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Archive for September, 2011

You're no match for ME, Hula Hoop.

Aw, shit. Okay you're SORT OF a match for me.

Wait...wait...LOOK!

LOOK! IMMA DOIN' IT!!!!

HA! I WIN, HULA HOOP! I win. Mostly.

Well, what I lack in actual hula hooping skill, I think I certainly make up for with my magnificent jazz hands, don't you think?

Better just agree with him, Internet…

He's very passionate about the jazz hands.

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Since you’re obviously DYING to know, Rowan’s first week of school went BEYOND wonderful. At the end of the day she got into the car with a HUGE smile on her face and gave us the full rundown on just how awesome her classroom, teacher and of course the playground were. She made two new friends and got to play outside three times during the day! She made us pictures! And a Kissing Hand project! Her teacher let her help read a book to the class at story time! Her teacher’s favorite color is pink too! And she brought the same snack as the girl sitting next to her and now they are going to eat that snack together everyday because they are twins and spy on boys at recess and already love each other with their whole  6-year-old hearts!

You guys…she was so, I don’t know…happy. She wasn’t like that one time last year. She would give me a big smile and hug at pick-up time but almost never volunteered any insight into her day away from me and getting her to answer questions was like pulling teeth. She learned as a preschooler that giving negative answers only prompts parents to ask more questions so her loophole is this:

“Rowan, what did you do today?!”

“Everything.”

“But what was your favorite part?!”

“All of it.”

“But what if you could only pick one thing?”

“I liked everything equal.”

Uh…what am I supposed to say to that?

I tried to ask more specific questions but since parents were barred from the classroom for the first 6 months and the teacher communication was, for lack of a better or more imaginative term, complete horseshit, that wasn’t always easy. And speaking of parent/teacher communication, I have already received more e-mails and information fliers in five freaking days at the new school than I did in the whole, entire nine months of school last year. You have no idea how happy this makes me {and also, how sad is that?}. The teacher e-mailed a classroom photo of the kids on their first day, a sweet, little poem and a quick note reassuring parents that everyone was doing great. To top it off we have a binder that goes back and forth from school each day with everything from art projects to important reminders to helpful tips like sightword practice, reading logs and how to help your kid learn to tie shoes, etc. At the end of every week we get a newsletter of upcoming dates, goings on in the classroom and the school, and reminders for important events. Plus two pages of picture collages on how the kids spent their first week. After our 5th or 6th e-mail Bill e-mailed me and said, “I don’t think we’ll have to worry about parent teacher communication this year, huh?”. I think that is a very welcome understatement.

In short? We are in heaven. I fell in love with this school from one short information session two years ago and when we didn’t get in, I wasn’t just disappointed, I was devastated. I just knew this was where we were supposed to be and it felt utterly cruel that we couldn’t be there. To finally get in and have all those hopes realized has been ridiculously gratifying.

In other news, this guy:

Started preschool yesterday, ditching me for the 4 and under set for 5 hours a week.

Yesterday was an intro day where parents accompany their child, help them adjust and sneak off for a quick information session while the kids get a snack and get to know the playground equipment. Having been through this at the same school with Rowan for two years, it was mostly old hat but seeing him fit so snugly in the tiny little chair still broke my heart a little.

Such a big boy.

Today was the real test as it was the first drop-off day. It had already been an emotional morning because it was Rowan’s first day riding the bus, which she wasn’t super excited about. Because we open-enrolled last year, we couldn’t get busing which really wasn’t that big of a deal, as it was a quick 7-8 minute drive to her school on a country road, all 55 mile an hour speed limits with only one stop sign. The new school is on the opposite corner of town and while the mileage is identical, there are somewhere between 6 and 178 stoplights on the way and it’s on a much higher traffic road. It still only takes about 15 minutes but on the days that I have to get Keaton to preschool, there is just no way I could get both kids to school on time without the use of a DeLorean with a flux capacitor.

Thankfully her bus is the “kitty bus”, which only means there is a tiny image of a cat taped up to one of the windows of the gigantic thing, but it was enough to convince Rowan to give it a try. She clung to my side at the bus stop and I have to admit, when the giant monstrosity came barreling down the lane I had to subdue the flight portion of my biological defense mechanism. She climbed the steps and I leaned in and told the driver that she was a first-timer, he assured me she’d have a great first bus ride and I stepped off the lowest step. Rowan took one look at the crowded seats and followed me back down for one last hug and kiss and reminded me that I couldn’t leave until “the bus is out of sight”, gave me a nervous smile and climbed back up the stairs. I’m not going to lie, watching those giant doors slam shut, effectively eating my tiny daughter whole, sort of made my stomach flip.

Keaton and I backed up to the side-walk and watched her go. Although I couldn’t pull her face out of the dozens of little faces, I still waved like a crazy person to no one in particular and watched that bus until it was good and out of sight and then some. Before I could give the tears a chance to well up and over, I grabbed Keaton and off we went to preschool so I could be abandoned by yet another of my children.

Besides a small mishap when he opened the door while the car was sort of moving {???!!!}, drop off was painless and tear free. When his teacher opened the car door he jumped right out and was almost at the door when she had to remind him to maybe at least say goodbye to that woman who gave birth to him. He gave me a quick smile and a wave and off he went. At pick-up I got a great report and although he seemed pretty wiped out he said he had a great time and couldn’t wait to go back.

Now since we’re talking milestones I’ll leave you with a few photos of Keaton’s first belt graduation ceremony for karate last Friday, which is about as adorable as it sounds. Getting your gold belt is very serious business, people!

Daddy helping with his white belt one last time.

Good little grasshoppers.

Aiiii-YA!!! His Aii-ya's were decidedly better than his actually karate moves, which I think is pretty awesome. It's not HOW you do it but how you SOUND that's really important. Intimidation is half the battle when it comes to bad guys, Internet.

Getting belted.

And ta-da! A certificate and everything. He's clearly on his way to greatness.

It’s been an eventful few weeks around here, making it hard to keep up with all the things I know I should be documenting. This time just goes so damn fast. I know it won’t be long before we’ve carved out our schedule and it’ll seem like second nature but there has definitely been a learning curve to the last week or two. Hope everyone’s back to school week has gone smooth, and here’s to a great year!

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{I know, leave it to me to push my summer post that’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a month, to the first week back to school when the rest of the world has firmly embraced the oncoming fall. What can I say! My timing’s less than impeccable.}

Now then! Today is the first day I really get to reap the benefits of having my afternoons to myself again and Internet? It is super quiet here. And now that I have this time where no one is asking me to wipe something or tie something etc. etc.,  I’m going to give you a quick recap of just what the heck we did all summer. Blogging was light, which was mostly done by design. Call me a liar or a sap, but I actually MISSED my kid all school year and I wanted to spend as much time soaking her up as I could, thinking I would have a giant first grader when fall came, which obviously is now not the case. So this, along with a little collaborative project with Bill that’s keeping us busy, is why I decided that blogging would take a backseat to life for a while. So here’s a quick summer highlights list, so I can finally rest easy knowing the goddamn Internet knows that we were actually productive little summerers and not just sitting at the beach…

1. The beach. Oh wait. We totally sat on the beach. Well, I guess we didn’t sit so much as swim! splash! play catch! play shark! back float! catch minnows! and frogs! and turtles! We had a standing Friday beach playdate with Rowan’s old class all summer and we tried to hit as many as possible, with other beach trips in between. There were maybe two weeks all summer that these kids weren’t there which is up 85% from last year. Most of this is due to the portability and ease of their ages right now. It used to take longer to get ready for the beach than the time we actually spent there, making it hardly worth it . Plus I’d bring back hot, whiny, greasy, sand covered, little beings and we’d all be so exhausted from the effort. This year though, the kids were old enough to accept that sunscreen application is not worth fighting over and their little arms were stong enough to help me lug all the necessary parts and pieces we needed along. At first when I put Rowan in charge of her life jacket and towel you would have thought I’d tasked her with carrying an elephant that just swallowed a hippopotamus. Thankfully she begrudgingly accepted her terrible lot in life by mid-summer.

Beach bum!

The goggles go well with that awesome Keaton smile.

2. Swimming lessons: Keaton was a little rockstar in the water and had an awesome teacher who gave him confidence and then pushed him to get adventurous. He overcame his hatred of being on his back and getting his ears full of water and swam facedown with the aid of a noodle. He loved it and learned a lot, THE END. Rowan on the other hand struggled big time. Between the ages of 3.5 and 5 she took weekly lessons at a pool in our town and ended up taking the same level 6 times. She just wasn’t getting it and the class size was big so after a ton of parent recommendations- people who swore their kids went from not even wanting to put a toe in the pool to swimming in three lessons- we forked over the dough for this new {further away! and twice as expensive!} swim school.

The first lesson went OK, but the teacher, although great for the other kids in her class, just wasn’t connecting with Rowan and she went totally stiff in the water. He sort of assured us it would get better but by the third lesson Rowan hated going and by the 5th she had a complete meltdown. The instructor took a very “eh- too bad” approach and for the money we spent we were pretty disappointed. In hindsight I totally should have spoken up sooner but I thought, these guys have such a great reputation, they must know what they’re doing, right? After filling out a parent survey the director called me and was very understanding and apologetic and offered to give Rowan private lessons for the remainder of the session which went really great. After the original instructor saw what Rowan was capable of he apologized profusely for not realizing what she needed {which was basically a 5 minute tutorial on how to hold her breath} and we ended the session on a great note, with Rowan swimming and Keaton getting darn close.

3. Dance: The only daytime activity Rowan had all summer was a 10 day dance clinic in June and a 6 day dance clinic in August. Again, this was done by design so that we could spend our days together and it was lovely. Her studio also offered a ballet only clinic but it was during our vacation so Rowan couldn’t go. Someone had recommended a little ballet school right in our town and Rowan really wanted to try it so this August she did an evening 6 session clinic over three weeks which she really loved. So much so, that this fall in addition to her comp dance classes she’ll be taking ballet at this school on Mondays because holy hell why not go to another flipping dance class.

4. Soccer: For Keaton Sir.  It was a 4 day soccer clinic that was so awful we skipped the last day which sort of sucked because he had been really excited about it and it was the ONLY daytime activity I planned for him all summer. Unfortunately the 19-year-old girl who ran his group appeared to hate soccer only slightly less than she hated 3 year olds so it didn’t really pan out. Plus there was a kid in there who was less enamored with kicking the ball and more enamored with hitting and pushing any kid who came into the vicinity of his personal space. Keaton, who has never EVER had a hitting/biting/mean streak phase, wasn’t having it and despite my pleas for him to tell the coach, he just went ahead and pushed back. Only he was bigger so it looked like MY kid was the asshole. Which OK, kind of, but not really. It was just one of those things that was so stupid because this was supposed to be sweet and fun and look at that little shit, he just knocked mah baby down again! Anyway he had karate and swimming once a week in the evenings which he truly enjoyed so blah blah it all worked out in the end.

5. Ladybugs!: So the ladybugs we, uh, I mean, The Easter Bunny ordered finally arrived the last week of July. It was, well, pretty gross to watch the larvae crawl around, poop a lot, ball up in a creepy pod and then grow a bunch of legs. But! The kids thought it was pretty amazing so I suppose that’s what counts. I guess. The silver lining is that Rowan named all the bugs Doofenshmirtz, which I thought was pretty hilarious.

The ladybugs were actually less gross than the butterflies, if you can believe it.

6. Workbooks: I bought 1st-2nd grade phonics and math workbooks for Rowan to keep her brushed up and a preschool workbook for Keaton. Rowan was not thrilled with having homework but it was good practice for her when we could fit it in, which ended up being pretty sporadic by the end of the summer. Keaton loved his workbook. It mostly focused on tracing lines which was really good practice for his fine motor skills which, honestly, sort of suck. I know he’s only three and a half but boyfriend cannot draw a straight line to save his life. We’ll probably keep this up at home once the weather maroons us in the house.

Today colors, tomorrow Harvard applications. Or Brown. Or Columbia. Or MIT. I'm not super picky.

7. The soundtrack to this summer was Chicago. Yes, Internet. I am woefully aware that the subject matter of this show is highly inappropriate for the 6 and under set and to my credit I DO skip over the “Cell Block Tango”. Both kids completely fell in love with the music, and who am I {a not-so-closeted musical geek} to stop them?! Rowan’s favorite is “Funny Honey”, Keaton’s is “We Both Reached For The Gun” and they have a shared admiration for “Mister Cellophane”. Bill, who isn’t a big fan of this particular soundtrack, was less than pleased with having to listen to it over and over every time he set foot in my car. I’m fairly certain I’m going to wake up one morning to that CD having a terrible accident under the wheels of Bill’s car. Better put it in the iPod just in case.

8. Reading: When Rowan was four I made a habit out of reading bigger chapter books out loud to her like The Wizard of Oz and the Little House books but then the focus shifted to her actually doing the reading herself and those tales were abandoned for Biscuit, Frog and Toad and Gerald and Piggy, which is fine but this summer we were given the time to get wrapped up in a series together and while I initially was ready to start reading her Harry Potter I was distracted by The Oz series while reading a post by Mom 101. I LOVED The Wizard of Oz to itty bitty pieces when I was little but somehow never realized that there were 14 other books that followed it. I picked up the Land of Oz from our library and though it took a good five weeks, I read the whole thing to Rowan {and Keaton when he would sit still for it}. She loved listening as much as I enjoyed reading it and we are now a third of the way through Ozma of Oz. I wholeheartedly recommend not just these books but taking the time to wrap yourself and your kid up in a series together. So much fun.

Other than that our time was spent playing with friends, catching butterflies, painting, playing Wii Sports {Keaton} bossing around American Girl and Barbie dolls {Rowan} {OK fine and Me. WHAT?! Somebody has to do their hair, 6 year olds are terrible at it!} and just being together. If it wasn’t for the great start to this school year I’d be completely bummed out that our summer is over. A summer that we sorely needed after last year and one that I think, we completely took advantage of.

Gratuitous photo log of summer 2011…

Butterfly hunt.

Dance party.

Walks by the river.

Gigantic slides.

{Kiddie} Pool parties.

Goat kisses. Because of course there were goat kisses.

And what summer would be complete without an epic battle over the last piece of corn on the cob. As if it will ever be the last piece since we get a fresh stock every Thursday through our CSA, but you know, it's the principle of the matter or some shit.

In one corner of the table we have a newcomer who is young but feisty and thirsty for blood. I mean corn. I mean, oh whatever he doesn't even like corn that much he just wants to piss his dad off.

And in the other corner we have the esteemed corn eating champ, who clearly means business. It was a good match but in the end there could only be one winner and I think we all know that...

The damn kids always end up with all the good stuff in our house.

Aaaaaaand, that was our summer. Hope yours was awesome too.

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Last weekend we went over to Bill’s parents’ house for a bonfire and when it was time for stories, this is the one Rowan told:

Last night was definitely less emotional than the first time around, and while I know this is most likely because we’ve all been through this before- as Rowan likes to say, she is already an expert kindergartener- it’s also because we all just feel really great about the exciting year she is going to have. And let me tell you, *HOLY MOTHER OF GOD*, what a HUGE difference that makes.

Still, as Bill and I sat down in the quiet house after getting the kids settled back into their early bedtime routine,  I was pretty wistful about the unfair swiftness of the passage of time and blah blah Bill rolled his eyes at me a bunch. My 43 inch, 36 pound girl-child will be set out into the educational world yet again, hopefully this time with all the tools and support she needs to have a fun, loving, successful year of learning.

Both animate and inanimate objects were excited to get dressed {in the real one's case, it was mostly because of the new shoes, duh}.

Can you blame her? Mary Jane's are a necessary and stylish part of any kindergartener's wardrobe.

Rowan was as confidant as ever, but still requested that Woobie ride along in her backpack. Just in case HE missed HER, of course.

Thankfully, in an act of mercy, Keaton doesn't start preschool until next Monday so I have my little pal to distract me from the decidedly quieter house.

She's going to do great. I just know it.

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