Thursday, June 30, 2011
At this campground there are two teepees, right next to each other in the day use area. This location is good because of 1) the gorgeous empty lawn 2) it's right on the river and 3) you're away from the other campers so the kids can be a bit louder. It's not so good in that 1) the bathrooms are far away 2) the bathrooms are far away and 3) the bathrooms are far away. Let's just say that after 4 days of vacation in campground, my kids, who really prefer to use our own bathroom (as do I), are a little, umm... uncomfortable. Each of them only wants me to go the bathrooms with them and it's a pretty long walk. Frequently we get there and they won't go or try unsuccessfully. They also won't go together. This has resulted in me working every single hot dog and smore calorie off by hiking back and forth 200 times to the bathrooms.
Through some crazy stroke of fate, the family renting the other teepee is our friend Jennifer. She's from the early mom's group I went to when Miss E was a baby and her daughter is 2 days older than Miss E. Neither of us planned this, we just made our own reservations and later realized it was for the same two nights. It has been a lot of fun to have friends to camp with and Miss E especially has loved having her friend around. The girls have spent most of the time at the campsite taking turns riding Miss E's bike and drawing. Mr. T has been a bit left out but true to form, he has created a "machine" out of the fence and the fire wood and a cardboard box and has busied himself playing on it. Jennifer also has a perfectly nice and perfectly kind 16 year old son who won't really talk to me. But he's great with the kids and seems to have no problem talking to Peter about what type of stuff burns (one of Peter's favorite subjects). I think 16 can be an awkward age for boys. Mr. T loves him.
We spent today hiking in the Fossil National Monument. The trail we went on was only a mile long but it was uphill and super hot and in the desert so it was a tough mile. Mr. T was feeling very, let's say... uncomfortable due to reasons listed above and didn't make it the whole way. Miss E however, made it to the end of the trial with me! I was so proud of her and told her that hiking a mile in the desert is like hiking three miles in the forest - it's just harder.
So far, this vacation has been so wonderful. The kids are old enough to do stuff, they are flexible and there has been nary an argument between Peter and I. The one hiccup was Miss E having a major meltdown tonight which felt huge and dramatic and intense but really, once we stepped back and realized that she has been up really late for 4 nights now with no mid-day rest/quiet time or alone time that she craves, was just a hiccup.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
As we packed up camp this morning, it rained a little bit. Then we drove a few hours and it rained a little bit more. Not a lot, just enough to make everything damp. When we stopped at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center outside of Baker City and in the smack-dab middle of miles upon miles of prairie nothingness, the smell of the land and the sage all warm and damp was overwhelmingly amazing.
The museum was pretty awesome as well. Perched on a hill, there were all kind of displays about the Oregon Trail, buggies and games for the kids to play. As you looked out the huge windows over the land you can still see the wagon ruts of the actual Oregon Trail. So cool. That was my favorite part. The kids favorite part was this wagon that you had to "pack" with huge foam blocks all labeled things like "40 lbs. whisky" or "120 lbs. hard tack". Both of them had a ball trying to fit things in their wagons and then playing dress up in the prairie clothes. Since Miss E just read a few of the Little House on the Prairie books and I read a few to her, it was especially interesting for us.
This evening we arrived in John Day for the second part of our trip. We have said good-bye to our tent (3 nights of family tent camping is enough thank you very much) and hello to a state park teepee! It's still all one room so we are a bit more spread out and hopefully the kids, at least Mr. T, will sleep a little bit later. Mr. T has been my "morning buddy" so far this trip which means he sleeps next to me and as soon as I open my eyes at some ungodly hour of the morning I see his smiling face. Then we sneak out of the tent and eat cookies and color and make coffee before everyone else gets up. I really don't mind it, he's impossibly cheerful and I don't have that many more years left of getting up early with a little kiddo but I wouldn't mind sleeping until 7 tomorrow. Then we can be morning buddies.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
What a great day. I mean, vacationing with kids you have to expect that some things won't be completely awesome - say when your 6 year old cries for the first part of a hike because her pants are too uncomfortable and it's just SO HOT - but overall, this day was one of the best I've had in awhile.
We started off with a short hike, first thing in the morning so it would be cooler. Of course, as we drive into the parking lot, the prison bus is offloading their work crew to do trail maintenance at the same time. Peter and I kind of looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders as if to say "well, I guess that's the way it goes" and herded the kids up the hike. After Miss E got over her intial whatever-the-heck was going on, we hiked to a little pond, had a snack and watched the kids throw rocks in the water. Throwing rocks into water = always fun.
They took off their shoes to wade in a creek and as they were drying off and putting them back on, Peter quietly says "Sarah, there's a fox!" And sure enough, about 10 feet away from us was a fox in the brush holding her prey in her mouth. She just sat there a minute, trying to decide what to do and when she pushed past us, crossed the creek on the bridge and went into the brush. We finished putting the kids shoes on and then wandered (on the trail) across the bridge and there the fox was again! We snapped about 100 pictures and just kind of followed her around for about 10 minutes. It was amazing. We stayed on the trail the entire time so she could have easily escaped off into the brush but she just hung out, walking, drinking and sunning herself. Peter and I couldn't believe it. We kept telling the kids how rare it was to see a fox up close, blah blah blah, and they really were pretty excited.
After the hike we went to the shores of the lake where Mr. T and Peter waded in the water and Miss E and I read our books on a blanket in the shade. It was a relaxing and cool way to spend the hottest part of the day. Then it was off to the local town for dinner at the brewery and fishing. We went back to the same lake we were at yesterday but after dinner, which is a better time to fish. This lake is in the middle of nowhere in the prairie and when we arrived there were two other people fishing but when we left it was just us, the fish and a great blue heron. The kids both "caught" a fish which was really exciting for them.
We took pictures of each kid with their fish - Peter held Mr. T's and Miss E's but not before he tried to hand it to her (seriously, handing a 6 year old a live fish to hold is not a good idea) and it thumped itself on the rock sustaining a minor head injury. No worries though, after a tense moment of it hanging upside down in the water, it swam away. At dusk the kids threw rocks in the water, played in the grass and we just sat and breathed in the vast, empty prairie surrounding us.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Above Wallowa lake is the mountain range that defines the Eagle Cap Wilderness. They are also called "Oregon's Alps" because they somewhat echo the Swiss Alps although on a much smaller scale. You can take a tram ride up up up up to get to this little lookout on top and hike around a bit. Let me just say a few things:
1) The tram is old, a bit rickety looking and very high off the ground. It also takes about 20 minutes to get up to the top. Straight up the side of a mountain.
2) I generally like to have my feet on the ground.
3) Temperature at base - 80 degrees. Temperature at top: 50 degrees in the sun. No enclosed structures to hang out in other than a restaurant with plastic siding on three sides.
So. I learned a little lesson today. The best moms are prepared. I had no idea it would be that cold up there, I just happened to throw in the kids coats because they had complained that morning about the wind being chilly. Also, threw in some snacks just because. This all turned out to be a good thing because we got to the top, hiked around a bit in the wind and then just as we were thinking about heading down the mountain the tram broke. That's right. THE TRAM BROKE. Trapping us on top of the mountain and trapping some souls more unfortunate than us IN THE TRAM CARS. Ahem. They told us they didn't know how long it would be until they could get it fixed but at least a few hours. By this point the kids were cold and hungry and tired of the wind. Umm.......
However, this situation which seemed ripe for disaster ended up being, well, OK. We sat out of the wind in the open air restaurant and ordered french fries and coffee. The kids had snacks from my bag. Miss E noticed that there were both chipmunks and grey squirrel like things begging for food so we made a list of differences between them. Mr. T ate peanuts and cuddled with Peter. When Miss E was starting to get really bored, I got on my ipod (oddly enough the top of the mountain was the only place we had internet or phone service for a week) and bought her a Judy Moody book to read on it (insert little fist pump for technology here). We took a few more little hikes around and when the repair guy drove up the back side of the mountain on his 4 wheeler with snow-something wheels, Mr. T and I spent a long time marveling at the awesomeness of the vehicle*. Finally, after 3 extra hours the tram was working again and we headed down.
Then it was bumper boats (yeah, they had those) and an unsuccessful but fun attempt at fishing. Dinner, more smores, more deer-watching and then bed.
*He did. I pretended I actually knew what it was.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Oh my goodness do I love Oregon. We have everything here. Mountains, desert, high desert, lakes, the coast, forest... all of it. For our vacation this year we started out at Wallowa Lake in the far northeast corner of Oregon. I haven't been here since I rode CycleOregon pre-kids (yes, that's a week long bike ride....) and now that the kids are old enough to handle the almost 7 hour drive and the multiple nights of camping, here we are. The drive out here passes through forest, then desert, then some high desert and then you get to the lake nestled at the base of some mountains.
Once we got here and set up camp (after greeting the overly-friendly local deer) we walked down to the lake after dinner to see it and wade (for the under 7 age group) in the freezing waters. Before we were done, both the kids were soaked and proudly talking about how slimy the lake bottom felt. Then it was back to camp for smores and bedtime.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
So. Tomorrow we are leaving for a week long trip and today Peter is working (all you fire ladies out there know what I'm talking about). That leaves me to pack up and what you are seeing in the picture is only a fraction of the crap we are taking. I'm not kidding. A play doctors kit, about 10 thousand kids books, two fire vehicles, food (lucky charms are a camping treat), more books, blah blah blah. Somehow it will all fit in the minivan tomorrow morning and we will be off on a 7 hour drive through our beautiful state to camp at Wallowa Lake. Until then, I will be madly packing and cleaning.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Before my in-laws left this morning, they posed for a few pictures in front of our house (see the over-grown monster bush that looks like it's about to attack Peter's grandma? Yeah. I've got some yard work to do). After a morning of work and party recovery, saying good-bye to some family and a brief rest time, we all convened at my parents house tonight for a dinner to celebrate our trip to Spain. There was an alberino wine tasting (yum!), tapas and a lovely Spanish dinner.
The kids ate before us and then got to watch a movie. Mr. T picked the kid's dinner (breakfast for dinner) and the movie (Rescue Heros THE MOVIE). We gifted him all the power because today is his birthday! That's right, 5 years ago today I was painfully sweating my way through labor, holding Peter's hand until I went from the mother of one to the mother of two. Tonight, when I put Mr. T to bed, I told him the story of his birth, the story of the day he was born. I do this with each of the kids on their birthdays, each year adding a few more details as is age appropriate. It's nice for me to remember those days of labor and the kids like to hear about how they came into the world. Seeing as this is his birthday, and this is a blog, I would be remiss if I didn't post a little note for him. However, honestly, these can be a little boring if they aren't for YOUR kid so feel free to skip along.
My dear Mr. T,
Today you are 5. You are also my baby. I'm sorry kiddo but that's the way it works. My youngest little duckling will always be my baby - no matter how old you are. Each night when I go in to check on you before I go to bed I wonder at where those legs came from. Seriously, where did they come from? For years you were the sweet chubby toddler and preschooler and then all of a sudden these - skinny long legs with knobby knees all banged up and bruised from your busy days. Your growing too fast darlin'. Too fast.
One thing that hasn't changed is your smile. Your infectious, bright-eyed, dimpled smile. Your face can make a room light up. My mom always says "he's all heart" and I tell Daddy that Mr. T is my heart and Miss E is my soul. You have an earnest, wide-open, innocent and infectious love of your family, the world and all that interests you. Your feelings get hurt easily but you are easy to forgive, to give a hug or tell a joke.
You entertain yourself better than ever now, art is starting to be more of your thing and the toys. My dear, you are the kid that toys were invented for. Before this year I really couldn't figure out the billions dollar toy industry but then you got older and fell in love with your toys. You can play for hours with the fire trucks and the bat cave and the jokers, narrating your stories to yourself (out loud) the entire time. The magnetic blocks build endless forts and your trucks and helicopters fly numerous rescue missions a day.
This summer you are going to summer camp at the elementary school with Miss E. Just like a big kid. Next fall, you will start kindergarten. Kindergarten! How the heck did that happen? Wasn't it just yesterday you were waking me up for the day at 5 and then screaming at me for an hour? Only a few days ago that I was cuddling with your soft soft chubby baby cheeks? I miss that baby and that toddler and that preschooler but I have to say, even though it's going too fast, I do love watching you grow up. Every once in awhile while you are playing or sleeping I will look at you and catch a tiny hint, a whisp of the man you will become. And then I get a little excited to know that man and have to remind myself that really, I want to savor every single moment on the road there. Babe, you bring sunshine and smiles and heart into my life and I wish you another great year.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Peter and Mr. T's birthday's are three days apart. They also fall during the week of my nephew's birthday and Father's Day. It's a pretty busy week and for the last few years Peter has kind of been short-changed on Father's Day because I usually just don't have it together for all the celebrations. He, of course, is incredibly gracious about the whole thing. In fact, the year Mr. T was born, I did hardly anything for his birthday or Father's Day. Well, except bore his son, but you know, nothing big.
Since their birthdays are so close, we usually have a friend party for Mr. T and then a combined family birthday party for the two of them. This year we had both our families and some friends over for a birthday BBQ in our backyard. Our house is tiny, but the yard is big so we look forward to summer as the season we can host events.
So this afternoon, everyone came by, Peter BBQ'd ribs (his birthday tradition), we had a fire in the fire pit and the kids all ran wild in the yard and eating their weight in cheese and pirate's booty and grapes. It was maybe the best birthday party we've had yet. In the evening, my sister and her family spent the night with us for the first time. We don't really have a guest room (see aforementioned comment re: tiny house) and besides hosting events, having overnight guests is something I really miss. However, tonight they all scrunched in and stayed with us so we could hang out a bit longer, sitting around the fire, drinking our drinks and chatting after the kiddos went to bed.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Remember how I was talking about how my hair was driving me crazy? Well, I hit my breaking point and got it cut this morning. Really really cut. This is actually the shortest I have ever had my hair cut, it's so short that I can't even put it in a pony-tail which is my go-to method of hair control. Anyhoo....enough about my hair.
I ended up taking both kids with me to the hair appointment which made me feel unreasonably accomplished. Two kids! In a hair salon for an hour! And they were good, really really good. They read books, did Lego's and I only had to resort to i-pod entertainment for the last 10 minutes.
Other than that, we just got ready for the birthday party tomorrow and started to plan for our camping trip next week.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Most of the time, the fire schedule (24 on/48 off) works great for our family. It allows both Peter and I to work without outside childcare and it allows us both, for the most part, to attend the kid's day-time events. However, the irregularity of it does kind of throw a monkey wrench in things. For instance, if I wanted to take an evening yoga class that is offered every Tuesday night. With Peter's schedule, he would be predictably working every third class, more if there is overtime. Which means that I would need a babysitter for every third class. You add up $12 per class (outrageous, I know) and add in a $25 babysitter, bringing the total up to almost $40 for me to do yoga for an hour. Not really worth it.
Same thing with childcare. Early on, when I started looking for care, everything was done by day of the week but for us, we needed childcare every third day if I was going to go back to work. No one does this and it seemed silly to pay for child care M/W/F when odds were that Peter would be home 1 or 2 of those days every week. This ended up being a big factor in me deciding not to go back to work full time or even really part time after we had kids. I'm guessing a lot of fire spouses end up staying home with the kids for that very reason - childcare is not available on a shift schedule. (I also have not regretted staying home with the kiddos, it's been one of the greatest decisions we ever made)
For all these reasons, there have begun to be two magic words that I search for when looking for classes and activities - "Drop-In". How about a yoga class that is Monday AND Thursday night every week and you buy drop in tickets to attend whichever one you want? SOLD. How about summer care, at the elementary school the kids go to, that is drop in? SOLD. SOLD. SOLD.
This morning, as Peter starts his 3rd 48 of the week I was faced with taking 2 children to the vet with me. Not impossible, but also not ideal. Enter drop in summer camp. I took Miss E to the school, dropped her off and then I only had 1 kid to contend with at the vets. AND THEY HAD BOUNCE HOUSES. (picture Miss E screaming that). Seriously. Cue the angel choir. I have to go to work and Peter is on an OT shift? Drop in summer camp. Sweeter words have never been heard. Mr. T can go too and will probably start when we get back next week.
I really like hanging out with the kids in the summer and we don’t NEED everyday care, nor would I want them to be gone everyday but it is nice to have a little relief, a little back up, forthose days when I am stuck with something that has to get done and 2 little kids to tow along with me.
(Picture is of Mr. T at the vet and my STILL banged-up toe from Spain. Also, Happy Birthday to my dear husband!)
Monday, June 20, 2011
Some days you get home from work late and then immediately take your son on a "date". This time the "date" is really errands disguised as FUN! There are no pictures of said events because you left your camera at home. And your ipod. Which is all really OK, because your husband is taking your daughter to see the Judy Moody movie for their date and you kind of got the better end of that deal. Until you're at the toy store with your 4 year old who has the attention span of a fly and since you are on a "date" you have to let him lead the way and you become convinced that this might be it. You might really just die on Aisle 9 at Toys r Us. But you manage to get the present picked out and then decide to skip dinner and just get frozen yogurt instead. I mean, it's yogurt right?
At this point you meet up with husband and daughter and hear all about the movie (confirming that despite the near-death experience you still got the better end of the date) and still, not a camera in sight. After you all get home, the kiddos are in bed, husband is outside cursing at the rocket box, and it occurs to you, that no pictures have been taken for the day. And it kind of matters. I mean, the year of pictures is almost over. You've almost finished and finishing things, let's just say, is not your strong suit. So who comes through? Who is always there ready to pose? This lady. Woman's best friend indeed.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
So, when you are married to a firefighter, holidays can be a bit trickier. For us, we end up celebrating them at the fire station quite often. I don't really mind it (unless it's Christmas, don't even get me started on that one) because it's fun for the kids and usually easier for me. For Father's Day today we had my parents come to the station and the crew cooked us all breakfast. Yep, you read that right. The dad's on the crew cooked breakfast for us. Because that's how we roll on Father's Day. They did the dishes too. I offered to cook but Peter wouldn't hear of me cooking at the station. Apparently I just couldn't function in that gorgeous huge kitchen with everything in it's place and neatly labeled. No, I'm more of a crowded kitchen, hopefully the cheese grater is not in the dishwasher and where the heck are all the knives, type of cook. But I digress.
We met my parents there and sure enough, they got a call as soon as we all arrived. While they were gone I gave my parents a tour of the station (because THAT I can do) while the kids sat their lazy little butts in the lazy boys and watched cartoons. Ok, they bounced their little butts around in the lazy boys but you understand...
Once they got back we had a lovely breakfast and I gave them all heartfelt speeches about how much the men in my life mean to me*. I think I referred to Peter as the "bestest baby-daddy" in his father's day card. Being busy makes me a little silly. Seriously though, I am a lucky girl and my kids are lucky kids. It's hard to even know how to say how appreciative I am of all these great men in my life. I snapped this picture of my Dad, Mr. T and Peter before we left and I just love it. My dad, the father of my children, and hopefully (if he chooses) the father of some grandchildren some day (and if my father-in-law had been in town he would be up there too). Aren't they cute?
*No. But that would have been nice wouldn't it? And maybe a little awkward with the whole crew sitting there.....
Saturday, June 18, 2011
For various reasons I found myself awake early this morning in my sister's house with three children looking at me asking for food. Ummm... I don't know where her cooking stuff is kids.... Fixing breakfast in a strange kitchen seemed an unreasonably daunting task and as I was sitting there pondering how many toaster waffles I could get away with feeding them, my parents called and invited us to meet them for breakfast. YES please! So I loaded up all three kids in the mini-van (one of the millions of reasons I love the mini van and booster car seats) and we met my parents at the local pancake house for a heavy dose of coffee, dutch babies, apple pancakes and blueberry pancakes. The kids are all old enough now that this was actually a pretty fun experience for all of us. Back a few years, when we had 2,3 and 4 year olds if you had asked me to take all three of them to a restaurant I would have cried but now, they are pretty easy. It also doesn't hurt to have a wonderful set of parents/grandparents who help out in every possible way.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I don't know how it happened, but somehow, my nephew turned 7 today. It surely can't have been 7 years since that hot June day when my brother in law called to tell us that "things were happening today!". And it surely can't have been 7 years since I walked into the lovely back bedroom with the garden view of their house to see Honore lying in bed with a brand new baby fast asleep next to her. A baby! My first thought was 'where did she a baby from?' and then I googled at how perfect he was for a few hours. True story. At the time I was six months pregnant with Miss E and had yet to fully comprehend the fact that at the end of this whole thing I was going to have an actual real, live baby. But there he was, our Felix.
He is the oldest grandchild in the family and yet it boggles my mind that he is 7. It sounds so old. Don't even get me started on the fact that Miss E will be following him in a couple of months. Felix has become a boy who is quiet and studious and crazy and athletic. He is loud and fun and has a lot of "creative" ideas, many of which eventually get him in trouble but leave me shaking my head wondering 'where the heck does he come up with stuff?' with a smile on my face. He is also quiet and smart and will read and do legos and puzzles for hours. He asks questions and is interested in life and the world around him. All around, in every possible way, he's a great kid.
We celebrated his birthday with a trip to Eugene and a party at an indoor wave pool. This place was awesome. I was Mr. T's swim buddy (which meant I didn't see any water deeper than my knees) but everyone else looked like they were having fun. In the picture, my nephew is the shirtless (no life jacket!) kid in the red trunks -front and center. You can see my niece sitting on a tube with my brother in law spinning her and in the back Miss E is perched on a tube with Peter spinning her. After the party we had a family dinner, then Peter headed home so he could work tomorrow and I stayed with my sister and family. To cap off Felix's day he lost* a tooth right at bedtime! I told him it was extra special good luck to loose a tooth on your birthday - unless you are over 12. Then it's bad luck.
*or yanked it out himself - you can never be sure with that kid
Thursday, June 16, 2011
One of the best and worst things about parenting is that change happens quickly. A phase, whether good or bad, is bound to change sooner rather than later. Today that was a good thing. Miss E and I made nice and the kids and I had a lovely, low-key, chilly day to start off our summer break. We bought birthday presents and bagels and ate cereal and read books and went to Miss E's end of the year gymnastics show.
She is the youngest in the class and also one of the strongest and most capable gymnasts. I am SO proud of her. She did all four of her routines without a hitch even though there were a lot of people in the gym. I could tell she was nervous but she pushed through. I can't believe how far she has come in the last few months. This is definitely her thing right now.
These next few days for the kids and I promise to be super busy but I'm going to try my best to keep everyone on an even keel as we delve into the birthday week (my nephew, Peter and Theo!) and prepare for our vacation. Lots of planning, lists and deep breaths.
Tomorrow we are heading to Eugene for a water-park birthday party for my nephew. At this event, I am going to have to wear a bathing suit. Yep.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This morning, the day that Miss E finishes kindergarten, she and I snuggled on the couch before Mr. T woke up talking about how fast the year went by. It FLEW by. It seems like yesterday I was the overly nervous parent meeting her at the school bus. And now it's over with. I really hope 1st grade doesn't go this fast. Miss E told me she was ready to stay in kindergarten awhile longer too but she's excited about all the new things she is going to learn in first grade.
And then things took a dive. The last day of school party should have been awesome and instead it sucked. Because Peter was working, Mr. T and I went to celebrate with her. All was fine until about half way through the party when somehow, for some reason, a flip was switched and she went from being kindergarten Miss E to being snotty and mean Miss E. I'm talking ordering me around, arms crossed, scowl on face, loudly complaining/yelling about being cold, etc. I tried to work around it for a bit, ignoring, offering a break from the party (it was pretty chaotic), etc... but she persisted. Persisted to the point of refusing a bowl of ice cream JUST BECAUSE. Blah blah blah escalation escalation, we end up outside with Mr. T eating ice cream at the "boys" table and feeling pretty good about hanging with the kindergarten boys. However, she is devolving and my patience is waning to the point where it is clearly time to GO. I tell Mr. T we have to go when he finishes his ice cream and his face crumples. He wanted to stay and eat his ice cream with the boys and play on the playground. He buries his face in my arm so no one will see him cry and I hear Miss E tease him in a really loud voice. Now, I think I'm a pretty patient person but that was the last straw. I cannot tolerate one of my kiddos feelings being hurt like that, and I can't stand her acting that way. We left quickly and after a brief period of me yelling in the car on the way home that her behavior was TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE she was banished to her room where she cried for an hour.
And I was pissed. She was mean to me, mean to her brother and ended Kindergarten on a really sour note. I really tried at the party to head things off. I mean, I get overwhelmed easily too, I GET IT. I have talked with Miss E many times about this and coping skills to deal with it. But at a certain point, as I am dancing around trying to head off her tantrum I started to wonder why. She wasn't exactly doing anything to stop it, I was the only one trying to improve the situation. And that is fine for toddlers and preschoolers but she is 6 almost 7. She understands appropriate behavior at a school party. It's not entirely up to me to make everything OK anymore. Is it?
Events like this make me feel like the worst parent around. I'm sure there are other moms who wouldn't have yelled or banished their daughter alone to cry in her room. But dammit, I'm mad. And I'm sick of dealing with this shit. At some point, we have to be able to get through a non-ordinary day at school reliably. She has to be able to self correct and make appropriate choices. She can't be mean to Mr. T and I just because she is feeling uncomfortable. To me, all of this means that we, as parents, have failed a bit. We haven't taught her successfully how to navigate these events or these emotions. We haven't dealt with the fall out in a compassionate manner. I mean, I don't want her to distance herself from me when she is feeling out of control but that's what happens when I react with anger. Distance. And it all feels like a failure to me.
I knew she felt bad about it afterward. Knew she felt awful. She didn't want to end kindergarten that way either and she didn't want to hurt Mr. T's feelings like that. We spent A LOT of time talking about choices and knowing what the right choices are and ways you can get a break when things start to feel overwhelming. And then we talked about kindness and family and taking care of one another and sticking up for one another and blah blah blah blah. It took forever, but I think, this time, some of it sunk in. We were able to end the day going to Mr. T's gymnastics show and be positive and happy together. But it took a lot of work and hurt feelings all around, and I'm still not sure we're addressing the issues correctly.
What makes it so hard, is that this is kind of out of character for her. Miss E is an incredible child. She is very bright and focused and attentive. She and I could spend the entire day at home doing our own thing and she would never once ask me to turn on the TV. She's just busy and creative and fun. She's also kind and, ever since she was tiny, has had an incredible capacity for empathy. Sometimes though, these feelings take over and it's hard for either one of us to steer things back onto an appropriate course.
We also talked about how just because we ended kindergarten this way, does not mean the year was bad. She learned a lot this year. This was the year she learned to read until her eyes won't let her anymore. And write. And how plants grow and about bugs and the weather and time. She learned so much and grew so much and we aren't going to let one bad hour on the last day of school in any way ruin our memories of how great kindergarten was. But man, that hour sucked.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Since our schedule is crazy for the next week and during most of that time Peter will be gone, I took Miss E shopping for her brother's birthday present tonight after work. We had such a good time! She was a great shopping buddy and Mr. T is super fun to shop for because he loves EVERYTHING and is going to be thrilled with his birthday presents. We hit three stores (with a dessert trip to Starbucks in between) and got all of Mr. T's presents from the family taken care of. Miss E and I can hardly wait to show him his presents. It's going to be a good birthday!
Monday, June 13, 2011
-The photo is of Mr. T and his friend playing this morning. You can see we've moved up a bit in the gun department. This one is automatic and so far Peter and I have used it the most to see who can get the entire clip of nerf darts to stick to the window. I'm winning.
- My hair is driving me crazy. I got an awful haircut around Christmas time and it just is not recovering. I'm thinking of cutting about 7 inches off just to kind of start over again.
-Peter is working 3 48's this week (with one day in between each) the end of which is culminating in a party at our house and then leaving for vacation. Also, no child care.
-There are about 5,000 recipes out there that I want to cook right now. I am squarely blaming (in this order) The Pioneer Woman, Martha Stewart, Joy the Baker and Annie's Eats
- I think one of our cats is sick. Or just really old. Or sick AND old. I can't tell which.
- What we're reading:
Me - The Great Gatsby - somehow I completely missed the point of this book in high school. So great to re-read now and actually get it. I'm also in the middle of reading (or listening to) The Help which I love so far.
Peter - I think he's reading Dr. Weil's 8 weeks to optimal health.
Miss E - 3 or 4 chapter books a day, usually the Ivy and Bean series, the Junie B. Jones series, Judy Moody books and a few Magic Treehouse sprinkled in
Mr. T - Umm...Batman comic books? This is not my favorite (obviously) but I'm going with it. I'm also reading him Chocolate Fever.
And that's about it. A nice quiet day after our busy weekend. Home with my kiddos.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Mr. T's actual birthday isn't until the 24th but because of Peter's work schedule, father's day and our upcoming vacation we had his friend birthday party this morning. It is fitting this year, that his birthday is so spread out because he is SO EXCITED. I have never had a kid this excited for his birthday. And he's excited for all of it - the presents, the cake, the friends, the party - everything. We had his party at the Little Gym, where he and Miss E take classes. The girls running it did a really good job and Mr. T had a great time. He also had great manners - greeting people, blowing out candles, thanking kids for their presents. It felt really easy for me, which is kind of what the friend birthday party is supposed to feel like I think.
Since we are on what I have dubbed the EVENT WEEKEND, we of course had another event this afternoon and that was Miss E's end of year girl scout celebration. Oh my goodness, the girls are adorable and I can't say enough about their sweet leader. She has stuck with this through all her chemotherapy, let the girls ask her over and over again about why she wears a hat all the time and just really seems to have fun with them. I'm really looking forward to another year of girls scouts with her.
Miss E and I hit the library and then home for quick dinner and bed for her. Then Peter and I ate the most heavenly meatballs ever (which if you know me at all you know they have to be good for me even to say something like that) and collapsed on the couch.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
So getting home at 2 does not make for an easy morning when you have to get up. But this morning, Peter came home from work, dragged me out of bed, fed me scrambled eggs and then we went to our preschool work party. For two and a half hours we built chain link fence (Peter) and trimmed bushes and moved boxes (me). When we drove out of there we were officially done with all our commitments to the coop - every check has been written, and committee job has been done. Whew. Done done done.
We picked up the kids at my parents and in the afternoon, Peter took Mr. T to a birthday party while Miss E stayed home with me and made cupcakes for Mr. T's party tomorrow. I am really trying to simplify up the birthday thing so this year, in a nod to what I knew was going to be a busy weekend, I made cupcakes from a box and with pre-made store frosting. I've never done this before, as I think the store stuff is kind of icky and loaded with trans fats and all other manner of unnatural things but I'm giving in a bit this year and we went the Funfetti route. As a bonus, Miss E was able to make them herself!
I've only been at this parenting thing for 6 and a half years and kids change rapidly but one thing I have learned for sure, is that the more you involve the non-birthday sibling in the planning and preparation for the birthday, the less snarky jealousy you get. My kids love doing nice things for each other and the more you frame a birthday in that manner - the better it comes off for everyone. Miss E was super excited to show me how good she was at reading and cooking by making the cupcakes. I put the dough in the tins and cooked it, but she did everything else. She's kind of awesome.
*On a side note, what the heck am I going to do with her hair????? She doesn't want to wear barrettes, headbands or anything else but it's always hanging in her face. I think we're going to do the really short cut again but she does occasionally want pony tails or braids. Frick. I have barely figured out how to fix my own hair let alone somebody else's. Parenting is hard.
Friday, June 10, 2011
This is the first day of a weekend that promises to be packed full of (mostly) fun events.
This morning was field day at Miss E's school. She was a bit apprehensive since I couldn't explain exactly what it was going to be like, but I signed Peter up to volunteer which seemed to help a bit. I guess when the kinders first walked into the gym the rest of the 1st - 3rd graders were going crazy cheering for their teams and that all the kinders stood there looking pretty shell-shocked. As seems to be the trend with Miss E these days, I worry that things will be a disaster and then she rises to the occasion and does great. Apparently, field day went off without a hitch and she was no more overwhelmed or apprehensive than any other kindergartners out there.
While this was going on, I got Mr. T to the preschool for his graduation! Peter, Miss E and my mom met us there and we watched him do his final graduation ceremony from this school. To start it off they have each kid run down the aisle of the church and burst through a big banner they had painted of their name. As Mr. T was running, I noticed he kept pulling up his pants. I didn't think much of it, as they are always falling down but when he stood up to stand with his teacher and get his diploma, his pants were fully unbuttoned. I have a picture of him hugging his teacher, getting his diploma and you can clearly see batman underwear. Ahh...the silliness of preschool. He was so proud and excited for himself though that he barely noticed the pants thing.
Afterwards we all went to a class barbeque and they played with the kids, we chatted with the parents and had a nice lunch. This is something I will miss about preschool, all the great families we have met and all the get - togethers and community building things that we do. We really made a good school choice for the kids.
After this and some rest time, we took the kids up to my parents to spend the night, Peter went to work the night 12 of his shift and I went to a Naked Lady party! It was so much fun. This was with a group of women that I knew a long time ago and have been trying to reconnect a bit with. There also were several lovely ladies there that I met for the first time. As a bonus, I came home with a new (to me) bag of clothes! (For those who don't know, Naked Lady parties are basically a clothing swap. You bring a bag of clothes, shoes or jewelry you're done with and everyone gets to "shop") There was a lot of wine and silliness involved and it was kind of just what I needed.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Oh my. What a milestone for all of us - today was Mr. T's last day of preschool. Seeing as he's our youngest and there are no more little Scriberson babies on the way, it's our family's last day of preschool as well.
It is bittersweet for me. I'm so proud of Mr. T and how much he has grown in all ways this year. He is far stronger, smarter and more capable than when he started the year and he is READY for kindergarten. Full steam ahead, smile on his face, barreling forward, ready for Kindergarten.
The mama? Dragging her feet a bit. I know how different elementary school is and I am a little sad that we are done with preschool. I love the parent-centeredness of it, the child-focus and just how fun and warm and sweet it it. Elementary school is a lot of great things but it's not as warm and fuzzy as preschool - does that make sense? I'm going to miss the warm-fuzzies people. My kids may not need it, but I still do.
It felt like a really big deal today when Peter and I picked him up for the last time. We took him out to lunch to celebrate (after placing a side bet amongst ourselves as to which restaurant he would pick - Peter won) and then went to pick up Miss E. He seems really happy about it. Sometimes kids go through these life changes and it's not such a big deal for them since children, by nature, live their lives very much in the present. Mr. T really seems excited and about this, and he realizes that he has accomplished something big. He's proud of himself which is something I love to see. And he should be - with three years of preschool under his belt he is more than ready to head off to kindergarten and I'm excited to see how much he grows next year. But it may just take me the summer to adjust.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
One of the great things about my job is that, when necessary, I can take the kiddos to work with me when I have to get something done. Today was one of those days and Mr. T came along while Miss E was at school. He did his workbook, watched some video's on my ipod and went up and down the stairs about 20 times saying hi to people and getting markers. I remember a time when I couldn't take him to work with me because he was unable to occupy himself for even half an hour. Now, he lasted 2 hours. My little guy is growing up.
After we picked up Miss E, we had a quick Dr.'s appt. for Mr. T and then hit the library to get Miss E 6 more chapter books to read. It seems we are doing this about 3 times a week now.
It occurred to me as we ran these errands, that next year will be the first time in 6 years that I don't have at least one small child accompanying me about my day. I'm going to miss that. They make such nice little companions.
Monday, June 6, 2011
For many years you grew on one of our evergreens. Strong and tall until, this winter, a storm blew you down. After that you sat on the ground for a few months with weeds growing around you. Then spring came and you met Mr. T. It was an enchanted friendship, he held you up high to touch the roof of the house, he launched matchbox cars off your end and used you as a catapult for pine cones. Then he turned you into a bridge for his little cars and they zoomed all up and down you. It was a happy few days.
One afternoon though, he and his sister get into a fight. She takes her stick (we'll call him Bamboo Garden Stake) and whacks Mr. T on the head, in kind, he whacks his sister on the head with you. Neither child is hurt, but that is the end of your friendship with Mr. T. The very next day you are crushed up and put in the yard debris bin. Enjoy your future as mulch, you deserve a nice long rest, and thanks for the memories.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Peter is working both days this weekend and the kids and I need a bit of re-grouping time. With nice weather and slow schedules, it has worked out nicely so far.
I picked them up from my parents this morning, we stopped at the library and then came home. They dragged out the pool (the same little purple plastic wading pool we got when Miss E was 3) and played in the back yard. I dug up some weeds, cleaned off the deck and tried to keep as much mud out of the house as possible.
It never ceases to amaze me how these two play. Just watching all the imaginary games they come up with, creative forts and contraptions they build (slide into the pool anyone? How about with a bucket right behind you?), and how much fun they have with some buckets and a hose makes me feel happy.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Of all the great things about preschool, I think Mr. T will miss this sand pit the most. It's huge. There are tons of shovels and diggers and trucks in it. It has buried treasure. And best of all? There is a huge barrel of water and a pump that will pump it out at will for the kids. Sometimes they empty a huge rain barrel of water two or three times during a recess. They dig rivers and then dams and then rivers through the dams and then bigger dams. Mr. T skips the swings, the slides, the bikes and the play structure in favor of this area. Every day when I drop him off, I open the door to outside, give him a hug and a kiss and he runs to the sand pit. When I am early to pick him up and they are still outside, I peek out the window and he is always in the sand pit. Sometimes digging by himself, most often with a group of other kids and he is happy.
Today was my last day of parent-teaching for preschool ever. We spent most of the day outside and I got to watch him have a few more hours to play in his favorite sand box ever. I'm really going to miss this one.
This evening, Peter and I dropped the kids off at my parents for an overnight so we could go on a date. (I know this is completely not sand box related) but we went on a date. And I was kind of a shitty date. Depression does not make for a good dating companion, nor does someone who doesn't want to try anything new. After pushing Peter for years to plan a date, he did and then I changed everything up in the middle because I didn't want to try something new. I also felt uncomfortable walking around down-town which is very much unlike me. I don't know what is going on but I felt kind of bad for Peter -although he was super gracious about it of course which is simultaneously one of his best and most annoying character traits. Sorry babe. Next time will be better- I promise.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
For some reason, they had a special Dad's (or Grandpa, Uncles, brother or other male) event at Kindergarten today. The kids from all three of the classes have been practicing a song with hand motions that they performed together and then they built birdhouses. I was kind of bummed to miss seeing the performance but I know it was special for the Dads. Peter and Ella had a great time putting this bird house together and when she got home she colored it, complete with slogans written all over it like "Welcome Birds!" or "Birds rock!" and my favorite "Go Birds!". I'm going to try to paint a clear coat over it so we can hang it outside.
So begins our gauntlet of end-of-the-school-year events. We have 9 events in the next few weeks that require parents to be there, throw in a few family birthdays, birthday parties and 2 out of town trips and June is packed. It's almost all fun stuff and we are very excited for it but whew. I'm not sure how it's going to all fit together or, more importantly, how I'm going to maintain my work schedule this month. Party on.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The last week or so have been rough with Miss E. Rough as in, every single morning we are fighting about getting dressed, there are tears before school, dinner is not being eaten and several nights she has refused to get ready for bed and just climbed in fully clothed/teeth unbrushed and gone to sleep. Rough. And I know that the more out of control/defiant she gets, the calmer I need to be. Yelling and throwing punishment after punishment at her doesn't work. She needs me to be stable, in control and calm. The thing is, after about 2 mornings of tantrums before school, I have reached my limit of calm. All I want to do is yell at her to "get the f** dressed" when she whines that she doesn't want to because it's TOO HARD. But I don't. Yell, that is. I do lose my patience. None of it makes sense to me. Getting dressed is too hard, yet she's been doing it since she was 2. She doesn't like school, but she likes her teachers, friends, the kids in her class, the work they are doing and the building. It's frustrating for all of us.
I think it has something to do with the transition of the school year ending, summer coming up, Mr. T's birthday coming up and first grade starting next year. And we have talked about all this crap to her endlessly. Still, it drives me crazy. And it drives Peter even more crazy because he REALLY doesn't understand it. I get it to a point, but still. And I feel bad for her. I want her to feel happy, confident, excited about the day and it's not happening right now. It will soon, I'm sure this is just a phase (please let it be just a phase) but for now, we are just going to have to muddle our way through it.
Tonight was Special Guest night at Mr. T's school. My parents picked him up and went to school with him so he could show them all the stuff he does during the preschool day. Miss E and I had a mini-date while they were gone. We only had about an hour but we went to the bookstore and got some new Ivy and Bean books for her to read and then to the frozen yogurt place for an after-dinner treat. I don't know if it helps her or not, but I sure do enjoy having these little breaks from all the issues we have been having. When it comes right down to it, she's always one of my favorite dates around.