Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Francesca's First Day of School

The alternate title for this blog is Mom Sends her First Born to School. It was just as much my first day (and Jason's and my parents') as it was hers.

I must start off by commending Frannie's bravery today. Do you what was on her mind as we were about to leave? Here it is:

Can you believe that? Now how, you may ask, did my little girl get in her mind that people would hit her or be mean to her?! I mean, this is crazy that this is what is going through her head and yet she is bravely going to school with no complaint or fuss! I am sad to say that I think the fault is a combination effort of both Reem and I. I have many teacher friends and many of the pregnant moms in my class have been teachers and I have been known to pass along a "can you believe what happened at school?" type of incident to Jason. The problem is that I've probably spoken in front of Frannie and I have a tendency to use the universal term 'kids' whether I'm referring to children her age, middle schoolers, or high schoolers. :/  I also think some of this is unintentionally Reem's doing because she comes over and tells animated stories of the kids she helps at the ICC school and will mostly talk about the ones who are really bad (don't we all do this type of thing?). And she'll often tell similar stories of crazy events that happen at her middle school. All in all I think that's what has affected Frannie's view.

So despite her cloudy outlook on what she would face, Frannie went to school and had herself a fine day.
a packed lunch

a gravity-defying walk to school
a few pics with her sibs

and her worry-wart mother and non worrier father

Here she leads the class in her part of the welcome song.

In spite of all my fears and worries, she never caves into them. She is a strong little girl who can hold her own in many situations. I think of her words "Making sure nobody hits me or bes mean to me." She isn't about to let anybody get away with anything. When I watch the video and see the little resolve in her spirit it makes me both laugh (because her answer was so unexpected!) and feel sad (that that is what she's anticipating) but in a way proud of her for being such a tough cookie!

Ok, so here's my pledge to her. To quit talking about school so d@mn much. I'm sure she's sick of it. I'm sure she's sick of hearing me talk about it, and every single other friend or relative we have who begins a series of 20 questions with her all about kindergarten, and what she'll face, and how it will be, and etc..etc..etc..etc..etc.. I'm just going to stop it. She's there already. It's out of my hands now. I need to just let her have her day and let her experience this year without trying to forecast every hill and valley.

Frannie, my dear, I love you so much. I'm glad you are who you are. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Adam is Blossoming

Over the summer I've watched as Adam has really begun to come into his own. It has been so nice to see!

In my last post I showed some pictures of how he's swimming in the pool now. And just yesterday Jason taught him how to ride his bike without training wheels! It's totally amazing!

I've seen how being able to do these skills gives him so much confidence. He is always saying now that he's a Big Boy and that he's "willy stwong". Just yesterday he was screaming at the top of his lungs in the backyard and punching air. I went out there and asked what he was doing and he turned around and smiled and told me this whole story about how he was getting the dragon. So I guess he's becoming a little super hero now :)

On another note, his crying and tantrums have really changed as well. [Enter big sigh of relief.] I don't have near the problems with him that I used to. He understands "wait" and he'll say "ok, Mommy I'll wait". He always says please (sometimes even a "pwetty pwease") and thank you. He's a polite little guy! He says thank you so often that Natalie says thank you too.

He's still got that sense of humor of his and he often tells me "Ok, poo poo" and I'll answer back "Ok, poo poo". Or he says to me "Thank you sir." He tells my dad "Ok, Gwama" He's just silly.

I love my little son (ok, big boy) so very much!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Can't Sleep

I've been up pretty much all night. I have that gnawing feeling in my tummy; my mind won't shut up and let me sleep. I'm sort of miserable.

Frannie starts kindergarten on Tuesday. I'm not happy.

I don't like unknowns, I really don't. No matter what decision I make I always feel like it is the wrong one. Then I ask Jason's opinion, but then his opinion sounds like the wrong one so I change my mind about it again. Then I wonder, "should I have just listened to my husband?" But then I remember how his FIRST opinion was the choice I ended up making before I tried to convince him that the OTHER choice was the right one. Poor guy can't win with me.

At this point she is scheduled for the AM K-1 combo class.

What I really wanted (after I changed my mind no less than twice on the paper and twice by phone) was to have her in the AM class that is from 8-11:45 Monday - Friday. That way I could pick her up and come home for lunch and have the whole rest of the afternoon. We would still have time to attend Tuesday Park Day together so she can see her friends. I ultimately felt that would be the best transition for her. Even though it means the end of slow mornings and will take quite a bit of focus on my part to change those habits. But it's ok, I'm ready to do that now.

But...with all of my mind changing...all of the AM regular kindergarten spots filled up quickly. They had too many parents who wanted that time too, and they only have one class structured that way.

The other option is the PM kindergarten class which meets from 10-2:20pm. The kids eat their lunch at school. The nice thing about this is that it would be a more relaxing morning for all of us and I've only heard wonderful things about the PM teachers. But I became very bothered by the fact that a dismissal time of 2:20 makes it feel like she's gone all stinkin' day. That, and seeing her old friends at the park is out.

The school has been really nice and accommodating with me. The secretary never made me feel like I was putting her out when I called. So I really appreciate that. In trying to fulfill my changed request for morning kindergarten, they put her in the AM K-1 combo class. It meets from M-F from 8-12:30 except on W from 8-1pm. So invariably in trying to have her be at school for LESS time, she is at school for the most time of any option. (Head falls on desk...)

And from what I can tell by the tentative schedule, I don't see that there is any real instructional time past 11am. It's a little odd actually because in having to accommodate the first graders, the kindergarteners end up having their snack at 10am, they have library time, music time, or computer time from 10:30-11 and then are walked up to the cafeteria for lunch at 11am. After lunch there is recess until noon. Then it seems they come back to class to do a quiet activity (she mentioned her play kitchen in the class) until parents come to pick up at 12:30. Part of me feels like that isn't so bad since it is a lot of play time and I really believe in play time. Afterall, more daily activity with friends was one of the reasons I felt homeschooling wouldn't work well for her.

But...(and here is where I start worrying) I know she is going to get really tuckered out. And when she gets tired she doesn't want to do the activity anymore. This is one of the big reasons why she started whining to me about going to ballet, because the class was at 5pm and she was already ready for dinner at that time and it was cold outside and she said she was tired. Then she started whining about going to gymnastics because it was Tuesday at 3pm and we had already been at the park for hours. She doesn't like to do gymnastics when tired and she would often fall asleep in the car on the way over. So even an activity she likes can quickly become one she doesn't like if she's being dragged to it. Knowing that she will be really tired after such a full morning like that, will she even have the energy to go to the park? Or will keeping her up like that without an after-school nap mess her up for the next day when she'll be at school even longer?

And that brings me to Wednesday. What can they possibly do with the kindergarteners for an extra 30 minutes one day a week? Honestly? Nothing. It will just be more kill-time activity. Wednesday is the school-wide minimum day so she is following the schedule of the first graders on that day. I asked about just picking her up at 12:30 and the teacher said she'd prefer the kids to be picked up at 1pm just because it can get complicated with remembering which children leave and which don't etc... I can appreciate her position on this since she does have 24 students and it is of prime importance that every head be accounted for and that the drop-off, pick up policies be air-tight.

But it just makes me uncomfortable. Even the PM kindergarten class gets a short 3 hour day on Wednesday because they meet from 10-1. I'd rather her have one day of the week like that, rather than a longer day. Even though it is only 1/2 hour longer. It's still longer. So if anything I wish it were the same pick up time, 12:30.

I've decided I'm going to try it out and see how it goes and how she does with the changes. If I continue to have a problem with the 1pm pick up time then I'll schedule a meeting with the teacher and probably principal just to arrange that I'll be regularly picking her up at 12:30 (or heck, maybe even 11 since they're just playing after that time anyways).

It is all just too many unknowns for her and for me and I can't sleep because of it. I want her to have a really good first year of school.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Swim Teacher

This summer Jason taught the kids (well, Frannie and Adam) how to swim! He asked a couple of other dads who taught their kids and they said the trick was just to take them every single day. So Jason made up his mind to do just that. As soon as he got home from work, the kids put their swimsuits on and went with Daddy to the pool. 

Frannie started out being afraid to put her face underwater, and now she can swim all the way from one end of the pool to the other with her face down and everything! She looks like a little froggy when she's swimming. 

Adam didn't even want to go into the water, but despite his clinging to my legs and crying, Jason forced him to go in and use his floaties.

And he likes it! He now asks to go swimming everyday. 

As for me, I've been sitting around either in the house, or watching by the poolside.
Making sure Nattie doesn't plop herself into the pool. 

Or run off too far with the keys. You can see it in her eyes how she's saying "Mine!"

I am so so so happy that the kids learned how to swim. I tried to teach Frannie some things last summer but wasn't able to get very far. I find that when she is resisting and being very squirrelly, I tend to go into drill sergeant mode. But Jason has taught me that with skills like this you just have to do a little bit every single day. Just get them to go a little bit farther than the previous day and they'll make big progress. I know for a fact I wouldn't have gotten her swimming the way he did! As for Adam, I also know for a fact that I would have let him stay in the house all summer because he was afraid to go into the water. Jason knew that he just needed to get him in there and make him work it out. And he was right! It is a big weight off of my shoulders knowing that they are learning such an important life skill! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The July Home Makeover Extravaganza...is finished

I know that is quite a heavy title there. And really when all is said and done it just came down to paint, a laminate floor, carpet, and some baseboards. But darnit everything looks so different, it's like I moved and got myself a brand new house! I love it!

The before shots:

Here we have white walls and white carpet
A little closer now...
Toddler graffiti'ed white walls

And not so white carpet...

I'm not a white on white type of decorator anyways, but I couldn't even pretend to keep this looking clean. The carpet the kids are standing on had been professionally shampooed only 3 months prior. 

The process of getting everything done involved 2 weeks of 
scaffolding and keeping the kids out of the house and away from open cans of paint. The rest of the month of July was the laminate floor and then carpet upstairs. 

Imagine my joy when I came home to this

and this

and brown carpet

and a green kitchen!

Did you know that it is more enjoyable to clean house when you like what you are cleaning? Fascinating how that works. Do you know how much peace of mind comes from being able to wipe up cat barf effortlessly and not feel even a smidge of disdain for the cat in the process? It's a lot of peace. 

I'm loving my new house!