Sunday, August 24, 2008

Second Familyversary

I was so busy feeling sorry for myself and overwhelmed by work, that I didn't even realize our Familyversary had come and gone and I hadn't mentioned it on the blog! As I explained last year, we don't really make a big deal of "Gotcha Day" (which is the anniversary of when we became a family, hence familyversary). There are so many days to celebrate-- like adoption day or birthday, that I just can't track one more. And truth be told, I didn't acknowledge Marcie's official adoption day this summer, either. Am I a great mom, or what?

I'd like to think it's because our kids are so well integrated into our family that we don't need to acknowledge when they were officially added. But that would be a pretty uppity and not entirely honest belief. Not that I think our kids need to be better integrated-- I mean, I've never had any other kind of family (except when I was a kid), but I just am not always super conscious of how our kids came to be our kids. I mean, it's always there at the back of my head, but the details of it just aren't always at the forefront of my mind.

Plus, in my defense, this was a pretty emotional week for me. And I know I wasn't alone. If you wander over to South Cackalackin', you'll see she was recently similarly struggling.

But despite my lack of recognition of the big day, we did do something special. We went to Corvette Diner, a local 50s joint, where Casey bravely joined a huge circle of complete strangers by himself and danced the Chicken while Marcie and I watched. It also marked the first time Marcie chewed gum without swallowing it. I can't believe she can do that at only 2 1/2 years old. Or maybe my expectations are too low. Who knows. Of course, we weren't at Corvette's to celebrate our Familyversary any more than we do any other time we're out enjoying one another's company. But it was fun all the same.

So to those of you who were more on top of things than I, Happy Familyversary. I can hardly believe it's already been two years since we traveled to China to find our Marcie. I am obviously one of the luckiest people in the world. . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Struggling- Ramblings of "Working" Mom

First, the good.
Casey love, love, loves kindergarten. He asks to do homework each night (even though no actual homework has been sent home, I've managed to make up a couple assignments). He learned how to spell the color red (thanks to a song he learned at school-- and now Marcie can spell it, too). He is also studying numbers and shapes, and he has made one new friend-- whose name he can't seem to remember, but it's a girl. And he told me last night that he knows two Spencers now- spencer that's a train (from Thomas) and Spencer in his class. I managed to get him to ESS, Marcie to preschool and still arrive at work by 8:00 a.m. twice this week. So we're making progress.

Marcie, too, has had a good week. Because we've shifted drop off time to about an hour earlier (and pick up time is now an hour and a half to two hours earlier) to accommodate the kindergarten schedule (Jason's going into work about an hour to an hour and a half earlier than he had been), Marcie's been getting all sorts of special attention. She pretends to be mad at me so that the teacher there in the morning will hold her and carry her. She doesn't cry. She even gives me a sort of eye-nod/head roll as I leave. And she's a super smarty pants. She is a sponge. And she is a chatterbox. I sometimes forget she's only 2 1/2.

Even Jason had some good fortune this week. His iphone jammed up. And you can't buy insurance for the iphone. But it turned out it was still under warranty. He brought it in to the Apple store yesterday and presto change-o-- replacement iphone. To his credit, he's been waking up insanely early and handling the kids at the end of a long day. He's been making dinner, bathing the kids-- really, it's like I'm still in law school, but I'm not.

And that takes us to me. This week has been . . . for lack of a better word, hard. I am swamped at work. (In fact, I'll work through this weekend and keep my fingers crossed that I'll stay on top of things, then probably run out of work halfway through next week-- it's so crazy how legal work ebbs and flows and blows up all at once.) And my absence from home has been exacerbated by our change in routine. Not because I can't handle a change in routine (I mean, I like routine as much as the next guy, but I can be flexible, too). But I think because of the reason for the routine.

I wrote earlier that I didn't cry when Casey went off to kindergarten. And that's true. I was able to swallow down the tears. But then I started thinking about where I thought my life would be when my oldest child entered kindergarten-- and this was not the future I imagined. I imagined, instead, a world where I would be able to volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis. Where I would be there to greet Casey as he exited his campus-- and I would be there to chauffeur him to music or faith formation or soccer or whatever. I envisioned participating in PTA and getting regular exercise. I envisioned lounging in front of the TV, or with a book, for an hour or so each night after the kids went to bed.

Of course those were ridiculous. Not because they're bad or wrong images, but they just don't fit me. Even if were still teaching, I could never have taken off time to volunteer in the classroom. And even if I worked part time, teaching was definitely not the kind of job that you left at the work place. And I wouldn't have wanted to not work. I mean, that's just absolutely not my personality.

But I thought it would get better. This feeling of constantly wishing I were wherever I am not. Because when I'm not with my kids, even though I know how well cared for they are, I wish I was. I wonder what I'm missing out on. I feel disconnected. And when I'm with my kids, I feel antsy and underchallenged. I can't stand the incessant whining and constant bickering. I don't like to cook and to clean. It's just not interesting to me. So what does this all mean? I don't know. But I thought that it would go away with time, and it just gets harder.

And so this week has been hard. I've felt proud of Casey and of how prepared he was to start kindergarten. I've felt anxious for him to make new friends and for Marcie to forge her own place on the preschool playground. I've felt overwhelmed by the body of work I have to complete on the job. I've felt sad that I may miss out on some of the very parenting things I didn't even realize I was looking forward to. I'm all over the place. And I know it's because our lives have changed, however slightly.

Apparently I like routine more than I willingly admit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Family Photos

We jaunted off to San Francisco this past weekend for a wedding and to visit with my older brother and my sister. My brother and his family opened their home to us, which was fantastic. My brother even sent me back to bed both mornings so I could sleep in while he watched the kids. Did I mention it was fantastic?

I have more pictures to show, more stories to tell, but for now, here are a couple recent family photos.

Us on a cable car. Can you tell Casey is tired? Did I mention how cold it was?

Our five year old nephew/cousin Vince captured us in this photo. Even though you can tell Marcie's being a bit temperamental, you can still see the smile. Aren't we cute?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kindergarten King (Updated with Photos)

Out front, all dressed for the first day of school. Complete with brand new "Transformers" backpack.

So he's there. Right now. At kindergarten. And we both did fine. No tears or anything. In fact, at one point this morning, he actually gave me a huge grin and a thumbs up-- wish I'd had my camera poised to snap that photo.

I think I'm still a little stunned that Casey started kindergarten today. I mean, of course I knew it was coming. And he's definitely ready. But the kids at elementary school all just seem so . . . old. And tall. Really tall. And white. I don't have anything against white people, of course-- seeing as how I'm white, I suppose that's a good thing. But what struck me about his class is how white it is. There is one little girl who is Indian. And a child who may be Persian. And Casey, of course. And that's it. Three out of twenty. And I suppose I could be wrong-- but today was parent orientation and all the parents were there with their kids, so I don't think I am. Why does it matter? Oh I suppose it doesn't, really. I was just struck by it. When we selected our preschool, it was one of the things we considered-- so our kids would feel readily included, I guess.

Anyway, Casey was up at 5:30 this morning, ready to get ready. I was also up at 5:30 this morning. Working. He seemed much more calm by the time we got to school. And two of the kids in his class are from his preschool, so that was a plus. When we arrived, the teacher gave us a "scavenger hunt," which was a list of activities to do together. First we found the "I Can Write My Name" chart, where Casey wrote his name. Then we found the sink where he washed his hands, and the trashcan, where he tossed the paper towel. Next we went to the I Spy board, where Casey located three items and met a boy named Jason. Then Casey found some scissors and cut along a dotted line for practice. And finally we sat down and read "Yo! Yes!" together on the carpet.

When class started, his teacher had the children select a letter to sit on based on their group's color. Casey is in the blue group, which sits in the second row. She taught the kids a welcome/ good morning song, then they had to sit "criss cross apple sauce" for Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. Casey was a little wiggly, but not too bad. And I don't blame him. I can't even sit cross-legged for five minutes, let alone a whole story. Then the teacher gave us parents a bunch of information. The kids did some stretching, and then she read The Kissing Hand. One by one, each child came to us and we exchanged "kissing hands." With my kiss on Casey's hand, the idea is that he can hold it to his face any time he wants, and my kiss will be right there, holding him. After that, we said our good byes.

As you can see from these pictures, Casey had no trouble being his usual, playful self.

Tuesdays are half days, so I'll be going back around noon to pick him up and walk him over to his new after school care program (ESS).

And that's it.

Here he is, walking out of school. He didn't come running into my arms, as I envisioned he would. I was, of course, the only parent in the hallway. Not because I was trying to break the rules, but because I was trying to figure out the logistics of the after-school care program. Casey was irritated I wasn't taking him with me. But he seemed fine by the time Jason picked him up later.

The rest of the evening was as you might expect. Not filled with laughter of a kindergartner recounting all the fun he had at school. Because, of course, he's just not that articulate. Instead, he whined all through dinner, requested seconds, and then threw a fit because there was no ice cream. By 7:30 p.m. I was ready for bed. So to bed we all went. I'm not sure how long it took Casey to fall asleep because I laid down with him for just a minute and woke up two hours later.

It's easy to forget how exhausting emotional days can be.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Optimus Prime

Last week I went out of town for a couple nights for business.

While I was away, Casey went to swim lessons. Twice.

It's not that he wasn't going to swim lessons before. He was. It was just that ever since he began working himself into a literal fever at the thought of swim lessons, he was attending Marcie's parent-child class instead of his own class. Luckily, the coach Mercedes was really good about letting Jason take Marcie and taking Casey with her. And then all of a sudden on Tuesday Casey said he was ready to go to his own class. And did. And repeated it on Thursday.

I think it must help that he has a new teacher (not the one of the younger kids' class, which I think is part of the reason he didn't like swim lessons).

Anyway, Jason and I promised that if he learned to swim this summer, we would buy him Optimus Prime, this giant talking transformer who says wily things like, "My name is Optimus Prime." (Wonder who thought that one up.)

It cost us a small fortune. When did kids' toys creep up in price to $50 a pop?

Then today Casey found a toy car and he wanted a race track to run it on. We told him no, of course. He said he wanted it instead of Optimus Prime (even though he's been coveting the Transformer for months). We still said no. He screamed. He stomped. And still, we said no.

Finally he said he didn't want Optimus Prime anymore. I told him that was fine-- that we'd just throw him away or give it to a child who really wanted it. And Casey could just go without. But he still was not getting a race track. Period.

It took him a couple hours to work through his anger and his sadness. And finally he came back to me and said, "Mommy, I think I just changed my mind. You don't have to give Optimus Prime away. I'll just play with him."

Like he was doing me some big favor.

Five year olds. They're like miniature teenagers.

Magic Nine

Thursday was our ninth anniversary.

In many ways, the years have flown by. I can hardly believe we have been married for nine whole years. It sounds so long.

On the other hand, I don't even really remember my life before marriage. Or kids. I have no idea how I filled the hours. And the thing is, I don't really care, either.

Because this is exactly where I want to be.
With kids.

And feeling like the luckiest woman in the world-- to be married to the man I love, to a man who supports me and my interests, to a man who is honest and tender. Jason is a steal.