Just Happy Cleaning Windows

Both of my children attend a Montessori school, where one of the basic philosophies is that children’s play is valuable work and should be regarded as such.  To this end there are various “practical life” stations in the classroom where the kids have scaled down versions of adult activities, like laundry hanging, dishwashing, and sweeping.  (I’m waiting for the class to have a few more useful ones, such as “cooking dinner” work, “putting self to bed” work, or “zymurgy for toddlers.”) One of the favorites is always “window washing” work.  I’m not sure why this is such a big hit, though I think it’s partly because it’s simply fun to spray a water bottle.  I purchased a set recently from a Montessori supply website, though I could probably have just put the whole thing together with stuff from the dollar store.

My intention was primarily for the girl to use it, but the boy grabbed it and proceeded to wash every window in the house.

The girl got into it, too:

She particularly loved the squeegee, and once when the boy tried to use it, she snatched it back from him and proceeded to whack him on the head repeatedly with the hard plastic side in a fit of rage. This landed her in time out rather quickly.  The boy, to his credit, never cried or lashed out at her, but instead walked over and sat down in front of her.  “It’s okay, sweetie pie,” he said. “I’m your brother and I love you.  Can you say sorry and give me a hug?” They gave each other a hug and promptly returned to window washing, while I got teary-eyed.

On another occasion, the girl picked up a towel and began to wipe off the fridge, completely of her own volition.  Seriously, this must be how they get the school clean.  I wonder if they’re licensed for child labor.  Should I notify the authorities?

She then made the sign for milk, so I handed her a sippy cup thinking she must be thirsty.  She instead proceeded to do this:

See? She realized that the fridge wasn’t actually dirty when she was cleaning it, so she purposefully dripped milk on it and then wiped it off, which gave her a great deal of satisfaction:

The thought process mystifies me–I wish I knew exactly what was going on in that little brain.  Does she need to feel that her work is purposeful? Or did she just want something to wipe off?  I’d like to think that it’s the former, since really, don’t we all want our work to be meaningful?  It reminds me of the Van Morrison song, “Cleaning Windows,” in finding happiness and satisfaction in simple, purposeful work.

Or maybe, sometimes spilling milk is just making a mess for the fun of it.

Doing It All By Myself

The girl has become quite the little independent one.  When I drop her off at school, she screams (and I mean SCREAMS) if you try to carry her in instead of letting her walk.  She also insists on carrying her tiffin by herself.  Once I tried to help her by holding her tiffin as she clambered up the step into school.  She promptly sat down and began to wail until I handed her back the lunchbox.  She then placed it neatly on top of the step, struggled a bit to climb up, then picked up her tiffin and continued to toddle along.  This easily adds a good fifteen minutes to drop off in the morning, but there’s no way around it.

It’s pretty cool how capable she is, and rather tough, too, at least for an 18 month old.  Even with a faceplant off the slide, she picks herself right back up again, dusts herself off, and is ready to go:

Sprinkler Day

My sister basically told me that my next post had better be cheerful after the last depressing one left her unable to move for the rest of the day, eating Junior Mints and watching “Million Dollar Baby” over and over, wallowing in the sadness.

So here it is.  An early pick up from school, a hot afternoon, a great idea from Sapana, and here are the results:



The girl wasn’t nearly as impressed.  After stepping into the grass with some trepidation:


She quickly realized this wasn’t for her


and found a more comfortable position.


All in all, a great way to spend one of the last few summer afternoons.


Walking walker!

The girl is a little late to the world of bipedal locomotion, but has finally arrived and now there’s no stopping her! Unless there’s a blueberry around, and then she makes a beeline for the plump juicy blueness and proceeds to cram handfuls of them into her mouth at once.

Silent Chatterbox

We made a point of doing the whole baby sign thing with both kids, and they picked it up very well.  The girl has over 30 signs now, and it’s so fun! More than that even, I truly believe that it helps them to communicate earlier and understand the concept of communication.  Here’s a list of what we’ve seen her do so far (if I was more talented I could put this in columns, but I’ve tried and failed):

  • More
  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Daddy
  • Brother
  • Rabbit
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Bird
  • Bear
  • Baby
  • Shoes
  • Help
  • Book
  • Flower
  • Ball
  • Music
  • Fish
  • Lion
  • Water
  • Giraffe
  • Gorilla
  • Fruit
  • Hat
  • Bath
  • Cow
  • All Done
  • Squirrel
  • Light
  • Fan

And here she is, showing off a few.  I love her expression when she does “baby” — it’s so adorable!


This last weekend, the family took its first vacation as a foursome to Estes Park.  We stayed at YMCA of the Rockies, in a delightful little 2 bedroom cabin, complete with fireplace and coffee maker.

I used to be someone who could pack enough for a month long trip into a backpack and have room left over.  This is no longer the case.  Our car before leaving:

IMGP2021Even the girl was crammed in:


We got up to Estes and took a walk downtown, where the boy competed with a mountain lion statue for fierceness:


Then we got to our cozy little cabin.  When we arrived, the boy ran around the cabin, declaring, “I love this place!”  We had a nice 2 bedroom cabin with a fireplace and settled in, reading books and playing memory.   The boy did spend a bit of time looking for the switch to “turn on” the fireplace, and was a bit surprised to learn that you actually had to start a fire with real wood. The next day was time for…the big hike!

Hikemaster was ready to go!


The boy did great on the hike, making it up the 1.1 miles to Dream Lake and back with minimal carrying.  The girl did great, too.


We saw these cool trees we learned to be limber pines.  They are made of a flexible wood and twist with the wind as it whips around the mountains:


At Dream Lake we had a nice lunch with some overly inquisitive squirrels.  Sadly, they are completely tame at this point because of people who feed them.  Those buggers are fast, and probably got a bit or two of veggie booty before we could shoo them away.


When we got back down, though, Eric noticed that the girl’s eyes were completely goopy with yellow discharge.  This made me grateful for the fact that I have a Colorado medical license, we were 5 minutes away from a pharmacy, and I know one pediatric antibiotic eye ointment.  This also made me realize that I really don’t have any interest in remote backcountry camping for a while.  I know you can’t prepare for everything, but I’d like my children to be a bit more independent and a bit less tasty snack for predators.

The next day was the Estes Park Wool Market!! Details in next post…


What’s your sign, baby?

The girl shows off some of her signs! So fun!

This video doesn’t exist

Her signs to date: bear, hat, light, eat, dog, cow, horse, fruit, more, dad, ball, rabbit, fan, drink (which looks exactly like eat, but she throws her food on the ground).  She can even put two signs together to say “more eat,” which is her favorite!

Pox, redux

We took the girl back to the doctor on Wednesday, where they brought 5 pediatricians in to look at her rash.  Around this time I realized that the last time they had seen normal chickenpox was the same as the last time I saw normal chickenpox, which was on my own body when I was 6.   The vaccine came out in 1995, when all of us were in college or med school and thus the only cases of pox they’ve seen are atypical cases that happen in vaccinated children.  The vaccine is given at 1 year old, so the girl was just 3 weeks away from getting it.

Remember the children’s song “Miss Suzy had a turtle?” The turtle gets sick and Miss Suzy calls in 3 experts who all declare different diagnoses. “‘Measles!” said the doctor, “Mumps!” said the nurse, “Chickenpox!” said the lady with the alligator purse.” This is what it was like at the doctor’s office.

The longer she’s been sick, the more the rash has looked like classic chicken pox.  I’ve been taking pictures every day or so to document its progression.

April 4th

April 4th

This was about 3 days into the rash, when we took her to the doc the first time and was told that it was viral. Apologies for all the snot in the pictures.  Her poor nose was rubbed so raw that she screamed whenever we wiped her nose so we did it only when absolutely necessary.

April 6th

April 6th

A few days later, the cheek rash is a bit better but now you can see the forehead lesions starting up.

April 7

April 7

Now the cheek rash is better, but the forehead is looking worse. This is when we took her back to the pediatrician.  Of the 5 docs, 3 thought it was viral, one said pox, and the other came in silently and left silently.  I do not know what she thought.

April 9th

April 9th

She’s a complete and total mess here.  New cheek bumps, but what’s most prominent are the completely new vesicles on her chin that look like chicken pox. The stuff on her right cheek is an eczema flare.

April 9th closeup

April 9th closeup

Here’s a close up of the chin bumps, which looked like clear little blisters on a red background.

April 10th

April 10th

Now the forehead is much better, and you can see the chin lesions…

April 10th closeup

April 10th closeup

…starting to crust over. She also developed a new vesicle on her leg today.

April 11th

April 11th

Today most of her face is clear, and the chin lesions are entirely crusted over. Most importantly, she’s back! By that I mean that she’s happy, active, rolling around, scooting all over the place and just radiates joy from her core.

April 11th closeup

April 11th closeup

For those who think that chicken pox is a benign disease, let me disabuse you of that notion.  The girl was utterly miserable for 2 weeks.  Before we knew it was chicken pox, she did go to school for 2 days but that’s was it–really we should have kept her home and I feel a bit guilty about it.  She would have otherwise been home for 2 weeks straight.  Thankfully it worked out okay with my work schedule, but this would have otherwise been really hard.  She also developed a nasty yeast infection in the skin folds of her neck and behind her left ear (she sleeps on her left side) that was extremely painful for her.  I would have preferred that she never gone through any of this.

Of course, there’s a possibility that this isn’t chicken pox, and could just be some random viral thing. I’m going to have her tested at her 1 year visit–if she’s positive then there’s no need to give her the vaccine.  If she’s not, then god only knows what she had and I’m just thankful that it’s over.

Stripey Dress

New dress for the girl:



Grrr… A bit too big around the top, a bit too short overall… I may rip out the bottom and knit a few more rows, or just leave it as is and call it a tunic for summertime.

You may also notice that she has the standing down pat–it’s her favorite thing to do.  She’s also picking up more signs and can now sign “dog” and most importantly, “brother.”