Monday, August 18, 2014

First days

We had two big milestones in the past week with the girls. Last week, Emery started first grade, her first year going all-day to one school.

I was a little concerned about how she would do socially. Most of her good friends are in a different classroom but it sounds like they get to meet up on the playground at recess. So far she seems to like it.

We also were worried because on the afternoon of "meet the teacher" we found out there were 27 kids in her classroom. 27. It sounds like at least one or two kids didn't show, but it's still A LOT of kids.

The good news: She loves eating lunch at school - and loves that I pack her a peppermint patty and a note written on her napkin every day. (After the first day she told me, "I liked my note. Can you do that everyday?" Sure thing, kiddo.) She's very excited for Teddy Bear day and her Peace assembly where her class will sing a special song.

While she is certainly growing up, she still lets me hold her hand when I walk her up to the building. It would be faster to get in the drop-off lane and have her jump out of the car but I love that she still wants to hold my hand (and I will hurt anyone who tells her it's not cool.)

And Maddie started pre-K today. The principal is having Maddie skip preschool/intermediate and put her right into pre-K. They said she's ready for more advanced work and gets along with the older kids (I'm guessing her size has something to do with it too.) She still won't be eligible for kindergarten for two years.

Maddie still struggles with drop-off and usually cries when I leave despite every pep talk I give her. But today she pouted a little, asked for her blanket and went to have a muffin with her new classmates. I'm planning to show up at snack time every morning because that could grease the wheels to a smoother drop-off. That kid loves her some snacks.

I often have to remind myself that Maddie is only 3. Luke and I joke that she spent her first year of life quietly scoping us all out, figuring out our weaknesses and then has been trying to take us down ever since then. She seems much older than a kid starting pre-K

For a comparison, let's take a look at my nuggets on their first days of preschool. Emery on the left, looking wee (with her sister photobombing her.) And Maddie on the right, looking impossibly tall and grown.
It's strange for me to think of these two in school. What's even stranger is the thought that Emery is 1/3 of the way to 18. She still feels like my baby and yet, here we are.

The days that Maddie asks the same question a frillion times or when Emery whines about not getting her way seem so long and it feels like it will always be that way. But then I look at these pictures and realize they will be grown before I know it. Sure it is cliche but damn is it true.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our tooth fairy is negligent

I walked into the house from work one night last week and everyone froze, looking at me expentently.

Maddie started to tell me something but the husband shushed her.

And then I was greeted by this face:

That's Emery after her first tooth finally came out. She excitedly told me that after biting into one her uncle's fries, her mouth became bloody and then she showed the husband who promptly plucked the tooth from her mouth and thus she lost her first tooth. She said it didn't hurt at all (which is saying something considering the kid cries like she broke a bone when she sees a pinprick of blood. She's my delicate flower.)

Once my excitement over her first lost tooth subsided, I realized that the tooth fairy was NOT prepared. Emery had said for awhile that she hoped the tooth fairy would bring her a golden $1 coin, and yet there we were with none. Awesome.

So, here's where I get creative (read: go ahead and judge me). The husband took the girls for a walk and I opened their piggy banks to find a golden $1 coin.

Yeah, I did that.

Listen. My life has been hectic lately in ways that I haven't really shared. Everything is Fine but we've been preoccupied with life. It's an excuse, I know, but it's our reality.

So I snagged a $1 coin from a piggy bank (and I will replace that $1 some point) added four $1 bills (from my husband's wallet), wrote a note from the tooth fairy and called it day. She was over the moon with excitement in the morning to see her coin, bills and note.

It wasn't my proudest parenting moment but you know, sometimes parenting means doing the best that you can.

So 'fess up. Tell me something you've done as a parent that wouldn't make a best parenting list.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Things I want to remember

The boys and I had a really lovely time at the Copsey Compound a few weeks ago. Meeting my sister's latest and last baby, Dell, was the reason for our visit, but we packed much more than that in. My mom and grandma went out of their way to have a bunch of my cousins and other relatives over, and my sister had the bright idea of taking the big kids (her oldest two and my boys) to the Great Lake Science Center in Cleveland. It was the kind of visit that made me wish we lived closer to home and, for the first time, I wasn't the only one who got teary when we left. My poor Boy really did not want to leave and has talked often since then about being homesick for Grammy, Papaw and his cousins.

Things I want to remember from the trip:

The rule is the boys can ride the mini-dirt bikes Dad has for them only if they are 6 and can ride a regular bike without training wheels. This is the first trip The Boy has met both criteria. Dad outfitted him with a chest protector and helmet, and at this point, I walked away. I knew Dad could take care of him, and I didn't want my anxiety over the dirt bike to affect The Boy. I went to watch on the porch with my grandma. Sure enough, on the very first turn, The Boy went flying over the handlebars. But he was fine, got up and dusted himself off, and climbed right back on the bike after a few words of advice from Dad. He had more crashes, but none major and by the end of the day was flying across the yard pretty good.

That night, I stripped him off for a shower and found bruises all over him -- chest, ribs, knees, elbows.

"Wow, kiddo, that bike beat you up pretty bad," I said.

"Yeah," he grinned, obviously proud of himself. "And one time, my foot hurt from when I crashed and the bike landed on me. I tried to pick it up, but it was too heavy -- and the motor is HOT! -- so I had to just lay there 'til Uncle Ben came and got the bike off me."

I didn't see that crash, and I'm thankful I didn't.

Meanwhile, Beastie took a spin on a big dirt bike with Dad. I thought he was going to sprain a dimple  his smile was so big.


The day Mom and Grandma invited everyone over, afternoon rain showers crashed the party. We all huddled up on Grandma's porch, but the big boys were undeterred. They chased and splashed each other in the rain, collecting water in red Solo cups from the dripping porch eaves and mud puddles in the driveway. They were soaked to the bone and had dirt in their nostrils, ears and eyelashes.

"Grammy needs a hug!" my dad said. And the boys piled on my mom, who took them all over to the house to get warmed up and cleaned off with a shower.

Later that night, the rain stopped and Dad built a fire. We all circled round it, and it felt camping trips when I was a kid. People were missing, but there were new babies there, and it felt good to see my kids and my sister's and cousins' kids all in one place.

The night ended with s'mores, so really, rain or not, it couldn't have been better.


It took all day and a whole lot of Smarties and other bribes, but finally my niece, Evie, decided I was OK. Baby Dell, on the other hand, liked me just fine, as he does most people. He's such a smiley, squishy thing. The second you look in his direction and talk, he tilts his head and smiles.


The big boys decided they had to have a sleepover at my sister's house, which was not something we had planned. Lexi and Ben are allowed it, though she was working late, and poor Ben packed all six kids into his van that night to deal with them alone until she got home. (Mike's commentary, when I told him: "Well, that takes balls.")

The boys behaved themselves though and got ready without trouble or whining the next morning, when we packed up to go to the science center. Lexi reported on the funniest part of the evening: She found all the boys in a bedroom, debating who had the meanest mom. (My boys said me; her boys said her. She and I told them we learned it all from Grammy.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What's going on

This kid is going into first grade next week. First Grade. Next Week. Here she is working on her summer math packet that we have to turn in the first day of school. When she was done, she said, "Maddie is the luckiest because she doesn't have to do any math."

We saw her classroom last night. It was nothing but books in the best possible way. Apparently her teacher is really into books and it made me so happy for her.

Emery's also about to lose her first tooth. It's super wiggly and if I thought I wouldn't throw up, I probably could pull it out but wiggly teeth make me feel faint.

She's also very into asking deep, theological questions. Here's the thing: we don't go to church. I was raised in the church but haven't been for awhile. It's something I would like to do but just haven't. So when Emery starts asking questions about who were the first people, how did they get here, who put the first animal in the world, why doesn't God have a wife, etc., I feel like it's about time we find a church - a nice inclusive, non-judgmental, kind, loving church. (Except when I asked Emery if she would like to start going to church and she found it happens on Sunday morning, she said no thanks. She's not a morning person.) In the meantime, I'm explaining Jesus and God as best as I can so that she can understand it, focusing on being kind to others.


We were out of town for a few days last week and went to an aquarium and amusement park/water park. The girls really seemed to enjoy it. Maddie (who will be 4 in December and is just shy of 42 inches) got to ride a "real" roller coaster with us. Her eyes teared up and she had a mixture of pure joy and terror on her face. I wish I could have taken a picture of it. I was worried it would be too much for her but she was laughing at the end.

Speaking of Maddie's height, while we were at Emery's school to see who her teacher is, we ran into one of Emery's friends. Maddie, who won't be in kindergarten for two years was as tall as, if not taller than, Emery's first-grade friend. The friend's mom couldn't believe Maddie was just starting preschool.

There is a reason her nickname is Maddie Long Legs.


And, well, I'll just leave this here.

Because this pretty much sums up my kids.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Water chestnuts and other things

My Twitter feed is a visual representation of the myriad things vying for attention in my mind at any given time. I don't have a separate work profile, so my feed is a mix of friends, coworkers, news sources and organizations I follow for work, news sources and organizations I follow because I want to, things I find funny, etc. This afternoon, there was a conversation going on debating the merits of water chestnuts while local news orgs (including my own) were issuing flood warnings; meanwhile, journalists were posting about the effect the Facebook fail the other day had on website traffic, a topic I was following closely along with several state and national news headlines as well as people's thoughts on the Myers-Briggs personality tests and their weekly meal plans.

I really like my life, but my mind can get a little buzzy.

For the record re: water chestnuts: I am pro. Mike is con. I like the crunch; he claims it is an unnatural crunch.


The lovely RA sent a box of children's chapter books and oh! my boys now have the full bookshelves of my childhood dreams. I've started reading The Indian in The Cupboard to them -- mostly to The Boy because Beastie still much prefer picture books -- and I'm remembering how much I loved Lynne Reid Banks when I was a kid. Did anyone else read The Fairy Rebel? I think it might be why I still hate wasps, and I know it was the reason I longed to have a blue streak in my hair as a teenager.


Someday, I swear, I'm going to write another post that isn't all bits of this and that. Tonight is not that night, though.


School starts in two weeks. Beastie will be an official pre-K program; The Boy will be in first grade. I don't have his teacher assignment yet, which is starting to annoy me, but I know he's ready to head back. I'm not, though. I haven't done any school supply or clothes shopping. The boys got new shoes from Grammy while we were in Ohio, and The Boy has some leftover uniforms from last year. I figure that's enough to get started, though I likely will brave the stores for supplies this weekend.


One of our baseball friends offered to pick up the boys early today from daycare to come play with her son. She originally asked just The Boy, but when Beastie wanted to come, too, she kindly said yes, and the older boys usually are really good about including him. When I went to pick them up, our friend greeted me with an offer of wine and a summary of their afternoon. The boys had behaved and had a great time, but gotten very wet, playing in the rain. "So," she said, "I gave them all a bath -- I thought, 'I hope Hillary doesn't mind!' -- and they're all dressed in white T-shirts and boxers. I washed their clothes, too."


Thursday, July 24, 2014


I am exhausted. I am having a bad hair day. These two things are not related, however, because I was having a bad hair day, I pulled all of it into a ponytail and now I have remembered why long hair feels incompatible with being a grown-ass woman to me. The combination of being exhausted and wearing a ponytail feels to me like I'm walking around just having given up. Like, why even try to do a good job because it is obvious to all who see me that I have given up on life?

Please note: This is not what I think of other women walking around in ponytails. You look cute! And even on myself, I know, logically, that the ponytail doesn't look bad.

I just FEEL disheveled. I feel like I've given up and should just crawl back into bad. Or maybe that's what I want to do. Whatever. I'm exhausted.  


This morning, Beastie crawled into bed with me to snuggle. (Mike was out running, of course.) After a few minutes, Beastie informed me that "Koala" (he's been pretending to be a koala a lot, "eating" the leaves on our rugs) really likes to have his back rubbed. Really, really. So I rubbed his back.

"Momma, I'm going to marry you," he whispered.

I explained that wasn't possible, though I loved him an awful lot. He thought.

"I guess I'll marry my college friend what is a girl."

That kid. He never forgets a story.


The boys and I are headed to Ohio tomorrow night for a long weekend to meet my nephew, Dell, who is at maximum newborn squishability. As an added bonus, my niece is hitting the 18-month mark and has enough hair to sport pigtails on a regular basis. I'm so excited to squish them both. The boys are excited to play with their older cousins and be spoiled by their grandparents.

"Spoiled means you love someone so much you give them lots of candy and junk food and other things what are good," Beastie explained the other night.

My sister plans to bring a tent over to my mom and dad's so, I hope, the boys can camp out. We're planning on pie-iron pizzas and s'mores. I want the boys to chase lightning bugs. We don't have them in Florida, and though they've seen them in Ohio before, the boys didn't remember what fireflies were. They both laughed when I explained they were bugs with butts that lit up.


The boys also are planning on tricking Papaw into saying "underwear."

(You know that old joke. "What's that under there?" "Under where?" "Ha! I made you say underwear!" They've been doing it to me nonstop and I let them. The Boy I asked me why the other day, and I explained I just love to hear them laugh.)


We've been watching Turn, an AMC show about spies in the Revolutionary War. It's good, not great, but solid. I'd recommend it.


I just read Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi and highly recommend it. It's a retelling -- a very loose one -- of Snow White and has lots to say about race and beauty and gender and family. I'm still thinking about it. And, too, it's definitely a "literary" read, but isn't overblown or overlong and felt really accessible. Best book I've read in months.


What's up with you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not cool, indeed

The boys were in rare form this morning -- not bad, just ornery. I couldn't fall back asleep after Mike went to run around 4 a.m., so I was sluggish. After breakfast, Mike and I had to practically herd them into the bedroom to get dressed. Beastie finished first and I had to point him in the direction of his bedroom at least half a dozen times, which is why neither of us immediately responded when he bellowed.

"MOMMA! DADDY! You have GOT to see this."



"Get dressed, Beastie!"

"Something happened."

"Get dressed."

"MOMMA! You HAVE TO SEE this. It's like my sleeping pants exploded."

I will admit a certain curiosity at this point, however, Beastie has a habit of shooting his pull-ups into the trash like a basketball. "He just tosses them around," I told Mike.

To Beastie: "I'm not looking at anything until you get dressed."

"This is not cool."

This is when I knew something truly not good had happened. Beastie loves mischief. For something to be "not cool" it would have to be really awful. I went to the bedroom.

The sleeping pants had, indeed, exploded. If you've never seen the inside of a used diaper, it's kind of like little crystals of pee. There were clumps on his blanket, scattered across the carpet and stuck to the dresser and walls.

"You were twirling them around your head weren't you?"

Beastie, still naked, nodded and buried his head in my thigh. "I'm sorry, Momma."

And that is how I found myself cleaning up crystalized diaper pee with the help of a naked Beastie at 7 a.m. while my coffee grew cold. It was not cool.