Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oven Shopping

A blurry picture of my honey.

These last weeks of school are unbearably busy. June always is for us by the time you throw three birthdays and father's day into the mix. I just forget it every single year until it gets here again. Kind of like December. Somehow I never remember how busy December is until it happens. Anyway.

Peter has been out of town, my work has been busy, I've been helping my mom out a lot and the kids have events/things to turn in every single day. In the midst of all this our oven died. Since we have no microwave (really) and no toaster oven and the BBQ drip pan just HAPPENED to rust through this winter, it essentially means we have no way to cook or even heat food. Since our family is unlikely to become raw foodist (sprouted lentils aren't really my style), it's a problem. Today, after field day and Doughnuts for Dads and before pick up and my meeting with the TAG coordinator and Taekwondo and the cooking class I'm taking tonight, we carved out a few hours to shop for a new oven.

I was incredibly cranky and could tell I was stressed because the sales people were EXTRA annoying. I'm not really the sort of person that gets irritated with sales people. By the time one of them pointedly asked me if I needed help while I was in the middle of a phone conversation with my mom, and the teenage boy in hipster jeans tried to sell us the most expensive one there because it has a few more inches of oven room, I was kind of done. Fortunately we hit Starbucks for an iced latte and some research and re-energized. Then we found a floor model! on sale! that would work and ironically, after being nothing but swarmed and pestered by salespeople, we had to go looking for one to actually purchase the the oven. It's not being delivered until the 11th but I don't care. It was cheap, decent and I don't have to worry about it anymore other than figuring out dinner for the next few nights.

Whew. One thing off my plate.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Swinging in the Tree

Someone really is missing her brother. He's been gone for four days now (fishing with Daddy) and it's just not the same without him. She has, however, been spending a lot of time climbing the trees and searching for bugs to put in her bug house.

Also, in other news, our oven exploded. Last night - it looked like firecrackers went off in it. Because of the nature of Peter's job, I am pretty good at handling things on the homefront when they come up. A firefighter just isn't going to be able to come home because a sink is clogged. It's just a fact of life. However, I don't deal with electricity or things that might explode, so I called in the repair guy on this one. Tonight I had the pleasure of paying $70 to hear that my oven is dead and we need a new one. Super fun.

What I have been enjoying, is my four days with this little lady. She and I, the two of us, we are quiet. We like to read and not talk incessantly and do our own thing. Sometimes when everyone is here it feels like we don't make those little spaces in the day to connect with each other as we have over the last four days. It's been so very very nice and I am reminded once again (over and over) what a lovely daughter I have in her. She's such a blessing and joy in my life to shepherd through childhood. When she is grown, and I don't have to do the full-on mom thing anymore, she is going to be a great friend and joy in that way. I could not be luckier.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sleep Over

The boys are off fishing for four days, so E and I are on our own. Tonight she is having her friend over for a sleepover - the first one at our house. They spent the late afternoon in the yard climbing trees and gathering bugs - because they are kindred spirits in that way. It's so sweet to watch a good friendship develop and deepen for your kids. Just very rewarding all around.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Holding my Kid back

No school  today - teacher's are grading.  I took the opportunity to meet with Miss E's teacher this morning to discuss moving her forward in math. And my concerns about it. And the questions, oh the questions.

We talked through all the choices, all the way up through college and scholarship offers. At the end I felt pretty good about our choice. And that choice is to not advance her. Yes, I'm the parent fighting the school to hold my kid back.

What did it for me was talking about the next few years. Our school does blended classrooms so next year would be no probem. She'll be in a 3/4 class, all the kids have math at the same time and she'll just go with the 4th graders. Easy. She can handle the work and the schedule is fine. But the following year, when she is in 4th, she'll have to leave her classroom to go to 5th grade math which may not be at the same time. As in, she will be the only kid leaving her class and missing out on something EVERY DAY and finding another activity to do while the other kids in her class do math. Ehh.... not feeling great about that. Here's the kicker - in 5th grade, she'll have to take a bus to the middle school for math. Because there is only one other kid in her grade who is skipping a year up, they aren't going to make an advance math class for just 2 kids. Even if a few more advance up in the next few years it won't be enough for a class and I really don't want her riding a bus everyday up to the middle school to take math.

On top of all this is my understanding of her. Math is not her love (you know those kids that see everything in numbers and have memorized the first 20 digits of pi? Yeah, that's not her). What I want her to work on in elementary school is confidence and managing anxiety and dealing with social stuff and friends. Once she has that base I want her to get to middle school and high school and jump confidently with both feet into advanced classes and immerse herself in AP English and Calculous and all the other stuff that I KNOW she will be able to do if we don't apply too much pressure when she's little. Her teacher, while she was willing to talk through the pros of each side with me, ended up agreeing (so thankful again for the amazing teachers that we have!).

As confident as I am in our decision though, it feels a little odd to be declining moving her forward. I know math is too easy for her (and will continue to be) and our school does not offer the TAG program or advancement in grade lightly. I am thankful and also a little dreading the e-mail I need to send declining to move her forward. Hopefully, it's the right decision.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Soft Glow of the Ipad

The ipad has all the fun games on it - the games I don't want them sitting around for hours and hours playing. So they have to ask. And share. Mr. T got his turn for a bit today. I love how he's sitting on the couch pillow. Not next to it or leaning on it but right on top of it, as if it's a seat cushion. Also, fishing shirt.

Monday, May 27, 2013

All Day, Every Day

This boy loves to play and he loves his toys. He makes ships and stations and uses different guys. The bat cave is currently filled with Lego ships of his own creation as is the Green Lantern base. All on top of our entertainment center. I love it.

Smarty Pants

This lady. What a surprise I have in her.

A little background: At our school, the kids all take a grade-level end of the year math test. If they score higher than 80% on that test, they take the next grade up end of the year math test, if they get more than 80% on that, then they take the next one. And so on.

Last week both the kids came home saying they passed their math tests and got to take the next one up (Mr. T 2nd grade and Miss E 3rd). It's a total no-pressure situation, the kids are told to put smiley faces on the ones they don't know and the expectations are low. I mean, it's a math test for kids who have taken an entire year of math that they haven't yet. Math is also one of those things you can't fake. If you haven't been taught how to do fractions or what type of triangles are what then there's really not way you can just figure it out on your own. I kind of figured it was a nice pat on the back for each of them that they even got to take the higher test and left it at that.

Miss E came home a few days later and told me she took the 4th grade math test that day. She's in 2nd. OK, I thought, that's strange but whatever. We aren't really interested in skipping her ahead. But then I got the e-mail that she had got over 80% on her 3rd grade test and they were placing her in 4th grade math next year and did I have any questions?

Ummm....yes? Oh boy. I'm in a bit of a pickle about this. I don't want her to skip ahead for a few reasons - a lot of reasons actually. Reasons like, I'm not sure she really knows the materials and isn't just a good test taker. I think 3rd grade is a huge increase in homework and I don't want to add extra pressure. I don't know where she goes in 5th grade for math (the last year of elementary) - does she bus to the middle school because I'm not really sure I want that either.  For all these reasons and more I didn't tell Miss E about her placement and tried to schedule a meeting with the teacher.

But then. Oh but then. She came home today all pink cheeked and proud and said that all the kids in 1/2 knew that she got to take the 4th grade test and were asking her about it and her math teacher told the class that she passed and if it was OK with her parents she got to skip 3rd grade math and go into 4th grade. And my kid who can be anxious and shy was so dang proud of herself and the attention and of being a little mini-celebrity for a day that I just didn't have it in my heart to tell her the reservations I was having.

I will meet with the teacher and we will probably go along with the school. This summer I will set aside time to make sure she really knows what she needs to know and we will go from here. I've been saying it every single year of her life: this is the kid that I am always trying to keep up with. She is the very best kind of first kid to have - someone who stretches me and challenges me and really makes me think and pay attention. Every step of her life I picture her up ahead, looking back at me and calling"try to keep up mommy, try to keep up".

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Starting Up Again

Sunday of Memorial day. Instead of doing our full trip to all the family cemeteries we only made it to my Grandparents, the one in town. It means a lot though, to stop there every year, put some garden-picked flowers in a vase and see their names etched on the nook. We had my sister and all the kids and my parents and even though it was different than last year, and much shorter, it felt a bit the same. And kind of like a little bit of normalcy was creeping back into our lives.

I've been thinking a lot about starting this little blog up again and maybe, just MAYBE, even doing another 365. Writing is so therapeutic for me and this blog ends up being kind of like a journal. A place to get it all out and work through things going on in my life. Of course, it's public. So that's kind of like leaving your diary around for everyone to read. Which is awkward. Really really awkward. I like to think though, that I have a pretty good sense of boundaries and privacy and I do so love the interaction you get with folks over the internets. We are all fighting our battles and winning our wars and while you can't walk by strangers on the street and know their fights, you can peruse the blogs and get a great sense of sisterhood. It means a lot to me.

My hesitations are a few though.

1) Most of my pictures these day are on instagram. Which is good, kind of, not really. It's easier to capture our day to day life there and I do LOVE Instagram but the quality is crappy and certainly not something I want in life-journal or photo album. Also, I think my fancy camera lens has something wrong with it. However, I do want to get back to using the good camera more and need some motivation to drag it down to the dudes at the camera shop.

2) I'm sure no one reads this anymore (not that a lot of people did in the beginning) but really, that's OK. If I start again it's more for me than anyone else.

3) (and this is the biggie...) this year has been (for lack of a better term...) a struggle so far. Two years ago I went to Spain, our family went to Disneyland, my daughter learned to read, my son discovered Lego's and life was good. I mean really really good. Sure there were ups and downs, but overall, things were great. This year, well, it's kind of pulled the rug out from under me. We're all fine but things around me are hard. Things for my family are hard. We are all fighting our own struggles and some of it I just won't be able to write about because of privacy and I don't really want my blog to be all complain, complain, vague blog, more vague blogging, sucky, sucky.

I think I'm going to try though because I know in the future, sitting in the old folks home, I will love to look back at my pictures and see my life laid out before me. It will be a great gift to my children to someday, when they are adults, read my words and know that even when thing were not good, our house was filled with love and my heart always always always holds them in it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Taking the kids to a play

Took Miss E, Mr. T and my niece to a play today. I feel like we've turned a corner in age here because it was not a stressful, frustrating experience to take all three of them to a play downtown by myself. In fact, it was quite lovely.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Taking Suzy to the Vet

We spend the morning running errands for and with my mom. Dropping the cat off at the vet, taking plastic to the recycling center, lunch at Chipotle, cards at Walgreens. After we left her at home for a nap, I rewarded the kids (most excellent) behavior with a few VooDoo doughnuts. They are such good little helper bunnies.