Barefoot in High Heels

Archive for the ‘For My Girls’ Category

Our first organized team-sport season ended.

Three- and four-year-old soccer.   Otherwise known as a pack of preschoolers chasing a ball, without regard to which direction they’re headed.

For 6 practices and games, there was at least one poor child (usually mine) crying at some point or another.   The first few weeks for Miss M, it was almost torturous (for her AND us).  She would barely move out on that field, and she’d stand there in her pigtails and soccer uniform and cry.  It was always a different reason.  “My tongue hurts” or “my cousin tackled me” or “My nose is running” or “I’m cold” or “I don’t know how to kick the ball” or “I can’t run as fast as the other kids.”

Now some parents might coddle their little ones, take them home early, or at least let them sit on the sidelines for a while.   There were certainly many of those kind who didn’t show up after the first couple of games, not wanting to bother with 3-year-old drama. 

And then there were the other parents, forcing the preschoolers out for more torture.

Yep.  That was me.   But really, it wasn’t demanding and mean like it sounds.    Really!

Little Miss M had so much fun the last two or three games.  You know why?  Because we made her go every week and get out there and play.  She is shy, hesitant, cautious, and slow to warm up to new situations.  And with 10 other screaming kids, and multiple parents and grandparents as spectators yelling “Kick the ball!  Run!  No — the OTHER way!” it was too much commotion for her.   She got over that hesitancy by the end and even looked as if she were actually enjoying herself.  She even kicked the ball a few times during the game!

I’m not sure that she’ll play again — we’ll see if she wants to in the fall.  But by forcing (or shall I say gently guiding) her — yes, even at 3 1/2 years old — to try new situations, she’ll build her self-confidence and learn how to better adapt to unfamiliar activities.    All we kept telling her was that as long as she tried her best we’d be very proud — she didn’t need to be the fastest runner or score any goals.   And you know what?  She wasn’t, and she didn’t.   But by the end, she tried, she had fun, and she’s so proud of her certificate and her team picture.

And so are we.

Advertisements

We took a field trip recently.  A class of 3-year-olds at a local nature center, with different rooms that correspond to caves, lakes/rivers, and grasslands.  Lots of insects, snakes, amphibians, slithery-slimy creatures that’s just right for the preschool set!

But not for some of the moms.

You see, I have this major irrational tiny little fear of spiders. 

I’ve gotten much better about the small ones.  I even kill some myself (without screaming!), if found trespassing in my humble abode.  It’s the large ones I can’t handle.   Yes, underneath my calm, rational (ha!) exterior, I DO have a crazy phobia.  Arachnophobia.

I blame it on my mother (Thanks, Mom — I know you’ll read this!) who scared me with the Little Miss Muffet horror story.   And remember the Brady Bunch episode in Hawaii?  You know what I mean . . . terrifying!  And this fear is why I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the Harry Potter movies, either!  I LOVED the books, but even reading a few small parts with the spiders, I had to read those areas really quickly to speed right through.

But I digress.    Back to the field trip.

I was so proud of my little Miss M, who had no problems holding the slithery snake, picking up bugs, and getting her hands into all the good hands-on learning activities. 

But then . . . there was the spider part.

I actually had to look away, and not make a scene.  I quietly told the teacher of my fear, so she didn’t think I was crazy to have to stand up and walk to the back of the room.  And I stole a quick glance at Miss M . . . she was TOUCHING, or dare I say PETTING a hairy leg of this creature!   YIKES!

I’m getting a little bit anxious just thinking about it right now, and hoping I won’t have nightmares.  I’m also thinking how I could have made this anecdote much more descriptive, but I’m too afraid!

One of the other moms took pictures, and I have yet to receive them.  I won’t bother reminding her, either!

The good thing — and I’m really trying hard — is that I don’t think Miss M is aware of my arachnophobia.  I really don’t want her to be, either.  And as much as it physically pained me to watch this display of insect-love, I was proud of her.  And slightly proud of myself for not passing along this irrational fear to her and making a big deal of it.  

Yet. 

I mean, I can only fake it so much.  But perhaps my willingness for my girls to be exposed to many things and not have their OWN irrational fears will slowly diminish my own.  I mean, really — I used to cry in college if someone even mentioned what one friend calls “the S word.”  I can even say it now.   SPIDERS.     See?!  Look at me!!  I’m almost cured, for God’s sake!  🙂

In the meantime, though, I’ll leave the spider-love where it belongs . . . anywhere but near me.

We don’t watch many movies here at our house.  PBS Kids is pretty safe, and the PBS Sprout On Demand channel is a big hit with my girls.   But Miss M at 3 years old is very sensitive and takes in EVERYthing she sees and hears.  She is frightened by a car commercial when the music gets loud and the car is racing down the highway. 

So most “kids’ movies” aren’t really appropriate for her.  Or for too many 3-year-olds I know, yet most of them are watching.  Almost all the Disney movies all have some scary parts in them, whether it’s a villain or a parental figure dying.  Not something I need to have them see.  Or, to be more accurate, I don’t really want to be up all night with a preschooler who’s having nightmares!

Mary Poppins has been our first — and only — movie so far.  And while it was a bit boring and old-fashioned for me , Miss M enjoyed it, which was the intent.  We’ve sung the songs a few times, and she’s asked to watch it again (side note — gotta love the $1/week rentals at the local library!).

But then I traumatized my daughters with Disney’s Fantasia.  

fantasia

I figured ” How simple can you get?  An orchestra (and my girls LOVE music) — and a Mickey Mouse cartoon.”      Perfect.   Except for it wasn’t.  At.  All.

The first part of the movie starts out with silhouettes of the musicians tuning the instruments, and then the conductor walking out to the stage.  Even at this part, I should have known.  Miss M  kept asking trepidatiously, “What’s going on??  Who is that man?  Who’s talking?”   And then the first notes of the music scared Little Miss A, who started crying and running toward me (I think I had the volume a little high).

So it got pretty boring, and I figured we’d just fast forward to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice part.  A cute cartoon, right?   Wrong. Very wrong!

It started innocuously enough, with Mickey dancing with the broom.  But then . . . and my memory is getting foggy here, as this was a couple months ago . . . Mickey wants to rest or something, and locks up the broom (?).  Regardless, the broom escapes (according to Wikipedia, Mickey cannot control the magic he has tried to use), and we watched in horror as Mickey tries to kill the broom.   Yep, that’s right.  Miss M was watching, completely wide-eyed and silent, as we see in the shadows that Mickey takes an axe to hack the broom to pieces, all in a very menacing and violent way. 

Now, that may not seem like a big deal to you and me, but to my girls, it was almost as if I had turned on Children of the Corn and told them it was a fun movie!  Miss M is whimpering “I don’t like this movie,” while she can’t look away and keeps asking “What is he doing to the broom?” with grave concern.

We turned it off quickly.  So much for a family movie time!  I will always think of Fantasia now as the horror movie for my kids!

So I need help.  What movies can my 3-year-old watch??  Nothing scary, must be G-rated, the shorter the better, and if it has music, that helps, too!

Please leave me some tips in the comment section.  We’re getting a little tired of Bob the Builder and Angelina Ballerina 30-minute segments On Demand!

Thanks!

Well, I’m a little late for this month’s Kids’ Picks carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books.  Oops!  I blame it on my bloglines reader not updating me with the feeds from their site recently (Bad Bloglines!).  It could, of course, be due to my complete lack of organization and not knowing what day it is, but it feels better to blame it on a faceless website.

We’ve been to the library quite a bit lately, my 3-year-old and me.  She likes to play with the Thomas the Train set there while I search for all the books, but rest assured, she is a big fan of reading, at least when we get the books home.

Readers of Barefoot in High Heels know that I am a stallholder for Barefoot Books.  Our local library has a decent selection of Barefoot titles, and while I picked up a bunch of books for my daughter (classics like Eric Carle favorites, Chicken Soup with Rice, the Giving Tree, and of course Fancy Nancy!), I brought home some Barefoot titles as well.  In fact, I had recently purchased Thesaurus Rex as a Christmas gift for my daughter, and then I sold my copies at some events I had last weekend!  

Tonight before bed we read Thesaurux Rex, by Laya Steinberg and illustrated by Debbie Harter.  Cute concept, and of course, the fun visuals as well.  But what part does my daughter like the best?  Is it the fact that she’s learning synonyms?  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here!  Nope — She likes it when Thesaurux Rex gets caught in the mud (and the muck, mire, etc.) and then has to wash (soap, scour, scrub, etc.) himself in the tub!    Aren’t 3-year-olds cute?

thesaurus-rex1

thesaurus-rex-2

And here’s the best part!  Between today and Tuesday, November 25th, Barefoot is offering FREE SHIPPING!  And, if you order $50, you’ll receive a free activity book as well.  Get your holiday shopping done early!

I can’t wait to check out all the links on this week’s Works For Me Wednesday post.  It’s a themed edition — Toys Worth Buying. 

Well, considering I have a bunch of big, plastic-y toys (none of which I have bought personally!) that I do NOT want cluttering up my living room, I’m all for some good ideas.   And I have a few of my own. 

Here’s the thing.  Listen up aunts/uncles/grandparents/in-laws:  STOP BUYING THE PLASTIC BATTERY-OPERATED JUNK!  We had a birthday party for both of my girls this past weekend — one turned 3 and Baby turned 1 — and I swear the wrapping paper and cardboard boxes were just as fun as some of the toys!!  And, I’m all about creative play, imagination, art sets, no batteries needed.  So here are some good ideas from my own personal experience:

1.  Barefoot Books.  I know, I know, if you read this blog often, I can expound on how much I love Barefoot Books!  So much so that I started selling them last winter.  You can NOT go wrong.  And even better, if you’re buying for kids that are not your own, you never know what books are already in their library.  Since Barefoot isn’t as well-known as some of the big publishers, and WITHOUT LICENSED CHARACTERS (yay!), my guess is that MOST kids don’t already own any of these.  Check it out.  You WON’T be disappointed.

2.  Stacking/nesting blocks.  Two years ago I purchased a set that featured artwork from Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?   

ericcarleblocks

We.  Love.  This.  Toy.  I love that each side of the block features something different (an animal, a number, a touch/feel side, etc.  I love that it matches a book that we know.  And I love that the blocks are nesting, too, so they fit inside each other, and when put away don’t take up much room at all! 

3.  You can’t go wrong with some outdoor-fun toys.  As simple as it sounds, sidewalk chalk and big bubble machines or wands are a huge hit! 

4.  I’m buying one of these for my girls and my nephew this year:  Kids Busy Box.  How cool is this?  A whole set of arts & crafts supplies, complete with the glue, scissors, tape, felt, glitter, etc.  With instructions.  For me, who is woefully inadequate in the craft department, I have no more excuses when I shy away from crafts with the kids.  It’s all in here for you.  I can’t wait to try it!

5.  I bought my nephew a magazine subscription last year for his birthday.  His second birthday.  That’s right — there’s a few companies out there who cater to kids that young, but I chose the National Wildlife Federation and their Animal Baby magazine.  Every month he received a board book/magazine in the mail, and it was perfectly age-appropriate!  I want someone to buy this for my kids.  It’s educational, it’s fun to get mail, and you can throw it away recycle it when you’re finished.  No mess, no junk.   Love it.

6.  Now I’m not one for DVDs.  But I make an exception for one:  The Laurie Berkner Band.  My friend bought this for us when my daughter was 18 months old, and 18 months later, we still love it!  The 1/2 hour DVD is like a music video for a bunch of songs, and the kids will get up and dance.  The tunes are catchy, and the kids love it!  It’s great for a 30 minute diversion when I need to blog cook dinner.

7.  OK, OK, so I’ll add one brand of battery-operated toys here.  My daughter has really loved the Parents brand cell phone and the Parents microphone.  She sings her little heart out on her “stage” (the fireplace hearth) and she loves that she can record a snippet of her voice on both toys.  They’re small, they’re cheap, so again — they won’t take up much room!

8.  We also bought my 3-year-old a kitchen this year (but I spent about $35 instead of the uber-expensive sets.  I mean, it’s all pretend play — I don’t NEED the best out there.  She’d play with the $300 one the same way as the $35 one!).  We’ve had it for 2 weeks now and it’s a big hit.

So there you have it, folks.  Shop away.  But if I could offer some advice for you — wrap the gift in some fun shiny paper.  Because your kids will still probably have more fun with the wrapping and bows than what’s inside the package.  🙂

We started preschool this month.   I say “we” because I feel like I’m back in school all over again, which for me is a good thing, since I was one of those weird kids who cried when I was sick because I had to miss school.  Strange, I know.

Now Little Miss M here is my oldest (she turns 3 next month), and she’s extremely bright, talkative and inquisitive.  That is, until she’s in a crowd.  Painfully shy and timid, she will cling to my leg and completely ignore all well-intentioned strangers (or even family members) who try to get her to speak.  Usually they’re too loud, too brash, too in-your-face for Miss M, and I just want to tell these people to step back.  Calm down.  Give her some space.  She takes a LONG time to warm up to new people and situations, and she’s very cautious.  Don’t take it personally.    So . . . that being said, I really wanted her to start preschool to get used to other kids in a group setting.  She does well one-on-one, but oftentimes in a group will be found playing by herself in a corner.

We’ve been talking about preschool for about 7 months now.  That might sound crazy — it sounds crazy to ME, even!  But I know her, and she needs a lot of time to talk about new situations and what’s going to happen when she gets there.  And if I had anything to do with it, she would be READY!

And it finally arrived.  The first day of school.  All alone!  Only 2 1/2 hours, but it was a big deal.  She talked about it all morning at breakfast, was excited to drop off Baby Sister at my mom’s and say “Bye, Grandma – I’m going to school!”  She was so proud of her new purple backpack (even the preschool size looks so big on her!).  And she found her picture on the wall outside the class.  Very cool. 

Until the teacher opened the door, welcomed the boys and girls, and ushered them into the classroom.

Alone.

Without mom.

Miss M’s feet were planted, and her hand immediately reached to mine.  The tears began, slowly.  She didn’t want me to leave, yet she had specifically given me instructions that I could go to the post office and Target while she was in school.  (She later changed her mind, because Target is her store!)  Thankfully, the teacher scooped her up and brought her inside with diversionary tactics.  I waited with other parents and peeked through the doors.  I was the only one with a crier.  In fact, the other kids I saw were happy to leave behind the comfort of mom and venture into a new fun world filled with kids and toys.   But not my girl. 

However, she wasn’t hysterical.  She was sitting on the teacher’s lap and crying quietly.  So I left.  Nothing I could do.  And in fact, I was pretty pleased that we got through the goodbye with only tears and not screams and tear-choked sobs.  No — more than pleased.  I was relieved!

Driving away from school, I was thrilled.  I have friends who cry when their children start school.  On the other hand, I have friends who can’t wait to get their rugrats out from under them!  But I was neither extreme.  I was SO looking forward to Miss M starting school, and SO thrilled that she was there! (And later, I found out the crying was short-lived.  Extra bonus!).  Not because I wanted more time to myself, or alone time with Baby Sister.  But because I know she’s venturing into a new place where she will learn, grow, explore, imagine, and dream.  There is so much for her to experience and she will (hopefully) relish it all.  I’m happy for her to start school because I’m so excited for her and all the fun she’ll have and the friends she’ll make. 

It may be a slow start — and I know we’re only talking preschool here, people.  But it’s the first step to her independence, to growing into her own person, to her future.  And her future?  Well, to paraphrase the one-hit wonder Timbuk3: it’s so bright, she’s gotta wear shades.

Ever since the birth of my first daughter, almost three years ago, I’ve wanted to write her a letter — you know, put it in her baby book (she’s the first-born, so she actually has a baby book!) and just have some thoughts down on paper — my feelings about becoming a mother, my unconditional love, and things I’d like for her to know.  And now that her little sister was born almost 10 months ago, I’ve had these thoughts, random bits of information, musings, etc. that I really want to get down on paper.   But let’s be honest — my “paper” will most likely be a word document created on my laptop!

Granted, amidst the daily life of a part-time working mom of two, I haven’t actually created this “letter” just yet.  But I think about it often.  And I’ve envisioned it in my head now so that it’s not simply a letter, but rather a list of things I want them to know and learn.  Maybe titled “Lessons for My Daughters,” I hope for it to be something they read as they get older — or even a gift I give them someday.

And what is it that I want my girls to know/learn/do/be?  I want them to know how much I love them, for one.  That their family is behind them one hundred percent.  I want them to be self-confident and self-aware, to explore, to learn, to find their passions, to love, to laugh, to make their own mistakes, to make a difference, to value each other as sisters.  I want them to know the importance of honesty, giving to others, sticking to their morals and ethics, standing up for themselves, education, determination, goal-setting, benevolence, compassion, kindness.  Of course, they also need to know the real important things, too — you know, like “only wear beige underwear under white clothes!”

I could write a whole book on what I want my girls to get from life and how to approach it.  But I realize also that words alone won’t do any good.  If write to them about the importance of generosity, for example, but never display in my actions how to live generously, then of course this whole letter is really for naught.  I do want to be a role model for them, in both my actions and words, although let’s admit — it’s not always the easiest thing to do.  We sometimes forget how every little action of ours is picked up by these little sponge minds and absorbed.  So as much as I hope to teach my daughters what is important, I want to have it written down for them, too.  Sort of a legacy in words, if you will.  A more personal, story-filled Life’s Little Instruction Booklet.

Lofty goals, I know!  And good intentions, too, considering I haven’t started a word of it.  But now that I’ve blogged about it, it will get me moving!  So think about it . . . what will your legacy be?  What do you want your children to know?  What lessons are important to you to pass on to your kids?