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How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

It seems fall has once again sneaked up on
me while I’ve been busy trying to not look too far into the
future and enjoying every minute of summer. Maddie’s friends
are all in preschool, open gym’s back in full swing, and
Madeleine’s started all her new fall projects, like ballet
class. I always think I’ll mark the passing of a season with
at least a wry little nod as I rush between diaper changes and play
dates, but when I look up from meal planning and laundry and
endless repetitions of “Brown Bear”, I see my chance at
a small salute has passed me by without so much as a backward

Since Maddie’s not in school the start of the fall
season’s not such a big deal in this household; no huge
change to our schedule, no new morning routine to be assimilated by
a cranky 3-year-old. But I seem to always see the onset of summer
as something to be both celebrated and planned: what will we
accomplish over the next three months? What do we hope to do with
those long days stretched out like jewels to admire? And since
summer’s officially over – I think they’ve even
padlocked the pool – it seems like now’s a good time to
look back and see just what we’ve done for the past three

Let’s start with Maddie. As we swung
into June and stared hard at her third birthday, I had a few things
I wanted to accomplish over the summer months: Introduce a
classroom setting. Segue from the church nursery to
children’s chapel. Potty train. In short, start fostering
some independence and begin preparing for school.

My big goal with her was to start testing the idea of structured
class settings; we still weren’t sure if Maddie was going to
start preschool in the fall or wait until next year, and I wanted
to see how Madeleine started dealing with learning in a foreign
environment. And what could be more foreign than swimming?

Most of you remember the disaster that was swim class, so I
won’t rehash it. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty
and move on. But Brian and I recognized that 1) Maddie needed to
learn to swim; and 2) she needed to start listening to a teacher
whose name doesn’t start with Mommy or Daddy. So we put
Maddie in private swim classes, and she took off, quickly trusting
her swim teacher implicitly and discovering that other adults have
good stuff to say, too.

Children’s chapel took care of itself; Maddie simply
expressed an interest one day early in the summer and didn’t
look back. A few weeks of a parent going with her, then Maddie
confidently went solo and loves it still. I’m grateful
she’s in a low-pressure setting, learning what it feels like
to be in a classroom-type situation that’s only forty-five
minutes long. She sees how older children behave around teachers
and is quickly picking up how to be respectful towards them, as
well as the basics of classroom etiquette like lining up to leave
the room or cleaning up crayons after an activity.

As for the potty training, well, that one I can’t quite cross
off the list. Or as I like to say, Maddie is completely
potty-trained - she simply refuses to do it. I think she’ll
continue comfortably choosing diapers until we do the nekked thing,
though I fear that’ll backfire and she’ll develop a
raving kidney infection. Oh, well – maybe she’ll leave
the diapers behind when her friends tease her about it at prom.

Now for Cora. I had two goals for Cora for the summer: ease up on
the separation anxiety. And sleep through the damn night.

For the separation anxiety, I had lots of help. Good old Aunt
Nikkie volunteered to help out, and I spent an average of a day or
two a week teaching while the girls played with Gamma or Aunt Nik.
The first few days were rough – not while I was gone, but
later that day. Cora would be fine during her Mommy-less hours, but
realized later in the day she’d been robbed of some precious
Mommy time, and she’d insist on making up for it. In the
middle of the night.

Which leads me to goal two: sleep through the night. And on that
subject, I have nothing to say, because I have NO IDEA what will
happen tonight. After yet another grim round of sleep training I
had a couple wonderful weeks of Cora sleeping a good nine hours
before needing me, which meant I got six hours in a row of sleep.
Then we had a cold, then poison ivy and teething, and it’s
been almost a month of being awake every few hours again. I’m
hoping since the tooth is in (I really felt it this time!)
we’re heading back for some good sleep, but I’m pretty
sure I saw the start of a runny nose and think I’m in for
another bad week. Sigh.

All in all, though, it’s been a great summer for us girls.
We’ve had a ton of playdates, solidifying friendships in our
new home and learning lots of new skills like jumping off stair
rails (thank you Cody) or playing trains for hours (thank you
Maxum) or putting Little People in our mouths (thank you Baby
Ahna). I’ve seen both girls become happy in their homes,
truly growing roots and feeling happy about where they are.
Maddie’s stopped asking to go back to New York quite so
often, and Cora is forming attachments to friends and adults alike.

And I think that sums up the summer for us: rooting and blooming.
As we dig in and get fed, we’ve grown in confidence and
happiness both, I think. And as I continue to struggle to give my
girls wings to fly away from me, they baby step further towards the
edge of that nest, getting ready to take that inevitable first
jump. Cora lets people other than me hold her, and she
doesn’t cry when I’m gone for a few hours at a time.
She's finally recovered from the impact of the move, and is
stepping a bit more out of my shadow. She sings in front of other
people and tells them stories, confident she’ll charm them
instantly. And she’s right. And as for Maddie, she sees
there’s a bigger world out there than Mommy can provide, and
is thinking about sticking her toe in the water and testing the
temperature. It’s only an underground murmur right now, but I
can sense a restlessness in her, a readiness for more than I can
give her. She adores library story time, clapping and laughing and
singing along without looking at me to see what my reaction is.
She’s got independent relationships with teachers at church,
and has a crush on both her ballet and gymnastics teacher. Maddie
is a sponge, getting ready to drink in the world.

Rooting, blooming, getting ready to fly. And that’s how I
spent my summer vacation.


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