Friday, December 23, 2011

Home again

So we went to Disneyland and it was awesome. It was artificial and manufactured and crowded and expensive and freakishly clean (think downtown Salt Lake City) and all the things I expected it to be but it was SO MUCH FUN. We had a blast and I already want to go back. There is so much to do and so much to see and the rides are great and the entertainment is great and the kids were happy. I cannot say enough about what a great time we had. Even through the few meltdowns (though not a lot!), and losing Mr. T for a scary moment, and the long lines, it was clearly one of the best trips we've taken as a family. I can't thank my in-laws enough, it was great. I'm going to go back and do day by day posts as I have time so I'll remember the trip but overall, it was great.

Also? Flying was totally the way to go. Driving would have been so exhausting and flying into Long Beach was the easiest thing ever. Love that airport, love Jet Blue.... it all went so smoothly.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Airplane kids

Those who know me know that I have a lot of anxiety about flying. To say that I hate it would be an understatement. But I also don't want to limit the size of my world to driving distance so I do fly. Occasionally. I was very conscious about not transferring this anxiety onto the kids and for some reason I wasn't as nervous about the flight this time. Maybe because I know about 500 people who have flown to Disneyland, maybe because it was a short flight, maybe because I flew all the way to Spain this year, or maybe because I can't imagine anything awful happening to my babies. Whatever the reason, other than take -off, the flying didn't bother me much. The kids both did great. Mr. T didn't like it just because he didn't want to sit still for so long but there were TV's on the plane (highly recommend Jet Blue airlines) so he was fine. Aside from spilling two drinks on me but hey, that's traveling with two kids.

When we got to Long Beach an old friend picked us up and we went to her house to visit and so the kids could play. Then she took us to our hotel where we rested and met my in-laws for dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe. The kids were really extremely tired at this point since they got up at 4, but they pushed through. Then it was back to the hotel to put the kids to bed and Peter and I headed to the bar for a drink (we had adjoining rooms with my in-laws, which was a brilliant idea on their part).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Onward to Disneyland and Christmas

THis week has been one of finishing things up. The presents are bought. My photo class is over. Cards are mailed out and we are ready to relax and enjoy the week of Christmas. This weekend we are boarding a plane for Disneyland! It's going to be a big trip. Both the kids and I have never been before and the kids have never been on an airplane before. I'm crossing my fingers that they are both Ok with it, Miss E will be fine but I could see Mr. T freaking out and crying a bit. I have tried to prepare them best I can by just factually explaining, in a no-big-deal way about the security procedures and what the plane will sound like when it takes off and what it will be like in the air. I have done very good at keeping my own anxiety in check - those who know me know that I HATE to fly - and honestly I've been so busy that it hasn't had time to hit. Going to Spain earlier this year helped as does knowing that if I'm stressed out about it, there is no way I'll be able to truly hide that from the kids, especially Miss E - she just picks up on everything I'm feeling. So far, they are both pretty excited about the trip. And who wouldn't be - it's Disneyland!

When we come back, it will be Christmas time with my family! We found out last week that Peter's Christmas shift filled, meaning he gets to be home for Christmas! This is great news. The main thing that is really hard about being married to a firefighter for me is the working on the holidays. Now that the kids are older, the long work hours are no problem. We can handle a 48 like it's nothing. But having Peter be gone every Christmas morning? That sucks. Even the years when he works CHristmas eve, he doesn't get home until 7:30 Christmas morning and the kids are already up and opening their stockings. When he works Christmas, he leaves the house at 5:30 before the kids are up. I have offered to keep them upstairs longer or wake them up early but Peter doesn't want everyone's schedule to change because of him but still, he has maybe twice since Miss E was old enough to get Santa, seen the kids faces first thing on Christmas morning and that, to me, feels like a huge price to pay for a job. So while he is home this Christmas because some blessed new kid wanted to work overtime, I will be thinking of all the firefighters and police officers and military personnel and hospital personnel that are missing Christmas with their families because truly, that is a big thing to give up.

And that's it! On to packing and Disneyland!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mr. T's room

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but our house is small. Not quaint small, but really really small, like 950 square feet. This would be perfect for a couple who doesn't like to entertain much but for a family of four, well, sometimes it feels pretty cramped. Especially in the winter when we can't use our fairly large back yard as an extra room. There are many good things about our small house: it's easy to clean, I can always keep an ear on the kids, it's affordable and in a good neighborhood with a great school. It's safe and cozy and warm and we are fortunate to not worry about making payments or being upside down in our mortgage and, as I previously mentioned, the back yard is huge and fenced in, which I think is great for kids.

Still though, when all four of us are here and the kids are rambunctious I find myself wishing for a basement or a playroom or a 2nd story where they could go. To offset this smallness, I made sure that the kids got their own rooms. This may seem counter-intuitive but when you spend all day or all your time at home WITH the family, it's good for them to have a place they can go that they can call their own. Plus their personalities are not conducive to sharing a room. We have 2 bedrooms, which are decent sized,  one is ours and one is Miss E's. When we bought the house, we weren't expecting to be here with two kids.

Then came the wonderful Mr. T, and the crash of the housing market. And when he was about 8 months old, we realized he needed a room. So we took the one car garage, which had been enclosed into the house already, split it in half and made half of it his room. One half of a tiny used-to-be garage in a 1930's house. It's small. To make matters worse, you step down about three stairs from the main part of the house to the laundry room and the door to his room is off the laundry room. The walls are drywall, the floor is regular flooring, but there is not much disguising that it's sitting on a cement slab in a largely uninsulated part of the house. In the laundry room is a door to the outside that no amount of weatherization can fully keep the cold air from flowing in through. Long story short, in the winter, Mr. T's room is a bit cold. His bed is covered in flannel sheets and down comforters and the floor has a thick wool rug but in the cold part of winter, it's pretty chilly.

Last night, after his bath, he and I were down in his room and he was shivering as I was rapidly trying to help him get his pj's and socks on. In the sweetest, littlest voice possible he started this conversation:


"what honey?"

"Next time, when we get a new house, can my room be upstairs by yours and Miss E's?"

"Yeah sweetie, it can."

I felt so bad for him at that moment. He never complains about how small his room is, or having the closet with the water heater in it in his space, but somehow this plaintive little request for a warm room in the main part of the house broke my heart. Now I know his room is fine, but this is just one of those things that makes me really realize that sometimes, through no fault of anyone's, the second kid gets short-changed a bit. The older kid gets short-changed in other ways and we have a saying in our house "not everything has to be fair" but I still felt pretty bad that we can't offer him something nicer than his cold tiny room.

Monday, December 5, 2011

busy busy blah blah blah

I hate to bitch and moan, especially about the consequences of choices I've made, but allow me to do it for a minute. Here we go: I'm too busy and wah so are we all. It's busy with blessings and wonderful things, but I have been feeling frazzled. A few days ago, though,  I kicked into "high stress, start getting crap done mode" and it's feeling better.

Here's what we've been up to:

1) Thanksgiving. Not our best. I had one sip of white wine and got a migraine, Miss E didn't eat all day because she didn't like the food and had the mother of all melt-downs that nigh. Let me amend that, until about 4, we were ROCKING thanksgiving. 4 kids playing nicely and independently, adults cooking and chatting and watching football (go pack!). Best Thanksgiving ever, until 4. But hey, compared to all the years when the adults didn't even get to sit down and eat together, I'll take it. And Thanksgiving isn't about perfection.

2) Friends visiting.

3) School and school and room parent duties.

4) Getting our tree.

5) Playgroup holiday party - the kids partied until 9 this year!

6) More room parent duties.

Fantasy football. I'm competing for the last spot in the playoffs and could not be more proud of myself. I started this league 2 years ago, not really knowing much about football and am competing with guys who have been avid football fans all their lives. Next Sunday determines if I get in but whether I do or not, I think I've done pretty good. It's fun to have something that you can be super cut-throat competitive with. (full disclosure - I know how geeky this sounds.)

Disneyland planning. We were stressing and stressing about driving to Disneyland over Christmas. It's a 15 hour drive each way, which basically equals 2 full days of driving. The longest the kids have ever been in the car is one day of 7 hours of driving. I had visions of arriving there tired, with the kids having eaten restaurant food for 2 days and it just being a mess. With the kids I feel like we have a limited number of "good" away from home nights. Each year it gets to be more, but right now we are on about 4. That means vacations are fun and awesome and everyone is having a great time until about night 4 when the tiredness and lack of routine and weird food catch up to us, not to mention the fact that neither of my children likes to poop anyplace but home. So driving to Disneyland equals first two good days in car. Plus Peter has to work on Christmas (boo) and we were worried about making it home in time for that. If there was snow on the mountains and we couldn't get through, he wouldn't make it home and that results in another firefighter being ordered to work on Christmas which is UNCOOL. Cannot happen sort of uncool. Ahhh..but the plane tickets so close to Christmas are super expensive which left us with driving. Until I started hearing about these crazy cyber-monday week deals on airfare and found direct flights for a reasonable price. Not crazy cheap, but doable. Still I waffled all day Sunday while Peter was at work I texted him about 30 times - which looked something like this:

me - should we do it?

him - I don't know. yes. Maybe.

me - it's so much money. but i don't want to drive.

him - me neither. Maybe we should do it. can we?

me- clay matthew TD (packers game was on)

him - this game is going to be rough and tumble

me - pros -  minus 4 days of driving and travel wearyness/hotel fatigue, no surprise cost or worry about getting stuck in snow, no wear on car. Cons - money would be tight.

me - it would be a really lean month for us.

him - just returning from a dude who had his head shut in a pickup tailgate. bloodbath.

me - .......nevermind

And there you have it. Plane tickets purchased. Because life is too short not to fully enjoy your only trip to Disneyland and you never know when someone is going to get their head shut in the tailgate of a pickup. (Seriously though, how does that HAPPEN????)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyclocross races

Mr. T ringing the cowbell at the Cyclocross races. This also involved a make-your-own oatmeal bar and a bonfire. As should all events.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Sleepover

Miss E had her first sleepover party this weekend. One of her friends was turning 7 and had a sleepover with 5 girls to celebrate. I was a little nervous but really it was the best situation we could have had for her first sleepover. The birthday girl is the daughter of some close friends of ours who also happen to be exceptional parents and kid-wranglers. And it was a total success. Miss E had a great time, they made a super-cute stop motion animation film and she got along well with all of the girls (2 of whom she had never  met before).  I felt really good about the entire thing.

Tonight, just after Miss E went to bed, she came out complaining in a giggling voice that her room smelled like fart - yes, little girls find farts hillarious also. A little bit later, I walked by her door and found this note on the floor in front of her door (her spelling):

Dear Mommy,

I think the fart smell is from Daddy! Please keep this a secrit! : )

I love you so so so so much

Love, E

P.S. When I smelled my pillow it smelled like fart!

P.P.S. This is really a mistery!

P.P.P.S. You can write a mesege back in this space:

I just cracked up. I mean, how adorable it that? She is endlessly amusing and growing up so quickly. Although not quickly enough that fart jokes still aren't silly. But fast enough that she's having sleepovers and learning compound words and multiplication tables all at a pace that feels a bit too rapid for me. I just love her.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Card anyone?

I've been in a tax class for the last two days (ugh....) and haven't been taking any new pictures. I had to share one more from our walk last Sunday though. This so perfectly represents the kids. Miss E being a bit annoyed with the picture taking and her over - exuberant brother and Mr. T just hamming it up for both.

On a side note, this is the first year that Peter hasn't had to burn 12 or 24 hours of vacation time for me to go to my continuing ed class! He only had to take 3 hours off on Wednesday to drop the kids at school and then my mom picked up Mr. T at 2:30 (which he was SUPER excited about) and came home to meet Miss E's bus. School is pretty awesome, despite the fact that I feel like I have no time with Miss E anymore. I miss hanging out with just her and this weekend she's going to be gone both nights! One night to my parents and then the second night to her first sleepover party. Also, first sleepover party? When did my kid get that big?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Me and Mr. T

I always swore I wouldn't be one of those moms who's never in the pictures. I want my kids to have a record of their childhood, but I also want them to have a record of me in it. However.  I don't love the way I look in pictures is Peter is not a great photographer and the few that do have me in them don't turn out well. This one was taken by Miss E on our walk on Sunday. I hadn't showered, was wearing a wool hat for most of the day and obviously need to re-dye my hair (it's pretty bad, no?). But dang it, Miss E took a picture of my smiling Mr. T and I. I'm not deleting it.

In other bad picture news, here is Mr. T's school picture:

People. What happened here? He looks like he's about to be poked with a stick by an axe murderer. That's my smiling Mr. T. You know, the adorable kid with dimples in the first picture of the post? I cannot figure out what events occurred to create this travesty of photography. So now I'm trying to figure out if I should have them re-taken or not. Thoughts?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walking in the woods

The kids and I were feeling a bit cooped up this morning so we headed to a local nature area for some hiking, exploring and photos. My class assignment this week is just to take pictures of leaves, which feels pretty open ended to me but I'm going with it. Turns out my walking picture-taking speed is about the same as the kids hiking speed so we had a pretty good time. I ended up taking a bunch of pictures of the kids, because that's what I really like, and a bunch of leaves that I can't tell if they are good or not. Honest to God, my instructor walked into our last class with a brown/yellow curled up dead leaf and espoused on how wonderful it was to take pictures of. Not the pretty red or orange leaves, but a holey dead brown one. I don't know. The one below is one of my favorites that I took today but then again, I'm more likely to frame the cute one of Mr. T's face. To each his own I guess!

Yesterday, Miss E and I were out playing at a park and taking pictures and I took this one of her:

I'm not sure if I like it in black and white better just to tone down her sweater a bit. Miss E is so fun to take pictures of. She hates posing but I also hate taking posed shots so it works out. For this I just asked her to jump up and down a few times, which she happily did. Maybe I'll just take it to my class anyway. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day! The kids are off of school, I am making blueberry muffins and Peter is attempting to fix our furnace. Instead of the long-ish post I was thinking about commenting on how proud I am of my Dad's service in Vietnam and how saddened I by the after effects of war, I will leave you with this little conversation that Miss E and I had this morning.

Miss E: What's Veteran's Day?

Me:  A day in which we celebrate our veterans. Grandpa's a veteran.

Miss E: I  know, because his parents fought in the war.

Me: Well, he fought in a war too.

Miss E: Why didn't he die?

Me: Not everyone who fights in a war dies, quite a few of them come home.

Miss E: Like Obi Wan Kenobee?

Me: Ummm...yeah, kind of like that.

Happy Veteran's day to my Dad, our own personal Obi Wan Kenobee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Purse Strings and the Pressure

For the one who holds the purse strings:

New shoes for Mr. T, wait make that new shoes for Mr. T and two new pairs for Miss E.
Pajama's for Miss E
School fundraisers
Girl Scout field trip (to the zoo! almost overnight!)
Christmas pajama's
The power company
More groceries
The phone company
More groceries
Our mortgage
Property taxes
More groceries
Aftercare for Mr. T
Upcoming vacation...

etc., etc., etc., etc.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, managing the day to day expenses for a household is a HUGE task. Doesn't seem like it should be but wow. There is a lot of stress and maintenance that comes along with it.

Making the burdens on our shoulders light so we don't go about our days feeling the weight is, I think, one of the biggest tricks to parenthood. Handling the responsibility, the stress, the pressure with a light heart and a happy attitude.

One quote that I found recently that I love is this: "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

So many people I think wait for their lives to calm down and be tension free to feel peaceful and happy when the reality is that you need to be able to feel peaceful and happy in the midst of the chaos.

There. A few words of wisdom from an admittedly not-wise lady, but it's free. And these days, that's a bargain. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Business of Marriage

At the heart of it, a marriage is a business. A business whose success is reflected in a well-run household, secure finances and happy children. The people who make that happen? Mom and Dad (or Mom and mom or Dad and dad or whatever combination thereof...). There are a few different ways this business can be set up. The 2 most common (stereotypical and generic) ones are outlined below:

1) Equal partners. Both parents work full time and share household/childcare duties.

2) Separate Divisions. One parent stays home, the other works. In this situation (USUALLY), the stay at home person is in charge of the household, the schedule, the meal planning, and for the most part, the raising of the children. This person does the bulk of the childcare, housecleaning, cooking and scheduling. The other person brings in income. In this relationship power is split. Each person has their domain and works within it.

And then there's the method we use - which may possibly be the worst way of running the marriage business. So. Peter works about 72 hours a week (including overtime). I work 15 hours a week. I also manage the schedule, the household, the meals and the bulk of the childcare. Because I work 15 hours a week. Here's the problem though. My work hours are in the middle of the week, during the day. Leaving Peter to handle the daily childcare, household duties and, often, to cook dinner on those days. Which  means I am telling him what to do for the day when I leave for work because I know the calendar, know what each kid needs to do and made the meal plan and shopped for dinner groceries. He basically has to implement the plan. Which ends up kind of like me being the boss and him the employee. Which is no good.  Because:

1) He hates being told what to do (juvenile I know but we are who we are)


2) this puts me in the position of checking up on him to make sure everything got done OK and see #1.

It's endlessly frustrating for both of us. He feels like I don't trust him to take care of stuff at home and I feel like he doesn't respect the systems I have in place and the work that I do. In the end we are stuck. Financially, the family needs me to work. Logistically, we need me to stay at home. This has been the impossible dichotomy I have been working under since Miss E was born. I think quite a few fire families end up in this boat since for several reasons (the fire schedule being the main one) regular day care is not a practical option but at the same time, while Peter makes a good living, it's not quite enough to get us by.

My main problem with this system is that nobody ever gets to claim the credit. He never gets the props and sense of pride for earning all of our money and I never get to fully claim ownership for how well the house and kids are doing. It's like an endless competition to the point where when I come home from work, if he has cleaned anything he immediately lists it out for me like he's waiting for a gold star and I  let him know whenever I'm covering the family's extra expenses out of my bank account. And then I get annoyed that he's making a huge deal over the fact that he cleaned the sink and I'm sure he gets annoyed when he's reminded that he doesn't make quite enough to support us.

Add into this that we disagree on parenting methods (oh boy is this a big one...) and it ends up feeling like constant tension. And competition. And having winners and losers and constantly having to prove or defend yourself. It really is, I believe, the worst way to run your business.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


A very rushed Halloween picture  - they were in no mood to pose long, trick or treating was waiting!

1. I have been too busy and it's not good for anyone. On the flip side, I've learned how much I can and cannot do so hopefully this won't happen again.

2. Halloween was awesome except this year, the kids are counting their candy. Every year up until now, we have kept their buckets on the counter and given them a few pieces each day and thrown a few away each night. About a week after Halloween we let them pick 2 or 3 last pieces and then toss the stash. This has worked well, as they haven't been eating that much candy but they also haven't been feeling deprived of it. This year though, they are keeping track so we need a new system. Dang it.

3. I'm in love with this blog , it takes me back to my feminist theorist days of college in a fun way, which I never thought was possible.

4. My kids have stopped eating food. Miss E went to school with yogurt and pirate booty in her lunch and that's it. I'm pretty sure Mr. T ate pretzels for dinner last night. Meanwhile, Peter and I had a delicious corn chowder which neither of them would touch.

5. Also, tears in the morning for the last few mornings. This morning I even pulled out the "some kids aren't lucky enough to have winter coats". Not my finest moment. Once I calmed down I explained that throwing a fit because our perfectly lovely and warm winter coat was "too puffy" was not in any way ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR.

6. Mr. T has been waking up screaming on and off for the last month because he thinks there's a monster in his closet. It's heartbreaking. Also a bit jarring to be woken up by screaming at 6:30 in the morning.

7. I can't wait for soccer to be over! This year has been a bit of a debacle for a variety of reasons and I am just so glad to be putting it behind us. Hopefully next year will be better.

8. Peter went to each kid's class yesterday with all his gear to do a fire safety talk for them. The kids were SO PROUD of him and Miss E told me that kids kept coming up to her all day asking her questions about him.

9. Speaking of Miss E, she's in a 1/2 blend class and is on the topish end of the 2nd grade curriculum. And she has another year in this class. Fortunately, once kids learn to read the stuff they can learn widens (umm.... the more stuff there is to learn? the depth of the academic field widens? you know what I mean) so we are going to be supplementing a lot.

10. Last night we finally showed the kids Star Wars and oh boy was there a lot to explain. Considering they have only seen animated no-fighting things so far, we spent most of the movie answering questions. About what war was and space travel and ships and who were the good guys and who were the bad guys and on and on... Miss E had a TON of questions about HOW the movie was made - are the actors really dead or just pretending? How did they film that scene? How did they do the space effects? Which kind of led me to believe that  a home-school type unit on movie production might be fun. We could write a movie, act it out and film it. Maybe in January.

11. I am continually amazed by how sweet, funny and awesome my kids are. I'm a really lucky mama.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Miss E

My dear Miss E. You're 7. I cannot believe that 7 years have gone by since the day you were born. When you were in my tummy, your kicks were so strong that I commented to your daddy "I think we have a strong one here" and then for your birth. Honey, you went through 3 days of labor with nary a drop in your heart rate. You walked first in our playgroup, you put on your clothes at an impossibly young age. You were the first kid doing and undoing your own car seat straps. I feel like your whole blessed life I have been trying to keep up with you and the way things are going I don't think that's going to slow down anytime soon.

This year has been a big one for you. You're lost 5 teeth including your two top front ones which is adorable. You started first grade but you are past all the first grade (and most of the second grade) curriculum so we are trying to figure out what the heck to do about that. You read, you do math, you make these incredible books and drawings, it's all just amazing to watch. You started riding a bike with gears You do not like to be told what to do. You started sleeping in! This doesn't seem like a big thing but when you have kids you'll understand. Here's what you are NOT INTO: princess things, playing dress up, superheros (although you will humor your brother sometimes), pink. Here's what you are into: science, writing, reading, picking out your own clothes (which must be comfortable and somewhat girly), mailing letters, drawing. You are thus far neutral about sports which I can't quite figure out.

Here are some words Daddy and I have described your personality as this year: smart, strong, sweet, powerful, empathetic, fierce, awesome, kind, delightful, fun, exasperating. No other person in this entire world has made me stretch more to be better. To learn, to really think about how I'm parenting, what I'm feeling and what kind of person I am. You make me want to be a better person. I mean, all parents want to be better people for their kids but something about your toughness combined with your tenderness makes me want to just be perfect for you. And while I never will be perfect, I do try and be my best. Although often I'm not and neither are you and we are learning how to work through those times together. We are both learning how to manage our emotions, to be kind in the face of anger and to think about what's best for the family.

The other night, on Halloween, Mr. T had a melt down while trick or treating. He had devised a system where you would each take turns getting to the door first but he was slower than you and you knew that it doesn't matter who gets there first that you both get candy and he just lost it. You stood there for a minute looking at him and then we urged you to just go ahead, trick or treat on your own while he calmed down. You went up to that house, said trick or treat and then asked if you could have a candy for your brother as well. Then you came down and gave it to him. You did that as the next few houses too, until he recovered and then for the rest of the night you went together, with you gently encouraging him to go to the houses he was scared of. It's things like that, that just define your personality for me. For all your toughness on the outside (which will serve you well in life) , you are very tender on the inside (which will also serve you well). A few years ago, Nana told me that it would only be a lucky few friends that would be let in to KNOW you as you truly are. And she's right. The people in your life that you let see that tender side will be lucky.  Every once in awhile Daddy and I joke that on your wedding day (should you choose to get married) we are going to give your husband (should you choose a husband) a card that just says "good luck". It's partially facetious and partially true but the real truth is that whomever you let love you in your life will be a fortunate person indeed.

I hope that down the line, when you are grown, we have the sort of friend-relationship that I have with Nana because, lady, I just really like you. You are smart and fierce and funny and sweet and observant and full of a sense of yourself that most grown ups don't have yet. Happy happy birthday my dear. I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mr. T at the pumpkin patch

I have stuff to do....

there are soccer parties to plan and Miss E's birthday post to write (yes, I'm the mom of a 7 year old now!), and plants to plant and bills to pay and reading to practice and chemistry kits to put together and painting projects to be done and meals to plan and football things to brag about and friends to see and my photography class homework and the numerous school things I have somehow gotten myself into not to mention blog posts to write....


I have an eye infection. And that's pretty much stopped me. AN EYE INFECTION. It hurts like the dickens, as my grandfather would say.  It's actually hurt for 2 weeks ( I know....) and I ignored it, hoping  things would get better and they didn't. Until finally the inner voice in my head yelled - SARAH! It's your EYES! Your freaking EYES! Why are you messing around with what you know is an infection and HOPING it gets better? In your EYES?! - Yes, my inner voice yells sometimes but really, what was I thinking? Eyes are kind of important you know. So today I headed to the eye doctor and you know what? It turns out that you can't go years of changing your contacts without washing your hands or cleaning the containers, or trying to save money by wearing your month-long contacts for 3 months or having a glasses prescription that is so old it's at least one or two prescriptions behind your contacts so you never really wear them, without something getting infected. Who knew?

This is kind of the story of your mid-30's - a bunch of various medical professionals telling you that your body actually CAN'T absorb the sort of abuse you heaped on it in your 20's. Flossing? Exercising? Changing your contacts? Eating vegetables? Getting enough sleep? Turns out you actually have to do those things.

My formal punishment is 3x daily antibiotic drops, new glasses, and pain for the next few days. I am sincerely hoping to not have to repeat this little life lesson.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Winner winner chicken dinner

I've been taking this photography class one night a week that's been pretty good overall. I don't necessarily like the teacher as a person but he is a good teacher so I am sticking with and enjoying the class.  (hello maturity - where were you in college?)

We've been practicing photographing movement and while I had very little time to do the assignment, the wrong lens on my camera and several settings adjusted wrong, I ended up somehow with this picture which I liked very much. He liked it to apparently even though (as he put it) "most of the good components were by happy accident" - you gotta love a back handed compliment/insult. But I felt really good about it because I know that I'm a better photographer than he thinks I am. And I really like this picture of Miss E in all it's blurry disarray.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Other Parents

After school snack for my little foodie

Dear Other Parents:

Are you kidding me? For real serious kidding me? You see at the beginning of soccer season when no one volunteered to organize the end of the year party, I silently hoped that one day I would see the email with someone volunteering. Then half way through the season when our coach said "hey all...we should have an end of season pizza party " kind of like every grade school soccer team ever does.... there were crickets. A few of you brazen folks e-mailed back with "that sounds like a great idea!". Yeah it does. Here's the issue for those who aren't getting it. The coach is the coach. His commitment to the team extends to being a volunteer coach. He does not traditionally, have to plan the end of season party. The e-mail was a indirect (and albeit, ineffective) way on his part of soliciting a volunteer. Again, I hoped that someone would volunteer. I wanted to ask someone to do it but that seemed lame. However,  here's what's on my plate - my husband is coaching a different soccer team, I am the room parent for my son's class, I'm the snack coordinator for the soccer team already, I work part time, I volunteer in the library and the classroom and help out with girl scouts. I know we are all busy. Some of us more than others but for right now, I'm full. I'm doing my part for the school. However, after hearing 3 weeks of crickets while the coach dropped hints (dear coach - don't drop hints just ask directly) and then finally hearing him say he'd put his wife in charge, I opened my mouth and said I would help her. And then, long story short, ended up doing the whole thing  - pizza party, coaches gift, etc.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am choosing to do this. I didn't have to open my mouth and volunteer and that's fine. But here's the rub. I finally found a place and a time (which was not easy since about 30 soccer teams are ending their season that day) and here's a sampling of the responses I have received thus far:

"Could you move it to another day since I'm setting up for the auction that afternoon...." (umm...really? Move the entire party because you have a commitment?)

"We're not coming because that place doesn't have vegan pizza" (Ok seriously. Your daughter is 6. She wants to be with the girls. Bring her your own slice of freakin vegan pizza and show up...WTF.)

In short, other parents, get over yourselves. I am the first one to say that spending Saturday afternoon at a pizza parlor while 15 girls run around begging for money for video games is not my idea of a good time. But this is one of the things we do for them. They have played soccer in 90 degree heat and freezing muddy rain. They have showed up for practice once a week when they were tired after school. It's a celebration of the end of the season. So please, suck it up.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Raise your hand if you kids woke up this morning and fought over everything before school - breakfast, toys, getting ready - EVERYTHING. There were tears and pushing and everything was a crisis - the backpack, the shoes, the lunch - and then you lost it and yelled in your really really loud and scary voice at them right before you left for school. Enough so that each kid in the car had tears in their eyes that they wouldn't let spill because we were headed to school. And you told them you wouldn't walk them in, that it was curbside drop off which you know your son hates, and then as they got out of the van you see your daughter, who had done nothing but be mean to him this morning, grab his hand and comfort him as they walked in together hand in hand. And then you felt small and guilty and mean.

(raises hand)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Miss E's note to the Tooth Fairy

We had a fantastic three day weekend full of fun and sports and family and it was just awesome. You know those days where everything seems to click, nobody calls their brother or sister stupid and you just look at the people around you in awe of how lucky you are? Yeah. It was that kind of weekend.

On Saturday Miss E lost her first top front tooth. At her soccer game. About 10 seconds after they shot the team picture. She didn't want to put it under her pillow Saturday night because we stayed at my sister's house and she was worried that the tooth fairy wouldn't find it. So tonight she pulled out the tooth pillow, wrote the note below, and put it next to her pillow, waiting for the tooth fairy visit. All evening she kept grinning at me randomly and saying "tonight is my night!". It was so cute. As is the part in her note about how the tooth fairy should check in on Mr. T. He was feeling a bit left out since he hasn't lost any teeth yet and she was reassuring him tonight that his turn is coming soon. Apparently she wants the tooth fairy to be ready.

The note (with her spelling):

Dear tooth fairy...

I just got back from Engen visieting my casinse. I lost my tooth after soccer picters on Saturday. I decited I would wait till tonight to put it in my tooth pillow. I like when you leave me money to buy my own prize. Could I please keep my tooth? My room might look diferent beacase we moved it around. I also like when you levea me a presint.

Love, E

P.S. - this is my 4th tooth

P.P.S. - Whale your visiting please take a look at my brother.

P.P.P.S. You only have to do this caseue he is going to start losing teeth.

P.P.P.P.S. - Just so you know him.

P.P.P.P.P.S. - You don't have to if you don't have time.

Love, E

P.S. My birthday is 10-23-11

Friday, October 14, 2011


Snippets of our day:

Miss E's new list of preferred jobs when she grows up (in order) - veterinarian, paint-your-own pottery place employee, school teacher.

Mr. T let me sleep until 7:40 (no school today) and then came up to cuddle with me in bed because "he thought I hadn't had a cuddle in awhile"

Pizza with Daddy at the fire station for lunch.

Mr. T running and running around the bay so I could take photos for my photography homework, declaring that he was too tired from running, and then running 10 more laps.

Miss E helping Mr. T with his homework and both kids laughing and talking about their reading teachers.

Miss E telling me that I am the "greatest mommy ever" out of nowhere at dinner.

Making or should I say - failing miserably at making carmel apples.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Green Monster

I'm not proud of this, but in the last year this girl's total vegetable intake has consisted of about 3 pieces of lettuce and 1 potato. French fries are not included in this total. Her fruit intake is somewhat better, in that she eats some most days but it's still pretty abysmal. I have let it slide because 1) I can't make her eat and 2) we've had so many other battles going on that I don't want EVERYTHING to be a fight. So she has continued on with her diet of carbs, cheese, peanut butter and the occasional apple, grapes or pears. To be fair, while she is not eating an abundance of healthy food, she is also not eating junk food. Very very small amounts of candy, chips and no soda pop. She and I both like to drink carbonated water with fresh squeezed orange in it and to her that is "soda". We of course have home-cooked cookies and treats but not alot. And so it has continued on for about a year, this diet of unhealthiness. But it nags at the back (and front) of my mind that she's not eating vegetables, that she's growing rapidly, that a multi-vitamin just isn't enough. So, as of late, I have renewed energy on getting the kid to eat some vegetables. Since I have given up on her doing it outright, I am going the hiding route which philosophically I don't agree with but at this point we're down to whatever works.

Enter the green monster smoothie! I pulled out this recipe and made it for an after-school snack today. We were out of bananas so I skipped those but I did put everything else in and I have to say, the end flavor was orange juice. If your eyes were closed, you would think you were drinking an orange citrus smoothie. It was a bit tart without the banana but she drank 2 glasses! Mr. T drank 1! I put it out there as a "treat" that I made for them after school and it went over so well. For the first time ever, that girl has a full serving of spinach in her! And there was no fighting or bargaining over dessert or whining!

Yes, that's a lot of exclamation points but even if I put 40 of them in a row, it wouldn't adequately express how awesome this is. (Just please don't tell her...shh..)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Birthday List

Peter and Miss E on their way to a wedding last weekend.

Miss E's birthday is coming up this month and she has been diligently working on her birthday list. She doesn't want a party with friends or anything special on her birthday other than a picnic at the park but she does have a list that she has been carefully crafting for the last few weeks. It is so unusual and speaks so much to her personality that I had to share. 

Miss E's 7th Birthday list:

Lock for my bedroom door (I clarified she means lock from the inside, not the outside, she looked a little horrifed when I suggested that although I'd be lying if I said Peter and I hadn't ever considered it.)
Musical Card
Pot holder weaving kit
New games for my Leapster
Venus fly trap
Match box cars - specifically police car, fire engine and ambulance
Lego kits - Hillside house, Space alien, City Airport, City Train Station, Winter Village, Log Cabin
Smiley Face stickers
Magic 8 ball - the grumpy one
Whoopy cushion
Big swirly lollypop eraser
Science isperamint kits (her spelling)
More Captain Underpants books (
An American Flag
More Fudge books
More Magentic blocks
Some Ruby Lu books
More Nana takes the Reins books
A pillowcase for playing in
Some seeds to plant in the garden
Some more Ramona books
A Pogostick
An orange bell and horn for my bike
Some oil pastels
A white t-shirt that I can color on
Face painting sticks (also no)
Judy Moody Mood Journal
Judy Moody's Book of Fun Stuff to do

It is the most comprehensive adorable list and I am trying to refrain from getting her everything on it. With no party, there is a bigger budget for presents but we aren't going to get her all of it, as I think that sets a precedent that we don't want to. Also, and I'm pretty sure this takes us out of the running for parents of the year, but the van needs new tires so party money for the party she doesn't want is going to go to that. Please don't judge.

I am setting a few things aside for stocking stuffers, and tooth fairy gifts but really, how sweet (and random) is that list?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Speaking of over-committed.....

Saturday we had two soccer games, and then the firefighter's union picnic. Miss E played in her game, which was an accomplishment in itself, and Mr. T scored his first goal in his. The Union picnic had bounce houses and you know what tires kids out? Soccer games followed by bounce houses. They both were asleep by 7:30 although Miss E felt the need to yell for about an hour previous to that. My migraine was not amused.

Sunday Peter took Miss E to watch the cross country races. It was rainy and cold but she is always up for adventure and they had french fries and hot chocolate and it seems to have gone well.  Mr. T stayed home with me, I was finally feeling good after saying good-bye to a 4 day long migraine and Mr. T, well, he's about as much of a home-body as me. He spend the entire day playing with Lego's and the Magnetic blocks (best toys ever). I cleaned this and that and did a few projects and mostly just enjoyed the upper half of my body feeling normal again.

This morning (Monday) I spent 2 hours at the school helping with vision testing, another 2 hours shelving books in the library and then went to work for another 5 hours. It was a long long day. Remember when I was saying I had over-committed myself at the school? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Fortunately, the vision things was a one-time thing and I am gracefully bowing out of the commitments that I can and things should no be so busy next month. But I am tired. And we have birthdays to plan, trips to figure out how to pay for, calendar things to schedule, and things to clean. Not to mention kids to read to and play with.

Overall though, we are plugging along. Everyone is getting more used to the schedule, the kids been on a much more even keel and things are just continuing on.

Random bit from the weekend: At the union picnic, at one point the bounce house fan stopped working and the house collapsed on itself. Mr. T was bouncing in it so I got up and started walking over just to make sure he was OK. I wasn't too worried as it was a pretty small bounce house and really, what better place to get trapped in one that at a picnic filled with firefighters, but I still wanted to check. Just as Miss E ran up to me freaking out because she thought Mr. T was trapped in there, he came popping out of nowhere and in his happy, excited voice slapped me a high 5 and said "I got out of there just in time! The roof almost fell on me!" Seriously. The kid is even excited when a building collapses on him. Future firefighter indeed.

Friday, September 30, 2011

School Conferences

This morning I had school conferences for both the kids - one right after another. And, as I did last year, I left there reveling in how awesome the kids are and how awesome our school is. I was a bit nervous going in about Miss E's. Mr. T, I knew, was fine. He's right where he's supposed to be, his teacher thinks he's the funniest kid ever, and he's doing great.

Miss E, I was a bit more worried about. You see, with her, she's kind of gotten used to everything being EASY. Reading is easy, math is easy. Last year she covered for that by spending her time learning about the mechanics of school and being social (which is not her easiest thing) but this year, she kind of has that stuff down. And while I love that she's good at school, I also don't want her to assume that she never has to TRY for anything or THINK about anything. To her credit, she's very self-motivated - yesterday on her rest time she wrote a 5 page story and did 4 worksheets on synonyms, antonyms and homonyms - and that's great but she's not really being challenged at school like I had hoped.

BUT. It's awkward to be the parent who walks into the conference and tells the teacher that her kid is super smart and that the class isn't hard enough. Part of it is because I have this fear of coming off as the "flash-card" parent - you know the type, the super-driven, kids have to stop playing at a certain time everyday to do flash cards or other structured learning -and they're 3. Because we aren't like that. I strongly value free play time for the kids, I actually delayed Miss E learning to read a little bit so she could focus on more creative play. But at this point, at this conference, I knew the time had come to push for her to be challenged more. And I was nervous.

In the end, I should have had faith in the school because it's awesome and so is her teacher. Turns out (unbeknownst to me), her kindergarten teacher put her on a TAG watch-list. But at this school they try really hard not to test kids in kindergarten for TAG because once you test, you can't re-test for 2 years and kindergarten is so young, that they end up with a lot of false negatives. So she was going to be tested at the beginning of this year. But then her teacher met her and realized that being pulled into a strange room with a strange teacher during the first month of school would not produce a good result with Miss E and is delaying the testing until January or so, when Miss E is more comfortable and such. I was thrilled. Not necessarily because of the TAG thing, I don't really care one way or the other if she qualifies and I don't think it means that much extra, but because her teacher, at this early point in the year, seems to KNOW her so well and to understand her. And the teacher seems to be on the same page about making everything more challenging. Whew. What a sigh of relief.

There is no blessing at school greater than a teacher who knows and likes your child. It's just huge.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life in General

This is what the kids did Sunday while we watched the morning game. Made a fort on the couch and then Miss E read a bunch of books to Mr. T. 

Things have been super busy around here AND I really want to get back to doing the 365. I'm no good at this whole 'blogging events and big things", I'm better at just jotting down the day to day. I have all these written and saved up posts that I don't want to publish because they are too soapboxy and offensive about religion or gender roles (and how our mother's perceive them) and such. And really the blog is a place where I can record the day to day of my life and my children's life. So often I feel like things are flying by and I am so busy trying to keep up with it all that I'm not soaking in the moment and the NOW of life. It's so much filled with meal plans and schedules and getting everyone ready for soccer practice and remembering who has library today or who has PE and errands, that I find the weeks flying by. It doesn't help that I have over-volunteered myself at the school this year. I'm trying to scale it back as I can but the things I'm committed to, I'm committed to so I'm just going to have to make it work.

To balance the busyness, I'm trying as much as I can to keep our weekends un-scheduled. Other than soccer on Saturdays, the kids have had free reign to do whatever they want, I've been cooking yummy things and of course, Sundays are football days. And a birthday party in the case of this weekend. Starting in October I'm taking a photography class in the evenings and I think that might be a good point to start a 365 project again. For now it will be random posts. Hope you are all having a lovely September!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Is there a support group for parents of "spirited" children? If not, there should be. No one in my life has ever made me grow, learn, step up, question myself and feel like a failure like this girl. She is full of life and spirit and difficulty and curiosity and power and adventure.

Yesterday we went grocery shopping and she didn't want to go. We get to the store and she refused to get out of the car. We finally get into the store and she starts stomping her feet and making a very loud whining noise. So, I don't know about you, but I feel like 6 is too old to be throwing a tantrum in public. I'm good with it up until about 4 and then I'm not such a fan. She knows this. So I tell her that if she continues to act up at the store, we're not going to be able to go out to dinner that night just the two of us (as we had planned). Then she decides to push the cart and makes up a really cute game of deciding which groceries are "girls", which ones are "boys" and which ones are the "naughty kids". Then she places them in the cart accordingly. The rest of the trip was the game (awesome) or stomping her feet (not awesome). I told her on a scale of 1 to 10 she was a 10 for wonderful and a 10 for a pain the kazoo. And it's freakin' true. She's either driving me CRAZY or we're having the best time ever. But she's giving me gray hair while we're at it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

They say it's your birthday

Yep, it's my birthday today. I am turning 36 which, as my husband so sweetly put it, is closer to 40 than 30. Lovely, isn't he? Truth be told, getting older doesn't bother me. I don't feel like I'm close to 40 and I do feel wiser and more secure with each year that passes. This year of my life has inadvertently become the year of living without. I am giving up 2 of the things that have been crutches or addictions or coping mechanisms for me. Not forever, but for a bit just to see how it feels to live without.

The first thing is buying anything for myself- clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags. In the past I have spent way too much money on clothes, gone shopping when I was upset to cool down and other such things. Now, I don't necessarily think those things are terrible, but here was the turning point for me. In May I bought a bunch of stuff for my trip to Spain. One morning just before I left I found myself standing in front of a stuffed closet unable to find a short sleeved shirt to wear with my jeans. And jeans are pretty much the only pants I wear. That's crazy. Having a full closet and taking half an hour to find something that you want to wear or feel comfortable wearing? Crazy. Right then I decided that I wasn't going to buy anything for myself for a year to use what I have, get re-aquatinted with my closet and get rid of stuff that I have and don't wear. Of course, I didn't want this to be more about NOT having something than evaluating so I figured that if Peter got me a gift certificate or bought something for me that would be OK.

The first two months were really hard. Harder than they should have been and hard enough to convince me that I was doing the right thing. Walking through a clothing store I felt like an ex-alcoholic walking through a liquor store. The smell! I tell you, Banana Republic and Anthropologie pipe something into their stores to make them smell a certain way. Of course, I haven't done that other than when necessary but as the months have passed I have been able to walk by a store without feeling the urge to go in.

The other thing I'm giving up (just for a month) is sugar. If you know me in real life, you know that sweets are my thing. After lunch, after dinner, my taste buds cry out for something desserty. The only way I could make this successful is to allow myself to eat sugary things that I have baked at home. I made cinnamon rolls last weekend and had one of those with the kids. I'm obviously going to eat a slice of the birthday cake that Peter is making for me. But I have given up all store-bought candy, doughnuts, and ice cream.  I'm figuring on trying it for a month and seeing how I feel after.

In no way did I plan all of this, it's just as I've been getting older and thinking about my life and my habits it feels good to also see how it feels to give up somethings I never thought I could.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Morning Movie Date

Occasionally, Peter and I like to go on a date. Without the kids. Crazy, I know. Thus far though, we have been ridiculous failures at finding a babysitter. We don't know a lot of older kids in our neighborhood and my parents babysit JUST ENOUGH that it's not a true necessity. Plus, I like my girls nights and he likes to go to shows and we each do those independently. Peter often tells me that if we went to church (which we don't) we would have no problem finding a babysitter and that, to him, is the only thing we are missing out on by not being religious. Babysitters.

But I digress..... This year, there are 2 days a week when the kids are in school until at least 3. Peter has time off during the days, I only work three days a week so therefore - DATE MORNINGS.  You know who's in the theater for the Tuesday 11am showing of Contagion? Us and two other people. Add in some coffee beforehand and a trip to the grocery store after (I know...) and we has us a date!

This picture isn't actually from our date - it's from back to school night - the actual picture from our date is in my phone. My new phone! Which is awesome but I am so far at a loss as to how pictures move from the phone to the computer. Someday, I'll figure it out. Until then, here's a picture of Peter on our way to back to school night. Which was kind of a date, since we didn't have kids with us. But not really since it involved sitting in teeny tiny chairs filling out volunteer forms and listening to information on reading curriculum.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's Over

It's done. The last of our college animals is gone. The doctor came yesterday to do it and in the end, I felt sadness and a bit of relief. The life Samson was living was not a life he would have been happy with. I am also glad that we didn't have Miss E there for the euthanasia, it would have been really hard for her and for me. That was kind of my only time too to just be sad for myself. Not worried about how anyone else was handling it, but just be sad because I was losing a kitty who had been with me for 17 years. When Miss E and Mr. T got home from school we told them both independently (they got out at different times) and it seemed to go over OK. They were both sad, but nobody was shocked as they had been prepped that this was going to happen at some point soon. The lady who did it shaved a bit of his hair to put in a little baggie for Miss E and I think she was happy to have a tangible reminder of him. We also printed out a few pictures and gave each of the kids their own picture in a frame that they could put wherever they wanted in their rooms. I left his blankets and dishes around the house, and I think Miss E and I will pick them up together this weekend. All in all, it went as good as could be expected.

As a bonus, last night while Miss E was reading in bed, our other cat jumped up to lay with her. Normally, this was Samson's thing. He laid on her bed every night, in fact, that was the last place he could jump up to this week before his back legs started hurting. But he laid on her rug instead, keeping her company. Our other cat never ventured in there. Tonight though, as she lay there reading SuperFudge, Tangerine jumped right on her bed and snuggled with her, like he's been doing it all along.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Handling a Pet Death with kids

Most days, even though I'm getting closer to 40 than 30, I don't feel like an adult. Yes, there are responsibilities but mostly they don't weigh heavy on my shoulders. When we first had the kids I spent a few years learning to be tough. To put aside my immediate needs for another. To step up and handle a problem, not because I wanted to or thought I could, but because there was no one else. But for the most part, I am now realizing, babies are not actually that hard to take care of. Physically hard to care for, yes. Otherwise? Not so much. Their problems are pretty simple as are the answers and so for the most part I have sailed through my life feeling more like a young adult than a full-fledged responsible grown up.

Every once in awhile though, things get hard and that weight settles on my shoulders. Points in our marriage a few years back where it became clear that a divorce was actually the easier thing to do. Figuring out how to handle some behavior from the kids we've been going through and now, on the eve of the death of one of our beloved cats, the weight is there again. How do we talk the kids through this? Should they be there for the euthanasia? Should we let Miss E see the body after he dies? Should we even tell them it's happening before it does?

You know what I've come up with so far? I DON'T KNOW. This cat is Miss E's special buddy. She feeds him every night, he sleeps in her room. They cuddle. She's also at the most awkward age for this where, at 6, she's too aware for us to gloss it over (as we'll most likely be able to do with Mr. T) but she's also too young to truly understand. She knows he's been sick and we've been talking about bodies shutting down as you get older. I've told her he's about as old as a cat can get. Last night though, I tried to explain euthanasia (or as the kids now call it "the shot that makes you dead") and obviously, that didn't go over well. We have someone coming to the house to do it tomorrow while they are at school. I have not told them that. We figured it would be impossible to get them out the door if they knew Sammy was going to die while they were at school. So far my plan is to pick them up after school and tell them then. That will give us the weekend to grieve and process before they have to go back to school. Is it weird to plan your pet's euthanasia around your kids school schedule? I don't know.

Miss E told me last night that if Sammy died she would have to take him off her quilt square at school. When I asked her what that was, she explained that they were putting pictures of all the super special things in their lives on their quilt squares for a class project and she put Sammy on hers. After my heart broke in a million pieces I reminded her that she could keep him on because we will always love and remember him even after he's gone. I hope that was the right answer.

Now we are struggling with whether or not we should let the kids see his body after it's done. Neither Peter nor I thinks that is a great idea but I also don't like the idea that they went to school one day and came home and he was gone. There's only so far talking about it can go really. She knows it is going to happen sometime soon and I had her make a list of all the things she loves and wants to remember about him but..... again I come back to the I DON'T KNOW. Over and over again.

At this point, it's happening to tomorrow, they aren't going to see the body and we'll tell them when they get home from school. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope and pray that we are going to navigate through this correctly and that I will somehow know how to do or say the right thing to make this easier on the kids.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Miss E's first day of First Grade

On the first day I dropped Miss E off in first grade. Her teacher had their seat assignments ready for the meet and greet last week so we knew exactly where she would be sitting and her supplies had all already been dropped off. This made walking into the classroom on day 1 much less intimidating. A few kids from kindergarten are in her class, as are a few of the girls in her girl scout troupe. Since the class is a 1/2 blend the 2nd graders are all new to her. My hope is that this year she can work up with the second graders so she won't be so bored with the academic side of school. Where that leaves us for next year, I don't know but I trust in the school so we'll see how it ends up.

She and Mr. T got their game faces on before we left. Big day here, big day. 

 A little nervous in the classroom. She is sitting in between two 2nd grade girls that she doesn't know and across from two 1st grade boys that she does know. By the time I left, most of the kids were happily coloring and 1 kid was puking in the sink from nerves. Here's what speaks volumes about this teacher. She didn't freak out about the kid puking and she had an aide get him out of the room and down the hall to the health room with such grace that none of the other kids in the class noticed he was throwing up.

When Miss E got home that day she was really excited because T, the daughter of our girl scout leader, apparently ran into a bar on the playground and ended up going to the hospital to get 6 stitches in her forehead. Then she came BACK to school and was an instant celebrity on the playground. Yep. Puking and stitches, that's a bang up first day of 1st grade!

The hard part about this start of the year is going to be adjusting to the full day schedule. The nice thing is all the first graders came from half day kindergarten so the teacher built the entire first week around getting comfortable. They had three recesses a day, quiet time in the middle of the day and she had been reading them chapters of SuperFudge. I can see at home that MIss E is tired but she is apparently holding it together well as proven by her teacher's evening phone call home telling me how great Miss E is. Half way into the second week, things are starting to even out. They have a routine and all the stuff that Miss E LOVES about school -gym class, library, music class, assemblies - are starting to happen. All in all, things are going pretty well.

The first day was also her first day of soccer practice as well. See those shoes? 4 stores later those were the only style she wanted and Peter and I ended up driving out to a store by the airport (35 minute trip one way) after we dropped the kids off that morning to get the only pair in her size left in the greater Portland area. You know why she HAD to have them? They come with 8 color cards that you can insert into them to change the color of the swoosh. Well played Nike, well played. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mr. T's first day of Kindergarten

EAch of the kids has been in some form of preschool for 3 years now. True, when they were 2 it was 2 days a week for a few hours each time but still, some form of preschool. Each year in September they have had different first days or one or the other of them will have what I call a "no big deal" 1st day. Low anxiety, familiar teacher something like that. This year for the first time both the kids started school on the exact same day at the exact same time and these were BIG DEAL first days. I won't lie, it felt stressful navigating them both through the first day and week of school but so far (fingers crossed) everything is going great.

He was pretty excited about his first day and a little bit nervous since it was going to be a new teacher. Peter dropped him off since I was dropping off Miss E and he only took one (one!) dark picture of Mr. T in his classroom. I haven't been back in to take another one because his teacher, while totally and completely awesome in every way, does not want parents in the classroom this first month. Something about the kids being independent or some such idea....   The other morning my toe crossed the threshold as I said goodbye to him and she cheerfully and immediately directed Mr. T and I to wave goodbye to each other. Yes, I have been 86'd from a kindergarten classroom. 

 The kindergarten bus brings the morning kindergarten kids home and drops them off directly at your house. The bus driver (Jase) was Miss E's bus driver from last year. He's awesome. And last year as he dropped off Miss E on the first day of school I mentally freaked out that someone I didn't know was driving my daughter around. This year Peter and I were happy to see him and chatted for a moment about how our summers had been. Mr. T was super nervous and excited about the bus. Since then it's been one of his favorite things. "It's like a car mommy but bigger and you don't have to wear seatbelts!"

After school of course there were freshly made cookies. I think this whole kindergarten thing is going to work out alright. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

Each year, this day becomes more of a question mark for me. Remembering fills me with a deep sense of sadness, mournful that our world changed on that day. For Peter, he both likes and hates working on this day. This year he's working which means participating in 3 different September 11 memorial events. It's hard for the guys to do this every year, but they also know that it's important and are glad to do it. I think if he went to work and there were no September 11 events scheduled he would be simultaneously relieved and deeply disappointed.

As for me, my question each year becomes - do I tell the kids? I know many fire families have told their kids about this day early and often in their lives, without creating fear and instead crafting pride and respect for the fire service. I have chosen not to tell the kids yet because I don't want the thought to even cross their mind as they board their first plane flight that something bad might happen to the plane. I don't want them to hear about actual events where firefighters have died and buildings have collapsed. They know Peter's job is dangerous but right now it's in the abstract. They know there are bad people in the world but somehow this crosses the line from "bad" people.

But as Miss E gets older and is more aware of her surroundings, each year I find myself asking, is this the year? Right now I'm pretty much waiting until they ask about it - which has pretty much been our policy on most parenting things so far. We don't let them watch the news and when Miss E is obviously reading the newspaper I give it a quick scan to make sure there's nothing really bad on the page she's reading. She'll pick up on something eventually I'm sure but I'm unsure as to whether I should help that along.

10 years ago I woke up on a week-long bike ride in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Oregon. I was with my mom and my sister and Peter was at our home, working for the ambulance company and as a volunteer. There was no TV or radio where we were and as we are eating breakfast a woman on a bullhorn announced out of the blue that our country was under attack and that all national guard troops would be supplied phones to call in and assistance returning to their bases. We had no idea what had happened. As we rode our bikes that day a few folks with radios would pass along brief snippets of information. A plane flew into a building. A plane crashed into field. There are fighter jets patrolling over New York City. 20 firefighters died. At the time I thought - 20? There's no way that many could die in an incident. And then, I wonder if there were people on the plane? It wasn't until that evening at our rest stop in another location that we were able to call home. They brought in extra phones so people could call relatives on the East Coast. I finally got ahold of Peter and he told me what really happened.

At this point he had just been hired by the fire department.

So every year I wonder, is this the year? And then - should I have told them last year?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week 1

Whew. It's been a crazy week. Miss E started 1st grade, Mr. T started kindergarten, my sister had surgery, I had a 4 day long migraine and Peter and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Mix in some work, a few tantrums, a million errands, soccer and the start of football season and there you have it. It's been busy and hard and wonderful - just like life with 2 little kids normally is. I'm going to do individual posts about each of the kids starting school because this is such a big year for both of them but haven't had time yet. I can't wait to start another 365 because for some reason blogging one picture a day seems to come easier to me than this blogging randomly.

On a side note: This evening, Miss E threw a huge tantrum. She is tired and still adjust to full day school and we have had some....behavior. Anyhoo, there was a huge tantrum with yelling and telling me she hated me and on and on and on. About an hour after this kind of ridiculous tantrum her teacher called us at home just to tell me that Miss E was an "angel" and how glad she was that she was going to get to be her teacher for 2 years. She went on about how smart Miss E is, what a great attitude she had and how "whatever we're doing at home must be working". I swear, not 45 minutes earlier the girl had kicked at me and told me I was the dumbest mommy ever. Ahh...motherhood. In the midst of the negative there shines a light of pride and positiveness. I'm so proud of my kiddo, I know this a huge adjustment for her and she's doing the best she can to make it work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Beach - Part 2

Seeing as we started school today, I should probably post the rest of last weeks beach pictures already. I can't say enough how lovely this trip was. Yes, there were a few tantrums and a few "moments" and Mr. T did wake up at 6:15 and immediately started calling for Miss E to wake up but overall, it was one of the best mini-vacations we've ever had.

 The second day was much more cloudy and overcast than the first - still warm but not sunny. We also had a crazy high tide that came up and over that little bridge leading down from the hotel. Mr. T and Miss E played and played in the sand though and this picture it the only photographic evidence we have of Mr. T's guy that he "catapulted and then buried" in the sand. He was not recovered.

 Miss E was thrilled with the water coming in so far. Normally I wouldn't let her stand on a drift log with the tide coming up around it but we were so far back from the actual surf that it was OK. That bridge was swamped over the bottom step on the highest waves. Our hotel room was on the bottom, second one in from the right. It worked great for quick clothing changes, bathroom breaks and snack re-fills.

Peter and Mr. T built a huge mountain of sand and then Mr. T had a great time throwing his body into it to knock it down. Boys.

 Sunset walk on the beach after the tide had receded.

 Miss E and I playing Bananagrams in the condo.

 On the last day we'd had enough lazing around so we went sightseeing on the way home. When we made our list at the beginning of the summer of all the things we wanted to do this summer, Miss E put "lighthouse" on it so we stopped at this one.

 She climbed all the way up with me. At the top they wouldn't let you go outside or into the light area so it was a little anti-climatic but she was happy anyway.

Last stop was the aquarium. Touch tanks, sharks, snakes and sea birds. Then home again home again jiggity jig.

Overall it was a great summer. The completed tasks on our list included:

Booby traps,
Sleep in a tent (I know, this is pretty much the same as camping but the kids were in charge of what went on the list)
Berry picking
Festival or carnival
Go to a farm
Go to the beach
Ride bikes
Play outside
Get pool out
Make berry desserts
Eat outside.

Done all around and that's a wrap on the summer.

(although truly, we are having our hottest weather of the year now, for the first week of school)