Posts Tagged ‘Preschool Pontification’

Can someone please explain how we went from this…

to this?

I mean, WHAT THE HELL, TIME? I know I have four years and over 25,000 photos that all indicated this was coming and I also know I’ve never been good at math {understatement!} but one 3 year old plus four years should not equal the sophisticated, independent First grader who hopped on the big giant bus this morning without so much as a look back at her mom.

Or maybe that’s exactly what that should equal, numbers are confusing, etc.

Still though. Not cool, Time. NOT. COOL.

The first day went great. No one was emotional or nervous~ it’s amazing how that works when you are confident your child is in the best possible place with the best possible teachers out there. After two years of Kindergarten, Rowan was really excited to finally be a first grader. The best part?

She gets her own desk, of course! First graders are important like that.

We have a bit of a hectic after school routine due to her school’s late schedule and dance {one ends when the other begins and they are nowhere near each other} so we are trying out a pick-up schedule that will allow us to leave a little early from school so we can be a little late instead of horrendously late to dance. It might take some tweaking the first couple of weeks but I hope it works out because Rowan worked really hard all summer to stay with her line and it would be sad to have to leave all that hard work behind over a timing issue.

On the first day when I picked her up she chatted nonstop during the 25 minute car ride to dance about new and old friends she played with, how she helped someone spell ‘like’, how she saw her good buddy from last year at lunch, what art project they did, how one boy did such a good job of being quiet in line that he got to pick a prize and on and on and on she went. The excited energy she had from her day was infectious and carried her all the way through two hours of dance, the ride home, dinner and right up until bedtime when suddenly things like brushing her teeth and climbing up to the top bunk got very hard and exhausting. The next morning she seemed pretty wiped out but went on to have a great second and third day at school so hopefully things continue to be this awesome in the coming weeks.

In other Giant Children news:

This tiny little thing started preschool 2 years ago.

And now he might as well climb down from a goddamn bean stock fee-fi-fo-fumming because he is HUMONGOUS in comparison.

Obligatory front of school photo.

And obligatory handsome fella photo.

I have to admit that at this point I’m sort of over preschool, or more aptly put, I have a small case of Preschool Fatigue as we embark on the fifth straight year in one preschool program or another. Because of his late fall birthday, this is Keaton’s third year, and while he is in no way ready for Kindergarten, I feel like preschool is kind of old hat. He’s going for three days a week this year and the days are a little bit longer with an added lunch bunch on Wednesdays, with the option for more, so I think that will definitely be a good thing for him.

{Plus he’s got his own busy dance schedule to keep up with as I somehow got talked into putting him in the baby comp line. I’ve just come to accept that I am really, really bad at breaking up with dance. Being that he’s only four though, he is just doing a month or two to see how it goes~ if it’s too intense or just not a good fit we’ll move him back to rec and I promise to send Bill to do that because clearly I can’t be trusted.}

The first day of school was a parent/child play day so today was the first day for drop-off. Similar to his sister, Keaton was super excited for the day and practically jumped on top of his teacher when she opened the car door to greet him. He was pretty quiet and wiped-out at pick up time, not really willing to share his day with me quite yet, but the class as a whole got a great report which is a huge relief because last year’s group had a rough go for much of the year. Keaton is definitely ready for more challenges in the writing and sight word department, so I’m optimistic that this is going to be a great year for learning and for having fun before his elementary education starts.

Based on how close his face is to the page I’d wonder if he needs glasses, but you know, he already has them, so we’ll just chalk this up to extreme intensity and concentration during journal time.

I’m so grateful for the month or so we’ll all have to get into the routine of the school year before Sammy Davis Jr Jr makes his entrance and shakes things up. Not to mention the month or so of quiet mornings three days a week. With the busy summer we had, I had honestly forgotten what it was like to sit my ass down on the couch and drink my whole cup of coffee, uninterrupted and while it was still hot even! I’m not gonna lie, Internet, it was pretty amazing. I just sat there, soaking in the silence and the stillness and the warm dog curled up next to me. Now, one of my major petty annoyances in life is the ridiculous overuse of the response “I know, right?” but when Luna lazily settled her head into my lap and let out a long, slow sigh of contentedness, FOR I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF, I gave that dog a very enthusiastic I KNOW, RIGHT? And we did know. And it was so, so right.

Happy school year, Internet.

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Hiya! Here are some updates for posterity’s sake. Or whatever.

*First off, thanks for all the well wishes on Sammy Davis Junior Junior! I had an OB appointment yesterday and thankfully he/she was feeling cooperative and let us listen to the thumpity-thump of its heart two times. With all the pregnancy symptoms I have {which is ALL OF THEM, I GET ALL OF THE SYMPTOMS} you’d think it would reassure me that the little bugger is doing just fine in there, but no, the week leading up to the appointment I convince myself the worst has happened and by the time I walk into the clinic my pulse is racing so terribly that when the nurse takes my pulse her eyes widen to somewhere between saucers and dinner plates and they have to keep re-checking it until I calm the fuck down. Which is right after I hear the heartbeat. Luckily I have a history of very wiggly fetuses so once I start feeling the kicks {16 weeks with Rowan, 14 weeks with Keaton} this gets much better.

*As for how I’m feeling? It vacillates between Eh, Ugh, and Somebody Kill Me, Please. Which is better than feeling like Somebody Kill Me, Please all of the time. I’m happy to report that about two and a half weeks after my midwife upped the {awful, terrible, loathsome} zofran prescription, I stopped throwing up, which means I’m going on about two weeks puke-free. The nausea? Still there! Because it’s an unholy asshole. But much of the time it’s manageable, except for when it’s not and unfortunately it’s completely unpredictable. I can have two okay days {‘okay’ meaning I can crawl out to the couch and stare off into space for a while out in the living room, or sit in a lawn chair on the driveway while the kids throw balls at my head} and then on the third day be so miserable I can’t get out of bed. Plus the side-effects of zofran are, um, HIGHLY UNPLEASANT {and I will leave it at that because I don’t want to traumatize any delicate flowers in my readership} but suffice it to say, I can’t really plan anything, as how I’m feeling is a total crapshoot.

I’ve left the house only three times in the last 8 weeks for things other than doctor’s appointments, to varying degrees of success. I was able to go to my mom’s for Easter which was exhausting but better than spending the holiday by myself. Unfortunately, sitting on someone else’s couch proved to be too much and I was down for the count for the next three days. Next I went to Rowan’s spring open house at school last week, and while I was extremely nauseated and tired by the time I got home, I was able to bounce back the next day {‘bounce back’ relatively speaking, of course}. Then last weekend I got a little crazy and went shopping because both mine and Keaton’s bellies were starting to stick out of our shirts and the poor boy had blisters from his shoes being two sizes too small. It went okay for the most part; I spend most of my pregnancies moderately to severely anemic so getting over the hump of pure and utter exhaustion for the most mundane tasks is tough. The big test will be this Saturday- I’m planning to go to Rowan’s dance competition in St. Paul. Not only is this a longer drive than I’ve attempted thus far, her group unfortunately is dancing early in the day and we have to have her there in hair and make-up by 7:30 am. As of this writing I haven’t gotten out of bed before 10am in eight weeks. I get up everyday between six and seven but the nausea’s so bad that I take a benedryl and rest fitfully until around 10 everyday, so getting up at 5:30 am on Saturday is bordering on delusional/suicidal. Oh well! I like to keep things interesting.

Because of this unpredictability, the grandmas still have been taking care of the kids full time, but I’m hoping to start gradually taking over in the next two weeks. The kids really have adjusted remarkably well to all the changes over the last two plus months, I’m so proud of them and thankful for all the support they’ve had, especially from my mom, Bill’s parents and Rowan’s teacher {who is seriously fabulous}.

I’m going to mostly shut up now and show you some pictures of what the kids have been up to the last few weeks…

As terrible as I've felt, it was really important to me that the kids were able to keep all their Easter traditions, which placed all the work squarely on Bill, who has been a total champ in taking over all my duties plus maintaining his own busy schedule of work/freelance/dad. {Not to say it's been a cakewalk for anybody but I'm not going to lie... the ease in which everybody carried out daily life without me made me feel sort of obsolete.}

Treats for the bunny... the bunny being Bill because the mommy bunny would throw that shit right back up.

{And oh yeah! ...Keaton looks a little different, huh?}

Right before I got sick I took him to his preschool screening where he spectacularly failed the vision test. They save the vision test until the end of an already long appointment so I was 90% sure it was because he was antsy, hungry and had to go to the bathroom, but because he failed and this info is all reported to the state, we had to provide documentation that we followed up with a doctor. I made an appointment with a pediatric optometrist at a time of day I knew Keaton would be alert and I also made sure he had eaten and gone to the bathroom right beforehand because I am smart and superior and of course he would pass except on the third line down he was completely lost and nonono, buddy! “You know those letters!” I encouraged, “Try again!” The doctor assured me it was fine, we would switch to shapes even though I knew Keaton knew the letters, as he spit out the first two lines of them with no problem. The shapes went worse, as he couldn’t even identify half of them on the second line and he kept moving his head from side to side for a better angle. The doc then ran a battery of other tests with the various space-agey eye equipment before asking,

“Have you noticed any vision problems at home?”

“Uh, no. I mean… not really? He runs into stuff a lot. But he’s a boy! And just turned Four! He does have to stick his entire face inside the book when I read to him and he moves his head around a lot as if he has to take in the picture one image at a time instead of looking at the big picture…but he’s done that since he was one, I just sort of figured that was one of his quirks…” and here is where I trailed off because even I knew what I was describing at this point was not a quirk.

“He actually has a moderate to severe astigmatism.”

“Shit. I mean shoot. Can you check again? I mean, are you sure? You should check again to be sure.”

“I’m sure. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being mild and 5 being the worst, I’d put him at about a 3.5-4. Sometimes children grow out of astigmatism as their head and eyes grow, but if his is this bad at only four, that won’t happen for him. He’ll have to wear glasses or contacts full time his whole life unless he opts for corrective surgery when he’s grown.”

To myself: Seriously? Why are you telling me this then? Oh some kids grow out of it but not your kid, he’s screwed. THANKS, PAL.

It’s been mostly not a big deal. Keaton was excited to pick out two frames {one for daily use, one as a back-up because let’s face it, four-year-olds are not super easy on and/or responsible with eyewear} and three hundred + dollars later we were all set to go. He’s not super gentle on them and by the end of the day the lenses are absolutely disgusting but he doesn’t ever fight wearing them and hasn’t broken/lost them yet so {knock on wood} there’s that. Still. It made me sad because I had glasses starting in third grade and they are a pain in the ass, not to mention make you a target for teasing, but even sadder to have to cover up those big, blue eyes.

So yeah, where were we? Easterish? Right. Bill made an uneven number of Easter eggs, so after the kids had colored their allotted number of EQUAL eggs for MAXIMUM fairness, they both were eyeing up that last egg, preparing their arguments as to why they should be the one to color it, when Bill said “Since mom has the baby in her tummy she gets to color the last egg”. Then he ceremoniously put the pink and blue cups of dye in front of me and added, “And she has to pick pink or blue to guess whether you will have a brother or a sister.” And then ensued the shrill screeching of the girl child hollering “PPPPPPIIIINNNNNNNNKKKKK” and the boy child hollering “BBBBBLLLLLUUUEEEE BRRRROOOTTHHHHERRRR” and so naturally…

I cheated and picked yellow. I honestly have no clue what sex this baby is going to be. When Keaton is hammy and charming I think how much fun it would be to have another boy. When Rowan says something smart and funny and snuggles into me I wish for a girl. But the truth is that this baby, no matter the sex, isn't going to be a carbon of either of my kids so I just really don't care as long as it doesn't scream at me for 15 months like one other baby I used to know.

Easter morning, obligatory stair photo before we release the kids to hunt for baskets. Evidence that the week leading up to Easter was crazy busy for Bill: His Zorro facial hair.

That afternoon we made it to my mom's where I was able to watch the kids do the Easter egg hunt which made the icky car ride and horrendous three days afterward worth it.

My pictures sort of suck because I have shaky hands to begin with {thanks, dad!} and the Zofran gives me tremors in my hands and arms resulting in a lot of blurry pictures. I'm going to have to invest in a tripod if I want to shoot anything decent this pregnancy.

Crappy pictures aside, seeing their faces as they discover treat after treat magically hidden in grandma's yard is one of my favorite things about being a mom.

I was going to include Rowan’s dance, spring open house, and her newly acquired skill of riding her bike, but I think I’ve already well over-stayed my welcome in this ridiculously long post. Hopefully I will be able to post with some sort of regularity again now that food seems to be staying down. It’s hard to hope after things have been so up and down, but I’m really, really ready for life to start hitting the upswing. Hope everyone had a Happy Easter/Happy Spring.

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As in, fifty months of Keaton Sir. {Well, almost, but since I know I’ll be too lazy to post on a Saturday you’re getting the early edition.}

Keaton has been trying on his Fourness as of late and while he is still the comic relief that is so very much needed in my life right now, he is also 64.7% more pouty, whiny and snotty than one {namely *I*} would hope for. This behavior peaked at the end of December, early January and thankfully seems to be waning a bit.

In the poor boy’s defense he went through a major development leap and it manifested not only in his behavior but in his eating, sleeping and bathroom habits as well. He quit eating regularly and all of a sudden got very picky about food in general. He went through a two week period where he could not get himself to sleep for hours after lights out and then woke up from bad dreams about “monsters stealing my toys”. And the hardest one of all, after two plus months of being completely night trained, he started soaking his bed every night, multiple times. After attempting sticker charts, incentives and the like again, we saw that he just somehow lost his ability to control his bladder at night {something that he seemingly had mastered so I just don’t get it} so we gave up and succumbed to the Evil Pull-up as I packed away all the cloth diapers into the far reaching corners of the Closet of Death and Doom. This last week we’ve attempted underwear at night thrice, with mixed results, so we’ll see.

Other than these little hiccups, things are going pretty rad for our Budders. His current best friend in this entire world is his sword. When he’s home he wields it against unseen warriors and monsters that take the form of the back of our couch, the wall or any number of sinister looking stuffed animals. He practices his footwork and flips {and here ‘flip’ is used very loosely because hurling oneself harry-nilly, willy-carrey though the air and into the ground with no regard for ones head parts just doesn’t sound as cool as “flips”}. In repose he shoves it into the side waistband of his pants where it stays until another battle is nigh. Also? We must call him Peter The Magnificent, as we’ve moved on from warping our children with LOtR to the works of C. S. Lewis.

Ignoring most of the major plot points, Keaton instead stands in wait for a sword battle so he can fight along with Peter.

He also has grown fond of the sword fighting in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, asking to be called Captain Jack Hook Sparrow while sporting his "Pirate Boots" courtesy of pink fluff, Justice and his sister.

He does do a pretty bad ass pirate face, if I do say myself.

When taking a break from the nobility of a sword fighting king or the scoundral-hood of a pirate, he chooses the only logical pastime I can think of…BOOTY SHAKIN’:


Preschool’s going okay, I think. Due to the district’s odd January schedule Keaton only had one day a week for the whole month which sort of sucked as far as getting the momentum built up to learn new skills. After Christmas Bill and I decided to really push letters and numbers with him as he still had trouble recognizing some of them. After a month of this he seems to have all the capital letters figured out and a majority of the lowercase. For whatever reason recognizing numbers was a little more tricky. The kid can count just fine and count one to one correspondence just fine, he just has trouble recognizing the letters on paper and for whatever reason still has a hard time telling apart numbers and letters in general- so if I ask if Q is a letter or a number, he quite possibly will be completely stumped. I have to be honest…I have no idea how to handle this as it was just not ever an issue with Rowan. I never even had to teach Rowan any of this at all, she just picked it up in the natural course of things and never looked back. So we’re just incorporating a lot of letters and numbers into our everyday routine and hoping he’ll figure this shit out by Kindergarten. He did chicken scratch out his name for the first time after Bill worked with him which was a huge step and he was so proud of himself.

On Tuesday Bill and I enjoyed a day out with our boy for a preschool field trip to the Children's Theater to see Harold and the Purple Crayon.

He had fun but I think his favorite part was the giant cookie we got him at my favorite bakery/cafe in St. Paul and really, can you blame him?

He is doing great in dance and seems to really like it. We were asked in to observe for the first time last week to see the first part of their dance and ohmysweetlord those little boys were so adorable. I seriously fear Death from Acute Cuteness at his recital in May. Karate is also going well, as evidenced by a certain young sir receiving another belt on the color spectrum of ass-kicking:

His green belt combination was pretty awesome.

And then he was officially bepurpled.

We were all pretty excited about it.

A couple of weeks ago we managed to get snow instead of rain which lasted a record week and a half before melting. We did manage to make the most of it while it was here though…

Looking professional at the top of our hill. Unfortunately the longest he's stayed upright on the thing is about 4.7 feet.

Other than that?

He seems to have just realized we've owned a dog his whole life and has spent weekend mornings playing tug of war and fetch with Luna and her bobo, much to Luna's delight.

Legos are moving from the bottom of the pile of toys to near the top, though I'm not encouraging this one because I'm still trying to recover from the last of the tiny motherfucking princess shoes and something tells me legos are going to be worse. We Gunters value sanity over fine motor skill development.

And while he has regularly turned down getting his nails re-painted over the last month, he did ask for ponytails a week ago, which made my tiny, cold heart smile.

So many things have changed over the course of his fifty months but Keaton remains one of the sweetest, funniest, happiest and HAMMIEST people on planet earth. We love you, big guy.

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Last night was Keaton’s preschool conference, and really… I was a little worried. Not because I was nervous about Keaton, but because the previous week? I might have called his preschool teacher “a fucking asshole”.

To his face.

I know. I KNOW. But first you need to hear me out because I’m pretty sure he totally deserved it.

At drop-off time Mr. Jamie came to collect Keaton from our car and after pulling Keaton out and guiding him to the stairs of the school he turned back and said, “Hey I’ve been meaning to ask you about something. Keaton’s been acting out a little lately and I’m not quite sure what it’s all about…” he gave a confused, uncomfortable look and continued, “He keeps running around trying to take the other kids’ heads off? And pretending to steal their rings or something? Do you know what that’s about?”

About halfway though his sentence it clicked. Oh my God. Lord of the Rings. I can’t fucking believe it. All I could get out was, “WHAT?”

“Yeah, he keeps grabbing kids’ heads, pretending to take them off and pulling their fingers to get the rings off and the noise he makes? Man, I don’t even know what that is. It’s really loud.”

At this time my eyes have popped right clear out of my head and my heart is pounding in my chest and with the soundtrack of screeching orcs playing over my thoughts I’m thinking jesus christ how could we have been so stupid? Letting a three year old watch those movies? I’ve single-handedly turned him into a complete menace and that’s it. I’ve ruined him. Now I have to throw him out and start over because there’s no way to make him unsee those films and FUCK I am the worst parent ever. Floundering, I say weakly, “I will sit him down and have a long talk about this, OK?” And then I start to pray they don’t kick him out of school for having idiotic parents.

Mr Jamie nods and starts to turn away, but when he turns back he’s smiling and says, “I’m totally messing with you. I read your blog.”

And that was it. In a complete state of shock at being so completely HAD, I smiled with relief but before I even realized the words were out of my mouth I had said “Oh my god I HATE YOU, you fucking asshole.”

And he smiled, shut the door and I watched him giggle to himself as he walked Keaton inside.

So you see? Total asshole. I’m glad you see it my way, Internet.

In the end everyone had a nice long laugh at my gullibility {which I might point out, doesn’t happen super often, so way to go Mr. Jamie} and no harm was done by my foul language so the conference ended up going very smoothly.

What can I say about Mister Sir?! He is doing pretty great in every respect. He consistently meets the standards for social/emotional, language, math, arts and creative development. He has great fine motor skills and amazing gross motor skills. He catches on quick and has a good attention span. He’s good at communicating his needs and feelings to other kids and the teachers. His teachers like him and he gets along well with all his classmates.

I just really don’t worry too much about this kid. Sure he sucks at using a scissors and he can’t yet write letters beyond O, T and K but I just can’t seem to get myself too worked up about it. Maybe it’s that he’s had a year of preschool already, making the biggest issues of this age-group like sharing and socialization obsolete, because he’s an old-pro by now. More likely it’s that he’s my second kid and after having a challenging first-born to practice on, I know that at the end of the day? It will be okay. So what if I ask him what number I’m pointing to and he responds with a confident “The number H!” He’ll figure it out eventually.

It’s funny because the list of issues I went into the conference with were all things he is doing just great on for his age group…the trouble here being that Rowan was a very cognitive and artistic toddler so she set the bar a little high for us in these respects. Every kid has their own strengths and weaknesses and in my kids’ case, many are in completely different areas. We never really had to sit down and teach numbers, shapes and letters to Rowan, she just picked them up very quickly from the books and world around her. She also gravitated to coloring and drawing very early on, whereas Keaton needs assistance learning his numbers, shapes and letters and is just figuring out how to draw things. On the flip side Rowan needed a lot more help with controlling her emotions and dealing with transitions and Keaton has never had issues there- he is a very easy-going, good-humored little fella. Both kids have great attention spans, imaginations and communicating skills so we really lucked out there {and I’m sure there are a number of things they both suck at but I’m gonna go ahead and gloss over that one}.

All-in-all it’s a relief and a nice little boost to sit down and hear that your kid is doing just fine. As a stay at home parent, I unintentionally turn these conferences into a Performance Review of sorts, not for the school but for me, as I see it as my job to help shape my kiddos into functioning little humans in our society. It certainly helps that I love the schools and the teachers that both my kids have this year which I learned {the hard way} is so VERY important to your child’s success {and your sanity}.

What a great start to the year. Way to go, Budders.

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You're no match for ME, Hula Hoop.

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



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?!”


“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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Keaton, Sir! Last weekend you turned three and a half and I know mama promised you she’d drop the monthly check-ins when you turned three, since you are now officially a Big Giant Boy,  but I do feel I need to dedicate a post to you and all the awesome that you are. {Mostly, anyway. Part of you is kind of an asshole right now but you’re my little asshole and I love you. Normally I don’t really love assholes though so consider yourself pretty special.}

Let’s get the bad part out of the way first, shall we? Your mother, your stupid, stupid mother, somehow thought she had beaten The Three. In the months after you turned, I waited all quiet-like, pretending to read a book or tie my shoes, but what I was really doing was waiting for Three to rear its ugly head. I was, maybe not prepared- as part of Three is the unpredictability of which child you are going to get at any given moment, The Sweet One or The Jerk, but I had steeled myself for it. It was not if but when, and I was going in to battle ready. And then…The Three never came. You remained {for the most part} sweet. And polite. And easy-going. And malleable. And able to put your shoes on without using the phrases “NO! LIFE’S NOT FAIR!”, “I CAN’T, MY FINGERS FELL OFF!” or “YOU DO IT.” {That last one’s the least dramatic but the most infuriating, BTW.}

So you know what I did? I got lazy. After months and months of The Three being a no show I got comfortable. After all! It might just be easy with you~ you’ve always been a pretty even-tempered kid…maybe you wouldn’t turn on me. Rowan caught The Three at 14 months and it lasted until almost 5 and a half so maybe the universe was taking pity on me! I’d put in my time, right? RIGHT?


The Motherfucking Three caught up with us about a month ago and has settled its hooks firmly into you. One minute you were sweetly playing with your cars and when I denied you a second fruit snack, you through a fit. Huh, I thought. That was weird. I sat you on the step for a time out and then The Three came right out of your mouth and hurled itself at my chest. With a furrowed brow and tightly crossed arms it said, “I don’t love you very much anymore, Mama.”

What the…?

And then I knew. And I felt played by that stupid Three. Tricked. I gave you no reaction but a firm look and a promise to give the fruit snacks away to nice little boys {even though my heart was all sad face emoticon} but I knew any reasoning I tried was futile and five weeks later we’re still waiting it out. At least your Threes are mostly about whining, testing and pouting and less about Extreme XXL Competitive Tantruming like your sister’s were. Still. To say I don’t like them very much would be a solid, terrible understatement and you have 3 more days to figure it out because then summer will be here at last and The Three is NOT INVITED TO SUMMER, SON.

And now for the good, of which there has thankfully been plenty of over the last six months. You had a pretty easy going spring schedule. After soccer was finished every evening was free so you just had toddler class and preschool. You spent a ton of time with both your grandmas and your dad while I was busy hauling your sister around to dance stuff and somewhere in that time, out of necessity or just through the natural ebb and flow, you’ve become a much more independent bugger. You get yourself undressed most mornings and make a solid effort of trying to dress yourself. You pull your bag of cars down and play on your bed while I tame your sister’s hair in the morning. You sneak into the snack cupboard and stealthily open the fruit snacks by yourself, and then guiltily hold up the empty package to me when I come down the stairs, asking “can I have these?”.

Things I’ve learned about you this spring:

You no longer fit in the baby swing, even if I try to shove you in for nostalgic purposes.

You are so much more adventurous on playground equipment, climbing the big kid structures with ease, and jumping off precariously high surfaces, not caring one wink that you are giving your mother small heart attacks by the dozen.

You like to get a good running start before hitting the ball off the tee. Exhibit A:

You are a champion bubble blower and prefer to blow rather than pop.

You get really confused that tomorrow never seems to come. At bedtime you ask if it will be tomorrow when you wake up, and I assure you it will be. When I go to get you up in the morning you shout “Yay! It’s tomorrow!” only to have your know-it-all sister inform you that it is in fact NOT tomorrow but today again. I promise someday this will make sense, sir.

Your imaginary play scope has gotten wider, though you still always want to play it with a car.

You love Love LOVE to get your nails painted. And I’m so sorry those mean Kindergarten boys tried to make fun of you but the way you stood your ground with a Dude-they’re-painted-nails,-why-you-gotta-be-a-hater? attitude was pretty awesome.

You finished your first year of preschool which was awesome. This year was all about socialization and separation from mama which you have definitely mastered so I am excited for the fall at your new school when hopefully you can learn that you don’t count the alphabet and that K is not the first number of your name, which although hilarious to us, seems to draw some funny stares from other people. This is new territory for me because I never had to teach Rowan much of anything. She has a great memory which helped her learn letters and their sounds pretty much on her own and because she is a cognitively driven sort of kid, she picked it up fast. You on the other hand don’t have much of an interest in any letter other than K and even still don’t care much about the alphabet as a whole. You can count to 20 but you couldn’t identify any number higher than 5 when written down and you know what? I would have freaked out if you were my first born, wondering if I’d somehow failed you and I’d be searching google for some learning disability to label you with but thankfully you’re my second born and you know what? Call me lazy, but I think this whole number and letter thing will probably sort itself out sometime in the next year. If not, rest assured google will be there waiting for me with open arms.

Budders, your legs are lean and stretch down to the pedals of not a trike, but a bonafide big boy bike. Your arms, sans any trace of baby pudge, reach to pull you up to higher heights, then curl themselves around, flexed tight, with a balled fist to show how strong you are, a proud smile on your face. Though they still do when you deem it fit, those same arms don’t wrap themselves around me quite as much as they once did. Your a big three and a half year old now and you know what? You got this. We love you, old pal.

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This week is beach week at Keaton’s preschool so despite the 7 feet of snow piled up in my {air quotes!} “front yard” I dressed Keaton in his swimsuit this morning, and finally had an excuse to put him back in his rainbow babylegs one last time which he is sadly outgrowing {as in too cool for, not too big for}. The swimsuit is new and has a tighter inside liner than he is used to so he kept shoving his hands down his pants trying to, ahem… re-adjust himself. Instead of helping him though, like any good mom would, I just giggled and let him figure it out.

This came to bite me in the ass however when I pulled him out of the car in the crowded preschool parking lot and he announced at the top of his lungs that “Moooooom! Somethin’ is buggin’ my weiner! OUCH MAH WEINER!!!!!!” There were probably more exclamation points in the sound of his voice but I’m blocking it out, out of sheer embarrassment. This is a very large, very Jesusy preschool. Thanks for bringing me down a peg or two, kid- it’s been awhile.

On a related note, after finally getting over his fear of Snow White {something my 66 year old mother has yet to do- seriously. She saw it in the theater when she was 5 and to this day WILL NOT re-watch it} Keaton’s been practicing his Evil Witch:

I think it’s coming along nicely. Better not break it out in front of Grammy though.

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Last night we went to Mr. Sir’s conference at preschool and as testament to how different your second kid can be, or more accurately how different you can be with your second kid, we walked out the door without one single prepared question and no list of concerns to go over with his teacher. Part of this is because when we use the term preschool we’re kind of pushing it. The class he’s in now mostly focuses on getting the kids comfortable with a classroom environment and working on social skills with teachers and other 2 and 3 year olds. They have plenty of art supplies available but no required projects, they sit for circle time and learn songs and dances and go over calendar and the alphabet but nothing in depth. We chose this class for Keaton because we really liked the age parameters of 30-36 months by {last} September~ big enough to delve into some preschool activities but young enough where bringing a blanket or security object until a higher comfort level was achieved wouldn’t be looked down on. The teachers are incredibly nurturing and loving which we thought was important as Keaton had never been in a daycare or formal environment without me and I didn’t want him to get overwhelmed when he started regular preschool. And we’ve had a great experience and are very confident he’ll adjust just fine to a more structured environment next fall.

His teacher sat us down and told us a few anecdotes about Keaton in the room- how his communication/verbal skills wow them everyday and how much he loves the music portion of their day. When she opened up his booklet that went through the 20 or so goals that should be met by the end of the year, she said he had already met every single one and to be honest, he had probably met them all already by last fall. This was awesome to hear because when I drop that kid off he runs to where the buckets of cars are set up and when I pick him up, that’s where I find him. So I sort of thought I was paying hundreds of dollars a year for the kid to play with the same damn matchbox cars we have at home, but as it turns out he’s very active in the classroom. He’s made lots of friends but unsurprisingly, he gravitates to the girls- I think maybe it’s because with this particular group, the girls have verbal skills more on par with his so it’s easier for him to fall into play with them. Plus he’s used to being around girls with me, Rowan and all his doting older cousins. She wrapped up by letting us know that he was ready for more challenging activities which she’d work on finding for him over the next 3 months of school and she wanted to make sure we had him enrolled in a 3-4 year old program for next year, because he’d be more than ready for it.

It was a lot harder than I thought to pick a preschool this time around. With Rowan we didn’t decide to put her in until about a month before the school year and by that time there were only two schools with openings, we toured both, liked both, and then made a decision pretty quickly. This time around we had to decide whether to sign up at the school he’s in now, which is a large organization with multiple locations and a TON of offerings. There we could pick anywhere between 2-5 days a week, they offer a lunch program that’s alacarte so if I needed to be somewhere without him I could always use that as a back-up sitter, plus they have extended day programs as well. If we went back to where we sent Rowan, he would strictly be going 2 mornings a week for 2.5 hours and the school is tiny, offering only 3 classes total. The pluses were that I knew all of the staff {who are fabulous}, had served on the board for 2 years so I am familiar with the way the school is run and would know other families. We also love that this school uses a ton of natural wood toys, steering clear of all the brightly colored plastic crap kids play with everywhere else.

We also had a third option of Farm School which is probably the most popular and hard to get into preschool in our area because it offers a unique experience of incorporating nature and farm life into their preschool lesson plans. I actually went there when I was little and found out that they give alumni parents’ children first dibs so Keaton would pretty much be guaranteed a spot at a hard to get into school. The cons were that it’s further away so there would be a lot more driving involved for me and since Rowan can’t get busing since we open-enroll, I would have to drive her to school which is in the opposite direction of where Keaton would need to be at the same time. I’m sure we could have worked something out but it would have been a lot of work. Also this school is pricier than any of the other options in our area and honestly? I don’t know how much Keaton would get out of it. I wish I had done my research and known about this with Rowan because Farm School would have been perfect for her. She has always LOVED the outdoors, and been very enthusiastic about animals and nature in general. She’s a high energy kid, especially when she gets excited about something and she would have powered through the cold outdoors and loved every minute of it. Keaton is much lower energy {see? don’t believe all the myths about boys!} and would prefer to lay on the ground with a handful of cars to zoom around any day so even though it was tempting to take him to the high demand place, we decided it really wasn’t the best fit for him. In the end we chose to go back to where Rowan went, we had an awesome experience there and Keaton’s familiar with the environment and teachers. {And since I am too it will be easier for us to participate in preschool life and events in a more meaningful way.}

So this is more than you ever wanted to know about preschool, huh? We were so green when we started this process for Rowan and though she had trouble transitioning into both years of preschool, the positive experiences she gained far outweighed the negative. I don’t know how it is in the rest of the country, but here preschool has become a necessity. So many kids attend it so the ones who don’t are at a disadvantage right away and it makes for a tough learning polarization in the classroom when there is a big gap in the capabilities of the students. Kindergarten is a very different place than what we attended when we were kids. Kids don’t learn sharing, coloring and how to write their name- those are already expected of them going in. Now the kids are learning how to read, write in sentences and getting the basics for addition and subtraction problems with math homework 3-4 nights a week. By all accounts, Kindergarten is now really first grade, and totally different than it was even 20 years ago.

So we’ll see how our guy fares over the next two years. It’s hard to know what the right path for each kid is. I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of setting our little buggers up for success in school but there are so many factors that are beyond our control, as evidenced by the fall Rowan had {although those were some pretty heavy extenuating circumstances}. I’d like to hope that Keaton’s transition to a more structured environment will go smoother than what we dealt with for Rowan. He is so much more easy-going than her which will help, but he also lacks her drive for achievement, natural curiosity for learning and ability to retain and soak in what she hears. Keaton has a great skill set of his own but he and his sister could not be more different in the ways that they take things in. By 2 Rowan not only knew the alphabet but could assign words to the letters and produce her own rhymes. When we show Keaton his name and point to the first letter for him to identify, he proudly shouts out “P!” half the time.

"What?! Maybe I just really like the letter P!"

In any case, Keaton’s all set for next fall and after the {pardonmyfrench} FUCKSTORM of figuring out where Rowan would be for Kindergarten and 1st grade, I feel like half the battle is won already.

And besides. If school doesn't work out for these two they would make nice editions to any circus this state has to offer.

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Keaton Sir!,

Last month’s blah blah was put together in the haze of  Kindergarten which caused me to forget to document two very important accomplishments you had made that month. The first was that for a reward for a weeks worth of dry pants at naptime, you went to your first movie in the theater, Toy Story 3. We took Rowan to it the month before, thinking you were no where near ready, opting to leave you with Grammy. We decided to go for it after your dad got you copies of the first two toy stories, which you immediately fell in love with, giving us all a much needed break from that Lightning McQueen fellow. You are pretty sensitive to loud noises so I went in fully expecting to have to leave early, but nope! Your little frame wasn’t quite heavy enough to hold the folding seat down but after some maneuvering you settled right in with your very own popcorn and sprite. Now there is a scene in that movie that *I* was a little scared of, well, maybe not scared, but it was pretty intense and emotional and this is a freaking animated film for cripesakes. {Damn you Pixar, I still can’t listen to the music from Up without tearing up}. Again, I thought you might get worked up over it but it didn’t even seem to register with you. Your sister on the other hand, came over to sit on my lap during it which is funny because that girl is practically fearless.

The second accomplishment happened despite many attempts by your parents to foil your efforts. You see, Rowan is a wee bit territorial about her toys, which she likes to line up just so. {And by *wee bit* I mean CATASTROPHICALLY, DIABOLICALLY territorial. She will cut you. Or threaten nuclear warfare. Or both.} In order for us to avoid becoming a ravaged, war-torn household, we have always let Rowan claim free reign over our bedroom, with the door tightly shut behind her to keep your smashy little fingers away. This was a great, easy enough solution when you were one, but as your two year old brain evolved it wanted very much to learn how to open that, and other doors. So when you’d try to work the bathroom knob I’d shout, “LET MAMA DO THAT” or “OH HERE, LET ME HELP YOU”or “NO NEED TO BOTHER WITH THAT. LEAVE THE DOOR TO THE SERVANTS” (the servants, of course, being your father and I).

Alas. Progress was made despite our best efforts. Did you get up in the middle of the night to practice with only the pale glow of the nightlight aiding you? Did you secretly hire a doorknob turning guru? Did you bribe Grandma and Grandpa to teach you? IT WAS UNCLE BRIAN WASN’T IT? In any case, you now know how to open the majority of the doors in the house, which has led to a lot of the peaceful, beautiful, tranquil mornings, where the only sounds were of birds chirping, butterfly wings caressing the air, and if you listened very carefully, the gentle hum that emanated from the rainbow that had sprung just outside our patio door, to be interrupted by MOMMOMMOMMOMMOMMOMMMOMMOMMOMMOM KEATON IS TOUCHING THINGS! GET HIM OUT OF HERE! GET HIM OUT OF HERE! GEEETTTTTHHHHIIIIIIIMMMMMMOOOOOOOUUUUUUTTTTTT. So GREAT JOB bud, on this new skill.

Moving on to this month.

You and I are having so much fun together. As I’ve stated many times before, the biggest challenge I have as a mom is balancing my time between two kids. Now, for 7.5 hours a day I don’t have to. And that is awesome. I’ve been so entrenched in considering the needs for two kids that having just one to keep tabs on and entertain honestly feels a little bit like a vacation. Your sister {GOD LOVE HER} wasn’t the best at the hustle and bustle of activity, so a lot of the time it was better for everyone that we just stay home.  Now that it’s just us though we’ve gone to your toddler class and music class together, the zoo, parks, play-dates and on countless trike rides around the circle.  I think the real test of this arrangement will be this winter when we will undoubtedly be more cooped up.

I am slowly noticing the threes creeping in to your daily repertoire of behaviors. Meaning that you can be kind of a jerk sometimes. It mostly takes the form of persistence in asking- nay- demanding treats or fruit-snacks (which are a treat in our house). You’ve adopted the notion that if you just say it louder we will change our minds.

“Mom, can I have a fruit-snack?”

“Sorry bud. Not now.”


“No, sir. You already had one. The rule is one a day.”

“Please! I’ll be polite!”

“I know you want one, pal. But not right now. One a day.”


no response from me


The pleading goes on until you are screeching PLEASE I’LL BE POLITE at the top of your lungs directly into my kneecaps, which you are gripping tightly between your mighty, angry, decided un-polite toddler fingers. In related news, I’m beginning to think you don’t quite get the concept of being “POLITE!” all that much. The big difference here is that I am not scared of your temper tantrums which is huge. When Rowan’s tantrums start I get so crestfallen because they go on and on and I know that most likely our whole day is shot. Yours however, though very intense are fleeting and once you’ve gotten it out of your system I know I’ll get my smiley boy back.

Another new thing? Wanting to eat the apple The Big Boy Way. Or as I like to call it, The Way That Gets Spit Out Chunks of Apple All Over the Damn Floor.

This last Monday you had your very last water babies class. It was sad because we had so much fun splashing in the pool with you for the last year and a half, but I could tell it was time to move on. You were pretty restless and bored for most of this session which made it more of a chore to take you than it had been during previous sessions. With the busy fall/winter schedule we have decided to forego more swimming lessons until the spring, at which time you will be old enough to go into level 1 with your sister- the big kids, non-parent class! I’m actually going to miss getting in the pool with you but maybe not so much miss you trying to pull my bathing suit top down, trying to set the twins free for all the other babies and parents to see.

We also decided to simplify things by pulling you out of dance. Though you did do a lot better the second half of September, we feel like you didn’t really get the concept of dancing in a uniform way with a group of kids. It probably would have come by mid-year but you were so much younger than everyone else in the class that we decided to hold off a year. We still shake our booties and practice your moves at home though.

Three is starting to peak its stubborn little head around the bend, and wow. I feel like Rowan was just three last week so I have no idea how we got here so fast. I suspect someone has been messing with my flux capacitor. I take comfort in knowing that we have so much time to spend together and that you are getting a healthy dose of socialization from preschool, which, yeah OK, probably amounts to a lot of arguments about who had what toy first and that was MY chair and step away from the toy car BEEYOTCH, but still.  You are absolutely rocking it. Almost every morning you ask if it’s a preschool day and if I say no you get so disappointed. There has not once been a teary drop-off but everyday when I come to pick you up you charge me with your arms spread almost as wide as the grin on your face. That face, that hug is the absolute best part of my week.

Unrelated photo shamelessly included because you are sacked out like a proper baby, hiding the giant boy you've become.

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