Thursday, December 30, 2010

New address

I've decided to combine the kids' blogs into one blog. It's easier for me and I've been finding more stories about things they both do that I'm never sure how to separate into different blog entries. So from now on check out here:

http://monkeybusinessjanda.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My angel

We're kind of tight on space in our new place. Most of the Christmas presents are in the basement, but I was wrapping the other day and brought them into the house to wrap, then decided to keep them there till Christmas. I put them in the hall closet. I had told the kids the presents were in the basement and I hoped this would eliminate snooping.

I was unloading a few things from the car yesterday and when I got back upstairs I noticed Jessica rummaging in the closet. Kind of sharply, I asked her what she was doing.

She started crying. Then she said she had presents for me and Daddy and was trying to hide them and how was she supposed to do that when we were always there?

She had a point. I told her I would go into my bedroom and wait for a few minutes while she found a hiding place. She was too upset and ran into her room.

After a while she cheered up and I forgot about it.

I stashed a few more presents in the closet today and I noticed a little package in there. I didn't take a close look at it but I know it was from her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Absence does not make the heart grow fonder

One of Jessica's best friends last year in kindergarten was Emily. Emily really liked Jessica and was always writing her notes telling her how much she loved it. It was really sweet. After we moved, Emily was one of the kids Jessica repeatedly said she missed and wanted to have a playdate with. They had a couple of playdates and Emily came to Jessica's birthday party.

The day before Thanksgiving I took the kids to the New England Aquarium. I figured since it was such a big travel day, the aquarium wouldn't be as crowded. I was right.

On the way out, guess who we bumped into? Emily and her grandparents, who live in Boston. Emily has always been pretty shy and she immediately hid behind her grandmother. I guess it was contagious, because then Jessica started hiding behind me. Neither girl would talk to each other. It just seemed kind of odd, and a shame, that these 2 girls who liked each other so much, were suddenly shy with each other.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Small miracle

Jessica is in a play for the next couple of weeks. A semi-professional production company needed 100 kids to play elves in their Christmas play. The kids actually play 2 parts: elf and child. When they're the child, they wear PJ's and for elves they wear a Santa hat and "something festive." Jessica is wearing a Christmas dress, red velour.

So, today Xander had a birthday party to go to from 11 to 12:30 and then Jessica had to be at the matinee performance at 12:45. We had to go straight from the party to the play, so she wore her Christmas dress, which is the first outfit she needs.

I had forgotten the party was at "Plaster Fun Time." Kids pick out a premade plaster creature and then paint it. I had somehow hoped that Xander would just let me drop him off, but not only didn't that happen, he spent much of the party saying "I want to go home!" At least he didn't cry most of the time like another kid. Since I had to stay, I let Jessica pick out something to paint.

She wore a smock, but the entire time I kept saying, "Be careful of your dress, be careful of your dress." Not a drop on it. It was a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The professional

Now that Jessica gets marbles (which lead to money) for certain household chores, she's much more amenable when I ask her to do one of those chores. I usually call out "I have a marble-earning opportunity!" and see which child bites.

But even though that's the phrase I use, it was odd to hear Jessica ask, in a very businesslike tone, "Do you have a marble-earning opportunity available?" She was one marble away from earning $5 so she was very motivated.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

7 years of luck

Mostly. Happy 7th Birthday Jessica!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Phrasing

I just handed the kids a piece of gum each.

"Remember," I said in my best Mom tone, "if I see the gum out of your mouth, I'm going to take it away."

Jessica's response? "What if you don't see it out of our mouths?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Losing my marbles

It's really been a struggle to get Jessica to do chores. For a while we asked her to do a certain amount of work (such as empty the utensil tray from the dishwasher and feed the cat) during the week to earn her allowance. Well, it inevitably caused lots of whining and complaints and I didn't really track it so I gave out her allowance whether or not she actually did enough work.

Then I read this idea in Family Fun: instead of giving allowance every week, whenever she does certain chores, she gets a marble. The marbles accumulate in a jar. When she gets enough marbles (roughly equivalent to the amount of work we expected her to do in the course of one week), she gets $5. No more weekly allowance.

I read about this, probably 4 or 5 months ago, but with moving and vacation and laziness, I hadn't gotten around to implementing it before now. We started on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, we were out, and when we got home, the dishwasher was done running. I called into the living room, "Does anyone want to earn a marble?" (The bonus about this is that it gives Xander a chance to earn money too; he's too young for a real allowance right now).

They didn't hear me, so Hari repeated it to them and they probably ran each other over trying to get into the kitchen. I let them both empty the utensils because they were fighting over who got to do it, thus handing out 2 marbles for what is really only a 1 marble job.

It's 3 days later and they jump at the chance to earn marbles. It's a little early to be sure, but I think this is actually going to work.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dorothy

Just a quick link to one of the pictures from Jessica's Family Fun photo shoot:
http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/dorothy-costume-930465/

The magazine is out now, though I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cat envy

Jessica feels kind of bad that our kitten Lily seems to prefer me over her. I tried to make her feel better by saying maybe it was because I'm the one that feeds her, but I suspect it's also because I am a lot more gentle with her. I don't, for example, try to wrap her up in a blanket and cradle her in my arms like a baby (although, to be fair, sometimes Lily actually seems to enjoy this). I also don't chase her all over the apartment when she jumps out of my arms. And when I'm holding her, if she struggles, I let her go. But I'm sure if I'd had a kitten when I was Jessica's age, I'd be doing exactly what Jessica is doing.

* * *

On a completely different note, last year Jessica shocked me by telling me she was willing to wear jeans. To her credit she did wear them occasionally, but I probably could have gotten by with one pair instead of the 3 that I bought.

This year, she announced she didn't want jeans. This didn't shock me. So I haven't bought her any.

Today when I met her at school, she firmly announced that she wanted to wear jeans. Since this contradicted her statement of a couple of weeks ago, I asked why.

"So I can put my baby Zhu-zhu pet in the pocket."

Of course. Why else would someone want to wear a particular item of clothing?

This comes from her new friend Sarah who brought her baby Zhu-zhu pet to school yesterday and apparently kept it in her pocket. Since Jessica didn't have pockets, I'm guessing she was forced to keep her toy in her backpack.

I guess we're going jeans shopping tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Time management

Whenever we want the kids to do something that they don't want to do (or stop doing something they want to keep on doing) we give them a time limit and set the timer. Then when the timer goes off, they have to start/stop what they're doing. It really does result in less arguing and better obedience.

Now, in our old place, where there was an open layout between the kitchen and living room, we just set the kitchen stove timer. In our new place, the kitchen is down the hall from the living room so if they're in the living room, we use a portable dial-type timer.

Jessica loves this timer, for some unknown reason. She sets it to go off randomly and when it goes off, sets it again.

This morning was the first day of school, time to get back on a schedule. She was playing with Xander and I told her 5 minutes before we had to leave for school. I set the timer, then went outside to get Xander's stroller from the shed. When I got back inside, I checked the timer, expecting it to have already gone off.

Not only had it not gone off, there was still about 10 minutes on it. I thought this was odd but chalked it up to the timer not working right, because if you set it for less than 15 minutes, you have to dial it past 15 minutes and then back down. I figured I hadn't done this.

In any case, I set the timer for 2 more minutes.

When it went off, Jessica looked up in surprise.

"Did you touch the timer?" she asked, suspiciously.

This set off alarms in my head.

"Did *you* touch the timer?" I asked, suddenly realizing why the timer still had 10 minutes on it.

Giggles and refusal to meet my eyes were enough of an answer.

That little sucker thought I wouldn't realize the time had been changed. She is devious!

She's at her first day of first grade in her new school now. I hope it's going okay. I've probably been more nervous about it than she's been. Here's a picture of her from this morning:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kitten!

I've been missing having a second cat since Chelsea died 2 years ago but I wasn't ready for a kitten until now. When we decided to move, thus requiring Jessica to start a new school, she wasn't happy. So I did what every mother would do in this situation: I bribed her.

And what did I bribe her with? A kitten! Personally, I see it as a win-win situation.

The only caveat was that we wait till after our vacation to acquire the promised kitten. For weeks all I heard was, "when are we going to get the kitten?" and "I want the kitten!" (I cannot hope to convey the whiny tone that accompanied these words.)

We got back from vacation on Tuesday. Yesterday was Wednesday and Wednesday evening we drove to North Andover to see a very cute kitten I saw on Craigslist. I've been wanting another tortoiseshell cat, like Chelsea was, and this kitten, even if she's not a tortoiseshell, has similar enough markings.

Well, it was love at first sight. Jessica liked the kitten too. She liked all of the kittens. There were 6 of them. They're only 5 weeks old and still nursing. In fact, it was dinner time when we got there and all kittens were eating in full force. The cat's owner said it'll be 2-3 weeks before they're fully weaned and eating dry food, and mentioned one of the cat's previous litters had weaned after only 7 weeks, while another litter took longer.

She said she'd contact us when the kitten is ready to leave her mommy.

Now, I thought I was doing this nice thing by taking Jess to see the kitten. I thought she'd be really excited, which she was. What I hadn't thought through was going home without the kitten after having seen the kitten.

As soon as we got into the car, she started crying. Really heartbroken kind of crying. I know 2 to 3 weeks seems like forever to an (almost) 7 year old.

Even worse, then she started going on about how she wanted this kitten to have babies, because the woman who owned the mommy cat had talked so much about when the kittens were born. I tried to explain to her about all the cats and kittens that already need homes, that we don't need to add to the cat overpopulation.

Then, as usual, I spoke without thinking: "Maybe we can foster a pregnant cat when you're older." Now, I wouldn't mind this, but I'm not sure a house with 2 children and 2 cats is the best foster home for a pregnant cat and I think it would be even more heartbreaking to her to have to say good bye to the kittens.

But I'll worry about that later. ; )

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Playdate

Aunt Lisa's next door neighbors have a little girl Jessica's age, so when we visit, Jessica likes to go play with Caroline. Well, when we were there this past week, she came in one evening and asked if it was okay to go with Caroline to her "brother's girlfriend's" house. Well, of course, the first thing that flashed through my mind was that I didn't know his girlfriend and I wasn't sure that I wanted her to go, and that I didn't know where she lived.

A quick consult with Aunt Lisa reminded me that Caroline's brother is Xander's age, and that the 3 year old girlfriend in question lived just down the street.

I let her go.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Travel

Jessica left today to stay with Nanamma and Tattya for a week. She was really excited about going but warned me no phone calls in the evening. This is because when she talked to me in the evening when she visited last summer, it made her sad because she missed me.

So, instead at about 6:30, she called Hari on his phone. Hari and I both love to talk to Jessica on her phone because her voice somehow sounds higher pitched and she sounds younger even than she really is.

It was funny listening to Hari's end of the conversation. Apparently Jessica was under the impression that they had just gotten home (I drove halfway and her grandparents drove halfway and we met in the middle). I knew for a fact they had gotten home about 4 hours earlier, but in the mind of a 6 year old, that translated to "a little while ago."

Then I heard him say, "It's the same time here, Jessica. We're in the same time zone." Apparently because it was 6:30 and getting dark, she thought it was later there than it was here.

I miss her already!

Monday, June 14, 2010

This and that

We've been asking Jessica to help set the table recently. Well, tonight she reached her limit. She said she didn't know why she had to set the table, since she had just set it last night. We explained that we were eating dinner again.

She then suggested that we just eat right out of the pan.

* * *
Sometimes I worry about her future career. She really likes to pretend she's a waitress. Tonight, she's walking around in her fairy costume and high heels and I adjusted her future career to cocktail waitress.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We're off to see the Wizard

Jessica had a fitting yesterday for her Dorothy costume for the Family Fun Halloween issue. We'd never been to a fitting before so we didn't know what to expect. It was pretty simple. They had her put on a white dress and then they put a blue and checked sort of dress over that:

They had only painted one shoe because they wanted to make sure the shoes were the right size. They played with the sashes (originally there were two) and made the dress a little shorter than it was originally. They had a picture of Judy Garland as Dorothy that they kept referencing.

Now for the last couple of weeks Jessica has been asking to have her hair put up in braids (or, as she says, "when you take 3 pieces and twist them"). She had them in braids yesterday. But since this is a costume, they had her put on a wig with braids. Obviously her real hair is much more beautiful:


The photographer who will be doing the actual shoot in 2 weeks was taking pictures just to get an idea of how she looked. Then the batteries in her camera died. I had my camera with me (obviously) so she used that and took some of these pictures. I emailed them to her when I got home. This is the sort of finished look:


More to come after her shoot on the 25th!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Play ball!

I like Jessica to try out team sports so she can learn sportsmanship and become the first woman pitcher for the Red Sox. She hasn't tried T-ball yet, so when signups started, I asked her if she wanted to play.

"No," she said.

Hmmm. Okay, then I asked, "If Brady plays, will you play?" Brady is our neighbor and one of Jessica's closest friends.

"Yes," she immediately replied.

I consulted with Brady's mom and he was indeed playing, so I signed her up.

When the roster came out a couple of weeks ago, a completely unforeseen problem arose: they weren't on the same team. Frankly, this possibility had not occurred to me. I waited a day or two to tell her, trying to figure out how to break it to her.

I went for the honest approach. "Jessica, I have bad news. Brady isn't on your T-ball team. But Emerson is and Jared and Cooper." These were all kids she knew from preschool and kindergarten.

"Okay," she said.

Okay? Did she mean the situation was okay or was she just acknowledging what I had told her?

"Do you still want to play?"

"Yeah. As long as I know some of the kids."

For this I worried.

Then I needed to buy her a mitt. At the advice of other experienced T-ball parents, I went to Target. Of course we picked out a pink mitt. While we were in the store looking, something occurred to me.

"Jessica, do you even know what T-ball is?"

"No." It didn't seem to bother her at all.

I gave her a 30 second description and decided to let the coach do the rest.

Yesterday was Opening Day, which included a game by the minor league (which apparently is the league before Little League) and a short parade of all the teams. See if you can pick Jessica out in this picture:



Here's a close-up.



Yeah, she's the one with a dress on under her shirt. I'm just hoping I can persuade her to ditch the dress for actual games.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let's Dance

(click on the picture to see it bigger)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Daisy Promise

Jessica is working to get her first Daisy Petal (like a Girl/Boy Scout patch). It involves memorizing the Daisy Promise (which I keep calling the Daisy Pledge, for no particular reason). Thinking like the mother of two that I am, I figured this would take days of practice and repetition. We started last Thursday. I read her the first line, she repeated it a couple of times, then I read the second line, she repeated it. Then I had her so both the first and second line. There were only 4 lines, so we got through it pretty quickly, she said the whole thing 2 or 3 times, and then wanted to stop.

On Sunday, I sat her down again to practice. I couldn't even remember how the thing began but she immediately recited the entire thing.

Maybe my memory was that good when I was 6, but I seriously doubt it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No means yes

At least in the mind of a 6 year old. A couple of weeks ago, Xander had me up at 6:00 and I was really tired, so I ended up falling asleep on the couch. Hari had just come home from his shift and apparently Jessica asked him if she could paint. He told her no and went to bed.

When I woke up 15 or 20 minutes later, I went to find the kids. They were sitting, not at the kitchen table, which is the only paint-sanctioned area in the house, but at the little table in the playroom. Paint was spattered not only on the table but on the wall.

"Why are you painting here?" I asked. Then a more obvious question struck me, "Did you ask if you could paint?"

"I asked Daddy."

"What did Daddy say?"

"He said no, so I went to the closet and took out the paints." Never mind the disobedience. The paints are on the closet shelf, about 5 feet high. She had climbed onto...something, a chair, a piece of furniture, and pulled them down.

Then I went on to explain that no means no, even if she was capable of doing it without parental assistance.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tooth fairy

It finally happened: Jessica finally lost her first baby tooth! About 2 weeks ago, I called the dentist about her shark tooth and they said if it didn't loosen up soon to bring her in. They were concerned about the permanent tooth not coming in correctly. Theoretically, if the baby tooth were out of the way, the permanent tooth would move forward.

Jessica did not want to go to the dentist. Even the slightly hint that they might want to pull the tooth scared her. Fortunately, within a week of that phone call, the tooth started to be loose. And Jessica started wiggling. And wiggling. And wiggling.

Then, on Wednesday, just after brushing her teeth for bedtime, out it popped! I was so glad it was at home, because she'd been worried it was going to bleed and it did bleed a little. She is terrified of blood. But it was all good because it was home.

We found a small box, put the incredibly tiny tooth in it, set it under the pillow and sure enough, the Tooth Fairy made an appearance overnight.

Before:


After:


It's a little hard to see the gap because the infamous shark tooth is there behind it but look closely. Lower bottom , right center tooth.

Note to self

Next time I'm telling Jessica about the Beatles, make sure she understands at the beginning of the conversation that I'm talking about the greatest band ever. Not insects.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Everybody loves Saturday (afternoon)


The fun never ends here on weekends. For example, an earlier conversation:


Jessica: "Where's Cute?" (her doll). "It's been a while since I changed her diaper."
Yeah, I thought, like 2 or 3 weeks.

Now she's squeezed into her size 3-4 costume from her second (and last) ballet recital. For the record she wears a size 6/7.


Here's how she looked:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yet more abc's

We're visiting Aunt Nutan. When we went to have breakfast yesterday, she didn't have the same semi-sugary cereal we have at home. So I read off the cereal they had: shredded wheat, cheerios, raisin bran, special K.

Jessica: "What does the K stand for?"

Good question.

* * *
Then there's her other question. I give the kids fluoride pills because we have a well and the water isn't fluoridated. It's in a child-resistant container. Several times she has asked me how to open it. I tell her I can't tell her. Then she also asks, "How does the container know if you're a child or adult?"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ABC's

Jessica is learning to read and write. This is, in general, a wonderful thing. But now that she's learning to write and spell, she tries to spell everything.

Half of her sentences are like this:
"Mom, can I have some d?" (as in d for dessert)
"Are we going to the j?" (j for gym; close enough)
"Let's read a b." (b for book)

Sometimes it's obvious what word the letter she's saying is meant to represent. Sometimes it's not. It's a little tiring to spend so much time deciphering what she has to say. Just SAY it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mushiness

Last night Jessica came up to me. She said, "I have something for you. You can't hold it in your hand, but you can hold it in your heart." And she gave me a kiss.

Really, how sweet is that?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Finally!

A use for all those annoying little flowers that come with the Playmobil fairy sets Jessica is so fond of. Every set comes with what seems like dozens of tiny little flowers that, at adult height, look remarkably similar to crumbs. I'm forever picking them up off the floor or, in a less tolerant frame of mind, vacuuming them up.

Well, Jessica came home from school last week with a notice saying that for the 100th day of school, they should bring in 100 of something. Hari had a fine time suggesting various things of which Jessica could bring in: 100 little brothers, 100 bricks, 100 cats, etc. I was more boring and could only come up with paper clips or pennies. But then one of Jessica's friend's mom posted on Facebook that her son was bringing in 100 army men. That got me to thinking about Jessica's vast toy collection. Surely there had to be 100 of *something* in there. Hari thought there would be 100 Polly Pockets but I knew without looking that that wasn't true.

That was when my mind turned to Playmobil, pioneer of toys with tons of very tiny parts. And then I had my flash of genius: the flowers.

So I went through the 2 main rooms where the playmobil toys are kept, and even found a few just walking from room to room. In the end, we had 101 flowers. Jessica counted them herself, 10 piles of ten. Plus--very easy to transport back and forth to school and if she loses them? BONUS.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lights camera action!

We got a call from Jessica's modeling agency last Thursday that she'd been booked (hired) for a commercial. When we got to the studio yesterday, we found out it wasn't actually a commercial but a short film to publicize the new airport in Dubai, and would only be shown over in Dubai. Bummer.

Still it was pretty cool. The scenes she had to shoot (nonspeaking) were her and her little "brother" waiting in the airport, watching the planes, riding in a car, walking down a hallway with her "mother" and then going to greet her "father" when he arrived home from a trip. It was all done with "green screen" so they had to do a lot of pretending that things were there that weren't.

She did really well! It was kind of a long day, from 8am to 2pm. She took direction pretty well and wasn't shy at all. Plus she got a new toy and a new red dress (with matching dollie dress for baby doll Cute) out of it. Oh, and they're paying her too. Not bad for a day's work.

I have the email address of one of the people working on the project so hopefully we'll be able to get a copy of it or somehow see a copy of it.

Pictures to follow. Blurry, because no flash allowed. = )

Next stop: Hollywood?

Here's a link to some pictures:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2039020&id=1595412041&l=e56a8f93e6

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sharks!

I've always known Jessica would be late losing her baby teeth because "they" say if you get your baby teeth in late, you'll lose them late. She was almost a year old before the first tooth poked through, and Jessica, being Jessica, couldn't get the teeth most kids get first: the bottom center two; not even the top center two for my girl. She got the ones on top next to the center two: FANGS.

The whole fangs thing is kind of ironic given that yesterday Jessica said her bottom tooth was feeling funny. Hari looked in and saw a permanent tooth starting to come in behind one of the front baby teeth. Some internet research revealed to me that this phenomenon occurs frequently and is usually the bottom 2 front teeth. It's known as "shark teeth" presumably because sharks have several rows of teeth (Thank you "Magic School Bus: the Great Shark Escape.")

She was very excited at the prospect of losing her first baby tooth. Not that the baby tooth is anywhere near loose, but she's been watching her friends lose teeth for months now, and I'm guessing she's going to do her best to make it loose. Guess the Tooth Fairy better educate herself as to the current going rates for lost teeth.

Friday, January 8, 2010

That's what I've been doing wrong...

Ever since Jessica started school, she has barely been touching her lunch. This is because the kids are read a story when they're done with lunch and she doesn't want to miss the story.

Every so often, once or twice a month at most, I give her money to buy ice cream. I did it this week. She had the audacity to come home and complain I gave her too much lunch and she didn't have enough time to finish her ice cream because she had to eat part of her lunch before they would let her buy ice cream.

I'd had enough of the non-eating at that point. I told her no more ice cream if she continued not to eat her lunch (or hardly eat it). Three days in a row she came home having eaten all or most of her lunch. Today we had a bit of a setback, but still, going in the right direction.