Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's High: 74

It always surprised me, growing up, that the hot summer temperatures knew to take a dive as soon as school started. One week, we were marching our way through band camp under the harsh sun, sweat pouring down our backs and ticking our noses, making it hard to stand perfectly still at attention. And the next, we were huddling in the bleachers during a football game, hiding under blankets in our Color Guard uniforms, with wool letter jackets and our white leather gloves still on to keep our fingers warm. And come half-time, we’d be frantically warming stiff fingers and the icy metal poles of our flags, hoping that we wouldn’t drop them during the performance because of the cold.

The past week has been like that. Mother Nature saw the start of school and dialed back the temperature by ten degrees. It should make for some glorious outdoor recess time for Charlotte, and a comfortable crispness during soccer practice. It also means that I need to go ahead and buy her uniform-appropriate tights, and possibly a fall jacket, because the days of bare knees and short sleeves may be closer than I thought.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stop Obsessing Already!

I'm sure every reader of this blog has noticed that I can become a bit
obsessive about some topics. Lately, its Kindergarten. I think I'm
more traumatized by Charlotte starting school than she is. Every school
day so far, I've picked her up with a huge smile on her face, and not
the "Thank goodness my mommy's here to rescue me" kind of smile.

Yesterday was another of my trying days, when I worried about all kinds
of things, imagining problems that never came to be. It was Charlotte's
second full day of school, her birthday, and her first day of soccer
practice. The poor kid had a backpack, lunchbox, soccer bag, and
Tupperware container full of cupcakes to bring to school. I believe she
had plenty of help to carry things, but its still a lot for a little kid
to be responsible for.

I was worried about the cupcakes-that I was sending them in the right
way. I had checked beforehand about sending in homemade ones, and was
told OK. I would like to have delivered them later in the day instead
of with Charlotte at dropoff, but there was no way to do that without
leaving them sitting in a hot car at work first. I didn't get any nasty
notes from the teacher, and the snacks were eaten, so I'm guessing that
all was good.

I was worried about lunch. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm still new at
this, as is Char. On Friday afternoon, she requested that I pack her
milk instead of having her buy it at school, so I did. But last night,
her thermos was still full. She told me she "accidentally got in the
milk line." Huh. Well, she also said she'd rather just buy her milk.
So today, I hope she accidentally gets back in that milk line.

I was worried about soccer. Char's practice doesn't start till 5, and
there's no good way for me to pick her up from school, get Trystan, and
get her back for practice without just driving around for an hour
straight. So she went to the school's late dismissal and got to play
outside and then have a snack inside instead. Someone else had to help
her get her shin guards and shoes on, and her jumper off, though she
really only needs help tying the laces. The rest she can handle.

I had not heard from the coach directly before the first practice, and I
was worried that she really didn't have practice until next week, and
would be stuck at school. And I had no contact number or email for the
coach. I ended up calling the school, and being re-assured that all was
well. I'm sure they think I'm neurotic.

Soccer went fine. Char loves it, and loves running. She got to share a
few extra cupcakes with her teammates after practice. And the coach's
daughter was in a dance class with Charlotte last fall, so the girls
recognized each other though they're in different classes during the
day. The coach's wife recognized Charlotte, too, and we found out they
live not far from us, and are considering signing their daughter up for
the same dance class I just enrolled Char in for the fall.

After soccer, Charlotte requested hot dogs for dinner, so we went to
A&W. Char got a rootbeer float with hers. At home, she cheerfully
worked on her homework-a worksheet matching capital and small letters.
And then she got to try out the Dance Dance Revolution Disney Edition
game that she got for her birthday.

I'm going to try, try, try to relax a bit. I think things are less
stressful from here. We've passed most of the "firsts" that I've been
anxious about. But, its only a matter of time before I find yet another
thing to stress out about.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The craziness of the last week is over. Charlotte is 5, she is a kindergartener, jer birthday party is past, and I am done baking cupcakes for a while. Hallelujah.

Let me quantify that last statement. Over a 6-day period, I baked and iced the products of 5 separate cake mixes. Five. 14 eggs (one called for 2 instead of 3). About 1 1/2 cups of canola oil. At least 3 cans of store-bought frosting to supplement the huge batch of homemade stuff that I used to decorate the sheetcake for her party.

I feel remarkably unhurried today. I have no evening classes, no looming deadlines, and the piles of laundry resemble molehills rather than mountains. We even vacuumed our basement playroom this weekend.

Now, I get to start fussing over something new: the lunch box. What to pack. How much. Will she eat the healthy stuff, or just the dessert? (Friday, she finished her pudding but not her sandwich, and was hungry and cranky after school). She's an opinionated little princess, so she may get to start packing her own lunch after a while, with parental oversight. Otherwise, I predict many mini-tantrums over the fact that I packed peaches when she wanted applesauce or failed to divine that needed 12 baby carrots instead of 10.

If anyone has suggestions for tasty packed lunch options for kids, I'd love to hear them. I'm a novice at this. I almost never packed a lunch in school, and at work I rely heavily on access to a microwave and toaster to prepare something edible (I'd love an actual toaster-oven and a sink, maybe a dishwasher...heck give me a full kitchen...but I make do with microwave and toaster).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

My baby is a school-ager. My husband and I drove together this morning to drop her off for the first time. I teared up. You'd think afer four and a half years of daycare that it would be no big deal. But today was the first time, ever, that we've dropped Charlotte at the door and she's had to walk inside by herself.

Not quite by herself, as the second picture shows. The school arranges to have teachers and eighth graders waiting at the drop off points to help the Primary (Kindergarten) students find their way inside, until they decide that they know their own way.

This morning was crazier than it was supposed to be. Yesterday, the wise teachers at Charlotte's preschool suggested that she and a couple of other soon-to-be-Kindergarteners should forgo their naps. She had swimming lessons that morning, and had been up late the night before, to anxious to sleep. So, last night, she excused herself from the table without touching the pizza that she helped to make and went to sleep. At six.

I didn't get to give her the Dora First Day of School book that I'd bought her, nor had we had time to sit down and fill out a simple "Getting to Know You" form her teachers had given us at the open house.

Charlotte fell asleep with chlorine-crunchy hair, so she got a shower before school this morning. And, I decided that, since she skipped dinner, she would need a heartier breakfast. I made pancakes and sausage, and she was still so keyed up that she only ate about half of her normal serving.

But she's off, with brand spanking-new white gym shoes in her backpack (that we forgot to drop off on Monday), and two apples--one for each teacher.

I will leave to pick her up only an hour and a half from now--she only has a half day today, and then its on to full days for the rest of the year. We're going to have a girls' lunch out, and then she has a doctor's appointment for her (only slightly late) school physical.

BTW, take a closer look at that first picture of Charlotte in the car. Look behind her. See those two pink legs sticking straight out. That would be her little brother, attempting to climb into the front seat while he thought I wasn't looking...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am superwoman, hear me snore

Yesterday I:
Worked 8.5 hours
Went grocery shopping
Picked up the kids from daycare
Made dinner
Made and iced 36 cupcakes (Charlotte added the sprinkles)
Ate dinner
Read 15 pages of writing for a critique group (of 30 that were
submitted, doh)
Put gas in the car
Arrived for the 7:30 crit group at 7:45
Bought a first-day-of-school gift for Charlotte
Came home by 10
Rotated laundry
Cleaned up decorating bag & tip that I used to ice the cupcakes (taking
care of a couple of spoonfuls of extra icing...)
Went to bed

Monday, August 17, 2009

School Supplies

At the end of July, I thought we were done with our school supply shopping. We had purchased Charlotte’s uniforms, and written a check for a packet of classroom supplies. That, btw, is a nice thing—instead of a list and a day of shopping 5 stores looking for the correct brand of paints, markers, crayons, etc, you just write a check and later pick up a pre-packaged sack of exactly what the teacher has requested.

We were done.

But somehow, yesterday, I still ended up shopping 4 different stores and spending a ton more money. Gym shoes (“mostly white”, i.e. “nothing that Target sells”), soccer cleats, shin guards, belts for Charlotte’s “warm weather” shorts uniform, a label maker. Ok, so the label maker was to help speed up the process of naming 2 24-packs of crayons, 12 pencils, 8 markers, 2 glue sticks, paints, ruler, scissors, rest mat, pencil case, lunch box, back pack, Gym and soccer gear. Supposedly they make iron-on labels that work with this label maker, too, which might be helpful in labeling the rack of school clothes (because there’s no other way on this green earth that she’s going to be able to distinguish her white blouse or plaid jumper from the next girl’s).

Yes, I’m whining. I thought we were ready for school to start. Then we had our weekend shopping spree, an open house tonight, and tomorrow night I get to make about 3 dozen cupcakes for Charlotte’s birthday/last-day at pre-k on Wednesday. And then do that 2 more times—once for her birthday party over the weekend (maybe a sheet cake, instead of cupcakes), and once for her Kindergarten class on her actual birthday Monday.

Next year, I will know better not to declare victory until I actually drop her off at school on the first day.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Charlotte starts kindergarten in a week.  A week! 

Im not ready!  Not that I’m not ready for her to be apart from me during the dayshes been in full-time daycare since she was 4 months old.  But this is different.

My husband and I attended a kindergarten parent orientation last night.  We met the teachers, and the principal.  They went over in more detail how drop-off and pick-up works, how lunchtime works (they have an optional hot lunch, meal debit card system, and the kids can buy ice cream if we let them), answered uniform questions (she can wear tennis shoes with their warm weather shorts uniform until October, but must wear the blue uniform shoes whenever she wears her jumper).  In theory, we are ready for school.

But we still have so much to do.  I need to send a health form to the pediatrician, and she needs gym shoes.  And soccer shoes.  We have to decide which of 3 pickup locations at school that shell need to go to at the end of the day, and update the schools records with my husbands car make and model, and my new license plate number.  And her birthday is in a little over a week, so we have cupcakes to make for daycare, a birthday party, another treat to send to kindergarten.  I think her first soccer practice is on her birthday.

And we have to label her school supplies.  I thought it was a joke when someone said label every crayon.  Apparently not.  I hope we have a backup sharpie.

Her official school open house is next week, where Charlotte can go explore her classroom and meet her teachers.  There are two for her class.  There are a couple of team teachers in this schoolit’s a kind of job-sharing plan.  Char will have one teacher before lunch, and another in the afternoon.  I think the arrangement will work out nicely, and Char is used to having more than one teacher throughout the day from preschool.

Along with the changes for Char, Im changing my work schedule around.  Ill be arriving earlyby 7am (in theory), so that I can leave by 3ish to pick her up from school  My husbands work wont change, but hell have to leave the house by 7ish to drop Trystan off at his regular daycare, and then take Char to school between 7:45 and 8.  Ive tried out the early-morning thing this week.  Its rough, but I do get a bit more time with the kids in the evening, so it will have an upside.

All this change is so unsettling.  I guess things will calm down once we hit our stride.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

They crack me up

I love it when kids learn humor. 

Char is a bit of a comedian in general, but she hasnt really figured out some of the subtleties of how to put together a joke.  Shes more likely to compose a silly song (Old McDonalds Farm had some drumswith a boom boom here and a bang bang there).  Or pretend to be a sack of groceries (with gestures and facial expression...I think she was hoping to ride in the trunk).

As a family, we frequently break out into Silly Songs (as in Silly Songs with Larrry from the Veggie Tales).  Most recently its been If it doesnt have a tail, its not a monkey, even if it has a monkey kind of shape.  If it doesnt have a tail then its an ape.  Followed by giggles and pointing and calling each other monkeys and apes.  According to Charlotte, were all monkeys because we all have tails. 

This morning, the kids tried telling jokes.

Char:  Knock Knock

Me: Whos there?
Char: Orange

Me: Orange who?

Char:  Orange that no one wants anymore.

I cant help it, I laughed out loud.

Trystan got into the act:

Knock Knock Mommy.

Whos there Trystan?


Then, of course, my husband and I started sharing some of the goofiest jokes we know.

Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get to the other side.

Why did the frog cross the road?  Because he was stapled to the chicken.

Why do ducks have webbed feet?

(Because its a wired world?)

No, to put out forest fires.

Why do elephants have big feet?

To stamp out flaming ducks.

Maybe I should cut back on the brown sugar in their morning oatmeal.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Great green gobs of greasy grimy...

What is with the preponderance of "sliders" on restaurant menus? Who thought that it was a good idea?

I’m not a White Castle fan. In case you hadn’t guessed. Their food has never appealed to me—it doesn’t even smell good. Not even when I'm really hungry. Never has. I used to think it was because the burgers were onion-y, but I like onions. Bad for the breath, but those things are sweet and tasty, especially when caramelized and/or combined with peppers a la Tex Mex food. I don't know what White Castle does to their onions, or their burgers, to make that combination unappealing, but they are wildly successful at keeping me away.

The idea of food that "slides" down one's throat, presumably without the need to chew, is highly unappetizing. Repulsive. Yucky. Thanks, but I have teeth, and I prefer to taste and not just gulp my food.

So why do perfectly sane restaurants think they need to imitate slimy, foul-smelling food? I know that what they're really selling is mini-sandwiches, not even burgers necessarily. Yesterday I saw "French dip sliders" on a menu, including crusty bread and au jus. In the menu photo, the sandwiches didn't look like anything that would slide anywhere. But I couldn't even consider ordering them. It’s the name. I don't like my roast beef slippery.

I hope this trend crashes and burns. Soon. Most slick ingredients are heavily grease-based, and we all know how well oil and flames go together.

Monday, August 03, 2009

New Thing: On the highway

I don't think I've ever peed along the side of a highway. I do remember at least one family roadrip when I was growing up where we got stuck in standstill traffic, and my mom took one of my little sisters out to go along the side of the road.

Saturday, it was my turn to take a little girl to pee along the side of the road. Except that there was no traffic, and she didn't make it out of her car seat first.

Yep, totally embarassing Charlotte. One day, she'll discover my blog and be totally mortified. I'm cool with that.

We spent the weekend in southern Indiana at my husband's family reunion. In the middle of Illinois, along highway 64, you can go for a really long time without a rest area. Charlotte didn't believe me when I warned her, and insisted she didn't need one more potty break before we left town. When she decided she had to go, we were in the middle of nowhere. And she couldn't wait. When she started hopping up and down in her carseat (about two minutes after she first mentioned the need), we pulled over. About 30 seconds too late.

We had exactly one plastic bag in the car, which she had to sit on (to keep all the pee from her booster seat from soaking the fresh pair of shorts she was then wearing). We stopped at the next rest stop--nearly twenty minutes away, and got a plastic bag that we could put her wet clothes in. And made her pee again. She protested. And she had more. Grrr.

Then, several hours later, she made a mad dash off the church playground, and failed to make it a second time. Yep. A two-fer. This was an overnight trip, and we had packed two changes of clothes per kid plus a bathing suit. She left the reunion wearing her dress for Sunday. Double Grrr.

Lucky for us, there's a Walmart in town that sells cheap kids clothes and laundry detergent. And booster seats (I was tempted, but I did not).