Preparing for Camp Mama


Photo: That is a very healthy dogwood sapling that we found while cleaning up the yard two weeks ago. I decided to replant it in a different part of the yard, and Ursa Minor helped. Observing it, watering it, and tracking it will be one of our summer projects this year. School ends this week and I need SOMETHING to do with myself and these boys!


I need to start this post by saying that I drove from Massachusetts to Maryland and back this weekend. That’s 16 hours in a car, folks! My back is singingScreeching, actually. When it isn’t screeching, it’s straight up pointing and laughing at the Advil I took a little while ago. I haven’t had this kind of back pain since I was pregnant with Ursa Minor. I’ll be lucky if I can walk by the end of the day. 🙁

But that isn’t really what I want to write about today. As I was riding around this weekend, a thought came to me: This is the last week of school.

The last week of school.

This is remarkable for a lot of reasons. First, obviously, it’s the end of Ursa Major’s first year of school, which is really exciting. It’s a long journey, but he has taken his first steps, and he has had a really successful year. I’ll write more about what I’ve learned about him and our upcoming challenges and opportunities on Wednesday. Second,  this week marks the end of this crazy cycle that we started about this time last year: We were just beginning the process of packing up the old apartment and preparing to move to the townhouse, remember? And about a year ago, this house entered the market and I saw the listing for it… it’s so crazy how fast everything goes. Third, the end of the school year marks the start of summer… the last summer that both of the boys will have no sort of structured something to do as they are both too young for any camps this year. That means that Camp Mama(wannacryah) is opening on Saturday.

The Summer represents a lot of opportunities and challenges, as I am losing my two windows a week when I have one baby instead of two. Tuesday morning grocery shopping is about to be a huge pain in the ass. Not having the two school days, though, means that we can change up the structure of the week, so that I can feel like I’m successful in keeping the house running smoothly and they can feel like their days are full of fun and maybe a little learning.

But I’m also thinking about how best to spend these few weeks together. I don’t want it to be wasted in front of TV, or fighting over the same 3 toys, or me yelling and screaming at them constantly. As we’re not taking a big family vacation this year, there won’t be some event to look forward to and break up the time. I’ve gotta come up with some plans to keep the boys engaged and happy, but also keep me sane.

Good thing I’m a teacher, right? I’m thinking about measurable goals, plans for emergencies, a few field trips, and a tangible product or two so that way we can look back at the end of the summer and say that we did something with our time. Here is where I am so far:

By the end of Summer, Ursa Major Will Be Able To: 

1. Use the potty (during the day): We aren’t using the potty. We aren’t even trying to use the potty. And you know what? That’s my fault. I’ve kept putting it off and finding excuses, and we just can’t do it anymore. He’s too big to wrestle, his diapers are too expensive to be sustainable much longer, and it’s hard for me to send him off on playdates because I don’t want to ask other moms to change his diaper. I think we need some tough love: I’m buying big-boy underroos this week and we’re going cold-turkey. I’m turning my mind over to a Summer of Accidents, but I’m hoping that I can send that boy to school in September in underroos without (too much) worry. I recognize that the night-time potty situation is going to be a little funky… so we’re going to start with daytime first.

2. Take on one chore: I am ready for Ursa Major to take on one responsibility, and I think that is going to be clearing the table after dinner…. maybe just the plates at first, but hopefully, by the end of the summer, the whole shabang. He likes helping his father “clean the dishes” by playing in the sink after dinner anyhow… let’s turn that into something productive.

3. Learn how to breathe: Ursa Major’s first instinct when he’s angry is to scream. It doesn’t matter how big or small the infraction is. His teachers say that they don’t really experience it at school, but I experience it all the time at home. I’m going to start asking him, when he’s angry, to stop, separate himself, and take a few deep breaths. We’ve got to re-learn some self-control.

By the end of the summer, Ursa Minor Will Be Able To:

1. Accept a timeout and sit for the full 2 minutes: I’m having a hard time disciplining Ursa Minor and it’s starting to create other problems around following directions and what not. This is because I’ve been inconsistent with putting him in timeout when it has done something wrong. That’s my fault. Gotta be more consistent here so that we can have some ease in other areas.

2. Begin to greet other people: I’d really like for Ursa Minor to be able to better interact with other people that we meet. He often doesn’t say “hello” when spoken to in public, even if I prompt him. He just buries his head in my neck or shoulder. This doesn’t happen all the time, but some of the time. It would be nice if he could say hello when prompted, and tell someone his name if asked. That might be a little difficult, but he’ll be 2 1/2 by end of summer… I feel like that’s possible.

By the end of the Summer, Both Boys Will Be Able To:

1. (At least pretend to) Pick up toys at the end of the day: I know that the playroom will never be “clean” until I actually do it. But I’d love for the cleanup song to be sung and for a couple of toys to end up in designated places at the end of each day this summer. I just want to start the good habit of “We make a mess during the day, but we clean up at the end.” It would just be nice to start that early.

On the mommy side of things, I have to do the following:

1. Come up with a Rainy Day plan (outside of the house): It has been a rainy spring, and I know that we will have some long bouts of rain in the summertime, too. It’s easy for me to see the rain and just turn on a movie. I’m now collecting little games and materials to do on rainy days just so we can break things up. I think I’m also going to keep an eye on the forecast and come up with a group of reliable moms who we can visit or have visit us on rainy days.

2. Come up with a Hot Day plan: Massachusetts usually has 2 weeks of “bad” summer weather: when it’s 90 or above and humid. It’s usually that last week of July, first week of August. It’s easy to get the boys out early, but they can’t be out in that all day. Again, I think with some forethought, a beach fieldtrip with another family can be arranged… otherwise, I really need to figure out of my local library is awesome. Speaking of which:

3. Find at least one field trip to do each week: I need to do this on the cheap, but I’d like to rotate at least one thing every week that isn’t the playground, which we’ll do at least once a week. So, our favorite farm, the library, maybe the aquarium in Boston, there is a children’s museum in MetroWest and also one in Boston… I can’t go crazy, but we’ve gotta do something once a week to break up the weeks.

And as for the tangible products?

1. We’re going to start an “observations” journal about the front yard. They are always finding ants and butterflies, and I’d like to record something new that they discover every day. And seeing as we’re always out there digging and planting, I’d like for them to start looking at the plants and grass and observe any changes. This is going to be a rough task for Ursa Minor, who might not participate at all, but I think that Ursa Major is going to have fun with it.

2. We’re going to start a Moon Journal: This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, because both of the boys are fascinated with the moon. If we see it, we’ll talk about it, and hopefully draw it in a little journal I’m going to make for them. This will, hopefully, turn into a fun art project on the rainy days. I hope that I’ll have little stories of theirs to record, too: What is the moon doing? Why is it where it is today? What color is it and why? This, I hope, can we something that we do from now on.


I have some other tricks in mind… I bought that Martha Stewart craft book, and I have some preschool curriculum books, too. I’m going to be doing some structural stuff to the blog starting in July (including moving over from .com to .org with my own URL, I think), and I hope to post some of the successes (and failures) that happen along the way. Three more school days and then the adventure begins!

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    Wurgh. Sounds busy.

    Good luck with the blog move! I moved mine to self hosted but the vast majority of my followers did not come with so now I sit in a corner and talk to myself…

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      That’s concerning… why do you think that is? I hear that there are sometimes WP Reader issues when you switch over to self-hosted… do you use a particular service? I wonder if I should reconsider?

      1. Miriam Joy says:

        I think most people just failed to resubscribe. I post every now and again on my old blog being like, “Yo, I still exist, want to check out my new one?” But most people haven’t figured out that is not the same thing as so all my posts are being wasted on them. They’ll come back eventually — I’m just building my audience again.

        You can get a domain name without needing to switch to .org; I only did it because I wanted to have more freedom to customise my theme etc, which I did with the help of a techie friend.

        1. K.C. Wise says:

          I’m wondering what I should do now… I thought about going self-hosted so that way I could possibly start selling my short stories through my own store on this site… you can’t do that when hosted by .com… I thought about monetizing, too, but I don’t really want to stick a bunch of ads and stuff here.

          And., actually, your note about losing readers is interesting. I get a lot of follows every day because of the two Freshly Pressed, but there are some pretty obviously spam accounts in there. I wonder if I switched over if I could learn who is a bot and who is not?

          Things to ponder…

          1. Miriam Joy says:

            You’d certainly learn who’s paying attention — the people who always commented on my old blog are mostly the ones who switched over, though I did lose some in the confusion, which was a bit sad. Obviously, people come back. If you’re gonna do it, I’d say do it sooner rather than later, because the fewer followers you have to lose the better. 🙂

  2. I love your blog because, well you; but also because I am actually watching two little people grow. It’s fascinating. Things they do or experience that are totally foreign to them. Learning to potty, saying hello, vacuuming; seriously, how were those not just built in? Total design flaw.

    I can’t believe you found a dogwood!! That is so badass. We’ve got winter interest baybee! Ahem, I’m good now. Moving on.

    Can the journal be multimedia? Pictures of plants, movies of worms, sounds of birds? Can they do cameras yet?

    How is Massachusetts not just one big, free, field trip of awesome. Isn’t like every block a famous battlefield? And isn’t there like this really famous ship just parked down at the dock? Just freaking sitting there. Closest thing to that we had at home were the boat houses where all the weirdos lived.

    So jealous.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      You’re so lovely. Thank you! I love your idea about making the journals multi-media… Major might be able to handle a camera (they make those cool disposable ones that still have a digital output) and I think that would be kind of cool… Minor might have issues, but that’s cool. I am going to look into that. Maybe they’ll get their own little corner on the blog? The possibilities… THE POSSIBILITIES!!

      And you are right about the parks. They are everywhere around here. Minute Man National Park is right around the corner, and it’s huge. We will certainly be paying that a visit. I can’t wait until they are older and can really appreciate what’s going on around here…

      And Lord do I wish some of this stuff was built in. Especially potty training. It makes me want to reconsider this entire diaper thing if we have a third. Seriously. There has to be a better way…

      1. I suppose it all worked before we got snooty and put on clothes lol.

        Save your uterus. I’ll be your adopted third just to gain access to the history spots! I’m short; I can pass for twelve and under.

  3. Sounds like a great summer you have planned. Enjoy it! BTW-can’t fathom only two weeks of “bad” humid, above-90 weather. We have already started with those bad days in NC, and will continue until about October!

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I spent two summers in Cary when mom lived there and it was BRUTAL. Seriously, BRUTAL. I don’t know how ya’ll do it year in and year out. Then again, winter down there is pretty awesome… sooooo….

      1. It is definitely a trade-off!

        I live about 30 miles from Cary. Small world.

        1. K.C. Wise says:

          I loved and loathed it…Cary is very sterile with all the new builds and stuff. I mean,we kinda lived like kings because the cost of living is so much better down there, and the farmers markets and barbeque are just to die for! I miss it in a lot of ways. The Outer Banks is, without a doubt, my favorite place to vacation.

  4. So much of this post applies to me! 1. O is also a screamer/foot stomper. We do time outs, but while there (after they calm down) they have to count. He can count to 15 on his own now, 20 with prompts. It means they have to calm down and refocus. Almost all of his time outs are for freaking out about something his sister did! When he gets really stressed, he has to take 3 deep breaths. Sometimes he even does it on his own now. I can’t tell him not to yell or hit without taking the time to teach him how to pull it together and make a calm decision;) 2. O is starting a “chore” this week too! He helps do other things but this week he’ll start taking out the garbage(with his father) for garbage day. He already likes sorting recycling. 3. Don’t be afraid to let them go nudybooty while potty training. I just wanted them to master one thing at a time. Can you get to the potty? Can you pee on it in time? Good! We’ll work on undies another time! (And we did! And E has mastered them and pants in the last 2 weeks so now she only needs a diaper for naps, which we just started cutting out, and bedtime. Or if we go somewhere further than the yard;) The great thing is that once Major gets into it, Minor will all over it! You’ll probably be diaper free (during the day) by the end of summer! 4. Encouraging Minor to be more outspoken is great, but just remember not to push him too far. I was painfully shy as a child, and to this day I remember feeling sick to my stomach when my mom would make me go to the cash and talk or banter with strangers. Manners, yes, but also strangers are scary! My kids, on the other hand, have no stranger fear at all! Uuuggghhhh! Where’s the happy medium? 5. Because we’ll be homeschooling next year I’ve already started setting things up and one thing is a “stations” box. Instead of having stations like in a class room, the box has different activities in large zip-lock bags. There are lots of ideas shared on Pinterest for activities you can make yourself. 6. We also have an observation journal, and I love it!

    I hope you guys have a great summer:)

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I would love to know more about your homeschooling plans and where you are getting your materials. The Husband is very against homeschooling, but I would very much like to do some supplementing and stuff here at home. Especially in these early years. The strong the foundation, the better. I like the “Stations” and want to do something similar in our playroom anyhow… gotta get it in gear and head out to IKEA for some stuff…

      Also, “nudybooty” is my new favorite word. I wish I could let them do that in the yard, but ticks are a big deal out here. 🙁 I think we’ll do underroos in the house and see what we can do.

      I like your idea about 3 deep breaths and we are totally going to use that for Minor. Let me know if you have some best practices! And the chore, too!!

      I totally hear you about stranger danger. I don’t want to force him to be outgoing, but I do want him to be polite. That’s all I’m asking for. I just don’t want him to eventually be a 12 year-old who can’t look people in the eye, you know?

      1. In Canada the rules are different in each province, but over all they are the same. Some provinces make you update them on your kids progress, and if you remove them from public school, they make you write them a letter stating your intention (but if they never registered in the first place, you don’t have to). Right now I’m still researching workbooks, but the Ontario website has all of the curriculums laid out. I downloaded the PDF for The kindergartens and put in on my iPad. There is lots of information out there. You are a teacher, so I’m sure you’d be a wonderful homeschooler. There are a lot of reasons we are choosing to homeschool, including the fact that we are a military family and will be moving in March so O would be switching schools in the middle of his first year! Also, sometimes when you move provinces they can put your kids back a grade! That’s crazy! Ah, a blog entry for another day;)

  5. Hey, can I go one post without butting in? Not likely. 🙂 has e-commerce setups? ( I’m personally against moving to self-hosted due to my own experiences running a self-hosted site, but it’s mostly due to laziness, time, and never wanting to fix a whole lot of stuff that I messed up because I knew just enough to get myself in trouble. Working on an answer to the woes in your next post as well.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Whoa. This is freaking helpful. Gonna read this while cooking dinner. Thanks!! I am now really thinking that self-hosted is a bad idea. If I can just have my own URL (which I can) and I can do e-comm in the future… well… no reason to move! BOOM!

      Also–guess who learned how to cable last night? This chick!! And it’s like, not that hard. Making a swatch right now and it looks lovely. And I think I might be knitting to gauge for once? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME!?!?!

      1. Gauge is overrated. 🙂 Says the girl who just had to Goodwill all her hand-knits because not a one of them looked flattering.

        1. K.C. Wise says:

          Whooooaaaa… I just read the fine print on that. You gotta be WP Biz for that! $299 a year, homie!! I’d be lucky if I made HALF that on my little novella thingy in September. Blarg…

  6. I’m not sure that self-hosting + domain + other stuff is MUCH less than $299. I could totally be wrong. Again, the laziness is the primary voice right now. 🙂 I’ll keep researching for you. Not that I have things to sell. Except for maybe ill-fitting knits.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      🙂 I don’t know how you haven’t opened an Etsy store already, regardless. You’re kind of amazing. So don’t knit sweaters. Knit blankets instead! Or cute little baby dresses–seriously, that dress and hat and stuff that you did were AMAZING!!!

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