Thursday, May 21, 2009

Open Houses

Ok. First, there was the whining. Mine.
The preschool open house was at 5:00 p.m.
The school doesn't even close until 6:00 p.m. And it's kind of a daycare slash preschool. So I was surprised. After all, they rely, at least a little bit, on us paying for full time care to keep the place open and running. And 5:00 p.m., really?

So I had to leave work at 4:00 p.m., to make sure I'd get out of the office by 4:15. And I did.
I raced to Casey's school to pick him up. We flew over to the preschool, where we met Marcie, playing on the playground with all the other bazillions of kids whose parents also don't show up before 5:00 p.m. She was happy to see us. We cut on lines, played with a puzzle, did a lace-up activity, and then the class danced. Well, most of the class. Not Marcie. Because she's not into actually participating in group activities when "outside" adults (including me) are watching. So I watched the other kids dance, while Marcie stood in her spot in the circle. It's not a big deal. I mean, the important thing is that she does what she's supposed to do during the school day. But still. It's irritating. Or maybe it's a little endearing. Honestly, I'm tired and I can't decide.

Then, in a moment of horrible parenting, I took the kids to (gasp!) McDonald's. It's a pretty rare occurrence. I think I might be able to actually name all the times I've ever taken the kids there. Even just for ice cream. But we were in a hurry. So to McDonald's we went.

Where Casey whined because he wanted two cookies for dessert. Puh-lease. Isn't McDonalds kind of like having greasy dessert for dinner, anyway?

At Casey's school, Marcie announced she had to use the bathroom. Which was, of course, locked. Fortunately, Casey could show us where the kindergarten bathroom was, in one of the other teacher's rooms. It smelled of urine. Probably all over the floor. I guess that's not a huge surprise since it's a kindergarten bathroom. But it was still gross.

Casey was thrilled to show off all his school work-- and with good reason. The thing about kindergarten is that the kids can't help but improve over the course of the year. Sure, Casey isn't the most advanced kid in his class. But that doesn't matter. He's learning. And he likes school. And that's what matters.

That's one of the strange things about open houses-- you can see what everyone else's kid is doing to. So it's hard not to compare-- or at least to wonder-- how your kid stacks up. I'm actually pretty good about not doing that. Like I said, my primary concern is Casey.

But then a mom mentioned that she'd like to have Casey over for a play date one of these Saturdays, now that t-ball is over. Casey didn't play t-ball. Partly because somehow we weren't even aware sign-ups were going on. But more honestly because we couldn't figure out how we'd get him to practice during the weeks. And this is our problem now, too, with soccer. How does he play community soccer if we can't get him to practices? How do we get to practices when we both work at least 30 minutes from home (did I mention Jason started a fabulous new job this week, the only down side being the commute?)?

I seriously don't think a month goes by that I don't sigh and think to myself that I wished one of us could be home to take care of these things. And picking up. And taking out the trash. And doing dishes and folding laundry. And mowing the lawn. And weeding. Seriously, how do people do it all? I can hardly find time to do any of it. It's a miracle I have clean underwear every week. (It's all about prioritizing, I suppose.)

And so now I've turned my kids' open houses, celebrations of their academic and social accomplishments, into a pity party- a guilt festival. That's so sad. Parenting at its best (and by best I mean worst). Some day. Some day we will get it all worked out. Some day one of us will be home after school. We will be poor. But our kids will have enriching, meaningful relationships with us because of it. And that's worth more than money can buy.

Some day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mommy, My ______ Hurts

No, I don't mean to tease you with a fun fill-in-the-blank activity.
And let's face it, we could find some pretty funny (or gross) words to fill in that blank.
And if we're honest, I've probably heard just about all of them, and my oldest child is only 6.

But this is a post devoted entirely to my Marcie.
She sort of gets short shrift on this blog, I think. Other than her initial arrival, it feels to me like I spend a lot more time obsessing about Casey than Marcie. But I digress.
Back to Marcie.

Marcie is pretty smart. Especially when it comes to manipulating situations to get what she wants. Like how she pretends not to know the letters of the alphabet, just so we'll spend more time quizzing her. Or how she'll ask questions she already knows the answers to. Or how she'll begin meals negotiating her vegetable quotas. She knows what she's doing. She is a pretty savvy three year old.

And one of her ploys is tell complain that she is in pain. This last time, she complained her head hurt. And she insisted she needed medicine. The purple kind. It's "gwape," you know.

But every time we asked her to point to where on her head hurt, the location changed. It was a moving target headache, of the preschool kind.

Nah, we didn't give in. I tried to tell her the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. But I think it was lost on her.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Camping We Will Go

Our friends Ann & Mark loaned us their motor home for the weekend to head off with the kids for some beach camping. We had never been motor home camping (actually, I think we've both been in an RV in the past- my family rented on for a camping trip up to Yosemite and the Red Wood Forest when I was younger). Okay, we had never been motor home camping together.

Jason was in charge of the trip. I did, literally, nothing. I had been working such long hours at work that I just simply didn't have the time to help.

And, despite the fact that we'd never been motor home camping before, we bravely invited some family friends to join us. Lucky for us, they are good-natured and easy to be with. Because the weekend wasn't what we were expecting. Actually, to be fair, I'm not sure what we were expecting. For those of you haven't been motor home camping before, though, it's kind of like a giant tail gate. Without the big game.

They don't give you much room in those RV parking lots. Lucky for us, there was no one on either side of us, which let us spread out a bit. And it gave the kids some space to ride their bikes:

Okay, so it was just Casey riding Marcie's bike. With no helmet, because we forgot it and left it at home. I know, parents of the year.

When the kids weren't riding around without helmets on, they got to spend time at the beach:

Though they actually went in the ocean, I didn't have my camera with me at the time. But here they are are running along the shore. And below, they are "sand swimming."


And some nice, older kid showed them a giant hole he'd dug. And that brought a great deal of entertainment for the kids.And when they weren't playing in the water, they were snacking:

or hanging out inside the motor home, playing:

(Okay, I admit it- we forgot the kids' toys and books! Good thing our friends brought stuff for the kids to do!)



And at the end of it all, we were just as tired as if we'd gone tent camping! You can tell just by looking at us:

But don't be fooled- I think we're just not as photogenic as our friends-- for a weekend camping at the beach, they look pretty amazing:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Muffins with Mom- Parts I and II

Each year Casey was in preschool, his class hosted a Mother's Day tea. I don't really need the whole sit-down-and-have-your-three-year-old-serve-you-grape-juice-and-hope-they-don't-dump-it-on-your-work-clothes event or anything. But I liked the idea that the preschool did something. Marcie's class sent home gifts (which was thoughtful). Honestly, I would've preferred a show of sorts.

It doesn't really matter, of course.

And the school did host a Muffins with Mom morning. Here we are, enjoying our miniature muffins:


The sun was shining. Marcie's smile was brilliant. Really, what more can a mother ask for?

The next morning, Casey's school hosted Muffins with Mom, as well. The Dads' group actually did all the set up and presented moms with poems as we walked in. It was a bit overwhelming-- well over 500 people attended. Here I am with Casey at school later that morning:


But the best part wasn't the PTA program. It was Casey's class performance. The kids came out and sat us individually. At our place was a small muffin and some fruit. The kids made each of us a picture and a story about why they loved us. (In case you're wondering, I'm loved because I make cookies.) Then the 35 minute show began. And it was quite a performance. There are limits, you know, to how much video you can put up. So I've selected my favorite one (because Casey starred in it). He's been singing the song (mumbling, really) for weeks, and when I'd ask him to sing it for me, he'd tell me no. It was worth the wait:


video

I must say, Casey is quite expressive. Check him out:






Despite the long hours I've spent working, I still managed to make it to the show- and boy am I glad!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Make Believe Trip

When we enrolled Casey at a near-by preschool, we were pretty particular. We chose it, in large part, because of the "mom and pop" ownership, because of their sense of pride in their school, becuase of the enriching programs. It was purchased by Discovery Isle last year. Even though the directors are the same, and we've been really lucky to have consistency with the teaching staff for Casey and then Marcie, the school just isn't the same.

But they have managed to keep some traditions. One of them is the annual Make Believe Trip. When it was first developed, the goal was to take the kids to a new country each year. The classes all studied various elements of the country they were going to visit. Things to do once they arrived. Local cuisine. A few words and phrases in the native tongue. You know, the kinds of things you'd expect preschoolers to study about a place.

They would build the airplane out of large cardboard and sheets of butcher paper, line up seats in the back for the 2 and 3 year olds to play the role of passengers. The 4 and 5 year olds would act as flight attendants and the pilots. They would serve food to the passengers, and give messages about take off and landing and weather. It was a true exercise in the world of make-believe. And it was a way for kids to "practice" air plane travel.

I had to laugh when I saw where they were visiting this year.
I even gave a teacher a hard time about it.
"Since when is HAWAII a foreign country?" I asked.

But this is the problem- I've been around the school longer than half of them. So they don't all have the history that I do.

The teacher stared back at me blankly. Then she shrugged, "We all voted on it."

I'm still not sure how that explains it. What does an election have to do with the fact that Hawaii is a state and not a country?

Sigh. At least Hawaii has a native culture to it. But still. It's America.
At dinner, I asked Marcie what she was learning about Hawaii. I expected her to make up some nonsense. But she surprised me:

"They have volcanoes and when they shake and blow up, the lava runs out," she told me. She told me some other things, as well- though they escape me at the moment.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Welcome to Calliope Claire

So last week was ridiculously busy at work.
Not really in a bad way.
I mean, I need the work-- I need the hours. So it was fine to have the work.
One night Jason brought the kids downtown to meet me for dinner.
The other three nights I ate cup of soup at my desk.

I went to bed on Tuesday night around 9:30 p.m.
All the other nights bled into days before I rolled into bed.

So after all the crazy, sleepless nights, I was surprised when our telephone rang at 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning. We don't even keep a telephone in our bedrooms. But no one left a message. And 3:00 a.m. is too early for a call even from a telemarketing on the east coast. So I checked the caller ID. And it was my younger brother.

I debated in my head for a few minutes. It was 3:00 a.m. If he was out and calling me at 3:00 in the morning, he was in trouble. And if he was calling me from home at 3:00 in the morning, well, it'd mean he was in trouble. So I called him back.

He apologized for awaking me. And said he needed to take his wife to the hospital. I mumbled something about putting together some clothes. Then I fumbled around our bedroom to pull together some clothes, threw my laptop in the bag, and woke up Jason to tell him where I was going.

Tram was in labor. But she wasn't supposed to be. She was scheduled for a c-section. For this coming Thursday.

I only stayed until 4am, and her contractions were still 10 minutes apart, so I headed home for a couple hours of shut-eye. In the end, she delivered a healthy baby girl around noon on Friday.

I have to chuckle a little-- she sure caught us all off-guard. They weren't even settled on a name just yet. And then, as if being away from her other two kids wasn't hard enough, they were banned from the hospital because of the swine flu. We spent some of Sunday with our nephews, and they sure are anxious to meet their baby sister. And to welcome her home.

We all are.

Welcome, Calliope Claire. Welcome to the family.