Friday, August 28, 2015

Supermom ... or Something Like That

What a week. I started back to work on Monday. It wasn’t easy, but I have a lot to be grateful for. First off, my company has a very generous, very kind, very thoughtful parental leave policy, so I had the luxury of being off work the whole summer. Well, at least off from my paying job. I was certainly working my butt off this summer. 

And then there’s the huge perk of getting to work-from-home and keeping Henry here with us. We don’t have good routine yet, but with the help of my Mom and Scott and the girls being in school all day, we made this week work. 

It meant early mornings to feed Henry, get the girls up, rush around for an hour getting them ready, rush to the bus stop, rush home to work, work all day until it’s time to get the girls from the bus stop, come home, work some more and crash. Oh wait, hahaha. I mean rush to make dinner, rush to give baths, rush to bed and crash. Oh wait again, I mean rush to feed Henry, put him to sleep and then crash. And crash I did. For six hours. Wake up. Repeat. 

But then yesterday as we were walking back from the bus stop, I could see that glassy-eyed look in Grace’s eyes. And her whining was spiking and her body was dragging. I reached over and felt her head. Just as I suspected — she was burning up. 

Claire begged me to take her temperature, too. She deplored the idea of going to school while Grace stayed at home. I imagine that she was picturing Grace having a swinging-from-the-rafters, blowing-party-horns, eating-cake kind of day. Or maybe it was just the one-on-one Mom/Dad time she thought she’d be missing out on. But she was good to go — no fever. 

Grace was distraught that she would be missing school — Fridays are library day and this would have been her first time. She cried for about 20 minutes because she didn’t want to miss it. Poor little school-loving chick. 

But then we woke up this morning and Claire had that same glassy-eyed, body-dragging look. Just as I suspected, she had a fever, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if she begged Grace to breathe on her or something last night. I kid, I kid. Probably. She did announce that today was going to be "the best day ever."

To top it all off, Scott and I both went to bed feeling sick. I woke up fine. He didn’t. 

So, after being off work for the entire summer I had to call in today as I managed 3/5 of our family being sick. 

Thankfully, and completely unlike him, Henry took some monster naps today. Although now that I think about it, maybe that just means I’ll be looking at 4/5 by tomorrow. 

Hang on while I go find my cape.

P.S.: Every Supermom needs a Superbaby sidekick:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kindergarten Diaries: Aug. 24

Watching the girls develop their social skills and navigate the sometimes scary world of making new friends is one of the more interesting parts of this Kindergarten experience. They went to preschool for two and a half years before this, but that environment was very safe, for lack of a better word. Kindness permeated the class, both a product of the teachers emphasizing the importance of treating each other nicely and the kids just being nice kids. The class size was also small, so there weren’t many corners for meanness to happen without a teacher seeing it. 

Grace told me last week that while she was coloring, the teacher said they were allowed to chat with their table mates. So, she started to tell them about her Dad. Here’s her version of events:

“My Dad is big. And really funny.”

“Your Dad is fat??” 

“No! He’s not fat. He’s big.”

According to her, the boy whispered to the other boy in a taunting tone, “Her Dad is fat! Her Dad is fat!” 

Clearly, this really bothered Grace. I asked her how she responded and she said, “I told them my Dad is NOT fat!” 

We talked about how it’s not nice to call someone fat and how people come in all sizes. And although I despise that these little boys made her think that being big was something bad, I was so proud of her for not backing down. 

But before we get all afternoon-special on you, there is a funny part to this story. 

Grace was telling us this as we were walking back from the bus stop. Scott told her, “Maybe those boys were just trying to get your goat.” 

Claire, remembering my advice the other day to fight jokes with jokes, said “Oh Grace! I know! Maybe you should just tell them their Mom is fat!” 

Scott was biting back laughter, while I started to explain why that isn’t the best approach in this situation. But I know we were both thinking the same thing: Claire just made her first “yo mama” joke. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pictures of the Week: Aug. 21

These pictures, quite literally, take my breath away. Today, on my last day of maternity leave, I’m feeling so grateful for these kids and the joy they bring. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Growing Pains

As a very wise person once put it: having kids is like having your heart walk around outside your body. 

I have felt it time and time again when they fall and scrap a knee or are sick and don’t feel well. Their pain is my pain. But yesterday it occurred to me that in Kindergarten (and the years to come) they will experience a different kind of pain that I’m not not ready to experience. 

They got off the bus yesterday, talking simultaneously about how great their days were. What they liked, what they didn’t. How much (or how little) of their lunches they ate. How they got to play at recess with each other despite being in different classrooms. Grace said the P.E. teacher was super nice, but the games they played were “a little boring.” Claire told me her headband was hurting her at rest time, but she didn’t want to move to take it off because she was afraid her frog would get bumped from green to yellow. (Maybe I should get some frogs for our house.) 

They both had great second days, but then Claire told me a story from their bus ride home. 

“Mom, these girls LIED to us on the bus!” 

“What’d they say?”

“They said when no one is looking, they turn into planes and cars. But they were LYING!” 

I held back my smile. I asked her how she knew they were lying. She said they had the “lying look.” 

Which tells me they were probably smiling or giggling at this joke they were playing on a couple of rookie Kindergarteners. And although this is all very harmless, it did get me thinking about how there will be times when it isn’t harmless. Times when they get laughed at or teased. And I’m soooo not ready for that kind of pain. 

In the meantime, though, I told Claire to try joking back with them. She liked that idea and decided she’s going to tell those big girls that when no one is looking, she turns into a puppy. And considering she spends most of home time “being a puppy,” I think she’ll nail that joke.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Catching the Bus

Second day of school. You’d think it’d be a breeze considering yesterday was full of about 1,000 emotions, including wild excitement. 

But you probably didn’t oversleep. I had it all timed out last night before I went to bed. Get up, pack lunches, feed Henry, wake up girls, make breakfast, help them get ready and walk to our bus stop. 

Henry had other ideas. He normally sleeps through the night, but last night he skipped his last meal of the day and instead woke up at 4 a.m. This wasn’t a problem except when my alarm went off a couple hours later, I turned it off and got out of bed. 

Except I didn’t really get out of bed. 

At 7 a.m., I woke up like a shot. For the next 45 minutes, I was running around the house trying to get everything done and the whole time dragging two 40 lb kids around my ankles. 

Despite going to bed at a good time, they were a touch on the tired side this morning and “quick” was not in their vocabulary. But we had a bus to catch. 

So, I summoned every bit of patience while hurrying them through the morning. 

We made it — with five minutes to spare. And no one was crying. Well, until the bus pulled away. 

But those left quickly, too, when I walked over and saw this guy. That look says “I swear I was in my warm bed about 10 minutes ago. WTF, Mom?” 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Day of An Amazing Adventure

Well, we made it. 

Today’s the first day of Kindergarten and the first day of an amazing adventure. 

The morning started pretty early when Claire came to wake me up at 4 a.m. She had a bad dream and just wanted to tell me. I tucked her back in and she fell back asleep. Then again at 4:45 with another bad dream. Then Grace at 5:15 with a bad one of her own. 

Claire dreamt that she was on the wing of a plane and fell off. Grace’s involved her getting run over by a car. I think their subconscious was running wild with all of the anxiety of the first day. 

At breakfast, Scott asked them if they were going to Kindergarten today. Grace smiled and said “Nope! College.” I think she knew what I needed to hear to put everything in perspective. (Sorry parents of college kids. My heart is hurting for you.) 

After breakfast, we snapped a few quick photos (it was raining outside, so we’ll have to snag our traditional outside ones later) and with minimal rushing, we made it to school. 

And it rained. And rained. And rained. I told the girls rain was good luck. Here’s to hoping I’m right.

My parents and Scott’s Mom (Scott’s dad had to work) came to wish them a happy first day. The girls were so excited to see them, but unexpectedly, I felt equally as grateful. The emotion kept welling up inside and trying to find its way out through my eyes. I needed my parents there for me, too. 

We walked them inside and they were simultaneously nervous and bubbling with excitement. We watched as they lined up with their class and step by step, walked to their future. Or less dramatically, Kindergarten.  

In honor of today, I decided to take a moment and ask the girls a few questions. 

Grace, Age 5

Favorite Color(s): Pink, Blue, Purple, Red

Least Favorite Color(s): Green, Yellow, Orange, White

Favorite Food: Steak, Chicken, Tomatoes, Salad, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Corn on the Cob

Least Favorite Food: Green Beans, Tacos, Burritos, 

What do you want to be when you grow-up: Farmer, Rockstar, Ballerina Teacher, Pet Shop Girl who takes care of animals and takes them to the hotel and sorts outfits for them

Favorite Book: Aurora, Princesses, Ballerinas

Favorite Game: Dress-up Games and hide-and-seek

Favorite Restaurant: The pancake place, Old Chicago and Sonic

Favorite Animal: Cows, horses, ducks, sheeps, kangaroos, baby deers and cute rabbits and dogs and kitties 

Favorite TV Show: Littlest Pet Shop, Strawberry Shortcake, Horseland

Favorite thing to do: Hang-out with my family: wash dishes, do laundry, pick-up the house, make the beds

Favorite thing about Dad: When he dries my hair crazy after bath time and he gives us big hugs and he’s very funny. 

Favorite thing about Mom: I like it when she snuggles up with me. Hugs and kisses before bedtime. And in the morning, she’s great. 

Favorite thing about Claire: She’s kind of funny. And we argue a lot. I like it when she says yes and I say no. 

Favorite thing about Henry: When he talks a lot. When I give him hugs and kisses. 


Claire, Age 5

Favorite Color: Orange and yellow

Least Favorite Color: Black and gray

Favorite Food: Spaghetti & Green Beans (and salt)

Least Favorite Food: Tomatoes, Corn and Meat

What do you want to be when you grow-up: Do you mind if I tell you that later? It’ll take awhile. Take care of puppies and dogs and cats and kittens. A hotel to dress-up baby and grown-up animals. My salon will be at the pet shop (not Grace’s) and I’ll take the bus and a pet jet. (Do you want to know one of my hobbies? Be a farmer.)

Favorite Book: Princess, snow books, cook books, even cookie books. Candy books. Ice cream books. Cake books, too. 

Favorite Game: Candy Land and matching and puzzles and playing with stuffed animals and real animals. 

Favorite Restaurant: Old Chicago

Favorite Animal: Puppies, kittens and other kinds of baby animals (horses, cows, all kinds of farm and house animals. Except for bugs. I don’t like bugs)

Favorite TV Show: Strawberry Shortcake, Horseland and other horse movies and all kinds of puppy and cat movies. I like snow movies with cookies, cakes and ice cream in it. 

Favorite thing to do: Throw bones for Zoey. Do you want to know my responsibilities that I want to do when I’m a big kid? Feed the cat and the baby.

Favorite thing about Dad: He’s so silly.

Favorite thing about Mom: She has a baby and her heart.

Favorite thing about Grace: That she laughs like this (buzzes her lips).

Favorite thing about Henry: That he is so cute and he talks and smiles.

Monday, August 17, 2015

24 Hours

I know what you’re thinking. 

Are we really talking about kindergarten again?? Won’t she ever stop?

The answer is yes, of course I will. 

About this time next year. When I start talking about first grade instead. 

I kid, I kid. I really will stop talking about kindergarten soon. But it’s occupying so much of my head space right now that I need to talk it out. 

The other day, I was looking around at the messy house and thought “Oh, don’t worry, Katie. You can get everything in order next week when the girls are at school all day.” Then I felt immediate sadness. 

I’m ping-ponging between all these emotions: sadness, joy, panic, relief, excitement, nervousness. In the last few days, I’ve just decided I want it to hurry up already so I can move out of this emotional limbo. 

The good news is tomorrow is the first day. But that’s also the sad news, the scary news, the exciting news, the shocking news and the thrilling news. 

Only 24 hours to go. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pictures of the Week: Aug 14

Cousins, born three months apart, to a family full of girls. They’re sure to be best buds.

See, they already have similar interests.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Family That Eats Donuts Together, Stays Together

I sincerely hope hanging out with their family is always something they enjoy because there are some things I really can’t imagine doing without them: 
  • Walking the many trails in our city
  • Eating ice cream at Dairy Queen (or any other ice cream joint)
  • Going to the park
  • Soaking up the atmosphere in our second-hand bookstore (and finding the resident cat)
  • Long summer nights at the Sonic playground

And, by far, one of our most treasured adventures: The donut shop. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On The Catwalk

We went school shopping with the girls a couple of weekends ago. 

I always loved school shopping as a kid— the anticipation of a new year, the excitement of new clothes and school supplies (especially new crayons, am I right?) — and I was so excited to share that with them. While school supply shopping was less fun (a crying Henry had much to do with that), clothes shopping was a blast. They loved picking out their own stuff and were thrilled to hit the fitting rooms with their finds. 

But the real fun came once we got home. Scott was on Henry duty while the girls shopped, so we decided a fashion show was in order. Their poses were hilarious — I have no idea where they learned all of that, but what they said as they walked on their imaginary runway had us cracking up.

Claire was the first one on the “runway,” and we hear Grace whisper-yell to her “Claire, do a pose!!”

As Grace is putting on a pair of jeggings that I semi-forced her to buy (if they weren't pink or sparkly, she pretty much denied them): 

     Grace: Daddy’s going to tell everyone I’m a laughing stock!
     Me: Why? What do you mean? 
     Grace: Because of these pants — I look like a farmer! 

After I complimented some of Grace’s accessories, she said “Claire helped me. I look AMAZING.” 

And as I was telling them to wrap things up because it was bedtime, Grace responds “But Mom, we have a lot of fashion to do!” 

These little fashionistas picked out their runway wardrobes and created those poses: 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Claire Goes To Kindergarten

Dear Claire-

My sweet, sweet Claire. In a world where Grace is my spirit, you are most certainly my heart. 

You love so openly and unconditionally — never shying away from a hug or another hug or a thousand more hugs. It breaks your heart to see someone hurting, especially those closest to you. Without thinking twice, you’ll sacrifice your own happiness to ensure someone else’s. What an amazing quality in a five-year-old! 

Once, we were racing up the stairs and you were in the lead and purposefully backed off because you thought I would be sad if I didn’t win. You have done this same thing countless other times — letting me win at a game of memory or giving me the last bite of your favorite food. It’s simply amazing. 

It’s this incredible heart that will help you on your upcoming big adventure: Kindergarten. I know you will make new friends (both teachers and kids) once they have a chance to get to know you. Sometimes you are a bit shy when you first meet someone (you get this from me, for sure), but if they take the time to see under that shy shell of yours, they’ll see what I see: a child overflowing with love. 

I have loved being on maternity leave this summer and getting to watch you grow more closely than before. I’ve watched you shed some toddler-like behavior and embrace some big kid responses. Several times you have told me you won’t complain about what we’re eating (sometimes this holds true, sometimes it doesn’t), but I see your desire to grow and that’s certainly the first step. 

In fact, you have stopped throwing fits most oft the time when you don’t get what you want — you are using more logic when it comes to disagreements. In fact, you are debating with us so much that it drove your Dad to say the other day, “Stop arguing with me!” I reminded him that you are his daughter and that will be an uphill battle. And speaking of your Dad — you completely, utterly, totally adore him. You certainly love the rest of us, but in your eyes, there is no one more perfect than your “Papa.”  

You are a great helper and you never ever turn down a request if it’s something for Henry. You have fetched more diapers and made more binky runs than anyone in this family — you would do just about anything for that little boy. 

You still love to read and learn and I just can’t wait to see how you take off once you hit school. You soak up knowledge like a little sponge and will often tell me “Well, actually, Mom (insert fact here.)” Eventually we’ll have to work on the know-it-all-ness (you can thank your Dad for that trait), but for now, I love watching you learn and retain and share your love of knowledge with others. 

As Kindergarten approaches (and really this applies to the next 20 years), you’ll be learning more and more about yourself. We recently watched the movie “Inside Out” and you left the theater saying you identified mostly with the emotion fear. You are a Nervous Nelly (you can thank me for that trait) and often worry about how things will unfold, so I knew why you related to fear. But in subsequent weeks, you have had conversations with your Grandma and myself about being brave and on several occasions, I have excitedly and proudly watched you show courage in the face of your fears.

With your infinite love and your blossoming courage, I will proudly and lovingly watch you take on Kindergarten (and the world) with amazing success. 

Love you, Claire Bean.