I love to muddle in puddles
Cause I splish and I splash

And when I take my shoes off
I mish and I mash

I hop from one puddle to another and back
My feet go in the water smickity smack

I turn and spin
I kneel and I sit

I slap my hands down
They go clickity click

There's just something about them
I cannot resist
When I see a puddle
I feel blissfully bliss

(not my poem, author unknown)




The “January Thaw” appears to be upon us and we’ve been spending a lot of time at local parks with friends. The DSC_0034temperature rose to 40 degrees today and it was wonderful to meet up with friends at the park for some time in the sun. Isabella asked her Mom if she could push her baby in her pram this morning and all the girls (and their parents) agreed that it would be a great idea. Baby John (Isabella’s new baby brother) slept most of the playdate - apparently the sheer number of girls around him was too much to handle. His billy-goat bleets for milk amazed Claire and every noise he made called for her investigation.


Claire couldn’t decide if John, or the girl’s pretend babies were more interesting. She was especially taken with the realistic ‘piggy toes’ on Katie’s doll.Of course there were a few examples of some negligent doll parenting:


Exhibit A: Enthusiastic toddler dumps out “Huggy-Baby” in a rush to join the stroller parade.DSC_0031

Exhibit B: Isabella demonstrates some, errr, ‘interesting’ doll sitting techniques.

The three girls had a blast playing on the playground and walking a slow quarter mile pushing their babies. There was lots of stopping for a stroller version of bumper cars and much mud puddle squashing led by Claire. We enjoyed a sunny picnic lunch as a group and once it was Baby John’s naptime Claire and I strode off into the woods to check out the local wildlife scene.

DSC_0086Claire was just awestruck with this one tree’s yawning trunk. Look at the size of that hole! I’ll be she was planning a way to hole up in there for the winter much like the main character in “My Side of the Mountain.”

Claire found lots of soft moss to pet and some very cool lichen and mushrooms growing on the side of some dead trunks. The going was a bit muddy so I abandoned the stroller and let Claire walk a bit (Huggy-baby DSC_0100riding tandem with Claire in her own stroller at this point). I can say that having Claire traipse through the woods for a few hours is a great way to tire her out, what a sound nap Claire is having at the moment!

Fresh air and friends, a good afternoon indeed. The full album is below, lots of great picture of fellow friends Isabella and Katie so Mommies be sure to check them out and let me know if you want a full resolution version.


Above: The neat fungus we discovered (I am dubbing it tree-oyster until I identify, heehee) Below: The “still water” as Claire describes the icing river. We watched a group of ducks sliding their way across the ice…maybe they were avoiding the cold water! Brrr!!! Claire cracked up at their tail shaking, “rook Mommy, dey shake-a their butt!”


Click HERE for a link to the full album or the collage below to view the slideshow.




Put on your "jammers," tousle your hair and play with me this morning!

You'll need a paintbrush and some watercolors, and a favorite furry friend to help.

You'll need blocks for "bidding castel towers weel high," and a silly smile for knocking them down.

You'll need a noble steed to ride upon. Now rock, rock, rock with me!

You'll need to run around and around until your stomach growls.

And then it will be time for breakfast. Yum.

More photos here, click on the slideshow to view them larger:


Something tells me this hawk sitting outside my living room window 10 feet from the bird feeders is not interested in the sunflower seeds but rather my sweet little juncos and nuthatches!

Snow "Anjew" Lessons

Collapsing from exhaustion?

Nah, Snow Angel lessons! Still not moving her arms though...we'll have to work on that.

And here's a photo of my two favorite snow monsters on the prowl in our backyard:


On Going Outside


Want to know my thoughts on outdoor play? I consider it an absolute necessity for all children (and adults!) I read a great article recently about “Nature Deficit Disorder” and couldn’t agree more with the author Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods) that kids today are disconnected from nature and spending way too much time in frontDSC_0003 of the boob tube and computer screen. It’s an interesting conundrum for me, as a school’s technology coordinator - I’m always encouraging teacher’s to find ways to integrate technology into their curriculum, but is that sometimes at the expense of the child? The former park ranger in me wants to boot those kids out of their desks and send them into the field to collect data and THEN use the computer to interpret the results. But, I digress…

Back to my current life as chief teacher of a 2 year old…

Outdoors everyday. Even in the cold.

Just few minutes makes a HUGE difference in Claire’s day. Sometimes we only have enough time or for a quick walk around the driveway but even that tiny chunk of time outdoors seems to DSC_0071change her (and my own) outlook on the day. Maybe it’s the sunshine…but even in rain it’s fun to get out for a few minutes.

One thing I’m trying to be more conscientious about is allowing more free play outside. It’s harder to let go of the micromanaging parenting instinct outside - but at 2, Claire really seems to know how she wants to play. If that means repeatedly putting the same toe into the mud over and over again (yes, my daughter plays in puddles) so be it. I’m keeping a close eye, no one wants rocks up the nose or a stick in the eye, but for the most part Claire’s self-preservation instinct seems well intact.


Did I write that we recently cancelled our cable service? It was quite liberating and we haven’t looked back. I’m finding that without TV as a constant distracter, Dan and I are better parents and the time we do spend enjoying shows via Hulu is more special. Of course I've developed this obsession with canceled sci-fi series (let me hang my head in shame as I admit to watching and enjoying Kyle XY). Dan and I are happily making our way through New Amsterdam and Kings at the moment.DSC_0085

I know that the AAP recommends zero time in front of TV for the under 2 crowd, but I find quality programming in moderation works for us. We LOVED the Baby Signing Time videos when Claire was younger and Kipper, Caillou and the ever lovable Wiggles are available on Youtube. So…if I’m truly desperate for some adult time without interruption, Claire can watch her friends online…in 8 minute increments.

Today’s wind-chill factor is finally above the “your ears and fingertips will fall off” and is simply hovering around the “freezing boogers phenomena” level. We’ve got bellies full with pumpkin pancakes and hot cocoa and are ready to explore the great outdoors! Over and Out, it’s time to play!



Santa's Visit!

Claire must have been a good girl this year, Santa and company brought lots of gifts and I'm predicting a year of very exciting play!

Pretend play rules supreme right now, Claire especially loves imitating things she sees around the house. In her new play kitchen, she's making mean cups of tea for Daddy every night and we've had many treats of "happy cake" delivered right from her "hot hot oben or mikeywave." If you don't blow out the pretend candles (over and over again) the chef gets very upset. The play kitchen is a HUGE hit, just the right size for her to reach everything and attractive enough for placement in a corner of our dining room.

Huggy Baby, Teddy and Baby Baby have a nice little set up going in the living room with a choice of pack and play, bouncy seat or table side high chair (which looks remarkably like cousin Aidan's seat!). Claire's little play table is set up right near her kitchen for meals with her stuffed friends or parents.

Claire received a fantastic set of cutting foods (velcroed wooden fruits and veggies) which she cuts up and washes before throwing the whole lot in her pot for stew. These mixed up wooden meals are quite delicious especially when served by a 2 year old wearing a chef hat and apron. I'm hoping to grab a photo of Claire in her full cooking regalia today...cross your fingers that she's into them, there is no forcing a 2 year old to dress up if she doesn't want to!

In other playtime fun, the nuts and bolts are still a challenge in the wooden toolbox Santa brought. Daddy's help is sought out for those, but she is a pro with the hammer and nails enthusiastically fastening on layers of tabs and nailing them together. Dear Melissa and Doug - we LOVE you and all your wonderful wooden toys!

Thankfully even with all the excitement and new toys it doesn't look like a Toys R Us explosion in my living room (well, anymore). Right after Christmas I pared down what we had out and it really seems to focus Claire on the whole play - put away cycle.

Resetting the Kid

Dan asked me last night what grand plans I had in store for Claire today. The answer was simple.


After more then 20 hours in the car over the past week, bunches of new toys and many family visits, we all could use a break. As Dan eloquently put it, a "oh, you're resetting Claire."

So for the next few days we're taking it easy at home, playing with some of the new toys (I'll share some tomorrow!) and just plain relaxing. I'll be rebooting my kid back into the rhythms of our day...wish me luck. If all goes well, I just might have Huggy-Baby tell you all about some of Claire's new playthings tomorrow. Hint, look in the background...

Mommy! Dat's a BIG Bird!

We love our "tweets" around here and I'm loving Claire's long toddler sentences! She spied this red-bellied woodpecker (yes, red-BELLIED...some ornithologist missed an anatomy lesson) and has been yapping on about the big bird "dat fwies and eats awl da yums, he ees big!"

Claire wakes up every morning waiting to make "anjewels" in the snow and informs us about the phases of the moon: "when iz dark 'den 'deres a moon. Yook! a biiiig moon, Woooooow!"

Photos from Christmas are here, there's a few more floating around I'll collect and post another time, but here are two of Claire and cousin "Moo-cheal" enjoying a sleigh ride with McManda. It reminds me a lot of this: