Saturday, October 03, 2015

Many firsts

I may have figured out my Tuesday / Thursday time gap problem, based on what has worked recently. We tried playground time before music class this past Monday, attempting to wear him out enough to agree to sit on my lap and play his wood block correctly. It did not work, but I enjoyed reading a book while pushing him on the swing, and at least this week he didn't spent a whole song pratfalling while pretending to step on his shaker eggs, slip, and fall down. (Which was actually somewhat clever / funny when he did it, but I couldn't let it show on my face lest he feel encouraged in his class clownery.) On the bright side, I am bonding with another mother in the class who has an equally-wild girl a little younger than E. It's very nice to not be the only one wrestling That Kid. After being impressed by Elliott's coordination as he kicked a beach ball around the pool deck during Nico's swim lesson on Tuesday evening, I stopped at Academy on the way home and bought him a tiny soccer ball. We took that out to the back corner of the preschool parking lot on Thursday morning and it filled the time nicely. Plus it was utterly adorable.

So many things have happened that I haven't had time to write about, and I'm kind of bummed to think of all the stuff I have probably already forgotten. I went to my first Twitter meetup, the Halfway Hoopla, and it was great. I was nervous going, but everyone was nice and meeting so many of the ladies felt like reconnecting with old friends. It was almost a five hour drive, so I tried listening to an audiobook on the way out. Because I don't like talk radio and find my mind wandering when I try to listen to NPR, I always assumed I would not be able to listen to audiobooks while driving, either, but I was happy to be mistaken. I downloaded Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men from the library and it was wonderful. I find myself wishing I had another long drive coming up so I could listen to another one. I also visited my first Costco during the trip and found that it is a lot like Sams Club, though allegedly without the corporate evil. They did have really cute pajamas, and I scored a set of matching rocket pjs for the boys, who are both deeply entrenched in a planets / Space phase.

We have had two Navigator scout meetings and so far it's a huge success. Parents report that the kids are having a blast and asking when they get to go back. I've come up with some things for upcoming meetings that I'm REALLY EXCITED about sharing with the kiddos. So far it hasn't been stressful, so I'm crossing my fingers this state of affairs continues.

Elliott is rocking preschool, by all reports. He sometimes cries a bit at drop-off, but I always hear later that he had a really good day. He is still occasionally mad that he doesn't get to go to Kindergarten, but he's starting to be excited about going to his own school. He looks so tiny marching in proudly with his school bag on his shoulder.

I'd better stop and publish this...I'm pretty sure if I save it and plan to add to it later, it'll be another two weeks before I have time. Happy fall!

Reading (just finished):  Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Playing:  maybe let's just put this on repeat:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

filling (killing) time

Now that Elliott will be going to preschool two mornings a week, I find myself in need of ideas to fill (kill) time between dropping Nico off at his school at 7:55 and dropping Elliott off at his at 8:30. E's school is maybe five minutes away from N's, if I hit all the red lights. He's also not allowed to go into his classroom before 8:30, so there's no early-arrival option. On Tuesday last week we tried to use up the time by driving out to the second-farthest Starbucks, but the drive-thru line was so long that we wouldn't have made it back in time. On Thursday I doubled back and ran an errand to my mom's. All the practical places I may need to go on a weekday (bank, pharmacy, library, post office) don't open until 9:00. If I get groceries I have to lug anything cold into work with me for the day. I really should not go to Target two mornings a week, plus E and I already make a 45 minute dash-and-grab Target trip on Mondays to kill time between N's 7:55 school drop-off and E's 9:00 music class. Target three times a week would be a financial disaster.

I had the thought that I could put a basket of books and coloring supplies in my car for him for the mornings, but I feel like that might eat into his limited supply of sitting-still juju for the day. Elliott would love to sit in the hall outside his classroom and watch YouTube videos on my phone, but that seems like a lame way to blow our screen time budget. I would love to sit in the car and read a book of my own for 30 minutes, but that seems unfair to E. He would enjoy playing on the playground at preschool, but the slides and swings are always covered in dew that early in the morning. Perhaps I should just start taking along an extra pair of pants and a towel, which would solve our problem at least until December or January when it finally gets cold. Maybe on rainy days I can let him run laps in the gym before we go to his class.

I am a natural multi-tasker and time-gap-exploiter, so having a usable chunk of time that I can find absolutely nothing to do with is kind of bugging me. Plus I don't want to hand off an already-bored, already-crabby Elliott to his sainted teachers. First world problems, I have them!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Sulk level: grand master

Elliott had his preschool orientation / short day yesterday, wherein the kiddos come in for 45 minutes with an adult and do a few practice activities. We were the last pair to go in, so everyone else was already sitting at the little tables when we arrived, but since we had visited on Tuesday to meet the teachers and see the classroom, Elliott knew exactly where the good toys were. I had to drag him away from the basket of cars and trucks and block his escape from the chair while trying to convince him to participate in making his "friendship pizza." He was clearly thinking, "This is BULLSHIT, MADAM," though he eventually started to enjoy sticking the little die-cut pepperonis and mushrooms with his classmates' names on them onto his paper plate pizza.

At the end the teachers brought out yellow shredded paper to be the cheese, which was honestly really adorable and pretty realistic-looking. In fact, Elliott thought it was actually shredded cheese (which he loves), snatched some, and put it in his mouth. He was deeply offended upon discovering he'd been deceived. Once he'd picked the pieces off his tongue, he gave his pizza a dark, dark look, and then very deliberately pushed all the fake cheese far off to the side. When I tried to glue a few shreds onto his craft he plucked them off and threw them away.

The kids got a little bit of free time to play, and then got called back to the mat to sing a song and say goodbye. Here's Elliott after I made him put away the cars, while all the other children were singing Teddy Bear Turn Around:

The drama is strong with this one. He's cute, though.

Reading:  The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

Playing:  American Idiot by Green Day

Sunday, August 30, 2015

best not scare her right away

I noticed tonight that Elliott's preschool letter requests a photo of him for the class bulletin board, so I went through the pictures I've taken of him this month, trying to find one that captures his essential Elliott-ness. (This phrase works so much better with his real name, incidentally, when it does not suddenly make him sound like a famous law enforcement agent.) I found lots, but decided most of them probably would make the teacher a little nervous.

You get three guesses which kid is my rule-follower and which one is my mischief-maker, and the first two guesses don't count.

I finally chose this next one, which felt like a fair compromise between Elliott in his native state and the cute posed photos everyone else will probably provide. (In the very next shot he's obviously about to throw the rock.)

I had a full day of hanging out solo with the kids today, and dude. Little humans are exhausting. My kids aren't even particularly challenging on the spectrum of children's behaviors, but there's just so much managing. And so much talking. Me talking, them talking. SO MUCH TALKING. We went to a hot rod show out at the fairgrounds, which was pretty great but of course between the three of us I think someone commented on every vehicle there. Then we went to eat at McDonald's where it was like hostage negotiations trying to get anyone to finish their food already so we could take our toys and leave. Then to the grocery where both kids insisted upon having a miniature cart to push. I told them before we went in that there would be no running, no fighting, and NO RAMMING SO HELP ME, but then I had to micromanage them through the entire store because they kept "forgetting" the rules. By the time we got home no one was even being particularly bratty and I was all "EVERYONE TO YOUR ROOMS, MAMA IS AN INTROVERT AND NEEDS TO HEAR NO VOICES FOR THE NEXT TWENTY MINUTES." It was totally worth it for the day we had but DAMN.

This was my very favorite exchange of the day, for no particular reason other than it just struck me as so funny and so perfectly illustrative of their personalities. As we were leaving the fairgrounds, we drove past a property with horses.

Nico:  Look, horses! What are they doing?

Me:  Eating grass, probably.

Nico:  Or looking at rocks.

Elliott:  (with fist raised dramatically in the air) Ride! Da! Horsies!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

get the child a twibbon

Recent times when Elliott was oppressed by The Man:

>> too young to attend kindergarten 

>> had to leave child-size shopping cart at the grocery 

>> not allowed to run amok at kindermusik class

>> too small to ride the big water slides at the pool 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Week One Report

We survived the first week of Kindergarten! Nico and I made it through the first morning drop-off without crying, though poor Elliott was quite upset that he didn't get to stay at school. He briefly recovered during our grocery trip when he realized that he got to push the miniature cart, but when we pulled into the garage back home he burst into tears and cried, "Teacher, me! Teacher, me!" I did feel a little unmoored with the whole afternoon stretching out before us and no Nico, so when Elliott took his nap I took one, too. I think it'll get easier as we get used to it, and Elliott's music class starts again next week also. Nico has been tired in the evenings, but overall no big complaints. He seems to like school fine so far, and reports that he has made a friend. I'm hopeful he has made a good choice in this friend (he sometimes has terrible judgment when choosing a kid to hang out with at camp / school) and it's a little humbling realizing I have to rely on his word that said friend is a nice kid, at least until I get a chance to volunteer for a class visit or a field trip and observe him for myself. His teacher has a really good reputation as being one of the best at the school, so that has helped me relax.

I'm glad I thought to ask the teacher at the open house the week before school what their preference is for the kids' drop-off routine. She said that parents could walk the kids to their classrooms Monday, Tuesday and maybe Wednesday of the first week, but that we should plan to drop him off at the front of school after that. (Teachers are stationed on the sidewalk and through the halls to direct traffic.) Elliott and I walked Nico to his classroom Monday and Tuesday, walked him to the gym (where kids gather before the first bell) on Wednesday, and dropped him off curbside on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday morning I felt a swell of pride watching him walk confidently up to the door by himself, turning to smile and wave at us just before he went inside. He's got this, I think.

Elliott asked to go to school / meet his teacher every day this week. If he could read a calendar, he'd be counting down the days until he gets to start preschool in September. A few weeks ago a friend commented that she was enjoying seeing him come into his own as a little boy rather than a toddler in his photos, and she was right - he's hardly looking like a toddler at all these days. It's both heartbreaking and wonderful.

Other stuff, in no particular order:

1. Nico's school uses an online point system to track the kids' behavior, which I guess is a good way to keep parents informed / involved. There's a website for it and also a phone app, which may end up driving my husband to distraction. So far I have managed to not refresh it obsessively all day long, only to get texts from him reporting loss or awarding of points. I do like that it includes a reason when a point is taken away - Nico lost one for talking out of turn and one for not following directions, which turned out to be talking when he was supposed to be listening / doing something else. I wish it explained what they were getting points for, because I can't tell when he's being rewarded for good behavior and when the teacher is just handing out base points for the whole class. I guess it doesn't matter either way as long as he's gaining more than he's losing. No homework yet, though we were told to expect two tasks plus 15 minutes of reading every evening, Monday through Thursday to "establish good habits." I suppose this is a valid goal but I gave it a little side-eye, considering I'm pretty sure I never had homework before about fourth grade.

2. I went to my first PTA meeting on Thursday. I'm still not sure it's my kind of thing, but I'm pretty sure I'm their kind of sucker seeing as I'm considering volunteering to chair the family game night event because I felt bad that no one else offered. I can't decide if I'm hoping someone else beats me to it or not. Nico's friend Eleanor from preK is in his class, arranged by dual parental request for their teacher, so I texted her mom to see if she'd co-chair with me, and she said she would. So maybe it would be fun. Or maybe I'm crazy for even considering it.

3. I can't tell if it's just unacknowledged mental turmoil over my baybee starting school or if it's actually true, but I have felt a bit overly busy and disorganized lately. (One big reason I feel like maybe it would be nuts to take on this game night thing.) As much as I like and rely on having my whole calendar and digital life accessible through my phone, it's starting to not work for me as a reminder system to do things. First, I have started to ignore tasks and then forget about them. Second, the alarm going off all the time lately makes me want to throw the phone through a window. I used to keep a meticulous paper calendar / planner in the age before smart phones, and I'm thinking a return to some of those methods might suit me well. I tend to learn / remember things better when I write them out by hand (sometimes just writing a list is enough to lodge it in my memory, even if I don't look at the list again). After looking through several planners in various back-to-school aisles I ended up buying one at Barnes & Noble that I'm hoping will work for me. The cover is really dull / unappealing, so I might do some old-school craft projecting if I can find time this weekend. I'm hoping my slight guilt over spending $16 on this planner will spur me to be responsible about using it.

I also dislike how much time I waste on my phone in the evenings, and I truly mean waste - I will click through to facebook, twitter, my email, and my message board app and then continue cycling through them over and over even when nothing new is posted. It's ridiculous and yet I have done this for upwards of an hour on many occasions. Perhaps if I'm not picking up my phone every ten minutes to see why there's an alarm going off, I won't let myself get sucked into the time-wasting cycle quite so badly. I'm all for vegging out with some internet time, but this is not fulfilling or relaxing - it's just staring blankly at a screen and getting nothing out of it.

4. I'm setting up our annual blast of fall adventures, and it's making me eager for my favorite season to get here even though I'm also desperately wishing I could drag my heels and slow down time a little. Since we never get to travel in the summer because of my work commitments (and it's freaking hot anyway), we always try to get out and away and have fun once autumn arrives. We are hoping for two camping trips and a weekend away at a cabin, and we will all be extremely cranky if the weather ruins things for us. We haven't been camping in almost a year since both of our spring weekends got rained out and Nico and I are both pining for it. In looking ahead to these trips and in considering other hoped-for trips and requested visits, I am realizing how much having a kid in full-time school is going to cramp our freewheeling style. I feel like pouring one out for the days when long weekends were easy to come by and summer break lasted until Labor Day. Farewell, easy adventuring life! Don't abandon us entirely!

Reading:   X: a Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon

Playing:   some new mix CDs I got for Christmas in July from my friend Rachel. My favorite song so far: