and it's probably time for me to try again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Family FotoFun Friday Challenge: Sweet Tooth

Tootle is an ice cream fiend. She would eat it three times a day if I let her, and she has been known to ask for it for breakfast. Doodle prefers gummy candies and popcorn, the things that she can't have while she's in braces. They both like chocolate but not quite as much as I do. To see other adorable kids with sweet teeth, go here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spelling Bee

Tootle has caught the reading bug and is very interested in learning to read. Unlike Doodle, who entered kindergarten as a reader, Tootle has been disinterested until now. She particularly loves learning new sight words, and this morning she decided to quiz me:

Tootle: What does s-e-e spell?

Me: See.

Tootle: Very good, mommy! How about l-i-k-e?

Me: Like.

Tootle: That's right! How about y-o-u?

Me: You. You've learned a lot of sight words in the last few weeks. I'm proud of you.

Tootle beamed and then went off to brush her teeth. She's going to be a bee for Halloween. Perhaps she'll be a spelling bee.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Everyone is in bed, getting a good night's sleep in anticipation of another week of school. Tootle's kindergarten teacher recently reported that she will start giving the kids homework this week. Tootle can finally stop complaining about the lack of homework (she doesn't know what she wishes for). The teacher promises that the work will seldom be worksheets and is really designed to get the class used to homework so that they are prepared for first grade. It is supposed to take about 10 minutes a night to complete.

Doodle doesn't complain about homework too much, but both she and I wish that there wasn't quite so much of it in fourth grade. She seems to be spending about 90 minutes a night on homework, not because she is struggling, but because of the volume of the work. Here is her typical week:

Monday: piano lesson, math homework, study for spelling quiz, science or social studies homework, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal (the assignment is to write at least three sentences about what they read but Doodle usually writes about a page), practice flute

Tuesday: Girl Scouts, math homework, science or social studies homework, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal, practice piano and flute

Wednesday: soccer practice, math homework, come up with five spelling words to add to the standard list of 12 words for the class, science or social studies homework, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal, practice piano and flute

Thursday: playdate, math homework, write sentences for each of the spelling words, study for science quiz, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal, practice piano and flute

Friday: playdate, practice piano and flute

Saturday: soccer game, work on monthly poetry presentation or book report, practice piano and flute

Sunday: church, soccer practice, practice piano and flute

I'd like Doodle to take yoga to help her deal with stress but ironically there just isn't time. Maybe when soccer is over, although thus far she is handling the stress of her workload better than she did last year. She loves music and writing so at least some of the work is enjoyable, and the science curriculum this year is a lot of fun. If she could get over her aversion to math (one that I share, unfortunately), she probably wouldn't need yoga.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Down by the Bay

I can't get that kid's song out of my head after spending yesterday with Doodle and her classmates on a glorious all-day (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) field trip to the Chesapeake Bay. The kids spent part of the day at an archaeological museum and the rest of their time seining in the bay (fishing in waders with a big net) and collecting fossilized shells and shark teeth. I didn't even need to take Tylenol because I did not get a spot on the buses so I rode in a car with three other parents. Those bus rides are noisy and don't involve a stop at Starbucks.