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


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.