Thursday, March 31, 2011

Foreclosure update

A very nice 2700 sq. ft. 1950s home went into foreclosure a week or two ago, after spending a couple of years going from realtor to realtor and bobbing between $270k and $245k. I've been waiting to see the price on this one. It's $205k ($74 per sq. ft.) with a helpful note that a lower offer might get the house. It's going to be very interesting to see what this does to prices, because there are two much smaller houses in comparable locations with very similar prices (a 2300 sq. ft. house for $200k and a 2000ish sq. ft. house for about $190k). I don't like the location for the foreclosure (it backs to some pretty industrial stuff) and it's too early for us to jump in and buy in our 2nd choice neighborhood (1st choice is the tiny one near campus where you're lucky to have one or two houses for sale at a time). There have been a few tolerable houses in the $160s and $170s in our 2nd choice neighborhood, but they sell very quickly compared to the stately $400k+ houses. This is going to be a very interesting year, I think.

Wrong book

Here's some of what's happening:
  • There are now two houses for sale side-by-side in the older neighborhood I watch, one being sold by a contractor family, and one by the contractors' former clients. The client's house is $440k (after a series of price cuts) and the contractors' house (a new listing) is $10k less. Within a couple of blocks, there's another house at $440k and one at $450k, both of which are lovely Spanish colonials and have spent a while on the market.
  • I drove the kids to CCD last night by myself and put in about 30 minutes with the Russian textbook while I waited.
  • I finally got the other Russian textbook order in the mail. Unfortunately, due to human error it was just a 1996 edition of the 2008 textbook I already have (volume 1). I still need a copy of volume 2. This is going to slow down the launch of my Russian tutoring venture, and may delay it until next fall. Bummer.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Communion preparations

Here's some of what's happening:
  • Yesterday, I ran our monthly elementary board game club. Including our two kids, there was total of six children. They played checkers, chess and Chinese checkers. I'm starting to warm up to Chinese checkers. It's not super complicated, but there's a bit of strategy involved. One of our sets of players (two third grade boys) played a single game of chess for about 45 minutes. Another pair of boys (first graders) were playing non-standard variants and kept changing rules midway. The father of one of them told me that as a 4-year-old, his son had created the idea of a "super pawn" (very similar in function to a queen), although it was easy to lose track of which pawn it was. The father also said that during play, it would always turn out that the super pawn was the pawn that the boy most needed to be "super pawn." The kid brought a lot of cookies to our club meeting, though, so good for him. D and C played together (which was not really the idea of our running the club) and D took losing very hard. Hopefully, next month we'll have more girls come so that C can have a non-fraternal partner.
  • This morning, I took both kids to C's riding lesson so that my husband could work on the leaves (the live oaks are shedding right now).
  • After lunch, the four of us were shopping for First Communion stuff for C: white shoes, white tights and a dress. We bought the first two items at Payless. The dress proved more difficult. We visited four department stores and a bridal boutique at a vast strip mall, but were unable to find a white dress with at least a bit of sleeve in the right size. The department stores had a couple of sleeveless white sundresses and the bridal boutique had the right dress, but in the wrong size. We finally gave up on the strip mall and started looking for the last two stores on my list, which were inner city special event dress shops. We only had to go to one to hit pay dirt. The store specialized in baptismal outfits, First Communion dresses, and quinceanera fixings. I chose the first dress C tried on (made in the USA, according to the label). Although it has straps and no sleeves, it comes with a pretty lace jacket, so there's at least token coverage. The dress is long, so we're having it shortened, which brings a bit of suspense to the business, but the shop people assured me that they can get the alteration done in time. C is very pleased with the dress, I think--she was twirling happily in front of the store mirror.
  • D and my husband left early this evening to run a star night outside town. It's just past 11 PM right now and they should be home soon. There was a college biology event at the venue and D had a chance to see (dead in formaldehyde) poisonous reptiles and live non-poisonous ones. D also had a chance to show people stuff through his telescope, but eventually went to sleep in the car.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Xantippe gets ready to launch

I'm hoping to launch a Russian tutoring venture in a week or so. I've got Live from Russia! Volume 1 and we've ordered the second volume for me. There were a few days after I got Volume 1 that it was just sitting around untouched, but a few nights ago, I realized that what I needed to do was to take the book and a pencil to Starbucks and just work. I did that yesterday and got to page 89. I went this morning, got an iced coffee, and got to p. 185. I'm not saying that I did every exercise, but I'm covering all the grammar and vocabulary and by the time I get to the end of the hour, I wasn't taking in new information as well. The plan is to keep going and once I make it into Volume 2, I will start flyering in the general area of the Russian department. I've already emailed the three professors who teach Russian here. I don't know if this is going to produce any tutoring clients, but I've made only a small financial investment in this (probably less than $50 on the books and shipping). I'm planning on charging $15 per 55 minute hour, at least initially. If this takes off, I will continue working through the intermediate and advanced textbooks that the Russian department uses in order to be qualified to tutor at all levels.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Here's some of what's happening:
  • I've just learned that the Russian word for platypus is "utkanos," literally "duck nose." Russian has a gift for the calque when dealing with foreign words. The rhinoceros is "nosorog," literally "nose horn."
  • We've been watching bits of the Live from Russia! (2008) DVD in the evening. Everything looks so tidy and Western European and although I wouldn't say that people are fat, they're definitely plumper than my recollections of the 1990s. Watching the DVD is the only extra work I've been doing. My plan is to install myself at Starbucks with the textbook and no internet and plug away at it an hour or two a day. We've also ordered the second Live from Russia! textbook, but were only able to get it in the 1996 edition (which seems to be the only one there is). As soon as I feel like I've made enough progress, I'm going to email the Russian professors my bona fides and flyer a bit.
  • Having read Pratchett's Going Postal 2 or 3 times, C has talked it up to her little chums at school and lent it out to one of them. There's a movie, too, which I'm looking forward to seeing. The Color of Magic movie was excellent.
  • Yesterday, I had an appointment with a realtor and saw four houses in my favorite early 20th century neighborhood near downtown (we wanted to see a fifth, but it wasn't possible). They ranged from $270k to $200k.
  • The best option was probably the first house, which just went on the market. It's $260k and in an excellent location. It's a 3BR/3BA 2300 sq. ft. early 1950s home. The main minus is that the front facade is bunkerlike with few windows, but I think you could fix that with appropriate landscaping (I might even spring for palm trees, along with an island of succulents). The main beauty of the house is an enormous sunroom and covered deck looking out on a sloping back yard. It's really pretty. The rest of the house is pretty average renovated 1950s, with an intact pink/lime tiled bathroom. I'm quite OK with the red kitchen cabinets, although the greenish blue 1980s (?) tile (?) floor made for a jarring combination. If I had to replace the kitchen flooring, I'd go with black-and-white checkerboard vinyl or something similar. Two sets of our neighbors showed up to see the house at the same time, so we had quite the party.
  • There was a pretty house for $270k of about the same size, but in a much worse location. There's a constant swoosh-swoosh of cars going by a major arterial.
  • The most disappointing house was one listed for $250k on just about the best street in the neighborhood--very quiet, very genteel. One of my neighbors told me that the owners were long gone and it should be possible to get the house for high 100s. That sounded great, up until I saw the house. It's a two-story 1930s colonial with a newish kitchen and has a lot of potential, but I get the feeling that it needs a lot more love than we could give it. Just superficially, there was peeling paint on the exterior shutters and the window frames inside and the bathrooms looked totally original. I don't think anything beyond the kitchen and some fresh paint has happened since the 1930s. Who knows what the situation is with the electrical and the plumbing. It just didn't look like the usual exquisitely maintained older home that I'm used to seeing in this neighborhood, and it didn't look anything like $250k. Honestly, to me it didn't look like $150k, either. Bummer. It looked so much better in the pictures online.
  • The least expensive house I saw was one for $200k built in the late 1920s (but expanded on over the years). The additions are somewhat ungainly (it's a long skinny house that just keeps going), but the older part of the house has been really charmingly updated. I'm pretty sure that the kitchen must be more or less original, but it's actually very cute. I'm pretty sure that Joe Renovator's first thought would be to rip out the divider between the kitchen and the breakfast nook and create a bigger new kitchen. I might leave that alone, but I would probably paint the wood paneling in the big added-on family room (yellow? white? not sure). It's a good street, but with at least two possible problem houses (the Christmas tree house and the house we made an offer on where the owner has raised her price). I'd also like an inspector's opinion on the house and I'd like to see the summer utility bills.
  • We have just over one more year before we have to move. Hopefully, there will be some more affordable options before then.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Here's some of what's happening:
  • A couple nights ago, while looking at, I noticed that there's a new foreclosure in the nice, early 20th century neighborhood near downtown that is my backup in case we can't find anything close to campus. I visited the house in the fall with a neighbor and her realtor. It's been for sale for a long, long time, bobbing between $270k and $245k, with lots of small price changes and about half a dozen realtors. It's a 2700 sq. ft. 1950s house on a well-known street (but backs to industrial). I didn't see that coming at all. There are a couple of houses with recent remodels that seemed like much likelier prospects than this one.
  • I've just gotten the elementary Russian textbook in the mail. It's Russian Stage One: Live from Russia!, which I think I may have taught out of (in an earlier edition) long long ago in graduate school. The DVD was in the book in a sealed envelope, completely untouched. We're also going to order me the second volume. I'm going to try to buckle down and do some review so as to hang up a tutoring shingle before finals.
  • I was looking at C's third quarter grade for CCD (Catholic religious education). Her report card says, "works hard and is fun to have in class." Very good!
  • Both kids are suddenly way into the Disney version of Dance Dance Revolution (the Wii game). It looks like excellent exercise.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

House walk

Here's some of what's happening:
  • My husband and I are in talks about buying an electric treadmill for home.
  • C has done first confession and she's scheduled for first communion in April. Our parish takes a fairly low-key attitude toward first communion (the kids don't do it en masse, but as the parents decide they're ready) and the dress code is also relaxed. They're supposed to wear nice clothes, but not necessarily the suit-and-tie or white-dress-and-veil that are usual elsewhere. I've ordered a long-sleeved light pink dress from Landsend ($11 on sale) for C and am hoping that that will be adequate, although now I'm starting to look at Amazon at white satin and veils. I may yet change my mind.
  • I took an energetic walk this afternoon in the older neighborhood near downtown that I watch. I noticed one house with Christmas tree still up nearly three months after Christmas. It's on a pretty good street and it was up for sale for a while and then it went off the market. Foreclosure?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shall We Dance

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • We have finally moved on from grocery store single-blade pencil sharpeners to the crank kind that needs to be mounted. Much, much better.
  • We had our graduate film night on Friday and showed Shall We Dance, the Japanese movie (not the Jennifer Lopez one) about an accountant who turns to ballroom dance.
  • Saturday morning, I drove both kids to C's horse riding lesson. She had a new horse after struggling with a full-sized, uncooperative animal. C's new horse is a small paint horse, very furry and almost all white except for brown ears and some spots on the head. Our high temperatures are in the 80s now, and C's new horse was shedding hair profusely. Meanwhile, my husband was getting a start on our federal taxes, which he eventually finished today.
  • C finished a major book report.
  • My husband made a run to the downtown public library and got a supply of books: some Pratchett, a Peanuts collection, Magic Schoolbus, etc.
  • There's an empty house (the college is probably going to be demolishing it soon) in our neighborhood that has a bush with lots of fragrant purple blossoms. I would call it a lilac bush (it smells lilacish), but I'm not sure it's technically a lilac, since a lot of northern varieties struggle in our hot climate. Anyway, I went over there this afternoon with scissors to collect some blossoms for a bouquet (they're a bit past their prime, but the scent is almost too strong). I'd really like something similar for our future home, but I don't even know what to call this one. If only nurseries had scratch-and-sniff catalogs...My other local favorites that I'd like to put in a future yard are live oak trees (no link--I couldn't find any adequate photographs) and crape myrtles. There are some very nice agave plants locally, as well as some very pretty cactuses that look a lot like prickly pear. Quite a few people around here venture to grow palm trees, but they seem to have suffered a lot during the last big cold snap, so I'm not sure I'd go that far. I'm also not very excited about pecan trees, because the ones that we live with are aesthetically unappealing during the winter and extremely brittle, prone to dropping 15 ft. branches on the driveway.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grape vine

I emailed a bit with the prospective babysitting client with the three-month old. She needs a sitter 5 days a week from 7:30/8AM to 5:30PM (and sometimes later), with the possibility of later drop-offs and earlier pick-ups, and also the possibility of sometimes doing just 3 or 4 days a week. Oh, and she wanted a rate discount for more hours (I had quoted her $11 an hour for standard babysitting). I discussed all this with my husband and decided to pass (the 7:30 drop off alone would be a deal breaker and the 5:30 pick up is not much better). I wrote back, saying that my hourly rate is pretty firm and that the schedule wouldn't work for me, but that I would be happy to be her back-up sitter. I also had a sudden brain wave, realizing that there's a graduate student's wife with a new baby who might be a better fit for the prospective client. The graduate student's wife and I had a walk scheduled this morning, so I pitched the gig to her this morning and then on my return home, I emailed the prospective client her info. The prospective client sounds very pleased (she's looking for someone to start Monday). If you mapped this series of social interactions out, it forms a chain like this:
  • the prospective client
  • the prospective client's old baby sitter, who has a kid at my kids' school
  • my neighbor, who has kids at the same school
  • me
  • the graduate student's wife

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Here's some of what's happening:
  • Baby L, the now 1-year-old that I watch once a week, is now teetering (very literally) on the edge of standing by himself. He likes the idea of stacking and sorting, although it's going to take a while for him to get the hang of it. He is getting more opinionated and I think he was asking me today what the toaster was. In other happy news, he napped through his usual pick-up time and I got an extra hour of pay this morning.
  • I haven't heard back from the family with a newborn that I was supposed to start sitting for at the end of this month.
  • On the other hand, I just got a call from a mom from school (mom #1). She had heard from one of my neighbors (mom #2) that I might be interested in babysitting. So mom #1 called me to ask if she could pass my info on to her friend who has a three-month-old (mom #3). I told her yes, please. We shall see if any of these babies appear.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Here's some of what's happening:
  • At Walmart, I saw a box of pudding-filled donuts labeled "Bavarian paczki." The word is Polish, the a is actually a nasal o, but it's written as an a with a tail and the word is pronounced POHNCH-kee. Anyway, I bought a box as part of D's birthday celebration.
  • On the same Walmart outing, I also purchased a tub of feta cheese. C is wild about the stuff and likes it with nut and dried fruit mix.
  • C loves her stuffed Perry the Platypus and likes to watch Phineas and Ferb with it. She has also been taking the platypus to bed, which she hasn't done with other stuffed animals for a couple of years now.
  • Last year I bought a pot of tulips at the grocery store. After the flowers died, I planted the bulbs outside. Some time later, I discovered that the squirrels had been digging up the tulip bulbs. I replanted what I could. A week or two ago, I noticed that the tulips were coming up beautifully where I had planted them, and furthermore, that a stray tulip had popped up in a completely different area, presumably where a squirrel had buried and forgotten it.
  • My husband and D have been enjoying the kids' woodworking book I got D for his birthday. They just finished a toy helicopter made from wood scraps and two popsicle sticks for the propeller.
  • Today, D got two more birthday gifts: a remote-controlled R2D2 from us (the remote control is a light saber) and a Blue Angels kite from an uncle and auntie in Florida. Thank you!
  • D has also been enjoying the digital alarm clock we got him for his birthday, but D asks his dad "Is the minute fresh?" He wants to make sure that when he uses the clock to time activities that he is doing a full minute.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Birthday, day two

Here's some of what's happening:
  • This is going to sound a bit snoopy, but I think I know who bought the house near campus we got turned down for (they wanted $219k, we offered $165k). It's a family with three little kids and the dad is in the physics department. I have shared the joyous news with my neighbor who just closed on a house on the next street over. My takeover of that neighborhood continues according to plan...Now, if we can just find a house for ourselves.
  • There really isn't any movement in the market in the early 20th century neighborhood I watch near downtown, except that one big house dropped in price from $895k to $829k.
  • We had D's birthday party this morning. All of our invited families showed up and there were a total of 9 kids and 5 adults at the party (we could have had more adults, but I think that's our maximum capacity for kids). My husband made chocolate muffins with chocolate chips (Ghirardelli bittersweet) and I put out baby carrots, cheese cubes, fresh blueberries (very inexpensive right now), small apples and grapes. The kids played indoors (and one kid got his hand shut in a door), they played outdoors (they loved our big red wagon), and then they came in and played Wii Mario Kart (two players at a time, one race apiece, and C and D went last). At the end, I handed out goodie boxes. C had insisted on the Mario Kart goodie boxes from Birthday Express, mostly because she wanted one. I decided to order one each for each of my kids, one for each family (leaving it up to the mothers as to how to divide the items), and then C generously offered some of her Disney Princess pens to top off the goodie boxes. After having examined a barrel of goo from the goodie box (which was exactly that--a barrel of greenish black goo with no discernible useful function), I took the liberty of discarding all of them. I should also mention that C folded and assembled all the goodie boxes by herself last night.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Disney notes II

Here are some notes, mostly from Tuesday, our last day at Disneyland:
  • On Tuesday, our ailing relative felt better and was able to put in a big day at the park. We did Tomorrowland and Fantasyland together. In Tomorrowland, we did the Nemo submarine ride (the kids liked it), the monorail (nice for sight-seeing, lousy as actual transportation), Buzz Lightyear (everybody but me loved all the interactive shooting--to me it felt like work), Autopia (loved it!). We also managed to catch a lesson at the Jedi Academy. Here's a helpful hint, kids--wear your Star Wars gear to the performance. Those kids got pulled out of the crowd much more.
  • Critter Country and Star Tours were closed for renovation.
  • In Tomorrowland, my husband heard a mother at a gift shop tell her son (after a purchase), "You have 5 light sabers." I heard many other funny quotes, but didn't manage to write them down.
  • After Tomorrowland, we did Fantasyland: Alice in Wonderland, the tea cups, the Storybook Land canal ride and Peter Pan. Around mid-afternoon, I went off to do some serious souvenir and gift hunting by myself while the group did a few more new rides, as well as some repeats. I did Main Street and Downtown Disney. Along with the stuff I've already mentioned (Nemo, a Minnie Mouse shirt, the water color pencils), I also got two plastic character cups for the kids (one Minnie Mouse, one multi-character) and a set of princess pens. I met everybody for dinner and then took the kids to do their shopping. Each child selected a stuffed Perry the Platypus (from Phineas and Ferb) and a pen bent into a mouse ear shape (Minnie for C, Mickey for D). As almost always, the kids have very modest needs when they are spending their own money.

Disney notes

As I said, we're just back from Disneyland. We stayed four nights at the Camelot Inn. It was a tolerable walk to and from the parks, but Downtown Disney was a bit far. There was some illness, but we finished strong. I hadn't been to Disneyland in well over a decade, so California Adventure and Downtown Disney were both new to me, and there have been many small changes. Here are some notes:
  • The princess thing is HUGE! Every other preschool and toddler girl was dressed up as Snow White, Belle or some other princess.
  • Disney makes "edgy" mouse ears. I'm not kidding. They make Nightmare Before Christmas mouse ears, as well as every other character under the sun. I personally like the R2D2 mouse ears, although in general, I dislike the mixing of franchises (they have a whole line of Star Wars figurines with Disney characters playing the roles).
  • Our first day at the parks was Sunday. The kids woke at 5 AM, as they would for much of our trip. We easily made it to 8 AM mass at St. Boniface's in Anaheim. The music was rather horrible, but it was a totally packed out Spanish mass. There must have been hundreds of people standing up. C was able to tell us later that the gospel was about the man who built his house on the rock. We got a taxi back to Disneyland. The driver was Filipino (I think) and he had a rosary wrapped around his rearview mirror, some holy cards, and a book by Norman Vincent Peale. He was very approving of our having been to mass.
  • On Sunday, California Adventure opened at 10 AM. My plan had been to follow our guide book's itinerary to jump back and forth and stay ahead of the crowd, but we had many setbacks and finally ditched the plan. We did Soaring over California (a simulated hang glider ride), Redwood Creek (a nice outdoor playground with a zipline, netted bridges, a rock climbing wall and slides), a Monster's Inc. ride (too loud and not very interesting), a white water raft ride, a carousel, a ferris wheel, and lots of carnival-type rides at Paradise Pier.
  • We developed a churro habit.
  • I had been concerned about my backpack being both very necessary and an impediment. I needed something to hold hats, the kids' fleece vests, granola bars, waters, my wallet, a tube of Neosporin, my phone, some Children's Tylenol, etc. As it turned out, the backpack didn't interfere at all, although I did put my phone in a ziploc for the white water raft ride. I didn't ride any true roller coasters, though.
  • On Monday, we had our first day at Disneyland proper. I've been half a dozen times, so I was on much surer footing. We did Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Tom Sawyer's Island (now taken over by the Pirates of the Caribbean), Disneyland Railroad (very handy--much more so than the monorail) and Toon Town. I followed a kid into Injun Joe's cave, and almost got stuck. The island and Toon Town were both very good afternoon activities for children too tired to stand in line. We had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, which C had been waiting for for weeks.
  • With regard to the rides, C was suspicious of darkness, while D disliked drops and heights. That pretty much summarizes Disneyland.
  • Both kids were surprisingly indifferent to the dress-up opportunities afforded by Disneyland. A couple of years back, C would have killed for a princess dress, but she barely noticed them this year. She didn't even seem that interested in mouse ears. On Tuesday, I bought a Minnie Mouse shirt for C and a Mickey Mouse shirt for D, and D was so negative about his that I took it back.

Birthday, day one

Here's some of what's happening:
  • We're just back from Disneyland! It was a five day trip, with three days at the parks. We have two more days left of spring break before the kids go back to school.
  • D is 6! We had a very small family party today. We had a small chocolate cake from Walmart with chocolate buttercream frosting and large colorful sprinkles. D got an alarm clock, a set of colored pencils that work like watercolors and a book on woodworking for children (at Disneyland, I got him a stuffed Nemo). The alarm clock was the favorite. Unfortunately, it's defective, so we'll need to return it. Tomorrow, we're expecting three families to D's birthday party for his little friends. It's going to be Mario Kart themed.
  • This afternoon, C had a playdate with a classmate at our house. I had completely forgotten booking the playdate, until I got a phone call asking for directions. The kids played horsie, played with remote-controlled cars, and pulled each other around the driveway in the big red wagon.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

St. Basil's

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • The kids were watching The Black Stallion and are lately on a Phineas and Ferb marathon, thanks to the Wii/Netflix thingy.
  • Yesterday I vacuumed and scrubbed down the inside of the car. During the course of this lengthy operation, I discovered that the foam padding in C's booster seat had gotten lumpy because it is falling apart. Given the state of the booster and the fact that C was legally able to graduate from her booster when she turned 8 and she graduates from needing it in Canada this summer when she turns 9, we decided to throw it out. It's the end of an era.
  • Yesterday I drove C's papercraft St. Basil's Cathedral to school. C and I gave a short presentation to the kindergarten and third grade classes and took questions. There was at least one stumper ("When was St. Basil's destroyed?" and "When was it rebuilt?"), but my prep with the Wikipedia article got us safely through and St. Basil's Cathedral survived the kids' friendly interest. I mentioned the Canon papercraft site to the classes and C tells me that Miss D showed her class the different buildings available on the Canon site on her computer, and suggested that the kids might enjoy doing one over spring break.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New client?

Here's some of what's happening:
  • C brought home a painting (acrylic?) that she did in art class. It shows a kangaroo under an Australian-feeling blue sky (my favorite part of the picture, I think), and the kangaroo's shadow falling on the grass.
  • In the upper grades, the kids paint imitations or copies of Impressionist paintings. I've seen some really beautiful examples of art done by the children at our kids' school. This year some of the older kids produced a mural of a Van Gogh painting to help beautify downtown. Downtown is in dire need of beautification.
  • Not to get ahead of ourselves, but we are scheduled to save $474 this month toward our first home purchase. This is very gratifying, especially since the Christmas season was much less impressive. As a rule, our best months for saving here are in the fall and spring, when our utilities are least expensive. I've got our heating turned off now and hope not to need air conditioning until early June (OK--late May).
  • I had my babysitting client (he's about a year old now) at home today. I babysat him an extra hour and made $45 total before taxes. The baby enjoys standing holding on to things, crawling and exploring, and helping himself to toys. Gone are the days when I would park him on a blanket and bring him toys one at a time. He won't stay on the blanket, and he wants to help himself to toys. The upside of this new stage is that he seems to have a longer attention span and he plays longer with the same toys.
  • I'm supposed to be getting a new babysitting client soon. He or she (we haven't met yet) is a newborn and I'll probably be watching him or her a day or two a week for the next five months. I'm supposed to show his mom around my facility (i.e. my living room) sometime soon, but I haven't heard back from her.