Monthly Archives: April 2015


L had her third preschool session yesterday.  She actually has only one more as we are heading to New York and Virginia in less than two weeks, and we’ll miss the last two sessions.  Anyway, it was a beautiful day, and we had a lot of fun.   The theme was birds, so we headed out with pictures of many local birds and started looking for them.  We didn’t find much other than a few robins and the like, but we had a lovely hour and fifteen minute walk through the slough.  The slough is a wetland and has forested areas, marshy areas, and today we came by a beautiful creek I hadn’t seen before.  The teacher had the kids do things like use sticks and moss to build their own bird nest, pretend to be birds by flapping their arms and eating worms (and we found some real worms), and walk quietly so they could listen to the birds.  The last was tricky since B was feeling particularly talkative at that moment.  Also, I was glad I was in shape as carrying B for all that time is definitely a bit of an endurance exercise.  While I could always bring L to the slough myself and take us on a nature walk, sometimes it’s just so much easier to follow along and not have to come up with the plan.  So far, L has been loving it, and I’m hoping things will go well next year when I’m not around.

In other news, my next quilt is in work.  It’s going to be scrappy, and color and fabric selection is both challenging and expensive.  I think for my next one, I will do something using pre-cuts to make things a bit easier.  I probably won’t be able to finish this one before my upcoming trip East.

B’s baptism gown is finished, but more on that later.

L and B

I ended up pulling L out of swim lessons and taking a credit.  I took her to the pool yesterday (which she thankfully loves despite the swim lesson trauma) and watched grumpily as the two remaining children had their class.  One of them can already swim.  The other is pretty darn close.  This is really the lowest level swimming class for three-year-olds?  I feel like I practically need to teach L to swim before she will be able to handle the class, which sort of defeats the purpose.

In more on parenting struggles, L has finally started the crying / tantrum thing when it’s time to leave places and she does not want to go home.  This is so hard to deal with when the reason we are leaving is that B is cranky and tired.  L threw a hysterical temper tantrum when we left the pool the other day, and then B joined in.  I seriously feel people must think I am an abusive parent given the amount of crying my kids were doing.  I thought it was supposed to be the terrible 2s, not 3s!

Parenting is not all that much different from working in that the day is always filled with little victories and defeats, and the proportion of one to the other dictates how I feel at the end of it all.  Did we get to spend time outside in decent weather?  Did L learn anything? Were she and B happy?  B has just been having major leaps lately.  She recently cut her first two teeth, started really crawling (on 4/20) though she’s been efficient at moving around for some time via some kind of hybrid army crawling / frog style maneuver, is eating like crazy and is just so interactive with her environment.  She is also getting into everything!  There is so much more to get into than when L was this age due to L’s toys being everywhere.  L is left to her own devices for an hour or more every day while I nurse B or get B to sleep or whatever, and she entertains herself spreading her belongings from one end of the house to the other and disseminating everything into drawers, boxes, bags and other nooks and crannies.

Preschool is going well.  On Monday, the kids learned about the life cycle of a butterfly.  Then they headed outside with “tools” – spoons, specimen containers and magnifying glasses – to search for insects in the Mer.cer Slough, where the preschool is based.  Next, they headed to a pond with nets and dredged for more insects.  Finally, the teacher took a couple of their finds and used a projector to magnify them so the kids could see the bugs supersize.  All in all, I thought it was vastly superior to, say, alphabet worksheets.

swim lesson debacle

I took L to her second swim lesson yesterday with B in tow.  It was a debacle.  By five minutes in, she was in hysterics.  Backing up a little, I took L to her first lesson on Tuesday.  I’d taken her to the pool a few days before, and she’d had a great time playing in the shallow area, which ranges from 2 to 2.5 feet.  She mostly walked along the side, but she also enjoy me holding her while she “swam.”  Her first lesson started off well.  She sat in the water with the other kids, two of whom were crying, and dutifully put her left ear, then her right ear in the water.  She started getting a little alarmed when they made her blow bubbles, and after a couple rounds of the pool blowing bubbles with the teacher, she started freaking out.  She off and on cried the last twenty minutes of class.  Undeterred, I figured that she mostly didn’t like all the splashing and water in her eyes, so I ordered goggles overnight from Amazon.  We splashed in my new big bathtub, and she seemed relatively psyched for lesson number two.  Nevertheless, I was feeling pangs of anxiety as we headed into the pool.  Something told me this was not going to go well.

The lessons are in deepish water, maybe four feet, and the kids sit on the steps.  L was not to happy about me leaving her on the top step, and the waterworks started when the teacher moved her down to the second step (maybe six inches of water).  I ended up sitting beside her, and she wouldn’t stop crying or let go of my hand.  Please remember, I’ve got B in the Ergo the whole time, and all of us are getting soaked, L being the only one with a swimsuit.  I made her sit there for twenty minutes but stayed with her and didn’t make her do anything more with the teacher.

The whole thing was extremely unpleasant on so many levels, and I really didn’t know how to handle it.  Should I have stayed back and let me child remain in full hysterics and let the teacher deal with it?  Should I have just pulled her out of the lesson and left when it was clear she wouldn’t be learning to swim?  The teacher gave no guidance whatsoever as to whether she’d prefer I intervene or stay back.  Honestly, I felt like other parents much have been judging me as some kind of harsh or abusive parent for making her stay for so long when she was so upset.

L wasn’t the only crying kid.  Of the four kids in the lesson, on day one, there was major crying from three of the four, though the other kids seemed to get a bit happier as the lesson went on, while L deteriorated.  On lesson two, two of the four were very happy, but the other kid didn’t even make it into the pool.  His mom ended up leaving with him at some point.

L is used to having me around, but of course she’s been in the care of two different nannies, and in general, she does well with other adults in settings where there’s a low adult to kid ratio.  However, she’s clearly not comfortable getting splashed nor with deep water.  Clearly spending more time getting her used to the water would have helped.  We haven’t gone to the pool much since I got pregnant with B.  J is not into indoor pools, and it is extremely difficult for me to manage both B and L at the pool at the same time without help.  I was happy with the idea of lessons that didn’t feature me in the pool, but at the Y, parent & child lessons weren’t an option anyway.

I do feel that the lesson could have been run a bit better.  When three of four kids are crying hard in your lesson, that’s not a great sign.  The two kids who are doing well practically know how to swim already.  The can swim around with the little float on their backs and are 100% comfortable swimming with their face fully immersed.  These are the lowest level lessons, and it seems to me that there’s a bit of an ability gap.  L probably would have done a lot better if the first lesson had focused solely on getting comfortable with being in deep water without Mom around – just blowing bubbles, maybe some kicking and moving around in the water without her face immersed.  I feel like with only four kids, the instructor could have tried to tailor things a bit more to their individual abilities.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far about preschool swim lessons, I’m impressed.  After yesterday’s disastrous lesson, taking L and B to the pool on my own suddenly seems easy by comparison.  Swimming is such an uphill battle around here.  In my prenatal aerobics classes, the vast majority of the other women are clearly not swimmers.  I love being in the water and swimming, and I’m determined to turn L into a swimmer.  Hopefully I won’t traumatize her for life in the process.

first day of preschool

L had her first day of preschool today.  It’s a parent-and-me program, but it’s run by the same group, the Pacific Science Center, who run the preschool program she’ll attend next fall.  For the moment, it’s only 90 minutes once a week, which, given that I have to attend with B, is for the best.  Like the preschool program next fall, it has a large outdoor component, so I wasn’t thrilled when it started raining half an hour before we were due to leave.  Keeping all three of us warm and dry is not completely trivial.  However, a good (if exhausting on my part) time was had by all, and I’m really pleased with everything.  The teachers were young and enthusiastic.  (I know this group gets at least some Teach for America volunteers, which I think is kind of cool.)  There were two teachers for only four students so yeah, great ratio.  We spent about half the time outside walking through the slough where the program is based, and L is not the only one learning things.  I was learning as well.  The theme was things that grow – what is alive, what isn’t, what belongs in the outdoors, and so on.  Despite the rain and the baby, I enjoyed our walk through the woods.  Goretex certainly helped.

Tomorrow, L will have her first swim lesson at the Y.  It’s a busy week!

In the meantime, I’m contemplating starting a new quilting project.  I am stalled on L’s baptism gown until Wednesday, and we finally submitted our federal taxes today.  (Thank God that Washington does not have state taxes.  I might be forced to end it all.)  After two weeks of waking up four times a night, B is finally over her cold and has only woken once the past two nights.  L has been sleeping well also.  Life is good!  On that note, I’m contemplating and around-the-world quilt.  I am inspired by two quilts by my current favorite quilter, Blue Elephant Stitches.  The two quilts are this one and this one.  I really like both of them, but I have more fabric to suit the pastel style, so that’s likely the approach I’ll take.  I’m thinking a rainbow theme, which is rather juvenile, but I have a baby in mind, so it’s all to the good.

baptism gown update

Well, the knitting is down.  The knitting, the grafting, and the overcasting.

Blocking remains, and for this I need a piece of cardboard, or pieces, that is 39″ by 21″.  Hopefully the diapers I’m expecting in the mail on Wednesday will fit the bill.

Regardless, I’m pretty pleased with it right now.  It’s light and airy and weighs in at only 90 grams.  B will wear it over a plain slip, and it should extend more than a foot beyond her feet.  I hope I can get a decent picture of her wearing it.  Photographing babies is never easy.


pool expedition

I took L to the pool today for the first time in about a year.  I really want her to learn to and love to swim, but it is really an uphill battle around here.  Outdoor swimming is pleasant maybe a month out of the year, if that, in a typical summer.  On the few gorgeous perfect swimming days, the public pools will have literally a two hour wait to get in, and I’m guessing they’re packed if you do get in.  Therefore, if you want to swim outdoors, you really need to join a swim club, which is rather pricey given how infrequently we get swimming weather.  Swimming indoors is just not the same, but it’s what we’ve got around here.  I used to take L to swim lessons near our old house, and pool was just very cold, and she would just be so frozen she would stop moving at all.  Basically, it was a complete bust.  I found a warmer pool, but it was about 25 minutes from our house, so going there was a bit of a production.   Fortunately, the situation has improved somewhat at our new place.  The local Y has an “activity pool” which they keep at a fairly warm temperature, and it has a 2 foot deep shallow end.  The only problem is that I’ve added a second kid, which makes pool trips more than a bit tougher.  In fact, I’d been so intimidated by trying to take the two of them to the pool on my own, I hadn’t gone.  J is just not that into swimming, especially indoors, so he hadn’t wanted to go with us on the weekends.

Finally, today, I’d had enough, and I decided we were going to do this.  I packed up my kids, their bathing suits and mine and a couple towels and off we went.  It went better than I could have imagined!  The Y is so much nicer than our old local pool.  They had family changing rooms, and you could even bring your stroller onto the pool deck.  B was adorable in her little bathing suit, and L is infatuated with her suit.  I actually bought it accidentally (or B did – not sure) via one-click ordering, and it’s kind of awful in terms of fit, but she loves it, and it’s not like she’s swimming laps at this point.  Anyway, L was very cautious at first, sitting on the step in four inches of water.  She gradually ventured down into the water over the course of 20 minutes until she was walking back and forth holding onto the wall in chest-deep water.  She even wanted me to hold her so she could swim.  It was so much fun!  Keeping B happy was not exactly trivial, so the expedition was not exactly a walk in the park and featured a certain amount of crying, but overall it was a smashing success.  L declared she wants to go to the pool every day.  Hopefully we’ll go back this weekend.

baptism gown update

The knitting is done.  The gown now looks like the photo above except that it has two sleeves.  I still have one to two weeks of finishing – grafting, fixing mistakes, weaving in ends, and finally blocking – but the end is in sight.

I’m a much better lace knitter than when I started this project.  In some ways, I’d like to knit another major lace project, maybe a Shetland shawl, but most likely I’ll take a long break.  I’m eager to make some quilts, some baby quilts, some throws, and then a twin quilt for L, and finally a queen quilt for our guestroom.   But I’m getting ahead of myself.  On to grafting for the moment.