Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Tree Grows in Maryland

Doodle brought home a pine tree sapling almost three years ago in third grade. She carefully planted it and has tended to it ever since. This summer Little Pine Cone--yes it has a name--grew a lot and now is almost as tall as Doodle. Soon I will have to move LP away from the fence. I didn't worry too much about placement three years ago; I figured it would die quickly like those that her friends planted.
Note the leg muscles that Doodle has developed from her running program and soccer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Doodle's Girl Scout troop went on a long-anticipated dogsledding excursion in Western Maryland last weekend and the rest of us tagged along. Doodle earned the mushing badge, Tootle got the mushing Brownie try-it, and we all had a blast. We headed out on Saturday afternoon and met up with everyone else at a hotel with an indoor pool. The dozen or so girls swam for hours and then played board games before crashing around 11. We spent 4 hours at the dog sled operation Sunday morning. In addition to getting to ride on an ATV pulled by a team of 10 dogs (it was warm so the owners used an ATV so they could give the dogs a little gas-powered help going uphill) and getting to lavish attention on 20 beautiful dogs, we learned a few things:

  • The most amazing thing about dogsledding is how loud and wired the dogs are right before they start a run and how eerily silent they are once they are underway and working together as a team.

  • The musher doesn't say "mush" as shown in movies and TV to get the dogs moving. He or she says "hike." We learned other commands like "on the run" which means that the dog shouldn't stop to urinate or defecate but should do it while moving.

  • There are dogsledding clubs in Maryland and Pennsylvania and sprint races in both states. We may need to check them out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tale of Two Trixies

Tootle had her Halloween costume planned for several months and she couldn't wait to unveil it at the school Halloween parade and party on Friday. She had a vision of being Trixie the Halloween Fairy, the title character from one of her beloved Daisy Meadows fairy books, and we worked hard to put the look together, finding a dress on e*bay, ordering wings online, finding a wig and tights at a Halloween store, etc. In her initial excitement, Tootle told C, one of her BFFs and a fellow Daisy Meadows devotee, about her plans. C decided that it was such a fantastic idea that she would be Trixie too, but she didn't tell Tootle or let her mom know where she got the idea.

One day before the Halloween parade, Tootle found out from her kindergarten teacher, whom both Tootle and C still visit every day, that C was going to be Trixie as well. Tootle was a bit upset and told C that she was mad at her. C went home that night and told her mom that Tootle thought she was copying her. Her wonderful mom A listened to the story, confirmed that she was copying Tootle and suggested that she let everyone know that she got the great idea from Tootle and that they could have fun comparing how their costumes are alike and different. That same night, Tootle told me about her discovery. I encouraged her to be flattered rather than upset and also suggested that they compare and contrast. The next morning A and I compared notes and patted each other on the back for handling the situation well. Both Trixies had fun at the parade and class party and they even asked to have a play date together after school. Crisis averted.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Saturday, 5:50 a.m.: wake up to get everyone ready to leave the house in one hour for Doodle's 8 a.m. soccer game, being played on a beautiful artificial turf field 35 minutes from home. 7:30 a.m.: arrive at field. Tootle spots a rainbow, perhaps a sign of good things to come.
Doodle eventually won this battle.
Our goalies rocked and were instrumental in our 1-0 win.
1 p.m.: Tootle's game. Doodle asked to be the photographer for this game. She took the job very seriously, taking 347 pictures. (I only took 100 of Doodle's game.) She did a good job of capturing the joys and the crowding of 2nd grade soccer.
Tootle scored one goal in her team's 5-1 win. She left after half the game for a birthday party that was conveniently located across the street from the field. We stayed to cheer on the team while Tootle partied. Doodle continued to snap away, but most of her 347 pictures were taken in the 30 minutes that her sister played.

Can you imagine the cost if I had a film camera?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Goodbye Summer

Today we're in denial about the end of summer. We went to the pool (it closes for the season tomorrow)...
scored ice cream from the truck...
and did some landscaping that required finding a creative way to move dirt and two eager assistants.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inclement Weather

We're enduring a few days of cloudy, misty weather. Yesterday afternoon I got an e-mail from Doodle's soccer coach that read: "Practice is on." Today's message from Tootle's coach was a bit longer: "Practice will go forward because the rain is light and the forecast is positive. If it becomes too inclement, we will go inside the school." Doodle's coach is an engineer; Tootle's coach is a lawyer.

Thankful Thursday

Doodle spent a night at a mountain cabin owned by her BFF C's family over Labor Day weekend. C's mom reported that Doodle had a huge grin on her face the entire time she was tubing. I'm so thankful for C and her family:
  • C is an incredibly nice kid with many of the same interests as Doodle. I hope that their friendship, which began in kindergarten but became much stronger in third grade and beyond, continues for many years to come.
  • C's dad is Doodle's soccer coach. He is patient and kind, sets a wonderful example for the girls, and has greatly elevated the girls' level of play.
  • C's mom is Doodle's running program coach. She and I share a lot of the same creative interests. The difference is that she is athletic and skinny, and I'm not.
  • C's sister N gave Tootle a bunch of Rainbow Fairy books to read this summer.
Thanks C family, especially M for enduring what was probably a sleepless night in a tent with the girls. You've enriched all of our lives.

Helicopter Parenting

In 4th and 5th grade, Doodle brought home mid-term reports that showed her grades on all the assignments, tests, etc. in the quarter to date. These reports had to be signed by a parent and returned to school. Some teachers only sent them home if a student's grade was C or lower (as a warning sign; Doodle never got one of those), but other teachers sent them home for every child. This year I'm experiencing the turbo charged, souped up middle school reporting system--and I have some concerns about it.

I can go online 24-7 to check on Doodle's homework assignments as well as her grades on quizzes, tests, and other assignments. I also receive e-mail messages prompting me to check when a grade is posted. There aren't too many grades posted yet, but thus far Doodle has 100 percent in everything, mostly spelling, math, and science quizzes. I haven't logged on in a few days, so I just checked and found that there is no math homework tonight because they are doing an in-class project (maybe we'll have time to go shopping for cleats; the ones that I bought a month ago are already too small--this kid's feet never grow that fast).

Oops, that tangent was a bit too long. I don't want to be policing Doodle's schoolwork this closely, but it's hard to resist when the data is so easily available. I want Doodle to take responsibility for tracking her homework assignments and making sure they are complete. She does a good job of turning in all her assignments on time without a need for me to nag, but if she wasn't, I would rather that she suffer a few consequences at school than have me looking closely over her shoulder. I'm not going to be in the room when she's 19 and has a major term paper to complete. By middle school, I think kids should be responsible enough to do their work without hovering parents. When Doodle was younger, I would pack up her homework and special projects in her backpack, making sure everything was complete. In the past year or two, she has taken on this job. I think I'll be walking a fine line this year if I find information that concerns me in the data reporting system.

This year Doodle has begun setting her alarm clock and getting up on her own (last year I practically had to drag her out of bed). This morning the alarm didn't go off, so I was the back up (she woke up so easily that I didn't even have to sing her special wake up song). I think I'll view my schoolwork role as a back-up one. I'll be there to help get things back on track if Doodle's responsibility alarm doesn't go off. I hope I spend most of the year on the sidelines.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Circle Game

And the seasons they go round and round (as Joni Mitchell so eloquently sings).The soccer season has begun again. Doodle played in a tournament over Labor Day weekend, only to have her first regular season game postponed because of poor field conditions. I'm in awe of Doodle's leg span and her determination to get the ball in the top photo. Tootle did get to play on Saturday, and she played fiercely--scoring three of her team's eight goals.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School

Tootle has new shoes to match her spunky attitude. Doodle is a bus patrol this year. Both girls have their BFFs in their homeroom class. Life is good.

Gem Mining

Doodle is a rock hound, so we spent our August vacation fulfilling one of her dreams: gem mining in North Carolina. We began our geology-themed vacation with a stop at Luray Caverns in Virginia. Both girls were in awe of the caverns' beauty and enjoyed listening to the self-guided tour on tape. The next day we arrived at our destination and quickly went to the mine for an exploratory visit. The mine's web site boosts that you can find 70 different gems there, and we probably found half of the possible gems in our buckets of mine ore that we ran through the sluiceway over two days. We didn't have much luck finding gems in the mine's creek and opted not to go in to the mine to dig due to pesky sinus infections that three of us were recovering from and the fact that no one seemed to be having much luck digging. Among our finds were emeralds, amethyst, garnet, topaz, citrine, smoky quartz, rose quartz, clear quartz, tourmaline, and other pretty rocks too numerous to identify. We got very dirty and ruined a few old shirts, but we had a blast.

Tootle isn't as knowledgeable as Doodle about the various types of gems, but her interest in the subject has intensified and she is particularly proud of a large nicely shaped piece of quartz that she found. Doodle loved all of her finds, especially the emeralds and amethyst. I'm having emerald necklaces made for both girls with the best of our gems, and we can't wait to see them. Today is the second day of school and Doodle has already written an entry in her science journal about the trip. I predict that both girls will have other occasions to write and talk about this trip during the school year. We didn't strike it rich, but we did make rich memories.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009


This morning I glanced out the window and noticed that the black eyed susans were swaying even though there was no breeze. I grabbed my camera and with the aid of the zoom lens I was able to see the cause. A finch was enjoying the glorious flowers. He blends in rather well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

15 Seconds of Fame

The girls and I went to Nationals Park last Saturday for a blood donation drive. I had scheduled an appointment and expected to go in and out quickly. It ended up taking more than 3 hours because of the size of the crowd ready and willing to donate. In that time, we scored four hats autographed by pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (right before he found out that he needs surgery that will keep him out of the lineup for more than a year), a t-shirt, and two tickets to a future game. The girls and I watched the groundskeepers prep the field for that evening's game and the girls saw batting practice. The picture above is on the National's blog. Doodle is thrilled to have 15 seconds of fame; Tootle glanced at the photo and walked away. I spent Sunday doing all the errands that I didn't have time for on Saturday, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Tootle's day ended well. She earned three scoops of ice cream (rainbow sherbet, pink bubblegum, and pop rock) for some extra work that she did around the house. I had no idea that three scoops was such a large amount of ice cream; she usually gets the kid's cone.


Doodle had an undeservedly lucky/charmed day on Saturday. First she won four tickets to a Baltimore Orioles game through our library's summer reading program. Doodle has read two books this summer while Tootle has read 16, but Doodle's entry won. Fortunately Tootle will get to enjoy the game too. Later Doodle got the Beanie Baby that she wanted at McDonalds even though she didn't even order a Happy Meal; I did. Tootle dutifully ordered a Happy Meal and got an inferior toy. Sometimes life just isn't fair, especially when you're the little sister.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Tonight's bedtime conversation with Doodle made me chuckle.

Doodle: Wouldn't it be great if we could erase all the mistakes that we've made in life?

Me: What mistakes have you made?

Doodle: Buying too many stuffed animals, especially Web*kinz. I packed some of them up; maybe they'll be worth something some day. (I didn't burst her bubble.)

An amused me, probing a bit more: Have you made any other mistakes?

Doodle: Not finding out more about cooking camp before going. (Both girls are at cooking camp this week; Doodle has a few issues with how the camp is being run. Tootle seems to be happy to cook and eat her way through the day.)

After a moment of silence, Doodle asked me what mistakes I would erase. I replied that I would have to think about the question before answering it because a change could have unforeseen consequences and result in changes to things that I love about my life. We agreed that correcting her "mistakes" would not alter the state of the world:)

Bunnies at Dusk

Discovered on our lawn; I wonder if they know about the pet bunny next door.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HP Again

But this time, I'm referring to the computer. On our way home from Hershey, we stopped to see my mom's twin sister. All four of her grandsons were hanging out at her house for the day. What did Doodle and her teenage cousins do? Fired up the laptops, of course...Six kids, three laptops, and a dog who didn't know whose lap to jump on to. Later the kids decided to get some exercise and played dodge ball.