Monday, August 13, 2012

Take your daughter to work day



Miss E came to work with me today. Mr. T had a doctor's appointment, and I wanted to give Peter a bit of a break so she came with me. And I don't know if she was tired from the beach or needed some down time but she hung in there for 7 hours. 7 hours! I flagged several workbook pages and she did those, she read her book, we shared lunch from Chipotle and watched YouTube videos of rhythmic gymnastics. We moved the car when the meter ran out, learned re-grouping (called "carrying" when I learned math), she drew a picture for my desk and photocopied things. I never once had to even pull out the back up video that I had brought with me. She is such a super star.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

This Day


This day...well, let' just say I won't be forgetting it anytime soon.

The kids and I got up this morning at my in-laws house, ate breakfast and (they) watched some cartoons. As I was putting a few things into the dishwasher my grandmother-in-law (side note: that is entirely too long of a title for this lovely woman, she's just kind of like my grandma.) tripped over the open dishwasher and fell, scraping the skin on her shin. Ouch. Miss E came over to watch for a minute while I put a paper towel over it to stop the bleeding and then wandered away. We got out the first aid kit and started patching it up.  A few minutes later, I heard a thud coming from the back of the house. I waited for a few seconds to see if I could hear any associated crying but there was nothing. Still, it was a big thud so I headed back to investigate. And then I found Miss E.

Unconcious, in a puddle of pee, neck crooked at a weird angle, hand posturing in the air. My heart stopped. Like completely and literally stopped. I cannot even describe the feeling of finding your child like that. Terrifying is not a strong enough word. As I ran to her, she opened her eyes, looking very dazed and confused and out of it. I called to my mother-in-law to dial 911 and then sat with her as she tried to sit up. At this point I thought she had had a seizure. The pee, the hand posturing, the confusion, it all said seizure to me although, as I'm sure you all know, I am not a medical professional.

As we were waiting for the medics, she sat up and became more alert. I was really really really trying to stay calm and reassuring but there was no way I could keep the fear or the chocked up tears out of my voice as I repeated, "it's ok, you're going to be ok, you're fine Miss E".  right before the medics got there she realized she was lying in pee and asked if we could change her pants so I put a towel under her and quickly took off the wet ones and put on dry ones.

Then the medics arrived and a bit of my fear got channel into annoyance at one of the firefighters who showed up. Now, I know that not all firefighters are medics. Yes, they are all technically trained to be but not all of them - particularly older ones- are good at it or interested in it. Especially something as ambiguous as loss of consciousness in a child. However, the guy running the call was so freaking condescending that I almost told him to step aside and let his partner take over. He smiled the entire time (which really? My kid just loss consciousness for no apparent reason and that's somehow funny to you?) and made a bunch of comments about us being vacationers and wondering if we were having a "girls weekend". He had the younger kid with him take a blood glucose and a blood pressure with a cuff on MIss E in a way that seemed like he was  just appeasing me to do it. The he started telling me it was probably a febrile seizure (umm....she's almost 8 and hasn't had a fever so no) or low blood sugar (also no, glucose reading was fine and she had breakfast 30 minutes before) and really I could tell they were in the middle of a drill by hearing the radio traffic and he just didn't want to be bothered.

By this time, Miss E was more alert and I was mentally thinking through the car/Mr. T/transportation situation if we had to go to the hospital by ambulance so I signed the refusal of transport and said good-riddance to Mr. Jaded-bad attitude-dopey smile-condescending firefighter. After this I texted Peter who was on a 6 hour long bike ride in the other half of the state and got ready to drive Miss E to the hospital myself.

Thankfully, my in-laws have a GPS system with the emergency room pre-programed into that so I grabbed it and headed to the car with Miss E. At this point I still didn't know what had happened and as my mind was racing trying to figure it out on the 20 minute drive to the hospital it hit me - she was in the bathroom. But not going to the bathroom.

"Miss E, why were you in the bathroom?"

"I was getting a drink of water" (this is weird because usually all drinks of water are preceded by a request for me to get it for her.)

"Why were you getting water?"

"Because I was feeling fuzzy headed and I thought it would help"

OK. Bingo. Fainting spell, not a seizure. Immediately I felt better.  At the ER they ran an EKG and confirmed the same thing.

In the best cast scenario, she felt faint at the sight of blood, ran to the bathroom and passed out. When she passed out she peed on accident.

However, it's rare for kids this little to faint, even at the sight of blood and it's rare for kids (or adults) to pee when they faint. So, we don't know.

For now we are preceding on our vacation, she has a huge lump on her head and we will follow up with the doctor at home.

By this afternoon she was running around like normal and it almost felt like it didn't happen but I know that is one of those instances that will be seared into my memory. Remember how I say that all mama's carry a little pocket of fear in their hearts for their children? Well, my memory of that moment of finding her this morning is sealed away in mine. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nice Kitty


I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my sister is a landscaper by trade, and she's pretty good at what she does. Not a mow your lawn, put in a few plants from the Depot, type of landscaper but an organic practices, native perennials type of landscaper. Her yard always looks AMAZING. Fun and durable for kids, edible little niblet of berries mixed in everywhere, interesting plant choices and every thing looks natural and healthy and vibrant and cared for. Pretty much the exact opposite of what I half-jokingly call the "back to nature" look of my yard. I spent the morning kind of peeking around at what was new in her place while she made blueberry muffins and the kids played.

This afternoon, the kids and I drove to Sunriver to spend the night with my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law in their new house. And this may be the best 3 hour drive I ever took with the kids. Previously, for drives of over 2 hours, we have put DVD players in the car for the kids to watch. It works, they are quiet and occupied and we get to talk but it's kind of a pain. There are wires everywhere and the kids never sleep in the car and someone always needs something plugged in or adjusted. This trip I had a flash of brilliance and instead of DVD players we used ipods. Miss E has one of our old ipods that is now "hers" and I grabbed another one for Mr. T and made it his. I loaded both with the kid's music and several kid's audio books. It was awesome. They were both quiet and occupied during the drive but not to the extent that they couldn't/wouldn't talk to me when I said something. The ipods were much easier to work and Miss E helped Mr. T figure his out so I didn't have anything to do except drive. And listen to music. And buy them french fries and chocolate milk and lemonade - you know, road trip food. I cannot stress how much easier it is to do things with a 6 and 7 year old as opposed to younger kids. Plus, I just like going places with them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back to Reality



Home from vacation. It's always such a good and exhausting feeling. We rolled in from a week at Black Butte sun-burned, covered in mosquito bites, chlorine rashes for the kids and exhausted but what a great week it was. Will be catching posts up soon (they will show up below this one).  For now, I leave you with one of my favorite evening pictures from the meadow.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oregon Country Fair

So...this post has more than one photo but I figure since my "official" 365 is over, and it's my space, I can break the rules.

This morning Peter left for a three day bike ride with his Dad and sister, leaving the kids and I on our own. Instead of spending three days at home packing for our trip next week, I decided to do a little traveling with them. (Can I add a side note here that this really speaks to how big my kids are getting that I don't mind traveling for three days with them? That in fact I want to? Amazing.)

We headed down to Eugene for Country Fair with my sister and her kids today. Country fair is (or used to be) kind of a hippie festival in the woods outside of Eugene. As it is today, it's a very fun, slightly counter-culture, festival full of colors and music and food and fun people. I love taking the kids there and they love going (if it's not too hot, or there's not too much walking and as long as snacks are provided at will....). It's not a festival exclusively for kids, so I always caution other parents that if they don't want there kids being around naked people or (a few) wasted people, it's probably not for them. My kids haven't seemed to notice, in fact, Mr. T and I bought cookies from a stand where all the women working there were topless and he didn't say a word, despite being the boob obsessed little boy he is. 

Mostly we walked around, ate quesadillas and lemonade, watched the parades, listened to some music and just hung out. Here are a few pictures I took:

 My niece and nephew under the pink tent covering the children's stage.

 Part of the dragon parade. This went around the fair grounds randomly throughout the day and was accompanied by quite a few dancers and musicians.


 Several folks had these huge puppets attached to their bodies that were quiet awesome. The guy in the middle is part of the candy cane folks who all dressed like that, not sure why, and paraded about throughout the day.

 Happy people by the music stage.

 My nephew (face painted like a pirate) and Miss E (did not want her face painted but finally took her shirt off after complaining about "dying" of heat and I pointed out that this was one place where she really could go topless if she wanted to). Side story: While walking around we ended up behind a naked guy (kind of rare here) with leaves taped in front. Despite all our efforts to subtly speed up or slow down to let him pass, we all ended up walking the same speed for a bit. Miss E and my nephew were giggling to each other but were doing it with hands over their mouths and quietly. I was touched that they were being thoughtful in what was arguably, a difficult situation for a 7 year old not to giggle out loud at. Before the fair I didn't talk to them at all about how to act or what they might see, figuring I'd deal with it if it came up and I guess that worked. Plus, who wouldn't giggle a bit at a naked man with no body paint walking around a festival?

 Kids dancing during sound checks.

Mr. T and my niece. She had her face painted like a unicorn, he, like his sister, declined face painting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Baby Love


My friend Jen came over today and brought her darling little baby Emma. It's so fun to see new mom's with their first babies. I remember so well, the uncertainness, the delight and just the newness of it all.  Ahh... babies.

Miss E was equally enamored and got to hold little Emma for a bit. After that she promptly went and got out all her baby doll stuff and started dressing and feeding her little babies that have been sitting forgotten in her closet for almost a year now. Such is the sweetness of childhood.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sprinkler


We have officially hit summer here. Every year it's pretty chilly until the 4th of July and then it gets fairly consistently warm. Peter and I just returned from two days in Sunriver helping his parents move into their new house and it was pretty hot there too. As a generally non-weather complainer, I reserve the first week or so of hot weather to bitch and moan because EVERY single year, the first week it's in the upper 80's, I have a week-long migraine. It pretty much sucks. I end up having to take a lot of meds and laying awake at night with my head hurting. No fun at all. Especially because in Oregon, everyone is celebrating the heat, and it's pretty much mandatory that you get outside and enjoy it since every person you encounter from gas station attendants to grocery store clerks will ask you if you've "been getting out and enjoying the weather". Sometimes I want to reply that maybe, just MAYBE not everyone is a rain-hater and is thrilled with the 90 degrees. That MAYBE those of us who grew up in Oregon and still live here (a rare breed indeed) actually like the rain and prefer that it not be really hot. And MAYBE if you are so desperate for super hot weather you should move back to California or Arizona or wherever the heck you came from.

Ahem.

I don't however, because, you know, that would be kind of mean and snotty and I'm really not mean and snotty so I smile and say "oh, some..." and move along.

One of the very nicest things about our house is that the backyard is almost completely shady during the afternoon. We have so many trees that it typically is a few degrees cooler which means that the kids can usually play outside in the shade all afternoon. This afternoon I put our sprinkler on low and Mr. T spent about an hour running back and forth through it, dipping his hair in it and generally just having a great time. That makes me happy. Plus, it's going to cool off tonight and only be 84 tomorrow AND I'm going to work so there will be air conditioning! Look on the bright side - right?

*yes, I know that most of the country is sweltering through triple digit weather and would kill for upper 80's and yes, I know that is not unreasonably hot. I think it's just the shock to my body that causes the migraines but I would be curious to know if anyone else gets there headaches during the first real temperature bump of the year. 


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Morning Ride


This morning I went for a quick bike ride through the resort by myself before we left. I ended up riding by this lovely body of water feeding into a lake. Or maybe it's part of the lake. It wasn't moving - as you can see. It was so refreshing to be out in the cooler morning air with few other people about. Since there was almost no one else on the bike paths, I could ride really fast for the first little bit which is always kind of fun. On the way back I had to slow down and enjoy the scenery a bit more. And the scenery isn't bad! I can't wait to bring the kids back here next weekend.

Friday, July 6, 2012

New House - Exterior


Exterior of the new house. I love the landscaping out front. Because it's a resort community, the HOA has some pretty strict guidelines about how the outside can look and I just love this low care, natural berm that has been put in front of the house.

Today was more unpacking, a bike ride with Peter and then dinner, shopping and a movie in Bend. We  love to see movies and it's pretty rare that we have someone to watch the kids so we take advantage whenever we can. This has been such a relaxing trip (yes, even despite the moving) but I miss the kiddos. I just really like having those little munchkins around. Except when they are fighting or sassing or disobeying. Otherwise, yes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Moving Day


This morning I got up bright and early at my parents and drove to meet Peter at our house. There we ate a quick breakfast, loaded up the car and headed for Sunriver to help his parents and Grandma move into their new house. New house! That's always exciting. Plus it's in Sunriver, which for those of you who don't live here, is a resort with miles and miles of bike paths, fancy swimming pools, a marina and horse-back riding. It's basically an outdoor-lovers paradise and we have vacationed here many times as a family.

You know what's also exciting? No kids! I mean, I love those little munchkins like there's no tomorrow but with no school this summer and no day care, I'm ready for a little break. They are going to be having a blast at my parents for a few days while Peter and I work.

Well, let's say "work" is a relative term. Today we helped unload half the u-haul and put away kitchen stuff and broke down boxes and piled more boxes in other places. It's so gorgeous here though that I think tomorrow will involve a bike ride and maybe a little date night.

The picture above is part of the view from their deck -their new back yard.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sparklers all around (well almost...)


This 4th of July, Peter was working (it seems like that happens every year although it's pretty much statistically impossible) so the kids and I ended up at my parents house for a BBQ and some fireworks. After playing at the park with friends until well after 5, dinner was late, the game we played after dinner was later and dessert wasn't served until about 10. At this point I kind of rushed everyone outside to do the fireworks because dang it, it was 10 pm! My munchkins are 8 o'clockers. Of course, they were fine and Miss E loved doing a ton of sparklers, one after another. My dad lit off a bunch of (legal) fireworks and the neighborhood around us exploded with all kinds of legal and illegal fireworks. It was kind of awesome because I immediately let go of any guily feeling about not taking my kids to see the BIG fireworks because here they were -in our neighborhood!

Mr. T, true to form, did not want to touch anything to do with fireworks but he stayed outside and watched and when he got scared let me hold him. Maybe next year when he's 7 he'll like them? Who knows.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rainy Wonderful Not-Feeling Good Day



We had such a lovely rainy day today. This morning I went to the mall to get a new swimsuit and some summer clothes by myself. It was pretty awesome. This afternoon, Peter and Miss E went swimming with some friends while I stayed home with Mr. T. I've written before about his chronic constipation and our frustration with it. I feel so very very bad for him as he is in so much pain and there is pretty much nothing you can do. In fact, he won't go if we are in the bathroom with him, but he wants us in there, so a lot of the time I have to walk away from my crying hurt boy and leave him alone, knowing that's the only way to resolve the problem. I tell you though, that is not easy on a mama's heart. He was in pretty bad shape this afternoon and it reminded me of when he was a baby, I'd go in, comfort him and then go out telling him I'll be back in a "few minutes". Painful for both of us.

We spent about 5 hours at home together this afternoon, working it out (har har har). We (I) cleaned and did laundry, we played superheros, we did Legos, we played games and watched some TV. All the  while it poured outside but it was lovely enough that we could have all the windows open - that's my favorite, warm rain, windows open. I really do love Oregon. And I really wish my baby didn't have to experience this problem.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Best Summer Camp Ever


Oh my, this picture does not do their final product justice. Their castle is huge, complete with watch towers, a keep, a church, storage facilities, a dungeon, an armory, a dragon, a moat, a kitchen, a farm and a small village. I wish I could have taken pictures of each little area because the detail is incredible. How this teacher got 14 5-7 year old boys to work cooperatively to build this, I have no idea but my hat is off to her. Tomorrow is the last day and they are going to build catapults and fling marshmallows at the castle before taking it apart. Mr. T has already asked if he can take this class again, and while I'm not sure they offer anything else this summer in the Lego area for kids as young as him, we are definitely going to be signing up at this school again next summer for camps.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lego Camp


This afternoon, Mr. T started his first week long summer camp. I have found through the last few summers, that you kind of get what you pay for with summer camps. Cheap camps = (usually) inexperienced leaders, loose structure. More expensive camps = better instructors and a better plan or focus. Again, this is a usually sort of thing but it holds true more often than not. The camp he is doing this week is up at one of the private schools in our area and it's description was that they were going to free build an entire castle/moat/village with Lego's during the week. Mr. T was thrilled about his lego camp! 

I was thrilled that when we got there it was so much more. The wonderful teacher read them a book on castle construction, they talked about knights and the code of chivalry and then they (with a partner) designed their own castle that had to be strong enough to hold the biggest book in their library - which was a huge dictionary. All this plus snack and recess time to clear out the wiggles. Mr. T was so excited that he couldn't stop talking to me about it even for a second so I could snap a picture of him without his mouth open. 

The whole thing was great and a bit bitter/sweet for me. The private schools in our area are excellent and, I would really really love to send the kids to one of them. Even more so as they have gotten older and I see specifically how Miss E would benefit from an environment could push her academically in a way the public schools won't and how Mr. T would do well with smaller class sizes and more individual teacher attention. Financially, however,  it is out of reach for us. For now we are going to try to at least hit them up for a few summer camps each summer. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Husband's Birthday


In the course of a week in our family we have: Father's Day, my nephew's birthday, Peter's birthday and Mr. T's birthday. 4 very important, must (and want to) celebrate the occasion dates. Also, the bulk of this (excluding my nephew's birthday) falls on me to supply the celebration. Which I am happy to do but, there is only one of me and I have learned with age what I can and can't do and something has got to give. That something, unfortunately is Peter's actual birthday. We are having 2 parties this weekend, one for Mr. T and his friends and a family party for Peter and Mr. T, and we hosted a father's day dinner last weekend and took a day-trip to Eugene for my nephew's birthday so today? This random Thursday that happens to be Peter's birthday? Well, it's not really happening. There were no presents, cards, special meals or cake. I felt kind of bad but Peter is ridiculously kind about these sorts of things and truly, honestly doesn't mind.

What I did do, was take the day off work so he could go fishing this afternoon. I let him sleep in and took Miss E to her early swim lesson. While Miss E was at a playdate this afternoon, Peter and Mr. T and I went out to lunch at his favorite little BBQ place (think chunks of meat on bread...). Then Peter went fishing by himself and stopped at a friends house for a steak dinner. When he got home I offered him a bowl of ice cream. And that was it. Simply, cheap, free and easy but I think he had a good day. This weekend there will be dinners and presents and two cakes but today was pretty much a normal extra-special family day in honor of our guy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Most Affordable Spa Treatment Ever


That was the best 8 cent wet cloth/fan/massage treatment I've ever had.

Also, there is no cent symbol on the keyboard anymore? Are we done with cents? Good thing no one told Miss E.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zoo observation


This summer we are doing very few summer camps, both because the kids don't love them and they are pretty expensive. Being in the work positions we are in, we don't really NEED the childcare in the summer (although boy would it be nice!). However, the kids need structure and activities and other kids. They are too old to spend our days aimlessly lounging around the house for weeks on end. A day or two like that is great, but too much aimless time and everyone gets cranky. To combat this I have made a loose weekly schedule (library day, trip day, friend/park day, etc.) and devised a home-school type unit based on observing animals at the zoo. We picked the animals we were going to be focusing on, made our binders and today was our first day to venture out and try it.

It was a little unknown how it would go, I really don't want to force the kids to sit and write about our 6 animals for 10 minutes each, I wanted it to be fun and something that THEY wanted to do. To this end, I deliberately kept the instructions loose. For each animal they could draw a picture, make a list of notes, write sentences or (in Mr. T's case) dictate to me what he wanted in his book. Whatever and how ever they wanted to do it. When we got there today, it was cold and rainy (again, this is Oregon...)  and Miss E was grumpy from a fairly frustrating swim lesson this morning,  but I hoped for the best and we carried on with it - and it was great. The cold and rain kept the crowds away, both the kids were pretty excited about writing in their books, we learned a lot about our 6 animals, got to see the keepers train the lions and watched the bats get fed. After 4 hours of walking around we all declared ourselves tired and headed home for an afternoon of resting.

I still think the kids are going to need a few more day camps than we have planned, simply because they need to be around other kids and there aren't a ton that live really close by us, but for now, things are going pretty well. (Fingers crossed and 5 days into the summer).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012


Happy Father's Day to my husband. He's silly and strong and always up for a bike ride or a trip to the park. He will sit for long periods of time listening to the kids read, listening to their music and looking at their stuff. He tucks them in, cooks them breakfast and runs the ship 3 days a week while I'm at work. He fixes everything that is broken around the house and takes every OT shift he can to help support us. In short, we are a lucky little family to have him as our man.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

End of Kindergarten

Yes, it was this dark and overcast the morning of his last day. It's Oregon. 

Today was Mr. T's last day of kindergarten and it was kind of hard for all of us. I brought ice cream bars for their last recess and when I hugged his teacher goodbye we both had tears in our eyes. He came home happy, sad and mad. He's really going to miss school and his first love, Mrs. Hunt. It was an amazing year but with the end of it comes the end of my "little" kid years. No more afternoons with just Mr. T playing at the house or running errands. Next year they will both be gone from 9 to 3:30 every single day. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. Although they will both be home all day for most of the summer and I'm not sure I'm ready for that either. As a good friend of mine put out on facebook "summer vacation is upon us, good luck parents and may the odds be ever in your favor". It cracked me up but it's kind of true.

What I also wasn't ready for was the amount of anxiety I felt today about NEXT YEAR. I spent most of the afternoon and a good part of the night worrying. What teacher will he have? What kids will be in his class? Will there be any more girls in Miss E's (there's only slated to be 2 2nd grade girls in her class right now)? How is she going to cope with that? And on and on and on.... It was crazy right? To be worrried about next fall when school just got out? At the beginning of summer? The more I mulled it over the more I realized that my real worry was that we have topped out on teachers this year. That we will never have another year where both the kids are in such great situations. Miss E had a best friend (who is moving) and a fantastic teacher (who she will still have next year barring any crazy circumstances). Mr. T had a teacher who truly loved teaching kindergarten, in fact she spent her entire career teaching 1st/2nd grade waiting for a kindergarten spot to open up. That kind of joy and love for a job translates to the kids. It was amazing. And now it's over with. And there are a ton of changes going on with the school and change makes me anxious. But in this day and age of budget limitations, I think every year is gong to be fraught with program changes and boundary changes and potential closures. It's just the way the public school situation is. So I'm letting my anxiety go. I don't have any control over his teacher next year or the number of girls in Miss E's class or how many kids are going to be at their school but I do have control over what type of summer they have and I am determined to make it a great one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ships and Houses


We headed out bright and early this morning (OK, 9:30 but that's still pretty early and it really would have been 9 had the kids not gotten into an argument over ONE matchbox car that ended with someone punching someone else. Ahem.). Anyway, we left this morning to go tour the ships that always come into town with the Portland Rose Festival. This is dorky and totally one of my favorite Portland things to do. I mean, Navy and Coat Guard ships! Mr. T was super excited about seeing the guns (I know...) but when we got downtown the line for the Navy ship was an hour and a half long and I was all "see this is your consequence for fighting over ONE matchbox car...".

We ended up touring the Coast Guard ship and it was pretty awesome. We were at the back of the tour so we couldn't really hear, but the "kid" bringing up the rear was talkative and we got to chat with him the entire time about all the stuff they do. It's pretty impressive. Also, Miss E thought it was ridiculous that I called him a kid because OBVIOUSLY he was an adult. I explained to her that to ME, a 21-year-old is a kid. She came back at me with the the whole "anyone over 18 is an adult". Touche.

After a lunch out we started going to open houses in our neighborhood. I could write a book on the housing situation we have backed ourselves into but it's a doozy. We have committed to a very small and expensive area of town and finding a house in our price range that suits our needs is going to be difficult at best. Houses in our price range are also a hot commodity around here right now so we would have to be ready to leap on anything that comes up, which we would need to sell our house to do. If we sell our house though, there is no guarantee that something we want will be available (see: small area, expensive houses) and a good chance we could end up homeless or renting. Remodeling is also on the table. Maybe.

I have committed to spending some time going through open houses to get a better feel for what is avaliable and what things look like in our area. After lunch we went to two, and the kids were pretty good. They are old enough that the entire concept of "don't touch anything" or "just your eyeballs please" is not lost on them. They were polite, stayed by me and generally did great. Then I committed a rookie parenting miestake. We had about 30 minutes to kill until the next open house and being as it was about 2, I offered them Starbucks. Frapuccinos to be exact. Holy moly. The sugar hit and the last two houses were a nightmare. The kids were loud and amped up and running and jumping and laying on the floor. The 2 houses were about a quarter mile apart so I chose to have us walk in between them hoping they would burn off some of their sugar craziness but no such luck. The last house was all white and modern and the relator was super uptight. It was not a good combination. I got out of there as fast as we could.

Also, PEOPLE! If you are having an open house, open the curtains, air it out, wipe down your counters, and put everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, that you can away. I don't want to walk into your bedroom and see all your crap on the nightstand. I'm finding that it's really hard for me to walk in and see past the paint colors, decor choices and smells and really see the bones of the house and picture how we would live there. That is something Peter is way better than me at. He is the forest through the trees person on this sort of thing. All I can see is trees and bad smells.

Did I ever mention that the last time we were house hunting it was during my 2-5th month of pregnancy? I can't tell you how many many many houses I rejected simply because they smelled. I would walk into a house, smell one slight odor, my stomach would clench and I would tell Peter I hated the house. True story. Not pregnant this time but still not a huge fan of other folks odors.

Ugh. I hate this process. You know how they say that people with one kid will never know how easy they've got it? Until they have a 2nd one? Well I think home-buying is the same way. You never realize how freakin' easy it was to buy your first house until you get around to purchasing your second. Unless you are crazy wealthy of course, in that case neither of those cases applies.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cartwheels


Here are somethings I cleaned off our floors today: tape, stickers, dirt, sap, colored pencil, crayon, dog hair, beanbag filling.

After a crazy out-of-sorts week, Peter is working a 48 this weekend, which is actually a good thing. The kids requested just to stay home today and that's pretty much what we did. Mr. T played with his "guys", Miss E did about a hundred cartwheels, I cleaned floors. We set the ladybugs we had hatched (raised?) free in the yard. This afternoon we ventured out to the library to sign up for the summer reading program and to get some books. Then we had rest time and all read books in our separate rooms for an hour.

This evening, I showed Miss E how to do a round-off (yes, I can still do it!), we opened the back door to let the cold damp air in and Mr. T and I read some of his spy story together. The entire day was busy and quiet and peaceful and productive. Exactly what we needed. Like a breath of fresh air.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kindergarten Celebration



Today was not the last day of school, but it was Mr. T's end of the year celebration. I stepped out on a parenting limb here and decided to have Miss E skip reading group and come to his celebration (held in the middle of the school day). I'm not going to lie, it felt....awkward. Nobody else brought their older kids, just younger siblings, but I had thought about this a lot and felt it was important for quite a few reasons.

1) Miss E helped Mr. T a lot this year. Mostly she read out loud to him - a lot. She helped him with his homework, walked him into school and dropped him off at his classroom. She waved at him at assemblies and when they passed each other in the hall.

2) Mr. T has attended about 8 million events such as these where she was the star so to say, and he was the sibling in the background. While this is fine, she started to think that she was always the star. It's not because she's selfish or mean-spirited, it's just something we have unconsciously let happen to her, as the oldest kid. I don't think it's that uncommon. We are now re-learning how to sit in the background and celebrate someone else.

3) With Peter being gone so much during inconvenient times (read nights and weekends), I have really tried to foster a sense of team for the kids and I. They, especially Miss E, have had to step into grown up roles more often than other kids their age. If Peter is at work for a 24 or 48 hour shift and I am sick or have a migraine, Miss E is asked to step up and get breakfast for her and Mr. T, help get him ready for school and (once or twice) get dinner together. The three of us support each other and help each other out when needed. What better way for her to show Mr. T that he is important to us than to have her miss reading to come celebrate with him? Or to show her the importance that I place on her role in the family?

The celebration was adorable, he got to show us several books of work that he did this year, they sang a song, did the "3 bears rap"and ate Pirate's booty and drank Capri Sun. Mr. T was SO SERIOUS during the songs, I could tell he was working very hard to remember the words and the hand motions. Then I got flowers for being the room parent, I gave his teacher her gift, everyone clapped and Miss E went back to class and Mr. T and I went home.  All in all it was a pretty cool event.

In the end, I know in my heart I made the right decision for us despite the few odd looks we got. When Miss E got home from school, Mr. T immediately ran up to show her his poem binder and I knew she was tired and wanted a snack and some peace and quiet, but she looked at it and acted more interested than she really was as a kindness to him. I really really really want my kids to be more than friends as grown ups and as I look around me I don't see that many siblings that are. I'm consciously deciding to try something different than the fairness or equal route that most families go. One thing I've been a parent long enough to know though, is that sometimes things turn out the way they are going to turn out. It's like trying to get your kid to sleep through the night, you can try 10 million methods and then one day they just will. Whether your methods and attempts helped at all or if it was just time, who's to say? It just happens. I could be making a futile attempt to mainipulate a relationship that is charting it's own course or I could be making a difference - will I ever know which one? Probably not. But does it really matter? Today, they were a team.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

From Daisy to Brownie


Alternately titled: A bundle of randomness.

1) My little (big) Miss E went from Daisy to Brownie today. They have been meeting with the 4th (5th?) grade Girl Scout group for the last few months to prepare for this and they had a play and ceremony today. My mom came and we both watched Miss E sing the exact same Brownie song that we both sang when we were in Brownies. It was pretty awesome. 

2) The kids and I have been burning the candle at both ends, so to say, for the last 2 days. I swear, the end of the school year is nutty busy. It doesn't help that the kids spent the weekend with their cousins at my sisters and started the week really tired. I think Miss E has been home and awake a total of 3 hours over the last 2 days. She is burnt out and when she gets burnt out y'all better take cover. Whew. It doesn't help that I also have a million things to-do that all need to be done yesterday. 

3) Right now Miss E is in her bedroom loudly going through stuff to see what it will take to get me to come in again. I have told her that if I have to come into her room again to ask her to lay down she's going to earn a week straight of 7:30 bedtimes. Gauntlet thrown, she's now testing how much it will take to draw the punishment. Sometimes parenting is exhausting.

4) Our family was asked to join a "Godless parents raising free thinking children" group. I guess they do meet ups and, during the school year, a science and liberal arts sunday school. I'm pretty excited about this since the only thing Peter and I lament about not going to church is the community it creates. This seems like a pretty down to earth, fun and interesting group of people and I think our family could benefit from it. 

5) Tomorrow is going to be the last of Peter and I's day time movie dates until summer is over (insert sad face here). 

6) Also, I'm super excited for the fun summer we're going to have! Once we get there I mean, the getting there is proving to be a bit painful. But painful in a good way because truthfully, if our kids weren't in activities and we weren't involved with their classes, we wouldn't be this busy. But they love their activities and I love being involved with their school so we are busy. Does that make sense?

7) During the week of June 17 we have three really important family birthdays (Peter's, Mr. T's and my nephew) and Father's day. Denial mode has set in about this. 

8) I have been trying to set a fire under Peter about getting a new house. Obviously I need his help to get things going but I don't want to nag or force him so I've randomly been lightly talking about it for a few months. Not much result. This (kid-free0 weekend, we walked through a house and looked at another and I realized what a visual person he is. Fire lit. And then, oh crap. Fire lit. All the sudden I am having to think about payments and property taxes and remodels and rehab loans. Which is all awesome because we need to get moving on this but dang it, could I not have waited until July?

9) Is there some reason we can't force our kids to sleep? Does that not seem like the best parenting thing ever? 

10) Miss E memorized her line for the play they did today with one practice last month. I have not heard her say it since then until yesterday, when she rattled it off in the car. That kid is quick. Also, I ran into Mr. T's reading teacher today in the school workroom where I was binding some things and as we were chatting she asked who my kids were and I told her and she said "OH Mr. T! I just love him! He is the sweetest boy, I just love having him in my reading group". What a nice thing to hear! A mama's heart can never hear too much that other's think her kids are as great as she does. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New stores and temptation



We live in a suburban-ish type of neighborhood. We're not in the city, but we are close to a lot of things so we don't have to drive much. Add in fantastic schools and it's really the best of all worlds. About three blocks from our house there is a little strip mall. It used to have a junky grocery store, a junky clothes store and a Baskin Robbins. On summer nights sometimes we would walk down to get ice cream, but other than that we never went there.

Fast forward through a complete rebuild this last year and behold, we now have the most infuriating and wonderful place ever just three blocks from our house. They replace the old grocery store with a new Zupans. For those of you who don't live around here it's a gourmet, gourmet grocery store. The kind of store that stocks both quails eggs, and duck eggs and grass-fed pasture chicken eggs. They have every type of organic produce known to man, an olive bar that would rival most Italian supermarkets and small-batch blood orange soda. It also has the price tags to match AND it's now the closest store to my house. Hence, my love hate relationship.
Love - it's so close! And the food is delicious! And there's a full coffee bar!
Hate- it's SO EXPENSIVE! And pretentious! And makes me feel like I'm in some kind of 1st world problems skit.

Also, to add to my chagrin they opened up a new delicious and expensive Mexican restaurant AND a french bakery. It's like my land of temptations, 3 blocks from my house.

We had not yet been to the bakery so to get out of the house today, the kids and I walked down there this afternoon. It's everything I both hoped and didn't hope it would be. Delicious pastries, coffees and a full restaurant. So high-end, so expensive and so absolutely wonderful.

Miss E told me her chocolate chip cookie was the best she had ever tasted (apologies to my dear chocolate chip cookie making husband) and after a bite I had to agree. We are in trouble around here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

On Being Married to a Firefighter, part 2


Today was the last day of bike to school week and Peter and Miss E rode to school.

I posted a few days ago ( a little self-pityingly) about how tired I was getting of the fire schedule and how lonely I have been feeling. Those things are true. I am going through a period of being sick of the shift schedule and feeling a bit alone. However, I have been doing this for 10 years and I thought today I would post a few things that we do to make it work. Firefighting is hard on a marriage. There's no denying that. I would also say that Peter and I are not great at being married. On the other hand, we've been together for 17 years and are coming up on our 10 year anniversary so maybe we're doing OK. Or we're just really stubborn.

Here are the things that I do to make the  best of the schedule for me, our family and our marriage.

1) Structure.
We don't have a set "every monday is so and so sort of schedule. Some days Peter works and some days I work. It changes all the time. He has classes and union meetings and trips and during tax season I work much longer hours. When the kids were babies we were kind of all over the place doing whatever the day brought up. When Miss E started kindergarten I realized that the kids and I were on the standard M-F schedule, even it Peter was not. Hence, our house has become organized around the M-F schedule. M-F are work/school days. Sat and Sun are house work/play days. Dinner is served at 5:15 every night. Friday's are pizza and movie night. Saturday and Sunday mornings are sleep in/cartoons. When Peter is here, he partakes and when not, we carry on. It makes the kids and I feel better and work better if we are not adjusting our daily schedule around Peter and it makes him feel less pressure if he has to take an OT shift or wants to go fishing on his day off.

2) Know your limits and say no.
I can do pretty much anything by myself with both kids. Since we have so many weekends with just us, I have to. However, the two things I can't do are amusement parks or swimming. Well, I could but it wouldn't be very much fun for anyone. So what do I do when one kid (non-independent swimmer) gets invited to a swimming party on a day Peter is working? I say no, and I don't feel guilty about it.
There will be other parties and a stressed out mom does not make for a fun weekend with the kids. I also say no to birthday parties where only one kid is invited and that one does not want to be dropped off on days Peter is working. I just can't do it. And that's OK. There are plenty of other parties.

3) Get creative with dates.
We don't have/can't afford regular babysitting and while my mom does watch the kids happily, we like to go out a bit more than she is available. Every two weeks or so, I try to take a day off that Peter has off as well. While the kids are at school we eat lunch out, go to a movie or (like this morning) take an hour long bike ride and get coffee. Sometimes, if we are really busy, we run errands together but still, it's kid free time. Also, for a marriage that is not always strong, for some reason day-dates feel like there's a lot less pressure to make them perfect than night dates.

4) Have a system/plan for the housework.
Since he is home 3 days a week yet I am the mostly stay at home parent, there can be friction with me directing him on what to do/how to do it while I am gone. We have made a list and have a system in place so we know who does what on any given day. Here's an example: On the days I work, he cooks dinner unless I have told him that I will cook. Usually I meal plan for the week though so in the morning, I either tell him what's on the meal plan for that night or it's up to him to come up with something. For awhile I was getting phone calls at work at 4pm asking what the plan was for dinner and we were both frustrated with that system. Once we got on the same page, it works better.

5) Be prepared.
I know where the flashlights are in case the power goes out. I know how to handle our tricky toilet that tends to overflow. We have a dog because I don't like being alone at night and it makes me feel more safe. I know where the water shut-off to the house is. A few months ago when a branch fell on our van in the middle of the night I knew where our insurance information was, what body shop we use and had it cleaned up, claim filed and to the shop before Peter even came home from work the next day. He feels better knowing I can handle anything that comes up, and I feel better knowing I am not going to be stranded (although if I have to deal with a gas leak, chains on tires, jumping a car or changing a bike tire all bets are off).

6) Have fun/spend some $.
It took me awhile to come around to this but when he is gone all weekend, sometimes I have to splurge on stuff with the kids. Before I would never take them out to eat or to a movie without him because those seemed like "family" things. Like if we were going to spend the money to do it, all four of us should benefit. This resulted in me spending a lot of weekends home, going crazy with the kids and feeling like we couldn't do anything special. Finally I gave that up. If we are home for 2 days, sometimes I take them to a movie and sometimes just the kids and I go out to eat.  Yes, we are sorry he can't join us and yes we wish he was there, but the result is we feel less put out by his job which is better for all of us.

7) Share something.
This may just pertain to us but we have WIDELY different hobbies. I like to read and photograph and write and cook and go out for drinks with my friends and he likes to ride bikes and fish and play drums and see live bands. We both do those things, but during most evenings, when he is home, we make it a point to sit down after the kids go to bed and watch a TV show or something together. We usually have a series that we are working through on Netflicks so it's the same show every night. It sounds lame but I think it's important that we have that time to just sit and be together. We also have always gone to bed at the same time nearly every night he's home. This is something we have always done but it seems more important as the years go by.

I'm sure these ideas wouldn't work for everyone and again, I am CERTAINLY not an expert on marriage, perhaps the opposite in fact, but I think the main thing is that we are both putting in some effort to stay connected and preserve a little bit of time for ourselves as a couple.




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Growing UP



1. Miss E: Is sexy a bad word?
Me: kind of. It's not something I would like you to say.
Miss E: Well is saying fuck worse? (the first time I have ever heard that word come out of her mouth)
Me:  YES.

2. Miss E came home today and told me that her reading teacher asked them if they used google and expressed surprise the Miss E never had. She's in first grade. Are we the only parents who aren't letting their kids freely google whatever they want? I will also refer you to point 1 on this.

3. It now strikes a little bit of fear in my heart when Miss E announces that she needs to change clothes 10 minutes before school starts. This never leads to good things.

4. Regarding point number 3, we had an hour long talk the other night about clothes, teasing, how they are both important and unimportant and personal style and the growth of personal style. Again, she's SEVEN.

5. She asked me if she could read the Hunger Games. If she could watch American Idol (we watch no grownup TV when the kids are awake so I'm not sure how this is even on her radar). She asked if she could watch iCarly. The answers to these are: no, yes if it was on earlier, and I don't know. This also ended up with me watching an episode of iCarly late one night BY MYSELF to check it out. It was painful.

Can she please stop growing up now? Or at least slow down enough so I can catch up?

I love that she's getting older and she really is blossoming into the most beautiful girl inside and out.  I can also see hint of the kind hearted, lovely, intelligent and strong woman she will become. The years ahead though? The ones we are barreling at full speed with me clinging on by my fingertips because I thought we had, oh, about 5 more years before she turned 12? Those are freaking me out a bit.

The further I get into this parenting thing the more I realized that the baby and toddler years are NOTHING. The reason folks debate parenting issues so hotly during those years is because they don't matter. Cloth diapers or disposables? Debate until you're blue in the face, they are both the right answer. Now, somebody please explain to me how to explain the definition of the word "sexy" to your 1st grader.







Sunday, May 20, 2012

Breakfast with Mr. T



Last night after we dropped Miss E off for her sleepover, Mr. T and I went on a "date". His big thing these days is eating out and getting new "stuff" - bookstore, toy store, etc. He knows I'm a total sucker for the bookstore since, well, it's books, and the library usually doesn't have the books he likes checked in (spiderman, ninjago). So tonight I gave him a choice: we could eat dinner out or breakfast out AND he could have $15 to spend at either the book store, toy store or Lego store. He was REALLY excited about it all! He chose to have dinner at home and go to the toy store. Right after we dropped Miss E off he and I headed to the toy store where he spent quite a bit of time looking at everything, asking how much it cost, adding up to $18 (he added three of his own dollars) and weighing what he could get. Finally he picked two toy jets, we happily headed home for dinner and then ran down the hill for ice cream. Back home we watched an episode of Word World and I let him stay up until 8. He thought it was awesome.

This morning I woke up at 7, helped him get the Netflix going (our weekend tradition) and went back to bed to rest for a minute. Well. I woke up at 8:45! Mr. T proudly told me he let me sleep so he could watch 5 episodes of power rangers. So, no mother of the year award here, but I do feel well rested.

We scrambled to get to the breakfast place and while we were waiting I wrote Mr. T stories to read. He is really coming along with his reading! Sometimes it's hard for me to tell how much he has memorized and how much he is actually reading and by writing original stories I know it's all reading.  Also, he's a super fun breakfast date. He loves everything, ate everything and smiled the entire time. Just like all good dates should.

After we picked up a tired and happy Miss E I took the kids to a movie. It was a bit of a treat but I knew after Peter being gone for three days and Miss E being tired from staying up so late that we were primed for a grumpy afternoon so I figured I'd head it off with some restful time at a movie. It worked perfectly. There was a little snipping in the car but ever since we have been home all parties involved are playing quietly and nicely. Peter will be home for an hour or so for dinner tonight and then he goes off to work but tomorrow we start the week anew.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

On being married to a Firefighter



Warning: pure whining ahead, proceed with caution.

Did you know that firefighters have a 3 times higher divorce rate than the general population? That it's second only to military statistics? Yeah. (See? It's firefighters who are ruining marriage, not gay people) Well after being married to a firefigher for 10 years, I can see why. There are actually several reasons this is true but the one that is getting to me the most these days is time. Over the last four months we have averaged sleeping in the same place 17 days a month. You know how most folks have all day saturday and sunday and then every night together? We have 1/2 that and usually not the weekends. During the week, I work the days he is off so we end up with about 3 week nights together and  maybe 1 weekend day/night. It makes me feel like I can't go out with my friends because well, he's only home half the time, so I feel like I should be here. Bonding.

And boy am I growing weary of being alone so much. Yes, the kids are older and parenting isn't so intensive. That used to be the thing - I needed help. But now, I'm just tired of taking the kids out to breakfast and having everyone assume I'm a single mom. I'm tired of not having him with me to go through our daughter's first sleepover together. I'm tired of having to constantly manage my patience level because I've been alone with the kids for 2 days and they've been grumpy and I've kind of had it but there is no one else there to step in and give me a break. Of him not being here to hang out with the kids a lot. Next year the kids will be in school full time so Mr. T's time with his dad will be cut. And while I do enjoy having the bed to myself a bit, I'm tired of being married and sleeping alone half the time.

I knew going into our marriage that I would have to be strong and alone a lot. That just comes with the territory. But 10 years in, I'm starting to get sick of it. I dream of taking an every Monday night yoga class. Or having another adult home to eat dinner with us more than half time or going out with my friends without feeling guilty that I'm taking time away from our marriage. Or not already panicking about the kids having soccer practice at the same time at different locations.

Don't get me wrong, I know it's not going to change. He would be so incredibly grumpy to have to work a 40 hour schedule and he earns a decent income and he likes his job a decent amount.  But oh my goodness, I am getting tired of paying the price of admission for being married, and yet not having a husband around.



Friday, May 18, 2012

How to Make a Fun Play-Structure Dangerous (and more fun)


Add a ladder! And some ropes! And maybe a 2x4 or two propped up on the bars!

The kids will love it. Mama will need to avert her eyes. 

Friday, oh Friday. Peter is gone for 4 days, yesterday for work and then for the next three to Seattle to see some friends. He'll be home for  a quick dinner on Sunday and then go to work Sunday night.  The nice thing about Friday is that when Peter is gone, I don't have to go to work because it's Mr. T's short day at school. Well, work at my paying job. There is always housecleaning and errands on Friday but truth be told, the week days that I stay home with the kids while Peter is at work are my favorites.

I sent Miss E off to school in tears this morning. Not because of yelling or morning craziness but because something is off? awry? troubling? at school. Truthfully I don't know. I'm not sure she does, or if she does, if she knows how to explain it to me.  It's hard for them to put feelings into precise words. I asked a few questions but not enough that I felt like I was pestering her. I do know that it breaks my heart a little to see my gorgeous 7 year old spend so much of the morning worrying about what to wear and how to fix her hair. It seems so young for this, and I know that inside she has an entire pile of confidence and strength but she's having a hard time locating it right now. And it feels like we have such a long road ahead of us.

I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty disheartened and anxious after I dropped her off. My mothering skills aren't that great if my 7 year old is having a self-confidence crisis right? I mean, I expect that at 10, 11, 12 and up but at this age, I kind of feel like I've failed someplace. There is that little bird of fear that lives in every mother's heart that was awoken and beating its wings this morning in me.  Just like everything else in parenting, this will be a process and I'm pretty sure we'll work through it but I wish we were dealing with things like this at an older age.

Once the kids were at school, and after some incredibly awkward socializing at the local Starbucks,  I went to mall to get Mr. T his new backpack (incidentally, this is a fantastic time of year to buy backpacks, everything is on sale). While there, I indulged in a little retail therapy myself to help my mood (I know...not the healthiest but better than eating too much, drinking, and if you limit it to cheap stores - H&M- it can be a bit of a guilty pleasure).

Then home to meet the bus, give Mr. T his backpack, he fell in love, quick trip to library and grocery store, home for rest time (yes we have brought back the blessed hour that is rest time), snack and outside play. Mr. T hasn't taken off his backpack yet. He even carried it through the library and put all our books in it.

Tonight it is pizza and movie night (Harry and the Henderson's anyone?) and bedtime.

Tomorrow is Miss E's first real sleepover. And truthfully, I'm really excited for her. Yes, it makes me nervous and worried but practically all new things do but overall, I'm pretty proud of her that she's able to do this at such a young age. She is so much stronger than she appears to others and than she thinks she is on her own. Still though, for me, as happy as I am for her, I'm feeling a little nervous also. Soooo.... I guess I'm saying my anxiety level is going to stay elevated until I pick her up Sunday morning. Or maybe until my kids are adults.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Adulthood



Payday.

Mama would love a new pair of sandles.

Register for a summer Camp.

New backpack to replace Mr. T's broken one.

Sunscreen for the family.

Miss E's first friend sleepover and she doesn't want to bring her camo boys sleeping bag. New sleeping bag.

Peter takes a weekend trip to Seattle

Reserve space for Mr. T's birthday party.

Mortgage

Childcare

Power bill

Register for soccer next fall

No new sandles for Mama. Maybe next month.

Sigh.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tidbits and a Lazy Cat

My tangerine baby

Tidbits and Snippets:

1) It's been really hot here the last few days. Hot as in bordering on the kind of hot that makes me whine a lot. But I haven't been because it's not there yet.

2) Parenthood has given me the reason to master the I-didn't-know-I needed-it skill of developing a good Yoda voice. As a result Mr. T thinks I'm awesome AND hilarious.

3) Tonight while explaining what abusive parents were to Miss E, she had a hard time understanding the difference between me occasionally yelling at her and child abuse. I said "well, an abusive parent would be one who hits their kids a lot". She looked confused for a moment and then said "well, I thought you got fired if you did that". I love that sweet innocence of childhood.

4) Last week was teacher appreciation week. I am the room parent for Mr. T's class so I sent out a little questionnaire about the teacher for all the parents to ask the kids. Then i put their answers together with some pictures in a Shutterfly book. It really wasn't a huge project. I gave it to her in front of the class adnd she seemed pretty excited about it but, well, she's a kindergarten teacher and they kind of get excited about everything (the good ones do at least). Then later that day, this is the email I got from her:


Priceless.

I just got through reading my whole book thoroughly. Priceless. I don't think I can really express how much it means to me. BY FAR, it is the most thoughtful Teacher Appreciation gift I've ever received. The best gift I've ever received as a teacher. It is the most appreciated I've ever felt. I am so grateful for your time and care in creating it. What a true GIFT.
 
Now that made me feel good! 

5) Miss E and her friend want to have a sleepover and they each want it at their own houses. I am having a mild (big) panic attack because I don't know this girls parents very well. Yes, the girls have gone to school together for a few years and yes, they have had playdates and I have met both the parents but I don't really KNOW them. Previously Miss E has slept over at my parents, my sisters and one of my best friends houses. And truthfully, she's been fine every time. But......this makes me feel uncomfortable in all the ways that every other letting-go milestone has. I'm thankful for my friends though because my first thought was to get Miss E (at 7) a cell phone so she could call me if she wanted to come home. They assured me that this was, in fact, crazy. Except they said it nicer than that. I hate letting go of my kids. 

*Just re-read this and want to add that her friends parents both seem lovely and have always been so when we have talked, etc. This is totally not about them. More about me.  

6) I may never be caught up on laundry and dishes. I'm about to raise my white flag in surrender and let everyone go naked and eat off paper plates. 

7) I have written before about our housing dillema but the short story is we love our neighborhood/location/school and yard (kind of) but our house is small. Today I found out that my dream house, the one I have been eyeing every time I walk by it for the last three years, is going on the market. Alas, it is a few years too early for us but hopefully the new owner will buy it, hate the neighborhood or something and sell it in about 5 years. One can dream right?




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day


We had my parents over for brunch. The kids gave me the sweetest home-made cards I have ever seen. Mr. T even painstakingly wrote out "Happy Mother's Day 2012. My love for you grows and grows and grows." For a kid who is not enjoying writing very much, that touched my heart. Miss E made me a card and later in the day, on a whim, just wrote me a book. You know, because she does stuff like that. Peter and the kids got me a few thoughtful gifts that I have wanted for awhile and in the afternoon, Miss E and Peter went to a play and Mr. T agreed to come shopping with me. He really WANTED to do something nice for me for mother's day and so he said "of course, we can go shopping for you and I don't have to get anything at all" but then the 2nd store in he looked a little like this:



Which cracked me up because he was trying SO HARD but clothes shopping with their mama's is pretty painful for a 5 year old boy. He was a sport though and we ended up getting frozen yogurt together.

All in all it was a deliciously wonderful mother's day and I was reminded again and again of how blessed I am to have my own mother and to be a mother to these two wonderful, amazing children.

Friday, May 11, 2012

In honor of Mother's Day

I know this blog is very much about me, my kids and our life. That's kind of the point of it - a photo album of sorts for our family. However, in honor of mother's day I think all mothers, and all people should read this.

Where is the mommy war for the motherless child?

It speaks a truth that I cannot overstate. Wasting time judging other's benign parenting choices while there are many many children out there with either no parents or downright cruel and abusive parents is pointless. Once all children have a loving family then let's start arguing about cry it out or not. Until then, we should be more concerned about the kids growing up with nothing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Prayer and being the squeaky wheel



This Wednesday, Miss E had her first "cross-over" girls scout meeting. Previously only her Daisy troop had met and in the evenings. This was after school with the 4th grade Juniors group. It was a celebration of sorts, to welcome the girls into Daisy's and they all got Junior "big sisters" which is kind of awesome. Overall I LOVE Girl Scouts. It has done a lot for my girl toward helping her get to know other kids at school, combating some shyness and just being comfortable in her wonderful skin.

As we were driving home she said "we said a prayer before we ate". What? I asked her what she meant and the conversation went like this:

Miss E: "like at Grandpa Randy's house."

Me: "Oh. Christians do that to give thanks for their food and while we do not, since we aren't Christian, I don't think it's ever a bad thing to be grateful for your food so I don't mind sitting through it as long as I don't have to do it all the time. Did you mind?"

Miss E: "No, i just kind of sat there. I thought only boys could do that"

Me (feeling more confused now): "Well, every family is different, I think some take turns, some sing, some say it all at once and some only have the boys do it. Why did you think that?"

Miss E: "Because only Grandpa Randy does it at their house"

Me: "Well, I guess that's just the way they've chosen to do it. Did all they girls know the prayer?"

Miss E: "All the juniors did but not all the Daisys."

Me: "Well, maybe it was just a one time thing."

Honestly, she didn't seem too bothered by the whole thing, but then again she wouldn't. I was a bit shocked, the Girl Scouts is not a religious organization but they do allow individual troops to make decisions about prayers at meetings and using the word God in the Girl Scout pledge. Our troop has never done it before so I'm thinking it's something this other group does. Maybe it was a one time thing? I don't know. It's hard for me to know the correct way to address it.

On one hand, Miss E of course is free to make her own decisions about religion WHEN she gets old enough to truly understand the complexities of it. She is not at that age yet. On the other hand, I'm sure she will go to have dinners with people who pray before they eat, as to her grandparents, and she needs to be respectful. But the difference is, in those situations she will be in someone's private home. Not sitting in the school library. I really don't think it's fair to force all the girls to sit through a prayer for a religion that only some of them adhere to. It only makes the ones who don't feel like outsiders, which I think is counter productive to the cohesiveness Girl Scouts promotes.  Peter, of course, didn't want me to say anything until I asked him this:

"Imagine a Christian girl going to a non-religious school where half the kids are Religion X (hindu/Buddhist/ muslim/ jewish/ etc). Now imagine a school group of them sitting down for snack and having them all say a Religion X prayer and the Christian kid having to sit through it. Do you think the Christian community would stand for that?"

To which he, who grew up in that culture, emphatically agreed that no, that would never be stood for and in fact there would be a huge amount of out-cry about it. But here were are with MY daughter having to sit through, feeling like an outsider, a prayer for a religion that we don't adhere to and that is not a fundamental tenant of the group she is a part of. I don't think that is fair or right. But what to do about it?

This brings me to the complexities of the situation. Our leader is fighting her second battle with cancer and I don't want to add to her plate. It was a meeting unlike any others they have had so maybe it was a one-time thing. I'm not willing to go through the training and step up to be a Girl Scout leader so to a certain extent I feel like I need to go with the flow. Overall, it was a learning experience for Miss E and we have decided to wait and see if it happens again and then talk to the leader. I think I'm going to try and go to the next meeting as well so if I have to say something it will be first-hand information. But my goodness, we moved here to get away from this kind of crap and I'm kind of annoyed that I have to deal with it at all.


*I'm not sure I even need to put this but I want to re-iterate that I am not anti-religious. We have our own strong and educated beliefs about the world but I wouldn't dream of saying that someone else can't have theirs. I just want our schools and school groups to be ideology free so ALL children may be included, regardless of family situation. 


*Also, I took pictures of chickens today. It was kind of a debacle. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Questions

I need a Q&A parenting manual. Seriously. One for older kids because I have more questions now than ever before.

What do you do when your have an extreamly picky eater (no vegetables whatsoever)? When do you step in on sibling arguments? What is the line between teaching that hitting is not OK, but at the same time it's OK to defend yourself? What about when you find out a prayer was said at your daughter's girl scout meeting and you're not religious? How do you deal with sass and attitude in a way that conveys that you deserve respect but doesn't squash every budding sense of independence they are feeling?  How much do you force reading practice on a kid who doesn't LOVE it but needs it? Where is the line about what music is too grown up for a 7 year old? Same question for books. When should you start giving allowance? Talking about sex and romantic relationships? If your 1st grader says they have a crush on someone do you address it or brush it off? What exactly does that mean anyway? How much is too much activity (scheduling)? How much is too much down time?


This is the reason why my mom used to always tell us that the hardest (and best) job she ever had was to be a parent. We used to groan at that answer because how difficult was it to cook dinner for us? But now, as a grown 30 something year old lady, with a 7 year old and an ALMOST 6 year old, I get it. Because who the heck has the answers to all those questions?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Homework Help



I haven't been writing much because we've been super busy.

No, I haven't been writing much because I haven't made time for it.

Most days are filled with working at the kids school, work at the office and then, when I'm home, there is always laundry and cooking and dishes to do and floors that need cleaning and weeds to be pulled. Every time I sit at my desk there is a pile of papers next to me with bills and forms and information sheets to all be read and gone through and dealt with.  Not to mention the children who kind of like it if I read a book to them once in awhile and hang out in their rooms. On top of that, all three of my family seem to be needing a little extra time and attention from me. That is a good thing as I feel like all four of us are functioning better, the kids are arguing less, Peter and I are arguing less and it all takes time. Truth be told, if I had to allot out my time according to my whims it would go like this: family, my projects/interests, cooking, making our house nice, work. However, since I don't get paid for any of the first three here is the way it actually goes: family, family management (schedule, errands, etc.), (trying to) make our house nice (i.e. cleaning), work, cooking, and my projects and interests. Sigh.

The best part is I know this is just the season of life we are in. It won't last forever, someday I will have lots of time to write and take pictures and travel but not right now. And that's OK, because what i have right now is great. Someday I won't need to read aloud endlessly or go "buy" books from Mr. T's book sale or help with kindergarten projects, or get my kids drinks of water whenever they need it (come to think of it, that should be something they can do themselves....).

For now though, we have this. Homework in the sun, strawberry frapuccino at her side, and a mom she wants to ask for homework help from even though she doesn't need it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Beach Bed


First day of our annual ladies beach trip and we're staying in my favorite beach house ever. For the next two mornings, I will be waking up to this view. Ahhh.........

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rhododendron Garden



I'm madly packing to leave tomorrow for a ladies trip to the beach but thought I would put something up in the meantime. Things have been wonderful lately, not perfect, but wonderful.

This morning I went on the kindergarten field trip to the Rhododendron garden and it went very well. No migraines, minimal telling the kids to "quit it" and the one I was telling it to the entire time was the same guy the teacher is telling that to all the time. We ran around, fed ducks, took pictures and I briefly looked at the flowers as I was racing past them trying to keep up with three 5 year old boys.

I still am not fond of field trips and probably won't go on many in the future, but it felt a little redeeming to get off the bus today happy and migraine - free.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Miss E's Sleeping Buddy


Every night before I go to bed, I go check on each kid - you know, to make sure they're still breathing. It has become a habit and I've never skipped doing it any night I'm at home. I'm not sure I'll ever stop. Maybe when they're at college, I'll be sneaking into their dorm rooms to check and make sure they are still breathing. Or maybe they'll have long-range video monitors by then. Not that that's weird or anything. I'm also not sure WHY I think that me checking on them will make sure they keep breathing all night or WHY I think that my perfectly healthy 5 or 7 year old might stop breathing in the middle of the night, but my only defense is that there is very little rationality involved in a mother's love.

Anyway.... more often than not these evenings, when I check on Miss E, this is what I find. Her fast asleep and an indignant cat face looking at me like "you can't possibly be thinking of moving me?". And then I move him off and he give me haughty looks and slowly stretches his stiff limbs and flips his tail up at me and moves out of the room. I tell you, cats can give disdain like no other creature.