Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Belated Thanksgiving

Let me just start by saying that we have had a rough week so far. Power struggles abound in our house right now, things are out of step and there has frankly been more yelling and discipline that I really care to have. One thing I have learned about kids is that change and growth is constant, and it usually is accompanied by some bumps in the road along the way. We are at the bumps right now.

Miss E had her make-up Thanksgiving celebration for Kindergarten today so Mr. T and I dropped her off, ran to the grocery store and then came back to peek in and see what the kids were up to. She was at one of the stations set up, dressed as a pilgrim, sorting her "food". It was pretty cute. I took a few pictures (none of which turned out great), blew a kiss goodbye and we left. This afternoon, I asked her what her favorite part of school was and she said it was when I stood at the gym door and blew her a kiss goodbye and she waved at me. My first thought was "oh that's sweet" my second thought was, "shouldn't something be more fun than that on a celebration day in Kindergarten?". I don't know.  I do know that no matter how fun a party or celebration is, it's not their normal routine and therefore Miss E is a bit wary. I have spoken before about the fear all mama's carry around in their hearts for their children and more and more I hear a voice inside my head whispering "is this the best thing for her?" "Is this helping her grow?" The more confusing thing is, there is no alternative. If this isn't the best thing for her then I don't know what is. Homeschooling is not a choice, not only because I would be no good at it but the relationship between Miss E and I at this point would not be conducive to homeschooling. As for the second fear, she is growing and learning things in Kindergarten so I don't know why I keep having these doubts. I really don't. But they are there.

This is one thing I have realized as the kids have gotten older. Parenting gets harder. It seems really hard the first 2 or 3 years, and it is physically but it gets harder as they get older. When they are little, it is physically demanding. You get up at night, carry them all the time, be with them all day long, they have a lot of needs. But the needs are all pretty easily met - food, sleep, attention, love. Now they sleep, can feed themselves, get dressed, I don't have to watch them 24/7, or deal with diapers but it feels harder. Mostly because there are so many things I'm not sure how to address. I find myself wondering more and more how I should approach issues, how I should talk to them about things, when should I push and when should I back off?

A perfect example of this is school lunches. Miss E, at the start of the year wanted to buy lunch at school. I said no initially since she was only there for 2 days and hardly any of the other kinders did it. Now, she is going more often and more kids are buying so I asked if she wanted to and she said no. Now, I know she said no because she doesn't know how to order it or pick it up and she is afraid.  I have explained the process to her and offered to e-mail the teachers to have them walk her through it, but she doesn't want to do it. So, do I push and force her to do it knowing it will be good for her to do? Or do I let her make her own decision based on fear which I don't agree with? It seems like such a small issue but I find that things like this are cropping up more and more. I can't even imagine the teenage years.

Right now, I try not to worry and assure myself that, as my lovely friend Suzy tells me, I didn't break my kids. Mr. T will learn to swim even though we probably waited too long to start lessons. Miss E will build her confidence at her own pace, but it will happen. Mr. T will stop finding everything under the sun scary, even though he probably saw TV shows that were a little too old for him at a young age (thank you older sister!), or maybe I did break my kids and will hear about it later. Undoubtedly, there will be things I do as a parent, issues I took on, ways that I handled things that I deeply regret. There already are, but I have to remember that this is a learning process, both for me and the kids, and that we are all going into it with the best of intentions and the greatest of love and that despite mis-steps and bad decisions along the way, things will turn out OK in the end.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lady Ginger

Today I was at work all day and Peter wasn't feeling great so no pics of the kiddos or anything to interesting. This is actually one of Ginger's favorite ways to lay. Do you see her paws crossed over her chest? She's been doing that since she was a little pup. She's always up for a belly rub after the kids go to bed, I think it's one of her favorite times of day. She loves the kiddos but when they are in bed she can stretch out all over the living room without fear that someone will jump on her or blocks will be built around her or a ball will come flying over head.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bad Hair Day

No, I haven't taken Mr. T to get his hair cut in a couple of months - why do you ask?

All sarcasm aside, getting the kids haircuts in moving up on my list of to-do's.  I actually don't mind his hair this long, but something about the cut makes it look shaggy, and not cute-hip shaggy, but I-haven't-had-a-haircut-in-months shaggy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On our way to the play

My mom took all four of the kids to a puppet show of Cindarella today. Miss E was super excited and dressed in her fancy (and new thanks to yours truly waiting in line at the Gap for 45 minutes yesterday - it didn't seem that crazy at the time) clothes. For her getting dressed up today meant wearing a sequined skirt, shirt with rosettes, matching sweater, sliver glitter shoes, necklace, headband with bow and bike gloves. When she came out of her room with this ensemble on, I almost started singing the "one of these things is not like the others" song from Sesame Street. Remember that song? They don't do it any more but that was one of my favorite parts. Or it must have been because I still remember it. Something like that.

Anyway....... While my mom and the lucky (or unlucky) Uncle Jason took the kids to the play, my sister and I got to go shopping. This is evidence of how much I love shopping that I was willing to go again today, after our marathon yesterday. Today we shopped for us and hit all the super sales at J. Crew and Banana Republic. it was fun and low key and really nice to spend time with just Honore. She and I don't get to do that enough.

The kids all had a blast at the puppet show and came home after lunch at a restaurant with balloons, masks they had made at the show and Mr. T assured me that I was right, the Cinderella puppet show was not, in fact, scary.

A note about the photo: I only took three of them before the show and 2 were awful. In the background is my awesome nephew wiping his nose. In the foreground is the (unopened) bottle of coffee liqueur that my mom was trying to pawn off on all of us (nobody took it). It's a lovely photo overall don't you think? Let's just say, it's really us.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Oh, I am kicking myself that I didn't get my camera out at 2:30 in the morning and take a picture of my lovely companions as we waited outside of Kohls for it to open, but well, it was 2:30 in the morning and cold and a little rainy and did I mention it was 2:30 AM? Once that store opened it turned into a 10 hour marathon of shopping. So, here is a picture of the mall near the end of our journey and this is the only one  I ended up taking all day because we had some serious shopping to do.

I am really not much of a shopper, well that isn't true. I LOVE to shop, just not when stores are crowded. Except for Black Friday when my intrepid and dear friends Suzy, organizes our route, tells us what time to show up and drives us around in her van to get all kinds of deals on Christmas and household items. It is something I would never do alone, but with 3 (or 4) non-complaining, fun and interesting ladies along, it makes for an annual tradition that I very much look forward to. Look forward to enough to get up at 1:45 in the morning, the day after Thanksgiving. Ouch.

This year my big score of the day was a new down comforter. Ours is old and cold and smashed down from years of husband and kids piling stuff on it (doesn't anyone know you're not supposed to put stuff on a down comforter? It smashes the goose down. I'm really really telling the truth about that), and when Peter is not there it's cold. Considering Peter is not sleeping at home more than a 1/3 of the time, that is a lot of nights for me spend freezing or piled under all the kids baby quilts. So, this year I took advantage of the sales and got an excellent comforter, and now I am happily warm as I snuggle under the blankets.

This day also is a tangible reminder to me that anything is bearable and even fun with friends. Even ridiculously crowded stores at ridiculously early hours of the morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving. This year was a bit different for me. The last few years have been a struggle for us, and we have come closer than ever to losing things that are important to us - our house, our marriage. It's been rough. Last Thanksgiving as we all went around the table saying what we were thankful for, all I could say was that I was thankful we were still holding on. And truly, aside from being thankful for the health of our children and ourselves, and a roof (tenuous or not) over our head and food on our table, that was it. I think nobody outside of Peter and I knows how hard, how long and how ongoing this struggle has been.

This year, I am thankful for the struggle. It is through the struggle that we are truly learning to value things in our lives. And by things, I don't mean stuff. I mean, each other, a home, financial security, food, health and love. The struggle has taught me a lot and is second only to the birth of my children of events in my life that have made me have to grow up and be more responsible.  I am learning, ever learning, how to appreciate the blessings that we have.

Overwhelmingly I am also thankful for the health of our children, ourselves and our family. Our children are funny, bright, loving and engaging and we are lucky to be their parents. I am also looking forward to another year of growth and have all the faith in the world that things will continue to improve.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Library trip - Day 2

I guess you could say we go to the library a lot. I took Miss E there today because Mr. T had school (yay preschool!) and our playdate was canceled due to a sick friend. Even though we were here yesterday, it is never boring to go pick out new (free!) books.  She hasn't been able to go for the last month since we go during Mr. T's weekly story time and she is in school during that time, so this was extra special. Today, we ran into not 1, but 2 of her Kindergarten friends there, which if you are a kindergarten girl involves much hugging and jumping up and down in excitement that you are both at the library AT THE SAME TIME!

Tonight involves much cooking and turkey prep and packing to go spend the night at my parents. We are all so excited to see our family for 3 straight days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow (well, kind of)

So we woke up this morning to this. A tiny bit of snow, FREEZING cold and no school. Today was supposed to be the big all-kindergarten celebration of Thanksgiving but the roads were pretty icy so they canceled it. Miss E was bummed. But, we had the day as a family and went to story time at the library for Mr. T and during that, Miss E and I read books and Peter went to pick up the turkey and all the last minute Thanksgiving groceries. Quiet and cozy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing a book

E as a Fairy Princess by, E

That about sums it up. In other news, check out her hair! This is the point we get to and I just don't know what to do. It looks really cute short in a bob style and I think it would look cute long but at this in-between point we have football helmet. Tons of thick hair, hanging in her face. What should I do? Grow out the bangs? Go long? Or just cut it short again in a bob? Decisions, decisions. She would like to grow it out but doesn't want to brush it. She also likes it short and has no idea what it means to grow out her bangs, so at this point it's still pretty much my choice (although I know it won't be for long!)

Also, it started gently snowing at about 9 tonight while I was on my way home from a lovely dinner/drinks session with the ladies. That made me happy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Basketball Game 2

Well we all learned a few things today.

Miss E learned a bit more about basketball, how to handle the guarding, how to move the ball. Today's game was much less pressure, our team had 5 kids, the other team had 3, so one of our players played for them and the kids played the entire time. By the second half, the coaches relaxed on the coaching, the kids relaxed and they all just played. After that we went to the fire station for lunch and movies and more basketball.

Mr. T learned to read his first book. This is a very preliminary step but he is getting more and more interested in reading.

I learned a bit more about taking pictures in the gym. During the game I took about 200 pictures, adjusting my camera settings as I went. This was about the best I could do. But really, same gym, same kids as yesterday, I think this is much better. I set it to a higher ISO (although I still don't know what that is), adjusted the white balance (ditto on the not knowing what that is) and played around with Manual vs. Aperture priority mode (ditto again). There is a photography class in my future I swear, because I need it.

All in all another weekend of single parenting survived while Peter worked away. It's amazing how much easier this gets as the kids get older.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Basketball Game 1

This morning was the first of 2 basketball games this weekend. As I have said before, this sport is much harder for the kids to learn than soccer and Miss E in particular has seemed both warm and cold about it. It think she likes it and wants to play but she's having a hard time figuring out what skill to tackle first. Dribbling, guarding, shooting, passing.....it's a lot to pick up for a 6 year old.

See that kid in front of Miss E in the picture? He spent most of the game jumping up and down about 6 inches from her face. However, here's the thing about Miss E, she doesn't like people in her face. I'm not kidding, parents, friends, strangers, she DOES NOT like people getting in her face. She spent most of the game either staring at this kid wondering what the heck he was doing, or just turning away from him. Not focusing on the ball, or the game, but trying to get away from this kid. He didn't take the hint. My mom and I thought it was quite hilarious.

After the game, I was congratulating her on how fast she was running up and down the court and she responded "That's the part I like, the running. Not having some dumb kid I don't know jumping in my face the whole time" Point taken Miss E, point taken.

Also, I cannot figure out how to take pictures in the gym. Between the awful lighting, the movement of the game and the color of the floors they all turned out awful. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Friday, November 19, 2010


This is Mr. T after he fell on the playground, hurt his hands, realized he was embarrassed about falling, realized he was hungry and exhausted and realized Mommy was there to hold him. One sad, snotty, tired little boy at their class party today. The other lady is his teacher - isn't she pretty? She has 4 girls who all have that exact shade of blond hair, it's like she has 4 little mini-me's.

Poor Mr. T. He was so excited today because it was their Stone Soup party at school (if you haven't read that story, be sure to check it out - it's pretty great) and Peter and I were both coming to the party. He even wrote "mom" and "dad" on the invitation they sent home. The m's were wavy lines and the a in dad looked like an e but I knew what it said and was so proud of my little guy.  About three minutes after we showed up though, he fell and this ensued. He only wanted to be held and bury his head in my chest. And again, I was reminded of my parenting differences between children. With Miss E, at 4, I would have really pushed to set her down, have her participate in the party, and basically get over it. With Mr. T, I tried to cheer him up for a few minutes, we sat with the class for a bit and then we just decided to go. There will be other class parties. Looking back, I'm not sure I did Miss E a lot of favors by pushing her so hard. Or maybe I'm not doing Mr. T any favors by letting him off the hook so easily. I guess only time will tell on that one. I'll have their therapists send me a report, or read this blog, when they get older and then we'll see. OK, just kidding on that last one, kind of.

Other than that, today was lovely. I didn't go into work and Peter was home so we were able to go shopping for Christmas presents and clothes this morning (hello huge sale at J. Crew!), hang out and relax this afternoon and watch a movie tonight. So far this week he has worked Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and now he is working Saturday and Sunday. These are 24 hour shifts people. Except for Tuesday - he came home at 7 that night. We are having him work a lot now, knowing that as we get closer to the holidays there are more black-out dates where he can't work because of events and to (hopefully) try and avoid the stomach pit sinking feeling of being entirely broke this time of year. We are trying our hardest this year to simplify Christmas, in terms of presents, events, activities, etc. but it is hard with the kids and a large-ish family. My side draws names amongst the adults so that helps a lot but it all still adds up. I keep thinking that some year, it will be easier, the money will just not be such an issue. I hope that is true.

Speaking of money, here's a thought for the day. If childhood obesity is such an epidemic, why don't we make sports for kids more affordable? At  approximately $150 a sport for registration, $20 for pictures, $20 for team party, and another $30 for uniforms/shoes/equipment it gets pretty steep. And that is for kindergarten, it gets much more expensive as they get older. So why, if we all want to keep kids from getting diabetes by 14, are sports not free or at least very low cost? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Morning Conversation

A morning conversation:

Miss E : I don’t want to go to school

Me: Well I think you need to, you took a day off last week and we can’t do that very often.

Miss E: I’m not getting dressed.

Me: Ok, but I don’t think you teacher will let you wear pajamas to school

Miss E: (stomps to room, comes out in the 1 skirt she owns that is not school appropriate because it is taffeta, long and she can't walk a full stride in it)

Me: That’s not a school skirt

Miss E: Well then I’m not going

Me: You need to go change

Miss E: (stomps back into room, comes out in pants)

Me: Those look nice. Do they fit ok (they’re new)?

Miss E: Yes

Me: What’s underneath them (my mom radar is up)

Miss E: (Looking down)  Tights.

Me: That seems like it’s going to too hot (she has a history of layering so many clothes that she gets hot and cranky,which doesn't work well for school, and the pants she is wearing are already thick sweatpants.)

Miss E: It’s cold

Me: I want you to take the tights off before school. Do you want to do it after your cereral?

Miss E: No

Me: (starting to feel a little frustrated) Look Miss E, I let you play with legos in your pajamas for an extra 45 minutes this morning, and then I let you have yogurt and cereal for breakfast (usually eggs). And you're making a fuss about this?

Miss E: Yes. I don’t want to wear socks.

Me: Why don’t you want to wear socks?
Miss E: Because I don’t like to wear socks. (I have never heard this before)

Me: Well hon you can’t wear those pants and tights to school, it’s too hot.

Miss E: No

Me: Miss E, (more firmly) you need to take the tights off. You can’t wear them to school and I don’t think you want to be late.

Miss E: (ignores me)

Me: 10 minutes until we leave.

Miss E: (ignores me)

Me: Miss E you need to change. You can take off the pants and put on a skirt, or put on a different pair of pants but you can’t wear tights with those pants.
Miss E: AAARrrggg, I want to wear that rainbow skirt (1st skirt).

Me: That rainbow skirt is not for school, but you have about 10 other skirts in there that you can wear to school.

Miss E: I want you to pick it out.

Me: Fine. Here, this one will look great with that top.

(much moaning and groaning ensues from her room.)

She finally comes out in a school appropriate outfit. I resist doing a victory dance. 

There was a time when a conversation such as this would have resulted in tears, tantrums, yelling and my blood pressure rising. But, as they say, with time comes wisdom. I have learned how to navigate this situation and yes, it is frustrating. I have learned though that she needs to make her own decisions. We can't force her into anything. As crazy making as it is, it's also something that I love very much about her. She has her own mind. Although I wish conversations like this didn't drag out so much!

Once we dropped her off Mr. T and I ran errands, went to the bookstore, got him registered for kindergarten next year (yikes!), went to build a bear to make his end-of-potty training celebratory bear, or puppy dog in his case, went shoe shopping for me and then headed back to pick up Miss E. Sometimes these days seem trivial, school drop offs, pick ups, errands, it can all fill an entire day. But they are so sweet, spending this time with my kids, even errands, drop offs and pick ups fills my heart with joy. I know that these are some of the best years of my life, clothing arguments and all. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grocery store

And then there was work. Today, I headed to work for 7 blissful hours of quiet and calm. I only had to feed myself lunch, I only had to get my coffee, my snack and I got to quietly concentrate on something without being interrupted. I would never want this five days a week but as I've said before, 1 or 2 days a week is great. And it gives Peter a chance to connect with the kids and be a part of their daily life.

Mr. T's class was headed on their grocery store field trip today and since it was our day to parent-teach, Peter got to go with them and lead a group of kids around the store on a scavenger hunt. Aren't they cute?

When I came home from work the house was warm, dinner was cooked and the kids all excitedly jumped up and down yelling "mommy's home!" and jabbered at the same time about their day. Then they put on a play for me, we had dinner and a family wrestling match. It was the nicest thing. Just the nicest thing and if I didn't go to work, I wouldn't be able to come home to such a nice welcome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Well we are about 55 hours into the rare beast that in the fire service is known as the 60 hour shift. That’s right. 60 hour shift. Peter has been at work since Sunday. It is now Tuesday and he’s not coming home until 7 tonight. That is 3 days at work. 3 straight days!

On top of that, it has been an unusually full three days. In addition to our regular activities, 2 things that occur once a month also happened to be yesterday (girl scouts) and today (after hours art progam) Couple that with 2 night time activities that I had to drag both kids to and it has been a long long long few days. 

And for Peter as well, it will be three long days. However, he probably hasn't had someone talking to him for about every waking hour of it. Not that I don't like spending my days with the kids, I do. There is actually nothing I would rather do and most of the time I wish I didn't have to work at all and could just stay home with them. But I like to have a break, or another parent there to fill in. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have someone who comes home at 5:30 to help with dinner, bath and bedtime every night. Or to take Miss E to basketball practice so Mr. T could stay home with me and get ready for bed.  

I know there are millions of single parents out there that do this all the time, every day and that I shouldn't be whining. But at this point I am tired and my brain is addled with trying to do 3 things at once for the past three days and have someone talking to me the entire time. I am ready for Peter to come honme tonight and tomorrow I will go to work. For 7 hours.

On a side note, check out Miss E's outfit today. I'm not sure what is going on this week, it almost feels like she is testing me to see how far she can get before I say something about her clothing, but I didn't this morning. Our policy has always been that is has to be weather and school appropriate and other than that, she can wear whatever she wants. So today, it was bright red/black shirt, paired with lavender plaid skirt and hot pink leggings, and somehow, it kind of looks adorable.  Kindergarten girls can really get away with this hobo look and I learned long ago that she can pick out outfits that are 10 times more cute and interesting than anything I could pick out for her. The girl has quite a touch with clothes. Who knows,  someday it could be the height of fashion. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Monday

So, if you look on our calendar for today here is what it says:

Peter work
Mr. T school
Girl Scouts
Quesadillas and corn

I don't put that Miss E is going to school because that is everyday so it seems a bit redundant.

Tonight Miss E officially became a Daisy and wow, those girls were excited. As soon as I opened the door to the room to drop her off 4 of the girls screamed her name, ran over and gave her big hugs. Soon they were all climbing on the tables, moving chairs and excitedly chatting. I think we have found our balance from the "boyness" that is sports! At the end of the meeting tonight they all got their uniforms, first Daisy petal (courage) and performed their Daisy song. I'm not sure how their leader corralled the girls enough this meeting to get them to settle down and focus on an activity but she did. I really just love seeing Miss E feel so good and comfortable doing all these activities.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Talking to Daddy

Peter  ended up working an overtime shift today so the kids talked to him this afternoon after a birthday party this morning. I think my kids learned how to talk on the phone pretty darn young because Peter works such long shifts. He is really good about calling to check in after school and right before bedtime. They love to tell him about their day sometimes, but other times they just aren't in the mood. Today Mr. T was excited to tell him about a magician that was at the birthday party they went to this morning. Apparently the magician was AWESOME. He and Miss E did not stop talking about him. Then they did Legos all day long.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Mom

This is my mom. Isn't she pretty? I sincerely hope that when I am in my mid-60's I look am in as good of shape as she is.  If I'm doing that good at 50 I'll consider it a fantastic thing.  Here's a bit of how the day went:
1) 8:30 am basketball game. Are you kidding me? Peter gets home from work, snaps at us because we all aren't moving fast enough and we go to the game. As for the game itself, let's just say this isn't soccer.   Miss E did great, I'm just not sure the kids are really ready to play games and the league is very disorganized regarding standardized rules, etc. We'll see how it goes.

2) Race home, snack, change. Get back in car to head to Christmas Bazaar that fundraised for a charity my mom volunteers for. Peter snaps at me because he forgot his cell phone and we have to go back and get it. I snap back that it's not my fault he forgot his phone. One big happy family heads to the Christmas Bazaar.

3) Have I written about the cat shelter my mom volunteers at? It's called House of Dreams and not only are they a no-kill shelter but they take cats that other shelters would euthanize for old age, or because they have feline leukemia and give them a home too. It's pretty awesome.

4) Head home for lunch and rest time. Peter goes to grocery store

5) We all do Legos.

6) Peter heads to my parents to watch the Ducks game. I make Lasagna. The kids complain they don't like Lasagna. I assure them, that kids do, in fact, like Lasagna. They don't eat it.

7) Bedtime for kids, apple pie in oven, Peter comes home and we watch a movie.

Overall, a pretty typical Saturday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Apple Farm

Since Miss E didn't have school today, and Mr. T was having a sub, I asked him if he wanted to skip school so we could do something fun (ahem..not that school isn't fun....). We've been inside entirely too much lately so I figured it was time for a trip to an apple farm near us and at the and while we were there, I would shoot some pictures to  hopefully use for our Christmas card. 

The kids dragged me out of bed at 7:20 (which is 20 minutes later than normal - thanks guys!) and we had the most delicious pumpkin pancakes ever breakfast. After that we headed out to the apple farm where we walked around, took pictures, had a snack and enjoyed the foggy November morning.  I got some great pictures of the kids, incredible pictures. They were in good moods, the setting was beautiful and I think I snapped about 80 pictures. We moved to 3 different spots and I never shot them for more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time. That doesn't seem like long, but when you drag it out too much you lose the mood and start getting forced smiles, or annoyed looks. By the end of the trip, they were all red nosed and happy, Mr. T finishing his apple and Miss E telling him jokes. 

These last few days have me feeling like I've taken a deep breath. Things have slowed down, evened out. The last 2-day Peter was at home (non fire folks: 2-day is the break in between 24 hour shifts) was lovely and calm and relaxed with no catastrophes or snapping or rushing. I've been able to see my friends, take some time to really enjoy the kids and manage a few things at home. I know it will get busy again, it always does, but that makes it possible to really savor days like these. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Impromptu Lazy Day

 A sleeping Daddy is the best toy around isn't it? See Mr. T's little back and bottom behind Peter's legs? He spent quite awhile climbing over Peter, lying on him and just generally using him as a jungle gym. Somehow Peter slept through all of it. I ended up sleeping in until 9 today and as soon as I got up, Peter took a nap on the couch. Neither of the kids had school and I think it was 10:30 before I left for work. So nice. I love these little breaks from the routine.

A note about blog posts this week. For some reason, both my cameras have been acting weird ( I think I need a new one, Peter thinks it's because I let the kids use them) so the pics have not been great. I am looking to get a new lens for Christmas and perhaps to have the ones I have professionally cleaned. I think you have to do that every once in awhile. Plus we are indoors a lot more since the cold and rainy season has started here in our lovely northwest corner of Oregon and I'm finding I just don't love indoor pictures as much as I love outdoor ones. It's a learning process people. A learning process. (Which a brand spanking new camera lens might help with - hint, hint.....)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hello My Gorgeous

As you may or may not know, our dryer pretty much died last week. Well, it didn't so much as die as we had to stop using it. Between the squeaking and the clothes burning and the only being able to dry half-loads, it was too much. For a long complex reason, we ended up needing to replace both the washer and dryer and the new ones arrived today!!!! Oh happy day. Our old washer was sold on Sunday and the mountain of laundry that had piled up was unbelievable. Huge piles of laundry. And now it is being happily washed in our new big load, energy efficient, fancy dancy washer and dryer.

And yes, we spent our date morning this week setting them up. What? That's not what you do on dates?

Also, Mr. T learned how to do a somersault, now known as a "forward roll".

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Basketball begins

Miss E was born for sports. The way some kids are born math or reading or social geniuses, she was born for sports. She gets it from Peter. Crawling before six months, walking easily by 10 months, she was the first in the playgroup to put on her own socks, do her own car seat straps, run easily and jump on one foot. It's just the way she is. Now that was have started kindergarten it also is the start for organized sports. Yeah! I am not a super sporty person myself, I like to watch some football and basketball but I didn't really play anything in high school. And I have no investment in having the best athlete on the team or anything like that but here I have been given this girl who has a physical gift and she loves it. Loves it! She loves learning new things, she loves using her body, the teamwork, the social aspect - all of it. At this age all sports are co-ed so she is also learning to get along and be comfortable around boys which I think is really important for girls to do before they get anywhere near the dating ages.

So, basket ball has started. And since I know Miss E does not like to try something brand new before an audience, we got her a ball and I taught her a few things in our kitchen. Then tonight was her first practice (which I ended up having to drag her out of because she didn't want to stop shooting baskets when it was over). There is only one other girl on this team and it is clearly more "boy" than soccer. But she still gets in there and I am super proud of her. Outside of sports, she is empathetic, polite and respectful. But at one point tonight during scrimmage, she went for a loose ball with another boy and ended up yanking it out of his hands. Instinctively, I almost said something to her about it, since that wouldn't be ok with friends or on the playground but then I realized, that's how boys play the game. And if she wants to play well with the boys, she is going to need to be aggressive too. So I didn't say anything and all her coach said was "good job Miss E". It's a whole new world out here.

It was joyful though, to watch her face as she learned to dribble the ball, make baskets, play defense. She was happy, excited and wanted more. She loves being on a team, playing with the other kids. She was proud of herself. And that is what I want. Good or bad, skilled or unskilled, I want my kids to feel proud of themselves and find something they enjoy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I see why people homeschool

I'm not even really sure what to say about today. It was my first time volunteering in Miss E's kindergarten classroom and I felt...umm...I think disappointed is the best word to use here. Not exactly how you want to feel about your daughter's kindergarten class.

The thing is, I know I have unrealistic expectations of her school. For my own schooling I went to an incredible private school that is everything a school should be - small, challenging, student-focused, family-oriented. Miss E went to a preschool that had 3 parents and a teacher in the classroom every day so there was a 1:5 adult to kid ratio at all times, and the teachers there knew the kids and loved the kids. You don't teach preschool for the pay and benefits my friends, you do it because it's your calling.

Now, we are in public school (in on of the best school districts in the state) and her teacher is OK. She has a few years of experience and she clearly has been schooled well in kindergarten curriculum and teaching methods but she doesn't seem to feel the KIDS. I can't really quite put my finger on it but there are a few behavior problems in the class and by the end of the 2 1/2 hour class she was clearly frustrated and wanted to be done. Which, really? I know it was a bad day but it was 2 1/2 hours. She also spent most of her time and attention on the 2-3 behavior issue kids. She didn't speak directly to over half the kids in the class while I was there, including Miss E.

At circle time I found out that Miss E lost her coveted group time spot on the carpet (on letter C in the front row) and is now sitting on the Letter Z in the back row. You know who is sitting on C? Behavior problem kids. Which, note to other parents, and I say this as the mother of a boy.... Send your boys to preschool. Please. They need to learn how to sit still and listen without being disruptive BEFORE kindergarten. Otherwise your kid becomes the one all the other parents are talking about as the "problem kid". Miss E is also sitting at a table with the rowdiest boys.

Here's the rub. Miss E is quiet. She is always doing what she is supposed to be doing. She knows everything they are learning already. It's easy for the teacher to ignore her and pair her with the wild kids. But it doesn't seem fair to me. At journal time, they were each supposed to write an "I saw" sentence. Miss E sat down, wrote "I saw my mommy" flipped it closed and went to get her snack. Now, that was faster and more well written than most of the kids but I know better. Had I caught it earlier I would have had her write a few more sentences because she more than capable of doing so. The teacher really doesn't seem to know where each kid is at in their learning process, which it seems like she should have a better feel for that by now.

I don't know. Miss E has not been complaining, she is learning science and social skills, she seems happy but I am growing increasingly frustrated with this class, her teacher and really the whole public school system in general. There has got to be a better way. I also know that Miss E is a kid that needs to learn to speak up. She is smart but not TAG smart, she is well-behaved, on task and gets along with all the other kids. In short, she fades into the background of the classroom and is just not being pushed at all (still in that bottom reading group). As a parent, that is really really frustrating. And I don't know what to do.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day of Rest

And finally we have a break. Nothing scheduled, no plans, just a free Sunday for our family. I ended up taking the kids to the mall and out to lunch at a restaurant there while Peter sold our old washer and dryer to some folks off Craigslist, and we had the best time. They were so polite and well-behaved and appreciative, that is was just a joy. Relaxing and joyful. Then it was home for clean up, cooking, play and football watching. By the end of the day we were all feeling much better.

As for the Legos, Mr. T got a set last Christmas to make a fire station and he loves them (thanks Nana!). He has been building with them about once a month since then and this month he has been getting them out every day. He's been making new creations, machines and vehicles out of his imagination. However, he doesn't have quite enough pieces to make bigger things. Now, we don't really just buy our kids toys for no reason. I mean, they do have a lot of toys but we don't just head out to the toy store on a random day to get them something new. It just doesn't happen. But, while Peter and I were on our Wednesday morning date this week (after we bought the new washer/dryer!) we headed to Freddies and got Mr. T an extra bin of Lego pieces. Then we picked him up at school, he asked what we got for him (having no idea we had bought them) and when I lightly replied "a hug and a kiss", he threw a fit. So, no new Legos that day. But this morning, he was playing with his old set and when I brought out the new one it was like Christmas. He was so thrilled and happy and thankful and appreciative and he played with them all day. During rest time he made the creations above and snapped their picture himself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Last Soccer Game

Last soccer game of the season. Miss E was not in a great mood this morning, I think because the week and weekend have been so busy so far but she played hard in the game. Peter's parents and grandmother came up to see her last game, and it was nice to have someone to hang out with Mr. T while she was playing.

Tonight we had 2 events scheduled at the same time so we divided and conquered. Peter took Miss E to her end of the season soccer banquet where she got a trophy, ate pizza and played with her friends. When she received her trophy Coach Lenny said that surprisingly, she ended up being one of the most aggressive players on the team, which Miss E was pretty proud of.

Mr. T and I went to see the Oregon Children Theater's production of Alice in Wonderland a rock opera. It was pretty much like a live music video for kids and he was thrilled.  He is always so excited to do something one on one with either Peter or I and afterward he had his playbill signed by Alice and Humpty Dumpty.

And then, we arrived home and at 7:30 on a dark and stormy Saturday night, my husband went to work. Because that's what life is like being married to a firefighter.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Hello Scriberson November budget I have a few friends I'd like you to meet. Let me introduce you to property taxes, basketball for Miss E, new washer and dryer, trip to the vet for Tangerine, and standing over there in the corner is Christmas. What? It's only November 5? Well then.......

What can I say? This morning Peter and I bought a new washer and dryer. It was needed and we got a screaming deal but I still had heart palpitations while we paid for it. I am super excited to get them here and start drying full loads of laundry with no squeaking or burning of the clothes. We are burning through electricity only doing 1/2 loads and opening the door 10 times a cycle to readjust the clothes. It still felt really really expensive.

Then, this afternoon, I had to take our kitty Tangerine to the vet because his face was swelling. The little punk has been heading across the street to argue with the neighbor kitty IN THE neighbor kitty's yard, and he apparently got a bite mark on his face that is infected. We have a huge yard for the record, and he has claimed the (cat-less) yard of the house next door. He has no need to be heading across the street to pick a fight. Especially one that is going to cause him to end up with a costly little trip to the vet's office. Punk.

It's Friday night, the house is a mess, the kids are having their Friday melt (let)-down and tomorrow is the last soccer game of the season.  So far this week has been a bit crazy and not really in a great way. So November, so far you can suck it. You start on a Monday after Halloween and then throw a rough and insanely expensive week at me right away? Harsh. I expect a bit of improvement from here on out.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This is why you have kids, right?

Surprise surprise, today was another work day for me. Can you tell I just love going into the office everyday? Well, if you didn't get the sarcasm, I don't. I love going to the office 2 days a week, but no more than that. I miss my kiddos, and frankly, with the way Peter and I have set up our lives, I have a lot of responsibilities at home. I know, I know, whine whine, bitch bitch. I'm super grateful to have a job with flexible hours and good pay and fantastic bosses. Tax season is coming up as well so I might as well get used to working so much. Anyway....

While I was at work today, Peter taught the kids how to use the blower! Yay for child labor! We have a ton of huge fir trees that drop needles this time of year. So many needles, you have no idea how much crap those trees drop. They are huge, really really huge. Big enough that I have tried several times to get a picture of them and I can't really figure out how to do it. HUGE. And they are awesome but they do make it hard to have a lawn and drop a lot of crap on the house. Although in the pro column, they give us a ton of shade in the summer. I really can't complain about the trees too much, I do love them. But they drop lots of needles and pine cones and branches on our yard, house and deck. So today, the kids learned how to use the blower. Tomorrow, mowing the lawn. (just kidding on that last one -for a few years at least)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Take your (supposedly) sick daughter to work day

Yes, I know that picture is not of a sick girl at my office. Today had really two parts to it.

1) Did I mention that work was crazy this week? I won't go into it since my bosses might be reading this (Hi Mom and Dad!) but really. Super crazy. Peter is working today which means, my day off! I have the kids. Since both kids were in school this morning, I schedule a long-overdue coffee date with my dear friend Amanda. But then work intervened. And I had to go to the office. So I canceled our coffee date, much to my disappointment. By disappointment, I mean bitched to Peter for about an hour last night about how bummed I was about it. Yes, I know - super mature. Anyway, we wake up this morning and Miss E is tired, her face is pale and she is complaining that her tummy hurts. Ummm..OK. Now, at this point I'm pretty sure this is not a REAL illness but I figured what the heck, it's only kindergarten and we could all use a day off everyone in awhile (like me, today, so I could have coffee with Amanda) so I told her she could skip school and come to work with me. Well, we arrived at work and the stuff I was arriving to deal with wasn't there. However, instead of having my child watch me throw a screaming fit in the middle of my office, I made the best of it and we worked for 2 hours. Miss E was awesome. She colored, she talked with all the other employees and only asked me about 3 questions the whole time we were there.

2) Part 2 of my day was Mr. T's gym class (pictured above). Today was their "Progress Pajama Party" to celebrate half of the term being done. The parents (and Miss E) were invited in to watch the whole class and Mr. T got to wear his pajamas to class. If you are 4, wearing your pajamas during the daytime is pretty much as silly and fun as it gets. Needless to say, he was thrilled and it was fun to really watch what he has learned. He still is working on his coordination but I saw him get up on the uneven bars, hang on one bar and try about 15 times to get his feet up onto the other one. It was something that many of the kids in his class could do easily but it was hard for him. He tried and tried and tried though and he finally did it. I was so proud of him! I love it when my kids really try hard for something.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Story time

Story time at the library. Mr. T loves this story time for preschoolers and the lady running it is awesome. She is engaging, handles the kids well and always recognizes the exact point that they all need to stand up and move their bodies around a bit.

Today I worked in the morning, then came home to take Miss E to her 6 year Dr. appointment. I cannot believe the change in her over the course of a year. She talked to the Dr., answered her questions and did all the things asked of her. Then she had to get a shot. In the past, I have never told the kids ahead of time that they are getting shots. Mainly because the worry and stress they go through leading up to the appointment seems unnecessary, and also because I usually don't know. Both the kids are on very delayed/altered vaccine schedules so I always need to check in with doctor about where they are. This time she did need to get an MMR. 1 shot. And she didn't cry AT ALL. But she wanted to. I told her it was OK but she held it in, which I spent a long time wondering if that was good or bad.

I have a really hard time with vaccine thing and I don't know if what we are doing is right. It seems wrong that they need so many and it seems wrong that they are giving all babies Hep B vaccinations when there is virtually no chance of them catching it until they are much older. It's hard to talk to folks about though because it has become and natural birth vs. epidural or nursing vs. formula sort of thing. Touchy touchy touchy and more touchy. I would love it if more we could be more open about these parenting decisions, and respect others desire to do what is right for their families. I would love to sit down and have a discussion with some real people about what they really think of the chicken pox vaccine, or the Hep A vaccine. Are 6 year olds really at risk? How sick will they get? I feel it's gotten to the point that I don't trust much of the literature out there because it is either produced by a pharmaceutical company or adheres to the American Association of Pediatrics stance of valuing herd immunity over individual health.

I have a sneaking suspicion though that these decisions only get tougher as the kids get older. And really, only time will tell if we are doing the right thing or making the right choices.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Office

Fall outside my office. I love this tree. It's a brilliant green color in the spring, and then a beautiful yellow and red in the fall. The kids and I always look for our fall leaves under it.

Today seemed like a pretty harsh welcome into November. Everyone was tired and grumpy this morning. It's Monday.  I forgot a very important errand on my way to work. My job was in crisis mode, some due to things that were my fault and some due to others. Everyone was grumpy. It rained. Overall, just not a great day. That happens sometimes.