Thursday, September 26, 2013

Katie & Kindergarten

I would like to promise that someday I will post something coherent and sophisticated but that would probably be shooting for the stars. So here goes: Kindergarten. PM Kindergarten to be exact. Who exactly invented afternoon Kindergarten? It is annoying. In the morning, I get everyone ready to go to the bus. Sometimes being 'ready' is more like Tyler in jammies, Katie in some wildly mismatched clothes and James looking presentable (mostly). We clomp off to the bus like a rag-tag band of oversized lawn gnomes and send James off to school. We come home, I get ready for the day and then we squeeze in any activities/errands/etc. that needs to happen. Then we get ready all over again. I am learning rather quickly that Katie needs at least an hour to get ready for school. (I mean, yes, she is a girl...but still?! This is Kindergarten!!!) This is how it usually goes down: at 11am, I start by feeding her lunch. This involves offering her a few different kinds of tasty leftovers and she decides instead on the usual: a bowl of puffed rice. Not the rice crispy kind, but the actual super healthy (and pretty bland) real puffed rice. She loves that stuff. She also loves art. She combines the two by attempting to make a Picasso while shoveling cereal into her mouth. That is, if she's not talking. Because she does that too. She tells Tyler things like 'If you eat 3 more bites, I'll give you this penny!' and 'Tyler, when you're done we can set up a restaurant and we can sell donuts!' At some point, she will think of something she was going to do earlier and wander off to do it. I call her back to the table and she takes another bite. Then she draws a stick figure and wanders off to go to the bathroom. On the way, she sees something shiny and runs after it. She refocuses, onto something entirely different. In the meantime, I am sweeping the floor/getting her snack ready/loading the dishwasher. I see she has again wandered off and have a mental debate about redirection?consequence?tough love?does she have ADD?look, squirrel!! and send her back to the table. She finally finishes eating and it is time to get dressed. I don't know about your kids, but my kids can't stay clean to save their lives so she usually changes before school. She goes to grab her clothes and sees her baby doll, whom she decides needs to be held and cuddled. At which point she sees her rainbow loom and remembers that she needs to make bracelets for her 10 closest pals before we leave for school in 5 minutes! I remind her that if she doesn't get dressed she's going to school naked, which is mostly effective at lightly a fire under her butt. She then remembers that she's supposed to go to the bathroom BEFORE school and I remember that I should probably brush her hair, which is somewhat akin to trying to give a squirrel a manicure. She brushes her teeth, I brush her hair and we're ready to go. Except she can't find her shoes. Because she didn't put them back on the shelf. So we run around finding the shoes and finally she's ready to walk to school! Its a Christmas miracle! My theory is that if we had AM kindergarten, I could get everyone ready at once. Katie would still be a bit groggy from waking up and that's when I would pounce! I would get her dressed and give her breakfast before she knew what hit her. That's the theory anyway, which will stay firmly in the theory category since there's no switching now. You better believe I'm requesting AM Kindergarten for Tyler!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tyler's New Interest

Tyler has lately been fascinated by the show 'Hogs Gone Wild'. Basically, people hunt down wild hogs and either catch them or kill them. Despite the fact that I have aspirations to hog hunting someday, this show annoys me. It is basically the same thing every show and after the second episode you are left to wonder why they don't just shoot the hogs. And I'll tell you why: that wouldn't make for good TV. However, Tyler is entertained. Last week we were walking back from school and Tyler saw a small tree with some scarring on the bottom. He walked up and carefully inspected it. Then he declared that a hog must have done it, and that he and Dad would have to come back at night to hunt it. That kid is too much!

On Saturday we had our Small Group picnic and basically the adults let our whole collective pack of children run feral and semi-unsupervised. One of the families brought their 'Oma' who was the only one out there watching them. After a while, some of the dads went out and relieved Oma. When she came in, she said she now knows everyone's family secrets. She knew that Emmy had a tea party with her Mom, and that Tyler's mom thought he looked very cute in his new coat. (He does!!) And...she said that Tyler was fearless. We all cracked up, because it didn't take her long to figure him out! Sometimes when people ask me 'what happened to his face?' or 'how did he get that bruise?' I just want to tell him: just watch him for 5 minutes! It would save a lot of explaining.

And one more Tyler note: we were looking at James' baby album the other day and Tyler spotted a picture of Jeff, with hair. He looked quizzically at the photo and then at me. He asked 'Is that Daddy?' I told him yes, and he looked again at the picture and asked 'the same Daddy???' I forget that he's never seen Jeff with hair.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Update Overload

Yikes! I have tried to blog several times lately and gotten distracted. Look!!! Something shiny!!! More likely I was distracted by piles of dishes and running to the bus stop. The kids are settled in to school and working out a new 'normal' for them. They usually do great in school and save their meltdowns for home. Tyler joins in just for kicks sometimes. 'You cut up my chicken!!! I didn't want my chicken cut up! Now its gross!!!' which from a preschool perspective means 'ITS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!' So to fill you in on the last few weeks, I present to you the trusty bullet point list:

  • I got my CPAP machine last week. I've slept with it for about 7 nights and I think I am getting used to it. Katie says I look silly, James says I look like an elephant trying to pick up a box, and Jeff calls me 'Goose' from Top Gun. It has helped me to sleep more soundly and I think when I get used to it and don't wake up I will start to feel a lot more rested. Apparently these contraptions are pretty expensive and the insurance company won't pay for them unless they know you are going to use them. It has a memory card in there that records when I use it and I have to turn it in after a certain amount of time to verify I have used it consistently. At that point, the insurance company will cease to rent it and actually purchase it for me. Very interested, as Grandma Heppner would say.
  • Katie LOVES school. She pretty much skips to school on a big puffy pink cloud she's so happy to go. The very first day, she had already made a friend to sit on the bus with. (More on that later) She loves music, art and library. And recess, and pretty much everything else. She usually comes home and goes into meltdown mode. Its a lot to adjust to for someone who has made a successful career out of having tea parties, climbing trees and making art projects out of everything imaginable. 
  • So, the bus....putting the kids on the bus freaks me out a little. Isn't the bus where so much bullying happens, and you learn new words you know you're probably not supposed to say? Not to mention that a big bus makes even my swiftly growing 8 year old look tiny climbing up those stairs. So knowing that Katie would ride the bus home (we walk to school; there is no midday bus) was enough to freak me out. I told James he was to look for her on the bus and sit with her the first day. I also told them to sit toward the front of the bus. Well. Apparently I failed to recognize that Katie wouldn't need to have James with her, because dang it! She don't need no stinkin' brother to boss her around! She can do it herself! Not to mention she made a friend the first day whom she sat with on the bus. When they got off the bus the first day, they were fighting and crying and spitting mad. It took me a long time to figure out what happened. James was being protective and told her to sit right behind the bus driver. Katie was not going to listen to him, and sat 3 seats back. The bus number also changed since last year, causing James no small amount of anxiety. Once he got on the bus, he didn't see Katie and panicked. Once he found her, he was mad! She didn't listen to him! He actually pushed Katie's friend (or maybe Katie...this part was fuzzy) and sat down with them. Katie was mad, because hello! Bossy brother!!! Then, when the bus stopped at our stop, Katie was sitting there smiling like the prom queen while James yanked on her backpack for fear that she wouldn't get off the bus in time and it would be...drumroll please....THE END OF THE WORLD!!! We had to establish that they don't have to sit together if they don't want to, as long as James keeps an eye out for Katie. Sheesh! Such drama for the first day of school.
  • Speaking of drama, the kids had their birthdays a week ago. They were both bestowed with some cold hard cash for their spending enjoyment. Notice I said 'their enjoyment' because it certainly isn't for mine. Let me explain. You give the kid a crisp shiny $10 bill, or in Katie's case, a $25 gift certificate to Target, for the purpose of acquiring the fake American Girl doll of her dreams. Somehow it is the parents' job to taxi the kid to the store, all the while praying that there are only 2 dolls to pick from so that we can get out of the store by closing time. (P.S. Its only 10am...ha!) Parent and child arrive in the doll aisle where mercifully there are only 3 doll styles to choose from. After several minutes of deliberation, a doll is chosen. Success!!! Parent breathes a sigh of relief and heads toward the art supply section to let her pick out a box of crayons to round out the gift certificate because there is no way I'm coming back again so she can spend $2.18. Epic fail! We pass through the home section where we see bean bag chairs, and low and behold if she doesn't declare that she's wanted one forever and she needs it now!!! In an instant the carefully chosen doll is cast aside in favor of an oversized pink corduroy bean bag chair that happens to cost $40. I carefully try to convince her to love the lesser priced (but not pink) beanbag chair next to it: look! Its lavender! Its everything you've ever dreamed of! And more!!!' At which point she looks at me and declares mournfully that she doesn't want the lavender one, she wants the PINK one! We discuss the logistics of paying for the thing, as in, $40 is more than $25 and if you pitch in the rest of your birthday money on this thing you will be broke as a joke with no income in sight. And you will be left with a beanbag that you will probably end up cutting a hole in with scissors when you are bored. None of this logic worked. It kind of had the opposite effect. I also tried to remind her how much she wanted the doll and how she could just walk away from the bean bag and into the plastic arms of the doll she loved. Yeah, that didn't work either. Finally, I hit on the idea that the college dorm stuff was on clearance and if there is anything that shouts 'college dorm' louder than a bean bag chair I don't know what it is. OK, maybe milk crates or lawn chairs. We struck out on the bean bag chair but found a big super-soft white pillow, the kind with arms on it, for $10. She decided it was worthy of her love and $$ and we threw it in the cart. Here's the problem: $25 minus $10 still leaves $15. So back to the toy aisle we went. At this point I begged the Lord for mercy and began to wonder if there really was such a place as purgatory. She pointed down a row that was dangerously full of $50 baby dolls (seriously, who buys these things? don't they know it will end up getting shorted out when the kid trys to give it a bath and it will never say 'mama' again?!) and what Katie refers to as 'Spinach Dolls'. Which really means Cabbage Patch dolls. I was bracing myself for the inevitable 'I really like that doll! It talks! It pees! It makes a sandwich!' that would have to end in another lecture in economics, also known as the 'Money doesn't grow on trees' speech. She miraculously spotted a baby stroller that cost exactly $15 and we put it in the cart. I was looking for the quickest escape route when she changed her mind. Ugh!! Fortunately she had spotted a doctor kit that was also $15 and I never left a store quicker. She spent her money and left a happy girl. Which is amusing, since all I left the store with was a nervous twitch. Also a greater appreciation of what my parents put up with when we were growing up. In the end, Katie had a great time deliberating how to spend the most money she's had in her life, and so far, no buyer's remorse.
  • Remorse is probably what you're feeling after wasting your time reading this, so I'll stop for today. I really need to blog more often.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Photo Overload (And For Once I Won't Ramble On)

Digging a James' sized hole in the sand

Keep going!

Playing with their friends

Katie and her best little friend


The girls collecting water for their project

Burying Tyler in the sand

The guys going out on the jetty with the kids

Cool sand art courtesy of a plastic egg carton

Crazy girl: its a shame she is lacking personality ;)

Finally deep enough to bury him!

My latest favorite picture of James: seriously? How stinkin' cute is he?!

And my latest favorite of Katie: adorable!

Looking for critters

Aren't these kites cool?

Moving along: first day of 2nd grade (waaa!!! Where has time gone?)

And first day of Kindergarten! My babies are growing up.

A Vision of Cuteness

Getting off the bus

And the birthday girl who just turned 6! (James turned 8 on Tuesday, then Katie had her birthday the next day...too much for me to handle!)

She seems more grown up just since she started Kindergarten

A beach treasure

Tyler found this at the beach: any ideas what it is? According to my google research, it does not resemble a shark or a turtle. 

I would like to solve the mystery. Whatever it is has some sharp little teeth!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Observations From The Jersey Shore

We spent Saturday afternoon squeezing the last bit of fun out of summer. We went to the beach with friends and had a great time. The weather was perfect and the water was still warm enough to swim in although I think some would argue that! While strolling the beach, I had a chance to make some observations and I shall condense them here for you in a handy dandy guide to the Jersey shore.

The Regulars

  • These are the people who live on the beach. They are apparently harbor deep suspicions toward the use of sunblock, and their skin looks like it has turned into leather. You amuse yourself by wondering what color they actually started out being, because shoot if they're not the same color as a Hereford cow. You may or may not also ponder the usability of their leathery skin for making wallets and such. Which is truly disgusting, but curiosity is a powerful force.
The Low Standards Beach Goers
  • I realize you probably think I am talking about some unfortunate bikini situation, but I will go into that later. Every time I go to the beach, I see a few people here and there who simply plop their stuff down a stone's throw from the boardwalk. They don't bother to be near the water. Apparently they don't want much, just some sand under their toes and an ocean breeze.
The Relaxed Beach Goers
  • These people lay out in the sun and read a book, preferably something light and fluffy and fictional. Occasionally they succumb to the sun's warmth and dip their toes in the ocean. Then they go back to reading their cheesy romance novel or intriguing mystery. They also turn over every now and then, so as to properly baste themselves in sunshine and avoid an unsightly 'I swear I missed work because I was deathly ill' beach tan.
The Harried Beach Goers
  • This would be those who bring small children. Sounds familiar. Beach trips are really not all the relaxing for this crowd, and you will never see them busting out their summer book club selection. Oh, no, they are too busy watching their kids to make sure they don't drown, stash a smelly crab leg (or six) in the camera bag or run off with the circus, all while fending off vulturous seagulls who realize the most food comes from the droppings of those under the age of 5. 

The Bikini Crowd is divided into the following subcategories:

  • The Kosher Bikini Wearer: that is, someone who is actually suited to wear a bikini (this category encompases only a small percentage of the Bikini crowd. I am certainly NOT in this category. Nope, no bikinis for me!)
  • The 10 Pounds of Potatoes in a 5 Pound Bag Bikini Wearer: you know the type. When one's bottom is perilously close to swallowing up the bottoms. When thine cups runneth over. When thou shouldst have bought one 3 sizes up.
  • The 'I Might Be 80 Years Old But I Can Still Rock A Bikini' set: now, if you still weigh the same as you did in college and you are now 78, good for you. But I would venture the guess that the weight ain't distributed like it used to be, nor are the geographical locations of certain parts of the anatomy the same. In other words, you mammaries memories are fading. 
  • The 'I Paid A Lot Of Money For These And I'm Going To Show Them Off' crowd: it is the Jersey shore after all. 
As you can see, I may spend just a wee bit of time people watching. And analyzing. I promise I will post soon actual picture of the beach, with cute children included! And I will post about the first day of school, which has left me feeling a bit unstable. Is my baby girl really in Kindergarten?????

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Random Thoughts

The post title is oh, so catchy isn't it? Since I used the 'Miscellaneous Tidbits' number on the last one I had to get fancy. Ha!! First of all, here is my take on 'back to school' preparations:

 To prepare for back to school, you must first spend the summer coaxing your child to do lengthy math assignments and read books and jump through various hoops. (I should say that the reading required absolutely NO coaxing whatsoever. In fact, he has turned into a little me, asking for the flashlight so he can read in bed 'just a few more pages'.) After you coerce them into various educational activities (oh, the dreaded 'summer slide'!! your kid will lose 2 whole months of school if you don't!) then you must make sure they have suitable clothes to wear. This is a bigger problem than it may seem, because there is another version of the 'summer slide' in effect here. That is, the mother's downward slide of standards. For the last two months, the kids have been running around looking like they've been raised by wolves. Their clothes are stained, they are covered in mud/paint/pen/dirt/ketchup, and they haven't worn shoes except when absolutely necessary. They are bathed when absolutely necessary, also, which equates to about once a....well, I will not admit the frequency or lack thereof. This is the internet, afterall. So their summer clothes are obviously not presentable. They have also grown approximately 9 inches taller, or so it seems, rendering any of last year's school clothes useless. Unless floods and 3/4 length sleeves are the new trend. After procuring suitable clothing, one must tackle the school supply list. And by that I mean you must purchase all manner of cleaning supplies, tissues, sanitizer and a box of 8 Crayola crayons (not 12! not 6!) that have been imported from the tiny island of Madagascar and christened by Tibetan monks before being put on the shelf at Walmart. If you get the wrong kind, they will be sent home. (I was a rebel and didn't buy EXPO dry erase markers. I bought the store brand. I live on the edge.) After procuring the school supplies, you must carefully label everything with a Sharpie because, well, because they tell you to. You help your kid fit everything into their new backpack, Tetris-style, where you notice that the brand new backpack you bought has a small slit in it. Err! It is at the point that you remember that the shoes you bought for your kid have real, actual shoelaces. And you need to teach him how to tie them. You spend a while in purgatory, trying to explaining bunny ears and foxes and such. You mentally elevate your parents to sainthood for teaching you how to tie your shoes without killing you. And finally, mercifully, he gets it! He figures it out and proudly shows off his freshly tied laces! After packing the bags, you remember that you probably should convince certain individuals that a thick layer of dirt is not a badge of honor, nor is ketchup on your shirt. You give the kid a shower and make sure his knees are clean and confiscate the dirty clothes (no, you cannot wear those again! there is enough food on the front to feed a small village!) and send him freshly scrubbed to bed. You breath a sigh of relief and then still have to make the kid a lunch in the morning. What?! After all that work?! Preposterous! I'll tell you one thing. There will be no hand-carved owl made from three kinds of cheese, or anything resembling sushi. The kid will be lucky if I can conjure up an apple!

There was going to be a 'second of all' to this post, involving the various types of people who frequent the Jersey shore, but I will save that for tomorrow. If I make it til then...

Friday, September 06, 2013

Miscellaneous TidBits

Apparently I forgot to blog this week. Again. Here are a few of the latest happenings:

  • School hasn't started yet in case you are wondering. It starts on Monday. I think they were trying to avoid having a 2 day week since Labor day and Rosh Hashanah fall in the same week. 
  • Katie got the same Kindergarten teacher that James had, and James got the teacher he was hoping for. Yay!!
  • Its official. I have sleep apnea. My CPAP machine is on order which I am actually happy about, because I find sleep and breathing to be kind of important. 
  • Mom and I butchered 3 chickens today. It was a proud moment when Katie wanted to help gut them, and I was even more amused when she picked up the chicken feet and started pulling the tendons. Best trick ever. Also, Tyler tried to watch the beheadings while simultaneously eating a Little Debbie cake. Mmm. We blocked him from seeing since last time he was traumatized about the whole head part. I will now be taking donations for my kids' future therapy needs. Thank you and have a nice day.
  • James and I made a periscope this week. Now I will randomly hear maniacal giggling and look around to see the periscope peeking around the refrigerator or out the banister. That kid is goofy.
  • Speaking of goofy, I asked the kids last week what kind of birthday cakes they wanted. Woe is me! They are turning 6 and 8 next week, but that is another story. Katie quickly agreed to a vanilla cake with strawberry filling. James was not so decisive. He wanted Mint Chocolate Chip but was also entertaining the idea of vanilla. He told me, in utter seriousness, that he wanted both for his birthday, like a half and half cake. I may have narrowed my eyes at him and informed him politely but firmly that he was getting a mint chocolate chip cake and he could have a piece of Katie's vanilla cake. That kid is spoiled! He better learn how to cook or find a lovely wife who can, or he'll be in for an awakening. Perhaps I should attempt to cook a bad meal every now and then. News flash James! Most people spread their store bought bread with gelatinous grape jelly everyday and don't get to choose between Peach Vanilla Jam or Blueberry Rhubarb or Blackberry Apricot Jam. Thus marks the end of my rant.
  • I am sure you all are as enthralled as I am with this post. **yawn** Alas, I must go. I have birthday sewing to finish up before Tuesday.