Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Time Blues

I get this way EVERY mid-June.  I really need to go back and find more examples.  While all the teachers and all the kids (and probably a lot of moms) are sooooo excited about summer finally being here and the crazy schedule of the school year on hiatus, I get sad.  This is really the only time of the year I have working mom guilt and really wish I didn't have to go to work.  But it's not just that.  It's also that the end of yet another school year means that my kids are a year older and it realize how quickly it's going.  It's especially hard when my kids had a wonderful school year and I'm sad to be leaving those fantastic teachers behind and have worries that they will lose their momentum or not have as great of a year next year.  (Yes, I'm an advocate of year round school since I know "year round" does not truly mean they are in school year round. But obviously that is not going to change any time soon around here...and I digress.)  Strangely, I'm also sad that with summer here, I won't be getting my kids up and to school each morning for a bit.  As stressful as it is sometimes to get all four of us out the door by 7:30, I realize that it wasn't so bad and I am going to miss it.  I'm going to miss our morning drives to school and hugging/kissing them as I drop them off.

I am looking forward to seeing Caroline in fifth grade next year and all the exciting things that come with being a fifth grader but I also see it as her last year in the "safety" of the sweetness that is elementary school.

I'm looking forward to seeing Bryce in third grade where he will start to get "real" grades for the first time but that always worries me because I know how hard of a time Caroline had transitioning to third grade.  But we are prepared as parents this time, at least.  I just know Bryce has a hard time with changes.

I'm looking forward to seeing Piper as a first grader doing what her siblings would call "real" work but I also am sad that my baby will have the cute, fuzziness of kindergarten behind her.

This summer should be fun too.  My mom will continue with her usual Mondays (Mondays with Bertie!) and I know she's really missed them this school year as it was her first time she hadn't seen my kids on a weekly, child care basis since, well, we had kids!   And then the other four days we will have a off for the summer teacher coming to the house to supervise/entertain them.  (I don't like calling it babysitting since they truly are not babies and they can do so much for themselves including hurt one another..so many adding refereeing to her responsibilities?)

I just need to get into that summer swing of things where I get to leave a little earlier from work because I don't have to drop the kids off in the mornings (cry) and we spend our long evenings outside enjoying the warmth.

But don't mind me....just wait for me to get sad again in August when I'm stressing about a new school year starting and how I'll handle all the fall schedules again after taking it easy all summer.

Monday, June 09, 2014

I Must Blog

It's been almost 6 months since I felt compelled to throw a blog entry up here.  I have had so many moments where I've wanted to blog but I just haven't actually done it.  I blame social media and the ease of things like Facebook and Instagram to post quick photos and funny little updates about the kids.  However, I feel those mediums lack the ability to emote which is why I think "real" blogging is still a great outlet.  So with that, I guess I'll post some updates especially since I was laying in bed last night thinking about how old my kids are and almost crying.

So here are some random updates with a bunch of thoughts thrown in:

Piper read a book to me last night.  READ A BOOK.  It was a level 1 reader and based on the description on the back, she really should be at a pre-level 1 based on what she's done in class.  But I let her have a go at it since it has those little pictures embedded in the text for the words she clearly wouldn't know. (Um, Crystal Kingdom?? Ha!)  Based on knowing Piper and how she can sometimes be with her homework, I was sure she'd wear out after a few pages because she was really working hard to read and sound out words.  But she didn't.  I kept encouraging her and helping her to sound things out and she kept on motoring through.  I was so very proud and told her what a hard worker she is.  She was tickled.  But then last night as I was laying in bed thinking about it.... I realized something.  My days of reading to my kids at bedtime are numbered.  And that makes me sad.  For 10 years I've been reading to my kids and for 10 years I've had nights where I didn't feel like doing it but other nights where I was so happy to.  We no longer read to Caroline and while we still read to Bryce (Jay is reading Tolkein to him and I'm reading the Redwall series to him), it's not the cute storybooks anymore.  All the storybooks have made their way into Piper's room and with her reading, it means it won't be long until she no longer wants those "baby" books in her room. (As Caroline called them.)

I also had the realization recently that I no longer have little kids.  Piper is almost 6 and with that, she is no longer truly little.  Tears.  When I talk about my kids to people they are true "kids" and not little kids.  I have all elementary aged kids.  And don't get me wrong, I don't miss all the tethers of having little kids (naps, car seats, baby food, completely supervised play), I'm just sad at the realization of how fast they are growing.

Caroline is almost done with fourth grade and with that she'll begin fifth grade in August.  Okay, well, duh, fifth comes after fourth but fifth grade is the verge of scariness to me.  Scary.  Having kids in elementary school is so comforting.  They are in this great environment where they all have the same specials teachers and see the same things going on.  But after next year, that alllll changes and I will never have all 3 kids in one school again.  And not only does that change but Caroline will be in the dreaded middle school.  I can't even utter those words without getting a bad taste in my mouth.  It's not the actual school per se, but the notion of middle school in general.  Even the "good" ones are tough.  It's just a bad age.  And I am not looking forward to it.  The drama, the angst, the emerging teenage-ness of it all.  Caroline already had attitude and thinks she knows it all and has had some drama so I worry about how we'll guide her in these tough years.  I worry about my connection to her and how to help her navigate her social world when it has changed so drastically since I was a kid.  Even if we don't allow her much social media access via websites and a phone, her friends will have them.  And that's so stress inducing for me!  And while I know Jay and I are fairly savvy when it comes to technology, teenage trends with apps and such move faster than the speed of sound it seems.

Bryce seems to be my most stable kid at the moment.  I should worry that I even said that because I am sure it will incite some oddity to happen or for him to start going through a phase.  When you have more than a couple kids, I think one of them is always going through something (Piper seems the phasey one at the moment.)  He's finishing up another season of baseball and has shown marked improvement.  He and Jay do that together and I love seeing them on the field together.  They clearly are very close and I hope they always are.  He's shown a lot of improvement in school this year although we really have to keep on him about trying his best and not just doing the bare minimum.  If anything is going to get him into trouble academically, I think that will be it.  He has a good mind for mathematics and it's obvious how much he hates showing his work when he can figure things out without doing any work.  His reading has really come along and he finally finished Harry Potter (1) on his own and has moved onto HP2.  This is a big deal for him as someone who didn't like to read in the beginning of the year.  We continued to urge him to practice to make it easier and then tried helping him to find things he likes.  Here's hoping we can keep him reading this summer.

As for Piper's phase, she's become very needy lately.  We've always deemed her "Piper Cry Cry" since she seems so easy to cry about things but lately it's been tough.  She wakes up at least once every night and will usually complain about some random body part hurting.  At first we were alarmed and now we don't believe her and either send her back to bed with nothing or a placebo dose of Tylenol.  She also seems to always have an ache, pain, cut, itchy spot to complain about.  It's like she's a little old lady....which is funny since she calls ME an old lady sometimes.  She's still pretty cute and I don't want to lose that little girl in her too soon.

Caroline has excelled in fourth grade and her new school.  She has a few good friends and we make a point to get them together outside of school from time to time.  She was on tech crew for the school's musical and I think she may be comfortable enough to try out to be in the actual play next year.  I'd really love if she'd find out how to get on the school newspaper club too because she loves to write and even has made up her own little family newspaper on the computer before.  What drama we have had with a particular girl this year has been mild now in hind site but it wasn't without some lessons learned.

And that's all about all I have to say at the moment.  I really do want to start blogging again more frequently....and yes, I need to change my header!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to Everyone!!


This photo was a Christmas miracle.  Had taken a mediocre one in the fall with the foliage and it was beautiful except for Caroline's faces.  In the one decent shot of Caroline, Piper was being a pill.  I was going to use it but then on that beautiful snow day in early December, I told the kids they could go out to play only if they let me take a few photos of them.  I took like 20 shots and this one was the FIRST one I took.  I was so happy with how cute and sweet they looked (good acting) and the way he photo came out with the background and snow.  I swear, I think it was Christmas snow just like what they made Frosty with.

Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sleepover Success

I wanted to come and blog about this before I forgot.  On Friday, December 6 we had Caroline's 10th sleepover birthday party at our house.  I was very nervous about it leading up to it given that I didn't know 4 out of 6 of the girls who were coming.  It's one thing to have a kid over to your house for a play date that you don't know but it's another to have 4 of them and have them spending the night!  We sent out the invitations in early November and on the invitations where I didn't know the girls' parents, I wrote a separate little note on the back that they were free to call/email me if they had any questions or wanted to meet me.  Of the 4 girls, I didn't know, only one of the parents seemed a little nervous about the prospect of having their daughter spend the night somewhere with people they'd never met.  I was actually kind of relieved when the mom wanted to meet and it was so nice meeting her and her husband a few weeks before the sleepover.  (We'd now be more than happy to let Caroline go to their house too so the feeling is mutual.)

Anyway, the other 3 girls I didn't know all had their moms drop them off and stayed for a few minutes.  I took all of their cell phone numbers down just in case and assured them they'd be supervised and safe.  I was so happy they had come whereas I think the parents were happy to have their daughter out of the house for a night.  I guess it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

As for the party, the girls were wonderful!  Seven 9/10 year old girls was a perfect amount and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Well maybe not right away but I wouldn't be the least bit nervous to have any of these girls over to my house again.  It was really fun!  They were all so well behaved and fun.  They didn't all know each other but they quickly bonded and dissolved into giggles and squeals.

They started the night making rainbow loom bracelets (they all brought their stuff) and after everyone arrived, I served some snacks and they hung out in the basement.  After I got cleaned up, I set up a craft activity for them where they each painted their wooden first initial.


Then we did an ice cream sundae bar and brownies (instead of a cake, per Caroline's request) and Caroline opened her gifts.  Then came the part that Caroline was SOOOO excited for....makeup!  I bought a cheap set on Amazon that had like 48 eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks and told the girls to go to town:




They had a blast!  The girls were just so fun together and I loved that they included Piper for part of the night.  (Bryce went to my mom's, thank goodness!!)  Here's Piper with the girl who did her makeup - she was so happy to be included:

Thankfully, I had stocked up on makeup remover wipes!  But they cleaned up the bathroom when they were done and got out their sleeping bags and sat around talking and laughing.  Around midnight I told them that it was quiet time and they were already watching a movie. (This was the point where I had to drag Piper upstairs to her bed kicking and screaming!) I didn't hear another thing all night!  Caroline said they were up until about 1:30.  This is where having a finished basement made all the difference.  We were a full 2 floors away and they had their own space and own bathroom - it really was ideal.  

The next morning I was up around 7:30 and made pancakes and bacon and they all meandered upstairs ready to eat.  Once again they were as pleasant as could be and then talked and rainbow loomed until their parents came to get them.  

Caroline had the time of her life and I am so glad we were able to do this for her 10th birthday.  I had my first sleepover at 10 years old and remember it fondly as I think she will too.  Quite honestly, this was actually her first birthday party too.  At her old school, there just weren't really any kids that were her friends and so we'd just do things with the girl down the street.  Not that she was in any way deprived but I think this party made up for it and it made me very happy that we were able to do that for her.

I was really nervous about how the evening would play out and if they would be bored or get into trouble but I think their ages are really good ones in that they aren't all into boys yet and they just could enjoy being together.  I was also glad to have met so many other parents and now have more options for girls to come to the house to play.  So glad I kept my anxiety in check and did it.  She really is growing up and was totally ready for this.  She has really sweet friends and I'm happy she's feeling connected at her new school. Whew!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Caroline is 10

Happy 10th Birthday, Caroline!!

I know, I never blog anymore.  I look at it from time to time and feel terrible about not blogging.  I'll even have a passing thought to blog about and then feel guilty that I've neglected for so long that I a silly little post isn't worth it.  Anyway...

Today you are TEN.  10!!  How?  You were just a baby.  You were my baby.  And then Bryce came along and you had to turn into a kid.  I always have felt bad about that.  Like I really didn't get to enjoy you enough and that sometimes our expectations of you are a little high.

You are temperamental, creative, and intelligent.  I'd call you a dreamer with a healthy imagination.  You love to read and write and I can't keep you in books because you read them so quickly.  You are also your father's daughter in ways I am learning all the time.  You sometimes do things and your father will look at me and say, "I used to do things like that."  Frustrating doesn't cover it sometimes but I know that's just you.  You struggle with organization at times but when you know that push comes to shove you can make your room look stellar.  Perhaps that's why I get so frustrated with you because I know how capable you are and you sometimes choose not to be.

I think you have a hard time being the oldest.  I know it's hard having two younger siblings that talk CONSTANTLY so that you would rather just be quiet than try and talk over them.  Your father and I know how important alone time is with you and we make efforts to talk to you alone as much as possible without the squawk boxes chiming in.  We love to hear the things you have to say and you always have an interesting way of looking at situations.  You are my most introverted child and don't always seek out hugs like your siblings and sometimes get railroaded by their boisterousness.  I wish there was a way to mute them for you.  You can be very patient with them and I love to see how your relationship with Piper is growing.  She looks up to you and emulates you more than you realize.  I hope that you will always be close and I love how you and Bryce still have that early sibling bond since neither of you remembers life without the other.

I love that you still hold my hand in public and that you look up to me even though I can't always understand why.  I love that you're not overly concerned with seeming older or acting grown up and that's just how 10 years old should be.

I am so excited for you because you are having your first sleepover party this weekend to celebrate your birthday.  I'm looking forward to seeing all of your friends in one place!  It might be a little crazy, but I think it will be a lot of fun.

With such a milestone birthday as 10, it makes me realize how quickly the time is passing and how your childhood is mostly over.  Sniff.  You will be thinking about college before I know it and I will have to let you go.  I love you to pieces and I'm so proud.  All the younger neighbor kids adore you and look up to you as the big kid.  Babies love you too and you've earned the nick name "baby whisperer" from our neighbors and your aunt!  You cannot get enough of babies and I am amazed at how they are so taken with you.

So happy birthday, Caroline!  Please don't grow up too fast.  Being 10 is still a kid and I want you to enjoy that for as long as you can.

Love,
Mom

I was hoping to do some sort of photo montage but we have had a computer meltdown of sorts.  All of our photos and such are backed up on an external drive but we can't currently access them since we don't have computer to hook them to.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Pierced Piper

On Sunday we had an impromptu mall trip with my two neighbor friends.  We decided to make it a girls only day since the men wanted to watch football so I took my girls along with Bella, Piper's BFF.  We took baby Bradley along too but he's only 4 months old and doesn't "count" as a kid yet.

While we were there, I had a though - why not get Piper's ears pierced?  She has been asking off and on for a while now and this was the perfect opportunity since Bella was with us (and she has hers pierced which was one of the reasons that Piper has recently started asking).  When I asked her she started jumping up and down - she was so excited.  

We headed over to Piercing Pagoda since that is where Caroline had hers pierced and I liked it.  However, in four years, they had greatly increased their prices and my hope of getting Piper the same earrings (with her birthstone) were dashed when I saw the $55 price tag.  Um, what.  I was just about to pull back and head up to Claire's when I saw these pink, crystal starts for a much more reasonable price.  Caroline and I easily persuaded Piper to pick those - she really did like them - and we were set.  

Piper climbed into the chair and was all smiles.  I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best because THIS was where Caroline's piercing went downhill.  



But, she continued doing great!  She sat very still while the woman marked her ears.


She seemed fine as she waited for them to get set to pierce them both at the same time but I could tell by the look on her face she was very nervous.  She didn't say a thing but sat there quietly looking nervous but didn't once say a word.  The two women did the piercing at the same time and in a flash, it was done.  I thought she would want to look at her ears right away, but she didn't.  She got out of the chair really fast and came right over to me where I was kneeling down and she buried her head into my shoulder and we just hugged.  I rubbed her back and told her how proud I was and that she was so brave.  Caroline and the other two moms thought she was crying but it just looked that way.  I whispered to her, "Do you want to see your ears?"  At first she said no but then it kind of registered and she quickly put her head up and looked right in the mirror!  A huge smile spread across her face and she was fine although I could tell she was still processing it all.  She wasn't that interested in the stickers or lollipop like her sister hadn't been either.


We got home a little later and she was so excited to show everyone.  She showed Jason and all of our neighbors and then called my mom to tell her.  She was so proud!  Then later she asked me to take her photo again with her sticker:


So now we're in the cleaning and turning phase of the ear piercing.  I reminded Piper not to be touching her ears since her fingers are probably dirty and we don't want them to get infected.  So on Monday, I got home from work and she runs up to me and says, "Mommy, a whole bunch of kids at school were touching my ears!"  I didn't really believe her because who touches ears, but I also know that when my sister was in pre-K she broke her arm and the teacher made a point to tell the kids not to push her and then they all did.  (Famous Chrissa story!)  I didn't think much more about it until last night when she was getting out of the tub and said, "Hey mommy, remember how I told you all those kids were touching my ears?  Well, you know who those kids were?  ME!!"  I guess she had been touching her ears a lot (which you would understand/expect) and felt guilty about it so she made up a story.  Not quite the truth but it did make me laugh to know she felt guilty about touching her ears.

Thankfully, they look great so far and I'm looking forward to seeing her get some earrings for Christmas this year.  I know she can't wait until Thanksgiving to be able to change them!


Monday, September 16, 2013

School Update

Now that we are almost a month into the school year I suppose it's time for an update.  Probably because I feel like I can finally catch my breath a little since the new daily routine has become just that - routine.  For the most part, the kids are doing okay with me getting them out of the house by 7:30am.  All of their alarms go off at 6:40 and they are all downstairs by 7am eating breakfast.  Some days things go swimmingly and other days I am chasing after them at 7:25 to get over their drama and get their stuff together.

On the days they do well, I commend them and let them know it.  On the days there are problems we discuss what we could have done differently.  We've all learned a lot, actually.  Piper knows that no matter what she needs to stick with the outfit she chose the night before. Bryce needs to untie his tennis shoes when he takes them off...no knots left for the mornings!  All three kids need to do a better job of not all trying to get into the bathroom to brush their teeth at the same time otherwise screaming and drama ensues.  I don't expect every day to be perfect but I do expect them to work with me.  I've learned that Piper needs non-cereal choices for breakfast if I expect her to eat something before school.  I tried making some peanut butter oatmeal bars this weekend and she actually ate one this morning.  (I was getting tired of the ones we had from Costco - too much sugar, not enough protein and fiber.)

Thankfully, the cubbies we bought when we moved in have been very helpful.  Everyone's book bags and jackets are where they are supposed to be and kept neatly.  Everyone puts their binders and folders in the "inbox" to be signed each night.  My organization habits are working, thankfully.  We would not be able to manage without it.  I hate that a whole corner of my family room that could be used for a desk is taken up by it, but it really has been so helpful and it's the only good spot for it since we don't have a mud room.

As for individual adjustment to school, they are doing fine.  First Caroline, I knew she'd have the toughest time because she is the one that spent 4 years at her old school.  I think we're finally at the point that if I told her she could go back to her old school she'd say no.  I don't think I could have said that 2 weeks ago.  But since then, she's made a few friends and is starting to feel like she fits in.  Her teachers are very attentive and I have been very impressed by her Reading/Writing teacher.  She still hasn't completely bought into the new school yet and will make comparisons with her old school.  She'll laugh at things she thinks are weird (school pledge) and doesn't take them at face value the way someone who has always been there would.  But she's doing really well so far. Her grades the teachers have posted online have been very good and she's clearly not behind.  Her handwriting is beautiful (how is this MY kid?) and I am amazed at some of the narratives she has been writing.  I love to read them! She's also finally getting used to going to the before care program - HotSpots.  She gave me the hardest time of the three kids with that.  But I finally had to have a conversation with her that this was our only option, it's a good option (they are at the school, no external buses to ride, it's safe, and it's only for a little over an hour) and that it allows me to get to work so that I can leave by 5pm (which is still later than I'd like).  I think she keeps her complaining about it to herself now because she knows that I won't stand for it.  I told her it's part of our family's teamwork and she needs to be a team player.

Bryce has been doing well too. He has made friends with "everyone" in the class according to him and that sounds just like his experience in the past.  He's a friendly kid to begin with and typically girls and boys like him.  He's made some soccer buddies too which I know he enjoys.  He's the only one that there have been any slight behavior issues with and apparently that only happened on Friday and it seems to be "just" talking issues.  If any of my kids would have that issue, it would be Bryce.  Mr. Talkative!  (A few of my neighbors have declared talking to Bryce is like talking to a 25 year old - if you look out your window it's common to see him shooting the breeze with one of the men on our street.  Our next door neighbor declared how much he loves hearing Bryce talk about his soccer games.  It's kind a hoot.)  I think Bryce is doing well in school - all the papers he brings home seem to indicate that, but in 2nd grade, the grades are a bit different than 3rd grade and beyond.  I'm not worried as I can tell his reading has improved already and he continues to love math even enough to want to play a game they played in class at home with me this weekend.  All good signs!

As for Ms. Piper, I cannot say how proud I am of her.  As the youngest of all my kids starting kindergarten (just turned 5 as opposed to almost 6 or already 6), I was worried.  It's a long day especially with getting there over an hour before school starts and the new rigor of all day school, but she seems okay with it.  I even got an email last week from her teacher telling me how well she has adjusted. She even managed one day to get "blue" on her behavior chart which is above and beyond green.  I asked her why and she said, "I was working quietly on my own."  She is too cute.  She loves to report about the "bad" kids in her class every day too but then, so does Bryce.  One of the things about Piper that is frustrating for me as a parent is that she can be quite stubborn and if I want her to do something she has to do it in her own time.  Well, that's worked well with school because things she won't do for me (writing her last name, holding her pencil correctly) are things she is HAPPY to do for her teacher.  But I'm okay with that.  Proud, actually.  She was pleased as punch to show me that she knows how to hold her pencil now.  I cannot wait for American Education Week to see her in class.  I love the way she describes things and tells stories about her day.  Listening to her each evening is one of my highlights right now.

I feel like we've finally gotten over our final hurdle of the moving process.  I had so much anxiety about switching schools and it was the last thing we had to do.  It's hard to believe it's been a year since we started this crazy process.  It's amazing what can happen in a year.  It's funny too because I just realized we have now officially been in our house longer than the time we lived with my mom and dad.  It seems like we've been here a long time already.  It is starting to feel more like home.  If only there was more time to paint.