Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Kindergarten !#*%!’

Listen. I know, Flashing Cursor. I realize I’ve been MIA from this blog for months. I am aware I used to take great pleasure in writing about all the ways my children outsmart me on a daily basis. All the ways they made me feel so loved and then so completely useless and then wait, nope, there’s the love again~ often in one breath. After briefly considering canceling my hosting when it came up for renewal a month ago, I decided I would give it another year and see what I had left in me for this space. I really don’t know. But for now, I am here and I promise not to make any promises about how often I’ll check in, because that seems to just guarantee I’ll never write again.

So this is what I can tell you now… In less than 2 hours, my two giant children will join the household for the summer. This is maybe a little scary and maybe a little awesome. I like having all my chicks with me for the most part. I love lazy days, jammies til noon, lunch when…ever, beach and park trips, art supplies strewn about the table and intricate figurine set-ups taking over my gardens. It makes me smile, it makes me sigh. It makes me miss being a kid.

Like all parents, I don’t enjoy the whining, tattling or the incessant arguing but unfortunately, it comes with the territory of multiple kids. We’ll get through, I know, but I definitely don’t have to be excited about it. Mostly I am nervous about Rowan’s insane dance schedule over the next two weeks. She has summer dance and nationals practice that leaves her at the studio from 10:45- 5:30 or later most nights. Then I have to kiss my little guy’s sweet cheeks enough to last me 9 whole days without him while we’re in Florida. {Clearly I did NOT think this through. I’m already panicking and searching for plane tickets for him, shhhhh don’t tell Bill. He’ll think it’s funny when Ez shows up in my carry-on, right?} The longest I’ve been away from Ezra is overnight. I’m legit freaking out right now.

But! If we can make it through June, and the first 4 days of July, we’ll be in the clear to laze around and enjoy Summer at our new house. It seems amazing to me that I didn’t write about such a huge life change when I have multiple {really, like DOZENS} of posts devoted to poop on this blog. I wish I could detail the simultaneously dawn-out saga/whirlwind this whole process has been, but the most important thing to know is that we are all so very, extremely happy to be in a beautiful new home that is just the perfect fit for us. Hopefully more on that to come {if I can get my shit together, so again, no promises}.

For now, I will leave you with these two…

Who completely OWNED 2nd grade and Kindergarten.. with nary a yellow or red light between the two for an ENTIRE year, like WHOA.

Who completely OWNED 2nd grade and Kindergarten, with nary a yellow or red light between the two for an ENTIRE year, like WHOA. So proud of them!

And these two, who melt my heart, pretty much on a daily basis…

I think lucky is the word I'm looking for. Yep.

I think lucky is the word I’m looking for. Yep.

Read Full Post »

I guess it’s pretty clear that Ezra has been the star of the show here for the last 16 months. This is for two reasons, one of them being that it’s really sort of tricky to navigate what you should share about your kids once they get older and the second is TIME, as in, I don’t have any to write more than one substantial post a month. To remedy this, I’m going to try to do a quick family update each month when I post my photo sets so I can write down some of the cool/annoying/awesome stuff the rest of us are up to and at least give the illusion that our world doesn’t revolve around a despot toddler king {which it 100% does}. Ezra will still have his own post for the time being because he is my babaaaay and I’m not ready to let that go just yet.

So Let’s start with me. As it turns out I’ve become a bit obsessive and have absolutely loved documenting our every day family life over on Instagram for the My 365 Project. It has been a HUGE push to better my photography skills which are now somewhere between Does Not Suck and Can Sometimes be Okay When I’m Not Screwing It All Up. I take out my big camera pretty much every day and I love reading articles and watching video tutorials when I can squeeze them in. Recently I watched one about Newborn Photography which blew my mind… too bad there were so damn many precious, tiny babies in those videos, distracting me from actually retaining any of the information.

Here are my favorite shots from February 14, {the whole set is here}:

3.5.1 3.5.2 3.5.3 3.5.4 3.5.5 3.5.6 3.5.7 3.5.8 3.5.9

Other than being a chauffeur, homework overlord and packer of backpacks for the older two, I’m enjoying the calm before the {dance} storm. Competition fees have been turned in and we’re hoping one of the costumes will be handed out for decorating this week sometime. UPDATE!!: I now have a fringey pile of orange and pink and approximately 800 stones to affix to it! {Also: Sweet baby Jesus in heaven, please bless our room mom for not including those teeny/tiny/miniscule devil sequins, I am forever in her debt, AMEN.}   So: YAY! Let’s get this done! And: Oh God. I’m going to die from E-6000.

Here Lies Christy, who at 2am after 14 straight hours of gluing varying sizes of irritatingly small, iridescent stones, mistook her wine for the E-6000, gluing her throat shut. It was a good death. RIP.

Moving on to Bill… You remember him right? That guy I married? I wouldn’t really know since he’s done nothing but workworkwork for the last few months. Thankfully, he’s able to do part of this in the evenings on our couch but still, it’s been a really busy time for him both with work, personal projects and the side stuff. We divide and conquer from the hours of 4:30-8pm and then it’s back to his laptop until 11ish. Since he likes to watch stuff while he works, we pick a series to binge-watch so at least we have the pretense of together time. Against my better judgement, I let Bill choose the show this go-round and he picked Breaking Bad. We tried this show once a couple of years ago and after the third episode I told Bill if he wanted to keep watching it that was fine but I just couldn’t spend my relaxing time watching something so painful that I wanted to throw myself off a bridge after each episode. And yeah, I know, Best TV Show Of All Time, Is One of The Greats, yada-yada-accolade-cakes. I get that, I really do. My opinion though {which was right on the money after those first 3 episodes {re:THE PAINFULNESS} and unchanged when we watched it all the way through}, is that the first 2 seasons were pretty meh, save a couple of episodes, then in the third season they turned the characters into 100% unlikable, reprehensible shells of humans. There was no fading into gray for me, really. They went from conflicted, desperate and confused to The Most Terrible People and by the last third of the 4th season things blew up.

I’m not going to turn this family update into a BB recap but since it has dominated my time with my husband for the last 2 months I will say this. The writing and acting in the last 2 seasons was truly smart and really just downright phenomenal. But. And this is a big, huge, hairy but. I can’t handle watching shows where everyone is awful. There is no one to root for on this show, save maybe one, and even this guy has done so many despicable things and suffered such terrible losses, there’s no way he’ll ever come out functional. This makes each episode something you have to suffer through. Maybe other people could root for Walter White {but you’re probably a closet sociopath, FYI}. Not me though, not even at the end and I think it’s sort of troublesome if you actively want your protagonist to bite it. I get the whole idea of the “anti-hero” but man, I just found the whole thing to be so reprehensible, and even though I appreciate the art of it, {TL;DR!} you could not pay me to watch that shit again.

Okay, stay tuned for next month’s Bill update when I talk about True Detective, Scandal or House of Cards, because that is what our marriage has turned into at this point.

*     *     *     *     *

Rowan: My first born has been a busy little bee with school and dance. She officially turned 8 and a half which is still just so weird to say. My kid is like, old and stuff. School has been going really well. So well, I feel like anything I write here will just sound like obnoxious bragging. I can take pretty much zero credit for this anyway, it just turns out I am raising the non-magical Hermione Granger, complete with tears when school is cancelled for the 6th snow day of 2014. She’s tested out of the curriculum reading assessments through third grade. She gets herself up early so she can read for fun and while math isn’t her favorite and she has to work hard, she gets great marks. She has an excellent memory so history tests are super fun for her and she aces them. Most weeks I forget to go over her spelling words with her {super mom, I know} and she has brought home a 15/15 every week, save one, the entire year. Do you see what I mean about the bragging? I sound like a total asshole right now but I don’t care. She works hard. She’s so independent. And I’m so proud of her.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book. For fun. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I'm fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book before bed. For FUN. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I’m fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid. Like ZERO percent chance. Back me up, everyone who knows me…

Conversely, dance has been rough for her this year. I touched on this a few months ago, about the challenges of the flexibility amidst the other choreography and how it’s been tough for her. Rowan isn’t a Career Dancer. She doesn’t have the natural flexibility. She doesn’t have a family member that was or still is a dancer that can help her at home {for free} with the intricacies. She doesn’t have room in her house that she can practice without hitting the couch or a coffee table or another human. She also doesn’t have parents who have a huge disposable income for $50 worth of private lessons a week. Though this has always been the case for her, it was made really apparent this year as so many of the girls at the studio are doing this extra stuff. Rowan has always been very happy to just be a part of the group and work her hardest but based on all the extras the other kids are doing she’s starting to fall behind and feel what she’s contributing isn’t good enough for her team.

In most cases it’s not a matter of dance mom one-up-man-ship, but that all these kids really love dance, want to do their very best and they have very supportive parents that are making that happen for them. And while I personally feel some of it is getting a little out of hand, if it works for the individual family then that’s thier choice to make . Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for us which will be a tricky road to navigate if Rowan wants to keep dancing competitively. In the meantime we’ve done what we can to help her through. We share private lessons with others so they’re not so spendy. We go to open gym so she can work on flexibility instead of paying $30 an hour to work one-on-one with a gymnastics coach. She shows up every day ready to work her butt off and she really does. We practice at home, couches, coffee tables and other humans be damned. I feel guilty, like I’m not doing enough to support her sometimes, but the reality is, dance isn’t our family’s only reality and I just have to make peace with that and hope Rowan understands when the other girls are progressing in a way that she isn’t.

I will say that the coolest thing to witness was a few weeks ago when parents were invited in to watch and the instructor was working on turns with them, which need some work all around. Some of the girls have been doing these turns for well over a year or two in various solos and small groups but a little over half have just started them in earnest since January and Rowan was having trouble finding the rhythm of them. She struggled the Tuesday before big time and when her teacher asked her to do it in front of everyone I held my breath, fighting the urge to throw my hands over my eyes but… she did okay, and compared to where she was the week before, okay was AWESOME. And when she was done her teacher gave her an approving smile and the other girls clapped for her and it was so, so sweet. She really is in with a great group of very kind kids, which is important to us because she spends so much time there.

3.5.12

*     *     *     *     *

After a completely activity-free fall, Keaton has been enjoying swimming lessons, a basketball clinic and joining the boys/partners dance at the studio. Swimming has been going well for him I think, but it’s stressful because Bill has to handle the two boys while I take Rowan to ballet. Ezra goes to baby swim from 6-6:30pm and Keaton does level 3 from 6:30-7pm. I haven’t seen Ezra at all and have only been able to watch Keaton 1.5 times which makes me feel shitty but just the way things worked out this time around.

Basketball was… sort of hilarious. Keaton definitely has an aptitude for sports; he has a good eye and great coordination. Since he’s never had trouble picking these sorts of things up, I thought this would transfer to basketball but it totally did not. The six sessions he had, he made a total of 8 baskets. He is not tall, on the contrary, he is a peanut compared to the other boys and while his fancy footwork was awesome while playing defense, you could totally tell they were the feet of a dancer, not a ball player. Still, the whole point was to get him out of the house for a couple of hours on Saturdays and to have fun, and both of these things were accomplished so I’ll call it a win while recognizing that we are NOT raising a hoops star.

3.5.10

In January we were asked if Keaton was interested in doing the big boys’ number at the studio. At first he didn’t want to do it and I practically had to drag him there but after a few practices he fell back in love with the booty-shaking and I’ll admit, it’s been pretty fun to watch him again. It was most definitely the right decision for him and our family sanity to pull him from the line numbers but I’m glad he’s still able to dance in some capacity~ plus it will give him something to do one of the days we’re in Florida for Nationals this June.

School has been going really well for him. He loves his teacher, his classmates and has gotten a green light every day so far. His reading skills have really taken off in the last month. He can now read Frog and Toad style books all by himself and while getting him to stop jumping around the living room like a maniac can be hard after a long day at school, once he gets settled in he really gets into the story. I’m so proud of how great he’s doing although I will say, he has been having some attitude and listening problems at home that are driving both his father and I nuts. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he is the child that requires the least amount of our time and energy. He’s so laid back and easy-going so we tend to just let him do his own thing which sometimes results in him feeling left out, and then he acts out, not terribly, but just enough to push our buttons. I hate that it’s come to this so we’re trying to make an extra effort to spend one-on-one time with him in hopes that the attitude and listening issues will work themselves out.

Okay! Wow! I’m… gonna stop now. That was really, really long. I had a lot to catch up on but the good news is, that shouldn’t be an issue if I keep this up month to month. Of course this is me we’re talking about so no guarantees. Hope everyone made it though February alive and here’s looking to somewhat of a thaw by the end of March.

 

Read Full Post »

It was conferences this week! You wanna know how much fun it is to bring a mobile, nap-skipping baby into classrooms with thousands of things to destroy and/or choke on? SUPER FUN. The only major snafu was when Ezra’s milk cup exploded all over Bill, the baby and the classroom floor in a spectacular geyser of coconut milk. I’m pretty sure we won’t be invited back to 2nd grade unless we have proof of a babysitter first. It is now time for you to sit back {or, uh, slowly back away by means of the handy x button} and enjoy reading about my two oldest precious little snowflakes…

First up we have Keaton, Sir:

This little guy’s report surprised me the most. I know it’s not fair to pigeon-hole your kids but if I WERE to do that, Rowan would definitely be my academic child and Keaton would be our… wiggly… uh… funny…. uh… sports-ball child. I think that about sums it up nicely. He always got great reports in preschool and was always put in the more accelerated learning groups but I guess I sort of thought that he was placed there because his teachers had Rowan as well and maybe just assumed Keaton was similar.

I know. I’m a terrible mother. But in my defense Keaton has never had the patience to sit still and work for long periods. Getting this kid to sit for a story was impossible until he was four and even now he jumps around and plays invisible swords when I read him chapters of Harry Potter. He loses interest and gets bored easily and always defaults to some physical activity involving swordplay or barrel rolls.

So imagine my surprise when his reading assessment revealed he was already working on the end of the year goal list. I have been trying to make an effort for him to read to me but man.. reading with a beginning five year old is just plain exhausting. He gets so tired halfway through that he just turns off by the end of it, making guesses instead of reading tougher words and sounding out words like “is” and “the” when he has had them memorized for months.

I really need to find some shorter books for him because I think he would get more confident if he could read in shorter bursts. I’ve tried the whole, I’ll read a page, you read a page thing, or only reading a few pages a night but the payoff just isn’t there for him then and he ends up crabby about the whole thing. I need something like the Biscuit books but more challenging and maybe with a little more stimulating subject matter. He loves Gerald and Piggy {and really, who doesn’t} but he’s read them all so many times that he doesn’t even need to open the dang book to recite the story. Of course he always wants Star Wars books but those suckers have super tricky words so I end up reading half of it for him. Right now the best ones for him are the more simple Dr. Suess ones. He can read The Foot Book, One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat and green Eggs and Ham with very minimal help from me. I’m really proud of his hard work and was so happy and surprised at how well he is progressing in reading.

Other than that? Kindergarten and Keaton are getting along swimmingly. He was sososo ready to go and really hasn’t skipped a beat since September once he adjusted to the much longer days. He loves his teacher, and absolutely adores being around people all day. I honestly don’t know how I produced SUCH a people person but wow is he ever. This is the kid I have to bribe to just gooooo beeee byyyy youseeeeelf for fiiiiiiiiive minuuuuutes, pleeeeeease. He would never ever be/play/sleep/eat do anything alone if he could help it, so school is a blessing because there are 29 other kids plus a handful of teachers he gets to spread all that love around to.

He has a half-day once a week which has been our time. I’ve tried to make it as special as I can so I pack a lunch and take him to various parks, make trips to the library or come home and play board games. Unfortunately once Ezra switches to an afternoon nap we’re going to have to switch Keaton to full-day 5 days a week which will be good for him but I’m really going to miss my time with my big guy.

Now that winter is at our doorstep, I know I have to get him involved in an outside activity. Unfortunately it just wasn’t feasible time or money-wise to keep him in dance this year. It’s been sad because he really loved it but with the dramatic increase in hours he spent at school it was the best choice for him at this point. We’re hoping to get him back enrolled in either the all boys dance group or karate and he’ll start a little basketball clinic and swimming lessons in January so that should keep him active over the coldest winter months. All-in-all it’s been a bang-up start to his formative school years.

11.29.2

Now for Little Miss Rowan:

As I mentioned, academics are never an issue for this kid so we don’t really worry. She is very close to being a Step 12 reader which is where the reading assessment ends {typically for end of the year third graders}. THIS IS WHERE THE BRAGGING COMES IN, if that wasn’t clear. Because I’m solely responsible for this, right? Me, the 7 year old who still couldn’t read simple sentences. Whose first grade teacher took pity on me and kept me in for recess to give extra help. I got it eventually and when I did I soared, I loved reading… but I was no Rowan. Her comprehension is phenomenal. She’ll read and {this is important} understand pretty much anything you lay in front of her.

We asked her teacher for a few reading suggestions because she absolutely devours books so quickly that I have a hard time keeping her challenged, but by the fourth or fifth one she suggested to our responses of “yep, she like that one” “read it” and “Yeah, she’s finished the whole series”, Bill was like, see! this is exactly our problem. She was stumped for a minute or two but after a good laugh she thought of a few titles Rowan has yet to read so the girl should be set for a while.

We moved on to math, where Rowan has bounced back and then some from last year. In first grade she was put in the most fast-paced math group and she struggled big time with the timed homework. They had 5 minutes to finish 100ish problems and it was really overwhelming for her. She spent the whole year getting more and more nervous about it until the end when she just quit trying all together. This kid had ended the first semester report with a strong “meets expectations” and by the end of the year she got the lowest score possible. When I talked with her teacher, who had left on maternity leave a few weeks before the end of the year, she was sure Rowan would bounce back fine, and thought the low assessment scores were due to the disruption of her leaving {Rowan was very close to this teacher and was not happy to be getting a sub}.

When we saw she was placed in the middle instead of the top math group at the start of this year we were relieved. The pressure and the pace was just too much for her very careful, perfectionist personality. She definitely has her confidence back. We did have one issue, however. The 64 question timed homework is the same sheet of  problems in the same order which they get about four times a week. They have 5 minutes to finish the sheet and seemingly overnight Rowan went from finishing in 4 and a half minutes to finishing in two and a half. “WOW, Rowan! That was quick!” “I know, Mom! Aren’t you proud!” “Yes! I can’t believe how much faster you’re doing these!” “Oh! It’s easy! See, the answers are always the same! So I know to just write 6,4 18, 7, 3, 15, 2…” “Uh… aren’t you reading the problem? “Why would I read the problem when I can just memorize the order of the answers?” “Oh, Rowan. I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.” “Why WOULDN’T you do it that way, it’s way easier!” *so much head-shaking* Sure enough, the next time she did the sheet I watched her carefully and she blew through the first three lines, having memorized the answers. Needless to say, I notified the teacher of this, um, tactic, for homework completion, and she said, “Huh. that’s the only sheet they offer because they want the kids to see the equation and immediately associate the answer. I always wondered if kids figured out that they were always the same.” Yep. Leave it to our kid. Lovely.

Last year was a tougher year friend-wise for Rowan because of the dynamic of her particular class. Unfortunately Rowan got drawn into this mid-year a bit because she really liked a few of the girls so she tried to play “the game” of who is allowed to play with who and on what day but after way too many mean-girl tactics {in FIRST grade. Seriously.} she had to give up on the group which was a tough call she made herself and she moved on to a smaller group of drama-free girls which she has very happily stuck with ever since. Thankfully this year has been awesome and her teacher said that even though she definitely has a few close friends she spends most of her free time with, she is a good friend to all her classmates and well-liked.

She has even become somewhat of a mentor to the kids who struggle. She has noticed since starting at this school that her teachers often sit her next to the kids who need a little extra help. Once and a while she’ll get frustrated by this if her seat partner is a little too rambunctious but she understands it’s because she can stay on task and be a helper even if there is a little chaos around her {this is a complete 180 from how she was when she first started school at five, she couldn’t handle ANY disruption}. One boy in particular has been having a hard time but since her teacher sat him next to Rowan, she has taken him under her wing and he’s been really benefiting from her friendship, and she really likes him as well.

This is one more reason I love this school so much. They are so big into positive attitude, reinforcement and character building as well as academics. And listen, kids are still kids. Mine make dumb mistakes all the time. They can be jerks to Bill and I and jerks to each other… we all have our days. But they are learning some valuable things about not just being a good student but about being a good person and that I’m really thankful for.

Other than that, it’s dancedancedance for this lady. She’s struggled a little bit to keep up with the flexibility and acro moves which caused a rough start this year. She kept thinking she there was just no way she would ever get them, but then, she just…did it, and no one was more surprised than her. The look on her face when came back upright after her first walk-over was “oh shit! did that just happen?!” It was pretty priceless to witness after months of failed-attempts. She has a great group of girls in her line who she really likes and has become close to one in particular so that was a big help getting through the toughest parts, but I think she’s now officially turned the corner from the “no I can’ts” to the “welp, it’s gonna be a lot of work but I know I cans”.

11.29.1

There you have it! These two have done such a great job. After we got the report cards, we told them we’d take them out to a fancy family dinner. “Because we’re so smart?” Keaton asked, and I had to say, NOPE. I loved all the 3s and 4s on their report cards, but it was what we saw in the teacher’s comments that got them a crab and lobster dinner. Compassionate, good friend, role model, helper. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it.

Read Full Post »

And why not? It’s not like I have a very expensive, super awesome Canon 7D to record my family’s precious memories with. Oh wait! I do! It’s just currently being pulled apart by some camera surgeon, or more than likely, sitting on a shelf until a time when said camera surgeon deems it acceptable to actually take a look at the thing. I don’t really know anything other than last Sunday at the pumpkin patch it would not turn on, as if the battery had died, only I had just charged it two days before and that battery is a total rock star, going weeks before having to be plugged in. I couldn’t even freak the eff out, which is what I wanted to do, because it was Bill’s birthday and I didn’t want to stress him out or ruin his day so I just said, “Let’s not talk about it, we’ll figure it out tomorrow”. Then, all of a sudden it popped on. Huh. And YAY. Annnnnd it’s off again. Um. Shit. By the time I tested it the next day {when it was officially safe to freak out as much as I wanted to} it wouldn’t turn on at all.

So! After asking around we realized there was only one Canon specialist anywhere near the Twin Cities so Bill dropped it off on his lunch break and there it still sits. I’m more than a little distraught as the technician’s best guess {after checking the battery, which was just fine} was a faulty wiring communication thingy {technical term!} that will be pretty spendy to repair and is fairly common in these cameras. Turns out, after a quick google search, I found that the 7D is lovingly referred to as Canon’s Lemon. I really wanted the 5D mark III, with the 6D being more probable, but both were a liiiiiitle out of our budget and Bill’s co-worker had only owned this 7D for 2 years, it was way cheap comparatively and in great condition so I went for it, figuring I couldn’t be picky. Now I’m really, really thinking I should have been picky. I am normally a giant snob about items like this being completely new, but situation as it was, I just really wanted a new camera and getting a used one made that possible. I just hope it comes back as an easy fix and soon, as I sort of feel like I’m missing an actual appendage.

The good news is that these are the very best cell phone pictures money can buy! I know this because the very next day after the camera broke, my cell phone drowned in an unfortunate toilet incident here-by to be referred to as “Bill drops and shatters his phone Monday morning, Christy chastises him {from her very tall, some might even say high, horse}, Christy drops her phone in toilet that very same evening and this foot is never ever going to come out of my mouth”. Or just “Christy’s a Big Fat Idiot” {CaBFI}, for acronym brevity’s sake. After following all the instructions the internet had to offer it was sadly determined that all the rice in the free world would not save this phone. Luckily my contract was up for renewal so the new phone came at the best possible rate it could, which is to say, it’s a freaking iPhone so still ridiculously expensive.

{Okay it’s taking a little too long to get to these damn photos.}

Here you go, Internet!!

Halloween started off right with some gore.

That’s a real live Jack-O-Lantern, folks!

Halloween started off right with some gore. While I was up feeding the baby, Rowan awoke and under the supervision of her father proceeded to yank out the 2 front teeth that have been loose for over one full year {I know it’s me so it’s hard to tell, but this is not hyperbole. She’s been tormenting me with wiggling these suckers since mid-October 2012}. I guess it was an extremely bloody extraction, one I’m thankful Bill had to deal with, not me. Teeth are gross.

Rowan was excited to dress up for school as Galadriel. Bill was excited he has thoroughly nerdicised our offspring.

Rowan was excited to dress up for school as Galadriel, the Queen of the Woodland Elves, from LotR. Bill was excited he has thoroughly nerdicised our offspring.

Keaton, or PJ Frodo, missed got sick on Tuesday morning with a crappy virus that gave him a fever and a sore tummy.

Keaton, or PJ Frodo, got sick on Tuesday morning with a crappy virus that gave him a fever and a sore tummy. He stayed home again on Halloween and studied up on his character by watching The Return of the King.

In case you missed it, this is the second time this kid has gotten sick on this holiday. Thankfully there was 100% less puking this time. He was feeling moderately better on Halloween but since he had to miss his school party I set up trick-or-treating in the living room which he thought was pretty cool. He seemed to be doing well that evening but he only lasted for about 25 minutes of ToTing so Bill brought him back and he laid on the couch and watched a movie with his candy bag close by. He was MUCH better today.

11.1.6

Getting Frodo ready. WHAT?! Hobbit’s have curly hair ERGO this was completely necessary! {Maybe I should have edited out that wine glass?} {NAH.}

You have to admit it was worth it.

You have to admit it was worth it. Big thanks to my friend Annie, who suggested it.

This guy was super good about keeping that lion head on for approximately 4 seconds.

This guy was super good about keeping that lion head on for approximately 4 seconds.

But it was an awfully cute four seconds.

But it was an awfully cute four seconds.

ready for Trick-or-Treating! Everyone thought Rowan was an angel and honestly who can blame them. Much to Bill's chagrin, most people didn't open the door and say, "Look it's Galadriel! The Lady of Light!". Weird, i know. It did happen to coordinate well with Ellie's costume since they looked like Devil and Angel.

Ready for Trick-or-Treating! Everyone thought Rowan was an angel and honestly who can blame them. Much to Bill’s chagrin, most people didn’t open the door and say, “Look it’s Galadriel! The Lady of Light!”. Weird, I know. It did happen to coordinate well with Ellie’s costume since they looked like Devil and Angel.

And there's my husband, who for whatever reason chose to dress up like a hotdog. Surprising that he didn't tell me about this beforehand, huh? Whatever. The DCFI was Frankenstein so Jen took to calling them Frank and Weenie all night which helped some. Also wine. The wine helped.

And there’s my husband, who for whatever reason chose to dress up like a hotdog. Surprising that he didn’t tell me about this beforehand, huh? Whatever. The DCFI was Frankenstein so Jen took to calling them Frank and Weenie all night which helped some. Also wine. The wine helped.

Til next year, Internet! Hope everyone had a happy, safe Halloween!

Read Full Post »

9.2.10

Tomorrow my Sir, my budders, my Keaton starts Kindergarten. There was a time, in what now seems like the very distant past, that I could never have imagined we would make it here, Bubba. There were so many nights that I held your screaming, shaking, inconsolable body, so many days of pacifying your cries, wimpers and whines, so many moments that I didn’t think I would be able to make it until the next nap, let alone the next birthday but… five and a half years later, here we are.

On the eve of your first foray into Kindergarten I’m wracking my brain in wonder as to when you grew into an honest-to-god boy. Instead of coming back empty-handed and declaring your long limbs and thinned-out cheeks the work of some mysterious witchcraft,  I came back with giant fistfuls of memories, all that are a small slice of the journey that has made you, you. The path that has brought us to this night.

Whether it was watching you throw yourself down a giant metal slide with gleeful abandon, or seeing you grin through a ride on a gigantic roller coaster or seeing you play catcher and 3rd base at your first T-ball game, or watching you take a running jump and cannon-balling into the deep-end, a little bit of my baby slipped away and was replaced by Big Boy. You know the ones…

kgf

The ones who graduate preschool.

The ones who become big brothers.

The ones who become big brothers.

The ones who back-float like a boss.

The ones who back-float like a boss.

The ones who can shake their booties up on a huge stage in fron of hundreds of people.

The ones who can shake their booties up on a huge stage in front of hundreds of people.

The ones who learn to draw Ninja Turtles.

The ones who learn to draw Ninja Turtles.

The ones who FINALLY brave the fireworks.

The ones who FINALLY give fireworks a second chance.

The ones who are total rockstarian.

The ones who are totally rockstarian.

The ones who hit a home run.

The ones who hit a home run.

9.2.12

The ones that can do handstands.

9.2.7

And fight off invisible orc armies with big sticks.

I have to be honest, Buddy. I didn’t think sending you off to Kindergarten would be that big of a deal. After all, I have been through this two times before with your sister and even more so than that you are my Big Guy and after three years of preschool and being oldish for your grade, you are more than ready to move up and out and beyond. But a couple of weeks ago I sent you to Kindergarten camp and when I saw how small you looked in that giant classroom, panic set in. What if you get confused about where you’re supposed to be? What if you forget to get off the bus and we’re on the evening news because the bus company has lost you? What if you drop your lunch tray and you get embarrassed? What if you freak out when you realize they don’t let you watch PBS during lunch? What if some jerky kid makes fun of your glasses or how you say “drawl” instead of draw? Because mama will HUNT THEM DOWN and… well, give them a stern talking to, or something. You really are my big guy, who does big guy stuff, but still…

The panic wore off eventually, mostly when you came home in one very happy, very exhausted piece. And even though I’m sad. Even though I worry. Even though those kids better watch their backs if they are mean to my baby… I know, I just know…

You're gonna do great.

You’re gonna do great, Sir.

Read Full Post »

Oh…hi! Remember when I used to blog about, uh, you know…stuff? Yeah. I kind of quit doing that with any sort of regularity and now when I write I feel the need to try to re-cap weeks or even months of activity for our little family and these posts are long, wordy, self-important look-at-what-my-precious-babies-are-doing-even-though-all-the-other-precious-babies-are-doing-the-same-goddamn-things and quite frankly they are as exhausting to write as I’m sure they are to read. What I’m saying is, I’m going to stop doing that. HA! Just kidding. I’m going to do it right now because I have woefully neglected to write Rowan’s end of the year re-cap and Internet? It was an amazing year that deserves to be re-lived on these blog pages. I’ll do my best to keep it short {just so you all realize my version of short is three, uh… seven, uh… 1000 times longer than anyone else’s. Sorry about that.}

Who ordered a Rowan on the rocks?

At this time last year I was so extremely relieved that the summer had come so we could leave that awful year and awful teacher in the dust. We knew the first grade teacher at that school had a great reputation so even though I wasn’t excited for Rowan to return there in the fall we were at least hopeful that she would have a better year. Then things changed. After we made the tough decision to hold her back when we were offered the spot at her current school we made our peace but still fretted over any repercussions we might face for “red-shirting” a very academically solid 1st grader back to Kindergarten.

A year later, with our Hindsight-is-20/20 goggles firmly in place, here is what I have to tell you…

Academic Cons: I think Rowan slipped at bit in math. One of the biggest arguments against holding your child back is that the earlier you get the knowledge in, the better it will stick; the 5-6 year old brain is more malleable than the 6-7 year old brain and all that jazz. Rowan ended her first year of K very solid in math knowledge. More so than the age factor though was that her last school was VERY math centric. About a third of the way into the school year they had workbook pages in math homework nearly every night for the rest of the year. By the end of the year she was adding, subtracting and counting money on her own with ease.

Having to start over at the beginning of the year with stuff like writing the numbers and counting to 50 was boring for her and by mid-year when they were starting in on the more difficult concepts she slid and honestly she lost a fair amount of the knowledge she had acquired the previous year especially when it came to identifying and counting actual money. Her current school doesn’t focus much on homework for Kindergarten, choosing instead to promote the classroom-home connection, meaning that every week we were given tons of info on what the kids were doing during the day and specific ideas on how to incorporate those ideas into our everyday home-life. Such as, “we are learning to count by 2’s, please sing this “Doubles Rap” with your child every night”, or “here are the sight words we’re working on, please place them on cards around your house and have your child find and read them”. Also this school places equal value on reading and math whereas the previous school didn’t do anything for reading outside of one month where we counted up how many books Rowan read or was read to for an end-of-the-month reward. {In fact, when I asked her teacher if she had any tips or resources for helping Rowan with a few phonics issues, she gave me a puzzled look and said “oh, they just figure it out on their own”. WHAT?! This might be true for some kids- it actually was in Rowan’s case for the most part, but COME ON, LADY. As a kid who struggled with reading big time, that sort of outlook is absolute CRAP, especially for an educator.}

Anyway! By the end of the year, with a little effort Rowan picked things up and is doing just fine at math but I definitely did see a back-slide due to the school/curriculum change. Other than that there have been exactly zero other academic cons that I can see at this point. Her reading took off ZOOOOOOM even though the curriculum was definitely set up for pre-reading, and this is due to having an awesome teacher and a school that was willing to work with her abilities. About mid way through the year, she gained the confidence to read chapter books “inside her brain” instead of out loud and has been devouring any Cam Jansen, Jigsaw Jones or Disney Fairy series book that she can get her hands on as well as reading storybooks to her brother almost every night. After years of reading out loud to a child and then months and months of having them stumble their way through easy readers, it’s a pretty flipping gratifying experience to wonder why the hell things have all of a sudden gotten so quiet and when you rush into the bedroom, find your 6 year old curled up on the bed next to the cat deeply engrossed in a good story.

Social cons: NONE. ZERO. I thought there would be some issues but there was absolutely not. Rowan made friends with just about every kid in her class and had no issues with her peers. At the beginning of the year she reported some behaviors by a girl in her class- you know the one who is 5 going on 15? The mean girl who tells secrets and tries to dictate who to and not to be friends with and makes you feel like a queen one minute and a pile of shit the next? Also known as THE GIRL WHO IS NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO EXIST FOR AT LEAST 8-10 YEARS? Yeah, so that one tried her bullshit out on Rowan, who sort of half-mentioned some random incidents before coming to me at the end of the second week of school with the conclusion that this girl wasn’t kind to her friends so she was just going to play with other kids who were kind. I commended her on her analysis and decision, not wanting to make too big a deal out of it but in my mind I gave that child a stupid-proud grin and the kind of standing ovation where your hands go numb from clapping so hard.

As for the pros? Confidence. When you are the smallest kid, no matter how big a personality you have, you tend to be overlooked {except during those times when all the kids take turns picking you up and {literally} pass you around because “look at how small Rowan is, I can pick her up!” *passes my child to the next kid* “Ha! Me too!”}. There was only one other kid who even came within two inches of Rowan’s height that first year but all the rest were a good head-plus taller. She looked out of place and while that would never have merited a good enough reason to hold her back on its own, it certainly played a role in the grand scheme of things. At the beginning of this year it was so weird to see her fit in size-wise even though it didn’t last. I’d say at the beginning of the ’11-’12 school year Rowan was in the top third of her class height-wise but even though she gained two inches or so over the course of the school year, by the last week there she was, all 44 inches and 37 pounds of her, having been passed up by most of her classmates, she was one of the shortest again although this time the difference isn’t so huge.

And size wasn’t the only confidence builder. Having gone through K before, we talked a lot about her being a “professional” so it was up to her to set a good example for the other kids. This is a job she really took to heart both at school and dance. She went from getting “table time” and “frowny faces” on a daily basis the previous year to getting no “red lights” and only 4 “yellow lights” during the course of the entire year. That is amaze-balls, people. How many of us can say we only had 4 off days during the last nine months of our lives? I certainly can’t. A big part of this can be traced back to having a teacher that has more in her bag of tricks than punitive measures but we really noticed a huge difference in Rowan’s happiness in school which SURPRISE! Led to better behavior in all aspects of her life.

Would I make this decision again? IN A HEARTBEAT. Kindergarten is an adjustment for any kid and all kids are bound to have some struggles along the way, but what we went through that first year was beyond ridiculous. I have no doubt had Rowan been able to start out at her current school there would have definitely been a few more bumps but it would have been nothing like that first year. She would have thrived in the positive environment and would now be a second grader, but I think honestly she is where she’s meant to be and for that I am thankful.

That positive environment was definitely the other biggest pro. Listen, I get that there needs to be punitive measures for bad behavior. Kids can sometimes be assholes and assholes need to know their behavior isn’t welcome- But it should never be the first direct approach you take with 5-6 year olds. At this age these little beings WANT you to love them, they want to please you. An 8-10 year old who knows the ropes but screws around anyway, sure, call them out, separate them, send them to the principal’s office- whatever, but a five year old? JUST NO.

After spending a year in a positive environment, these were the things Rowan was willing to attempt outside of school that she was convinced she could not or would not ever do:

Ride her bike sans trainers. BAM.

Be a leader in dance after a really tough first year. BAM.

Get up in front of a big audience to perform her piano recital piece darn near perfectly. BAM.

Practice monkeybars, jumprope and cartwheels and other super scary/hard things for kids with vestibular disorders and low upper body muscle tone over and over and over. BAM

Get her ears pierced even after swearing she would rather die a cold, long death than put holes in her ears. Double BAM.

Just being another year older played a factor in things I’m sure, but I’m willing to bet that hearing “I know you can do this!” day in and day out helped Rowan to see that she wasn’t going to get yelled at or shunned to the back of the room every time she didn’t get something right on the first couple of tries. That it was OK to make mistakes as long as you did your best. That the mistake wasn’t the biggest deal and that apologizing, making it right and moving on go a LONG way. That learning from love yields WAY better results than learning from fear.

And you know what, kid? You CAN do this. All of it. Because you’re pretty awesome.

Read Full Post »

I will now turn your attention away from our {pretty!} entryway floor so we can focus on a little lady who is doing some amazing things. Last week we met with Rowan’s teacher for school-wide conferences and let me just tell you the major differences between my preparation for last year’s conference versus this year’s.

Last year…

– Made list, upon list, upon list outlining the details of the issues Rowan was having and possible solutions.

– Lost HOURS of sleep worrying with sheer terror.

– Requested a conference three times the normal length so we’d have ample minutes to talk about how awful my kid was.

– Prepared countless reactions to the things the teacher might say.

– Doubted myself as her mother.

– Doubted Rowan’s abilities.

– Underestimated and marginalized my kid.

– Cried.

– Showed up sweating bullets as I sat across from the unaffected teacher.

This Year:

– Filled out a short questionnaire the teacher sent out.

– Didn’t make one goddamn list.

– Showed up for the allotted 15 minutes smiling, and left smiling.

I know I sound like a broken record comparing the serious terribleness of last year to the serious wonderfulness of this year but I cannot help it. I knew things were off last year but I didn’t realize just how bad until we became part of a healthy, encouraging, positive learning environment for 5 and 6 year olds. But seriously, if you don’t want to read about how awesome my kid is {um, understandable} or how awesome her school is, feel free to skip this one…

First I’m going to jump back to the beginning of October when Rowan’s teacher noticed Rowan was acting a little tired, dragging a bit. When I came in to volunteer for Centers her teacher asked if there might be anything bothering her at home, or if her sleeping had been off and I said no, that she was doing great at home and hadn’t mentioned any troubles. The teacher asked me to question Rowan about school to see if there was anything that was bothering her and when I did she said school was great. Her exact words were “I LOVE it mom, it’s so easy! I know everything already!” Ugh.

I reported this back to the teacher who said yeah, she was afraid the issue might be boredom. Honestly, we knew this particular problem was going to crop up. Academically, Rowan is a strong first grader and we knew going in there would be a lot of repetition of the skills she had already mastered. Considering this teacher has 28 other little people to get to know as individuals and assess academically, we made the decision up front to be patient, figuring that we could work together with her teacher to come up with some ideas to challenge Rowan once everyone was settled in, probably late November or December.

Turns out we didn’t have to wait because as soon as her teacher felt Rowan was bored she went completely above and beyond our expectations, which admittedly were low after last year, but still. After assessing Rowan’s reading she went to the two other Kindergarten teachers and asked if they had any students that were near, at, or around Rowan’s level so she could put together a group of kids who could read to each other. When it was determined there was not, she went to the lower school principal and made the case for Rowan to go to a first grade class for reading. Due to increasing class sizes they had quit allowing that practice but because Rowan was the only one, her teacher went to bat for her, the principal approved it and one of the first grade teachers agreed to take her when the schedule allowed. So one to two times a week Rowan gets exposure reading to, and being read to, by other kids at her level which is really important in gaining confidence in reading.

And it doesn’t stop there. Her teacher got Rowan her own special drawing pages, where she learns more difficult sight-words and then follows the instructions to draw an animal. Also she got her a workbook that incorporates artwork and reading comprehension {how well does she know my kid?!}. At conferences we talked about how much she loved to work in the workbook and we started paging through to see how much our little diligent worker had done. Here I was prepared to be dazzled by my {obviously advanced genius} child but in typical Rowan fashion of Knocking Us Down Three Pegs we saw that instead of answering the questions at the end of each story, she had quit after 3 stories and jumped ahead to color the pages for half the book. I was mildly horrified at the little stinkerpants, but her teacher just laughed as we all agreed on this kid’s propensity to go into law or politics.

Socially and maturity-wise she is fitting in great with her class. She follows the rules, is independent and a leader without being bossy or controlling {she saves those lovely traits for home and her little brother}. She doesn’t discriminate between boys and girls, she plays great with both. She will be getting some more challenging math instruction once all the fall assessments are done and the kids can be split between those who need to review and those that are ready for more. One of the coolest things was that the teacher seemed genuinely interested in whether Rowan was happy with her school day and more specifically happy with her, the teacher. She not only seemed to like my kid but also seemed to genuinely like being a teacher. She wants the kids to be comfortable with their environment so they’re relaxed enough to learn. It just makes so much sense.

All this has been carrying over to every aspect of life for Ms. Gunterpants. She’s more affectionate. She smiles so much easier. We can joke around with her in a way we couldn’t before because she took everything so seriously, so literally. She comes bounding to the car everyday, excited to tell me all about her day. She’ll always be a little type A, but she’s loosened up so much compared to the little bundle of frustration she was the previous year. I know that part of it is that she’s experienced Kindergarten before, but leaving what you know and all of your friends can be a tough thing for a kid- but she didn’t skip a beat during the switch and has grown in leaps and bounds since starting school here.

Other than school, Rowan’s extracurriculars are going well. She has a busy schedule but I don’t feel too bad about it, considering school is less challenging for her at the moment. She loves her weekly ballet lessons at the little studio in town and is excited to be in the Frosty the Snowman number at their Holiday performance. She also dances twice a week on the baby competition line at her normal studio and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better this year is going. I watched the dance of the line she was supposed to be on this year last Saturday and after seeing how difficult and crazy fast it was, I feel very, very good about keeping Rowan in the baby line, as there is no way she would have been ready for that. Plus as it turns out there are two first graders on her line as well, so she’s not out of place. She’s gaining confidence at mastering the steps she struggled with last year {which has the positive side effect of her not being the one yelled at week after week} and because of this, she is much more willing to practice at home. On the downside, this year her jazz dance is to the re-mixed Smurf song which she loves but sort of makes me want to duct tape my earholes shut.

Piano is going fine, uh, I think. Her program is really hands off as in, Stupid Parents Don’t Yell At Your Children While They’re Practicing Or Even Make Them Practice, You’ll Crush Their Delicate Musical Spirits. As we don’t even have a piano this isn’t an issue for me but we’ll be inheriting one of my moms in January so there will be plenty of time to crush her musical spirit then, I’m sure.

And other than that? We’re reading a ton. She’s still very into the Oz series. We’re almost done with the fourth book which honestly isn’t my favorite but she seems to be enjoying enough. She devours every book she checks out from her class library, and is getting better and better at sounding out tough and tricky words. She also has fallen back in love with art and drawing which, funnily enough, she really seemed to lose interest in, in all the turmoil of  last year, and that made us {particularly her dad} so sad. So while the influx of drawings of Belle and Mr. Fredrickson and flowers and monsters and dragons and dresses and cats etc. etc. are mildly daunting, they are very, very welcome.

I don’t know if we’ve finally reached that magical {mythical?} age that everyone has been talking about, when things just seem to fall into place and are not so damn hard all the time or if it’s the positive change in schools, but life with this little lady has been downright awesome the last few months. It makes me sad and angry that we had to live through last year. That I doubted Rowan was capable of so many things. That I blamed her and wished she could just be different. Just do better. That part of me resigned myself to the fact that this was just how it was always going to be. But here we are, in such a happy, fun place in her development and sometimes in the moments after I pick her up and she is babbling excitedly to me about The Great Wall of China or the Pyramids in Egypt or about that one game she and her friends played at recess where they chase all the boys, I just stop and breathe it in, all of it, and smile. It’s true, how much sweeter these moments are, knowing how bad things can be. So there’s that, I guess. Every kid has their quirks and sticking points and Rowan is definitely no execption~ for a long time, too long, that’s all we were seeing. Now who she is, is shining through and we’re so ridiculously proud of her.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »